My mother has always been of the opinion that people go crazy over the strangest things.
“Like Madonna!” she once said to Barney Chen over afternoon tea at the Shangri-la.
Barney literally dropped the spoon he was using to stir his tea and gaped. He flushed all the way down to this neck. “What?” he finally chocked out.
Mother tried to be helpful. Clearly, she was speaking to someone who was not as worldly and well-versed in modern pop music as she was. “Madonna, you know, that singer who wears those conned bras,” she said kindly, as if speaking to someone with the IQ of a two-year old who has just turned up to dinner wearing his underwear outside his pants. “She simply cannot sing! I just don’t know what the fuss is all about!”
Barney turned to me. “What…why is she saying these things to me?”
I carefully avoided his eyes and helped myself to more cake.
“I…I need to…please excuse me for a second…,” poor Barney said as he got up. He disappeared in the direction of the toilet, passing Saffy on the way. She later reported he seemed to be sobbing a little.
“I just don’t understand why people always seem to run off to the loo whenever they’re upset,” she added. “It’s the most filthy place ever!”
“Not if there’s a Toto toilet in there,” Amanda told her. She’d just returned from her first trip to Japan. Now, most first-timers usually fall in love with the Shinto shrines, or the wonderful Ise udon, or even the Shu Uemura counter at Mitsukoshi. Amanda fell in love with a toilet bowl.
“Well, of course it sounds terrible when you say it like that,” Amanda sniffed. “That’s just like saying Madonna is just a singer!”
“Well…” Saffy began.
“My point is,” Amanda went on hurriedly, anxious not to have the attention hijacked from her, “the Toto toilet is the most amazing thing! It’s a bidet and…”
“And it blow-dries your va-jay-jay! Yes, yes, we know!” Saffy interupted. “If you give me a hair-dryer and a tip, I’ll do the same thing for you!”
The image of Saffy kneeling down in front of a peeing Amanda while aiming a Braun Satin Hair 5 on full blast kept us in hysterics for days.
A few weeks ago, Saffy found herself in Tokyo on a work trip. It turned out that every toilet she visited had a Toto bowl. The first time she encountered one, she FaceTimed me. “It’s so creepy! The lid just opens by itself when you approach!” she told me, turning the camera onto the offending bathroom accessory.
“Why are you showing me this?” I murmured, half distracted by a particularly graphic YouTube clip I was watching of Dr Pimple Popper excising a huge lipoma.
“Gawwwd!” Saffy said urgently, “What do I do? Look at this panel with all the buttons! I don’t know what anything does! And which one flushes?”
“Call Amanda, she’s the Toto Queen!”
“She’s in a meeting and I…”
I disconnected the call. I generally consider myself a very helpful kind of guy, but there are limits.
Undaunted, Saffy called housekeeping. Apparently, she and Hisayo-san spent a particularly absorbing ten-minutes graphically miming the various urinary and excretionary permutations to match the Toto’s comprehensive menu of cleaning functions.
“Oh my God!” she reported that evening on FaceTime. “I totally get what Amanda has been going on about all this time! You really don’t have to do anything! The lid lifts by itself and the seat is heated, so there’s never any shock. Then, you just sit there and press buttons. It even washes you with either oscillating or pulsating water!”
“Seriously, I’m eating!” I pleaded.
“Seriously, I’m eating!” I pleaded.
“And it pumps the air with ozone deodoriser!” Saffy went on. “So you can’t smell a thing, not that this is such a big deal for me since, as you know, my number twos are only lightly scented! And the best bit is the blow-dry! Oh. My. God! Who knew that warm puffs of air on your va-jay-jay could be so relaxing and…”
I turned off FaceTime.
Amanda is triumphant. “I told you all how fabulous Toto is, and none of you listened to me! We should get one for the apartment! There’s one model that actually plays music!”
Saffy says if she could, she would exchange her office chair for a Toto toilet bowl. “I swear I would sit there all day! Imagine the spike in my productivity!”
“Aiyoh,” Sharyn moaned. “Where got such thing, one?”
“The blow-dry is the best bit!” Saffy told her.