Stacey Hatton -- That’s not a drinking fountain

05/30/2013 1:29 PM

05/30/2013 1:29 PM

During college I traveled to Europe with a jazz singing group for two glorious weeks. We first camped in a memorable hotel in Paris, where the rooms were dark and discolored and the wood floors might have been softer than the beds.

The bathroom, however, was fancy — yet mystifying to a young Kansas girl who had never journeyed overseas. My curling iron couldn’t plug into the wall socket, the shower was a footed bathtub with a handheld hose that drizzled droplets of water upon my head, and most perplexing of all, there appeared to be two toilets.

I remember naively thinking, “Do couples actually sit down and talk to each other when their coffee kicks in?” I couldn’t picture anyone in my family doing that.

Little did I know I was witnessing my first bidet. One of my bunk mates turned on the bidet’s water spigot and a blast of water arched up from the bowl, barely missing her face. Giggling like the creative 19-year-olds we were, we surmised this device wasn’t for young children or thirsty dogs, and decided to keep our distance.

History reveals the bidet goes all the way back to the 1700s, when Mr. Charmin had not yet landed his big commercial role of squeezing his product in grocery stores. Originally, it was a free-standing porcelain bowl that was used after the eliminator had completed his “bidness,” from which I can only assume the name came.

Back in the golden days, only the rich and famous would have owned an indoor double seater.

Recently, though, I discovered a friend of mine had an honest to goodness bidet installed in her master bathroom after her toilet seat needed replacement. I have to admit I became obsessed! I had seen that French bidet many moons ago, when, alas, I was too young and afraid to shiny my heinie.

My neighbor’s bidet was so popular at cocktail parties that I suggested she put a photo of it on her iPhone. You just mention a bidet at your next party and see the crowd you draw. Talk about an audience on the edge of their seats!

So after dropping off my kids at school, one morning, I called up my friend and asked if I could try out her “hot seat.” And lo and behold, it

has

a heated seat! This model had all the buttons and whistles. I had to read two manuals, get a seven minute demonstration and take notes. Bidets have come a long way!

I set the remote control for the deluxe cleanse for my go round. Then when I thought it was over, an air cycle turned me back into that embarrassed 19-year-old girl in France.

Even though I finally got to enjoy living like the French do for five minutes, I must say the next time I get a hankering for Paris, I’ll turn the other cheek and order a bottle of pinot noir.

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