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That’s How I Roll

Living with someone is never easy. It doesn’t matter if that someone is a roommate, spouse, partner, sibling or parents. The more people in the house, the more complicated the equation. Every member of the household has a different tolerance level for the other inhabitants’ quirks. A teetering pile of crusty dishes in the sink may bother one person while another person can walk past them without so much as a backwards glance. Feeling the crunch of errant toenail clippings while walking barefoot across the bathroom floor might annoy some of the home’s inhabitants, but not others. Coffee drinkers in the house don’t mind the high-pitched clatter of the coffee grinder. To them, it means a fresh brewed cup of java is moments away, but to a sleeping teenager whose bedroom is just steps from the kitchen, it’s auditory torture.

Sharing a bathroom has its own host of specialized issues ranging from toothpaste to toilet paper. When Oregano and I were first married we had to learn to adjust our bathroom behaviors. I squeeze the toothpaste tube willy-nilly. My only goal is getting the toothpaste from the tube onto my toothbrush. This irritates Oregano because he prefers an orderly squeeze from the bottom up. I honestly try to remember this, but sometimes I don’t. In 16 years of marriage, Oregano has never once cleaned the shower. I’ve tried gently reminding him. He conveniently forgets my reminders. I’ve tried leaving it a mess to see if he would get the hint. He did not. Two days later, I couldn’t stand the soap scum and cleaned it myself. Oregano’s defense is that he doesn’t wear his glasses in the shower and therefore, doesn’t see the soap scum; a good point, but a lame excuse. He’s willing to overlook my random toothpaste tube squeezing and I’m willing to overlook his apathy towards soap scum.

Our long standing bathroom squabble revolves around the direction our toilet paper revolves.  For years, Oregano has tried to train me to put the toilet paper on the holder so that the paper comes over the top of the roll. I never remember which direction he prefers. If I put it on the “wrong” way, he reminds me of my grievous error. I have really made a conscious effort, but somehow remembering this crucial ingredient to marital bathroom bliss eludes me. Perhaps it slips my mind because I don’t give a crap which direction it rolls. All I’m really looking for in my relationship with toilet paper is softness and dependability. As long as it’s there in my moment of need, I’m satisfied. What more could a girl want?

Not long ago, I was replacing the roll and Oregano was in the bathroom. Out of courtesy, I asked, “Which way do you prefer the toilet paper?”

“Over,” he said and I obliged.

Then I commented, “Hey, you’ve stopped lecturing me on the direction the toilet paper goes. I must have finally learned and been getting it right.”

“You haven’t learned,” Oregano sighed, “I’ve just given up trying to train you. I fix it when I notice it is the wrong way – which is most of the time.”

“How is there a wrong way? It’s round. It rolls both ways. Do you have a reason why you prefer it to go over the top?” I couldn’t believe we were having an in-depth discussion about the direction the toilet paper rolls.

“I don’t really know why I like it that way. I just prefer it and I think it is easier to see how much toilet paper is coming off the roll.”

Oregano's preferred toilet paper direction - over the roll.

Why does he have a preference about this seemingly inconsequential detail? Do other people share his view?  I decided to do a little investigative research and began asking friends if they have a toilet paper direction preference. Many are casual toilet paper users who didn’t express a preference. However, some people felt very strongly about their toilet paper direction. My friend Babka, a nurse, backed her preference up with scientific fact. In nursing school, Babka was taught the proper way to put toilet paper on the holder. Apparently having it come over the roll, Oregano’s preferred direction, is the more hygienic method. Babka insisted that when the toilet paper goes under the roll, it can rub against the wall picking up all sorts of nasty, microscopic creepy-crawlies. I assured her that my toilet paper does not rub against the wall, but there was no convincing her. Who knew there was a medically sanctioned toilet paper direction? As my investigation continued, I discovered that the under rollers believe they have more control over the tear when the toilet paper is in that position. They argued that by controlling the amount they tear off, they are conserving toilet paper and being eco-conscious. It was quite a rousing debate on the proper direction of toilet paper.

the dreaded, unhygienic under roll

While I now know more about my friends’ toilet paper preferences than I ever cared to know, I do understand that there are some people who are passionate about the direction their toilet paper rolls. How do you roll?

