Back when I was doing home inspections, I would occasionally run across a house with a bidet. A good home inspector is duty-bound to check bathroom fixtures, but when I walked up to a bidet, I was stumped. I didn't know what it did, how it did what it did or why. Even so, I turned the handles on the bidets, and learned one thing: They shoot water up into the air.
After performing dozens of failed tests, asking a few discreet questions and doing a fair amount of Internet research, I still don't know a good way to test a bidet. As best I can tell, a person can't really test a bidet unless he or she takes his or her britches off, squats down, and actually puts the thing through its paces — whatever those paces are.
After years of intense study, I think I know what a bidet is supposed to do: squirt water up so people — particularly women — can wash their bottoms. But I'm unclear on the details of how this works.
The thought of me fooling with a bidet reminds me of the time I watched an elderly Englishwoman try to operate a can of Redi-Whip. She'd never seen Redi-Whip, so, in her efforts to get the cream out of the can, she pounded on the bottom of the can, and she milked the nozzle in the manner of milking a cow. After watching this for a while, I walked over to the nice lady and whispered, "Push the nozzle sideways." Once she got the hang of it, she was like a cavewoman with fire. She creamed several platters of little pies, and was visibly disappointed when the can ran out of propellant.
I'm still waiting for somebody to give me the same kind of gentle guidance about bidets. Problem is, all the info I can find on bidets is full of euphemisms, allusions and delicate little hints. Nobody will come out and say what they really mean. This is annoying. I am a highly skilled professional. I could handle the truth, if only someone would tell it to me.
I read some marketing propaganda for a retrofit bidet, which you can put in place of your existing commode seat. It has two nozzles, which come from the back side of the seat. There's a shorter "family" nozzle and a longer "woman's" nozzle. There's no real explanation for this, but I'm pretty sure I get it. There's also a little blow dryer built into the contraption, and a radiant heater built into the seat itself.
At one bidet manufacturer's website, I read that bidets save toilet paper. I tried to picture how this would happen. Nothing I pictured made me want to get a bidet. Everything I pictured triggered this mental note: Don't shake hands with people who use bidets.
Here's what I've learned about bidets:
The water squirter will shoot water clear up to the ceiling.
The water is cold.
There is no seat on a bidet.
Which brings me to this: If bidets are made chiefly for women, and there are no seats on bidets, and the whole purpose of a bidet is to direct a fire-hose-strength spray of cold water at a woman's bottom, why do women put up such a big fuss when a man leaves a commode seat up? At worst, if a woman's biomechanics and muscle memory were way off, and she failed to hold up at the critical 90-degree squat position, she would gently splash down in a pool of 75-degree water.
Understand, I'm all for being nice to women. Except for me, everybody at my house is female. Outside of using their fingernail-polish remover when I need a good weapons-grade, lung-damaging solvent, I stay out of their stuff and on their good side. But I freely admit, I don't spend two seconds a day thinking about whether I left the commode seat up or down. The process at our house is simple, and it applies to all of us: Check the commode before you use it, put the seat where you want it, do what you need to do, flush, and get on with life. There are no lectures, shaming looks, or other penalties if you don't make the seat ready for the next user.
When I'm in a house where the women complain about men who leave the seat up, I put down the seat and the lid. That way, everybody has to learn to turn around and look before they sit.
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