Buona sera from Italy, y’all. I had planned to be offline most of the vacation because I wasn’t sure whether the house I was at would have wi-fi, but it does, and my sister brought her laptop. And I just had to share something ridiculous.
The rented villa where I’m staying with my family is in a small town about an hour southeast of Florence, in an excruciatingly picturesque hillside town. The views are breathtaking, and the house has a lovely garden and sunny pool area complete with scurrying lizards and cooing doves. It’s owned by an American woman who e-mailed us page after page of instructions so ridiculously voluminous and fussy and officious that we’ve taken to refer to them as “The Book of Armaments” (yes, we’re a Python-loving family). The Book of Armaments covers everything from the useful—how to turn on the boiler for showers, where the local pharmacy is—to the frankly absurd, culminating in the page-long instruction on what the bidet is and how to use it.
Now, I realize that the bidet is not standard equipment in most American bathrooms. For reasons unknown, my most of my countrypeople haven’t embraced it. Because of this, the doyenne of the house feels American guests cannot be trusted to wash their asses and/or ladyparts without specific directions and left an instructional sheet that had all of us absolutely howling, especially when I gave a dramatic rendition over dinner last night. The page-long memo—I kid you not—-is entitled: “How do you use a bidet and what is it for?” For your amusement, I reproduce and annotate it after the jump.
The delicate quesiton—“How do you use a bidet? What’s it for?” Almost every bathroom in La Casa has one. Now’s your chance… (ed: Oooh! The opportunity of a lifetime!)
Most of the bathrooms here have bidets. Bidets are common throughout Europe and parts of Asia. They pre-date modern bathing appliances like standing showers and porcelain bathing tubs. While common thinking is that they are purely for women, they are popular with men all over the world. Cleanliness and freshness are never out of favor. (ed: So if y’all thought it was cool to sit around and be stanky, consider yourself advised.)
The history of the bidet began from the invention of French furniture makers in the late 17th century or early 18th century. The exact date of invetion and hte inventor is still unknown. Soem people suggest that it was Christophe Des Roisiers, a furniture maker of the French Royal family. The earliest written reference to the bidet is in 1710. (ed: Why do we need to know this? Whyyyyyy?)
SImply put, bidets are to cleanse and freshen your body, anytime. Depending on the design of the bidet, you can use it to take a quick summer sponge bath in fresh, running water. A quick dry and you are all clean and refreshed. All of the bidets at La Casa are designed with flowing faucets as opposed to the upward fountain designs, so they work well in all modes.
Or you can use it to clean and refresh your more private areas anytime, while fully dressed. (ed: Um, you’ll probably need to drop your drawers first.) Once you have begun to use the bidet in your bathroom at la Casa, you’ll find that you really miss it when you get home.
Adjust the water temperature and flow. Sit on the porcelain edge—it’s okay, it’s your private bidet!! You can either use just a directed stream of warm water with the drain open, or fill the bowl and splash to rinse. Use a washcloth, if you like. With or without soap. Rise and dry with fresh small towel. (Note the handy towel bar.) Rinse out the bowl for next time.
In hot summer months, it’s a wonderful freshening, anytime. Or at the end of any day when you change for dinner.
So relax, experiment, and discover what people all over the world have enjoyed for years. You’ll wonder how America has missed out on this wonderful fixture.
File under: more information than you ever needed on a subject for which you never wanted a one-page memo anyway.