This Issue Of The Toilet Tissue

During the holiday weekend of Thanksgiving here in America, there’s a lot of visiting and communing and talking and eating and drinking. It follows, of course, that a visit to the bathrooms at the homes of friends and relatives is inevitable. As Newton implied in the 17th century, for every input, there is an equal and opposite output.

I’ll confess, however, that I like to sneak a visit into people’s bathrooms anyway—even when I don’t really have to go.

A bathroom with just a Vaseline jar, a toothbrush, a mint dental floss and a soap on the counter hints at minimalist occupants. They watch CNN in silence. Their cars may need to be towed to Goodwill. They eat the same cereal every day. They still have flip phones because they believe that all the new problems of the world exist because phones have become smarter than their owners.

I can step into a bathroom and smell a dysfunctional partnership. For instance, a leaky faucet hints at fault lines in a marriage. The husband believes it’s the wife’s duty to call the plumber. The wife thinks her man needs to bone up and be the plumber, especially when he calls himself an engineer.

On some bathroom counters, I see the dust and puff of Clinique, Revlon, L’Oreal, Max Factor and Pond’s. A low-lying fog of Elle reeks of an owner whose tastes are so elevated that she’s both high-maintenance and high performing.

Of all the giveaways in a bathroom, however, the toilet tissue is like the FirstResponse test. It signals a growing attitude and, maybe, even character. Some people prefer tissue that’s sweet-scented and monogrammed. I think their owners use it to pad and, possibly, pat themselves on the back. Some could care a rat’s ass about tissue: they buy whatever Costco has on sale. Some apply uncommon moderation even to the common issue of ply and, therefore, they opt for paper with a modicum of cushion. But here is the bottom line for all rears of all kinds: No one wants sand paper.