Toilet Paper

This week the window of my world has shrunk to the point of being focused on TP, but first a small digression.

When I’m walking, rather than counting steps or thinking about plots, I think about song lyrics. Generally speaking, my head is full of lyrics as opposed to … well … cotton, hay, and rags. Thank you, My Fair Lady!

Last week my walking lyrics took on a trip to Oklahoma—where the wind comes sweeping down the plain! I had no trouble at all with “I Cain’t Say No.” I sang that as a solo in the Greenway School talent show in seventh grade, and all the words to both verses are safely lodged among my little gray cells. I did fine with “Out of my Dreams,” and “Poor Judd is Dead,” but I ran into trouble with “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top.” It took the better part of two days to get it to scan. It wasn’t until I finally remembered “watching them birds and see how they flutter” lined up with strutting white horses and nosy neighbors peeking out through their shutters. The birds finally pulled it all together. Whew!

And now, back to toilet paper. I have several people who send me collections of cartoons on a daily basis. This week one of them included a drawing of a roll of toilet paper and the “correct” way to install same—over rather than under.

My mother, Evie, was definitely on the under side of that debate, so when I left home, I may have over reacted to being an over. I was married to my first husband for thirteen years. I have no idea if he was an over or an under. To my knowledge he never once replaced a toilet paper roll. He set them on the floor for me to do the replacing. The man has been dead for more than forty years now, and the toilet paper issue is something that still irks me.

When I married my second husband, it was a total revelation because not only does he put the toilet seat down he always changes the toilet paper roll as needed.

So what brought all this to mind? This week our package of Charmin from Costco turns out to be defective. I don’t know if the pallet fell of a front end loader or what, but the inside cardboard rolls are mostly squashed flat. When you put them on the holder and try to roll them, they simply flop over. This is the first time that’s ever happened to me, but it’s very annoying.

So it was the combination of the flopping toilet paper roll and the cartoon that got my brain headed in this direction, but guess what came out the other side? A piece of real gratitude for my second husband, the good one, in a marriage that’s going on 39 years.

So today, when I’m getting my steps—probably inside because it’s raining at the moment—I’ll be working on remembering the words to Little Things Mean a Lot, because they do—and that includes putting down toilet seats and changing the rolls.

55 thoughts on “Toilet Paper

  1. Thanks for the chuckle! I came from an “under” house, also. My husband is an “over”. When we visited my parents, he would always change the roll to over until I told him it was rude to change the TP roll as a guest.

  2. I’m an over the top person. I just like the way it looks.

    Elaine, I’ve changed the toilet paper to roll over the top in other people’s houses. No one has ever said anything!

  3. I’m glad I’m not the only one who silently sings while walking. My parents had the “Oklahoma!” soundtrack on 45rpm records. Their record player only played 45s. I must’ve heard those songs hundreds of times & remember most of the lyrics. My mother also used to sing ‘40s & early ‘50s songs to me. I remember every word of “A You’re Adorable…” by Perry Como.

    I grew up in an under house too. It took me awhile to get my husband to accept it. Now he thinks that he convinced me to go “under” – I graciously allow him to think that. One must pick their battles.

    Thank you for your weekly thoughts.

    • Charlotte, I also won the lottery with my fantastic second husband. Unfortunately he has now passed away but the seat was down, toliet paper was over, helped with the cooking, dishes and vacuuming.

  4. Keep on keeping on, because you are an inspirer.
    At Cedarhurst, my skilled assisted living senior college dorm in southern Illinois, we are restocking the library with your books. About 1/3 residents have vision problems here, so we have story hour book clubs and the Social Director reads to us . The local library came for a visit and we were able to get library cards made right in the spot. So we will see how many of your books we can borrow or buy at the book sale. I am a fan, because the first book I read grabbed my attention and the words, stories, and characters were an inspiration.

  5. When first wonderful husband passed away I vowed not to get married again because I didn’t want to spoil my record. Many years later when I married my second husband (never say never) he was also very kind and considerate and I am a very lucky woman. It’s been thirty years this year!

