athena and i have been roomies for almost 4 years, and it’s our tradition to plan a surprise birthday party for each other every year.  though the ‘surprise’ part has worn a little thin over the years…  “hey…. what are you doing on April 15th…. k you should make sure you’re not doing anything that evening.  between 9-12.  not that anything is happening then anyway because there’s nothing important coming up at all.. i don’t know what you’re talking about.  go away.  but be here at 9.’  anyway, for her 24th birthday this year we just had a small get together in our apartment since she was going away that weekend for her bridal shower.  the usual party activities were going on- cake eating, catching up, lounging around, and i’m milling around the apartment making sure everyone’s got cake and that athena hasn’t seen her presents yet.  and then i pass a small group in my kitchen and catch a couple words of their conversation.  “how many squares do you use?  “wait, for number 1, too?”  “but do you wad or fold?”  >.<  i went to investigate, and sure enough, there was a heated debate about how much toilet paper they used per bathroom trip being carried on by my roomie and two of her friends.  a future pharmacist of america, a classics major, and an almost graduate of OSU, i might add.  i figured they’d start talking about something else in a few minutes, but no, apparently the subject was too intriguing.  not only that but others got drawn into the fray- soon the entire party of at least 15 people was discussing their toilet paper usages with one another.  this kept going for about two hours, with a short break of maybe 10 minutes for presents.  at one point, a few people went into the bathroom to estimate how much toilet paper they use by reenactment.  several conclusions drawn  by the end of the night:

– apparently, there are two types of toilet paper users.  scrunchers and folders.  (add a third category for those who use their hands then wash afterwards.  very very thoroughly, i hope.  with hibiclens.  twice.)

– on the average, girls will use anywhere from 5-9 squares of toilet paper, whereas boys generally use about 3.  these are for number 2- everyone uses less for just pee.

– scrunchers reason that by scrunching, you create more distance between your hand and your butt, minimizing the chances of hand contamination.  they also, via this logic, tend to use more toilet paper in order to maximize the distance.

– the boys were aghast at the wastefulness of girls using 5-7 sheets per wipe (with possibly at least 2 wipes, so multiply the amount), whereas the girls were disgusted at the thought of possible hand contamination since 3 sheets of toilet paper offer a thin barrier against seepage and leakage.

– you can also guess who might be a scruncher or folder based on how organized/rushed/careful they are with other things, scrunchers tending towards the rushed, disorganized lot, whereas folders are a bit more collected and anal (bwahaha) about organization.

i finally went to bed since i had to be up early for rotations the next day.   i’m not sure how long everyone else stayed for, or if they had moved on to other topics of conversation.  but when i checked my email the next morning before going to the hospital, i saw a facebook message from one of last night’s attendees.   the heading read: “SCRUNCHER OR FOLDER?!”   and was addressed to a dozen or more people, taking a poll of who was a scruncher or a folder.  C’MON PEOPLE.   who really wants to know that much about a friend’s bathroom habits!  to be fair i have to ask my patients about their bowel function almost daily, but even then i wouldn’t judge them for their method of post-bathroom wipage.  nor would i care to know.

most people remember the presents they got on their two dozenth birthday, or perhaps the crazy wild night they had of inebriated liver poisoning.  athena’s 24th birthday however, will be forever remembered as not a celebration of the anniversary of her birth, but as “that one time when we were all hanging out at athena and janice’s house and we started talking about toilet paper… wait are you a scruncher or folder?  eight sheets of toilet paper?!  good god, man!”