I make a mental note, occasionally, to acquire a better class of friends. The way I see it, one’s friends should generally be kind and helpful, and supportive of one’s decisions in life – whether those decisions be great and dramatic, or subtle and clever. An encounter with our friends should leave us feeling happy, and better about ourselves, not filled with irritation, defensiveness and hot-eared humiliation.
While I was away on a recent extended business trip to a country I don’t like and that doesn’t like me, I had the master bathroom in my condo redone. I figured it was time. Everything in there looked a little outdated and… I don’t know… too 1990s. I wanted to refresh that frequently-used room, and give it dash of pizzazz, with new colors and fixtures.So, a man who knows nothing about interior design set to reading and research. The original bathroom design was inefficient, left lots of unused space, and had an unnecessary second sink. A new, enlarged, glass-enclosed shower would fit in nicely. A new, more attractive tub with quieter Jacuzzi jets. More elegant faucets. Additional towel racks, hotel style. Flexible lighting options. This was becoming kind of fun!
Then my Polish contractor asked a question I hadn’t considered previously. “You want bee-det?”“What?” I asked.
“You know, bee-det. Lady use for…”“Yes, I know what it’s used for,” I quickly assured him. “But I don’t really need one of those, do I? I live alone. There’s no woman living here.”
The contractor looked down and cogitated on that for a moment, finally settling upon a reasonably politically correct way to continue to up-sell me.
“Is okay,” he nodded in non-judgmental fashion. “For men like you, is also good idea to be clean on ass. Good for health.”
“Now listen, Wojcik, I’m not gay!” I told him. “I just don’t live with a woman, so I don’t need a bee-day in my bathroom. I mean, I have female visitors, of course. Overnight guests sometimes…”And then, suddenly, my thoughts went in a different direction. I sobered and considered. “Um… How much more would it cost to install one?”
It turned out the price wasn’t too prohibitive, so I gave Wojcik the go-ahead. I entrusted him with a budget and my key. Wojick and his gang of Haitians got to work, and I headed to the airport.Upon my return, I paid off the taxi, waved to the doorman and headed up in the elevator feeling a certain mild apprehension. I have some prior experience with contractors, and worried a little about the situation that would greet me.
It was perfect. Everything was perfect. The renovation was completed on time, I held an invoice that was entirely faithful to the promised budget, and my bathroom looked excellent. I spoke aloud quiet words of praise to the virtues of Poles and Haitians.
Like a kid on Christmas morning, I proceeded to play with everything. Turned the sink faucet on and off. Flushed the commode several times, thrilling at how it managed an instant Niagara-like gush, while using less water than the old one. I stood under the powerful rainfall shower until I was pink and tingly, then had a bath until I was pinker and tinglier.
The sole exception was the most novel thing in the sparkling surroundings. An object of contoured form and vaguely-understood function. A thing of specific utility shrouded in a mist of feminine mystery. I didn’t play with the bidet.
At this juncture, there was only one other obvious item of business, and that was to show off. So I called my friend Amelia and asked her over. Amelia is an OB/GYN and former paramour. She’s now married to fine fellow I resent only slightly.
“Oooh, it’s GOR-geous!” she declared, gazing around my brand new water closet. “I love the cool blues,” she continued, one finger to her lips, her heels clicking on the marble floor. Then Amelia noticed the additional device I’d installed.
“That’s interesting,” she said, brown eyes fixing me with an analytical scrutiny I well remembered. She took a step closer to me. “Explain.”“Ah, I just figured why not,” I said, looking away, taking a step back and hitting a towel rack. “You know, while I was at it…”
“Uh-huh,” she said, skeptically. “Well, you’re clearly lying, but it’s a stroke of genius anyway.”
“It is?” I asked. “Really?” The last time I’d had her over to pass judgment on a new acquisition, she’d submitted me to withering ridicule.
“Yes, and your lady friends will love it.”
“I’m not sure why, exactly, but I think it’s kind of sexy,” I admitted, glad I’d called Amelia.
I had forgotten about the renovation and its singular fixture. The Bonehead Club had gathered at my place again. A dozen idiot men talking loudly about idiot things. As always, there was discussion of women and politics and sports and cars and women. As always, there was loud rock music, argument, insult, mockery and a whiff of illegal smoke by the balcony door.
And there was liquid refreshment in highly sufficient quantity. Which led to regular traffic to and from the guest washroom in the the hall. Eventually, the master bath was also pressed into duty.
My friend Matthew returned to the living room wearing an expression of utter glee. “Hey, guys!” he hollered, and heads swiveled. “Come check this out!” he cried with a grin too big for his face. Dutifully, the Boneheads hustled down the hall, through my bedroom and into my bathroom.
“Look what Duff put in,” said Matthew, pointing at the bidet. “Isn’t that special?”
Highly irritating hilarity ensued. They all turned to look at me in the doorway, and to enjoy the way my features telegraphed pissed-off embarrassment.
“What do you need that for, Duff?” smiled Matthew.
“I’ll tell you what he needs it for,” began Pete, who works for an airline I avoid.
“I wish you wouldn’t,” I said quietly.“He uses it…”
“Here it comes,” I said, turning to leave.
“He uses it to wash his vagina!” Pete announced cleverly.Because the collective IQ at my place had dropped precipitously in the previous three hours, a cacophonous, joyful roar of mirth shook my home.
“You assholes are just a bunch of jealous, unsophisticated…” I began, but the rest of my retort was lost in fresh gales of laughter, as everyone headed to the kitchen for more beverages.At the proper time in the wee hours, the taxis were called and the Boneheads filed out, not without offering helpful unsolicited advice that I be careful not to scald my important parts, that I refrain from employing my new bidet as a drinking fountain, and other pearls of wisdom.
My friend Pat hung back and was the last to leave. Pat is a very neat and tidy, fashion-conscious man, who loves musical theatre. He’s also gay.
“The bathroom reno is very nice,” he said. “I approve.”
“Thanks, Pat,” I said, feeling a bit pleased. Pat generally tells me, correctly, that I have no aesthetic taste at all.“So, really, why the bidet?” he asked, grinning faintly.
“Good investment,” I replied, avoiding his eyes and opening the door for him. “Get more when I sell the place.”“Mmmm. Good thinking,” he nodded, watching me, unconvinced. “Very Continental to have a bidet, isn’t it? Quite common in upper-class English homes, too,” he said.
“Maybe. I have no idea,” I said. We hugged, he winked at me and left.
I locked the door, cracked the last beer of the evening, and settled into my favorite armchair. Then I checked my mobile and dialed a number in London, where it was morning.
Now saying odd things on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mantalknow