An Ode to the Bum Gun
A bidet shower has a hand-held triggered nozzle, similar to that of a kitchen sink sprayer, but it’s mounted next to the toilet. It delivers a spray of water to assist in anal cleansing. This is how you wipe your arse in Indonesia, and in many other Asian countries.
Sounds lovely, right?
In all seriousness, the bum gun serves a bigger purpose, as I have learned during my recent move to Bali. Unfortunately the sewerage systems here can’t process toilet paper here and the bidet shower, aka the bum gun, is the most efficient way to clean yourself once you’ve dropped the kids off at the pool. It’s always scary when you accidently flush some and then have to wait and pray to all the gods that it’ll go down.
Starting to use the bum gun it’s got me thinking about a lot of things. Like, at what point did us western societies decide to stop using this method of cleaning and instead make the choice to start cutting down trees for toilet paper? Logically, the bum gun is way more environmentally friendly and cost effective.
Maybe the concept of the bum gun sounds gross, or unusual or cringe-worthy. But the more you think about it, the more you realise that these countries have the right idea. We never really consider where our toilet paper comes from, but if we did, we’d realise it didn’t just grow on the supermarket shelves. Trees were cut down, plastic was manufactured to wrap it and oil was burned to transport it. All just so that we could wipe our arses with a soft piece of tissue and then carelessly flush it away.
I was told I would learn to love my bum gun. I wasn’t so sure, but I decided to venture into my first-time experience with an open mind. I’m a strong believer in trying everything at least once, otherwise you could miss out on something amazing. Deep down I really did want to love my bum gun, to ease into the local way of living, to prove to myself that I could do it. I mean, I was already in love with the idea and the knowledge of reducing my environmental impact, but I wasn’t sold on the actual process of using this newfound tool in my everyday life.
As I tentatively lowered myself down onto the seat I looked to my right and saw the bum gun just sitting there waiting, watching. I don’t know why I felt so scared; maybe the thought of shooting a jet stream of water onto my ass was more intimidating than I’d first thought, but it was too late to turn back. In those moments before I reached for my bum gun I had so many unanswered questions and no one was around to answer them for me. How powerful would it be? Do you shoot from the front or the back? Will I make a mess? Is it hot or cold? All of these things I had not previously considered.
I reached for the bum gun and gave it a test shot. The damn thing was so powerful it flew across the room and hit the wall in front of me. Fuck. With more caution and a less intense grip on the button I twisted my arm around behind me, angled as best as I could and pulled the trigger.
It was cold and it felt messy. The mess can probably be attributed to the fact that I have since learnt I was supposed to shoot from the front and not from the back. Oops. But it really wasn’t as bad as I had previously feared. Aside from the fact that it was a high pressured water gun hitting my most vulnerable of places, I could probably get used to the sensation. Very used to it, in fact.
I still haven’t learned to love my bum gun; it’s a relationship I’m going to have to work on, but work on it I will. We’ve decided to take things slow for now. Sometimes I still accidentally flush my TP. I know it’s wrong, but sometimes when your mind is elsewhere it’s easy to slip back into old habits.
Which brings me back to my original question: why did the majority of the west transition from the environmentally friendly bum gun to the unsustainable environmentally damaging product that is toilet paper? In a time when the world is literally dying and global warming is our biggest threat, it makes much more sense to rekindle our relationship with the bum gun. It’s time to give a crap – after all, nature is calling.
Cover by Courtney Aho