Humor So Good It's Double-Ply
A little honestly goes a long way.
I’m all for being forthcoming with certain aspects of life, but there str some things that were a lot better when left in the shadows. Until now that is, so prepare to be truthified (my apologies to Daniel Webster for that one).
I was watching TV the other day, and there were a bunch of women in a commercial chitchatting about “getting real about what goes on in the bathroom.”
What’s that you say?
The reality of what goes on in my bathroom doesn’t need to be discussed, but in the interest of joining this era of openness here it is: I do my business, I wash my hands, I make goofy faces in the mirror, I check for any stray eyebrows that would make me look like a crazed hoot owl, and then I leave. I wasn’t sure what these women did in there that warranted a national commercial campaign where they needed to unburden their potty souls, but now I’m curious. Tell me something I don’t already know, ladies.
I’ve been married for twenty-nine years, so there is no sense of wonderment on my part about what goes on in there. I’m pretty damn certain I know what goes on in there. On those occasions when my wife does close the bathroom door, I’m downright blissful not to know.
So these women in the commercial were standing around, and all of a sudden they felt a need to discuss the shortcomings of their toilet paper right up to (and I’m not kidding) keeping their hands clean. Anybody over the age of three knows what toilet paper is for, how to use it, and where it goes when we no longer need it. Of all the needless government regulations regarding instruction labels and warnings, thankfully toilet paper is not listed as a product that needs any. Toilet paper is the only product I can think of that comes without instructions of any kind. I’m pretty sure you could hand a caveman or cavewoman a roll, and he or she would know exactly what it was for and how to work it. Where it goes after that is a mystery that nobody cares to know anything about. You flush toilet paper and it goes away like magic and it’s gone forever. What a beautiful system. Oddly enough, I’ve seen toilet paper that claims to be recycled. No freaking thank you. What next -- toilet hankies?
I’ll tell you right now that we spared no expense on toilets that are not only taller than normal toilets and have a longer bowl, but they were designed to flush everything up to and including yard debris. That’s right -- I could rake up leaves and twigs and the root ball off of a maple tree and flush it all down one of our toilets and it would just look up at me, laugh, and say, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?” One of our toilets even has a self-closing seat, and if I could afford it, it would be heated too. This is what being civilized means, people. If I wanted to live off the grid like some sort of survivalist vegan and dig a hole in the ground like a cat, I’d live in a yurt. As far as I’m concerned, modern plumbing beats electricity any day of the week.
This privacy agreement on toilet paper has been an arrangement we’ve had with the TV people for decades and it has worked out fine, up until somebody decided to talk about it. Oh sure, we’ve had our roll-squeezing Whipples, but they and their homey messages seemed mild compared to the present. Up until now, no one ever came right out and said “Helen, I just don’t feel clean with my toilet paper" on national TV. If Helen was a good friend, then she would take Miss Doesn’t Feel Clean out back and hose her down like the underside of a lawnmower or perhaps suggest a series of mirrors or back-up cameras -- anything to keep her from telling people that she just can't figure out how to use something as complicated as toilet paper.
At first, these “let’s be honest about what toilet paper is used for” commercials used bears in the woods instead of real people, and that cartoon was cute and clever, right up until the big Mama bear decided that not only was the little bear using too much toilet paper but he was also leaving bits of it behind on his fur. For God sakes, he’s not even wearing pants! Why should he even care what’s stuck to his fur? If rear-end tidiness was an issue in the bear kingdom the bears would be wearing khakis.
To this I say how much information is too much and who really cares? I say if the toilet will flush it, you’re fine. Use the whole damn roll if it makes you happy. The last thing any of us need is a bunch of bears telling us how much is enough. I don’t tell them they sleep too much. That’s their business.
Wait; it gets worse. There has been a seismic shift in the toilet paper world that goes beyond softness and cute bears with lingering ass-confetti, and the goal of this movement is to lessen the carbon footprint of toilet paper. You may have seen ads where the cardboard roll jumps out of the house and meets up with other cardboard rolls, and they form a cardboard Empire State Building. I say if they can do this then we should be more concerned with toilet paper rolls than illegal aliens.
So, anyway, now They want to get rid of the cardboard roll that has been inside toilet paper since 1890, when E. Irvin Scott and his brother Clarence came up with the idea of toilet paper on a roll. This was a huge upgrade from moss, corncobs, pages out of a Sears & Roebuck catalog and scooting across the floor like a beagle. I can’t help it, but right now I’m thinking about George Washington, revered father of our country, heading out to the woods with a constitutional document under his arm only to stomp back into the house and shout, “Martha, you forgot to replace the corncobs!” I can’t imagine a time without toilet paper, and why the Scott brothers aren’t mentioned in the same breath as Louis Pasteur and Jonas Salk is beyond me.