  6. Over or under doesn’t matter. What’s important is having TP!
    Remember waiting in lines 3 years ago during the pandemic when TP was a valued commodity?

  7. Your mention of songs from “Oklahoma” brought to mind the punch line of a joke, “look for the furry with the syringe on top.”
    Happy Groundhog Day

  8. My mom always was an under so that’s what I learned. My husband insisted on over so I switched. He also left toilet seat up but he is very money conscious and I told him that Feng Shue (sp?) says that if your toilet is left uncovered and the bathroom door is in direct alignment with your front door, any money that comes in thru the front will go right down the toilet! He ALWAYS puts the seat AND the lid down now!!! Yeah!

  9. That is one of the strongest defect I have ever heard. Gave me quite the chuckle.
    My wife and I will celebrate 40 years of marriage on 2/11. It took me a bit of time to learn to put the seat down and put the TP correctly on the roll.
    Again, thanks for the chuckle.

  10. Thank you for this morning’s blog. I have been thinking about my daughter’s upcoming medical tests and possible surgery (which gets larger with each thought). I wished my (dead) husband were here to reassure me. Then I read about the over/under toilet paper issue and realized that in our home, it was not a problem. I taught everyone (including him) that OVER is correct. I laughed out loud when you included that your first husband never changed the roll but placed the roll on the floor for you to take care of. My husband loved to “solve problems” and replaced the roll properly when he saw it was needed. (Landscape maintenance was not “a problem that he recognized” and left yard work to me!.)

  11. Here is another hint about toilet paper for people who have cats that want to unroll it. Put a plastic shampoo bottle on the top and when they try to unroll it, the bottle falls to the floor and that chases them off. I only had to do it for about 3 weeks and they never bothered it again.

  12. I have run into an occasional roll that has been flattened, and usually I can restore enough roundness for it to roll simply by inserting a couple of fingers into the center and circling around while pressing outward.

    That said, this is an opportunity to share a story that I’ve kept in mind for you, because at some point you talked about the open-ended toilet paper holders being more practical than the spring-loaded ones, having had a spring-loaded one become a missile.

    HOWEVER, the open-ended ones come with their own liabilities. The first time I encountered a house full of them, I managed the first one, in the close quarters of the downstairs powder room, without incident. Later, I was preparing for bed in the very long, probably 15 feet, upstairs bath, and I had a bit more trouble. I rolled out the appropriate length and gave a quick jerk, which is usually enough to cause the paper to tear at the perforations. Not this time! My quick jerk sent the entire roll flying off the open end of the spindle and rolling down the floor all the way to the door at the other end of the room! Fortunately, I’d kept a grip on the end of the roll, so I could tear a length off, carefully keeping the end in reach, even though it meant even more toilet paper was unrolling at the door. When I finished my business I retrieved the roll and rolled up the paper, but spent most of the visit trying to manage the TP. Whatever brand of paper my sister purchases doesn’t tear easily, and I finally wound up sitting down, moving the TP stand in front of me, and using two hands to make the tear. And moving the stand back when I was done. I’m not sure which I hated more, the open end or the tear-resistant paper, but every trip to the loo was a minefield.

    • That’s happened to me a few times as well, especially in bathrooms in doctor’s offices. Don’t like the open end kind of holder.

  13. As a male I have often wondered why a toilet is the only seat a women never looks at before she sits down.
    Think about this for a moment if you would. Would you sit on anything, chair, sofa, etc. with out looking to see if it is alright to sit. Is there something in the way, is it already occupied?
    Why is this, and why do men always get the blame when she forgets to look.
    Toilets, by design, have seats that can be raised or lowered, so like the old adage, look before you leap, look before you sit.

    • Think about going into the bathroom at night in the dark. Especially when you live seven miles from the nearest street light. Toilet water is cold when your butt lands in it. Don’t ask me how I know.

    • Don’t know about the women in your life, but I always look before I sit anyplace – even at home.
      Men usually get the blame because they sit sometimes, too, and I don’t think they put the seat up after they finish their sitting down business. Do you? Or do you leave it down?

