Friday, April 10, 2020

The TP Chronicles - Part Deux

Wow - I'm more than halfway done with the book!

Crap. I'm only a little more than halfway done with the book.

These are my two conflicting thoughts as I tally my word count each week, trying to get to my goal of 57,000 words for the new book. I vacillate back and forth between, Wow! Crap. Wow! Crap. Wow! Crap. every time I count. But, as the Husband always says, "You're a glass-half-empty kind of gal."And he's right - I'm a perpetual pessimist. So Crap always wins.

Speaking of crap, below is a chapter from the book. I'm breaking my rule of never publishing a full chapter of new material before the book release. But (butt) these are desperate times, and maybe my little story can make someone laugh. Or at least chuckle warmly.

Stay healthy everyone.

(Post copyright 2020, Dawn Weber)

I could wipe with that.

Such are the obsessions one has during the time of plague. I do, anyway. Not handwashing, not mask-wearing, no. My thoughts turn repeatedly and compulsively to . . . 

Wiping. Not my nose.

My butt.  

Apologies for the graphic visual. But we're several weeks into the coronavirus pandemic and I’m a little worried. Aside from working from couch without pants, about the only good things to come of COVID-19 is that A) I’m still here - so far, and B) I can now reliably spell the word “apocalypse.” So needless to say, I’m a little edgy. 

Things are so weird and awful right now that state governments have issued stay-at-home orders and shut down schools, restaurants and worst of all, bars. Stores have cut their hours, limited the number of shoppers inside, and completely sold out of toilet paper. 

Ugh. No bars and no toilet paper. Whatever will we do? However will we WIPE?

When I’m brave enough to don a mask and gloves and go to the store, I see the TP shortage firsthand. Shelves - hell, entire toilet paper aisles - are completely bare of Charmin, Cottonelle, even that terrible White Cloud. In fact, the entire paper goods aisle is empty and taped with caution tape, exactly like a murder scene. You can see straight through the shelving to the snacks aisle and onward, into the very bowels of hell.

Toilet paper isn’t the only thing missing; meat is hard to find, and vegetables have completely disappeared. Normally you can’t give veggies away, but finding a bag of romaine lettuce right now is impossible. It’s like the world is ending and everybody decided to sit down for a nice Caesar salad.

Still, it’s the lack of TP that keeps me up at night, and for that, I blame the Husband. When the COVID-19 epidemic started a month or so ago, I foresaw the impending Shortage of Doom and asked him to pick up three extra packages of toilet paper for us on his weekly Sunday grocery trip. Did he do that?

Of course he didn’t. Spending money on something we already have at home causes his tightwad head to explode. He bought exactly one pack of toilet paper. And guess what? As of last Wednesday, we didn’t have much left. 

The thing is, I don’t even like toilet paper. In fact, I hate it. I prefer bidets, and we will get to that soon enough. But suffice it to say that I am no fan of toilet paper because, like so many women who’ve had babies, my undercarriage has been through the wringer. The Hobo’s birth was especially traumatic on account of his giant head, causing one maternity nurse to tell me that in 30 years of medicine, she’d never seen a bottom as terrorized as mine. “It’s like a bomb went off!” she said.

 I will try to spare you the rest of the gory details but suffice it to say my southern hemisphere has seen it all: constipation, hemorrhoids - all the things women complain about after having a baby. In my case, the baby is 17, and I’m still a mess - such was (and still is) the size of his head. Sometimes it’s so painful I don’t know what the hell is going on back there. It’s like an army of knife-wielding elves, cheerfully taking turns stabbing me. When you’re that sore even the softest Charmin feels like 60-grit.

What can I say, though? A girl’s gotta clean herself, and like the old song goes, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone. Or almost gone, anyway, and since this TP shortage started a few weeks ago, I’ve been looking at toilet paper as gold. Better than gold, actually. I’d happily trade one of my good necklaces for a value pack of Cottonelle. 

I’ve been forced to plan ahead. To really look around. For things with which to potentially wipe. Nothing has been safe from my gaze. And really, the possibilities are endless if you’re imaginative. Leaves? I could wipe with that. Old napkins from the glove compartment? I could wipe with that. Ears of corn? I could wipe with that. A passing dog? Don’t tempt me, because if I have to, I will absolutely wipe with that. 

