When you travel to new countries you expect to try new foods, get lost in the winding alleyways of historic villages, and maybe even have a misunderstanding or two when trying to communicate in a foreign language.
One expects to be challenged, that’s the fun of it.
But you don’t expect to be challenged by humankind’s most basic need.
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I asked for directions to the toilet of a restaurant in Istanbul, then climbed up an impossibly narrow staircase to the third floor that housed only one tiny room: the restroom.
I didn’t find the toilet I expected, but rather a porcelain hole in the floor.
I vividly remember turning tail and going back down the stairs, only to pause, because well, nature called.
I turned and went back up, then paused again and went back down.
That went on for a while before I finally sucked it up.
And it was fine.
My point of this embarrassing, overly informative story is that going to the bathroom may be a universal experience, but it’s not exactly universal.
There are so many ways to go about it, and everyone’s thoroughly grossed out by everyone else’s way.
There are holes in the ground, squat toilets, bidets, tabos in the Philippines, toilets in Japan that are more high tech than a smartphone, and, of course, there’s toilet paper.
But when the pandemic recently caused nationwide toilet paper shortages, the entire population of the United States was forced to consider alternatives (or get into fistfights over TP in embarrassing viral videos).
I present to you, the bidet.
Despite living in a predominantly bidet nation for over a decade, I remained resistant to the idea until very recently.
I was stubborn. I’d cleaned myself just fine for 35 years, why change things up now?!
Then I had a baby, and other mothers will understand what I mean when I say it was time to change things up (even if temporarily).
So as America fought over the last roll of Charmin, I also said goodbye to TP and finally tried the bidet.
The heavens opened, beams of light poured from the sky and the angels sang.
It’s so much better! Everyone was right.
I had this conversation with a childhood friend who was visiting Buenos Aires once.
He made the compelling argument that if for some ungodly reason you had poo smeared on your arm, would you simply wipe it off with a piece of paper or would you wash it off. I think you’d wash it off.
Other friends couldn’t believe I waited this long, lamenting about how their bidets were what they missed most about Argentina.
Well, as the cliche goes, better late than never. I’m a total convert.
Now, when I walk into the bathroom in a nice restaurant in the US and don’t see a bidet…
I’ll turn tail and walk back down the stairs, then back up… pause, and repeat until I finally suck it up.
In Argentina, Europe, and elsewhere the bidet is a separate, stand alone fixture.
No matter how tiny the apartment may be, room is always allocated for the bidet.
But despite having an abundance of room in American homes, none is saved for a bidet!
Never fear, there are cheap and easy-to-install attachments that convert your toilet into a bidet.
And hell, it’s probably easier because you’re saved the awkward toilet to bidet shuffle. All business can be conducted in one place.
To convert your toilet into a bidet for under $100, get this bidet attachment. It has nearly 30,000 positive reviews!
Update: When I first wrote this post it had 10k positive reviews, today there are nearly 90k! That is a lot of new bidet users!!! Join the club here.
It’s easy to install and functions just like any stand alone bidet would, basically hands free.
Want a little more control over the situation?
Try this hand-held sprayer (basically like the one in your shower or kitchen sink).
Alternatively and even better, free, if you already have a shower head like that and your toilet is near enough to the shower… then problem solved.
If you’re not already ordering your very own bidet attachment (and if you’re not, why not?!), then I hope you’ll at least brave trying it on your next European or Argentine vacation.
Try new things, experience new cultures…in every possible way.
I hope I’ve convinced you and next time the world melts down and there is a run on the supermarkets, you and I will be sitting peacefully at home with our bidets.