Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Toilet Paper Tales

 Note:  This was actually supposed to be finished and posted on December 27, but I ended up falling asleep and not getting back to finishing it until well into the next day.  Why was my original intent to have it ready on December 27?  Just read on, and you'll eventually find out--and I hope that you enjoy getting there as much as I've enjoyed getting you there...

I've found that there is a lot that can be said when it comes to toilet paper (and/or a reasonable--or unreasonable--facsimile).

Let's start with the concept of an unreasonable facsimile.

This story must have taken place in the early 1930s, as my mom was somewhere between ten and thirteen when this happened to her.

She and her best friend, Fanchon, were playing in the woods when nature came calling in the worst way.

Back then, they didn't even use modern day toilet paper at home.  Instead, they used pages from a Sears Catalog.  Some people back then used corn cobs.  I suppose that some people living in cities  and larger towns used toilet paper just as we do here in the 21st Century, but this was a country village called Cunot in Owen County, Indiana, so it was either cobs or catalogs at that time--and, if you got caught in the woods, you just grabbed up some leaves to take care of business.

What my mom didn't realize until it was too late was that some poison ivy leaves were mixed in with the more appropriate ones she had chosen.

Not only did her bottom get itchy, but, also, other parts of her body such as her face, as she had touched her face at some point before she realized what she had on her hands.  She began scratching, and the ivy poison began spreading even further.

Each year, she always looked forward to going to an event called The Quincy Picnic, but she was now in no shape to go and had to stay home.

My folks met in Anderson in 1946, as both of them had gone there to work at Delco-Remy a few years before.  They married on February 8, 1947.

On weekends, they would drive down to Cunot to spend time with my mom's widowed dad and her oldest brother, George, who still lived on the farm.

Electricity was starting to arrive in that area, and they would look to see which households were hooked up to this new-to-the-area modern convenience and which were still using old-fashioned lamps.

Each time they went down, they could see the number of houses with bright lights burning increasing.

This, of course, will tell you something about Cunot in the early 1930s--which is that it not only didn't have air-conditioners in any of the homes there but, also, that it didn't even have the power it would take to run an electric fan.

Therefore, it was also hot and humid both indoors and out--which intensified the discomfort from the poison ivy--so you can bet that my mom was a lot more careful in the future when choosing just the right leaves to get the job done!

As for action in a wooded environment, I'm only a lemonade vendor and not a fudge maker, so I've never had to worry about finding just the right leaves.

I've always been pretty fussy when it comes to post-fudge-making clean-up.  My motto (not an original with me but one I've "adopted") is that the job isn't finished until the paperwork is done.

As a kid, I tried to avoid the gross experience of ending up having a candy-coated hand by making the stock for toilet paper shoot way up through gross overuse.

I'm not just talking about continuing to make stockholders in toilet paper companies more than a little happy as I do to this very day.  I'm talking about giving myself a mummy hand before tackling the job and repeating the experience at least once or twice more.

Somehow, I didn't have a clue that the combination of a little less paper used per time and an increase in flushing would spare me what was a commonplace occurrence (though, somehow, the toilet generally managed to swallow everything without an issue--but how it did that, I don't know except that it must have been a miracle).

I remember a time when I came home from school in fourth grade, and nature was calling my name shortly after I came indoors, inspiring me to head for the downstairs half-bath.

When finished, I noticed that the toilet paper was stacked almost to the top of the bowl--but I got this really bright (or so I thought at the time) idea re: what to do about that.

Instead of leaving the lid open, I would simply close the lid.  Then, there would be no place for a flood to escape and spill onto the floor, and everything would go nicely down the correct path to our septic tank.

I closed the lid and flushed the toilet.

Good!  It sounded as if it were going down.

Now, it was on to washing my hands.

With the water running, I wasn't able to hear the difference.  However, after I'd turned off the tap, I noticed that the toilet was making weird sounds as if it were gargling.

Then, I heard a sound like a waterfall and noticed water spilling out onto the floor.

Even though I had closed the lid, I didn't take into consideration that there was a space between the toilet seat and the rim of the toilet, and this was from where the water was now escaping.


My grandparents, Uncle Jim, and my cousins were now living with us, and they had made a kind of day room down in our basement.

I hurried down there hollering, "PLUNGER!  PLUNGER!  THERE'S SOMETHING FISHY GOING ON!"

This turned out to be the mother of all floods, as it didn't contain itself to the floor of the bathroom or even just outside the door.


This time, it formed brooks that went who knows how many different directions, though the one I was aware of was meandering into the living room.

Somehow, the mess got cleaned up, and I tried to be more careful with my toilet paper use after that--though it definitely wasn't the last time that I stopped up a toilet.

My "adopted" big sister, Pinky, and I get a lot of mileage out of the idea of toilet paper and have done some pretty crazy things with a toilet paper theme.

Pinky and her brother, Bud, traveled out to Arizona to visit their sister, Lou, and her husband, Bob, a few years ago.  Now, they're both pretty fluent and frequent when it comes to lemonade making, so they decided to poke fun at this trait by collecting a sheet of toilet tissue from every public restroom they visited on their trip, labeling it with date and location.

My folks and I found that to be pretty amusing, and this was what started our talking about toilet paper on several occasions.

On Sundays after church, we would generally go to a popular restaurant southwest of Anderson called The Red Brick Inn, and, somehow, the subject of toilet paper came up in our conversation.

All of the iced tea I'd been drinking (bottomless glass) had inspired a lemonade making session within me that led to the little girls room.

While in there, I got this wild idea involving making some headwear for myself out of toilet paper and seeing how long it would take for one or more people at our table--or even others in the restaurant--to notice it.

It didn't take that long.  I even encouraged Pinky to get a little bit crazy and creative, but she decided to (pun intended, perhaps) pass on that one.

We decided to take a Sunday drive after that with me at the wheel.

I'm one of these people with a hobby of traveling the backroads, finding places of interest, and sharing them with everybody later.  At other times, we all just go looking for interesting stuff together.  This trip, I believe, was a combination of both.

We ended up including an area close to Geist Reservoir in our travels, and I ended up turning down this street--only to realize that it wasn't a street but, instead, a private drive.

When we got to the top and dead-ended in front of this fancy house, one of the owners came out to find out what was going on--as in "What's this strange car doing in my driveway?"

I explain to him that we were just driving around and I'd mistaken his driveway for a public street--and, all of the time, he was giving me this weird look.

Anyway, as we backed out of there, I caught my reflection in my rear view mirror and realized that I was still wearing my toilet paper hat.

No wonder the guy had been giving me this, "And what have YOU been smoking, young lady!?!" look.

Finally, I want to tell you about a very, very special incident involving toilet paper.

My mom and I went to a certain chick party a few years ago--actually, many more years ago than it seems to us--when somebody passed around a roll of toilet paper and invited all of the ladies there to take some (our decision re: how much).

Some of us took a sheet or two, some of us took quite a bit.

We were to find out that the winner of this game would be the one who had taken enough toilet paper to come the closest to measuring the middle circumference of a young lady named Paula:  a very pregnant young lady named Paula!

Now, the little one (Kazanna) who was riding around inside of her at the time is a high school junior, married to the love of her life (Austin), and they're expecting their first child (a son named Hayden) around February 24!

Time really has a way of flying!

Not long after this fun baby shower, December 27 arrived--and so did Kazanna!

You should see her now!

Happy Birthday (one day late) to Kazanna!!! -- And happy arrival day in just a matter of weeks to little Hayden!!!