Sunday, May 18, 2008

Published May 18, 2008
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

I had a “situation” in my bathroom this morning that has become all too familiar to me. Faced with the task of starting a new roll of toilet paper, I found myself in a quandary, my type A personality at odds with the reality of toilet paper manufacturing. To nutshell it: there is no way to easily separate the edges of that first square of toilet paper from the rest of the roll.

Kind of a dumb thing to worry about, I guess, but those of you shaking your heads out there are probably rabid about which way the toilet paper is supposed to hang from the holder next to your toilet, so rabid in fact that your significant other is ready to hang YOU from the toilet paper holder, so lets hold off on throwing stones for the time being.

When faced with a fresh roll of toilet paper, I find myself in what I call a “Conspiracy of Stupid” situation. It is my belief that manufacturers everywhere are part of a vast (Right wing? Left wing? Wing ding?) conspiracy aimed at making the average American look and feel hopelessly incompetent. I haven’t pinned down the motive or the source, but the effect is most definitely there.

Think about it. Is there any reason the first square of toilet paper should be glued so tightly to the ones underneath? You may say the adhesive keeps the toilet paper from coming unrolled. I wonder how many rolls of toilet paper you’ve ever seen spontaneously unroll themselves after the initial squares have been torn away (in shreds…all over your hands…completely wasted) from the rest of the roll. In the absence of a two-year-old in the house, it just doesn’t happen. Somebody put that adhesive there to make us feel like we’re too stupid to function.

Don’t act like you haven’t been there. You’ve held that roll in your hand, delicately picking away at the edges of the quilted, two-ply, ultra soft, comfort padded piece of tissue you know will ultimately end up as confetti. You’ve thought to yourself, Come on, you idiot! It’s tissue! It’s not exactly sturdy material. You’re bigger than the toilet paper. Why can’t you just figure this out? You’re so stupid! Bam! Conspiracy of Stupid in action!

It’s not just toilet paper. I see the conspiracy at work at the kitchen table. What other reason can there be for cereal bags that are impossible to open? Freshness, you say? Bah! They shellac that stuff within an inch of its life to keep it from going soggy in milk. The bags are hard to open for one reason and one reason alone: to make you feel like a nincompoop when you look across your table at the remains of your would-be breakfast after it’s come bursting out of the bag you just tried to muscle open. (You’re feeling me here as you swipe away bits of corn flakes to read my column, aren’t you?)

There are more examples of the conspiracy’s influence. Those rows and rows of carts at the grocery store that won’t come apart. That pickle jar that just won’t open. That pen that has no conceivable way of operating. The car you just borrowed that has the windshield wiper control right where the headlight knob ought to be
I’m working tirelessly on finding the source of the stupid-making. Currently, I suspect some kind of cross promotional conspiracy between companies, e.g. the pickle jar company and the makers of those rubbery jar opener thingies. Like any good conspiracy theorist, however, I’m always keeping my mind open to government influence. Congress has plenty of reasons to keep the general populace feeling dumb, so they will never be completely ruled out.

When I dump my economic stimulus payment into a new business manufacturing adhesive-free toilet paper, the joke will be on them.