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Being a semi-fictional narrative of the Great Wipe-Out
I don’t recall when I first heard the rumors of a toilet paper shortage. Folks were going into stores and buying it all up. Pretty soon, if you wanted some, you had to go to a shady-looking fellow on a street corner, and say, “Hey man, you got any white?”
“White.” That was its street name. Or “Queen,” short for Quilted Northern.
Anyway, I was hearing about the shortage for about a week or two before I actually thought to go into a store and look for it. By then, too late. We still had some, but just a few rolls. We lived in a small house, so we didn’t stockpile much of anything. The next day, I looked online, to see if I could order a pallet of the stuff. No dice. I could have gotten one-ply, but I wasn’t that desperate. Not yet. So I ordered a case of 4000 “beverage napkins.” In other words, small, plain white napkins. Ordering a case of napkins for toilet paper. What had I become?
The case arrived in due time, but my wife had also found two enormous rolls of the good stuff, just hiding there at home, so we didn’t need the napkins just yet. We were pretty excited about my wife’s find. We wanted to invite some friends over, but we were too worried they might need to use the restroom, and they couldn’t leave their stocks of white unattended, anyway. Besides, there was that virus thing, so…
Thus the napkins remained in their box. About a week later, I had to make a business trip. Not that far away, but far enough to stay overnight. It was a nice enough room. Not five stars, but clean and comfortable. Nothing to write home about, except for one thing. On a small shelf in the bathroom, just sitting there in all its glory, like a priceless idol waiting to receive my worship, was a fresh roll of two-ply. And worship it I almost did. Eyeing it carefully, I tried to guess its weight. I took a plastic cup, wrapped in more plastic, from the bathroom sink, and filled it about half-full with water. Looking back at the Roll again, I added just a bit more. I stooped down, eye-level with the roll of white. Beads of sweat rolled down from beneath my battered fedora. I made the switch. I couldn’t tell you now how long I crouched there, the Roll in hand, waiting. If there was a giant, stone ball lying in wait for me, I’ll never know. Perhaps the cup of water had done the trick, or perhaps the hotel had failed to protect its precious loo roll. No matter. The prize was mine.
I returned home to find my wife had used the last of the white in my absence. As any man would have, I raised my hand to punish her for her carelessness. She cowered, begging for mercy, and suddenly I remembered the precious Jewel of the Ramada in my knapsack. Overcome with glee, my wrath faded away, and I brought forth the Roll, holding it aloft. We were saved.
The Roll lasted us until, wonder of wonders, I found toilet paper sitting seemingly unnoticed at my local Big Box Inc. Not on the shelf with all normal toilet paper, no. That shelf was picked clean. It lay all white and exposed, like the bone of a prey animal after the wolves have had their way. No, I found this paper on a shelf not far from the check-out aisle. There was a shelf full of gummy worms and chocolate bars, and just behind it, a shelf of camping supplies. Camping supplies like RV and marine toilet paper. The kind made to more easily disintegrate in mobile home septic tanks. Not the most desirable of toilet papers, but there it sat. Packages upon packages of it. As soon as I saw it, I stopped dead-still. Looking around, I saw no one waiting to brain me, as I approached the bait. No desperate diarrhea sufferers launching themselves at the precious white. No banks of arrows waiting to fire from hidden nooks in the walls. (I mean, come on. A store like this, the walls are football fields* away. No way I could have seen ‘em.)
No, this toilet paper just sat there. A few rolls had been purchased, but the mob seemed to have almost entirely missed it. It was mine! Mine! I seized it. Two packages! Eight whole rolls! All mine!
So, sure. It’s RV toilet paper. Not really the TP I’d choose, had I my druthers. But I think it’s pretty cool that, Johnny-come-lately though I may be, I have TP, and still have a case of napkins in reserve. We had enough to get us to the hotel roll, and that let us get through until I could find, quite by accident, some RV toilet paper. God really does care about the little things. I wish He’d take away the big problems, like microscopic critters invading our lungs, or crazy people buying all our toilet paper. But He has his reasons. And I have toilet paper.
*football fields – In olden times, when the toilet paper flowed like the waters of the great Mississippi River, men dared gather in opposing teams, coming well within six feet of one another, to play a game called football. Some say it was thrown and caught with the hands. Some say it was only kicked. And who knows who hath the right of it? But, whatever, the fields were 100 yards long is the point here. OK?
As I said, this is semi-fictional. The framework of this story is entirely true. Names of hotels have been changed, cuz why should I reveal any of my toilet paper sources to you weirdos?
No wives were beaten (or in fear of being beaten) in the making of this internet yarn.