In some respects, journalists are lucky. The Covid 19 virus doesn’t affect the work lives of most of us, who have always worked at home or can easily switch to home writing. The problem is that in a crisis, editors are pretty well indifferent to any content that doesn’t bear directly on the Big Story. This is a good time to be an epidemiologist with writing skills.
I have nothing original or authoritative to say about this virus. But I’ve noticed that there is nothing like crisis-inspired uncertainty and anxiety to encourage creativity in humour. Maybe you’ve also noticed your inboxes filling up with clever pix like this?
Are you seeing a theme here? Yes, I mean toilet paper (TP). It’s the one item everyone is seeking and bent on hoarding.
In Germany they call such people “hamster buyers,” a rather clever term:
By my reckoning, everyone by now must have 1,000 rolls per person piled up in their basements. If you see someone grabbing bags of flour, you might ask, “Planning on doing lots of baking to pass the time at home?” But you don’t need to ask about the toilet paper, because baking is an elective human activity, while (duh) pooping isn’t.
The average American uses 57 squares of toilet paper (TP) every day, which works out to 1.5 rolls a week. With TP humour on my mind—and although not an epidemiologist, the happy owner of a high-end Japanese-style toilet/bidet, therefore experiencing low to no TP anxiety, I tweeted:
"This will surely be the last crisis in which toilet-paper hoarding is a thing? Soon everyone will have Japanese bidet-toilets. Once you have one, you wonder how you ever did without it and why is it taking so long to become the norm?"
I immediately got a retweet from a company called TUSHY with the hashtag #Bidet2020. Their motto is “For people who poop.” I am a sucker for clever marketing, and the name “Tushy” for a bidet company just hit me smack in the kishkes as one of the best names for a product ever.
“Tushy” is an anglicization of the Yiddish word “tuchus,” which is slang for someone’s butt. You sometimes hear it in adult comments like, “Does this make my tush look big?” The softer “tush” is usually used with babies and small kids and, let’s be honest, most often employed in locutions like, “Did you remember to wipe your tush?”
Before I knew it, I was interviewing Tush Bidet’s New York-based CEO, Jason Ojalvo, who bills himself as #1 in the #2 business.
Ojalvo founded Tush Bidet with his Montreal partner, Miki Agrawal, who is half-Japanese, so she comes by her appreciation of bidets honestly. (It was Miki who came up with the name Tush.) The Japanese have been into bidets in a big way since the 1980s. Why has it taken us so long to adopt this hygenic practice? Maybe because in the West, bidets have traditionally been associated with brothels?
Tushy got off the ground in 2015, and Jason claims that although there are other brands in bidets, nobody is pushing bidets as aggressively, and surely nobody is having as much fun with the concept as his team.
Visit their website, hellotushy.com (do NOT go to Tushy.com, Jason warned me, where apparently there is some bad stuff I chose not to check out), and look at some of their ads, written by a professional comedian. They are kind of gross but funny, and if you watch a few of them, you’ll find your normal shyness in talking about this universally experienced but near-universally embarrassing function melting away. (Trust me, this is a subject I never would have predicted I would be writing about before seeing the Tushy ads.)
There aren’t many companies for whom this crisis is going to be economically beneficial. Tushy is one of them. Their product costs very little—only $79 US; there is a Canadian distributor—and it attaches easily to any toilet.
Lest you imagine I am getting some benefit from promoting Tushy, let me disabuse you of any such idea. As mentioned, I already have a far more deluxe model by another company (it has many buttons, but I only use two of them), and wouldn’t accept a gift even if offered.
My motivation here is to market the concept itself, but also because Tushy says that a portion of their products goes to build community toilets in India, “enabling the poor [there] to lead healthier, productive and more dignified lives.” No, I don’t know the percentage, but whatever it is, it is going to a good cause.
Maybe you’re not poor, and dysentery isn’t your family’s issue, but surely you want to do your bit for the environment? According to the Tushy site, it takes 437 billion gallons of water, 253,000 tons of bleach, and 15 million trees to make TP annually. It takes 37 gallons of water to produce one roll of TP. A bidet uses an eighth of a gallon of water per use, and not a single tree suffers in the process.
Also according to the Tushy site, wiping with dry paper or wet wipes contributes to 30 million annual cases of hemorrhoids, UTIs, yeast infections, anal fissures and anal itching, amongst other tush-related miseries.
Don’t you already have enough crap in your life to deal with? Do you want to flush away TP anxiety forever? Buy a bidet. It won’t ensure that you don’t get the virus, but it will ensure that your gravestone doesn’t read, “…caught the virus on a toilet paper run to Costco.”