Due to toilet paper shortages at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, US shoppers began looking to the bidet, a bathroom fixture essential to many continental homes but not regularly found in America before now. Ilsa Carter explores the new craze for bidets and examines their environmental benefits …
No ifs, ands or buts about it. The bidet, that perineum favourite and European essential, is finally making headway across the Atlantic, with a people that for centuries, it bewildered. That’s right, you heard me. The United States is cleaning up its…um, act! The recent run on loo paper has only accelerated America’s appetite for what the French correctly call the little horse, considering mounting it properly involves straddling the bone-chilling ceramic basin, bareback.
Made mandatory first by the ancient Greeks and eventually all around the Mediterranean as of 1975, this fastidious fixture found its climax when Japanese manufacturing wizards jumped in with their brand name, Toto, echoing Dorothy’s adorable dog in the Technicolor triumph starring Judy Garland. Toto took the opportunity to imitate and innovate the plumbed personal appliance they then promoted as a paperless toilet. Bells and whistles included a seat warming function, an air freshener, and a lively selection of musical tunes to muffle sundry sounds or merely amuse the user.
A strict Muslim jurisprudence code known as the Qadaa’ al-Haajah, ensures that the faithful observe proper hygiene, with specific regard to toilet etiquette. Separately the hadith, the “backbone” of Islamic civilisation, composed of the prophet Muhammed’s discourses (revealed, embellished or fabricated by fundamentalists, depending on who you ask,) advises on chirality or bodily asymmetry. In essence, should one use the right hand or the left to wipe.
If the Scientific American magazine is worth the paper it’s printed on, nothing short of a continental conversion from toilet tissue to the bidet, by all 50 states, is the tectonic shift required to save 15 million trees every year. Otherwise they’re doomed to the mill. Where they’ll be pulped into miles of fluffy tissue with peppy pastel puppies printed all the way down to each roll’s deplorable cardboard core.
Tree-huggers agree that the deeply disturbing prequel to the coronavirus pandemic and its concurrent quarantine as captured by supermarket security cameras can be summed up as greedy grave robbers stockpiling the remains of our world’s forests. Caught red-handed, these ruffians will be forever embedded in the annals of a history that is forced to soldier on, minus druids, dryads and the indisputable tree ring record on which humanity once relied.
Driven by Eco-Consumption, early adopters with access to sufficient resources dance at the chance to acquire the latest electric car right as it rolls off the assembly line. The avid secure several pairs of limited-edition sneakers manufactured out of recycled plastic dutifully harvested from the high seas. It is venerated versions of products like these that bring their breathless owners almost as much smug satisfaction as the accompanying Eco-Status.
But once that nicest of novelties is made available to the mass market, the initial splash subsides and an enviable rarity becomes merely de rigueur. In the race to go green, the pressure is on to sustainably surpass garden-variety vegan burgers or an eco-friendly travel bamboo cup, for that matter. The blame game is real and underperformers risk finding themselves engulfed by what’s now being referred to as Eco-Shame.
Entering her Parisian hotel room, an American tourist asked about the sparkling clean bidet, tout de suite. “Lovely. Is this to wash the babies in?” to which the jaded French maid replied “No Madame, au contraire. This is to wash the babies out!”
Modern medicine may have debunked that misconception, but what can’t be washed away is the pleasurable prospect of a posterity overflowing with good clean fun.
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