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Potty Talk - more than meets the eye

(Reposted from my Substack page - it's easy to subscribe!)


A great rift threatens the fabric of our society and it is necessary for people of conscience to speak up. The beginnings of the divide are hidden behind closed doors, things done in private. I can’t sugarcoat this nor can I flush the soil of contention into the effluvium of complacency. Eliminating the divide is easily handled, for the seat of contention is as close as our bathrooms. Specifically, how we hang toilet paper in our bathrooms. Over or under, that is the question.

I am an over-hanger. Over is logical. Over is traditional. Over allows a smooth extraction of the right number of squares. The right number of squares was very important to my husband’s grade school principal. He put up a sign telling the students to use one or two squares instead of four. Wonder how many he used. Maybe he was chronically constipated and it was never an issue for him. It would be consistent with a person feeling a need to erect such a sign. My husband tells me the sign elicited many giggles. It was, of course, routinely ignored.

Over is the practice of hotels whose staff make those tidy little points. Can’t do that if the roll is under. Even Thomas Crapper knew the roll should drape toward the user, not away. Yet people continue to do it the wrong way, the sad way. If I’m bothered enough (or perhaps in a mischievous mood) I’ll turn the roll toward the happy side. There, I think, now it’s right. I smugly walk from the WC with a satisfied grin on my face. The next person using the facilities will find things as they should be and they will be happy to have it so. Then I ponder the ramifications of the vandalism. Will the homeowner discover my meddling? Be miffed? Flip the roll back to the sad side? Oh well, c’est la vie.

I shall defend my position. The patent office shows the roll coming off toward the user. If it’s good enough for the US patent office, it’s good enough for me. Another point: if you’ve ever had a cat, that roll can provide endless entertainment, thus making the cat well-adjusted and happy, but only if the roll is over. It’s a game, toilet paper lying in folds on the floor, half the roll dumped in a furry flurry of ecstasy. No one should deny their pet such happiness.

Cats aside, what about toddlers learning to use the toilet? I still see our middle daughter at the age of three trailing TP from the bathroom through the kitchen, dining room, and into the living room after getting the end of the roll stuck in her pants. “Mommy, I did it!” she exclaimed. Indeed, she did—and we all giggled over the escapade. This couldn’t have happened if the toilet paper had been hung the wrong way. Took me a fat twenty minutes to re-wind the yards decorating our house. Who cares when it brings such joy to a toddler?

Is it the unhappy, the morose, the pessimists amongst us who don’t know how to hang toilet paper? Then I wonder if it’s obstinacy or political affiliation. Do Democrats hang paper on the sad side and Republicans on the other? Nah, it can’t be that simple. It has to be something other than political affiliations.

Perhaps a contrary nature drives one to do it the wrong way. Deep psychology here. Someone, no doubt, has done a study on this. I mean, if they’ve gotten government grants to watch shrimp pedal a treadmill, then surely someone has gotten a grant to study why some hang TP one way and some the other way. I dunno. Seems worthwhile to me, maybe a fat 500K worth of research dollars. The scientist so engaged could be the next Nobel Prize winner. Or not.

Or what about the great TP horde of 2020? Shelves stripped bare. Who uses that much toilet paper? Their bottoms were well-covered though their heads had to be full of gas. Did they need a year’s supply? And where did they put all those rolls? Maybe they rented a storage unit. I wonder how many of those hoarders are under-hangers. It deserves investigation. A journalist’s Pulitzer Prize project for sure.

Having indulged this inner cleansing, I wonder if it’s even worthwhile pondering such inanity. Apparently, it is for my weird curiosity. It was also a hot debate on social media in 2015. I intended this piece as a humorous distraction from a world of troubles; I may have waded into something far more contentious than I realized, a swirling bowl of contention if you will. And now, let the haters come forth. I’ll bet they’re under-hangers.

Go ahead, feed the crack that divides us, and hang the roll however you wish. Just know that if it’s the wrong way and I’m your guest, I’ll flip it.



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