Squeezably Soft

| by Rhonda D. Clower |

Toilet paper.
Yes, toilet paper.

I want to speak to you
of fear, of control,
of abuse…

and toilet paper is what comes to me.

“Toilet paper?”, you ask.
“What? Did your neighbors TP your
house once too often?  Did you run out
one time and have to use a leaf?”

“No, we had to count.”

“Count what?”, you want to know.

“The squares we used each time
we went to the bathroom.”

“What!?  Well, why didn’t you just lie?!”

“He added it all up at the end of the roll.
He knew how many sheets were on
the roll, kept a tally book
in the bathroom.”  I patiently explain.
As if it made sense, as though it were
the most normal thing
in the world.

You had to mark an entry every time
you went.

Cross examinations for a messy “#2”.
Then, your numbers went way up.
There was no way to hide it.

A major investigation ensued.

I grew up in the South, where saying
“poot” was grounds for washing out the
offending mouth with soap.

Bodily functions did not exist for little ladies.

So, how can you tell your Father that you are
sorry, but the beans for dinner last night
made your butt blow off…

and rather than leave that in your pants,
you needed more than your daily quota
of the blessed

My mother, subjected to the same invasion
of privacy, to the same humiliation,
said nothing.

Just filled out her log entries:
2 squares
3 squares
2 squares
2 squares
10 squares

Now adults, and long gone from that home,
my sister and I keep pantries full of toilet paper.

You can never have enough Charmin
to wipe away the shame.

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