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

77 responses »

  1. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    To me, there’s not much worse than groping behind the TP roll; searching for the start because you can’t see it and right after an exasperated: “Where the blazes is the flippin’ …?” your next thought being “Who else’s hand has been back here…? Oh, SO gross!!”
    About the TPTT (ToothPasteTubeTrouble)… Doesn’t it seem like an awful waste of time (and paste) to squeeze anywhere other than at the end where you pick it up? There’s no readjustment necessary ever if the tube is grasped at the opposite end from the cap and paste kept moving in a positive direction. A little too much logic applied here you say? Well maybe; but that’s the way I roll 😀

    Reply
    • One thing I learned after writing this post is that people have strong opinions about their toilet paper directionality. Over-rollers and under-rollers all made logical arguments for their preferences. I guess that’s what makes the world (and in this case, the toilet paper) go ’round.

      Reply
  2. I agree with Oregano about the toothpaste. You can’t get the optimal amount of toothpaste out if you squeeze willy nilly. It is a cost saving measure. As for the toilet, I dont think I want to know the ones who dont use any at all.

    Reply
  3. I only roll over because my husband wants it that way. I read somewhere that you end up using less paper that way, but I don’t buy it.

    Reply
    • If Oregano ever finds out that over rolling is more economical I’ll never be able to have the TP roll under again. Those sound like bogus statistics. I think TP usage has more to do with an individual’s “needs” than it does with direction.

      Reply
  4. Wow, I had the exact same conversation with my partner and a friend a few months ago. They told me I put the toilet paper on the wrong way… I hadn’t a clue what they were talking about! However, it seems like some people have waaaay to much time on their hands, and far too little to worry about! Now I realize they are not alone…. The world is full of them! Scary thought…. Best of luck with remembering the ‘correct’ way 🙂

    Reply
    • I am stunned by how many people have given toilet paper direction so much thought. Those of us who don’t care what direction it rolls are clearly in the minority. I’m hoping I remember to put the toilet paper on the “correct” way, but maybe, every once in a while, I’ll put it on the “wrong” way as a subtle form of torture.

      Reply
  5. A tribute to anonymous who upheld the cause of “I don’t use toilet paper” family. My friend you are not alone. These foolish people cannot fathom the sheer pleasure of not using the toilet paper. Fear not you are not alone. No 2 is here!
    On a more serious note, majority of the people in my country (and by majority I mean about 95-97%) do not use toilet paper. It is nothing disgustingly horrifying as you may imagine but our sanitation system is based solely on water. Clean your ass? water. Clean your pee? (Yeah, its customary to do that too, all men oblige) water. Clean your nose? you know what to do…stick a pipe up your nose!

    Reply
    • Hamza, I’m sure Anonymous is happy to know he/she is not alone. I appreciate your honesty and the lesson in cultural differences with the use of toilet paper. I’m not so sure I could give up toilet paper, but, at least in your country, no one fights over the direction it rolls since there is none.

      Reply
  6. Hilarious ! I´m lucky, both my husband and I do not care so much. Great post as usual!

    Reply
  7. LOL! I think I had a similar discussion with my husband a week ago…And it didn’t end so well 😉

    Reply
    • It would appear that this toilet paper divide is a global problem. I think those of us who have incompatible toilet paper requirements should have two different toilet paper holders – one over and one under. If people can have two sinks in a bahtroom, why not two toilet paper holders?

      Reply
  8. Oh Dog! It appears that Jen isn’t the only one with that crazy quirk. She’s in the majority!

    Reply
  9. Yet again, this was such a joy to read; I really love your style of writing. Now, on the issue of toilet paper, Oregano is completely right, over is a much better way to tear. I also agree with your nursing friend about the paper touching the wall, that’s one of the reasons why I refuse to let it fall under… A show used to air called One on One and they did a scene about this same issue- hilarious!

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for your wonderful compliment. I’m so happy to hear that you are enjoying the posts. It’s nice to see you back again 🙂

      It would seem that you “overs” are taking over the world. Toilet paper direction doesn’t make it on to my daily radar so I had no idea this was such a hot button issue.

      Reply
  10. I will not venture into this discussion….I can only image what the over/under would be in this proposition…speaking of gambling, the last time I talked tissue, my Scott Tissue stock touched new bottoms and thousands of investors were wiped out….enough said….

    Reply
    • I’m sorry to hear about your Scott Tissue stock. It sounds like a serious situation and should not become the butt of a joke. Knowing corporate America, I’m sure someone cleaned up on that deal after investors were wiped out.

