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.”
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.
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?