It all came to me freshman year while studying Russian syntax and reading some Puskin. I’m there with a semi-erect penis (a state in which I often find myself when studying anything Slavic) and snacking on a chocolate chip cookie from Olives. I look up from my black leather chair to see my roommate’s friend (whose identity shall remain anonymous, not out of deference, but apathetic indifference towards him) carrying in two boxes of douche bags. (Trumpets please!)
It was Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s all coming back, here, right here that this intelligent fellow bought the d. bags as a gag gift for his girlfriend to celebrate St. Valentine’s ridding Ireland of Snakes. There existed love, pure affection and comfort in the gesture; for, as far as I could see, this young man had placed his relationship on the line for a dance with destiny and humor – both risks I view as admirable. My moral code is rarely flawed.
I looked up from my chair to gaze more closely at the “Summer Rain” brand of douchebags glinting on the wooden floor of our Witherspoon dorm. One box toppled over, the other stood erect. (Cue the strings!)
The whole concept of a douchebag emanated cleanliness, and as someone who finds nothing more soothing than watching a blackboard washed clean and, who, in his youthful OCD, found solace in the proper washing of hands, I could find nothing wrong in the essence of the bag with its salutary implications for cleanliness, sanitation, and hygiene.
But why has the word appeared in our language in such a pejorative light, cast off as a brutally direct insult? In the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, pesky little pedants run around calling each other the variants: douche, d. bag, D.B., shower pocket, up-easy-so-breezy, d. bop, and d. bopanonymous. It remains unfathomable, verily beyond me to construct an explanation for the use of such a clean-intending device in such a sordid linguistic function as an insult. This is wreckage in beauty. (Percussion!)
As with all queries, I first look to the etymological and linguistic for answers.
To introduce a steady stream of water into the various cavities and crevices (usually the vagina) of the body remains the purpose of the douche. Thus, it is no surprise that it comes from the French for shower. This is an innocuous term, and when the “douche” comes along with the bag, the apparatus referred to can be classified into two main models: primarily, a vaginal bulb syringe with a standard half-inch nozzle, or secondly, the more bag-like fountain syringe, which comes equipped with both an anal and vaginal nozzle differentiated in the fact that the vaginal nozzle is thicker and has lateral holes.
In 1908, the word douchebag appeared in a nurses’ manual with instructions to “hang the douche-bag eighteen inches above the level of the patient’s hips.” Douchebag appeared in its derogatory state first in 1963, antedating “dirtbag” by four years and following “doofus” by three. In 1967, the OED let the world know of the more contemporary usage of the term “douchbag”: “Douchebag, an unattractive co-ed. By extension, any individual whom the speaker desires to deprecate.” Indeed, the term that had described some fugly college student has come more generally to be used as catch-all invective, a free-hanging accusation, an enraged verbal affront slung at some helpless wuss without a ready quip to shoot back. And beyond that, he has on a brown belt with black shoes, enough of a sartorial offense to warrant the fashion police and the nice crisp insult that we are in the process of discussing.
The process of douching and reasons for the apparatus remain in that glowing ember between ambiguity and vagueness, but in my in deep research I have come to several conclusions.
Words to the Wise:
*Using a douchebag as both an anal enema and a source of vaginal irrigation can lead to the transfer of intestinal bacteria into the cooter.
*Vaginal douching can provide a cleaner and happier vag free of undesirable odors.
*Wet dreams, even at twenty years old, are completely normal. I swear. Ooops.
*Douching is an ineffective method of birth control.
I have discovered a cult-like movement dedicated to expunging the use of the douchebag from society. Some say that the douchebag interferes with the vagina’s self-cleaning mechanisms and that it interferes with the natural bacterial culture of the vagina. In fact, douching, despite or perhaps because of its comforting French root, can lead to bacterial vaginosis and pelvic inflammatory disease. Although douches can consist of water, water with vinegar, or antiseptic chemicals, such irrigation down south can cause a pH imbalance.
Leave it to the Americans: douching really only happens in the United States at this point, because douche apparatuses are readily available in pharmacies. Some say 20 to 40 percent of American women from fifteen to forty-four years old use the douchebag regularly – with half of those using it every week.
I must close with something completely dear to my existence and indeed correlating to that first moment when I encountered a douchbag. The closing concept returns to the linguistics of the douchbag in the Slavic realm. In Russian, it is perhaps no surprise that there exists a link between ?y? (doosh; shower) and ?y?a (doosha; soul), and because these words are spelled the same in the prepositional case, one can make many a play on words in terms of loving someone in his soul, or in his shower. Clever. (Lights!)
Yes, clever indeed, but think about the ramifications implicit in having such a close link between “shower” and “soul” on the larger theme of the douchebag. Perhaps, we can say that an entire soul – perhaps an entire essence – remains within the concept of the douchebag. Some higher light, some swishing beauty.