Toilet Paper Worries

There are many mind-boggling things in this 21st Century – space travel, global warming, can humans ever get to a point where they don’t see a benefit in killing each other. Life changing, history making issues.
Toilet paper should not be in that category.

That’s right. Of all the unimaginable things there are in this world to obsess over, you’d think people would be able to get past the lack of this simple every day commodity. But, here we are. The world is trying to deal with a rampant disease with no cure and only a rudimentary idea of real treatment and there are people whose reaction is to fixate on little squares of paper that are used once and thrown away.

You know, toilet paper was not always around. No joke. Years – no centuries even eons – ago mankind figured out many ingenious ways to deal with the daily human cleanup problem toilet paper does for us.

They used leaves and whatever else they could find in the old, old, old days. As years progressed, they found better ways. In ancient Greece and Rome people’s personal cleanup needs were accommodated in public baths – no social distancing there! They had rooms with rows and rows of stone seats with holes where people could enjoy a little pleasant conversation while giving Mother Nature her due. Roman engineers brought water down from the mountains into their cities, hooked it up to the public bath houses and the mess was whisked away. (Thank you, Roman engineers, for your genius!)

In the big cities during the Middle Ages, folks used what were called chamber pots and dumped the nasty contents out the window onto the street (and presumably unaware passers-by as well. Talk about the Eww factor!)

Eventually, somebody came up with the idea of the bidet. Now there was a genius!

Yep. Those folks really knew what they were doing.

Still that little gem is not quite enough all by itself. To get really clean people need a little extra and besides, in this country, most of us don’t have bidets.

In America, we handle our own messes.

Back in the day, Great Granddaddy built a privy or outhouse out back. The good ol’ chamber pot (a staple in homes for centuries) was handy during inclement weather but you can bet there were times when it was still necessary to brave cold, heat, rain, wind and snow to answer Nature’s Call. Of course, somebody, most likely Great Grandma, had the job of transporting the mess out to the appropriate location. Nasty.

Wherever the actual job took place, people still had to clean themselves and for years I’m told the Sears catalog was sacrificed to do double duty. (Or would that be double doody?

Solid, clear thinking on someone’s part, I say, using that classic reading material to get the job done, but not practical today. First of all, catalogs are usually a lot slicker, on heavier paper than in the old days and I’m sure it would clog up our modern plumbing anyway.

Still, when it comes right down to it, the old ways offer some advice for today. To care for your personal mess, take a hint from the old Romans and try sponges, rags and, as my daughter suggested, some of those old mismatched socks everybody has. Any and all of these items could serve the purpose well.

Okay, so you still have to do something with those soiled items.

Another nod to the past. Cloth diapers used to be the only way to keep Junior or Little Missy’s mess contained.

WARNING: The following contains yucky mental images and is not for the faint of heart. Reader discretion is advised.

So, back in the day, Mom would dump the “soiled matter” (I’m sure we all know what that euphemism refers to) into the clean water of the toilet and flush it away. Then she’d take the diaper with what was left of the soiled matter, dip in into the clean toilet water and scrub to transfer as much of the nastiness into the water as possible. Squeeze the excess water out and place the diaper, sans soiled matter, into a bucket (known as a diaper pail at the time) which contained bleach water and replace the lid on the pail. When enough dirty diapers were collected, they would be laundered with plenty of detergent, bleach, borax or other cleaning boosters.

Substitute sponges, rags, socks, etc., for the soiled diaper and you have the idea.

Naturally, the next step was to wash your hands thoroughly – very thoroughly.

Of course, if your sensibilities can’t allow you to get that “down and dirty” you could use rubber gloves.

So, when you can’t find toilet paper in the store because somebody’s terrified of the prospect of not having it, why not use some of these ideas?

We’re not over this current flu crisis by a long shot. Follow the advisories. Help yourself and others get through it.

Our ancestors have been through this and much worse. Smile a little. Do something for someone else. Maybe take a hint from the past. Great Grandma would be proud.

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