I was the victim of a heinous crime in my own home, says JACI STEPHEN
No, no, no, no! You just don’t do it.
It’s shocking. Criminal. Nothing short of domestic terrorism.
Last week I was the victim of a heinous crime in my own home. A vile act committed at the hands of one of my close friends that was so shocking I am still reeling from its impact.
But before I reveal the crime itself, allow me to set the scene.
I was enjoying some drinks in my apartment with two friends whom I adore. They are well traveled, interesting, funny, and great company. Every time we meet, we chat for hours and the time flies by.
They’ve been in my apartment many times, all without incident. They are perfect guests. They bring wine, take their shoes off at the door, don’t put their feet on the coffee table, and are all round great people.
How, therefore, have I never noticed that they might be capable of such a horrifying act?
Last week I was the victim of a heinous crime in my own home. A vile act committed at the hands of one of my close friends that was so shocking I am still reeling from its impact
Maybe I just hadn’t noticed. Or maybe I had put it down to my own error. Or an evil bogeyman sneaking in during the night to torment my perfectly organized existence.
That’s right: Perfectly organized. I have moderate OCD that manifests itself in particular ways. I have to have my ornaments and cushions at 90-degree right angles – despite my cleaners’ concerted efforts to move everything to 45 degrees.
My herbs and spices are in alphabetical order in my cupboards. Every jar and bottle has the label facing outwards.
And then of course, there is my toilet paper, which must be placed with the flap at the back at all times. No exceptions. No arguments. It is non-negotiable.
It’s just aesthetically more pleasing. I know I’m in the minority, especially where hotels are concerned. Not only do they insist on placing the flap at the front, they have to spend valuable minutes when they could be folding my clothes, making a work of art with that stupid little triangle at the front.
Does anyone really ever notice? Do you sit on the toilet and think: ‘No, I won’t carry out the rest of my business just yet because I just want to sit admiring that perfect little triangle?’
Toilet paper placement has been a raging debate among etiquette experts and bathroom-goers alike for eons and you may well have your own very different opinion on the matter. You might even silently judge when you enter another person’s home and discover that they opt for the opposite approach.
Or perhaps you’ve never really thought about it and couldn’t give a damn which way the toilet paper is facing as long as it’s readily available when you’re finishing up.
Either way, there is no doubt in my mind that you will be in total agreement with me on one aspect of toilet paper etiquette: switching around the roll in another person’s home is absolutely unacceptable. Criminal even. Nothing short of domestic terrorism.
And yet that is exactly what happened to me this past week when I welcomed a group of friends into my home, my personal space, my innermost sanctuary – only to have it violated by this most shocking of acts.
I have moderate OCD that manifests itself in particular ways and when it comes to my toilet paper, it must be placed with the flap at the back at all times. No exceptions. No arguments
I had spent a lovely evening with two seemingly-perfect houseguests when I went to the bathroom to discover that one of them had switched around my toilet paper so that the flap was no longer facing the back (left) but instead was hanging in the front (right)
So, back to the scene of the crime. I had spent a lovely evening catching up with my ‘perfect’ houseguests – my friends Steve and Rebecca – and invited them back to my apartment for another drink.
We were all enjoying a lovely evening… until I excused myself to go to the bathroom.
That’s when I see it. It hits me not so much as an elephant in the room but a veritable herd.
The flap. My flap. My ordinarily-perfect, drop-down flap against the wall is not there. Vanished. The shock stops me mid-flow.
My hand is hitting the wall, trying to locate the toilet paper that has been in exactly the same spot my entire life. But nothing. It’s gone. The toilet paper fairy has made off with my stash.
Then it hits me like a ton of bricks. Staring me in the face – yegods, it’s practically in my lap – is a front-facing flap.
NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!
I complete my business and turn the toilet paper round the correct way. My correct way. Not the goddamned Marriott or Hilton way but my way. Because I can. Like I said: my house, my rules.
But I can’t let it go. The culprit must be found. So, I take off the roll, return to the living room, and, holding said work of art – ruined now, I might add – aloft, I set about my investigation.
‘Okay,’ I announce. ‘Who was it?’
There’s no Columbo-like deduction because it can be only one of two people. Steve has used the bathroom once, as has Rebecca – actions that would never have registered with me prior to this transgression, I might add.
I didn’t even have to gather evidence because Rebecca says, with not a hint of guilt in her voice: ‘It was me. It’s just something I have to do.’
I’m in shock.
I have another friend who does the same. She once told me that no matter where she goes, if the flap is to the back, she has to change it, irrespective of whether it’s in a private residence.
Now, let’s get to the real issue here. Aside from the question of flap front or flap back, it’s a case of what you can or cannot do in someone else’s home.
If your penchant is for flap front, you should rein your fetish in – yes, it is a weird form of fetish in my book – until you get home, where you can go nuts making origami sculptures out of toilet paper for all I care.
But when you’re in my house, you have to live by my flaps, strange as you may find them.
If your penchant is for flap front, you should rein your fetish in – yes, it is a weird form of fetish in my book – until you get home, where you can go nuts making origami sculptures out of toilet paper for all I care
In the grand scale of things, it’s a minor infringement (‘Nobody died, nobody got pregnant’ is my motto for getting over most things in life), but it is an infringement nonetheless.
Where might it end?
Is Flapgate just the start of an ever-escalating life of domestic crime for Rebecca? Will she move onto turning the faces of my jars to the wall? Will I open my cupboard to find oregano taking pride of place before basil?
The repercussions do not bear thinking about.
What to do, then?
When Rebecca next visits, I could hide all the toilet rolls and put a box of tissues in the bathroom, but I still like the flap of the tissue that sticks out to be floating at the back.
I could remove the toilet rolls altogether. I could stick a ‘washroom out of order’ sign on the door. I could find new friends who don’t invade my personal space.
It’s a tough one.
House guests, you have been warned. I am the toilet paper police.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. I will flush you out.