Arlo Mudgett: View from Faraway Farm: Discovering a revolution for your backside


There's no delicate way to discuss things associated with using one's toilet. So rather than using words that would challenge decorum, I will attempt to use the least offensive or graphic synonyms that I can think of, including foreign language equivalents. Words like the French and Spanish Ano or the Polish Odbyt or the Japanese komon. At this point, I'm liking Odbyt, which, in my head, I am pronouncing as "odd bit." I'll be saying things like "application of TP to the odbyt." You OK with that? Occasionally I'll lapse into using terms like "backsides" or the British "bum." They are relatively innocuous to my sensibilities. But first, some history.

We're about to discuss a device or variants of the device known as a bidet. The word is French, but the actual device's origin is Italian in the early 1700s. Bidet is a term for a little horse. In this usage, it implies the act of straddling the little horse. To straddle the Italian invention in order to clean one's odbyt is to use the bidet. It is common to see bidets in France. It is also common for the French to conserve water by taking a sponge bath and using a bidet rather than showering every day. Bidet use can also eliminate the need for TP. The first bidet I ever saw was in an ancient Latin Quarter hotel in Paris. The first bidet I ever saw in a private home in the United States was at my biological father's house just north of Burlington. My actual first use of a bidet-like device was in the privacy of my own home. Yesterday.

Since I've already stepped over the line of TMI, I might as well explain why the bidet is of interest to me. Many years ago at a former home I owned, the leach field failed and the toilet backed up. It was an exceedingly expensive lesson learned about the care and feeding of your septic system. First off, if you have a garbage disposal system in your sink and you have a septic system, dispose of the disposal as soon as possible. The two are incompatible. Nowadays I obsess over what we put down the drains in my home, to the extreme of having an electric toilet in addition to our standard unit. The "Incinolet" burns the waste using electricity. Nothing goes into the ground. Conventional toilets go hand in hand with the use of toilet paper, or TP. It is critical for TP to biodegrade, liquify, and become dispersed in a leach field. Now that bidet-like toilet seats are becoming popular, I decided to get one to relieve any potential strain on my leach field to ensure that it works efficiently for decades to come. That's my raison d' etre and I'm sticking to it.

Just consider our system of using millions of trees to make paper that we use to smear the waste from our odbyts of which we dispose in water, then drain it into the ground, well, it's gross. The European concept of simply hosing off one's odbyt sounds more sanitary and more acceptable. I think the Americans' initial horror of using a bidet is being confronted by a cold porcelain toilet-like device that you straddle to clean your self after you've done your business. It has to do with the perceived discomfort and cleanliness of the process. By the way, toilet seats are not all that common in France. You sit directly on the porcelain. We Americans find this practice unacceptable. Bidets have never caught on here in the states.

If you combine the benefits of a bidet with a comfortable toilet seat it suddenly becomes far more appealing. That is precisely what I opted for ... comfort. The unit that I purchased and installed has a built-in night light. The seat is heated. The water is heated. It has a remote control. The nozzle is adjustable in about 8 different ways and there are two memory settings for preferences. There is an electric bum-dryer and it has a built-in charcoal deodorizer. If you don't have a happy odbyt, ano, komon, or backsides after all that, something's wrong!

I struggled to install this thing, even though the directions say that it's easy. However, once I got it to function without leaking it was ... wonderful. Yeah, wonderful. Relaxing, gentle, warm, and so clean. I like it. I look forward to using it in good health for years to come. Call me strange but I believe that this is a revolution for your backsides!

Arlo Mudgett's Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.



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