The Makeshift Bidet

The Makeshift Bidet

In northern Europe, Great Britain, and much of the world influenced thereby, the bidet, alas, is not yet a standard bathroom fixture (though it should, on grounds of public health, be required by law the world over!). And “wet-wipes” are still not de rigueur in most bidet-less bathrooms. So, in essence, many inhabitants of the “First World” walk around with traces of “Number Two” up their butts.
But for the gentleman who has experienced the beauty of a bidet, there is no turning back: “Once you go bidet, there is no other way.” So what’s a gentleman to do when he encounters a loo without a bidet? Cross his legs, hope to die, dry-wipe his butt then each thigh?
Enter: The Makeshift Bidet. In lieu of a bidet, attached to the water-source of some toilets is a douchette—a hose with a spray-faucet. A douchette is used thus: After using toilet paper to dry-wipe, a gentleman flushes the toilet, then positions himself towards the front of the toilet seat, thereafter using the hose, held in his right hand, to spray water onto the small of his back as his cupped left hand, into which a dab of liquid soap has been dispensed, is used as a “catchment” directly under the buttocks (and above the water in the toilet bowl!) to catch the water cascading down the cleft of his buttocks, washing his anus, buttocks, and genitals clean. When a proper cleansing has been achieved, the gentleman raises himself from the toilet seat, pat-dries his buttocks and genitals with paper towel, then preliminarily self-washes his left hand over the toilet, using the right hand to operate the douchette. Thereafter, the hose is replaced onto its wall-mounted holder; the toilet is again flushed; the toilet seat is tidied before its lid is lowered; the gentleman thoroughly washes both hands with soap and water over the washbasin; then rearranges his clothing in preparation for exiting the restroom.
Some bathrooms that have neither bidet nor douchette have a makeshift bidet–a plastic pitcher (usually with a long spout such as those used for watering potted plants), that is placed discretely, but suggestively, next to the toilet. Filling the pitcher with cool water before using the toilet, a gentleman, after dry-wiping and flushing the toilet, positions himself towards the front of the toilet seat as described above, thereafter using the pitcher, held in his right hand, to pour water onto the small of his back as his cupped left hand, bearing a dab of liquid soap, is used to cleanse himself. Thereafter, the empty pitcher is returned to its original position, and the gentleman proceeds to tidy the toilet and himself in preparation for exiting the restroom.

Jewish Business Etiquette

-Many self-employed Jews observe a six-day workweek, but working hours on Friday are oftentimes shortened in anticipation of the Sabbath, which begins at sundown on Friday and extends until sundown on Saturday. Orthodox Jews are likely to observe the Sabbath by refraining from all business dealings, including business-related phone calls.

-Business attire and etiquette are generally informed by the host culture.

-The Jewish calendar is lunar; therefore, holidays may occur on different dates from year to year vis a vis the solar calendar. (But per a lunar calendar, the holidays actually occur on the same dates from year to year). Jewish holidays generally begin the evening of the day before the date identified for the holiday’s observance on non-Jewish solar calendars. There are several Jewish holidays of which a non-Jew should be cognizant. A gentleman conducting business with Jewish counterparts and colleagues would be wise to be mindful of these important observances in his interactions.

a) Passover—the holiday which celebrates the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. The holiday is celebrated for seven or eight days, beginning on the night of a full moon in the month of April. Many Jews refrain from eating bread and grain products during the Passover holidays. Strictly observant Jews do not work, go to school, or conduct business during the first two and last two days of Passover. It is best not to invite Jews to events involving food during Passover.

b) Rosh Hashanah—the Jewish New Year. The holiday typically occurs between Labor Day and Columbus Day and lasts for one or two days, depending on the branch of Judaism. Even non-observant Jews tend to go to synagogue on Rosh Hashanah (and Yom Kippur. See below). Rosh Hashanah is treated as New Year’s Day in most parts of the world, where people reflect on the past year and plan optimistically for the new year. Rosh Hashanah is also a holiday to begin mentally preparing for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which follows shortly thereafter.

c) Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement, when Jews reconcile their mistakes of the past year with God. It is a day of repentance and fasting and occurs on the ninth day after the first day of Rosh Hashanah (usually in late September or October on a solar calendar). Fasting lasts 25 consecutive hours.

d) Chanukkah—the “Festival of Lights”—commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after a successful revolt against the Seleucid Greeks. As part of the victory celebration, the Jews needed to light the Temple’s menorah but only had one day’s supply of oil. But an eight-day supply of oil was needed, and eight days would be required to produce the necessary oil. Miraculously, the one day’s supply of oil lasted the full eight days. So the miracle of the oil is celebrated with the eight-day candelabra-lighting holiday. Chanukkah oftentimes overlaps with Christmas. It should never, however, be referred to as “the Jewish Christmas.” Though Chanukkah is, in actuality, a minor Jewish holiday, many Jews gather with their families at night to light the candles of their respective family menorah. And while most Jews work, attend school, and conduct business during the Chanukkah, many prefer to have their evenings free so as to be home with their families for the candle-lighting ritual. Today, partly because of the social pressure derived from the holiday’s proximity to Christmas, many Jewish families give gifts to their children. But the holiday is traditionally spent playing games for chocolate “coins” and eating potato pancakes. The large menorah decorations in public areas serve primarily to assert the Jewish faith in the midst of the oftentimes concurrent, seemingly overwhelming Christmas celebrations.

