Bidet of the Locust

by John Holbo on October 4, 2007

Tim Lambert has some good, clean fun with Mark Steyn’s strange notions about Hollywood hygiene. (via Yglesias.) But then I flip to the NY Times and read that the bidet is finally coming to the US:

Although Americans have long shied away from conventional bidets, which are common in other countries, and the newer bidet seats, at least two major companies, Kohler and Toto, expect the seat to overcome that resistance eventually.

Proving once again that you can’t spell commodity fetishism without the ‘commode’. This calls out for something – not as beat your head against the basin stupid as Steyn; a microtrendy David Brooks column. Something wise and telling about bidet liberals vs. flyover country, do-it-yourself sons of the soil; of left-coasters who like sipping lattes, hands free, while “a remote-controlled retractable wand that spouts oscillating jets of well-aimed aerated water and a dryer that emits warm air” do the necessary. Some sort of ceramic sequel to Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital. Something faintly superior, yet self-deprecatingly alarmist, possibly involving clever yet oddly meaningless puns on ‘day’.

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10.08.07 at 7:52 am



~~~~ 10.04.07 at 1:16 pm

Something like Zizek‘s discussion of toilets, maybe?


Jacob T. Levy 10.04.07 at 1:30 pm

This raises the art of saying “a certain je ne sais quoi” when the speaker knows precisely quoi to a whole new level; John’s all but written the Brooks column in the act of calling for it!


tom s. 10.04.07 at 1:35 pm

All I know is that if Brooks writes such a column it would start off with “There are two kinds of people in the world; those who use bidets and those who don’t”.


almostinfamous 10.04.07 at 1:38 pm

i think tom friedman ought to come up with a relationship between the relative merits of bidets and the war in iraq. would make about as much sense as his latest.


John Holbo 10.04.07 at 1:41 pm

Tom Friedman’s new book: “The Bowl Is Flat”


tom s. 10.04.07 at 1:46 pm

Has there ever been a war between two countries in which bidet use is widespread?


acb 10.04.07 at 2:06 pm

I think the troubled period of Franco-German relations between 1939 and 1945 might qualify. (yes, I know it’s a joke, but if I weren’t writing this I’d be working)


Stanford Matthews 10.04.07 at 2:12 pm

Let’s see, one square of toilet paper per Cheryl Crow or a bidet. Perhaps we should stop eating.


Grand Moff Texan 10.04.07 at 2:53 pm

Tom Friedman’s new book: “The Bowl Is Flat”

More like “the next six bidets will be critical, so suck on this.”


MattF 10.04.07 at 2:57 pm

Fine with me, as long as no one makes a comment about ‘long tail’ marketing.


Grand Moff Texan 10.04.07 at 2:57 pm

a microtrendy David Brooks column. Something wise and telling about bidet liberals vs. flyover country, do-it-yourself sons of the soil

If Brooks does, in fact, ring the changes on his usual “liberals are hypocrites because they use _____, which no one who works for a living would use” spew machine, we could take up a collection to send him to a working-class neighborhood in Ankara … with no toilet paper.


Kieran Healy 10.04.07 at 3:11 pm

“Bowling Alone” would be a good title just by itself.


nnyhav 10.04.07 at 3:56 pm

Taking it from the other end, desperately seeking synthesis.


nnyhav 10.04.07 at 3:59 pm

Meanwhile, Tom’s travel kit.


JP Stormcrow 10.04.07 at 4:49 pm

I believe the essential “WTF is that?” re: a bidet, is from Crocodile Dundee. David Brooks will surely drive out to a small town and investigate whether the Red Lobster has bidets.


Lee A. Arnold 10.05.07 at 3:33 am

Being a plumber on the westside of Los Angeles, I can tell you all about it… To begin with, most people who have bidets don’t use them. I know one that is used as a planter. The new “bidet seats” take a special toilet — they don’t go on any toilet. They are very expensive. You have to have an electrical outlet installed within 12 inches of the toilet. This alone makes me think it is about the stupidest idea on earth. All the plumbers just roll their eyes at that one. The seat contraption is all plastic, very complicated, no repair parts or any apparent way to take the thing apart, if and when it breaks. I’ll have to get back to you on that. The thing has a retractable wand which pokes out and sprays in different directions, fore and aft. They get a little dirty. The housekeeper is going to love it. There are operating buttons on the side of the toilet you can’t see while sitting, but there is a handheld remote with buttons to do all the operations too. So you are sitting on the john with a battery-operated remote in your hand. It has a clip to hang on the wall next to you. Next to the five-line phone and house intercom. You can set the thing so the seat automatically goes up when you approach it. I always laugh at that, but then, I am a plumber. Infrared actuation. Then you pee and the seat automatically goes down when you leave. This will save some arguments.


bad Jim 10.05.07 at 7:51 am

I’m another Californian. I don’t have a five-speed toilet myself, but my sister up in Marin County does. Flush front or back, temperature control … I’ve never used it, I can’t comment. My brother retrofitted his toilet with a butt spritzer. I suppose it keeps his jeans cleaner, since he insists on going commando.

His faucet dispenses blue water, too, thanks to an LED illuminator. Maybe, for Christmas, I’ll get him the new one that changes color with the temperature of the water.

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