In November 2003, Shawn, Emily, and I had Thanksgiving dinner at my apartment in Sevierville, Tennessee. Shawn and I had gone shopping a couple of nights before, I had done most of the cooking, and we ate ourselves sick. We had to have our dinner before Thanksgiving, since we had to perform shows all day on Thanksgiving day proper. In mid-meal, there was a knock on the door, and I got to learn, first hand, what Brown could do for me. It was the UPS man with a box for me. (I’m really fighting the urge to put a tasteless joke about a big package from the UPS man…and I’m failing.) Anyway, inside this large package (ahem) was a little invention that changed my life forever. The ever-blessed TiVo Series 2.
Since that day, I have never been without a TiVo in my life…except for that truly painful four months after I left
hell Tennessee where I lived at home with my mom in Michigan. It wasn’t the living with my mom that was painful, it’s that a) my parents to this day still don’t have a DVR, and b) my mother is incapable of correctly channel surfing when commercials are on. She’s like a little kid who sees a bright shiny–she just flips to another channel and gets engrossed until a commercial comes on on that channel, then she’ll flip to a third channel, etc. The woman has never watched an entire television show from beginning to end in her whole adult life. It’s enough to drive me up the wall. (HI MOM!)
Anyway, since that wonderful day 6 1/2 (!) years ago when I waltzed from the world of the commercial watchers into the much more sophisticated and urbane world of the television time shifters, I nearly never watch commercials. If I can’t generate that satisfying little "bloop, bloop, bloop" sound and fast forward though 5 minutes of mind-meltingly stupid television advertising, then as far as I’m concerned, I’d rather not watch TV at all.
Every great once in a while, though, I run out of things to watch on my TiVo. It doesn’t happen that often, but with the truly abysmal quality of most of the primetime television on this season, I will often find myself flipping the channel to Food Network or HGTV and just letting it play in the background while I cook, eat, or pack up my life for the 5,000th time into boxes and prepare to move once again not that I’m bitter.
It was during one of these times of television background noise that a certain commercial was brought to my attention. And, my fellow Americans, It. Was. NOT. Okay.
Perhaps you have seen this commercial. It contains a couple of little animated bears hocking Charmin toilet paper. They’ve, apparently, been in a whole series of commercials, and they look like this:
Cute, right? Except in this particular commercial, a mother bear catches her young cub looking through a telescope at the ass of another bear who is sitting up in a tree and who, apparently , has toilet paper remnants stuck to said ass. There are many, many things wrong with this commercial. First, a voyeuristic child is using a telescope to spy on an adult going to the bathroom. And apparently, is getting so up close and personal that he can notice mini TP dingleberries in the adult’s butt hair. Secondly, the kid’s mother is RIGHT THERE. Wake up, mama bear! I don’t know about you, but if I had a kid who was so fascinated with watching the bathroom habits of the neighbors with a telescope, I’d have that kid in front of either a psychotherapist or priest so fast it would make his head spin. But no, you just sit there and think it’s cute. "Ah look honey. Little cubby’s got a sick fascination with the neighbor’s toilet time. Better call Dr. Freud!"
Apparently, this is not the only commercial where Charmin thinks it’s okay to go probing (ahem) through the annals (AHEM) of toilet paper posterior problems. Thanks to YouTube, I have since seen a mother chasing her cub (who, by the way, has the most annoying giggle ever recorded) around the forest with a dustpan and broom to remove "leftover pieces of toilet paper." Call me kooky, but somehow, I think that a hand broom and a dustpan aren’t really the best tools to take care of the problem of left over toilet paper.
And then there’s the commercial that spawned this screen capture, which I found by typing in the words "Charmin Bears":
Yikes. I don’t exactly know what’s going on in this picture, I’m pretty sure this is probably how most gay porn films start. "Hey coach, do I look like I have any extra toilet paper on my butt?"
Here’s my question, though: Is this really a problem? I mean, let’s be honest here. I’ve got a very screwed up digestive system. I visit the bathroom more times a day than anyone I know. I can manage to go through a truly heroic amount of toilet paper in a week. I’ve never had problems with leftover toilet paper sticking where it doesn’t belong. And I don’t use Charmin. I use Cottonelle. Exclusively. And I have for a long time. And I got to thinking: who, exactly, are these commercials trying to reach. What’s the intended audience? I’m set in my toilet paper ways. And I’m certainly not being swayed into switching by watching animated ursine fetishists.
