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  • Jan Flynn

Can We Potty Talk?

Your butt could be better off

If you’re American, your derriere is in danger of neglect

My fellow American, I feel quite safe in this assumption. Why? Because as much time and energy as you devote to keeping your house, your car, your laundry, your kids, your pets, and your corporeal self clean, odds are your bathroom lacks a bidet.

For all of Americans’ obsession with personal cleanliness, the bidet has never really caught on here, even though it’s literally a fixture in much of Europe, Asia, and around the world. Weirdly, the same Puritan ethic that drummed “cleanliness is next to Godliness” into our collective cultural heads seems to have recoiled from the whole bidet concept.

During the pandemic panic toilet paper shortage of 2020, Kate Murphy wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times in which she tried to explain this bottom-line reticence:

Bidets, once ubiquitous in France, became associated with hedonism and licentiousness. . . American soldiers first saw bidets in French brothels, which made them think they were naughty.

Unlike parts of the world in which bidets of one kind or another are ubiquitous, most Americans have to rely on toilet paper — which can be irritating to the tender regions and is environmentally awful. Approximately 27,000 trees are literally flushed down the toilet every day, and toilet paper accounts for almost 10% of deforestation worldwide.

Also, toilet paper just doesn’t work very well

I’m certain your lived experience can attest to that fact without me supplying data to back it up (no pun intended). Besides, really? Just paper? In the top highlighted section of his powerfully persuasive 2019 Medium piece “White People, Wash Your Butts,” notes:

If you got poop on any other surface you wouldn’t just wipe it off, you’d wash it. Your butt deserves the same dignity.

Toilet paper’s shortcomings account for the recent explosion of wet wipes, and you know what I’m talking about. Once used only for babies, they’re now commonplace in American bathrooms. Kate Murphy writes:

The unfortunate result is that the wipes have begun to coalesce with grease in city sewer systems to form blockages the size of airliners.

Wet wipes not only spell disaster for sewers. Scrubbing away at one’s nether membranes with a chemical-laced wipe can result in a distressed duff. What to do? Nobody wants to chug through life with a rusty caboose.

Here’s what works: water

To reiterate, when any other part of your corpus gets dirty or comes in contact with something smelly, you douse it with water. The backsides of people in France, much of the rest of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East are treated with this consideration. Why not yours?

I don’t have room in my bathroom for a bidet, you say. I can’t afford to replumb half my house. And yes, I’ve seen those special toilet seats with the built-in sprayer, and they’re just weird.

I’ve encountered a few of those myself in my time, and I agree with you. Especially disturbing are the heated ones, which simply feel wrong.

So I looked into handheld bidets and plunged (sorry) into considerable research. It turns out there are a plethora of these gadgets on the market. Most of them are little more than repurposed kitchen dish sprayers, lacking in accuracy and without any way to control the water pressure, which are two crucial aspects in proper and effective bum ablutions.

And that, my friend, is why I am here with the zeal of a barker at the county fair to tell you about an item that will keep your fundament clean and happy without flooding your bathroom or depleting your wallet.

Allow me to introduce . . .

The Rinseworks Aquaus 360 Hand Held Bidet! I encourage you to take a tour of their website to discover just how clever, well-designed, and fairly discreet this contraption is. It’s basically a flexible metal hose that attaches to the water valve leading to the toilet, ending in an easy-to-direct sprayer wand operated with a thumb lever that allows the user to choose a cleansing experience anywhere along a spectrum from trickle to blast. When not in use, the wee wand sits unobtrusively on a bracket that can either hang over the toilet tank or be affixed to the wall of one’s personal poopatorium.

Don’t miss the highly illustrative video on the website. First, a pair of disembodied hands attempts to wipe barbecue sauce off of a fresh ear of corn, with predictably dismal results. Next, another sauce-smeared ear is gently sluiced back to utter purity in a twinkle via the Aquaus 360.

Whoever came up with that visual deserves an award.

And it’s less expensive than springing for a Toto , Tushy, or similar device, plus you don’t end up with a hard-to-clean extra lid to your loo. The going price for the Aquaus on Amazon is around $60.00. You’ll (eventually) save that on TP.

A point of clarification while we’re on the subject of toilet tissue: possessing the Aquaus will not necessarily eliminate (sorry) toilet paper from your life. There are those, ahem, number one moments that don’t call for a full undercarriage dousing, and even when employing the device on the occasions for which it is intended, it’s nice to, well, dry off afterward. Still, you will be sending far less forest product down the loo.

And that, plus the clean, fresh feeling of sailing through life with a barnacle-free hull, will bring a smile to your cheeks.

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