Diapers and Dragons

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Because It's Not Just Kids Who Have a Sense of Toilet Humor (Warning: Not for the Overly Squeamish)

For decades people have discussed, debated, argued, and even screamed about an enormously important issue that is central to the lives of most Americans. Friends discuss it in a friendly fashion--unless they are roommates and on opposite sides of the issue, in which case the friendliness vanishes. Advice columns cover the topic once annually to address the flood of letters. Spouses seek counseling over it. For some dating couples, this crucial issue can be a deal breaker.

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.

12 bits of love:

donna said...

Amen sister! I have been known to change an incorrectly hung roll of toilet paper at friends' houses. It's just a little service I provide. Free of charge.

Arby said...

Note to self: I you are ever visiting TM’s house, visit each bathroom and reverse all rolls of toilet paper. Just because.

sAm said...

I have never understood people who put it under. What could they possibly offer as a valid reason? Sheez. Of course, there is also the camp that just hangs it any old way because they don't pay any attention (or care)...that's just wrong.

michelle said...

I'm the UNDERdog, I guess. In my spazzy brain, it seems more neat. Not that you'd think neatness is a priority around here...

Kathleen said...

You are so funny!

Patting myself on the back (with clean hands, of course) because I have ALWAYS known the correct way to hang a roll of TP.

And a note to anyone who does it WRONGLY: If I should visit your house, you will find that all of your rolls hung RIGHTLY upon my departure!

You'll thank me for all of the reasons TM has already so eloquently offered.

Draft Queen said...

Not only is this something Dennis and I have never fought over, I'm completely certain neither of us even notices which way it's hung. So much so, I would go out on a limb and say it varies because neither of us cares.

DaveMurr said...

Hmmm.. I'm an over and under kind of guy. I do both, because I'm lazy. I've found that it matters little how the TP is hung, and more that I turn the light on before I use the restroom.

mom said...

You got this right. But then, I taught you well.

Lauren said...

I'm guessing this is one of those post ideas that came to you while you were on the toilet...

Stone Fox said...

here's my dilemma. my 2 year old is exactly as you have described: takes herself to the toilet, can rip off the TP just fine, but still requires help with wiping.

my 1 year old is big enough to stand next to the TP holder and swat at the toilet paper so it unravels. he can only do an overhand motion, which will unravel an entire Over roll of TP in about .6 seconds. he can't do an underhand motion, which is the only way to unravel an Under roll of TP.

so whaddyado? do i load it Over for the 2 year old, or Under to keep the 1 year old from wasting toilet paper roll #864.

Kristen said...

Yes. Absolutely. Over all the way. I'm glad to finally be recognized for knowing the right way to hang a roll of TP. (I also love the little poll you put in your sidebar - brilliant!)

Just stopping by via the Boy Crazy button at Clarity-Chaos and enjoyed this morning shot of humor. Thanks!

momZombie said...

My earliest exposure to this topic was in the daily columns of the late Ann Landers. I could not believe the back-and-forth debates from both camps on this one.
"She once threw her column open to a discussion of whether toilet paper should be hung with the free end coming over or under the roll; 15,000 letters later, Mrs. Lederer (herself in the ''under'' camp) had to call a moratorium on further debate."
from http://bit.ly/4uV4vA

I'm an OVER roller myself.

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