Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Toilet Paper: "Buddy, Can You Spare a Square?"

Years ago I read a novel by Margaret Atwood: Cat's Eye, published in 1988 so I probably read it around that time. It was Atwood's next book after The Handmaid's Tale which I had loved.

Cat's Eye, however, was a book I did not like AT ALL yet one part has always stuck with me: the father of one of the characters maintained a strict rule, allowing the use of only 3 squares of toilet paper per event.

It has been over 25 years since I read this book so it's possible my memory on this is faulty. But I didn't like the book so I never plan to go back and check. It had a disappointing ending so I did not read another Margaret Atwood novel (The Year of the Flood, which turned out to be book 2 in a three book series) until a few years ago. Except for The Handmaid's Tale, her books are not for me.

I also read a novel a few years back about the family of a polygamist and he had like 27 kids and he also restricted toilet paper use as 30+ people probably go through a LOT of TP. (The book was probably The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall.)

Is this a thing? Do other people restrict the use of toilet paper in their homes? I like to joke that toilet paper will be the currency of the apocalypse.

Not to get too descriptive, but even three squares seems like a puny amount, depending on the level of usage. A number one? Okay, barely, but a number two?! Only three squares is just crazy talk.

And what about feminine hygiene products? (What do other women do?) I always wrapped everything in TP so that it wasn't visible in the trash can. This generally takes more than three squares because no one needs to see used FHPs.

The character Elaine Benes on "Seinfeld" famously asked, "Can you spare a square?" in a public restroom. She is ignored and has to do without even a single square, much less three.

I did a quick search on "toilet paper restrictions" and it came up with a few gems:
  • The New York State lawmaker who restricts everyone to 6 rolls per month for their offices.
  • School bathrooms where users need to sign out the roll of toilet paper in the main office and return it when done. 
  • Several examples of restricted TP use as austerity measures. When the budget is cut the first thing to go is the toilet paper.
  • And, of course, when you visit national parks you may bury your poop but you need to carry out your used toilet paper. It's a fun souvenir for the scrapbook, right? Eeeew.
  • And this classic: a horror novel printed on toilet paper!
    • According to the website selling it:
      • "It will scare the shit out of you!"
      • "It will have you on the edge of your seat!"

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