Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Great One-Ply Toilet Paper Conspiracy

One Man Refuses To Roll with the Changes

Everything and everyone I love seems to have an expiration date. My latest loss seems to be the disappearance of my beloved Charmin One-Ply Premium Bathroom Tissue from the shelves of area supermarkets and convenience stores. Is my current predicament mere serendipity or is it a concentrated effort by Charmin's marketing experts to foist a new brand on an unsuspecting public, much like Coca-Cola's (ill-advised) "New Coke" media blitzkreig of yore? Given the way things have been going in this country under the current administration, Conspiracy Theory is always the way to go - a slam dunk, in fact.

At first I thought it was just an out-of-stock issue at my local Eddie's Supermarket, where my coveted T.P.'s spot was replaced by Charmin's flavor of the month, the new "Extra Strong" 2-Ply roll. But then I found my brand missing from the Superfresh I go to downtown near work. And from my local Royal Farm. Luckily, my local Giant Food had some old inventory of Charmin Premium One-Ply rolls, but instead of the economical 4-packs I prefer, I had to buy the 36-unit mega roll package. More than I wanted, but maybe a wise investment if Procter & Gamble is going to be forcing Charmin Premium One-Ply into early retirement.

One Day, One Roll, One Sheet at a Time
You know the brand I'm talking about: the one with the big red Charmin logo on the front of the clear package that contains those white, unscented 4-1/2 x 4-2/5 sheets of outstanding quality and softness, 176 sheets per roll, quality-tested for safety in all sewer and septic systems. Admittedly, Procter & Gamble's Charmin line is more expensive than other toilet paper brands, but I've found that you tend to get what you pay for in life (economic necessity may force me to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon, but c'mon, you can't compare it with a Smithwick's or a Corona - especially if you're buying). I've always felt safe and confident making my toilet with Charmin's Premium One-Plys, whether in single or double rolls, but now I'm not so sure about what the future holds. If I sound a tad anal about the ultimate disposable consumer product it's because, well, I am. Sorry, but that's the way I roll.

I have a sensitive ass that is easily chaffed and I like to pamper it. I've been to foreign countries where the quality of life in the men's rooms was so deplorable that it actually made me nationalistic (all those years the U.S. was dropping propaganda leaflets over communist countries, they should have been dropping Made in the USA T.P. rolls!). Take, for example, the barbaric Germans - with toilet paper as course as Saran Wrap - who seem to view wiping one's ass as a lithmus test of masculinity, as if using soft tissue was tantamount to being effeminate or (worse) French. Same story in England, where old Blimey's 'loo leafs were course enough to wrap fish and chips in, giving one's arse the ruddy complexion of a Scotsman. And Mexico? The T.P. there was hard enough to hold a taco.

Two Much
So why one-ply? Simple. Two-ply is too much. It's too big, too fat, too oversized - like most Americans - and it tends to clog the drain, especially when it comes as a topping to my American Excess. Two-ply's thickness makes each wipe feel like I'm using a linen cloth or a pillow case to wipe, so that you lose all sense of touch. It's the equivalent of an unlubricated condom versus an ultra-thin lubed model. Plus the Charmin Ultra 2-ply rolls have that stupid fucking bear logo. I mean, do you want to envision something hairy and grizzly when you're wiping your ass? And isn't the bear the symbol of Russian communism? (And we know what happened to the Soviet Empire...)

Why unscented? OK, soft tissue is one thing, but scented T.P.? That's a little too metrosexual, bordering on gay. It's a fine line, kind of like the one separating listening to Duran Duran versus Depeche Mode or Pet Shop Boys, but there is a distinction.

And as for the Charmin with Aloe and Vitamin E? OK, one's ass does not need vitamins (though some asses are no strangers to protein supplements) and as for aloe - yes, it's soothing to one's tush, but ever try to wipe your glasses with aloe T.P.? It creates big smears. And when you need something dry to absorb the blood from a shaving nick, well, you see my point?

Of course, nothing beats Baby Wipes as far as getting the "clean-up" part of the T.P. job done. But they are really expensive and, well, a little dab of faucet water applied to a one-ply does the same trick as baby wipes or aloe-smeared paper. (Someone notify Bill Nye the Science Guy with my breakthrough discovery!)

No, P&G got it just right when they invented Charmin Premium One-Ply toilet paper and there was no reason to justify further tinkering. I mean, extra strong is fine as a selling point for something like Bounty hand towels, but for one's ass, Tender Loving Care should be the norm. This is, after all, the flipside to one's tender loin district.

The course of true love may not run smooth, as the Bard observed, but now I'm afraid mine is going to be run rough-shod. Like our national politics, toilet paper options today have become polarized between two extremes - Extra Strong and Ultra Soft - and there seems to be no middle ground in sight, at least not from Charmin. As one blogger at people.tribe.net observed, "Charmin has now thrown down the gauntlet in declaring that there are two distinct kinds of humans; those who prefer Extra Strong and those who prefer Ultra Soft. Now you really must decide. Which kind are you? You must decide now, and this decision will be permanent and unalterable."

So much for freedom of choice. Forget MTV, I want MTP (My T.P.)!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

AMEN Brother! I'm with you 100%.

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found a bunch of 12 pks of Charmin from about 1991 at an estate sale. Imagine this: 12 SINGLE rolls, 462 Sq ft, 280 1-ply sheets per roll, 4.5" X 4.4". And the stuff is dense, its actually hard to squeeze the Charmin...but ya know what, its much better than the crap they have now.

12:18 AM  
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1:09 AM  
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1:09 AM  

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