Indubitably Bidet

So let’s just cut straight to it – The bidet is kind of amazing.

As an American who has recently transplanted to Italy, I was afraid of it at first. I turned up my nose at the strange-looking sink-toilet, confused by the idea of squatting over a faucet, splashing myself with lukewarm water, and buffing my bum with a hand towel. It seemed improper, somehow, or maybe even primitive. I imagined myself as a king who rapidly transformed into a caveman as I shuffled from my porcelain throne to a hover above what could be quite useful as a dog’s bowl. It took a few weeks to drum up the courage… And now I’m obsessed.

I’ll never forget the first time I shifted, pants around my ankles, from the T to the B. I had let the water run for a minute, not wanting to be traumatized by icing my own anus. No no, I double checked the flow before wetting my nether-lips and after a few seconds of streaming action, a beautiful sensation began to spread from my spread cheeks. Like a big warm hug from someone you love and haven’t seen in ages.

As a gay man, I’m already rather comfortable with my bottom business, so really I had already fought half the battle of getting used to splashing and massaging away the discomfort of defecation. After a week, I was whistling as I wet my tooter, and after a month, I was hitting high notes as I sang hallelujah for a happy hole. Never again will I have to nervously wonder if my dirty deed would linger on behind me. Forevermore, I can shine my hiney after the drop-off and go confidently onward with my day.

Who could have invented such a thing? Well, the French of course! Women used to straddle a small, raised basin of water to rinse off their French lilies when the fragrance was ripe. Then, just like Adam to Eve, all the men started joining in, wanting to wash their naughty bits, too. Now the bidet is a standard, nay, required, feature in every domicile. It’s used for douching, rear rinsing, feet washing, and many more wet and wild wonders of private concern.

I don’t think I can ever again live without a bidet. Who doesn’t want to finger their fanny regularly?

Peeling An Onion

I like to prep my onions after I buy them by peeling off the papery outermost layers so that when I’m ready to use them while cooking I can skip the flaky mess. Today this onion caught my attention in a more poignant manner and I couldn’t help but capture it’s strange yet familiar form in a photo. I would say that we peel away layers, to borrow from the analogy, only by pushing ourselves into the hands of the unknown and letting it tear from us the skin we thought we had and reveal another that is thicker and juicier. By ever-changing experience, we break our shells, cut off our crusts and remove our rinds. The onion itself must be transformed, stripped of its outer self, cut and thrown on the fire, in order to bring out its higher essence, to provoke a deeper and more satisfying flavor. An onion that stays hidden within its papery mask will rot and be useless, serving no greater purpose. Likewise, a person who chooses not to rip off his or her clinging cloak of comfort and security risks losing the potential awareness of the higher self who is to be found naked beyond the fires of self-transformation.

The Mighty Dolomiti

Standing apart yet nestled among the Alps are several small clusters of mountains known as the Dolomites, or Dolomiti in Italian. Not dotted by pine or rising into soft ridges or high peaks like their famous cousins, the Dolomites are paler, quite literally, in comparison, having once been referred to as the Pale Mountains by the Ladin people of antiquity.

The Dolomites, named for the French scientist Déodat de Dolomieu, are in fact ancient coral reefs shaped by time and nature to their curious present state. Sharp ridges, points and drops define these pre-historic structures made of layer upon layer of geological transformation that began with Pangaea, Planet Earth’s supercontinent of yore. They are a marvel to scientists who have used them as a living timetable to explore the distant past. Each layer harbors fossil records from the Permian era through the Mesozoic, when what we now know as northern Italy was submerged beneath a tropical ocean. It was at the end of the age of the dinosaurs when these ancient coral reefs were raised from the waters as the Alpine ranges were being formed by the compression of Africa’s movement toward the European continent. With the passing of ages, the recession of glaciers, winds, and gravity, the Dolomites have been carved and molded into shapes that have captivated minds for millenia.

Many legends exist from the times of the Ladin people, post-Roman Alpine dwellers who were inspired by the Dolomites seemingly magical differentiation from mountains around them. One legend tells of a Moon Princess who came down to earth to be with her human lover. However, she began to long for the bright, pale surface of the Moon and wished to return home. Her lover, seeking the help of two salvani, wild men schooled in the magical arts, had them weave moonlight with which to cover the mountains in the pale splendor of the moon. The Princess returned to the Earth and to her lover, bringing with her some moon flowers, what we know as edelweiss.

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I, myself, was charmed by the otherworldliness of the mountains as I walked along the San Pellegrino Pass this Christmas Day. We were on our way to the Rifugio Fuciade for lunch. Many rifugi, or refuges, dot the Alpine range. Rifugio Fuciade was built in the sixties by three priests with the intention to offer shelter for mountaineers and travelers. It has since been converted into a rustic Italian restaurant and inn. We walked a few miles along a mountain road, past breathtaking vistas, through pine and fresh snow, and sat down here for a four-course lunch and a bottle of Lagrein, my favorite wine from the region of Trentino. Hats off to the chefs, who catered to four vegetarians and one gluten-free individual with all the gusto expected from a large Italian meal prepared in the middle of the mountains.

On top of the world, I witnessed ancient history and dined on local flavors. A very Buon Natale.

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