      Reply
  11. When we were at a public restroom in Costa Rica, the ladies charges 6 cents for several sheets of paper. They distributed them. Ick.
    On the under/over debate, I’m with Oregano – over. Thanks for the laughs.

    Reply
    • It would seem that I am in the minority with my carefree attitude towards toilet paper direction.

      I remember the little old woman sitting outside a “bathroom” in Tulum, Mexico. It was the same experience you had in Costa Rica.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

      Reply
      • Paprika…thanks for bringing this back up again. Jim and i have a friend who is a hotel manager who insists over is the norm, but having two brothers who would pull the roll forever, well, I am still an under girl…lol

      • Oh no! There is a medically sanctioned toilet paper direction AND a hospitality sanctioned toilet paper direction. I think this is a conspiracy against the under rollers of the world.

  12. Aunt Coriander and I have had this discussion many times over our 30+ years of marriage. Oddly enough, it is the current state of the economy that has finally settled the question. Our position is if things don’t get better quickly, it won’t matter whether you use the ‘over the roll’ or ‘under the roll’ as we’ll be using both sides…

    Reply
  13. Whichever way it comes is fine with me as long as it is plentiful and not made from sandpaper.

    Reply
  14. I have not read all of these comments yet, but I hope someone has suggested that you do a follow-up study of the personality type for each of the choices. I think your nursing friend may have just been duped by an over-roll instructor. Also, now hoping that nobody with 20-20 vision ever uses our shower.

    Reply
    • There has been mention of a link between gender and TP direction. The controversy of crumpled versus folded was also brought up, but no one has suggested I do a follow-up study of personality types associated with toilet paper direction. I don’t think I have the requisite psychology background to do that topic justice.

      You bring up an excellent point. What if Babka’s nursing instructor was an over roller who was just trying to create a legion of over rollers?

      As for your shower, dim lighting always helps to hide soap scum.

      Reply
  15. Ah, Paprika, you have entered the rarified realm of topics which will garner discussion and debate for endless hours. Ann Landers once wrote a column on this very topic and if I remember correctly, she said it triggered the most responses ever to one of her posts. You can surely expect a s***load of feedback on this subject. Roll Tide.

    Reply
    • When I wrote this post I had absolutely no idea it would receive this kind of response. Who knew there were so many people passionate about the direction their toilet paper rolls? I guess if Ann Landers wrote about it I’m in good company.

      Reply
  16. Some “coffee drinkers” use high-pitched coffee grinders to act as alarm clocks “of sorts” without being too obvious about it. Well, most of the time it did work, HA HA. As to the toothpaste dilemma, the obvious answer would be to squeeze the tube in the middle. Last, but not least, a stand alone upright toilet paper holder would solve the over and under issue. Each individual would turn the holder to their own preference (Paper touching the wall? No problem.) However, it could create a space challenge for some.

    Reply
  17. Ha! My husband is an only child, while I grew up with two sisters and one bathroom. He sooooo had to learn to share when we got married…the look on his face the first time I walked in to brush my teeth while he was showering still makes me laugh to this day!

    And I’m obsessive about toilet paper being over the roll. So much so that if I’m at a friend’s house and theirs is rolled under, I figure they’re either one if those people who don’t care either way, or they were careless. So I change it. Don’t tell anyone!

    Reply
    • Your secret is safe with me, but there seems to be quite a growing group of my readers who are admitting to flipping toilet paper rolls at other people’s homes. Maybe you can all start some sort of support group or join together to sneak into people’s homes to adjust the toilet paper. One person can flip the roll while someone else stands as lookout.

      Reply
  18. I have shared so many bathrooms with people who don’t bother to replace the roll at all that I no longer care how it’s rolled as long as it is actually there 😛

    Reply
    • That’s my point exactly. As long as it’s there nothing else matters. After reading people’s responses I’m begining to think toilet paper rolling direction should be a question on a roommate application and maybe even a marriage license.

      Reply
  19. Gosh Paprika, if you were really considerate you would roll the TP end into a toilet paper swan like I do for my husband. 😉

    Reply
  20. OK, toe nail clippings on the floor made me gag. Your comment about the toothpaste cracked me up because that is my feeling about toothpaste…shock?!?! Thanks for making me laugh today….always appreciate that!

    Reply
  21. Over. Now the next interesting (?) bit of info is whether people crumble it or fold it prior to use. Seriously, this discussion was in a “sensitivity” training I had about 30 years ago at work.

