Monday, January 05, 2009

A Little Toilet Humor

Okay...maybe one more.
Yeah, it certainly wouldn't be the first time I've underestimated the length of time it takes me to do something. As you may know from my previous post, I fully intended to have this blog converted to the shiny new look and feature set of the new updated template that I've been feverishly crafting since last Friday. But alas, the bugger took me all of the hours I had to devote to it this past weekend, leaving me no time to actually write the two or so new posts I wanted to coincide with its formal introduction.

So I'll have to beg your pardon on the timing, but It may be next weekend before I officially flip the switch, given how busy a week I have directly ahead of me.

So in the meantime, I've decided to offer up one final exit post to tide you over. Sorta like its author, it's a real stinker, but I hope you like it.

It's a Mad world
I've gotta warn you, if you're like a lot of reactionary, politically-correct people these days, you may find the subject matter of this story offensive, gross, and disgusting.

If you're like me, you'll just find it funny.

I don't know about you, but I often do some of my best thinking in one of the two places I spend time each and every day: standing in the shower, or ensconced upon the porcelain throne.

This morning I was engaged in the latter circumstance, here at The Company where I work, when the sound of activity from a stall several feet to my left triggered a memory that almost immediately brought a smile to my face.

You probably have to be at least close to my generation's age to remember this well, but back in the 60s, that veritable bastion of sophomoric humor, Mad magazine, offered numerous 'special' issues throughout the year, containing various bonus paraphernalia — things like pull-out posters and/or stickers with gummed or peel-off adhesive backing. Oh, the havoc wreaked upon the painted surfaces on which we kids used to slap those stickers! It surely must have driven more than a few parents to drink back then. Of course, I can appreciate this now, but as a pre-teen at the time I couldn't have cared less.

There was one Mad issue that I recall fondly, featuring a set of what collectors now refer to as 'trouble' stickers; ones printed with various humorous cautionary phrases that poked fun at everyday appliances, pop-cultural opinions and everyday events; just silly, ridiculous kids-stuff, as per the Mad tradition. The sentiments were usually pretty corny, but geared perfectly to the goofball sensibilities of adolescents like yours truly.

Phrases like, "Stomp out violence!", "Attention Burglars! It's OK to break into this house!", and "Caution! The Driver Of This Car May Be A Hazard To Your Health!" always tickled my funny bone. But then again, some of the jokes just went — swoosh — right over my head. And just like that proverbial guy who busts out laughing after finally 'getting' a joke he'd heard a week earlier, it wasn't until years later that one of those miniature handbills would quite ironically change my life — and most likely save me thousands in future plumbing bills.

♫ Teach, your children well...
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not not normally one who talks a lotta crap — or even dwells on taking one. However, I've often wondered about the aspect of 'closing the deal' on that (hopefully) most 'regular' of all bodily functions.

I mean, who really teaches us how to use toilet paper?

Obviously, the likely answer would be our parents, or someone who took care of us when we were little. But how many lessons did they offer? Did they take the time to actually demonstrate the finer points, or did they just show us the roll and let us figure things out on our own?

Now again, this isn't something to which I devote a lot of meditation, but it has crossed my mind from time to time. Maybe it's crossed yours too. And if it hadn't yet,'re welcome.

Anyway, back to the stickers...

So there I was this morning, sitting in the stall, when I hear the sudden, continual sound of a spinning toilet paper dispenser, echoing from about three stalls over, on the far port side of the men's room. It sort of reminded me of the sound that a roller skate wheel makes when you spin it with the tips of your fingers.

"RhhrrrrrRAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT...RhhrrrrrRAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT...and so on, probably 4-5 times in succession.

It took a second or two for the significance of the sound to register, but then it hit me; that dude was usin' some paper, yo.

And after an initial, brief burst of contempt, leveled at the guy for the potential environmental-impact of his apparently wanton waste of waste-paper, I caught myself and smiled, then flashed back to the days of my adolescent youth when I too was a roll-spinner.

♫ Can't touch this...
My childhood fear of touching my own grunt was such that my typical tee-pee torrent had to double-over at least 5-6 times on the floor beneath it to convince me that a sufficient buffer would then exist between my right hand and the toxic waste to be wiped from my cute little hiney. I'm quite sure that by the time I was ten I had single-handedly (pun intended) used enough of the stuff to represent the deforestation of half the state of Oregon.

Now don't judge; I'm innocent! You see, I don't recall ever having more than a single instructional session as to the proper use of bathroom tissue. No one that I can recall ever told me how much was too much; I just kept on spinnin' that roll until I had at least a half-an-inch of bulk from which to work. Multiply that by four or times per session, and it's no wonder that the toilets at my house were constantly stopped-up, although I never once had an inkling that I might have had something to do with that.

However, for as strange and classically 'childhood' as that anecdote is, it took the aforementioned adolescent humor magazine to get me to see the error of my environmentally-irresponsible ways.

♫ Let the Good Times Roll...
I can clearly remember excitedly examining the sticker insert included with the issue of Mad that one of my brothers brought home for me on a summer's day in the late-mid-1960s. As I scanned the two pages-worth of adhesive-backed beauties in various shapes and sizes, I came across one that particularly appealed to the abject grossness of my adolescent boy sensibilities.

The sticker read: "WARNING! This toilet tissue must be MULTIPLE-FOLDED to avoid break-through!"

"HAAAAA!" I thought. "This is great!" "They're talking about probably the grossest, sickest, grodiest, most disgusting thing that could ever happen to a human being in history, right? How funny! How gross! WOOOHOOO! I gotta go put this up in the bathroom!"

And so I did; slapping that sticker on the wall, just above the toilet paper dispenser, where I (and the rest of my family) would see it every time I did my bid'ness for the next two years. Of course, at that later date, when I had reached the mature age of eleven or twelve, I began to see things differently (...okay...not that much differently, but a little).

I do know that I began to see the sticker, and what it said, differently. Oh yeah, I'd always known it was a joke, I'd just never really understood the setup. I knew the concept was a goof; but then it began to occur to me that maybe — just maybe, there was actually something to be learned there. The sticker suggested something that I had never really even considered: the concept of actually folding toilet paper — as opposed to wadding it up in a huge ball — which had always been my M.O. — in order to create maximum cushion between digits and dung.

Following my established method, break-through was pretty much an impossibility. But could it be feasible to actually use less tee-pee, even...dare I say...multiple folded? Do people actually do this? How could anyone employ such a risky practice?

Nevertheless, the Environmental Movement was already firmly entrenched in the national consciousness by the late-60s, and was an important consideration at the time, even for a young boy such as myself. Killing trees unnecessarily was a big no-no, and the little ecological angel on my shoulder was beginning to assert herself in my decisions. I decided I would try and go folded, and thereby, hopefully go easier on the tee-pee.

It was one small step for a young boy; one giant leap for tree conservation.

And so to this day I continue, just tryin' to do my part for the planet. I considered using corncobs once, but thought better of it. Nope, I'll just keep on foldin.' Oh, I know it's not much, but it IS a little something that I can do-do to help save good ol' Mother Earth.

And now I once again pause to consider the plight of the roll-spinner over in the fourth stall, with whom I shared the restroom earlier today. All things considered, I feel kinda sorry for the poor sap, and sorrier for the planet. But maybe he's just oblivious to it all like I once was. Maybe he didn't have anyone to teach him the way of the multiple-fold when he was a boy.

Then again, maybe he just grew up without any decent bathroom reading material.

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