By Marie L. Monyak
December 23, 2005
This is 2005 and we still have far too many men designing homes and apartments. Call me sexist if you wish, I make no apologies, but a man's area of expertise is the garage and yard. The home is a woman's domain and we know what we want... a huge, comfortable bathroom that would rival any spa.
Come on ladies, my generation burned our bras and became the first truck drivers, advertising executives, construction workers and movie producers. We paved the way for equality and opened career fields that were previously male dominated; now get out there in the world of design and architecture. Build us the bathroom of our dreams.
The room itself should be spacious, with a tub deep enough to sink the Titanic, a separate shower with an abundance of nozzles and water jets, plenty of counter space to display all our expensive perfumes, a heated towel bar and last but not least, the toilet, er... commode of my dreams, a combination toilet-bidet.
By Larry Wright, The Detroit News
Distributed exclusively to subscribers by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.
I suppose the best way for me to describe it is to take you on a test drive. Picture this, you're in Japan and you've been invited to a dinner party. Sometime during the evening you walk into the bathroom and you see what appears to be a toilet - ok, if you prefer, a "commode". It doesn't have the usual huge, ungainly water tank on the back and with the exception of the LCD panel on the low profile reservoir, it still appears to be fairly normal. As you approach, the lid raises automatically. You're impressed, but still have a need to accomplish what you came in for. As you seat your derriere', music from the MP3 player in the control panel begins to play a soothing melody, how wonderfully relaxing! Back in America you have a singing fish on your wall that's motion activated and plays a tune or two, you assume this must be the same low end technology. You're about to find out how wrong you are. Perhaps you are being a bit "noisy", suddenly flushing sounds emanate from the commode to mask your own noises, solely for the purpose of preventing embarrassment when you rejoin your friends in the next room. Noise isn't all the Neorest is masking, as you are enjoying the soft melodies of the MP3, you are becoming aware of a slight "poof" sound accompanied by the fresh scent of a spring breeze. The automatic, timed air freshener is doing its intended job. You are beginning to wonder about this contraption that you're seated upon when it becomes remarkable clear that your tushy is exceptionally comfortable because the very seat you are on is heated. You?re thinking, this is truly extraordinary, but you don't hold the thought for long once you discover there's no toilet paper in sight, not even an empty spindle for the soft, cushiony paper you have come to expect next to every commode. Without budging, you look left, you look right, still no paper, but you spy what appears to be a remote control gizmo within easy reach on the countertop. It's not unlike the one you have for your television back home. Curiosity aroused, toilet paper forgotten, you pick up the remote only to be reminded that you are in Japan, as the remote is embossed with Japanese characters, not English. You're thinking hmmm... what harm can it do, probably changes the music on the MP3 player. Surprise! Your derriere' is shocked by the sudden spray of warm water being emitted by a wand that has suddenly appeared under you. As your shock subsides and your rationale returns, you realize that since you can't find the plush paper you so badly required just a moment ago, this "washing" you just received is a pretty darn good substitute ..."poof" spring breeze again. Like a cat, curiosity has you transfixed, you find you must push even more buttons. Could it be? Yes it is! The wand has changed positions and is providing you with a wonderfully warm oscillating water massage of your posterior! How absolutely delightful! The next button seems the most likely to try, and you're pleased that you choose well, as a blast of warm air is drying all that was previously washed. Oh, sweet nirvana, you really do feel like royalty sitting on your throne! But with no need to remain seated, you rise only to hear the automatic cyclone flushing action of the commode. "Poof" again, and the lid is ever so slowly and quietly lowering itself. Oh, you're thinking, you just have to have one of these! You'd be the talk of all your friends! You could charge admission to your powder room! Where do you get one? Would Japan Airlines allow one as carry on luggage? You can't pull yourself away from this wondrous creation. You approach the commode to get a closer look at the LCD panel. You are in the sensor zone and the lid once again rises, ever so quietly. You simply cannot resist, you push a button, and the retractable wand that became ever so intimate with you earlier, appears and gently sprays a stream of water across the room, just missing your face, only to shower the mirror. In a panic, you step away from the commode, dry the mirror and return to the party, red-faced, with the impish grin of a child caught in the cookie jar.
Are you thinking this is a fantasy, that this writer has imbibed a drug and now suffers from grandiose hallucinations? I may refuse to discuss the 60's but I assure you, Toto of Japan is real, very real, with profits of $4.4 BILLION in 2004. Toto Ltd was established in 1917 and maintains 80 productions plants around the world. At a time when so many U.S. companies are "outsourcing" to foreign countries, Toto maintains four very large facilities right here in America - two production plants, an assembly plant and a logistics center/warehouse. The Neorest 600, Toto's wickedly smart toilet, is truly a King's throne amongst mere toilets.
Now I'm sure you must be asking the obvious question. If these electronic wonders have been around for 25 years, why haven't you seen one or at least heard of it? I'm afraid I need to offer a short history lesson to understand why.
