I have an odd obsession: toilet paper.

My preoccupation doesn’t have anything to do with a particular type of toilet paper or even having a firm stance on whether it should roll over or under. I’m obsessed with having enough in the house.

Weird, I know.

I have worried about it for as long as I can remember, and I was never able to figure out why until I came up with a theory a while back. More on that in a minute.

I get extremely nervous when the stash in the house goes down to single digits: heart palpitations and all.

What if someone has a bathroom crisis and we run out before I can get to the store? THE HORROR. That cannot happen.

Jim and I do not shop at those huge warehouse clubs because we don’t need that much stuff at once and also don’t enjoy storing all of those random bulk purchases, but I will admit that I have often kept a toilet paper inventory on hand that is more than enough for a small army.

toilet paper

The toilet paper drawer in my old house, missing about five rolls but don’t worry: they were in the closet with another twenty or so.

I will admit that I have taken toilet paper with me on cruise ships. You never know if the room steward will get to you if you’re down to that last roll and a half, you know?

I will admit that I, when staying at a hotel, hide a partial roll of toilet paper in one of the dresser drawers in the morning. Then I put the brand new roll in the holder so the housekeeper sees that there is no extra roll on the shelf and knows that she needs to leave one. MY NAME IS MELISA AND I’M A TOILET PAPER HOARDER, but there are worse things.

When I prepare to go and stay with friends for a few days, sometimes they say something like, “I haven’t had time to clean. Ugh.”

I get it. People are busy! We’re all busy.

I don’t base my feelings for others on whether they make their house spotless before I arrive. Real friends can hang out in your house when it’s at its most lived-in state, you know? My response is always, always, always the same: “You know I don’t care if you’ve cleaned the house. As long as you have toilet paper!”

My closest friends know this about me and I’m absolutely certain they think I’m charming, and possibly adorable.

The last time I went to visit Liz, she gave me the best gift.

toilet paper

I laughed so hard when I saw it but also may have teared up a little bit because she gets me.

I have a couple of friends with the same obsession, by the way. You know who you are. Also, it just goes to show you that no matter what your mental issue is, you’re not alone.

I was talking to my friend Vikki a few months ago and we were trying to analyze this. I told her, “It really bugs me that I can’t figure out why I have this ‘thing’. I mean, normally you’d trace it back to something that happened in childhood but I’ve got nothing. I’ve thought about it for years.”

And then suddenly, like a lightning bolt, I remembered.

You know how, sometimes when you go to use a public restroom, it’s either been very busy or the cleaning crew isn’t staying on top of supplies and there’s no toilet paper to be found? I have childhood memories of that kind of scenario and since I was a slightly prissy little girl, I whined to my mom about the lack of toilet paper and what in the world was I supposed to do. Her answer was a completely normal mom-response when there’s really nothing else to do and you have to act drastically just to get your kid to be quiet and LET’S GET OUT OF HERE, OKAYYYYY?

“You’ll just have to ‘drip dry’ for a minute.”

Looking back as an adult woman and a mom myself, I know full well that my mom saying that was totally FINE. My little girl self was horrified by that idea because ewwwwwww but that was my problem, not hers. What else were we supposed to do, wait there for an undetermined amount of time for someone to show up with toilet paper? Sure, Princess.

Anyway, after I told Vikki about that we had a “Whoomp, there it is!” kind of virtual high-fiving moment and I felt the special kind of relief that comes when you analyze something to death and finally self-diagnose. Naturally I cannot prove that those toilet paperless moments in the public restrooms of the 1970s are the root cause of my obsession but I’m pretty sure they are and I think celebrity psychologist Dr. Phil would agree. You can’t butter a puppy and call it a biscuit, after all. (I don’t really think that applies in this situation but it’s my very favorite Dr. Phil quote so I included it.)

Shew, I have to say I’m pretty happy to have finally gotten that out in the open. The more you know, you know? That reminds me, I need to pick up some toilet paper today: I’ve only got about eight rolls left.