Please Pass the Toilet Paper and Other Love Stories

Warning: This one has bathroom humor in it. It might be slightly disgusting to some. Just like many of my other post. I am growing slightly surprised and ashamed that this is actually becoming a trend in my blog.

“What’s so funny?” I came out of the bathroom just in time to see my parents cracking up over a story I definitely had missed somewhere in between peeing and brushing my teeth. Dad wipes a tear from his eye. “Oh it’s a great story about Mom. But I need to give you some historical context first.” Right, cause all of the best stories start off with that sentence right there. But before I begin writing, I’m going to be very honest/ I did not do too much research on this subject to check up after my Dad so I’m not sure how accurate this all is… but I think I got it generally right. At least for the purposes of this story. So apparently: Back in the day, in Korea where my parents both grew up, newspapers and book pages doubled as toilet paper for them. Literally, taking the reading material into the toilet with you and when you were done reading, you wipe yourself.  My dad actually makes references to ripping pages of a book to uses as toilet paper and it doubled as a bookmark. (I must take this time to confess how that broke my little bookworm heart if we are going to be frank but that was the very least of Dad’s concerns or cares so I chose to not bring it up just protruded my bottom lip in protest). Then around the 1980s, or at least this is around the time my parents remembered this happening, toilet paper started to get introduced to the country and it was revolutionary. This paper was specifically for the bathroom and was going to be less tough on the tushy. The problem was that compared to what they were previously using as toilet paper, the current version of toilet paper we consider ordinary was the softest, most luxurious paper that should not be wasted on bum holes. So apparently, it was not uncommon for around that time for Korean households to use toilet paper as napkins or tissues instead of in the bathroom. It doesn’t not seem that strange when you first read that but let it sink in first.

Dad had moved to American many years before Mom came (actually to get the story straight Mom moved after they got married). Because of this, Dad had figured out some of the more obvious culture differences while Mom was still getting used to everything. Soon after Mom moved, they were hosting a dinner party so she could meet a bunch of Dad’s friends. It was going to be one of those fancy dinner parties to impress. She made the most lovely spread of their favorite Korean foods. My dear mother is hands down the best cook in the whole entire world and I will fight anyone who dares to question me on that. Additionally, the thing about Mom that you wouldn’t really expect is that she is actually kind of a perfectionist. Her dishes actually have the appearance of top restaurant quality because in her head, presentation is just as important as taste. So here is the wonderful spread that she prepared that I can only imagine without a doubt looks insanely beautiful. My dad was marveling at it all when Mom suddenly runs out of the room saying something along the lines of “Oh my goodness, I almost forgot something important.” And when she returned, right in the middle of the glorious dinner she had taken hours to make look so fabulous, she plopped a roll of toilet paper. (At this point in the story, Mom interjects by saying that it was in a pretty toilet paper holder but Dad still adamantly makes the point that it was still a roll of toilet paper in the middle of the dinner table) Mom sighed, taking in all her hard work while Dad froze. How was he supposed to explain this to her? His new bride, who had worked so hard and was unbelievably proud of herself, just put a strictly bathroom only prop on the same table they were going to be eating on and also serving friends on. He was ready to drop the hammer when he looked into her eyes and felt unbelievable swells of love at this beautiful young lady who was doing everything she could to make him the happiest man in the world. So in the end, he didn’t tell her. Apparently he didn’t tell her until much later (like years).

Some may think of this as my Dad either chickening out or making my Mom look like a fool in front of his friends. And while that might be at least partially true to some extent if we play devils advocate, the real thing is that when he tells that story, you can still hear the pride in his voice over the hard work my mom put in that day after all these years. Sure they crack up over it all and we all poked fun at Mom, who takes it with grace and humility, but you can tell Dad knew exactly what he was doing. Dad didn’t tell her at that moment because he loved her too much. Because he appreciated her and her dedication. Because she was so happy not knowing. Because to hell with his friends if they made a silly comments or facial expression. Because in that moment all that mattered was that everything Mom did that night was absolutely perfect to him, including the toilet paper, and he wouldn’t change a thing about it. You see, to me at least, that is true love. My parents have been together for 27 years now as I write this. They never let anything like this get in the way of their relationship and I still hear them talk about how they love each other more and more every day. I was once borrowing my Mom’s laptop just a few years ago and accidently saw an email Dad had just sent her counting all the ways he loved her. P.S. if Mom or Dad ever reads this, I promise it wasn’t an invasion of privacy. It was a pure accident. (….are they gone? Do you think they bought it?). The point is that Mom and Dad set the bar pretty darn high and someday I can only hope to find love like that myself. One where I can put toilet paper in front of my spouse before we eat dinner with such pride and importance that he only complements me on a job well done because he knows that is only thing in the whole world that matters in that moment. Screw Cinderella. That’s my version of perfect fairy tale ending.

Putting the Fuse in Not-Confused,

~C

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