Archeological digs in China have proven that commodes similar to today's version have been around for 4000 years. It's a common misconception that Thomas Crapper invented the first flushing toilet in the late 1800's, giving way to a nickname for the commode. In fact, the flushing toilet was invented by Sir John Harrington in 1596. (It's unknown if there is any relationship to our local assemblyman of the same name.) Crapper was only responsible for developing many improvements to the flushing system. The bidet (pronounced bee-day) wasn't invented until 1710, by the French, at a time when bathing was considered a luxury and performed only monthly, thereby serving a useful purpose for both men and women. Unlike other countries around the world, Americans do not think of the bidet as a necessity.
This marvelous invention, the Neorest by Toto, that eliminates the need for toilet paper, or hand washing for that matter, is not only a fixture to cleanse the nether regions, but also a bidet, and bidets have never gained much popularity in the USA. It is said that during WWII, our soldiers were the first Americans to see a bidet when visiting the brothels of France. The puritanical mores of the settlers of this great land, still linger with us today. As a result, anything closely related to prostitution is generally thought of as not only socially unacceptable but "dirty". Changing society's traditions and values, and dispelling the taboo associated with the bidet, has been difficult at best. It should be noted though, that the bidet is a common fixture in 90% of homes in Latin America, 60% in Japan and many homes in the Middle East and parts of Asia.
So what am I saying, that we dispel the urban legend, that bidets are nasty, or for sleezy people? You bet! I'm proposing that American women accept, no, embrace a practice that is popular the world over, except right here in our own country. American men can also help by showing a desire to improve upon their own hygiene and cleanliness. I won't even get started on that topic!
Americans pride themselves on being more progressive than any other civilization. We boast that we are one of the most advanced countries when it comes to personal hygiene and grooming, yet we are not accepting of a fixture that cleanses the most unclean area of the human body. We have also become more ecologically aware in recent years, touting recycling, water conservation, decreased paper waste, yet we balk at the idea of owning the very object that eliminates toilet paper altogether and utilizes less water than the guzzlers we currently use.
(It is this writer's personal opinion that another reason a "paperless toilet/bidet" has never gained recognition or popularity is due to a conspiracy by none other than Mr. Whipple himself, but I'll save my conspiracy theory for another time.)
There is one more rather significant reason you may not have seen or heard of these wonders - the cost. The Neorest manufactured by Toto of Japan, ranges in price from $2,000 to $6,000 depending on the features. Although shocking at first, one need only do the reasoning and the math. A four pack of Mr. Whipple's squeezably soft paper is approximately $2.99. The cost of two thousand such 4-packs will pay for the top of the line Neorest. At one four pack per week it would take a little less than 13 years to recover the cost, or should I say investment, and just think, you'd be earth friendly to boot. If the cost is still unattainable for some, there's the trimmed down version for $600 that consists of a seat, lid and control panel that attaches to a regular American made toilet bowl.
For those of you that have moved beyond the shock that such a wonderful fixture actually exists and have some practical questions, I should tell you in advance that the highly creative inventors have considered every possible situation. Never would your delicate underside be shocked by a sudden surge of cold water because the Neorest utilizes an instantaneous water heater providing endless warm water. Should a power outage occur there is a manual override for flushing. Air fresheners are often thought of as "covering up" odors. Along with Neorest's automatic "poofing" air freshener, there is also a catalytic air purifier that engages when the user finishes, thus cleansing the air. The Neorest uses only a mere 1.6 gallons of water for its cyclone flush. For you men that find yourself standing at this porcelain god, Neorest is programmed for a "light flush", which activates after 6 seconds only when both the lid and seat are raised and uses an economical 1.2 gallons of water. If you live in a city that has metered water and pay accordingly, consider the low water consumption and the fact that washing your hands after using the Neorest is no longer necessary, thereby saving a tidy sum every month.
Dare I mention there are several companies in Japan that are currently working on a model that will monitor weight, body fat, blood pressure, urine sugar and blood in the urine? And what would one do with this information? Nothing of course, the information would be electronically dispatched by way of your PC to the family doctor to analyze. And the inventions are becoming even more creative. Are we prepared for a "smart" commode that will greet us in the morning? "Good morning Missus, you've consumed a great deal of red meat the last three days, it would be in your best interest to lessen your consumption of protein and increase your intake of green leafy vegetables. And your stress level is a bit high, is it necessary to fight with the Mister? Also you've gained 14 ounces, perhaps a bit more exercise today to lower your body fat ratio. Have a nice day!" Perhaps that is just a bit too advanced for a society that is having trouble embracing a simple bidet.
Could it be that this combination toilet/bidet is all that stands in the way of America truly being the most advanced civilization in the world?
Yes! That's all I want for
Marie L. Monyak is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Marie at email@example.com
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