So, here’s the deal: I was living in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) trying to work a deal with the younger Khashoggi brother, Amr, to sell an oil additive to (among others) ARAMCO, the KSA national oil company, and YUSEF BIN ACHMED KANOO, a giant ocean transport corporation. I admit that selling an oil product to the Arabs was akin to selling ice to eskimos. Then again, it was an adventure; and I’m always up for adventures. |
My well-appointed flat was located on the fifth floor of the Al Khozama Towers adjacent to the Al Khozama Hotel. I was the first occupant, and the suite was sparkling white—carpet, tile, walls, furniture, appliances—and had that new car smell. The balcony was spacious and overlooked an ornate mosque. The top two floors of the building housed a complete athletic club with two squash courts; and a tennis court on the roof. I made daily use of the facility especially during “siesta” time; i.e., in KSA the workday is structured as follows: 0800 till 1200, four-hour break, and 1600 till 2000. I also had access to the hotel swimming pool, and enjoyed signing privileges with the hotel restaurants. Back to the apartment: it had a large living room, and a dining area off the kitchen, which itself was large and modern. The cavernous bathroom featured a typical commode and a bidet. The second item puzzled me a bit—I mean, I was used to the extra porcelain fixture from my European travels—but of what possible use could it have for me? Now, female usage, I understood, but my nature is to find a personal purpose for everything, and the presence of a bidet perplexed me. I decided to let the situation rattle around in my bean for a while—see if a solution revealed itself. By the way, I previously wrote about this subject in my 2009 book AFTER HOURS: Adventures of an International Businessman (AEG Publishing, New York, New York). However, I recently came across some photos that compelled me to revisit the incident.
The bidet had separate hot and cold water spigots that fed an opening in the bottom of the bowl. When I slightly opened one of the faucets, water bubbled up in a miniature geyser. Opening the valve to almost full created a spout that shot up about three feet. Cool! I wondered if anyone ever mistook the bidet for a drinking fountain. I turned both taps on full to see if the stream could reach the ceiling. No such luck. Naturally, there was a drain in the bottom of the bidet to evacuate water, but oddly (to me) was a bizarre feature; namely, a metal plug operated by a plunger between the spigots. So, someone wants to collect the water after a hosing down whatever? What on earth for? Use it as a foot bath perhaps (clean water of course); or worse, “Sir, we must have this douche / deuce water analyzed.” Excuse me, but eewww!
At this point, it seems appropriate to mention that in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries the toilet facilities do not feature the “throne” we’re used to. Instead there is a slot in the floor, and templates that indicate where one should place his/her feet and squat. There is also a small hose (usually rather worn and grubby) within reach for cleaning afterward. Toilet tissue (for drying) may or may not be available. I have a friend who once attempted the floor slot deuce dance with disastrous consequences. Apparently he didn’t sit back properly and left a septic log in his dropped trousers. Oops! (Now, that’s a take-home visual I’ll wager he’s never forgotten.)
The gents’ room in Khashoggi’s Riyadh office headquarters featured throne, hose, and tissue—a veritable trifecta of backside hygiene maintenance. Aside: office buildings in KSA do not have ladies’ rooms because women are not permitted to work except as teachers or medical professionals—and most of them are expats.
Let’s see…hose…cleaning; bidet…??? Eureka! The bidet in my flat was a cleaning station or basically a $500 hose. Since I abhor having anything in my possession that doesn’t have a purpose, the sudden discovery was welcome, but was it one I would utilize? Well, I couldn’t have the bidet just taking up space. I decide to analyze (good choice of words) the situation a bit more.
The commode and bidet were several feet apart, so the first awkward step would be moving from one station to the other without dripping, and with pants around your ankles. I thought of my Saudi co-workers who wore a thobe, a long, ankle-length white garment over T-shirt and trousers. The process seemed dizzying. Let’s see, pants around the ankles, and holding up a three-feet long “shirttail”. Hmm…maybe they removed the thobe.
The hot and cold taps made sense since the proper temperature was important. Too cold would be like an ice cycle probe, and too hot, especially with hemorrhoids, and, “I just cauterized those babies”. Either way would be unpleasant, and eject one from the seat with a loud woo-hoo. But how do you know when the temperature is just right? Stick your finger in? That would be tough assuming you’d have to be seated in the first place to minimize dripping between stations. And how much pressure? Too little, and the water doesn’t reach; too much, and an unwanted enema.
Worse yet, what if one enjoyed the sensation? I can see it now: a guy seated and giggling; a voice comes from the outside, “All right, what’s going on in there? That water’s been running for a long time.”
Uh-oh, the doorknob starts to turn. Beads of sweat appear on the guy’s forehead. He’s wondering—did I or did I not lock the door?
Finally, I gave the bidet a test run. The sensation was a bit weird, maybe goosey is a better word, but—hey—I really felt clean!
Original copyright 2009 by Gene Myers aka Clean Gene
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