There have been great debates throughout history that have often resulted in shouting matches or fisticuffs or shooting wars such as East v. West, Democrat v. Republican, Protestant v. Catholic, La Niña v. El Niño, The ’97 Bulls v. Ditka; the list goes on and on. These conflicts are not only dangerous to talk about at full volume in a restaurant, but have come to define us as a civilization who whispers in restaurants. Butt there is one debate that has divided us such that it is worthy of an extra ‘t’ in ‘but’: that of the Over v. Under dispute with regards to toilet tissue dispensing.
Studies show that a vast majority of users (roughly 70%) are reasonable and right-minded as they prefer their tissue to come over the top of the roll. If this percentage were to vote one-sidedly in a presidential primary, they would be the ones considered to have ‘stolen’ the election. The remainder, for some illogical and completely insane reason, prefer to reach behind and underneath for their squares, rapping their germ-infested knuckles along the wall where they conveniently leave their diseased putrescence for future patrons. These people are thus referred to as ‘underdogs’ or ‘bottom-feeders’ or ‘Australians’.
I will attempt to impartially and objectively settle this debate with nary a crack about derrière hygiene, but to do so properly requires a quick trip down history lane that is only partially entirely made up…but first, some quick and pointless stats:
Your average TP manipulator uses 8.6 sheets per procedure, which equates to 57 per day or 20,805 per year. Over a lifetime, that equates to approximately 97 miles, a roll big enough to encircle the entire city of Gary, Indiana over three times, which is actually not a bad idea.
The first known reference to toilet tissue was made in 6th-century China wherein scholar Yan Zhitiu wrote of using pages from books to clean himself after what the Chinese came to call ‘taking a Zhit.’ The ancient Arabic community used to make fun of the Chinese for using paper because it was unsanitary; they should have taken their dumps in the river, they said, where there was plenty of fresh clean water to use for washing-up (assuming you were a 1%er who lived up-stream). The French also poo-pooed the use of paper for colonic clean up as recently as the 17th-century—as exemplified by the writings of M. François Rabelais:
“Who his foul tail with paper wipes,
Shall at his ballocks leave some chips.”
Sadly, the French-to-English rhyming dictionary was not invented until the 18th century.
Septicity being the mother of invention, other implements have been used through the centuries to wage battle against the Klingon such as hay, straw, grass, leaves, sticks, evergreens, hemp, wool, sponges, snow, sand, corn cobs, fruit skins, mussel shells, coconut shells, seaweed, sand, and in some cultures, even soap and water (and that’s no lye). The ancient Japanese used an implement known as a chūgi, which is some sort of flat stick not unlike those that accompany some of today’s finer Chinese take-out.
The first commercial distribution of toilet paper came in 1857 when the somewhat homosexually named Joseph Gayetty introduced Gayetty’s Medicated Paper, a stack of flat tissues wrapped in paper and touted as “The greatest necessity of the age!” bumping food and shelter to two and three, respectively. But it was the year 1891 that changed the world—at least for our purposes. For that was the year when Mr. Seth Wheeler of Albany, New York obtained a patent for his fabulous new invention: the perforated tissue roll.
While this may sound like an off-the-menu ahi dish at Red Lantern Sushi, it is instead an idea born of brilliant intellectual genius that has revolutionized daily domestic and industrial life for billions of wipers world-wide to include creating the heretofore unknown decorative folding industry of ‘toilegami’ as well as recreational arbor usage by countless high-school and college hooligans in which, being a responsible parent, I can neither confirm nor deny participation well into my 30s. Ever try getting a brick of napkins stuck up in a tree? I didn’t think so. Thank you Mr. Seth Wheeler of Albany, New York.
But here is the metaphorical cleansing rub: not long ago, the patent for said perforated tissue roll was rediscovered amidst…well, a bunch of old forgotten patents. And do you know what was found? The original sketch illustrating how a roll of toilet paper was designed to be used by its inventor. And it reveals a distinct and purposeful, not to mention italicized, over-the-top distribution:
So there you go, all you demons of the underworld, you blunders from down under, you underhanded low-life back-reachers. No more rhetoric and name-calling. The case is closed.
And now that that’s finally settled, only one question remains:
Clockwise or Counterclockwise?
Have a nice bidet!