The Paper Pressure
Like everyone else in the U.S., I’m committed to sourcing toilet paper daily. I spend a few minutes each morning scavenger hunting for a few rolls and other sundry items, but I’m actually not sure why I can’t find any t.p.!
I believe at the onset of this pandemic, the symptoms described included horrible diarrhea (which is not factual) driving shoppers to empty the store shelves of anything that could possibly pose as a bottom wipe. This included not only toilet paper, but tissues, paper towels and paper plates. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the plates. Honestly, I think the medical community said shit storm, and we took it a little too literally.
The other disconnect, for me, was, if we were expecting to be sick and ‘run’ to the restroom more, why were Kaopectate and Pepto Bismol still readily available on the grocery store shelves? I later discovered that toilet paper purchases were expected to be a up 40% because entire families would all be home self-quarantining using their personal supply of paper versus their employer’s paper.
There are two of us here at home, and we are fortunate to have a bidet (highly recommend-very healthy and oh, so European), so I wasn’t particularly concerned. Then I caught myself actually counting rolls, and entered them into a toilet paper calculator to see how long my stash would last. Fortunately, we scored fairly well and should be good for about 167 days.
I’m secretly keeping track of the other paper products we use, and truth be told I got caught cutting our napkins in half the other day.
Over dinner, my husband asked. “Is this a whole napkin?”
“No.” I said.
He never uttered a reply, but gave me the eyeball. I shrugged as if to say, you’ll thank me later.
Being a paper snob, I only buy white Bounty napkins and paper towels. After dinner last night I was about to wipe off the counters. I reached for my Bountys and paused. I thought back to when I was a kid and tried to remember what we used before paper towels were a thing in our house. Although paper towels were invented for home use by Scott in 1931, they weren’t in our kitchen until about 1972 when we moved to the suburbs.
We used the kitchen dishrag. The rag was used to wash the dishes, clean the counters and wipe the kitchen table after dinner. It was then tossed down the basement stairs into the abyss along with the dishtowel.
When I visited friend’s homes for dinner, I’d always notice the sinks adorned with kitchen sponges. When dinner was finished, I was quick help with clean up because I would have the opportunity to use their sponge (don’t judge). The sponge always seemed a pretty elite kitchen item and I love the fact that they came in colors and best of all, they were disposable. When I ventured out to my first apartment and purchased my own dish towel sets, I freed myself of the dreaded dishrag, bought a package of sponges and never looked back.
Sponges and white Bounty – yea that’s me.
Another item I’m predicting may make a big comeback is the handkerchief. Yup, that square piece of fabric you’d find folded in your grandfather’s pocket or tucked in your grandmother’s sleeve. Handkerchief comes from the old English – hand+kerchief. The kerchief was used to cover one’s head, but during the middle ages they doffed their head coverings and placed them in their pockets to use to wipe their faces and ultimately noses.
Grandparents and probably your parents, depending on your age, would carry these to blow their noses or wipe their brow. As a child, if your nose began to run, they would pull it out of their pocket and hand it to you regardless of its condition. Yes, it was absolutely disgusting, but it was that or your sleeve which would likely garner you a swift kick in the ass at a minimum. Tissues were considered a luxury and like the paper towels they were used in moderation. Conversely, my mother was allowed the use of our precious tissues and always had a few in the bottom of her purse. When you asked her for a tissue, she’d dig one out and give you the usual spiel.
“It’s wrinkled but clean.”
Hankies were washed and ironed. My grandmother would stand us on a stool and give us direction on how to properly iron grandpa’s hankies into the perfect square. Like anyone was checking.
Gram’s hankies were embroidered with little flowers or bees. She’d tuck one into her sleeve at the wrist so it was always close at hand. I never remember her actually blowing her nose. She just daintily dabbed it. Hmmmm. In thinking about it, I bet there is one of gram’s hankies in my attic.
My personal tissue use is that of an allergy sufferer. I have tissue boxes placed strategically all over my house. Normally, I’m a two-tissue puller which insures a clean blow and a good wipe, but lately, I’m being so conscientious about my paper usage, I may head up into the attic to find one of gram’s hankies when I look for that dish rag. The struggle is real.
Stay safe – wash your hands.