Monday, November 8, 2010

Torino, Italy: The bidet

The bidet (bi.det, /bi-'day/). In Europe, the one thing that distinctly separates the US from many countries worldwide, among other things, is the commonly seen bidet in most all non-public bathrooms (aka, "lieu" and "wc"). It is the typical and sometimes standard bathroom fixture that sits low and at first glance could be mistaken for a toilet. Knowing that it is French in origin, dating back to the 17th century, and found in bathrooms throughout Europe, Latin America, Asia and even Africa, I ask myself, is it still often used for its original intended function as it once was? Do women, or men, for that matter,.....this is the 21st century, really take the time to squat pony-style, straddling this porcelin bowl, to do a bit of extra personal cleansing and grooming? I guess I'll just have to speculate since I don't plan to hit the streets to take a survey. It was just a thought that made me go,... hmmmmmm. I can only presume that soaking in a tub or showering might be as effective. I bet there are plenty of imaginative and creative additional ways to use the bidet,.....a beverage strorage cooler, an infant bathing tub, a plant bowl... Apparently, bidets of today have come a long way and are now available in a variety of styles and materials, even offering assorted attachments. With there being such a large market for the sister basin to the toilet, I can only assume that use of the bidet is still very much alive and well.
For me, the bidet has an even deeper significance, it's a throw back to my childhood memories. Having lived in Europe as a kid, I became familiar with the bathroom fixture as a youngster. Not realizing its function, and figuring it to be an additonal toilet, I'd love to recall my moms explanation for the permanent prop taking up prime realestate in the "lieu". I'll imagine, it was something to the effect of, "well, hun, consider it a play pool for Barbie and all her friends". Whatever the case, the bidet, has stood the test of time, is here to stay, and for me, will always be associated with my memories and the fondness I have for Europe. Odd, but true.

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