Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hospitality.

Someday I want to see the footage from one of those secret video cameras installed in a women's bathroom. Not because I have a prurient interest in women with their pants down, but to find out what they're doing with all the toilet paper.

J is in New York for two weeks and he invited a friend to stay here while he's gone. A is a very agreeable college student -- he goes to school in Boston, but he's here in his home town for the summer, and, I think or maybe I just made this up, he's couch-surfing to avoid staying the summer at his mom and dad's house. At any rate, for a 20-year-old, he's quiet, considerate, does his dishes, makes an effort to get the garbage in the right container, etc. (he doesn't always rinse the beer bottles before he puts them in the recycling bin, but that's such a minor thing to complain about).

A has a girlfriend who is here pretty much whenever he is here. (The deal was one college student, not two, but she's nice.) The other day, after they had breakfast together -- either she made him oatmeal or he made it for her -- she washed their dishes, but didn't wash the two plates and a coffee cup of mine that were in the sink, which I thought was a strange choice. Still, any negative reaction I might have had was obliterated by the overwhelming sweetness of two 20-year-olds sharing a breakfast of oatmeal after spending the night together. I'm not a parent and don't imagine that I will be, but I'm at the age where, if I were a parent, my kids might be their age. I wonder sometimes if it's hardwired in me, this sudden, abundant affection I feel for people now in their late teens and early twenties.

J and I have known each other for so long, and we live together with so little effort, that it is disproportionately jarring to suddenly have someone else in the house. I find out how dependent I am on things being familiar in my home, on knowing that things are in certain places. I like how this domestic regularity makes my life simpler, how it makes my day flow smoothly. No peanut butter in the fridge or jars of spaghetti sauce on the spice shelf, stuff like that. When all the little household objects are in their places, my mind is free for other things. But A is a guest, and I want to make room for him in my tranquil abode. (He commented, as he was moving in, on what a wonderful home we have and how grateful he is to stay here.)

So I try to keep my incipient annoyance in check by reminding myself of all the people all over the continental U.S. who offered J and me hospitality during our years on the road, some of them sharing their homes with us for weeks on end.

But what do they do with the toilet paper? Though I can't say I really keep track, I would guess that it takes J and me more than a week to go through a roll of toilet paper. It takes long enough that I don't notice it getting smaller, it's just there until it's gone and then one of us replaces it. If we buy one of those big 16-packs or whatever, it lasts for months. But when there's a woman staying with us, like when J's friend C visited last month or like now, we just fly through it. It goes so fast that I notice and keep track. This week, with A's girlfriend staying here, one roll lasted a day and a half. Now, I know women use it on both ends, so to speak, so I can understand that they would use more. But that much more? What's going on in there?

Okay, now I feel like I'm doing a bad Richard Lewis monologue -- Have you ever noticed ...? -- so I'll stop.

1 comment:

extrastorchy said...

Have you ever tasted toilet paper? Try it sometime.