Saturday, July 23, 2011

An Open Letter to Brits Seeking Toilet Paper Holders

If you’re reading this, chances are:

a)      You’re British
b)      You’re looking for a toilet paper dispenser, and
c)       I owe you an apology.

A month or so ago, I jotted off a post about the odd search terms that have brought people to this blog. One example was “Whimsical toilet paper holder man riding unicycle.“ At the time, I had never written anything about toilet paper dispensers, whimsical or otherwise (point: search-engine algorithms are funny!).

Since that time, EACH AND EVERY DAY, legions of poor, unsuspecting pilgrims are led to Marguerite-aville in their quest for a More Perfect Toilet Paper Holding Device. According to my trusty Blog Statistics counter, a hefty percentage of these searches originate in Great Britain. This is not surprising, as the English have a long and proud tradition of utilizing toilet paper. (The Anglo-Saxon love affair with “TP,” as they affectionately call it, dates back to the little-known King Charmin the Incontinent, back in the Golden Age of Gout and Dysentery.)

So, to my accidental British friends: Welcome! When I implied that people scouring the Interwebs for “quaint” and/or “farting” TP holders may be mentally deranged, I didn’t mean you!! I meant, somebody else doing that exact same thing.
But/t, is the paper orientation "Over" or "Under"??
If the traffic that comes to this blog is any indication, the global hunger for toilet-paper-related hilarity rivals our species’ appetite for videos featuring cats with their heads stuck in things. If I had the ability to do anything practical whatsoever, I would stop doing whatever it is I don’t-do and start making and distributing novelty toilet paper holders. Unfortunately, Stanton College Preparatory School didn’t offer anything so useful pedestrian as shop class or home ec, where we might've learned valuable life skills, such as how to assemble plastic and/or wooden buttocks with tissue sticking out of them (I could've been rich!). Instead, we just learned to write flippant essays speculating about, say, the latent post-colonial Weltschmertz that drives British subjects to seek out such contraptions (again, dear reader, NOT YOU!). 

Out of curiosity, I Googled “toilet paper dispenser,” to see what would come up. You are strongly cautioned to NOT try this at home. The depth and breath of scholarly information on this subject is astounding, and full of facts you can’t un-know. To wit: "Toilet Roll Holder" has its own entry in Wikipedia. The article takes care to elucidate the finer points of this admittedly hard-to-grasp concept. VERBATIM QUOTE: “A toilet roll holder, also known as a toilet paper dispenser, is an item that holds a roll of toilet paper. “ (Thank God somebody finally cleared that up!)

More amazingly, "Toilet Paper Orientation" also has a page of its own. I had no idea this was the subject of a heated national debate. Who cares if a mature, consenting roll of tissue wants to have sex with another roll of tissue? It’s a free country, right?

Turns out, they're talking about how the roll is hung—over, vs. under (illustrated below for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the concept of toilet paper).The Wikipedia page notes that advice columnist Ann Landers said this subject was "the most controversial issue in her column's history.” And she wasn't the only moral arbiter in this ongoing debate. VOLUMES have been written on the topic. Some sociologists have even posited that one's preference for over-vs.-under speaks volumes about “gender roles, the public and private spheres, race, ethnicity, social class, and age.”  (Full Disclosure: This blog takes a firm editorial stance in favor of "Over.")
"Over "Orientation, i.e., "Right Way"
"Under" Orientation, i.e., "Wrong Way"
"Bunny" orientation, i.e., Very Wrong Way
In summary: if you orient your toilet paper to the back, you are probably very sexually repressed, and have some serious Daddy issues. And if you have one of those farting TP holders that obscures the orientation of the roll… well, you probably have at least one human head in your freezer. 

This is a crucial issue, and I urge you to contact your lawmakers. Those perverts who orient their toilet paper to the back are taking away from MY normative toilet paper experience!! Hopefully, Congress will get its act together and pass a Federal law to prevent weirdos from living the Rear Dispensing Lifestyle.


  1. FYI Marguerite, there is a passing reference to the "toilet paper orientation" debate in the 1988 movie Talk Radio directed by Oliver Stone. The movie is good enough that you may as well watch the whole thing in order to find this fleeting but validating (per your post) reference.

  2. Thanks for the tip, Kevin! I'm amazed Oliver Stone hasn't done a feature-length film about the whole controversy. Wasn't the Rear-Orientation Mafia behind the Kennedy assassination??

  3. I want to see this movie, thanks for your post:)

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