Among the many alarming things that have emerged in the few past weeks is Americans’ apocalyptic obsession with toilet paper. Despite industry experts’ assurance that there’s plenty to go around, people insist on loading their carts (and trucks) with two-ply. Shelves are empty. Restrooms are being robbed. One Oregon police department even had to issue the following statement: “There is a TP shortage. This too shall pass. Just don’t call 9-1-1. We cannot bring you toilet paper.”
When random fears like this bubble to the surface—creepy clowns, sonic attacks, satanic cults, even Y2K— it tells you something about a given society. But what are we to make of the sudden emerges of TTAS, or toilet tissue anxiety syndrome? Is this a real issue? Is it a microcosm of our daily defecatory experience? Or are we just treading water in the oral-anal phase of societal development?
My eye-rolling teenaged daughter would put me firmly in this last camp. But this particular issue is one that’s close to my… heart. Because some years ago, when I was a young traveler, I had the same anxiety. For years I traveled with my own toilet paper, because I was afraid—no, terrified—that I would end up in a place where there was none.