I speak, of course, of the Great Toilet Paper Hanging Debate.
Over or Under? Chances are you have an opinion, and it's a strong one. For many, the directionality of the toilet paper roll on the toilet paper holder is passed down from generation to generation. In peaceful households, all are in agreement, until some interloping in-law introduces riotous disfunction when he or she loads a new roll improperly. In other, less fortunate households, the debate rages on between family members, leading to sneak attacks and middle-of-the-roll alter[c]ations.
Most advice columnists say there is no Right or Wrong way to hang the roll, that the choice is ultimately up to the individual--and therefore an ongoing issue for debate. However, I am happy to inform you that there is, indeed, a Right way to hang the toilet paper roll, and I have incontrovertible support for my position.
Diagram courtesy of treehugger.com
I'm so sorry, Under people, but you are Wrong. The only Right way to hang toilet paper is Over, and there are three strong reasons for this.
Any parent who has potty-trained a child knows that the ultimate goal is for that child to be able to wipe his or her own butt. Even after the days of diapers are long past, every parent knows all too well the lilting song that issues from the bathroom, often loudest in public restrooms, of Mommy! Daddy! Come and wipe me! There may no longer be a soggy disgusting diaper of which to dispose, but for quite some time you must still place your hands into the depths and wipe off what your child cannot reach.
Or you could just deal with some truly disgusting laundry and bad cases of rear-end rash. Your pick.
Therefore, anything that simplifies the transition to your child being able to do the wiping is all to the good. Watch a child attempt to gather toilet paper sometime. Toilet paper that hangs Over the roll is simpler by far for those chubby little fingers to grasp than the elusive end trapped behind the bulk of the roll in the Under position. Be kind to your child. Use the Over position.
A similar situation applies to adults as well. No doubt everyone has experienced middle-of-the-night bathroom adventures, usually complicated by an inability to wake fully during the experience and a reluctance to turn on any lights. In such a semi-somnolent and darkened state, the last thing anyone wants to do is fumble for the end of the toilet paper, again trapped behind the bulk of the roll in the Under position. Likewise, not all toilet paper hangers offer easy access to Under-hung toilet paper, particularly in public restrooms. Just yesterday, at a doctor's office, I found myself in the highly frustrating situation of fighting to get more than a few shreds of flimsy single-ply paper off an Under-hung roll a little too big for the limited space between hanger and wall. Granted, I would have struggled somewhat even if the roll was Over-hung, but the fight would have been far simpler to win. At the very least, the shreds of paper would have been significantly larger and more useful.
Besides the issue of easy access, however, we must acknowledge the crucial component of cleanliness. Bathrooms and toilets are already germ factories, and any reduction we can make in the general nastiness is vital. When toilet paper is Under-hung, people's hands come into contact with far more paper than necessary, especially on second and third wipings (for those of us who are thorough and therefore civilized). Just imagine the filth that is left behind for the next person to use that roll! I shudder to even think of it.
So if you have been hanging your toilet paper properly (i.e. Over), then give yourself a pat on the back--once you've washed your hands thoroughly, of course. And if you have been falling into error all this time (i.e. using the Under method)...
Repent. There is still time to mend your ways. Forgiveness is freely offered.
I'm generous like that.