      • The solution to this issue in private homes (not in public places where there are no covers) is for everyone to CLOSE THE LID when they are done. It keeps the flush splatter contained, it keeps the pets from drinking the water, and it keeps the small children and clumsy adults from dropping unflushables into the water.

        • We always did that until my husband developed chronic pancreatitis and experienced very sudden trips to the bathroom. You wouldn’t believe how a couple of seconds in pausing to raise the lid means to making it to the toilet bowl and cleaning up a mess. So, while we still believe in keeping the seat down, we don’t practice it anymore,

  14. Interesting you should mention the toilet paper. We live in California and I shop at our Target for such items. And — this morning the inside roll was smashed flat, I tried to bend it into shape but its still not good. And the price we pay it should be. Also just to mention, I put it so it rolls from the top and drives me crazy if its not but since I’m the one to change it, it should be ok.

  15. I grew up with the paper under, but as soon as I got my own home, it was paper over. My first [and only] husband never bothered with the TP but he was Mr. Clean and I hated housework, so he did dishes, laundry and vacuumed. Still got rid of him after 30 years and never looked back.

    I don’t walk, but I do sing and know all the words to all those oldies, but goodies from the 50’s and 60’s, and show tunes are my favorites.

  16. It’s definitely over. You are touching less of the surface of the paper when you take it off the roll. I have to admit I’m kinda obsessed about this and have been know to change the roll around in other peoples houses. :-)) I’m lucky too. My husband replaces the roll and puts the seat down. We’ve been married 50 years. I’m definitely keeping him.

  17. I, too, have noticed the rolls all bent and out of shape, but not just on Charmin. Somebody out there is crushing them before shipping.
    I did notice something about the new Charmin I bought and I have to smile every time I use it. The edges are “softer”. They are now a lovely scalloped edge. I love it! So, not going to complain about the roll, I try an reshape and then smile because of the lovely scalloped edge!

  18. My mother was an under and so was I. But back in the day when there was colored paper and things like little flowers printed on the rolls, my brother-in-law pointed out to me that if the roll was under, the flowers were upside down. I realized he was right about that (he wasn’t right about much else!) so I’ve been an over ever since that revelation! BTW, I’m finally reading Blessings and enjoying it immensely. Thanks for another great read! When will the first Jenny Brady book be coming out?

  19. Yep, my Mom always put the TP on “under.” I have maintained that tradition. I think it’s easier to tear off, but that could just be because it seems just wrong to have it on the roll “over!”

  20. I weigh in on the “Over” side-
    When my mother was in the hospital, she complained to the nurses that they put the toilet paper on wrong in her private bathroom-
    That did not make her popular with the staff-
    We had to buy many boxes of donuts to placate them-

    During the pandemic, it was very difficult to get home-style TP- My husband figured out how to get many rolls of industrial TP delivered- He stacked them on an industrial-size vertical holder that was almost three feet high!
    We took pride in his ingenuity and sent photos of the stack to our cousins, who were impressed and highly amused!
    Recently I read online that it is hygienic to flush only after putting the lid down, which I have been doing religiously since then- However, my husband opined: “We’ve survived years of leaving the lid open, so is it really so dangerous to do that?” He has a point, but I’m sticking to the hygienic practice- Better late than never!

  21. Growing up it was always tp under rather than over for us. My mom said it looked neater that way. After I got married I got retrained, now it’s over the top.
    Toilet seat up or down, or no toilet seat at all like in some countries. Things are still built at floor level in other places in this world.
    I’m really enjoying reading through this blog and the comments so far. Makes me appreciate my own situation, and offer my respect to all the men who are sending their way through a second marriage. Makes me shudder just to think about all that retraining they all have to go through. I’m just past 58 years on the first one so not much chance I have to worry about anything like that.
    I like the old musical movies that used to be made. Oklahoma is one for sure, and my favorite, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers because of the dances. I don’t remember many lyrics from that one but when I used to be able to play golf, “I’m a lonesome polecat” is a refrain I’d use to try and help my tempo.
    I used to jog all the time, then came walking, then walking with a cane. Now I use one of those walkers with four wheels and a seat in the middle. Next time I go out I’ll probably have some song going through my head, maybe even the old Blue Eyes one…. The Second Time Around.
    I’ve had a good time with this today, JAJ. Thanks so much.

