Toilet Paper

He doesn't know it, but Bo and I are in the midst of a battle. For the past two weeks, the empty cardboard toilet paper rolls have been piling up on top of my locker. There are three there now standing upright in a row.

It is a well-acknowledged rule throughout much of the civilized world that the person to use the last of a roll must not only replace it with a fresh one, but must not also discard the empty roll. It is common courtesy. But Bo, being neither courteous nor civilized, refuses to throw away his empty rolls and instead leaves them to collect on top of my locker, which happens to be located closest to the toilet.

Bo may be a slob—he leaves a trail of coffee spills, rubber bands, and crumpled sugar packets wherever he goes—but those left behind empty rolls are no accident. He's a sneaky, manipulative little bastard and knows full well that I'm fussy about cleanliness and sucker enough to throw them away myself. Just another way he's found for me to kiss his ass. Just like the ice creams he's coerced me into buying him every week at commissary which he thanks me for as if I was doing him a favor of my own volition, as if it were a gift and not just me being a pushover. Empty toilet paper rolls are just one more notch in his belt. No power is too small or too trivial for his appetite.

Well, the buck stops here. Let the rolls pile up like a house of cards; stack them to the ceiling; let them spill over into the tier for all I care. I will not budge. I will not give in.

Meat-head son of a bitch.

Of course, I may just be paranoid; it's possible he's just an oblivious slob.

Speaking of toilet paper, we're down to our last roll. There's been a shortage for the past month, and the unit counselor has taken to rationing out rolls as if she were the Red Cross distributing rice cakes to a starving African village. One inmate joked that if he didn't get his hands on toilet paper soon, he'd be wiping his ass with his bed sheets.

I'm almost certain the staff bathrooms are kept fully stocked. Probably the good stuff, too: sweetly scented four-ply.

A few weeks ago, we got down to a quarter of a roll, and in an effort to conserve, I cleaned my ass in the sink a couple of times—a sure sign that you've failed at life.

Soon after that humiliation, I discovered that the library clerk keeps a roll of toilet paper on the circulation desk for inmates to blow their noses. It was my first time to ever "steal" something in prison. I could have easily swiped the entire roll, but it wouldn't fit in my coat, so I unwound most of the roll around my fist and stuffed two half-wads into each of my coat pockets. And as I walked through the metal detectors and out the library, pockets bulging, I giggled at the absurdity of having to steal toilet paper.