Thursday, April 15, 2010

Toilet Paper

I was looking through some old files the other day and I found this essay. It seemed appropriate given all the time I've spent in the bathroom lately so I thought I would share it with you. The author shall remain anonymous for now until such time as he/she should choose to reveal him/herself.


According to the National Association for Continence, over half of America reads in the bathroom. I am one of them. Millions celebrate National Bathroom Reading Week in June of each year.  I, again, am one of them. I am not Marquis de Sade, who wrote "The 120 Days of Sodom" on a forty foot roll of toilet paper, and I am not Lord Chesterfield, who urged his son to carry a cheap copy of the Latin poets for more practical purposes ( I feel a certain sympathy for the lesser-liked poets of the sixteenth century). Still, I would not be where I am today if it were not for the toilet.

The toilet is a place to meditate, to think, and to read great books. I would not be acquainted with the poetry of Robert Hass, Donald  Hall, or David St. John if it were not for the commode. I would not admire Kurt Vonnegut or George Saunders. I would not be familiar with current events or world happenings. The toilet has been an essential component of my education - perhaps the best teacher I have ever had.

I befriended the the toilet at a young age, following the precedent set by my father, whose bathroom library was larger than the office libraries of most families. I learned not to dog-ear the pages of my father's pulp science fiction and pop psychology books. I began to accumulate my own collection of bathroom books, a mixture of Dr. Seuss, "Ranger Rick Magazine." and Choose Your Own Adventure books.

The toilet was there for me when I was too sick to go to elementary school. I'd stay home, crying because of my fear of vomiting, chin on the lip of the toilet. We'd bond for hours this way. I would pray to be spared from vomiting, and the toilet would sit silently, steadfastly. I would kneel beside it, devouring The Hardy Boys and the Boxcar Children, until I felt it safe enough to return to the less secure environment of my room

Later, the toilet assumed a role of even more importance. My list of required reading became a list of bathroom reading, and I would keep the books in the bathroom, organized neatly on the counter. I would read the biographies of our Presidents, the poetry of the Romantics, the late night scrawls of the Beats. It was with the toilet that I made life-changing decisions about which colleges I wanted to apply to. It was there that I studied for the SAT, though, admittedly, far too little. It was with the toilet that I proofread my essays (not the one you are holding now, rest assuredly).

I do read outside of the bathroom, quite frequently, but never with the same vigor. There is something about the sterility of the environment that is conducive to reading. The white tiles and white cabinets are like empty pages, and they urge me read those filled with type and ink and meaning. The toilet is a place to be alone, and the best reading is done in solitude. Toilets are a gateway to reading, to learning. Ultimately, they are the key to knowledge, porcelain thrones from which man can conquer ignorance.


  1. Oh my gosh, that is hilarious and brilliant!!!! I hope it ended up in some major magazine or book or something... no, actually I don't hope it did because I hope it will make its big appearance in your book... I think I know who the author is but because of its sensitive subject I wont' speak out loud.

  2. : ) I have been away ... and came back to read (catch up) with your life ...and I'm happy that your old 'friend' is gone now... and want to encourage you that the "D" word..
    will STOP...

    I had a colon resection ..gosh.. 25 yrs ago.
    AT FIRST was over-active ...then the Dr
    introduced me to a rx .. Questran. It is a rx for high cholestrol (sp) but the side effect is 'constipation' but it only slows it down and 'forms' it more ..and the "D" stops. It's not like taking immodium and paralyzing the 'gut'. It works. My friend who had colon C .. decided to cope with "D" and did not want to drink anything prior to a meal but it's a better tradeoff I think.
    KNOWING you will be fully restored .. numbness etc... Laura is RESTORED and you'll see it more and more. Thank you again and again for blessing me 'in the midst' of your struggle. God is so so good.
    blessings, Jean in NC

  3. Oh, I know who the author is!!!! You can't fool me because I live with one. I am coping and sending to my husband. He will love it!!! I bought him a kindle for Christmas and he sold it on ebay. He wants to read it and touch the paper!! He would NEVER dog ear the pages. I learned that from him. Thank goodness for "post it notes"-that is how I mark things. Beleave it or not-I always thank the Lord that I don't spend that much time in the bathroom. I don't read-I only read when I study-then I need a desk to open lots of books and mark them with post it notes. Oh yes, he also taught me not to mark in books!!! BUT I do mark in my Bible-it is mine and personal and I can do as I please. Ha Ha.

  4. That is absoltely hilarious!
    I love that you are able to find the humor in even the most mundane of situations : )
    be blessed