The potential out-of-body experience that awaits you is beyond all the shiny fixtures, around a corner and in—where else?—the ladies bathroom.
Now, normally, I do everything I can to avoid public restrooms: I reduce my water consumption in the hours before running errands, and I always make a preventative pit stop before leaving the house. The latter is a trick I learned from having a toddler and one that—I have a feeling—will pay off in spades some day when the old broad's bladder goes.
But my child—who's now a 5-year-old self-titled “Big Girl”—is a different story. The girl has never met a public bathroom she didn't like. She's a public-bathroom expert. If we've been to your establishment, I guarantee you: She's crapped in your john.
So there we were, playing hide-and-seek among the fixtures at San Diego Hardware, when nature called. “Hurry, Mama!” she said, doing her knock-kneed potty dance with both hands on her crotch. “I have to pee real, real bad!”
I rolled my eyes and lectured her as we made our way to the bathroom. “Ruby, when you get that feeling, you need to stop what you're doing and go to the potty. Don't wait until that feeling is—.”
“Mama!” Her pants were around her ankles and she was folded over herself on the toilet, smiling with bliss. “The seat is warm!”
And that's when I saw the control panel on the wall. Not only was the seat heated, but this Toto toilet offered a paper-free experience that would make the Julia Butterfly Hills of the world come down from their tree houses to relieve themselves.
The revolution: Strategically (and gently) aimed streams of water and air. Now, I'm sure in Japan, this technology is so 1979. But I haven't been to Japan; this is not your mother's bidet.
Ruby wouldn't go in for an aqua squirt on her private bits, which—coming from someone who could break world records in any Prolonged Bout of Self-Caressing contest— was surprising. But that stunner was a footnote compared with the sensation of water being squirted on my private bits at San Diego Hardware with my child looking on. Regardless of my feelings about public bathrooms, there was no way I was leaving that one without having had the full experience.
Ruby watched from the corner as I shimmied out of my skinny jeans, plopped my booty on the oh-so-toasty seat and started pushing buttons. I selected “Front Cleansing” as my starter, the button for which bore a Clip-Art silhouette of a woman with a delicate projection of water shooting up at her nether front region. I also had the choice of oscillating or pulsating but I cannot for the life of me remember whether I bothered to choose one. I'm pretty sure I skipped pulsating. After all, my child was in the room and I wasn't quite sure what to expect.
There was a bit of a delay— and possibly a false start— before the projection made contact and I was reduced to tearful giggling. I don't know if there was an anatomical / mechanical divide because I wouldn't say the water hit exactly the right spot, but it was damned well close enough, which totally counts. But then, there was my kid and an awkward sensation that everything was flowing the wrong way. Pretty much everything about the situation was hilariously awkward.
Never one to leave the party before I should, I tried out one of the two “Rear Cleansing” buttons (there was a soft option and then a regular option for those with—more—ewww! You know, I can write about anything but not that. Ever wonder where my line is? It's right there, at number two). Anyway, it was the anal jet stream that made me a maniacal laughing mess, an incapacitated parent winging my arms around in search of the orange “STOP” button that might as well have come with a warning that read, “In case of emergency, use toilet paper.”
Since both of my areas had just taken baths, I had little choice but to test out the “Dryer.” Things didn't really get much better, though, because all I could think about as the warm air swirled beneath my thighs was some very forthcoming dinner guests we had a few years back. They entertained us with stories of a neighbor who—in the course of trying to swing them—had revealed the details of his forced-air fetish. To each his own, I say. But damn it if I don't think of that stranger every single time I use a hair dryer.
Ruby and I eventually stumbled out of the bathroom in a fit of laughter and to the car, where Sam was waiting after ordering the new pulls for our bathroom. I dragged him back inside to the women's bathroom, locked the door, commanded him to sit on the toilet and aim the water. He devolved into speechless, shivering laughter with the “front” cleanse, then the two “rear” cleanses. And, like me, he completely lost it on the dryer cycle.
When he caught his breath, as the dryer blew on his nuts, he wiped his tears away. “Baby,” he said, “I have three words for you: Forced-Air Guy.”