Karl the Curmudgeon Unrolls His Toilet Paper Wrong

"Hey Kid, how is toilet paper unrolled?" Karl had returned from the bathroom and resumed his perch on his favorite bar stool.

Karl, I already said that wasn't me, it was those stupid teenagers next door. I told you not to start an argument with them.

"Hey, it was 8:00 on a Friday night. If I want to hear Rage Against The Machine while I sit outside, that's my right."

They were hosting a Bible study!

"Not my problem. And that's not what I was asking about. I was wondering where you stand on the way toilet paper should be hung on the dispenser."

The right way: So it rolls over the top.

"Er, no. It should roll under, from the back."

Well, that's completely wrong, but why are you even asking? We were sitting in First Editions, our favorite literary bar, watching a slam poetry competition. Or as Karl liked to call them, The Sons and Daughters of Paul Neil Milne Johnstone. (Google it.)

"Because Kurt refilled it wrong in the bathroom."

Uh, you washed your hands first, right? I gestured to Kurt the bartender for two more beers. One of the slam poets was sob-shouting a poem about some painful indignity they had suffered when they were younger.

"Relax, Kid, it's fine." He reached for the new basket of popcorn Kurt had just placed there; I pulled it away.

What do you mean, 'it's fine?'

"I didn't actually have to, you know, 'make.'" I put the popcorn back. "I just had to pee." I yanked it away again.

You went to the bathroom and didn't wash your hands? Do you know how gross that is?

"Well, I—"

That's disgusting! It's one of the most unsanitary things you can do, and now you want to root around in a basket of popcorn? No one wants to eat this after you shoved your pee hands in it!

"But I—"

Would you eat something after you rubbed your junk on it? Because that's what you're doing when you don't wash your hands: rubbing your junk all over your food. Think about that the next time you pick up a hamburger.

Karl thought about this for a minute, made a disgusted face, and then went to wash his hands — 20 seconds with soap and warm water, I called after him. When he returned, he said, "So about the toilet paper."

I said, there's two types of people in this world, Karl. People who unroll over the top and terrorists.

"Aw, you're full of it," said Karl.

Look, everyone knows you're supposed to roll the toilet paper over the top.

"What do you mean, everybody? Clearly a lot of people think that's wrong, or else there wouldn't be such a controversy."

There's no controversy, I said. Most people are right, and the rest are wrong. That's not a controversy. If you miss an answer on a test, it's not a controversy, you're just wrong.

Karl rolled his eyes and asked Kurt for two more beers. Another poet was whingeing on about some childhood inconvenience or other.

There's even a copy of the original toilet paper roll patent floating around the Internet, I said, and it shows the paper rolling over the top. That makes it official; you can't argue with that.

"What if you have cats? Or little kids?" asked Karl. "If you roll it under, they can't unroll it."

I used to have a beagle years ago, I said. When she was a puppy, she grabbed the end of the roll and ran out to the kitchen with it, and unrolled the entire roll. It was so cute, I couldn't get mad.

"See?" said Karl.

My daughter also did it when she was two.

"That just proves my point," said Karl, plonking his beer mug on the bar in an unearned sense of victory.

Not really, I said. After that, we just left the roll on the sink next to the toilet until they both outgrew that kind of thing.

"So you let your puppy and child dictate how you lived your life?"

Did you forget you have kids? They dictate your entire life from the moment they're born. Yours are still dictating your life even now. Is she still living at home with you?

'She' was Karl's youngest daughter, Alexis, the organic vegan anti-chemical evangelist whose Gender Studies degree from her liberal arts college still wasn't helping advance her career. For the last five years, she had been the assistant manager at the Pay-What-The-Universe-Invites coffee co-op, but was thinking about going back to school for her MBA.

"Yeah," said Karl, hanging his head. "She insists we have to roll it over the top, too."

Smart kid, I said.

"I was just hoping you'd give me some ammunition I could use to make her put my rolls back the way they're supposed to."

Why don't you help her go back to grad school? Then you'll have the whole house to yourself and you can do whatever you want.

Karl thought about that for a minute. "Wow, Kid, that's pretty smart. No flies on you, huh?"

That's because I wash my hands.

Photo credit: S Wheeler (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

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