Once upon a few months ago, I began to grow frustrated at how quickly my family was using up toilet paper. Now as any good peasant knows, toilet paper is not only quite expensive, but also ridiculously annoying to carry through a grocery store. Think about that annoying sensation as the toilet paper slowly slides down from your armpit where you tried carrying it (because there’s just no good way to hold such an awkward item). Or maybe you’re one of those ‘has-their-life-together’ people pushing a cart. I only get a cart if I happen upon a loose one because I never, ever have a quarter. WHO STILL CARRIES CHANGE?!? All those freaks pushing their shopping carts around the supermarket do I guess. Smug in their ability to obtain items without feeling the thin metal of the heavy basket slowly etching a permanent impression into the flesh of their hands or crock of their arm. Not having to skip items because the basket is getting ever more unwieldy with every lumbering step. Leisurely getting everything they went to the store for. Jerks. Wait, what was I talking about again?
Oh yeah, right, toilet paper. I recall one day going into our main level bathroom to discover the toilet paper roll holder was empty again. I went to replace the missing roll from the decorative basket I keep above the toilet but found it was empty also. So off I trudged to the laundry room to refill the basket for my future convenience. It was probably a few days later when I discovered the exact same situation; empty holder, empty basket. I could have sworn I just filled it, but my memory is like a cheese grater so I didn’t trust myself that it had actually been such a short duration of time since I last refilled that bathroom, so I just went and refilled it again and bought more toilet paper at the store.
It was over a month, well actually probably closer to two months really, when my tired brain started to finally realize something was possibly afoot. I was definitely buying toilet paper more often than usual. So I finally remarked aloud to my husband, “Why are we going through so much toilet paper?!” to which my husband promptly responded half-interestedly, “I think Bear* has been hiding it.” I really should question how my husband came to suspect this or, more importantly, how long he had been suspecting this, but I digress.
*names have been changed to protect the innocent guilty.
Now as I mentioned, in this particular bathroom the spare rolls were kept in a basket above the toilet. The cupboard under the sink is actually mostly empty. So on this fateful day, armed with my new knowledge of what might have been occurring, I suspiciously approached the cupboard and opened it.
You will not believe what I saw.
There must have been like 80 rolls of toilet paper crammed in there! They were crammed in there with such force and so little spare room, that the cardboard tubes in a lot of them were bent in half from the force of the compression. My three-year-old had been dutifully at work this entire time, secretly hiding all the toilet paper rolls on a regular basis. Also, she hadn’t just been hiding toilet paper from the one main bathroom; she had been diligently doing this in ALL three bathrooms. For like two months. Without me ever catching her in the act.
After my shock of discovering the hidden treasure trove of toilet paper, my first thought was “How did she get so many in there?!” Second thought, “How did I not discover this sooner?!” and finally, the most perplexing question of all, “WHY has my daughter been doing this!?” We will never know the answers to the first two questions, but I did my best to find out the answer to the third. I approached the culprit:
“Bear, why have you been hiding the toilet paper rolls?”
She stared at me for a moment, probably trying to assess whether it was something she wanted to admit to doing or not, but she must not have picked up on any ire in my voice (there wasn’t any, I was just genuinely curious) and so she simply responded, “I don’t like seeing it when I pee.”
“You don’t like seeing it when you pee?”
“Yeah, I don’t want to SEE IT when I pee.”
“Why?!?! Why don’t you want to see the toilet paper when you pee?!”
“It bothers me.”
“It bothers you?!”
“Yeah, it bothers me.”
Yes, this is the reason. This is why she has been patiently and obsessively hiding all toilet paper rolls. The sight of the toilet paper…it…it bothers her.
Me, perplexed, “But WHY does it bother you?!”
She then did the thing all toddlers do when they aren’t going to actually give you an answer. The vacant thousand-yard stare. Not looking at you, but instead kind of looking right through you. No conflict of emotion on their cherub faces. No socially ingrained impetus to respond to polite questioning. Just that blank empty ceaseless gaze. You can stare back into the infinite void for as long as you like, but you must accept that there will be no answers given there.
I tried asking again, “But why does seeing the toilet paper bother you?!”
Two unblinking dark eyes just stared back. Then the toddler attention span evaporated, and she ran merrily away yelling something that sounded like, “FARFEEEEE FARFA FARRRR FEEEEEEE!!!”
So while I can’t answer the psychological question as to why the sight of toilet paper could be seen as a nuisance; I CAN tell you this: it has now been months since we had this conversation. The toilet paper is still hidden on a regular basis and yes, it is slowly driving me insane. In fact, I was motivated to write this because just an hour ago I made the mistake of not checking before sitting and when I went to grab toilet paper the roll was inconveniently missing from the holder. The upstairs cupboard within-reaching-distance (where I keep the spares) was empty as well of course. It was only later that I found the roll crammed behind the closet door hinges. The spare was moved behind the toothbrush holder where it was camouflaged on the white counter and only partly obstructed from view…but impossible to reach from the toilet.
I have told her many times, “Stop moving the toilet paper rolls!!!” and each time I get the expected vacant stare back before she resumes focus on her prior activities. But hey, at least I’ve stopped automatically buying more…and I’ve got quite the stockpile!
Back to my shopping cart problem. A couple of weeks ago I attended a trade show for work. You know, the kind where you are forced to stand at a booth and make desperate eye contact in a plea to passerby’s to save you from your mind-numbing boredom? Anyway, I was at one of those, when my boss walked up to me and said,
“Hey E, I found this keychain for you.”
“Oh, um, thanks,” I said while thinking, Pfffttt, why would I want this crap? I’ve got lots of key chains.
As soon as he walked away again, I immediately turned to my co-worker and said, “Do you want a keychain?” holding out my newly acquired object.
“Sure!” he said enthusiastically.
A short while later my boss’s boss walked up to the booth. “Hey what’ve you got there?” He says to my co-worker. “A keychain!” co-worker replies holding it out for inspection.
“Hey, you know what that is?” Boss’s boss says matter-of-factly, “It’s one of those key chains where the end is designed to fit in those slots that you put quarters into for grocery store carts! They’re so convenient because you never need to remember to bring a quarter with you ever again.”
What. WHAT?! WHHAAAAATTTTTTT!?!?! I had just given away the solution to a vexing, recurring problem in my life. I WOULD HAVE NEVER NEEDED A QUARTER AGAIN! But I stupidly gave away this amazing invention to my coworker because I wasn’t bright enough to notice the purposeful shape of its clever design. The fact that I had such an item given to me, and immediately gave it away without a second thought not realizing what it was, WILL HAUNT ME UNTIL THE END OF MY DAYS.