I’m cooking a lot, eating three meals a day at home, mostly rice and beans, sometimes Mexican style, sometimes Indian style, sometimes Italian style, but still rice and beans. Rice and beans. My taste buds are bored, but my intestines are thrilled. This is my new normal. And that brings me to the subject of toilet paper. I suspect all of us are learning to measure our consumption of all sorts of home products we took for granted when we could just run out to the store to replace what we used. Now spending so much time at home I’m using some items more than I expected. I thought I had a month’s worth of toilet paper, but how would I know? I never measured how much toilet paper I use, and as they say, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Sadly, my estimate of my personal consumption was way off and the stores around me are sold out. It’s just another apocalypse math moment, I know. And certainly not the most serious shortage I could face. So instead of complaining I’ve decided to just be creative.
For my last few rolls I’m allocating sheets per sitting and trying to stay conscious of my limit. But I find this is a little like trying not to touch my face. It’s an activity I’ve done my whole life without any thought, and I’m struggling to engage my brain at a time when typically I would be daydreaming, near sleep or reading. I’m just not used to thinking about my consumption of TP while I’m consuming it. My mind drifts. And it’s frequently too late by the time I realize I’ve foolishly exceeded my allotment. Can I blame this dopey absentmindedness on my age? Perhaps. Then my inner drill sergeant says, Well, you can’t wipe your ass with blame, now can you? And I feel horrible about my wispy attention span, but I’m not going to play the age card. I blame the roll. If TP came in a stack instead of a tube it wouldn’t be so easy to yank a ribbon into my palm, wad it up, etc., etc. My new approach is to put a paper clip on the roll to disrupt my yank and bring my attention to the task at hand, counting the number of my allotted sheets. See. I must be a genius.
Meanwhile I find myself seeking information online about how people are handling the TP shortage. A couple writers have recommended using a bidet, as though this is a simple solution. I don’t have anything against bidets. I travelled widely in Europe and enjoyed their convenience as a hand laundry sink for soaking my socks and undies. But I just don’t see how a bidet is a solution to our current TP shortage. Who has a bathroom big enough for a bidet? And if you did — and you could get Amazon Prime to deliver a bidet to your house right now, because obviously this is a solution for homeowners, not renters — then how would you get a plumber to come to your house during the apocalypse to install a bidet in your bathroom? Don’t get me started on the elitism of this recommendation.
I’m pretty irritated right now. And it’s not because someone at the New York Times thinks I should buy a bidet because I’m running out of toilet paper. It’s because I got so riled up about it that I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing (again) and I just flushed that paperclip in a big angry wad of you-know-what. Now I find myself literally flattening the curve by taking each sheet off the roll and stacking it neatly where it will never again unspool willy-nilly into my thoughtless hand. That’s my new normal. And another day goes by.
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