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National Editorials & Columns

Porter: Idiosyncrasies are a part of relationships

We had an incident this weekend, and I don’t know whether it was a good thing or a bad thing.

My pending marriage is still a couple of months away so, naturally, Jennie and I have been going over the list of potential deal killers. It’s a lot of pressure, really. You never know what will resonate.

For instance, I don’t like lemon in my tea, and I know that she does. Is that enough to call off a wedding? We made it past that one; we determined that we’ll just have to have two pitchers of tea at all times. Whew. But what’s next on the list? I’m a nervous wreck.

I’m not so worried about what habits she might have that could annoy me. I don’t have a lot of options these days, so I have to be tolerant. But she doesn’t. She’s clearly the pretty one in this relationship, so she doesn’t have to put up with so much. If I forget to put on deodorant one day, it could all be over.

She could powder herself with skunk oil and eat broccoli every day, and I’d still marry that girl. I wouldn’t sit next to her on a bus, but I’d marry her.

But we had an incident. I mentioned that already. She asked me one of those questions that don’t need to be asked. It was one of those questions where the answer should be self-evident.

She was in the “necessary room” brushing her hair or whatnot. I don’t know why she was there. I don’t ask. But she shouted out, “Do you put the roll over or under?”

Well, the obvious answer is neither since the toilet paper was not on the toilet paper holder and hasn’t been for months. I’m a dude; I don’t care whether the roll is on the holder as long as there is a roll and it’s within reach when I need it. It could be on the counter by the sink. It could be on the floor. It could be dangling from the ceiling by a shoe string and the empties can stack up like soldiers on the back of the tank. I don’t care. But if you’re going to put the roll on the holder, everybody knows that the paper goes over, not under.

Now, if you have toddlers, you are excused for putting the toilet paper on backwards. Toddlers sometimes like to spin the wheel for some reason, and when the paper is positioned over the top of the roll, it can unravel quickly. For some reason that perhaps a physicist can explain, it doesn’t unroll when spun if the paper is in the under position. I can’t explain it, and I don’t care enough to think about it.

But, when using the roll, it’s much easier to pull off what you need if the paper is in the proper over position.

You can do what you want in your house, but in my house, if you’re going to put the roll on the holder, it must be in the over position. I am very firm about that. It’s a rule and we have to live by the rules. We’re not hippies over here.

My first thought when she asked the question was, does she not know which way the paper is supposed to go? But she quickly redeemed herself, to a degree, by saying that, yes, she goes with the “over,” too, but she didn’t know what I preferred.

While that may seem like a “save” for her, it’s not. In fact, it’s worse. It’s worse because now, if you read between the lines, she’s expressing uncertainty about whether I would know the universal proper way to install a roll of toilet paper. In other words, she thinks I might be an idiot. Or a hippie. We’re not hippies. We went over that.

I’m giving her a pass on this one, though. I think she was well-intentioned in two regards. She wanted me to be less of a slob by putting the roll on the holder for me, and she was putting this colossal decision in my hands. That’s a good thing; she’s not coming in and rearranging my life. She asked me first. She communicated. This is all good.

But I’ve got my eye on her. I’m watching out. Another 10 million flubs like this, and I might have second thoughts about getting married.

• David Porter who can be reached at

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