Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I am braced for angry emails

I don't usually touch on controversial subjects here because I have both affection and respect for my readers, who are an impressively diverse bunch. But a topic has come up in my life which is impossible to avoid. My mind has been changed, I have switched sides, and I wanted to let you all know how I came to my realization: the toilet paper should come off the bottom of the roll, not the top.

I had been an "over-the-topper" ever since I stayed at the Savoy in London twenty two years ago. That's how they did it there, and I figured if they thought it should be that way, well, they must have come to the right conclusion. It was also the first hotel I stayed in where they folded the end of the toilet paper into a dainty point, which I found exceedingly elegant. So while I never folded the end like they did, I did put it on the holder that way, with the sense that I was doing something right.

My eyes were opened this weekend when I took Cleo into the bathroom with me. In the past, she's been content to play with the bath mat or a small toy, but this time the toilet paper attracted her attention. She batted at it with a downward swipe, and it obligingly let loose a whole stream of lovely white paper. She was delighted, and gearing up to do it again when I distracted her with a plastic cup placed on the edge of the sink and asked her if she could reach it.

This kid cannot resist a challenge. The paper, while amusing, had been done. That cup, however, was the Everest of the moment. I admit that I feel a smug sense of victory when I outsmart her like this, until I remember that she's only 14 months old, I am 408 months old, and it would be a sad state of affairs if I couldn't. While she was reaching for the cup, I quickly re-rolled the paper and switched it around. The cup attained, she turned back to the paper and gave it another downward swipe. It spun around its little bar, but nothing more exciting than that, since the end was being held in by the spin, not unfurled as it had been before. She did the infant version of a little oh-well shrug, and went back to her old buddy the bath mat.

My eyes were opened, and my mind was changed. In a house with cats or babies, or anyone else that's likely to find paper-unfurling entertaining, the paper should come off the bottom of the roll. It is possible, of course, to unfurl the paper by swiping at the roll with an upwards motion, but that's just not as natural a gesture (try it), and so while not impossible, unfurling becomes less likely. In a house with no infants or cats (or, say, a fancy hotel populated largely by adult humans), this rule does not apply, and you can use whatever logic you like to decide which way is preferable. But those of you who live with small, curious creatures, your way is clear.

PS: Confidential to S. in Cazenovia: If you would like to leave a comment, look below the end of the essay, down there where it says "0 comments." Click on it, and a window should open which allows you to type to your heart's content. Then, where it says "choose an identity" you can select "anonymous" and then click "publish your comment." Or, you can just call me! It's always nice to hear your voice!