Then there’s this:
Seriously, Charmin? SERIOUSLY? I’m sorry, but I’ve been using dry toilet paper for nearly 30 years now. I’m not going to start buying what are, in essence, baby wipes, even if the moron you’ve got doing your product demo is so mentally challenged he can’t get toothpaste off his hand with toilet tissue. For experimentation’s sake, I was able to get it off my hand in a single swipe, and my skin didn’t even taste like toothpaste afterwards. What’s your problem, dimwit?
All of this contemplation about toilet paper got my mind going. First, I needed to gather some information. Then, I needed to parse and mull on said information. Then I needed to take a good long look at why the subject of toilet paper preferences fascinates me so deeply and investigate the myriad of other things I could have spent my mental currency on that would have made a positive difference to the world or my personal life. But instead, I wrote a quick post in the middle last week to get some information about toilet paper. And I learned some interesting things:
- When it comes to toilet paper, there are generally two kinds of people: Those who have a single brand that they stand behind with a religious furvor, and those who buy whatever happens to be cheapest.
- Those people who buy specific toilet papers only because they’re cheap are horrible, horrible people, and we can no longer be friends.
- Surprisingly, Angel Soft seems to be the most popular brand. I don’t get it. Compared to Cottonelle or the TP of the creepy bears, Angel soft just doesn’t compare.
- One ply toilet paper is universally loathed, and the only people who think it is appropriate to buy, even despite it’s very low cost, are the people responsible for purchasing supplies for companies who obviously don’t give a rat’s ass (no pun intended) about the physical well-being of their employees. In fact, my employer, whose name rhymes with Nicroloft, buys toilet paper that is simultaneously so thin that you can see your own fingerprints through it and so roughly processed that it will give you splinters. I’m sorry, but if I wanted to rub wood pulp across my sphincter, I’d go outside, pull down my pants, and rub my butt up against a pine tree. For someone who has to go to the restroom as often as I do, (warning: overshare ahead) I have actually had the toilet paper at work make me bleed. Now, when someone says, "that really chaps my ass," I know first hand what they means.
- Toilet paper should always be hung with the leading squares coming up over the top of the roll. ALWAYS. If you do it any other way you’re wrong. If you ever come into my house and turn the toilet paper over so it’s coming out of the bottom of the roll, you’re forever uninvited from my house. Overhand only.
And finally, for the service of those readers who mentioned this in their comments, I would like to provide you a few rules about toilet paper etiquette which you must follow, at the risk of having your toilet paper privileges taken away forever.
- If you finish a roll of toilet paper, it is your responsibility to replace the roll of toilet paper. Failure to do so means that there will be no place in heaven for you in the next life. Fail to replace the roll and go to Hell. It’s that simple.
- Replacing the roll means taking off the old paper tube, and replacing the roll completely on the dispenser. It does not mean setting it on the counter. It does not mean placing it on the floor. It, under no circumstance, means simply placing it on top of the empty tube which your lazy rear end left in the dispenser. Failure to fully replace the empty roll will result in severe beatings.
- Please, for the love of all things good an holy, PLEASE leave at least one extra roll in the bathroom at all times. Do NOT keep all your extra toilet paper out in the hallway closet. Because if I run out TP in your house, and there’s not an extra roll in the bathroom, I will walk out of your bathroom with my pants around my ankles doing that bent-knee wide stance waddle so as not to cause any smearing. Then I will waddle into your living room, sit down, and start dragging my butt across the carpet like a dog with worms. You have been warned.
Now you know.
So, what did my mental foray into the world of toilet tissue teach me? First, that toilet tissue is very personal, and that the way I do it is right, and the way everyone else does it is wrong unless they do it just like me. That being cheap when it comes to toilet paper will only end in heartache. That it’s really hard to find a decent way to refer to your own anus as a "Brown-Eyed Susan" without making it sound forced. That the Charmin bears are freaky, and more than a little creepy, and most of all…
I need to start TiVo’ing more television shows.