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Early Friction

Aristotle on Toilet Paper


      Of that which is known as toilet paper, there are two types:  that which is like Charmin, and that which is like Scott Tissue.  Any other toilet paper is a derivative or combination of these two types. 

      Charmin can be recognized by its softness.  It is gentle and delicate.  It is scented in a way that is pleasing to the olfactory.  In its construction, Charmin incorporates pockets of air between loose and disjointed fibers.  The effect is a product that wipes without irritating.  Wiping with Charmin is like bathing in a cloud.  The skin is buffed, not bruised.

      Scott Tissue comes in large, thousand sheet rolls.  It is rather rough and coarse.  The rolls are dense, unmalleable, and often without scent.  Scott Tissue can cause chaffing.  Chaffing is never to be preferred in a toilet paper.  It is an effect to be tolerated only under conditions of extreme necessity.

      Of the two main types, Charmin is the aesthetically superior.  Charmin is preferred among poets and artists, and the otherwise pampered.  Homer used Charmin almost exclusively, and those few awkward passages of the Odyssey can be attributed to days when he was obliged to use the inferior Scott Tissue while staying at the quarters of a less discerning acquaintance.

      The perfume of Charmin accomplishes yet another desirable effect.  It hides the offensive odor of urine and feces, and almost makes wiping a pleasant activity.  The sensual, seeking pleasure in everything, will undoubtedly prefer Charmin, and may even be found employing the toilet paper for uses other than that intended.  Certain Sybarites, in fact, have been known to wrap themselves in the luxurious product and dance through the streets.  Such is the temperament of the sensual.

      Scott Tissue is the more utilitarian of the two types.  Its enlarged rolls, individually wrapped for sanitary purposes, represent the Spartan in toilet paper.  The city, in fact, has an exclusive contract with the manufacturer.  Scott Tissue appeals to the more pragmatic of minds. Its thousand sheet bundles require fewer roll changes and the cost per sheet is substantially below that of Charmin and other papers of that type. 

      Both toilet papers, however, are flawed in their division of sheets, as in neither case is an individual piece capable of producing a clean wipe.  The manufacturers of both types may be in either tacit agreement or active collusion as to this misrepresentation.  In either case, it is readily apparent that Marketing is held in higher esteem than Engineering at firms engaged in the production of toilet paper.

      I have thus made distinct the types of toilet paper, and the characteristics by which they may be judged.  Thus it is left to the reader to weigh the costs and consequences with what one may wipe.       


The Sad Ballad of Mr. Jones

      Mr. Jones’ work was flagrantly derivative.  Not only was he incapable of an original thought, but he could not even produce a unique style.  Ten years of creative exercises, electroshock treatment, and toad licking had had no effect.
      Finally, new technology arrived with the hope of compensating for his lack of talent.  CereWord, pat pending Microsoft Corporation 2015, provided Mr. Jones with the software necessary to transcribe his scattered thoughts directly to the hard drive of his Dell 986.
      Initial results were poor, as Mr. Jones had almost nothing worthwhile on his mind.  Those few electrical transmissions occurring in his cerebellum were of completely puerile desires.  Mr. Jones’ thoughts seldom rose above the first few levels of Maslov’s Hierarchy.  His initial CereWord documents were destroyed by the MicroHounds, Internet police with a penchant for deleting pernicious files.   
After forty-eight years of participating in life, the portly bachelor was without any wisdom to bequeath the younger generation.  And in the second decade of the third millennium, almost everyone had published some compilation of inspirational thought:  Jack Stone’s Spiritual Principles of Multi-Level Marketing, Janice Thompson’s Guide to Loving your Inner Fetus, Victor Mendez’s A Plethora of Platitudes.  Mr. Jones’ only claim to literary fame was an adage he had sold to Hallmark Internet Greetings—I Miss You When You’re Not Here.

      But he was optimistic about CereWord and continued transcribing.  He tried all manners of story generation.  He would randomly pick a word from his 2059-page Random House Dictionary and construct a sentence around it.  He would meditate for up to five hours and then boot-up CereWord hoping to unleash a novel of transcendental importance.  Once, he even hung himself upside down and started hyperventilating in the hopes of obtaining a new, as yet unthoughtof, state of altered consciousness that would generate a new literary angle.
Success, however, eluded him.  And each day, Mr. Jones grew more and more envious of that cruel and impassionate bard, Shakespeare was his name, who back in the 16th century had hogged the English representations of all 36 of tragedy’s plotmatic variations.  His resentment grew and grew and coalesced to the point where CereWord was recording the electronic equivalent of pure, unadulterated anger.  Even the MicroHounds were kept at bay by the ferocity of his latest expurgences.
InterBur, the quasi-governmental agency charged with regulating the Internet, took drastic action to prevent Mr. Jones from disseminating his acerbic text to the phrase-imbibing public.  All electronic connections to his house were cut, his dryer vent was sealed with an InterBur agent’s yellowed vee-neck tee shirt, and his name was removed from Microsoft’s CereWord 2016 upgrade distribution list.         
But Mr. Jones’ thoughts continued undaunted.  Until he ran out of disk space.  At that point, CereWord’s AutoEdit function took over, deleting his weaker material and replacing it with newer, more cohesive elaboration.  The process repeated and reoccurred.  Phrase by phrase and sentence by sentence his manuscript solidified and improved.  Gradually, Mr. Jones’ masterpiece began to take shape.  Themes appeared, motifs generated, climaxes occurred.  And eventually, The Urinal Chronicles was produced:  eight hundredand fifty-four pages of impeccable prose describing every release of his bladder during the prior twenty-two-month ensiegement.
Critical praise was enormous.  Microsoft stock shot up two hundred fold now that CereWord had been proven to deliver that most unobtainable of goals—literary permanence.  The Urinal Chronicles was placed next to Ulysses, and Anna Karenina, and even Shakespeare.  
Mr. Jones, however, fell into despair.  It was soon apparent to him, and his detractors, that he was unable to write without the conditions surrounding The Urinal Chronicles.  Always willing to go the extra mile in the name of artistic creation, he duplicated the circumstances of his prior production, loaded a fresh disk into CereWord, and put himself into confinement.   Twenty-two months later he produced—an exact duplicate of The Urinal Chronicles.