Scar Tissue


To my husband, Flash, toilet tissue is about quantity. Texture doesn’t matter; it's all about squares per mile for a good price. When he goes to the restroom, I hear the "Bla-ta-ta-ta-ta, bla-ta-ta-ta-ta, bla-ta-ta-ta-ta" as the tissue flies off the roll. Over and over. It takes four yards of tissue to wipe such a small orifice? Is there some secret technique I am unaware of? I've asked, but Flash just gives me the look and says, "Whatever. I don't use that much."

"Really? I just got a letter from the company whose tissue we use thanking us for keeping them in business, and their stock just blew the roof off Wall Street. They send us a Christmas card each year and refer to us as Gold Level Customers, and they're thinking of putting your face on every plastic wrapper of their 24-packs."

There are softer treatments for the tushy out there. My friend Rosebud drew a line in the porcelain with her husband, Captain – she declared they would not cut financial corners when it came to comfort. It’s soft, thick tissue or nothing. Well, not nothing. That would be gross, and used corn cobs are hard to come by. But you get the gist: quality over quantity. Captain agreed to her buying the squeezable tissue, proving himself as her Prince Charmin.

One summer, Captain and Rosebud graciously let us vacation at their lake house for several days before joining us there. I took our toilet tissue with us - several rolls. I knew in three days’ time, Flash would wipe out (so to speak) their supply of TP if we didn’t take our own. I have a strict BYOTP policy. On our way home a few days later, I got a text from Rosebud. It read "OMG, I just went to the guest bathroom and the toilet tissue was just awful. I am so sorry. I don't know how it got in there. I always buy the good stuff. You poor things. I will make sure that doesn't happen again."

I could have milked her guilt-ridden mortification for days, but instead explained that we left some of our own tissue for our next visit. I knew she was both relieved it was not her faux pas and shocked that we would purchase the other on purpose. I explained it was Flash’s choice so she wouldn’t think less of me.

As a tissue connoisseur, Rosebud had trained me, years ago, on the proper way to put a new roll on the spindle. Apparently, I'm a quick study. From that moment on I made sure my tissue hung down over the roller, rather than hanging behind. It makes sense. Flash has been accommodating through the years. I recently saw a meme on Facebook demonstrating that over-the-roller hanging is, indeed, the correct way for toilet tissue to be used. So it must be fact.

But little did I know the in-depth intricacies and psychological implications of toilet tissue use until recently.

In casual conversation with a friend regarding Flash's excessive use, my friend Carol responded with, "Is he a wadder or a folder?"

"A wadder?" I was hearing “water.”

"A wadder - wads up the tissue before using it. Or is he a folder?"

I had that deer-in-the-outhouse-spotlight look on my face. “A folder?”

“A folder folds the squares, each one over the other, in a flat layer before use,” Carol explained.

Was there no end to the Science of Wiping? I'd never thought of how it was handled once it came off the roll. "Oh, Flash is a wadder; we both are.”

“My husband’s a folder. It's those type A personalities; they are the folders." Wow. It was a virtual Rorschach test in the bathroom. Thankfully, only clean toilet tissue is needed to conduct this test; I shudder to think what a person might use for such a test in the absence of ink in the bathroom.

Now I'm wondering how many relationships in life would've been simpler had I asked people about their toileting habits. Not exactly something you bring up on a first date; maybe date number two would be more appropriate. Years ago, the color of the tissue could have been part of the questionnaire. Now, only alabaster rolls fill the grocery store aisles. No more baby blue and pastel pink. We have at our disposal thin white, thick white, cushiony white, and cushiony-with-a little-embossed-flower-design white. Since nobody seems to be offended by the fact that only Caucasian toilet tissue is sold, the reason must be medical. Perhaps it was not safe using dyes on those particular areas of the body. It would make sense, and some things in life are not enhanced by colors of the rainbow.

And so, my destiny might have been altered had I known Flash was a quantity over quality guy. When I first met him, he was somewhat rough around the edges, like our toilet tissue. But, while he has softened in many ways over the years, his choice of tissue has not. It remains harsh.

Several times Mom has commented, “I don’t know why he’s in love with that thin stuff; you have to use more because it’s so thin. I guess since he’s not female, he doesn’t notice it.” But there have been times I’ve thrown caution to the wind and bought the soft stuff. Since Cowboy, a quick learner, has carried on the two-rolls-a-day habit modeled by Flash, four rolls were gone in 24 hours. I would’ve had to fill our guest room to the ceiling to make it to the next week. We just don’t have that kind of storage space.

They say love involves give and take. Compromise. Love is an open door, a rose, a river, an ocean. But in our house, love is 1200 square feet (slightly smaller than our entire house) of tiny necessary squares. And, although I hold no resentment for my tremendous sacrifice, in the end, sometimes love hurts.