Other Jewish holidays that are less-known by non-Jews (and even some Jews):

-Sukkot—the “festival of booths,” commemorates the Biblical account of the Jews wandering in the desert, where they had to build temporary shelter. Many observant Jews pitch a tent or build a shed in their backyards and sleep and eat there during the holiday observance. Sukkot, as important a holiday as Passover, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur, occurs on the fifth day of Yom Kippur and typically occurs in late September or early October. The holiday lasts for seven days. Many Jews do not work during the first two days of the holiday and prefer to eat dinners in their makeshift shelters with their families.

-Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah—both holidays occur immediately after Sukkot, the former being an extra day added on to Sukkot; and the latter being a celebration of the completion of the annual cycle of Biblical readings during Sabbath services.

-Tu B’Shevat—which occurs in late January or early February, is, for all intents and purposes, the “Jewish Arbor Day” and is used to calculate the age of trees for certain religious purposes. The holiday takes place on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat. On this day, the Jewish people celebrate the New Year of trees, plants, and flowers. Ecological in nature, the holiday is usually celebrated with the planting of trees. A special gift of the holiday is to plant a tree in a person’s honor on the holiday.

-Purim—is in effect the “Jewish Madri Gras.” The festive holiday occurs in March, one month before Passover, and celebrates the rescuing of the Jews from a Hitler-like, genocidal tyrant. Work is not forbidden on this day, but some Jews celebrate the day by not working.

-Yom Ha-Shoah—Holocaust Remembrance Day, observed in late April or early May.

-Shavu’ot—commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. This very important holiday occurs between the end of May and the beginning of July, and lasts for one to two days, depending on the branch of Judaism.

-Tish B’av—commemorates the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem and other great tragedies of the Jewish people. The holiday occurs in late July or during August. Fasting is required, but working is not forbidden. Many observant Jews, however, prefer not to work so as to avoid fasting in the presence of persons who are feasting.

-Yom Ha-Atzma’ut (Israeli Independence Day, late April or May)
-Yom Ha-Zikkaron (Israeli Memorial Day, in May)
-Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day, late May or early June)

There are five other minor fasting days which occur during various times of the year. Those days are observed only from sunrise to sunset.

A Brief History of Sandals

Man has worn shoes from time immemorial; the oldest known footwear—a pair of sandals made of woven sagebrush bark and found in Fort Rock Cave in the state of Oregon—is believed to be at least 10,000 years old.

If sandals are the earliest form of footwear, then thong-style sandals are amongst the most enduring styles of sandals. The ancient Egyptians wore thongs as far back as 4000 B.C.E. But the appeal of the thong to Americans is much more recent: It derives from the Japanese zōri to which American soldiers took a liking after World War II. The soldiers brought them back to the United States, and by the 1960s, thongs had become popular among both men and women. Also called “flip-flops,” a word which derives onomatopoeically from the sound made when the sandals flap against the ground and the sole of the feet, thongs are regarded as the ultimate beach shoe and are ubiquitous in seaside cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Recife.

The Seven-Fold Tie–the most luxurious of all men’s ties

Exquisite Ties
It is oftentimes said that a gentleman should never compromise on the quality of his shoes, his belt, or his necktie, for they are barometers of taste. A tie is a deceptively simple accessory: The making of a standard long-tie involves approximately 25 steps. A good tie should be made by hand—not by machine—of an exquisite shell (outer) fabric and an excellent lining and interlining. But the crème de la crème of long-ties is the “self-tip, seven-fold tie,” made by hand of a luxurious fabric, with the shell fabric being folded inward upon itself as the tie is being shaped, thereby eliminating the need for any interlining or lining of other fabrics. Consequently, the seven-fold tie consumes more than twice the amount of the shell fabric than other handmade ties, and, as a result, typically costs more than twice as much. But for the connoisseur, the seven-fold tie, with its special “finishes” such as “self-tips,” a “self-loop,” hand-crocheted bar tacks, and a hand-tacked label reward its wearer tenfold. And immediately upon beholding such a tie, one senses its special attributes. As is said in the trade, a seven-fold tie possesses a superior “hand.”

