Friday, October 29, 2010

The Paper Trail

This week I bought 8 double rolls of Pepto-Bismol pink toilet paper in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Association. It catches me by surprise each time I step into the bathroom. That hot, bright splash of color fairly jumps off the wall in the otherwise neutral palette that I usually prefer. I find it a bit distracting not to mention unnerving to use something that looks like cotton candy for the purpose for which it was actually intended. Still, my mother went through breast cancer twice so I tend to try to put up with the pink in order to show my support.

There are things more important than color when it comes to toilet paper. My personal pet peeve is that scratchy, insubstantial excuse for paper that you sometimes find in public washrooms. It is generally wound so tight on the industrial size roll that it is impossible to pull off more than one square at a time without tearing it….very annoying. Of course there are occasions when encountering a better quality of toilet paper can have its own set of problems.

My parents were on their way to a follow up appointment in Toronto after my mother’s first bout with breast cancer. Neither of them felt particularly at ease in the city so rather than leaving their planned route to the clinic in order to find a place to eat they decided to stop at a hotel they passed and eat lunch in the restaurant there. They entered the hotel and Mom stopped to use the restroom before they went on into the dining room. Dad agreed to wait for her at the entrance on the far side of the lobby.

The bathroom was lovely but every woman knows how challenging it can be to manage in the close confines of a stall that is only two and a half feet wide especially if you are wearing a bulky winter coat. In the end she got herself sorted out and made her way to the sink to wash her hands. She failed to notice that she had somehow caught the end of the toilet paper in her clothing and it was trailing out from under her coat. Completely oblivious, she made her way out to the lobby and started walking across to where Dad was waiting. There was a lull in the conversation at the front desk as she passed. She couldn’t understand why everyone seemed to be looking at her.

Dad took a couple of hurried steps in her direction, his face a study in horrified embarrassment.

“What’s that?” he whispered urgently.

“What?” Mom demanded, truly bewildered by all the attention.

He pointed behind her and she turned to see a 50 foot long trail of toilet paper beginning somewhere under her coat and reaching all the way across the hotel lobby, under the restroom door and back to where it appeared she was still tethered to the roll in the stall she had occupied moments before. No problems with premature tearing there. It looked as though the whole roll would follow her no matter how many doors she went through. She snatched it free and dropped it as though it was burning her fingers. One look into each other’s eyes and the unspoken message, ‘Let’s get out of here!’ came through loud and clear. They abandoned all thoughts of lunch and hurried out to the parking lot, eager to escape the grinning faces of the staff at the hotel’s reception desk.

That little incident turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Whatever nervousness Mom had been feeling about her appointment was completely eclipsed by their experience in the hotel. It was like an episode of the I Love Lucy Show. No wonder everyone laughed. Once they were safely hidden away in their car Mom and Dad thought it was funny too. She could hardly wait to get home and tell us all about the paper trail she'd left behind.

1 comment:

  1. Robin, one of these days you can zip all your postings to a publisher and let the company pack them into one volume for the book stores. I'll come to your launch :)