Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You Say 'Bidet', I Say 'Let's Not Talk About This Anymore.'

Last Thursday, I was visited by an old friend. I have known Jill since we were both about three. Our mothers were good friends and Jill says we were "forced friends." But that "forced friendship" grew into an actual one, and even though she moved away when we were about 12, we have kept in touch over the years. We were attendants in each others weddings and I am the Godmother to her oldest son. We used to talk on the phone much more than we do now, because between us we have seven children and Jill has an insanely busy travel schedule for her job. But even though our communication has dwindled to Christmas cards and the occasional Facebook conversation, I think we still value each other deeply. In fact, we both have only older brothers, and I think we look at each other through a sisterly lens. So when she sent me a message letting me know that she'd be in town and wondering if I was available, I knew that I would do whatever it took to see her. It has been at least ten years since we've laid eyes on each other. Even as I type that, I realize how very wrong that is and that I must work harder to rectify that.

Jill is like my son Sean, in that she has never met a stranger. You are immediately drawn to her. She is open and friendly and funny and loud. So you might imagine how Mary reacted to her. She was very skeptical at first, looking at this tall woman who showed up on my doorstep, gave me a big hug and then said,"Oh quick! Show me your bathroom, I have to pee!" Let's just say that Mary hid behind my leg for a bit. But after a while, she warmed up and was giving it to Jill with both barrels. "I think you're older than my mom," (oh yeah, Mary, you are my favorite!) and in response to Jill's question asking her which of her cousins was her favorite, Mary responded, "Um, I think Jill--my cousin Jill. NOT YOU!"

After we had visited for awhile, Jill was telling us about her last business trip. She had just returned from Japan--her first trip there--and was still trying to overcome jet lag more than a week later. She told Mary in a very animated tone that she found lots of interesting things there, but her very favorite was the bidets.

"Do you know what a bidet is?" Jill asked.

Mary, by this time, was sharing a couch with Jill and had decided that she could stick around. She responded by shaking her head "no."

Jill then launched into an explanation of what a bidet is and how they work and how the bidets in Japan are incorporated into the toilet. She told all of this information like she was telling a bedtime story. She explained that bidets were everywhere--hotels, fancy restaurants, even McDonald's. She told us how she checked out tons of bathrooms to rate their toilet/bidets, and took her camera into them to take pictures because she thought they were so funny. Mary was alternately captivated, embarrassed, and horrified. Even I was under the spell, sitting in rapt attention while Jill was explaining how there were buttons for nature sounds for the toilet user who might have a little, um, "stage fright." When Jill finally came to the point in her story about how there was a little dryer on the toilet that would come out and dry your bottom, I was about at my limit watching Mary take it all in. I was shaking with laughter.

Mary smacked her hand against her forehead after hearing that last little tidbit and looked at Jill and said, "That's inappropriate!"

Jill and I looked at each other and split our sides laughing. I wondered aloud if perhaps the adults in the room had a problem with the filters between their brains and their mouths and mentioned that perhaps the fact that a five year old had to remind the 40-somethings about the appropriateness of the conversation was an indictment upon both our maturity and our parenting skills.

From that point on, every new talking point had us asking whether we were being appropriate. It was quite fun. And Mary, after all of that, decided that Jill was definitely someone she liked and even hugged her hard around her neck before she left. Jill proclaimed all of my children handsome and beautiful, but she told me that Mary was part of her tribe.

It was a whirlwind visit--not nearly long enough to talk as much as we wanted. But it was good to steal a few hours and laugh and reminisce and catch up. Even if the conversation was inappropriate.

Come back soon, Jill. Mary says that I am boring compared to you. And no wonder! You are so worldly, what with your intimate knowledge of bidets and such...

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