There I am, in the restroom of my acupuncturist’s office, amid the holistic practices of many feel-good professionals and I can’t help but notice the toilet paper. It’s single-ply. SINGLE-PLY! It is akin to wiping yourself with tissue paper — probably not even that luxurious, given the translucence of each sheet. To me, it seemed like a punch in the gut. I’m in a “wellness center.” Doesn’t that mean that love of your mind and nether-regions go hand in hand? Well, apparently not. It made me recall a specific episode of The Office when Dwight splits the toilet paper into single-ply to save money in the building (funny refresher here) and the workers revolt. That should be the universal response to single-ply toilet paper: revolt. You may be saving money in theory, but everyone has to use twice as much.
Despite the whole wellness shtick, I certainly felt that the toilet paper was lacking.
That’s the funny thing about me, I judge people by their toilet paper. It seems like a small, minuscule aspect of people’s life — and private, by the way — but you can tell a lot by people’s toilet paper. How much money they like to spend, how big their pipes are, how well they practice self-care — the list goes on. I feel like thin toilet paper is practically saying, “I don’t care about my cleanliness.” Either that, or “I don’t care to spend the money on toilet paper, so I take it from an office utility closet.”
I prefer a durable toilet paper myself, one that serves the purpose with as little effort as possible. But some like their wipes ultra-soft — those with sensitive bits. Some buy eco-friendly toilet paper that’s recycled and brown to make you feel good about saving the environment. (That is until you actually try to use it. I’m not sensitive, but I’d take single ply over recycled TP any day.) Then, there’s the industrial kind. It twists up before you can even rip it out of the giant dispensing barrels found in every airport and bus terminal known to man. There’s the friend whose toilet paper you always admire, soft and expensive — plush even — that she origamis into a triangle before parties. And the ultimate toilet paper is that of the elderly neighbor who uses the flushable wipes that make you squeaky clean but, by the way, aren’t flushable at all.
Of course, this isn’t only an American thing where our toilet papers vary as much as the mattresses in The Princess and The Pea. Nay. It is internationally varied. Middle Eastern tourist traps forgo toilet paper all-together. I can remember a particular restroom in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher that involved a “Turkish toilet” and a whole lot of prayer. Parisian toilet paper is equally as sparse. Similar to napkins (les serviettes, since I’m practicing my French), the French don’t seem ever to get dirty. Therefore, you’re lucky if there’s even a roll in a cafe’s bathroom (customer service, what is that?). However, to counter this point, my Parisian relatives have the thickest toilet paper. Each sheet is stamped with an ornate oval frame as if Marie Antoinette herself is going to appear in portrait before use! It’s a little rough, but it’s by far the prettiest toilet paper I’ve ever seen, and it fits with their impeccable decorating taste. C’est très belle!
But then it gets more interesting. I can’t remember the toilet paper in Italy, because they seem to rely solely on bidets there. Even in a tiny bathroom, as we had in our room in Sestri Levante, the bidet took up too much space. It sacrificed the size of all other bathroom fixtures — shower included. We all know the Japanese have the perfect toilet, so it goes without saying that paper is barely needed. The Brits are more old fashioned, with wooden toilet seats and carpeted bathrooms to distract from their blasé TP. And in Egypt, make sure you have a nickel or a dime to buy toilet paper off the local woman standing near the sinks — there won’t be any otherwise.
Toilet paper is about personal taste. It’s intimate both for the buyer and for the user, and it’s something I always notice. I can’t help but judge.
What’s the strangest toilet paper you’ve ever used? Have you noticed anything funny about toilet paper on your own travels? Share with me below!