I couldn’t find the right words to write about beautiful Venice but I can still find something to say about less lofty objects like the bidet in our hotel washroom.
Growing up in Israel and spending my twenties and thirties in the US I hardly ever came across one of those creations. Yet in our (barely) 3 stars hotel in Mestre, at the outskirts of Venice, there was no bathtub but a nice looking bidet stood proudly right next to the toilet My partner commented that perhaps this was another sign that the hotel was old, a fact that I couldn’t refute as our room looked like it was last renovated some 30 years ago. But I checked at Wikipedia and found that Bidets are (still) common bathroom fixtures in many southern European countries, especially Italy, where they are found in 95% of households.
While in Israel and in the US people are obsessed with cleanliness bidets are absent in both countries. In Israel part of the reason is cultural; bidets were not common in the remote villages in Eastern Europe where many founding fathers originate. Another reason is the enduring shortage of water. Saving water is a national sport and people in Israel shower and don’t take bathes. Many even removed bath tubs from their washrooms, and replaced them with fancy showers. In newer apartments where Jacuzzi/ bath tubs were installed as a sign of prosperity, those creations stand without use.
But in in most parts of the US water is not such a crucial problem and people do take bathes, so why don’t we see bidets? Is this absence connected to the culture of modesty in American culture with its origins in strong Christian belief? Could the very presence of a bidet offend some people?
I can only guess some of the reasons but when I saw the bidet in the washroom I remembered the ubiquitous commercial for “feminine douche”, on American television which I watched for so many years and thought that in this post I would make a plea to export the bidet from Italy to America.