One hundred and twenty-one years after the first roll, going tube-free seemed like a nifty idea, so Mrs. G. went out and bought a pack of roll-free toilet paper. The product didn’t come in a tidy little “get to know me” package, but in one of those gigantic mega packs that you have to bungee to a shopping cart, lest it tip over and crush a small child or a bear cub. Everybody uses toilet paper, but it’s not exactly something one wants to lug around in a three-story package in the shopping cart. What if you run into somebody you know? Why not just prop up that tower of TP with an enormous tube of hemorrhoid cream, a case of condoms and a six-pack of lice combs?
The roll-free paper doesn’t have a cardboard roll in the center. That’s obvious. What it does have in its place is a gap about the size of a number two pencil, into which one has to cram two or three fingers in order to expand the opening so it will fit on the spool thing that hangs on the bathroom wall. You have to do this from both ends; otherwise there won’t be a clear opening into which to put the spool, a fact that will create all kinds of toilet paper havoc down the road. Once you’ve reamed your roll you charily place it on the spindle, being careful not to disturb the inner sheaves of tissue. It’s a lot like threading a needle with a lasso while wearing mittens.
This is an actual photograph of a roll of this stuff just as it comes out of the package. Notice the center isn’t nice and open like it shows on the commercial. Instead it’s all squished. It’s a lot like a Big Mac on TV, the one that looks like Wolfgang Puck made; yet the one you actually buy looks like somebody sat on it.
On the plus side, the paper itself doesn’t have that annoying glue on the first piece, a fact which spares you from clawing at the roll like a starving cat trying to open a pouch of Friskies; but as the roll goes around – and you’ll want to use more than the three sheets they use in the commercials – it thumps like an old Ford with a flat tire. The whole household can now know exactly, to the sheet, how much you’re using: “Say Fred, the missus and I counted forty-three sheets of paper. Would you mind sitting on the plastic chair?”
But – and here’s the payoff – when you finally get to the end of the roll, it simply and gracefully vanishes. There’s no tube flapping around like an old window shade. There’s no impaled brown cardboard cylinder with a few shards of paper stuck to it on the spindle. It’s just … empty. You’ll sit there and stare at the naked spool like you’ve just witnessed the birth of a blue-eyed talking unicorn. This euphoria lasts about ten seconds because now you have to finger-probe a new roll, and you’ll have to do this over and over thirty-six times, because that mega-pack you just bought should last for months -- unless Fred comes over again. By the time you’re out of it you’ll not only crave a cardboard roll inside your toilet paper, but you’ll be willing to pay for one made out of silver.
I myself have only witnessed this finale once, and my wife saved it for me only because she got tired of hearing me complain that I always missed this monumental event. When she noticed that the roll was close to the end, she used another bathroom. Eventually I unfurled that last little flag of softness, and when I did, I sighed a little, marveled at the ingenuity, then left the bobbin empty because I’m not going to ream another roll of that stuff ever again in my life like I’m some kind of toilet paper proctologist. The planet will just have to suffer the burden of my empty cardboard rolls a little while longer if I have any say in the matter.
Now, up there in paragraph three I noted that They used women in that one commercial to talk about their TP habits. This makes sense because you’ll never see large groups of dudes discussing this subject. I never have participated in this ritual. Not once in my life have I mentioned to a buddy that we need to have a frank discussion about toilet paper.
Having said this, there is now a commercial on TV where a woman and two dudes are hanging around the kitchen and one dude says to the other dude, “Hey, what’s up with that naked spare roll of toilet paper?” He says this with the same stunned incredulity as if he were noting that the other guy was suddenly picking his nose with chopsticks.
Somebody someplace has decided that the spare roll now needs some kind of spare roll cozy and the most natural thing in the world would be to have two guys talk about this with the same vigor as if they were discussing the Superbowl or enormous breasts. Most guys, if they even have a spare roll at all, will just let it sit on the back of the toilet (that’s why the back of the toilet has a flat surface).
On which planet does this happen -- where guys talk about the shame of an exposed toilet paper roll? Not this one, that’s for sure. Maybe They should boot up the space program again so we can find the planet where two dudes talk about covering their spare roll of toilet paper with a decorative sleeve, and once that planet is found we blast it into oblivion. The cheap joke here would be Uranus, but as a highly paid Internet writer I’m way above that sort of laziness.
I will complain about one more thing and then we can flush this topic, once and for all. By mistake, Mrs. G. bought a giant mega-pack of TP; it was the thinnest, slipperiest, most useless thing ever to grace our bathroom. When our daughter stopped by and used the bathroom, she asked if we were doing OK because, you know, that giant five hundred-sheet roll of third-world fax paper in the bathroom sends the message “we stole this from a gas station”.
I offer this remark about these rolls: They never get smaller. Using one of these rolls is like driving a car that gets 235 miles per gallon. I’ve found myself reeling off yards of the stuff just to get rid of it, and even at that, the wad of paper ends up to be roughly the size of a golf ball once compacted.
Of course, in the end you make your own decisions about this topic. Nobody should have to stand around on TV and tell you what kind of toilet paper to buy. Just do what everybody else has done since stores began selling this stuff: Poke your finger through the wrapper, feel it, and if it feels like the velour that the Queen of England uses for her very best ceremonial robe, then you buy it. Then – and this is important - use as much as you want and never talk about it to anyone.