Can You Spare a Square?


I was comfortably sitting and relaxing this morning, as I read my Sunday newspaper. Finishing the sports page, and preparing to check the business section, I just happened to glance to my left. The sight I saw, sent chills up my spine, and left me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was witness to a brown and barren cardboard tube with less than two squares of toilet paper, precariously dangling from its bottom edge. In an instant, a once promising day, with plans for a brisk early morning walk, in the cool shade of enormous oak trees, followed by a hearty breakfast at my favorite local diner, was possibly in jeopardy.

Has this ever happened to you? Were your first thoughts, to frantically search for a box of facial tissues within easy reach, or pray someone was nearby to hear your pitiful cries for help? Most of the time we take toilet paper for granted. It’s one of man’s greatest inventions, the most widely used product in the world, and an indispensable part of our daily lives. We all love toilet paper, and we all need toilet paper, but unless we’re faced with the horrific scenario discussed above, we usually don’t think about it very much.

I did some research on the history of toilet paper, and learned that the Chinese invented toilet paper around the 6th century AD? When I read this, I loudly exclaimed, “Come on, not toilet paper!” The Chinese were the first to develop and use, gunpowder, fireworks, the compass, printing presses, spaghetti, and the toothbrush. That’s a pretty impressive list from a country that now sells us appliances that break after two weeks. Can’t Americans at least have some credit for furthering the use and quality of modern-day toilet paper? Maybe, if we give the Chinese the Kardashians, they’ll give us the rights to the invention of toilet paper – or maybe not.

Have any of you ever wondered where all the toilet paper disappears to all the time? If you have kids, you know what it’s like to face an empty roll at three in the morning. Using public restrooms is just as bad. There’s nothing more horrifying than entering a stall and finding out too late, the toilet paper dispenser contains only the memory of that soft and comforting white tissue. Has anybody ever figured out where it all goes? Are people eating it to get more fiber in their diet?

I may have an answer for the disappearance of large quantities of my own toilet paper. I think my dog, Chase is smarter than he lets on. I believe he may be a genius dog, and is sneaking in to use my bathroom. Besides lay down, beg and rollover, I may have to add, “Use the facilities” to his list of clever and entertaining tricks. He could be the next, big winner of “America’s Got Talent.” Even Simon Cowell would be impressed with his performance.

I don’t know about you, but as a kid, for some reason, toilet paper was extremely embarrassing to me. I remember being a teenager, and heading to the grocery store to pick up a few items for my mom. It always seemed that at the top of the list written in bold letters were the words TP. It’s funny how, as you get older things change. Today, I’ll go to the store when toilet papers on sale and stock-up with a year’s supply. Pushing my cart through the store with nothing but toilet paper piled five or six feet high, I’ll then pull out a stack of money-saving coupons, and won’t blink an eye when the checker gets on the loudspeaker, and at a decibel level louder than a roaring jet engine announces, “Price check at register five for toilet paper. Price check at five for the soft as a baby’s bottom toilet paper in the forty-eight-roll, super-size pack.”

Except for those Charmin commercials with the animated bear family, or that spokeswoman for Cottonelle, talking about “wiping bums” in an English accent, I never see any advertising for what’s now commonly called bathroom tissue. I have two questions concerning toilet paper commercials. First of all; why wouldn’t you just throw the bums a roll or two, and walk away? Secondly, do you really think that bears use toilet paper?

When I was a kid, my grandfather would always answer every obvious question with this statement. “Well, do Bears poop in the woods?” Of course, he used different and more colorful wording, but you get the idea. I looked into this, to see if bears actually do their business in woodlands and forests, or more importantly; do they use toilet paper? I did a little research, and found out, woods may not be a bears first choice. For many years, there have been unsubstantiated witness accounts of these omnivorous mammals using conveniently located portable toilets in our National Parks.

Lately, rumors have been circulating around the country of bears which have broken into houses, trailers and cabins in search of not only food, but possibly bathroom facilities as well. Homeowner’s have complained to local authorities that bears upon entering homes, have been destroying magazines, newspapers and other reading material. Other complaints are: the over-use of toilet paper, seats being left in the up position, and paw marks left on hand towels. It has also been reported that the bears may believe that flushing is optional. It should be noted,that most of this is speculation. No positive photographic evidence has yet to be produced. As a warning, though; if you live in the proximity of bear habitats, be sure to keep a spare roll of TP next to the toilet. I know how much of a bear I can be in the morning when I reach over and feel an empty roll.

Here’s something, not commonly known about toilet paper. It seems, very rich people enjoy better toilet paper than the average person? Strangely, this disturbs me. I may have to write my congressman, and demand equality among toilet paper users. Most toilet paper comes in different plies or thicknesses. It’s also scientifically tested and categorized by size, weight, roughness, softness, chemical residue, water absorption, and my personal favorite, “finger break-through resistance.” The higher the ply, the better the quality of the toilet paper. Two-ply toilet paper is the standard quality used in most homes. It consists of two layers of tissue stacked on top of each other. The comfort level is somewhere between “not too bad,” and “that tickled a little bit.” One ply is a lower grade. It’s usually light brown, thin and rough like sandpaper, looks like a miniature paper towel, and can be found in most Chinese restaurant bathrooms.

