Toilet Paper Tales: A Political Parable

In seventh grade, I sat in the musty gym of Crestview Middle School for yet another pep rally. This time, we were to hear speeches from the nominated candidates for Class President. There were three current eighth graders/soon-to-be ninth graders who were running for the coveted title of Crestview Middle School Student Body President.

Of the three I only remember one of them.

Her name was Tracy Something and she had the most amazing permed hair (early nineties, friends – we all had permed hair) and her bangs were teased into a perfect flower on her forehead. She was the epitomy of cool and her looks alone already had my vote. But then she took to the microphone and gave a speech that brought the house down.

“As your student body president,” she shouted into the mic, “I promise to make changes around this school, starting with the bathrooms.”

*cue hearty applause*

“I promise to get rid of those terrible square toilet paper holders and have them replaced with round ones so that the toilet paper actually unravels for us all!”

Screams. Applause. Laughter. Foot stomping.

This was good stuff.

You see, the toilet paper holders were a nuisance. They were square pieces of metal, so the round rolls of toilet paper were shoved onto the square holders making it impossible to actually unroll the toilet paper. You had to unravel it, one square at a time, and given that it was paper thin 1-ply toilet paper, this was often a cumbersome and annoying task.

Needless to say, Tracy Something got voted in and when we came back the following year, I fully expected to see her promised changes. On the first day of eighth grade, I went to the bathroom only to be disappointed. The toilet paper holders had not changed.

“No worries,” I thought. Tracy Something promised to have these replaced, so I’m sure she will get it done by the time the first quarter is over.”

But she didn’t. In fact, I rarely heard or saw from Tracy Something at all that year. And all year long, I continued to unravel my toilet paper one square at a time, continual evidence of a promise unkept.

Last night, I watched the Denver Debate and listened as both condidates made promise after promise, but I’ve learned a thing or two since eighth grade. I’ve learned that political promises only take you so far. A political promise is just a game for votes. It’s a high stakes guessing game where each candidate tries to assess what will garner them the most support.

They are promising us round toilet paper holders, and to sweeten the deal, they each guaranteed we’d have at least 2-ply toilet paper.


Promises don’t mean a lot in politics. I get that. I watched with amusement as every Obama supporter on Twitter screamed “ROMNEY IS A LIAR!” (I know they screamed it because they used ALL CAPS!) And on the other side, Romney supporters bellowed “NO WAY! OBAMA IS THE LIAR!” (I know they bellowed because they used ALL CAPS!)

Could it be that both are lying? Could it be that both are making promises that will be impossible to keep and they know it?

Let’s all share our toilet paper with one another – that’s the American Way!

No! I promise you’ll each have your own share of toilet paper and you won’t need to share it unless you want to!

I’ll give you 2-ply! But only if you make a certain amount of money. If you make too much money, I’ll have to use your toilet paper to help everyone else!

I’ll give you 3-ply! And I’ll create toilet paper factories around the nation so everyone will have all they need and more!

I’ll give you the softest dang toilet paper you’ve ever known! Then we’ll join hands and sing Kumbaya because I’m gonna make the world a better place!

And on and on it goes…

Listen, I understand that politics are rough. It’s a tight little dance a politician must do in order to stay true to what he believes and still make The People happy. No politician will ever be able to follow through with everything he says he will. It doesn’t matter if he’s a Republican or Democrat.

The system is set up in such a way that no president can keep his promises.


We have square holders and round rolls. That’s all we’ve got! So we do the best we can do with what we have and at the end of the day we realize that our toiliet paper will probably never unroll on it’s own. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have someone in the stall trying to unravel it for me.

So I’ll think about and remember Tracy Something and her awesome hair. I’ll listen to the issues with an open mind and I will vote based more on facts and less on emotion because in the end, I know that I will still have to unravel my toilet paper one square at a time.

And I’m honestly okay with that.

I’d rather take care of my own messes anyway…

*disclaimer: I am not trying to start a fight, nor am I trying to be cynical. In fact, I find it all amusing at this point. Let’s all have a good laugh together, ‘kay? We can even sing Kumbaya if it would make you feel better…

*disclaimer two: I realize this seems like I’m veering away from my 31 Days topic, but actually I’m not. This month is all about me embracing confidence and shunning self-doubt. Normally I would be afraid of making you mad, so today I’m believing I can have a little fun with politics without angering the internets.


  1. This is the best political writing I’ve read all day. And I’m sharing it.

  2. LOVED this! I am just so tire of both sides. I think I am going to look in to what their views are on toilet paper! That might determine my vote! 🙂

    • Yeah…it’s too bad we can’t be in the town hall debate. We could totally ask them about the toilet paper issue. 😉

  3. HA HA HA HA HA HA! I get it and I laugh with you. In fact, I laughed last night too. I said to the hubbs just the other day that if Romney does get voted in, I bet he gets there and on his first day completely freaks out as he “discovers” new information no one knows about that affects all his “promises” to The People. It’s every incumbents dirty little secret. I bet in their heads they are saying “yeah buddy, you just wait….”

    There’s limits to what can really be done and we’d all be better people to embrace that and be a bit more realistic about what can actually occur. But then, America wasn’t founded on realism. It was founded upon ideals and dreams. 😀

    • Exactly. I think ever incoming president gets a rude awakening when he enters office after having bashed his opponent for months. It’s not so easy is it, pal?! 🙂

  4. Oh my word. I am laughing so hard. You just made my day!

  5. Great great great! Love it.. and I love your picture.


  1. […] still have to figure out how to get round rolls on square pegs. Maybe we could work together a little […]

  2. […] I’m angry because the leaders who were supposed to represent me and my family have ignored us. They’ve turned their backs on us. They are more interested in political games and popularity posturing than they are in my interests. They’re busy trying to put round rolls on square pegs. […]