  22. Hubs and I were chatting just this morning about how we’ve managed to get to our 35th anniversary this month; and God-willing, us being on the upside with the daisies, we shall continue.
    We decided it was mostly being good friends and good roommates.
    Thar shur ain’t nuthin’ romontik ’bout TP, but respectfulness do indeede makes amore sweeter.

    “Experts on romance say for a happy marriage there has to be more than a passionate love. For a lasting union, they insist, there must be a genuine liking for each other. Which, in my book, is a good definition for friendship.” – Marilyn Monroe

    Marilyn is so right.

    Miss Judy, as ever, thanks for sharing!!!

  23. Our music minister says that most of us have a jukebox in our head. Mine contains hymns, pop, rock and country music. Also old TV commercials. “Call roto-rooter that’s the name and away go troubles down the drain”. Remember that one? I probably don’t remember the lyrics as well as you, but it is fun to try.
    What does your jukebox contain?

    • Show tunes and standards that my mother played around the house, popular songs from the 60s and 70s, folk songs, hymns, church choir, and secular choral music (remember “Up With People”? still in there), filk (science fiction meets folk songs), barbershop repertoire, Threshold Choir music, random bluegrass stuff. Once kept myself awake on a drive that took longer than I’d planned by singing every song I could think of, while my children slept.

  24. Talking about older songs lately I have taken to looking at YouTube on my phone and listening to Vicki Carr and Anne Murray and sometimes to Barbra Streisand. Just a few minutes before I go to bed and my two cats seem to find it very comforting also because they’re sound asleep by the time I finish. Sometimes I remember the lyrics but then I also have to remember that if I sing them the neighbors could be slightly unhappy. I love your blog and I look forward to it every Friday.

  25. We’re an “over” household as well. I just think it looks nicer.

    I also have been blessed with an AMAZING second husband!! My first marriage was difficult and lasted only 9 years. However, my second marriage is still going strong after 19+ years!!

  26. My husband and I have been opposite sides of this discussion for many decades. I’m the under and he is the over. Whenever I follow him in the bathroom, I simply swithch it!

    • A friend who got kittens who loved to unravel TP created a cover of sorts out of a 2-liter soda bottle cut to fit over the roll. A little less convenient for humans, but soon taught the felines that it was no longer a good toy.

  27. I moved into a house with my new husband and his 3 boys.. I have joked that I often felt like I should put the seat UP after I was done!

  28. Just finished “Blessings of the Lost Girls” while sitting in a bed at Evergreen Hospital with a cellulitis infection for 6 days. Couldn’t put it down and finally put out the light at 1:00 am one night. Sure helped the monotony and it’s one of your finest with all the research you must have put into it. I’m wanting to volunteer to a local branch of MIP (possibly Tulalip?). I’m a genealogy nut and it helps keep my old grey cells active.

    My copy of this book is a hard cover I bought in anticipation of seeing you again last October 1st, but, alas, I came down with my second bout of COVID. Do you have any local signings coming up in the near future? So I can see you and get that autograph?

  29. It is the “little things”. I’ve been a suicide widow now for 10 years. I planned on growing old with him. I couldn’t stop the issues that he couldn’t cope with. Now I have a million little things to deal with on my own.
    I want to tell you how much your books have meant to me. Reading and sleeping have been my “escapes”. I hope my sis, Jo (a Bisbee resident) can make it to your Bisbee appearance in March. She depends on friends to drive her, as she is legally blind.
    Keep on keepin’ on, J. A. !

  30. Ha ha re: toilet paper rolls. I bought a can of crushed tomatoes recently. Opened it to find just water inside! It was worth calling the phone number on the can. They gave me $5 towards my next shopping trip for the can which cost $1!

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