Toilet paper wars

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 3, 2007

There’s trouble brewing in the Spears household.

After months of dÈtente, figurative war could break out any day. With one side having completely ignored the terms of a truce carefully drawn during the fading winter of 2006, the other side has come to feel put upon — perhaps even betrayed.

Having concurred that our grandchildren should be raised to have a firm grasp of right and wrong, as well as a spirit of accommodation, my wife and I agreed to settle our differences peacefully and put their future social graces ahead of our own foolish notions.

And yet, she STILL loads the toilet paper the wrong way onto the spindle.

Perhaps I was na‘ve to think she would hold to the terms of our unwritten truce. Maybe we didn’t even have a truce at all. Maybe I was lulled into a false sense of security by her laughter when I suggested that her insistence on turning the roll around each time I correctly loaded it gave the children the wrong impression about our relationship, not to mention correct social behavior.

Whatever the case, I’ve come to the conclusion that nothing short of a full bathroom assault can solve our differences. I hope the grandchildren can forgive her.

For several years, now, I’ve quietly endured the shame of a restroom with forward-rolling toilet paper. Friends and family would visit, and I would feign ignorance about their bewildered looks upon leaving the restroom, knowing they must be judging us harshly over such a faux pas.

I’ve correctly loaded dozens of rolls — with the paper coming down the back, from under the roll — in hopes that she would learn from my quiet example, only to find later on that the rolls had been turned around without so much as an apology.

A little more than a year ago, conflict finally broke out. I’d had enough, and I wired the roll to the spindle, reasoning that the flagrant action finally would make my point. Upon my next visit, I found the wire cut and the toilet paper taunting me with its tail falling over the roll.

Unwilling to take such an affront sitting down, as it were, I removed the spindle entirely, leaving the roll on the counter. But it was a solution even I couldn’t stomach in a bathroom as small as ours. So I replaced the spindle, with the roll turned the correct direction, confident that I’d finally made my point.

Later that evening, and at a very inopportune moment, I found the roll missing, replaced by a small pile of leaves. Curses! Foiled again!

I was admittedly negotiating from a weak position, but I thought my appeal to her sense of decency would result in — at the very least — an agreement to allow the person replacing the roll to decide how it should be oriented.

Clearly that hasn’t been the result. A year later, she still “fixes” the toilet paper after I’ve loaded it. The unspoken agreement seems to be that I’m wrong.

There’s trouble brewing in the Spears household. A man can take only so much before he cracks.