When I was younger I often heard incredible, magical, and wondrous stories of toilet paper that was three-ply, four-ply or dare I even say it – five-ply. I’ll bet, only people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Jeff Zuckerberg can afford it. Why do you think politicians spend millions of dollars, and endure years of continuous campaigning to become President? No, it’s not Air Force one, incredible power, free room and board, and meals prepared by master chefs. It’s soft and magnificent toilet paper that most people can only dream about. Did you ever see lottery winners on television holding up those big checks? They always seem so happy, don’t they? Do you know why? They’re not thinking about mansions, cars, and vacations. They’re thinking, “I can’t wait to get my hands on some of that magnificent, five-ply toilet paper I’ve heard about”

I guess it’s time to go, and I don’t just mean that literally. Now all I have to do is find some toilet paper. I know I bought at least twenty rolls last week at Sam’s Club. Oh, there’s a roll. Now, all I need is some reading material, and I’m all set. Maybe my wife can help me. “Honey, have you seen the newspaper? No, Well, what about Chase? I haven’t seen him in a while. What do you mean he’s in the bathroom?”


22 Replies to “Can You Spare a Square?”

  1. A pretty awesome post, Patrick, about something as mundane as TP. We went to Dover Castle today and there was a Water Closet or loo. About 500 years old with a stone seat set into the external wall but no TP to be seen.


    1. Thank you for stopping by. Sorry, I’m late with a reply. I was hoping to do nothing, but write, but I went back to work to fend off bill collectors. I’m also going to be starting a new blog. It will be entirely different. I’m going to post serious work in many genres. It’s the type of writing I really enjoy. I’m glad your trip is going well. It must have been brutal back then concerning bathroom facilities. And that was for the rich and royalty. Imagine being a commoner. Thanks again, and take care.


  2. I think I already used my toilet paper joke with you. If I had known I wouldn’t have used it up so quickly. Well, hindsight is 20/20. I suppose I could go for #2, but it was a poopy joke anyway. At any rate, thanks for the laughs. This one was a real crack up…


  3. Thanks for stopping by. I’ve heard of them from my son, who took a trip to France. I don’t think they’re used much in America. We love are toilet paper here. I’ve never used one, myself, but it’s an interesting concept, and would solve the problem.


  4. What a great story about something seemingly so innocuous. I learned a few things, too. The Chinese origination. That bears use toilets. And different grades of paper. I knew about 1 or 2 ply, but not beyond that. Interesting share!


  5. A vert funny read, funny strange that is. My dear fellow you had the answer to your immediate problem, right in front of you…. the Sunday Newspaper, single-fold, double-fold, or even triple-fold, Surely you Americans aren’t that sensitive, as not use a Front-page Donald Trump picture. !!


    1. That’s a good suggestion Ivor. Of course, I would have to finish the important parts first. I don’t usually read the comics, so that could be an option. I like your comment about the Trump picture. I have no doubt many American’s would do that. They may even have toilet paper with his picture on it. I’ve seen it online. I try to stay away from politics as much as possible. That’s why I read the business section. As long as I have a job, inflation’s low, my family’s safe, and my 401K is going up, I just roll with the punches.


      1. I love the comic and puzzle sections, and as for the business section, well appropriately you can stick up your hurdy-gurdy. Be careful not to knock yourself out, when rolling with them punches


  6. We all have to deal with that, I am sure, at least once in our lives. In my house I seem to be the only one who is changing the toilet roll. We had a joke in Germany and England that men need training to do this as it is rather a difficult talk. However I am still waiting for the invention of a self loading toilet roll holder. That would be the answer for many families around. Everything is electronic but no advances in the bathroom….. Indeed toilet paper is expensive, so I bought once a lot as it was on offer, I ended up with 96 rolls. I was ridiculed by my sons, and it only lasted 3 months….. That reminds me I have to show them the science of changing an empty one into a full one…..


    1. Wow, 96 rolls at once. I guess, it does save money. My son just left for college, so use will drop dramatically, and the chances of me being stuck, also drop to almost zero. My wife has her own bath, so she’s on her own. I’m pretty good about refilling. Maybe we should think about that automatic self-loading device. I have an idea of how it will work. I’m glad you stopped by. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A hilarious read indeed! I would always stare at the toilet roll holder before I do anything. But being a lady, I do have back up packets of pocket tissues in my bag. I remember toilet paper costs a lot in US…Charmin or Kleenex costs a bomb. Here we get $4.75 for 10 rolls (*not the best quality) up to $7.25 for good ones. 1USD=1.30SGD. Good read…thanks for the laughs!! P.s. I hope you can find enough storagw space for a year’s supply 😉


    1. Thanks for stopping by, and commenting. Yes, toilet paper is very expensive here. My last 48-roll purchase was around thirty six dollars. The problem with storage, is that there’s never enough room in the bathroom. When you desperately need a few squares, they are always in a hall closet – fifty feet away.


      1. In my little toilet, I put in full height cabinets that store towels and toothpaste, toothbrush and cleaning solvents for toilet use. The cabinets below are for stocking toilet rolls. Ha ha! I can stock 40 rolls!! I am what local Singlish says “kiasu” – afraid of losing out! If you can do consider cabinets or open shelves. I removed bath tub and put in shower stall to save space plus my spine does not see me hopping into slippery tubs! 😃Hope this tip is useful. Or do like what my friends do, put a wicker basket on the floor corner of where toilet brush sits and dump toilet rolls in it.😉


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