Carrie Fisher said some wonderfully pithy things. One of my favorites is, “Instant gratification takes too long.” Another is, “As you get older, the pickings get slimmer but the people don’t.” Many other things, as the years go by, do become slimmer but not in a good way. What used to be a one pound can of coffee is now a 13-ounce can of coffee. Bacon used to come in 16-ounce packages. At my house a pound of bacon is considered a single serving. Now, an identical-looking package holds 12 ounces. A 25 percent decrease in bacon constitutes a near emergency.
I am not a physicist by training but I have come up with Boone’s corollary of altered dimensions: The new, reduced size of a package’s contents is directly proportional to the size of the print announcing the change. Bars of soap are smaller, bottles of shampoo are smaller, tubes of lotion are smaller. Bodies, as Ms. Fisher noted, are becoming ever larger so this is a real lose/lose situation for hygiene and skin smoothness. There’s more square footage to attend to with skimpier materials to do the job.
The most rapidly diminishing bounty, so to speak, comes in the realm of paper towels. Rolls of paper towels have become noticeably thinner. Let me clarify that; the roll itself — the cardboard tube onto which the towels are wound — is larger. The number of paper towels, however, dwindles monthly. Everything about paper towels is smaller. Two ply is unheard of. One ply has become the norm. If there were such a thing as one-half ply someone would try to market it. And, of course, the sheets are a fraction of the size they used to be. So when the package states “One hundred fifty sheets” what it really means is “Seventy-five sheets if you want to wipe up anything bigger than a tear drop.” Someone as frugal as I has no right to say this but there must be an app somewhere that will calculate sheets per roll times ply times the thickness of that ply times the absorbability factor to uncover the absolute best bargain in paper towels. Usually I just cut up an old worn-out tee shirt and use that for a rag.
There is naturally an exception to every rule and the exception in this case is toilet paper. I have been doing a little carpentry work lately, mostly helping out in new home construction. These were the questions asked at the interview: Can you read a steel tape? Can you run a sliding compound miter saw? So far I have all my fingers although they are full of splinters.
Even these elaborately built, thoughtfully designed houses are not equipped to deal with the latest version of toilet paper. This product used to come in rolls. Then in came in giant rolls. Then it came in double rolls. Now it comes in mega rolls. The advertising agencies must be running out of adjectives. Home owners are running out of room … room to store the enormous packages and room to hang the rolls. Rolls of toilet paper have become so huge they no longer fit the little wall-mounted holders. The spindle still fits through the cardboard tube. And if you shove hard enough (an engineer once told me anything will fit if you get it going fast enough), you can get the spindle back on the holder. Once it’s there, however, the roll is too big to, well, roll. It’s jammed tight. A toilet paper roll that will not unroll is on the cusp of being useless. Oh sure, you can manually turn the roll and pull some paper off and hope it doesn’t tear before an adequate amount is unwound. Do this often enough and the roll become small enough to turn. Eventually. Eventually is not restful. Nor is starting the roll in the first place.
Whatever material they use to adhere the end of the roll to the rest of the roll should be used to mortar bricks. This is some good sticky stuff. If all the good karma in the world is lined up in your direction, there will be a little tab of toilet paper to pull to unstick the starting point and get the ball rolling, so to speak. Karma is as fickle as anything else. Many times there is no little tab, absolutely nothing to grab onto. If you have not had the foresight to come to the bathroom armed with a knife or a razor blade or a machete with which to cut into the roll, you are reduced to tearing at the toilet paper in an effort to get some handle on the whole thing. This is not restful, either.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today. This column shared through the AIM Media Midwest group of newspapers.