Hee! Loved that video, Enright.
Ah, toilet paper. I used to brag, tongue-in-cheek, that the good old USA was the greatest because we have the world's best TP. But I was half serious. We really do.
So much of the world has a dearth of this wonderful stuff, and it is properly treasured in some places. Like Mexico, where they tote it about in garish plastic boxes, granny grandly carrying it aloft in her two proud hands when the family disembarks from the knee-crushing bus at a pit stop. It is then parsimoniously and ceremoniously doled out to each in in the clan before they depart to their respective pit stop stalls.
Back in the day, in Cambodia, I was amazed to see these same garish molded plasti TP dispensers in unicorn colors honored with pride of place in the centers of the more upscale sidewalk eateries of Pnom Penh. How in the world did they get them? Or the horrible rough TP to go in them? TP was mainly used by the locals as a one-square screen for teeth picking after a meal. (Nose picking in public was A-OK, but teeth-picking required screening with whatever was available, one's hand if nothing handy. Go figure.)
Anyway, it was impossible to buy TP there. I made a deal with the manager of the 5-star hotel in PNP to be allowed to loot the lovely American toilet paper from their ladies' room (and enjoy a hot shower) whenever I was in town in exchange for saving him from a posse of Khmer Rouge baddies on the road between Saom and PNP. Har. So I had great TP when staying in the Westerized guest houses in the capital reserved for us Large International Organization folks when I was there.
Back on my tiny island and when in our Provincial capital, I went native and eschewed TP, opting for the local method of washing off with water every time. You used a tin bowl to dip water out of the nearby jug or basin and just washed yourself down there. Yes, there was nothing to dry off with, but On account of the heat it did not take that long. And, yes, the basin often contained brightly-colored poisonous toads and half-drowned scorpions and was a breeding ground for mozzies carrying malaria and dengue.
Well, the Brit, Kiwi and Canadian Navy guys who would sometimes bunk at my stilt shack in hammocks hanging from the rafters of my barn-like kitchen and the posts of my verandah (it was the best place to catch smugglers of SAMs and such -- I could tell stories!) were horrified I had gone native and had no TP to offer in my crazy lean-to bathroom where the toilet was just a hole cut in the floor over the lagoon, so they would bring their own Canadian military-issue TP rolls hanging from twine loops knotted around their necks, which my fellow islanders found hilarious! And so did I!
After some time, I felt like a bad hostess, so when I found a surprise lone roll of TP from Ho Chi Minh City in the market at Saom, I bought it for the princely sum of fourteen cents. It was so horrible! Remember the crepe paper we used to twist around and drape from the ceiling for kids' birthday parties back when? This TP was just like it, only wider. It was a sickly shade of mauve and riddled with nasty wood splinters. Dangerous stuff.
Oh well. Good enough to use as a tooth-picking screen, I guess!
And don't get me started on how the Chinese are the worst colonialists of all. I used to think the Belgians, followed by the French were the worst. Nope. The Chinese are the worst, hands down.
Anyway, in much of Asia (especially Japan, with its high-tech bottom-washing and -drying potties), they think we're nasty for only using paper instead of properly washing with H2O. So there's that, and maybe they have a point.
Toilet paper was theft-worthy in Russia when I was there in the
late 90's. It was quite hard to come by, and in the smaller towns and villages, the outhouse doors were padlocked to prevent TP theft. Now, the outhouses there were communal affairs, in good Commie style, a row of wooden outhouses perched over a shared long tin trough that stunk to high heaven, but with individual padlocked doors for each family. I was issued a Red Army gas mask to survive my trips to them. It also came in handy for thwacking the attack geese stationed at Outhouse Row.
TP. It's a test of culture!