The History of Toilet Paper
On learning patience and gratitude from wiping one's ass.
I’ve been feeling nostalgic for the start of this project as this year begins to come to a close. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to write something thoughtful and reflective, something that really starts to bring this first year of ASK A FAILURE to some sort of meaningful close, but if I’m honest, I don’t really have any interest in that right now. Instead, since this project started by talking about shit, I figure it only makes sense to at least acknowledge how we take for granted how we clean up our own shit. That is, let’s talk about the history of toilet paper, which I know absolutely nothing about.
When the pandemic started, one of the first supplies that people began to hoard was toilet paper. I remember at one point being on my last roll, stuck in my apartment without having seen anyone in weeks, and thinking, well I wash my clothes in the bathtub now, I guess a lot of other stuff might have to start happening there too. I remembered meeting a friend from a different religious and cultural background in college and he explained to me how he regularly cleaned his butt. All I remember now is that it involved a pot and some water and I remember thinking, huh I wonder if that’s more environmentally friendly, and also, what about my nails?? Shortly thereafter I of course did a deep dive into learning about the wild and wonderful world of douching, but that’s for another essay and another time.
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