First Words — 26 March 2020
Luxury in a time of coronavirus

By Mark Gauert

City & Shore Magazine

I’d like to say that it was my idea to install a bidet in our home.

I’d like to say I foresaw a time people would stand in line to buy toilet paper. Or hoard it. Or clamor for it like day traders over silver or gold or natural gas futures in a commodity pit.

I’d like to say that I knew we’d be looking for alternative sources of bathroom necessities someday. That I am the Warren Buffett of two-ply trends. That I saw all this coming.

But it was not my idea to install a bidet in our home. One day we didn’t need a bidet in our home, and the next day, my wife – who grew up in France, where bidets are as common as bar soap in the bathroom – said, “I wish we had a bidet in our home.”

This was not something I was expecting my wife to say, after 35 years of marriage in this country – where bidets are not common in every bathroom. But, after 35 years of marriage, I am finely attuned to my wife’s sense of what we need.

I missed out on a fortune, for example, when my wife said in the mid-1980s that she wished she had bottled water, like she’d had in France. “Why would anyone want to drink bottled water?” I scoffed.

I missed out on another fortune when my wife said, in the late 1980s, that she wished she could get a decent croissant, like she’d had in France. And now, with every bakery, Starbucks and gas station minimart selling a croissant as good as one on the Rue Monge, it’s clear we could have been rolling in pastry dough long ago.

So I was determined not to miss out on the next potential bonanza, when my wife said she wanted a bidet.

I know you’ll find this next part impossible to believe, but the very next day, I walked into work and saw a note atop a box on a filing cabinet in our office.

“Want to test this product?’’ the note read, with just a hint of desperation. “Please.”

It was a bidet fixture.

I know, you’ll find this impossible to believe. (I can barely believe it myself). It was like something out of an episode of Shark Tank. Except with rear-cleaning nozzles where the tank – and, well, you – usually sit.

And not just any old bidet, by the way. It was a Supreme Bidet, Model SB221, from the Superior Bidet Co. in North Miami, promising “A luxurious clean in every bathroom.”

Luxurious?

Thinking as quickly as the editor of a luxury magazine can, I thought, what better opportunity to bring this important trend to the attention of our readers AND get out in front of another European import that could make us rich enough to afford everything in a luxury magazine? (I can recommend the Lamborghini).

I immediately began research and found that bidets are not uncommon in luxury bathrooms in this country. There’s even one in one of the most expensive houses in South Florida – the stunning, $38 million penthouse atop The Mansions at Acqualina in Sunny Isles Beach, which just recently went under contract. (Possibly because someone was tired of standing in line for toilet paper).

I also learned from Mark Barrozzi, founder and CEO of Superior Bidet, that not only are bidets common in Europethree in five homes in Japan now have them, too. Could the rest of the world – read, US – be far behind? Bottled water, buttery croissants … bidets! Bonanza?

I rushed home and carried the review fixture upstairs to the bathroom the kids used to use. No one ever goes in there now, so I figured it would be safe if anything went wrong. There’s no batteries, electricity or fissile material required, so what could? (More on that in a moment.)

Sure enough, as the instructions promised, installation on the toilet was easy. And, within half an hour, I was on my way to a more hygienic, toilet-paper free, “shower clean” experience. (I can recommend the Model SB221, the Lamborghini of bidets).

But I haven’t used it much in the past year – did I mention the kids have moved out, and we never go into their old bathroom? – and I forgot the bidet was even in there, until breakfast the other morning.

“We’re down to three rolls,’’ my wife said.

“That’s OK,’’ I said, “I’ll have oatmeal.”

“Rolls of toilet paper,” she said.

No problem, I thought. I don’t want to show off here, but three rolls will last us awhile. Certainly through the NCAA tournament.

But when that was canceled, people apparently turned their attention from their favorite basketball teams wiping out the competition to just how they were going to wipe.

“I’d better get some,’’ I said.

“There is none,’’ she said. “The stores are out. People are lining up for it.”

And then…miracle. I remembered the bidet.

It’s hard to describe the power I feel being TP independent. Like finding out the leftover broccoli in the kitchen would power the car. Like having the conn of the Starship Enterprise. I could turn my attention away from standing in line for TP to more important things, like standing in line for hand sanitizers, bleach and watching reruns of Star Trek.

I was also thinking, that Mark Barrozzi. He’s sitting on a jackpot!

But he is not.

“We had sold out of almost all our inventory before the crisis and of course that has accelerated since,” said Carlos Barrozzi, Mark’s brother, who’s in the family’s business. “We have not replenished yet as our manufacturing is based in China. Here’s hoping we can replenish soon!”

I hope he can, too, so you also can install a bidet in your home and claim it was your idea.

Just remember you should be sitting down when you turn the middle dial to start the stream of water, engaging the “rear washing mode.”

Otherwise there’s nothing to stop the test bathroom – and the tester – from the full “shower clean” experience.

I probably shouldn’t have saved that part for the end.

  • mgauert@cityandshore.com

PHOTO: Like having the conn of the Starship Enterprise: Control pad of the Supreme Bidet, Model SB221 (Courtesy)

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