Daze of My Life/Double or Nothing

by Kenneth B. Lourie


It’s becoming more of a gamble than ever before these days to find exactly what brand and size of toilet paper you’re specifically looking for at the supermarket/drugstore. The competition for in-store shelf space and consumer convenience (and presumably market share as well) has spawned a paper explosion of bigger and thicker rolls, the size and style of which have never been held before; there are ultra-soft, cottony-soft, quilted, Aloe & E, ripples, absorbent, moist, etc. In fact, the increased size and volume seem to require more space than retailers have available. As a result, certain multi-roll packs of the “single”-roll-size variety - 6, 9, 12 and to a lesser degree, 24 - are disappearing from shelves. It appears as if these “single-size” multi-roll packs are going the way of the dodo bird, itself extinct and also defined as “hopelessly passe.” Bigger seems to be better, in toilet paper roll size, anyway.

My particular problem is the toilet paper wall socket/roll dispensers. They’re too small, in my bathrooms, anyway. If, and I can’t stress the “if” enough, I could even stuff these new larger, double-size, giant rolls into/onto the roll dispenser, I wouldn’t be able to turn the roll because the fit would be too tight, like putting a square peg in a round hole. As a result, it’s likely I’d tear half the sheets into odd shapes and sizes that, given the task at hand, would hardly qualify as “more convenient.”

So I need single-roll sizes and yes, I’d prefer a 12-, 24- or 36- count multi-roll pack, if you please. It’s not that I’m paranoid about running short of supplies; it’s more that I’m particular about what I want and feel comfortable using. After all, it is a free country, and I’m entitled to like whatever I want for reasons that aren’t anybody else’s business (so long as no one is hurt in the process), especially with respect to an extremely private and personal-hygiene-type decision, like the brand, size, style, description and ply of toilet paper I prefer. And when manufacturers, and in turn retailers, make decisions that directly affect the quality of my life, I feel dutybound to express my angst.

I don’t want my toilet paper to approximate the size of my paper towels. Moreover, I don’t want to have to overpay for single-roll-size four-packs when there’s better value buying 12- or 24-roll multi-packs. And given the fact that toilet paper is such a staple of our everyday and/or every night existence - at home, at work or at play - being denied the pursuit of this happiness (preference) seems to go against all that out forefathers felt compelled to independently declare as truths which are self-evident. In effect, I feel like I’m being held over a barrel-sized roll of toilet paper.

Don’t commit me just yet, though. I understand that having a single-roll-size multi-pack available for my convenience is not exactly a guaranteed right.

And we’re not discussing life or death. We’re simply talking about paper products, but I don’t want to have to change horses in midstream any more than I want to buy toilet paper I’m uncomfortable using. Double-size rolls may work for you, but for a “single” man like me, they’re more trouble, and size, than they’re worth. As an educated consumer, perhaps with too much time on his hands, I feel as if I’ve been given an ultimatum, and I don’t like it one bit!

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.