Paper Ponderings

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Today I was researching the history of toilet paper (you have to be prepared for any question when you’re a mom, you know) and there, among the many useful and essential snippets of latrine lore, I came across this interesting tidbit in the toilet paper timeline:

1792: the Old Farmer’s Almanac begins publication; there are several publications by the same name, as well as the Farmer’s Almanac, which began publication in 1960. Pages from these publications were often ripped out and used as toilet paper, and later editions have holes punched in them so they could be hung from a hook in outhouses. (Wikipedia)

I find this interesting. Apparently reading material in the bathroom is an older concept than I thought. Of course, the habit of using it as toilet paper probably created a little family tension. Just imagine: you rush out to the outhouse after a long day’s work in the fields, excited about finally reading that article on the latest plowing technology, only to find that your wife did her “business” earlier in the day and callously ripped out the first two pages to tend to her own needs. The dinner table is unusually silent that night, and over the weeks to come, as important weather predictions and planting charts disappear, unread, into the black abyss, resentment begins to grow. Eventually, the closeness you once shared is only a distant memory, and the two of you are unable to even vent your frustrations, since well-bred men and women didn’t speak to each other about such sensitive and personal issues.

Thankfully, someone finally came along and separated bathroom-related papers into two piles: one for reading and one for wiping, thus rescuing half of the world’s troubled marriages. Genius.

More food for thought:

Another matter of personal preference is how to prepare the toilet paper for usage. The predominating methods are either to “fold” a number of sheets together, or to “scrunch” sheets into a loose ball, with “wrapping” the paper round the hand being somewhat less popular. The intensely private nature of the subject, coupled with the fact that the methodology is instilled at a very young age, means that a majority of the people are unaware that the difference exists (or have even thought about it), and may react with shock upon learning that their partner uses an alternative method.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that scrunching is more common in America, and folding more common in the UK, and that this difference informs the construction of toilet paper sold in the two markets. (Wikipedia)
I am a folder. I’m not ashamed of it, although I was somewhat surprised to see that I am in the minority in this country. As for Paul, I honestly have no idea. Early in our marriage, we established ourselves as “private bathroom people”, and I am not privy (bah-dum-BAH!) to that information.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter how you use it, as long as you use it.

And as long as you install it so that the end hangs over the roller and not under. That is non-negotiable.

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11 responses »

  1. Hey Tree!

    I’m a folder too! I also strongly believe in over the top side of the role. In fact when I’m at someone else’s house, I have to resist the urge to fix it if they have it under the role. OK… depending on who’s house it is, I don’t always resist the temptation. 🙂

  2. I come from a family with parents who were divided on the folding v scrunching thing, so I learned both ways! But they both agreed on over the top!

  3. Okay, Black Sheep here… I do fold. (I think their stats may be off.) But once my toddler learned to unroll toilet paper and put it in the toilet, dog dish, sink, tub, etc.,? I started hanging it with the paper coming UNDER the roll. This also stymied the brain damaged cat who likes to claw and shred the tissue.

    My personal preference, for the record, is for the paper to hang over the top though.

    But it comes in second behind my preference to finding an intact roll in the loo versus a pile of shredded former tissue on the floor.

  4. I don’t recall the Old Farmer’s Almanac being used as a kid. As that was the bible of planting. But I do remember the Sears, and Montgomery Ward catalogs being used. You took a page and while sitting there, you would crumble it and mush it back and forth to make it pliable soft to use. (way more info that you wanted..right?)

  5. this is so funny!! I’m kind of a folder and a scruncher all in one I guess. I’m such a non-conformist!! But I’m definitely and UNDER the roll person. I don’t know why, although pets may have played into that, but I’m definitely under.

  6. I’m still stuck wondering why exactly you were researching toilet paper in the first place?!?

    Personally, I’m a folder; and I just asked Michael and he’s a folder too! I prefer the paper to roll over the top while Michael could care less and very rarely actually replaces an empty roll at all! Thanks to this blog entry, you’ve allowed me some insight into my hubby that I would have never have considered asking in the first place 🙂

  7. The roll goes OVER the bar is the only Facts of Life I ever remember having with my father while growing up. He was a total stickler on this matter – which may be why my Mom got rid of the bar and stowed the toilet paper on the back of the toilet. I went throught karyn’s stage too – where it went uner so the kids couldn’t unroll it so easy. Love this subject matter. You certainly give us something to think about. I am going to a banquet tonight, and now I have a subject in case conversation wanes. lol

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