In the very beginning of the pandemic, my saving grace was the local Dollar General. Surrounded by cornfields and cows, it sits alone with no other nearby businesses. The parking lot is always packed, though, precisely because there’s nothing else around and we don’t have a choice. It’s about a mile down the road from our house in Beautiful Downtown Brownsville near another small village called Gratiot, which we pronounce improperly as “Gray-shot” because we are rednecks. We love our Dollar General because it sells all kinds of necessities. Cigarettes, Mountain Dew, plastic wading pools. Really, what more does a hillbilly need? 

Since regular big-box grocery stores became coronavirus-infested cesspools devoid of veggies, meat and toilet paper, I’d been staying away from them as much as possible and hitting up the Dollar General whenever we needed something. But eventually, DG didn’t have TP either so I gave up and went back to thinking creatively. We never completely ran out of toilet paper, but I was planning ahead in case we did. An old towel? I could wipe with that. A Post-It note? I could wipe with that. One of the Husband’s clean socks? I could wipe with that, then maybe put it back in his drawer. It would certainly serve him right for not buying extra toilet paper when I told him to.

Thinking of things with which to wipe has become my favorite hobby, and I was deep in I could wipe with that mode while driving back from the Gratiot (Gray-shot) post office the day before yesterday. Because of their disappointing lack of wiping items, I’d recently started ignoring good ol’ DG. They’d disappointed me. They’d let me down. They’d completely run out of toilet paper. 

I was just getting ready to turn and drive past the store again when a little voice whispered to me. Never doubt the Dollar General, it said, so I turned my head and surveyed the store’s parking lot. 

And what to my wondering eyes did appear? A great big semi, pulled up to the cement pad of the side dock. Hmm, I thought. Semis meant boxes. Boxes meant items. Items meant stocked shelves.

I pulled into the lot and parked. I grabbed my purse, jumped out and almost ran to the paper goods aisle where I found . . .

. . . absolutely nothing at all.  Of course not. Why did I even bother?

Head down, I turned and began walking back toward the doors when I saw something out of the corner of my eye.

One employee, dressed in yellow and black. Opening a big box of motherfuckin’ toilet paper.

My heart leapt. I snuck up on her slowly, carefully, the way one would approach a rabbit. I didn’t want to spook her, lest she dash away with the loot. I waited until she disappeared behind a shelf. Then, I made my move, lunging at the box and thrusting my arms inside.

Which is, of course, precisely when she came back around the corner. There I was, caught. Guilty. Red-handed. 

Eyes as wide as Charmin rolls, I tried to plead my case.

“Please, miss,” I said. “May I have some?”

She glared at me. “Yeah, but you can only take two. If you absolutely need them.”

“Oh I do, I do! Thank you so much!” I grabbed two packages before she changed her mind, avoiding the urge to hug her.

I turned around and nearly skipped to the register. While waiting in line, I smiled triumphantly at everyone around me. A woman behind me whispered softly, “Where did you get it?”

“It’s in the back,” I hissed. “Not on the shelves, still in the box. The other employee is unpacking it. She’ll let you have two!”

She spun on her heel and sprinted away, intent on her own mission.

Still smiling like an idiot, I paid for my purchase, walked out the door and drove home with my “DG” brand TP. 

DG was the cheapo store brand. It would feel like steel wool, I knew. I didn’t care. As I said, my rear is a war zone anyway. At least I had something with which to wipe it.

And so with this, my lowly TP adventure, I hope I have helped you during your time of need. Remember, if you’re ever running low on toilet paper, just get creative, stay alert and take a page from my book. 

Because you know - you could totally wipe with that.


  1. I do the shopping around here, so I know toilet paper math: eighteen quadruple rolls of two-ply soft equals 1,937 rolls of regular. Boy, is that ever true! Kroger had three four-packs of regular rolls, and they let me buy only one. Only Barbie can wipe her tiny, plastic a$$ with the stuff!

  2. I saw your post come up on my reading list. Cracked up over your TP expedition. And advice. I'd never wipe with a page from your book. I got some really downer type books for that.

  3. Mostly we haven't had the TP scarcity in our stores, which makes me feel very, very lucky indeed. I'm glad you were able to get a couple of packs!

  4. Jealous thoughts here. TP is scarcer than hen's teeth.
    The only self cleaning thing in this house is the cat. Which puts his very soft tail firmly in the danger zone if our current shortage continues...

  5. As a single guy I don't really need a lot of TP. You could have the tightwad install a bidet and you can grow lettuce in you victory garden. I cheat by volunteering at one of our grocery stores twice a week which gives me access to all kinds of things including TP.😁

  6. ...still funny and entertaining...

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