    Reply
    • Good point, Kate. I hadn’t thought about crumpling versus folding. Maybe that will be a future post 🙂 I can not believe this was a topic in a sensitivity training. Where did you work?

      Reply
      • For a crazy utility company that tried to be cutting edge. The training was good in many aspects. The exercise in potty issues didn’t connect with me. The whole point was to learn to be more tolerant. Who cares what people do in the toilet stall and please I don’t need to know!

      • I understand teaching people to be more tolerant of each other, but bringing that to the bathroom seems a bit extreme.

  22. I had a you-know-what of a roommate in college and this is one of many things we fought about! I couldn’t believe it when she brought it up, that I did it wrong because I didn’t do it over. I just put it on the roll. And I can tell you what I wanted to do with the toilet paper once she said that….So after all that, I actually put it on over now (tail between legs) because my kids had trouble getting the paper started when they were potty training. Sigh.

    Reply
    • I would have purposely put it on the opposite of what the roommate wanted just to torment her. Maybe I should invent a side by side toilet paper dispenser so that unders and overs can live in harmony. Who knows? It might lead to world peace.

      Reply
  23. When someone votes, “I don’t use toilet paper”, I want to know!

    It’s unusual for you as the woman to want it under and your husband wants it over. I read somewhere it’s mostly men that go under. I’m so glad now I have the true facts on the unhygenic way.

    Reply
  24. I am s-o-o-o-o relieved to learn that other married couples have the same deep meaningful discussions as us!
    There’s also the rare but possible issue when the two ply gets paired with the wrong twin, leaving the perforations all askew.
    Countries have gone to war over less…

    Reply
  25. keep it up – you have a special talent for blending the poignant and the sardonic

    Reply
  26. “I squeeze the toothpaste tube willy-nilly. My only goal is getting the toothpaste from the tube onto my toothbrush. This irritates Oregano because he prefers an orderly squeeze from the bottom up. I honestly try to remember this, but sometimes I don’t.”

    Ironically I saw this video floating around today: http://youtu.be/sYWk8GxgDNI

    Reply
    • The video was hysterical! Thanks so much for sharing it. I know it was staged, but if that happened in my home while I was washing dishes, I’d have a hard time controlling the urge to whack Oregano in the head with the pot I was washing.

      Reply
  27. My boyfriend has tried to bring this subject up with me several times and I refuse to engage!

    Reply
  28. I was just relieved that “I don’t use toilet paper” was still at 0% on the poll.

    If that had been the #1 answer, I might have been scarred for life.

    p.s. I just spent an entire day (almost) fuming about roommate (sister) issues … reading your UP or DOWN post helped me shake off some of the ick factor and just blow it off. It’s an adjustment, for everyone involved. Thanks for the laugh.

    Reply
    • I’m sorry to tell you that there was one taker for the “I don’t use toilet paper.” choice. We’ll never know who it was.

      I’m so glad that my post helped to lighten your mood. That’s such a wonderful compliment 🙂

      Reply
  29. Over! Hands down, no contest. I can’t quite explain why I feel so strongly about it either. It’s just…right.

    By the way, did you mean to make the “I don’t give a crap” pun? I have a feeling you did based on your history of toilet puns.

    Reply
    • I had no idea that there were so many people who actually had a preference about this topic.

      As for the “I don’t give a crap.” pun those words came out of my mouth during one of our toilet paper discussions. It was unintentional, but the minute the words left my lips I realized what I said and started laughing. Of course, I couldn’t resist including it in my writing.

      Reply
  30. Under! And I have an excellent reason for this — my cat Matilda will not leave it alone if we put it over. It’s much easier for her to unroll it that way. But, personally, I prefer it over. That, is, if I did happen to give a crap 🙂 (I love that line, “perhaps it slips my mind because I don’t give a crap…”)

    I am all over the place with that blasted toothpaste tube. It has drove my husband up the wall for years and now we’ve finally opted to have His and Hers toothpaste tubes.

    Reply
    • It’s nice that you make the under roll concession for Matilda. Growing up, I had a dog that would eat the toilet paper and a cat that would occasionally unroll it.

      We had a few good years when toothpaste came in a pump bottle and there was no squeezing controversy. Of course, then we argued about paste versus gel. Hmm… I think you may be on to something with the his and hers toothpaste.

      Reply
  31. OVER. I don’t know why under feels so awkward. I have been known to switch the direction of toilet paper when I am a guest at other people’s homes to see if they notice. They usually don’t.

    Reply

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