New Age Toilet Paper: Occult Hygiene or Bathroom Hype?

Richard Flavin (
Sun, 29 Sep 1996 13:17:40

New Age Toilet Paper: Occult Hygiene or Bathroom Hype?
By R. D. Flavin

Archaeology has understandably contributed little when
demonstrating how early humans cleaned up after defecation. Plant
materials were, and in some cases still are, the easiest, most
accessable choice available for the requisite maintenance of good
hygiene after a bowel movement. While it is not surprising to find
the imprints of various leaves on ancient coprolites (fossilized
stool), similar evidence from such diverse sources as Herodian
Jerusalem, L'Anse Aux Meadows, and Early American Colonial sites
seem to point to a trans-cultural practice which extends well
beyond any diffusionist conspiracy. However popular the usage of
plant materials has been, many peoples have long practiced
alternative methods of anal abstersion, such as scrapping (with
sea-shells or artifacts of wood, ivory, etc.), the vigorous
application of sand (in arid regions), and the fairly common
practice of utilizing soap, water, and a washcloth after a fecal
passing. While much research is needed in our better understanding
of pre and historical toilet behavior, the current promise
(threat?) of "New Age Toilet Paper" may demand the attention of
audiences in boardrooms and bathrooms from Boston to Bombay.
The consumption of a decaf, double mocha latte at one of the
new cyber-cafes should be an effortless waste of time, cash, and
social standing. Still, the all-night tossing back of beers and
scotch, a quick breakfast, and a really embarrassing appearance on
the sidewalk in front of THE TODAY SHOW's studio pining for Katie
Curic seems a better goal for uninspired urbans. Yet, a recent
visit to a cyber-cafe opened a vista of possibilities hitherto
unforeseen. And, go figure, I've The World Wide Web and a cup of
spilled coffee to thank (curse?) for it.
She called herself "Hassle" and quickly bought me another
latte. The apparent victim of drive-by body-piercing, computer
geekette, and a most comestible chick, apologized a dozen times for
bumping my table and sending my just-purchased coffee to the floor.
It was awkward, sweet, and perhaps a setup. Hassle sat with me,
ordered an iced-coffee for herself, and began to spin a yarn about
how contemporary druids only use bathroom tissue made of hard
woods, because they foster a belief in tree-consciousness and soft
wood trees, such as pine, are regarded as the "labrad," the
"speakers." Hard wood trees apparently have little to say and
don't mind being used as the means of removing relutent waste.
Much of what she said was lost on me, as the topic of butt-wiping
is usually taboo and only discussed when babies are present and in
need of changing. Well, that, and Hassle had a rip in her black
t-shirt and the side of one of her ample breasts kept trying to
squeeze through.
Sipping the latte, a smile on my face, and a scantling of
sweat on my forehead, I listened to Hassle diss the current methods
of using toilet tissue. Pulling anywhere from three to nine sheets
of "t. p." from a roll, most either carefully fold the sheets back
on top of one another, increasing the strength through thickness,
or crumple all the sheets together in a big ball. The first way
protects the user from a finger poking through the tissue and
touching anything icky, while the second utilizes the "English
Muffin" or "nook and cranny" method. Hassle explained drawbacks to
both, as a residual smearing is likely to occur at some level.
This, she explained further, is why the Hare Krishnas never use
toilet paper--Hassle didn't know if they wore underwear beneath
their robes--the Krishnas follow the Indian custom of using a
bucket of soapy water and a washcloth. As I listened to her speak,
a fear of fescennine aroma began to form.
I'd chosen a cyber-cafe for something new and different, and
though "our" table was equipped with monitor, rat, and keyboard, we
talked and didn't surf the Net, like everyone else around us. My
eyes followed her gold-stud labret as she spoke, and I was reminded
of the old "sing-along" cartoons with the bouncing ball. I was,
admittedly, enamored with Hassle, though on top of a growing
concern about residual fecal matter, I began to hypothesize a
scenario which my girlfriend walked in, called me a "cad," and
Hassle concurred, adding that my butt smelled too.
Taking a long pull from her iced-coffee, hassle slowly set the
glass off to one side of the table and grabbed both my hands,
squeezing them gently, but with an unmistakable, feminine suavity.
She told me of surfing the USENET search-engines before my arrival,
like WWW.DEJANEWS or WWW.ALTAVISTA, for new ideas and how she'd
come across a posting for investors in "New Age Toilet Paper." Her
voice, just above a whisper, yet filled with an almost garish
confidence, soothed and excited me at the same time. I was trying
to imagine how many tattoos she had on her body that I couldn't
see, when one word began to be repeated again and again--kelp.
"These people expect us to wipe our asses with seaweed?" I
heard myself ask.
When she decried the destruction of our forests, the chemical
wastes produced by milling, the use of chlorine, dyes, and
perfumes, and other sad results of society being addicted to toilet
paper, I blinked, but didn't feel anything on the inside. Then, to
my amazement, she remarked how the presence of natural sea-salt
should clean and tighten the skin surrounding her rectum. An image
immediately took took shape which made me uncomfortable, as well as
sinful, in several major religions.
Looking at my watch, pretending to be late for some
appointment, I rose from the table like a zombie claws from the
grave--it wasn't pretty. Bumping the table, I spilt the last of
her iced-coffee, tore a fiver from my wallet and tossed it,
muttering, "Thanks for the chat, sorry about your drink, and good
luck keeping your butt clean..." Her laugh stayed with me for
hours, and it was only with the help of one of my Scotch friends,
Glen someone or another, it finally ceased to echo in my head.
When telephoned later, PROCTOR AND GAMBLE, the makers of SCOTT
TISSUE, would not reveal to me what exact trees they use in the
making of their toilet paper. The balance of hard and soft woods
appears some industry secret. And, though not for lack of trying,
I've not been able to locate any info on The Web about investing in
"New Age Toilet Paper." It may be hype, a poor joke, or Hassle
playing me like a glass harmonica.
Sigmund Freud believed if a child experienced a difficult time
during "toilet-training," such a person would likely grow up with
manic traits of orderliness and obstinacy--an anal-retentive. My
girlfriend suspects something is up, because I've taken to using a
box of WET-ONES, the disposible, moist towlettes in the bathroom.
Perhaps one day, maybe sooner than we think, "t. p." as we know it,
will be a thing of the past, like leaves and other plant material,
when we scrub our sphincters. And, I'm pretty sure, some people
just won't care. But, I will.

The End.