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Op-Ed

Pandemic impulses

January 13, 2022

When the only places open were the grocery store and Home Depot, I turned to Amazon for retail therapy in the dark early days of the pandemic.

William Dotinga

By William Dotinga

Journalist for Courthouse News Service since 2011, copy editor since 2014 and website editor since 2017. Love wine, passionate about the great outdoors and travel.

My oldest friend stayed over a couple of days recently with his wife and child. I would say he’s a recreational video gamer. I am not.

So imagine his surprise when he sees an Xbox in the media console.

“When did you become a gamer?”

I admitted I had not and, truth be told, the Xbox has for the last year and a half been used mostly as a (very expensive) Blu-ray player.

The Xbox was an impulse purchase spurred 100% by the pandemic. In those dark early days of the lockdown, when nothing except Home Depot was open and we’d already done all the home improvement DIY projects we could stomach, getting into “Call of Duty” seemed like a great way to pass the nights.

It was not. I never could get the hang of “Call of Duty,” was mostly abysmal at “Grand Theft Auto” and while visually and audially successful with “Mortal Kombat,” the truth is I was just mashing buttons and giving myself arthritis/carpal tunnel syndrome.

Yet we downloaded “Overcooked” on the advice of my friend and spent a rousing afternoon taking turns at it. After he left, I mostly forgot about it and have gone back to my non-gaming life.

The Xbox plays a mean Blu-ray though.

But one pandemic impulse purchase has changed my life, my outlook on life and made me wonder how I’d languished so long with the (literally) unwashed masses.

I bought a Tushy.

Buying things from a Facebook/Instagram feed is an adventure fraught with peril. Like, it’s highly inadvisable and returns brought on by disappointment with fit or quality or both are inevitable. But I can only be inundated with ads for a bidet attachment so many times before I’m forced to wonder whether the universe is sending me a message.

“Mark Zuckerberg is telling me to buy a bidet attachment,” I said one night over the unending drone of Covid bad news that was (is) CNN’s prime time.

“Is it the Tushy? My colleague just bought one and she says it’s the best thing she’s ever done in her whole life.”

Exactly what I did not want to hear. She’s got kids, a husband, she’s graduated from college. I feel like she’s done tons of better things with her life. There’s no way this Tushy is going to live up to those kinds of accolades.

Or so I thought.

I ordered and it arrived quickly. The hardest part of the installation was taking off the toilet seat (the Tushy sits beneath it) because of course, inevitably, the cheap plastic screws that attach seat to bowl snap at the slightest whisper of torque. I took the opportunity to upgrade to metal screws (832nd trip to Home Depot of the pandemic) and 10 minutes later I was ready to test my Tushy.

What I should have anticipated but did not because I’m a backward American is the force with which a bidet necessarily spews. I should have also anticipated putting something in front of the nozzle if the test was not going to involve my bum.

After I dried off the mirror on the other side of the room, I decided to test it as I should have done the first time: I sat down and turned the dial to wash.

What I did not know but should have since I’d just dried the mirror on the other side of the bathroom is that it would have been better to ease myself into the experience. A quarter turn of the dial rather than all the way to the right.

I liken the experience to the one unfortunate time I put my hand in front of a pressure washer and it nearly sliced it two. Except this time it wasn’t my hand.

I yelped. I gasped. I cried. I swore.

Then, I saw through time.

And during my out-of-body experience I knew my dream of giving up toilet paper and living the true European life was at hand. A fact verified when I took the Tushy out for a real, um, run the next morning and the ultrasoft towels I added to the purchase came away squeaky clean.

I ordered a second Tushy for the guest bathroom while using said bathroom a few days later, failing to realize seconds too late I should have waited for the main bath to be free. I’m sure future guests, should that ever be possible again in this Covid-ravaged world, will thank me.

As I write this column, the most popular gift everyone gave each other over the holidays was the omicron variant and mutterings of lockdowns and restaurants closed except for takeout and canceled events are all the rage. Should such a thing occur again — and it won’t, even if it should, because we’re tired and all political will is long gone —what will my impulse buy(s) be?

I’ll wait and see what Zuckerberg suggests.

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