What Every Gentleman Should Know About Cummerbunds

[ Like tailcoats, cummerbunds are increasingly appearing outdated—as if from another age and time. But popular or not, they are never worn with double-breasted tuxedo jackets since those jackets should not be worn unbuttoned. A 21st-century gentleman who insists on wearing a cummerbund (And he would be totally justified in doing so) should be certain to position the open edges of its pleats facing upwards, a vestige from the days when evening pants did not have pockets and the upward-facing pleats were used to store theater tickets and the like. And despite trends to the contrary, where everything from ruby-red satin to Madras plaid to kente cloth cummerbunds and matching bowties are worn, “black tie” means a black tie. And cummerbunds should follow suit. (A viable alternative to a cummerbund is an evening waistcoat of black silk or the main fabric of the tuxedo. A white waistcoat made of the same fabric as the shirt, but of a heavier weight, is also permissible. Unlike regular vests, where the lowest button is traditionally left unbuttoned, all buttons of a formal waistcoat are buttoned).

The word “cummerband” has been included in the English dictionary since 1616. It is originally a Persian genitive phrase, “kamar-bandi,”combining the words “kamar”(waist) and “bandi” (band). The cummerbund was adopted by British military officers in colonial India as an alternative to a waistcoat (vest) and as a decorative covering for the belt. Eventually, by the Victorian era, the accessory had found its way into civilian use. By the 1920s the cummerbund had taken its present form—with pleats. Since the first decade of the 21st century, with tuxedos taking on the overall slimmer fit of modern men’s suits in general, the cummerbund has seen a decline as it tends to add visible bulk to a waistline which has been “narrowed” by the shorter, modern, form-fitting tuxedo jackets. On the other hand, cummerbunds, when of the same color as the trousers, tend to create the illusion of elongated legs—even if at the expense of the illusion of a shortened torso. In the end, then, cummerbunds tend to look best on tall, slender men and men with V-shaped torsos, neither body type being particularly common amongst adult males. ]

How To Care For Men’s Shoes

Shoe Care
A pair of superior men’s leather shoes, made with Goodyear welt construction (which allows for repeated resoling), can last for years—sometimes decades—if properly cared for. Shoe trees of cedar or some other aromatic wood that absorbs moisture and perspiration while deodorizing are essential to shoe-preservation. Once shoes are removed from the feet, shoe trees should be inserted into the shoes. Properly sized shoe trees are essential for maintaining the shape of shoe-uppers, keeping them crease-free for years. (Without shoe trees, shoe uppers will begin to show signs of wear after just three or four wearings). Since shoe trees are of left-foot, right-foot construction, special attention should be paid when inserting them so as to ensure that they are placed into the corresponding shoe. A misplaced shoe tree, if left in a shoe for several days, can slightly compromise the shape, and therefore fit, of the shoe. Shoe trees are sized either numerically (e.g., 8, 10, 12, 14) or by range (e.g., S, M, L, XL). Though not inexpensive, good-quality shoe trees can last a lifetime and are worth every penny spent to acquire them. Each pair of leather shoes should have its own pair of shoe trees.

Shoes should be permitted to “rest” for two or three days between wearings, thereby allowing the shoes to dry out and reshape (with the aid of shoe trees). Shoe racks of cedar (such as those manufactured by Jos. A. Bank) or some other aromatic wood are also essential to the overall preservation of shoes: Shoe racks keep the soles of shoes off the floor, thereby allowing air to circulate under the shoes as they are “resting” or not in use. (Oftentimes, leather soles, if placed directly onto the floor without having been thoroughly dried out, will accumulate mold, which, over time, can compromise the integrity of the soles).

The uppers of patent leather shoes tend to crack if not properly cared for. To prevent cracking, immediately after being removed from the feet, and after shoe trees have been inserted into the shoes, the uppers should be wiped clean with a damp cloth then hand-rubbed with a very thin coat of petroleum jelly, which should be buffed off with a clean, dry cloth the following day. The petroleum jelly serves to keep the patent leather finish supple.

Leather shoes tend to become salt-stained during the winter months in regions of the world where salt is used to protect streets in snowy and icy weather. To remove those unsightly salt-residue markings, a simple, inexpensive, homemade formula is most effective: one tablespoon of vinegar to one cup of water. Using a clean cloth or paper towel that has been moistened in the vinegar-water solution, the salt stains should be gently wiped, the stains disappearing almost instantaneously.

A gentleman who lacks the time or skill to wax and shine his shoes should have them professionally maintained. Most hotels, train stations, bus terminals, and airports have reputable shoe maintenance personnel or outlets. Attendants should be tipped at least twenty percent of the fee charged.

Some men wear shoe taps on the heels and/or toes of their shoes. Since each man wears his shoes differently, it is best that a gentleman wear his shoes three or four times before applying shoe taps so that as indicated by wear, the shoe repairperson will know precisely where to attach the protective taps.

Athletic shoes, because of their rubber content, tend to “breath” less and, as a result, accumulate odor more so than shoes made of other materials. Moisture- and perspiration-absorbing socks, therefore, should always be worn with athletic, rubber-soled shoes. Fortunately, the rubber content of athletic shoes also allows them to withstand washing with soap and water. Whenever athletic shoes are washed, they should be allowed to thoroughly sun-dry for a day or two before being worn again.

Previously worn shoes being packed for travel should be enclosed in plastic bags or shoe bags to prevent shoe soles from contaminating other items in a gentleman’s luggage.