Wednesday, November 5, 2014


A bidetFor my birthday, my mother-in-law gave me one of the best gifts an expat Italian could ever dream of: a handheld bidet for our American toilet. It was promptly installed by my husband, and we've been enjoying a very welcome freshness ever since, many times a day. Yes, a handheld sprayer is not a proper bidet, but it's the closest thing I'll ever get to one in my tiny bathroom. I am so happy about this gift, I realized I needed to have a few words with you, dear reader, and hopefully turn you into a bidet convert. Now, I know Americans can be a little squeamish when we talk about this, once an American friend literally covered her ears and started jumping up and down and singing not to hear my eulogy of this adorably essential indoor spring. (Sorry, Americans, but I have to say it: Those founding Puritans sure did a number on you!) So I thought I'd write a Q&A to answer all of your burning questions so you don't have to bring anything up yourself.

Q: What is a bidet?
A: A bidet is a low basin with a faucet or a flushing rim (not preferred) situated in the bathroom. I've read 97% of Italian homes have one. The remaining 3% never have overnight guests.

Q: When do you use it?
A: After going to the toilet (mostly number two), before/after love making, during your period, and whenever you feel like it.

Q: ...
A: I know what you're about to ask: No, a daily shower is not enough. Unless you time the aforementioned activities around your morning shower or regularly take multiple showers per day, you do need a bidet.

Q: Well, I still think it's gross.
A: *eye-roll and sigh* I think I need some help. Read what these Italians have to say about this.
Bidet, always and forever. Honestly, I have no idea how you can live without it. I think it's the most genius invention in history. Is it possible that we are the only ones who use it? A., Crafter  
I can't live without it. If there's isn't one, then I always pray there's a tub or a handheld shower. C., Theater critic
I think the bidet is at the same time an object of design and an extremely gratifying practice, and I would add also a great topic of conversation among friends. It will decorate your bathroom as well as solve a sluggish conversation. And in any case, being clean and in order (down there) can eliminate embarrassment and lead to unexpected joys. A., Attorney
Hurray for the bidet, fresh water, and menthol intimate wash! So that when you're done you feel like you have someone else's [genitals]. R., DJ and philosopher

Q: "Methol intimate wash"?!?
A: Don't worry about that now. Yes, we have a "intimate" soaps, but menthol is not required. Anyway, focus. See how these people are obsessed with the bidet? The feeling of freshness and cleanliness a bidet gives you is something you can't take back.

Q: So what do you do when you're abroad?
A: Italians, your turn.
Bidet is like a great love that you take for granted and that you only realize you miss when it's no longer there, i.e. when you are abroad. This with the exception of Japan, when the bidet is integrated in the toilet, but that's another story. M., Executive Courier
I live abroad, and I've been using the sink instead for over 12 years, standing on the tip of my toes. It's awkward, but it's the best solution for me. I've never seen a bidet in the countries I've lived in, with the exception of Spain. I have to admit is great to rinse your feet, too, or to let your young children entertain themselves, but I've learned to live without it. B., Entrepreneur and muse
I can't believe the idea of the bidet hasn't spread to the rest of the world??? Why can't the world realize the superiority of the bidet? Anyway, when I travel I always carry a cargo of baby wipes. F., Travel guru and It Girl
When I'm abroad I use wipes. If I'm in a house or a hotel, I'll use the shower, but being fundamentally lazy and very sensitive to cold, I think that's torture. A., Crafter
Q: I don't know... I lived without a bidet for my entire life. I think I'm fine.
A: Then I have the ultimate question for you. Imagine you are walking down the street on your way to a nice dinner. You trip and fall—face down in dog shit. Would a simple tissue be enough for you? Or perhaps you'd prefer a baby wipe? Or do you wash profusely with soap and water?

Q: ...
A: I rest my case.

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