How Charmin toilet paper almost ruined my Christmas/life

Have you ever tried to stop the remnants from an overflowing toilet with your hands?  On Christmas Day?  At Boyfriend’s parents house?

I just returned from my second trip “down South.”  Last year provided an eye-opening week of foreign customs, some which I quickly ran, er drove (you must travel by car down South) from and some which I’d like Chicago to adopt.

This year was to be less-stressful, less “must impress mom, dad, nieces, nephews, brothers, step-brothers, college friends, high school friends, church friends, the entire town.”  I knew to expect deer sausage, deer heads and a gun safe.  I knew there was no kneeling or rosaries at Mass church (am I the only one who didn’t know Baptists don’t call it Mass?).  I knew where to find my bedroom, Coke Zero, and the toothpaste.  I knew we’d play Trivial Pursuit, I’d feel like an idiot and not get any pie slices.  I knew there’d be times people around me would be speaking English and I wouldn’t understand what they were saying.  I knew activities would be worked around football and that the TV on all the time and at max volume wasn’t rude.  I knew how to work the shower.  I knew that the Christmas sweaters worn were not ironic, hipster, going to an Ugly Christmas Sweater party outfits but I’m going to genuinely celebrate the season with this bedazzled reindeer emerald green knit-top.

I knew all this and still managed to almost have possibly the most embarrassing moment of my life.

Christmas Day in Louisiana.


  • Biscuits
  • Green-bean bundles
  • Mac ‘n cheese
  • Squash
  • Brisket
  • Sweet tea
  • Sugar cookies with orange icing and cranberries
  • Spice cake


  • Me
  • Boyfriend
  • Boyfriend’s mom and step-dad
  • Step-brother #1
  • Step-brother #2, wife, nine-year old daughter and seven-year old son

Two things you must know –

  1. Step-brother #2 is the last person on earth you’d want to do something blush-inducing in front of.  There’d be no “she’s a guest” mercy.  There’d be retelling of the story for the rest of my life.
  2. When my stomach started grumbling from indulging in too much Southern goodness, everyone was at the table.  I knew it was just a short while until the group moved to the couch and la-z-boys, which so happen to be directly across from the bathroom.  Dumb architect.

Stuff happened in the bathroom.  But I blame the toilet paper not the stuff for the heart-attack inducing, lose all ability to have a rational-thought scenario that ensued.

I buy Scott because it’s cheap.  It also happens to be very thin.  Boyfriend’s mother buys Charmin, probably because she’s very sweet and likes her guests to experience comfort from head to toe.  It also happens to be very thick and quilted.  Without thought for where I was or what resources were at my disposal, I grabbed the usual amount of TP that I use and flushed.  Swirl, swirl, stay in bowl.  I stared.  Sometimes the Toilet Gods just take an extra few seconds.  I stared.  No movement.  Bowl halfway filled.  No worries, just get the plunger from next to the toilet.  Not there.  No worries, just get the plunger from under the sink.  Not there.  Teeney panic.

Use toilet brush to move stuff around.  Use it irrationally like a plunger.  No movement.  Medium panic.

The big decision.  Do I flush again in hopes that equipment-powered movement will unclog the clog?  We all know what will happen if it doesn’t unclog.  Overflow.  Which basically would mean I’d need to breakup with Boyfriend, hitchhike back to Chicago, never again cross the Mason-Dixon line, and join a convent in the secluded White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Life has been good to me lately.  Everything is falling into place.  The Toilet Gods will take care of me.  Flush.

Rise, rise, rise.  Oh shit.  Literally.  Rise, rise.  Rise.  I start to open the bathroom window so I can climb out; it’s too bad I have to leave my macbook behind, I’ve got some big client projects on there.  And Boyfriend is really nice, I’ll miss him.  Rise.  I irrationally position my hands next to the rim to catch the horribleness.  A millimeter from utter disaster, the liquid stops.

I stare.  I wring my hands.  I sweat.  I hear everyone chatting and laughing just feet from the door.  I send Boyfriend a mental message of Help!  He doesn’t get it.  I look at the silver knobs on the pipes.  I take off the tank cover and stare.  I wish I had read a DIY plumbing book on the flight down instead of a book on how to be a more effective leader; motivate people my a**, I need an empty bowl!  Staring and almost-crying surprisingly accomplishes nothing.

I open the door.  There everyone is.  Save for Boyfriend’s mom!  While this will be mortifying, it’ll be less so if it’s just her.  I find her in the kitchen and utter words you never want to say to your pseudo-mother-in-law.  “Hey Carol, do you have a plunger I can use?”

I could feel her embarrassment for me.  She went in the back bathroom, retrieved The Savior for me, and said to my quickly retreating back, “If you need any help in there, just let me know.”  Pray to God it doesn’t come to that.

For once, I was happy to be chunky as I walked through the living room; perhaps my extra rolls would shield the plunger from all those eyes.  For once, I was happy the TV was on and everyone was zoned in.  I wasn’t sure, and am still not sure, if I made it through undetected.  Boyfriend said he saw me pass through but didn’t know I had a plunger in hand.  I can only hope the same for the rest of the family.  And thank Baby Jesus no one got up to go to the bathroom while I was on the plunger hunt.

I slipped back into the Room of Horror.  You may not know that delicate plunging is a thing, but I mastered that skill.  With only a millimeter to play with, this was the ultimate test.  Soft plunge, soft plunge.  Nothing.  Soft plunge and a promise to be a better person.  Nothing.  Soft plunge and the hardest wish I’ve ever wished.  Gurgle, gurgle, swirl, swirl, glurg.  OH MY GOD, THANK YOU.

I make this promise to you today, America — I will never have a plungerless bathroom.  AND if my dream of building my own house is one day realized, the bathroom will be nowhere near the main entertaining area and in fact, might have a secret “avoid embarrassing moments” tunnel to the outside.

Happy holidays all –