Most marriages are built on solid foundations of love, mutual respect, trust and understanding.
Mine is built on toilet paper.
When there is ample tissue in the house, the relationship sails along smoothly. We rarely argue or threaten, much less fight. And we wouldn’t dream of raising our voices to one another.
Take TP out of the equation, and all bets are off.
Think I’m exaggerating? Check out an actual dialogue that took place this week in my usually happy home:
Him: (bellowing from inside the hall bathroom): I NEED TOILET PAPER!! SOMEBODY!? ANYBODY?!?
Me (yelling from the master bedroom): We’re OUT!
Him: I thought you bought some yesterday!
Me: Yesterday last week, maybe.
Him: I’ve been using dinner napkins for THREE DAYS. I’m chafing!
Me: I told you to use Kleenex. They flush better.
Him: We don’t HAVE Kleenex!
He had a point. We rarely, if ever, buy facial tissues. I’ve never been a fan of those tacky cardboard boxes cluttering up my furniture. Besides, it’s cheaper to blow your nose on toilet paper. (Of course, then you’ve got rolls of Charmin cluttering up the tabletops. But, that’s beside the point.)
Me: Just use an old Sports Illustrated. There must be a million of them in there.
Him: That’s not funny! You went to the store yesterday. Why didn’t you buy toilet paper?
Me: I forgot. Besides, you told me not to buy it from the grocery store. You like the big bundle from Costco, remember?
Him: That’s because you always buy the stupid four-pack at the grocery store. We can blow through that in a day.
That was true, too. We go through toilet paper at an alarming rate. But, I wasn’t about to take the blame. Anything over eight rolls is just too embarrassing to buy. It looks like you have a condition or something.
Me: And whose fault is THAT?
Him: Hey! I’m not the one who insists on drinking half her body weight in ounces of water. And I don’t waste half a roll every time I go.
Me: I do NOT use half a roll!
Him: You wrap your entire hand up like a giant white oven mitt. I’ve seen you!
This was disturbing. He’s seen me? How could that be? I was wildly protective of my privacy in the loo. Unless he was referring to the infamous camping trip of 1977.
Me: If you’re talking about the float trip in Arkansas, that was a completely different situation. There were canoes full of beer. I had to squat in the woods. I should’ve had a beach towel!
Him: Haven’t you ever heard of “leave no trace”? You’re a scourge on the environment.
Me: Look, Buster. Who’s the one stuck on the throne? If the bathroom fan wasn’t on the blink, I’d come in there and give you a REAL scourge!
Him: Just find me some toilet paper or I’ll rip up one of these O magazines.
That was a threat, all right. And no idle one, at that.
Me: Those will be collectors’ items someday.
Him (rattling pages loudly): Hmm, will it be “The Best Fall Dresses” or “Frenemies vs. Best Friends”?
The sound of tearing paper stopped my heart.
Me: DON’T! I haven’t read that one yet!
Him: I’m counting to 10. One ... two ...
I raced upstairs to my daughter’s bathroom and saw three squares hanging on the roll. I grabbed it, then spied another almost empty roll in the trash. If I was lucky, I could get another three squares from that one, too.
Him: Six ... seven ...
Panicked, I opened her bedroom door and — eureka! — there was a whole half-roll on her floor. (Thank GOD she’d caught that bad cold!)
Him: Nine ... nine-and-a-half ...
Me (opening the door, hurling the roll in): Oh, all right! Here’s your precious toilet paper.
I slammed the door closed, exhausted and angry, and vowed never to compromise the bedrock of my marriage again with a deficit of three-ply toilet tissue.
Some minutes later, my husband emerged from the water closet.
Him: I’m sorry. I panicked. I’ll pick up a big bundle tomorrow when I’m in the city.
Me: No, that’s OK. I’ll head to the store right now and pick up a 16-pack.
Him: You’re the greatest. You know, I learned something today.
Me: That fighting over toilet paper is really stupid?
Him: That, and the retro look is all the rage in dresses this fall.