• Marilyn Gardner Woods

Over or under?

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

A floating feeling of lightheaded euphoria comes over me when I open the linen closet and find it stocked with toilet paper. Plump, cushy, chalk white rolls of perforated squares of soft tissue billowing layers reminiscent of a Cumulus-cloud-covered summer sky. As many as thirty rolls at a time circled together like oncoming headlights.




I puzzle over this weird sense of security and satisfaction that comes from a thirty-dollar economy-sized investment of thirty rolls, about a dollar each. Over four hundred sheets per roll. Just over .0025 cents per four-inch square. This particular investment does upend the entire cost per use formula, however. No matter. The rewards of a repository of bath tissue reassures me. The mad dash to a nearby convenience store late night when the last of the roll is gone is unthinkable.


Idiosyncrasies abound about this universal staple. Is one a systematic folder or a spontaneous buncher? When installing new TP, end over the top or under the roll? The original 1891 patent stated that the end of the roll should hang off the top, not underneath, for those you who are uncertain. Who replaces the empty roll—last or incoming user? In my mind, there’s no controversy concerning the ply. Two layers of softness and absorbency is critical. Two-ply. Is there anything worse than one-ply toilet paper? Who doesn’t understand less ply, more needed?


The inexpensive staple as we know it, first created in 1391 for the needs of the Chinese Emperor family, can be multi-use. At Nancy’s wedding shower, we enveloped the bride in it, creating a diaphanous gown and veil. With my little boys, we made race cars out of the toilet paper rolls; with my daughter’s girl scout troop we crafted limp origami creatures. Both sets of teenagers, my kids and my grandchildren’s homes were often tee-peed. I mummified myself one Halloween. The scope of usages is endless. In hotels, the triangular fold of the ready end of the roll offers an artistic touch.




Last year eighty-four million rolls of the household essential were manufactured daily. The average person used over one-hundred rolls in the year. Aside from the phone, it is the other thing we use daily and in this digital age, it’s still something we want made of paper, not pixels. I imagine I could survive without my phone, but my stash of toilet tissue is critical. That and my jar of crunchy peanut butter.















Love it! Over, of course!  I confess to even flipping the rolls in my mother-in-law's house!  Maybe I have a problem.  Admitting it is the first step, right?  

Again, love your writing.  You are a keen observer of the human condition, and eloquent, to boot! Kay


Love it!

Now, I wish I could figure out why all the tp in France is pink!?

😉donna


👏👏‼️I remember my first trip on a British train in the late ‘60s.  They had squares of what felt like tissue paper monogrammed with the train logo. KC


It’s astounding how much tp is required individually in a lifetime...imagine if it were corncobs what we would be dealing with! Yikes! Have a blessed day❤️A

It’s astounding how much tp is required individually in a lifetime...imagine if it were corncobs what we would be dealing with! Yikes! Have a blessed day❤️


Any less than 12 extra rolls of TP after all bathrooms are properly stocked can make me a little insecure. Fun stuff. Judy


The responsibility indeed is the last user! (I change any unders to overs too 🥴 even if the roll is still full😁)


Growing up in the USSR, this struck a chord! Just like the protagonist of the movie “Moscow on Hudson”, (convincingly played by Robin Williams), my parents and I used to stand in long lines for the toilet paper. And if we were lucky to get it, that’s how we carried it home.

And when we missed on a lucky chance, how did we do without this necessity? Well, like everybody else! The press like “Pravda” (Truth) or any other newspaper provided an ample supply for our toilet needs. In my home, though, we preferred the magazine “Communist.” It was printed on a soft, tissue-like, yet strong paper, far better than rough Pravda sheets. My Dad as a party member had to subscribe to it at work, so each monthly issue went directly from the mailbox to the bathroom, without making any stops on the way. There, my Mom carefully tore the sheets out and pinned them on the nail, hammered to the bathroom wall for this purpose.

See you soon!

Olga


Oh my, we do take a lot for granted...


Hi. Your morning musing sent me on a trip to the past. My smile turned into downright  laughter when I read the comments of your friends (Olga in particular). I never have forgotten my 1st trip ever without my family. I was 17 and with 3 friends we set off to the north of Chile crossing into western Bolivia, from there to southern Perú, and then back home. Ah, so much that we take for granted. At a home of friends we made in Sucre, the bathroom was stocked with newspaper hanging from a nail. But much worse was the train station in Rio Mulatos that had nothing at all (and worse, it was a large room, no private stalls, for men and women).


Hi Marilyn - Your T.P. story reminded me of the time many years ago ,my mother heard there was going to be a paper shortage and literally filled the guest room with rolls and rolls of toilet paper and paper towels.  She was in her early seventies and at the time of her death at age 89, she had still not used all of it! Jackie


Hi Marilyn - Your T.P. story reminded me of the time many years ago ,my mother heard there was going to be a paper shortage and literally filled the guest room with rolls and rolls of toilet paper and paper towels.  She was in her early seventies and at the time of her death at age 89, she had still not used all of it! 



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