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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

On a roll (it’s not what you think it’s about)

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Have you tried Israeli toilet paper lately?

It's actually quite good – as toilet paper.  Definitely better than it was, I'm told.  Which is good, because good old TP has been re-imagined (or perhaps always was) the National Nose-Wipe.

In fact, the toilet paper here is quite good.  Apparently, it used to be simply awful - crunchy and non-absorbent, I assume, since those are the things it would take to make TP simply awful in my book.

I know what I'm talking about.  In England on my honeymoon, years and years ago, I stayed in the World's Worst Hotel, near Paddington Station, which we thought would be cute - but it wasn't. 

There was no bathroom in the room itself, just a little water closet ("loo") up half a flight of stairs.  And the paper in there was absolutely awful.  It was that folding, single-paper dispensing kind that we'd had in my elementary school.  However, unlike anything I had ever seen before, each "sheet" of this paper was treated with some sort of smelly antiseptic chemical and then - mysteriously - waxed so that it was guaranteed to never absorb a single drop of anything.  It was crispy, it was stinky, plus, it simply did not do the job.

Compared to that, anything is better, and as I said, toilet paper in Israel is way more than halfway decent.  It's soft, it's 2-ply, and there are cute puppies on the brand we buy.  There are even premium 3-ply grades you can buy for extra indulgence.

But I still think it’s gross how everybody uses it to wipe their noses.  Maybe this happens elsewhere, too, but I have only ever observed it on a sweeping scale here.

Sure, actual "facial tissues" (aka Kleenex, but they're called "tissue" here in Hebrew) are available, in various colours, small and big packages.

But forget about all that. 

When a person has a cold here, they don't mess around with Kleenex - they just grab a roll of toilet paper and head out into the world.  Kids, soldiers, salespeople, businessmen in suits - everybody does it. 

Maybe it's just me, but this habit totally turns my stomach. 

While a single tissue seems tasteful and can be stashed delicately in a pocket when not in use, the roll of toilet comes out on the table in the train, on the bus, walking down the street.  It's like a badge of honour, only in reverse:  a highly public announcement that you are not well and will be spraying germs in every direction at the earliest possible opportunity.

This image below is not a “real” invention, nor was it really invented here in the Holy Land, but it just as well could have been.

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(Sorry, it’s just an April Fools’ joke from Make It-Love It)

Israel, listen up.

I love you and I praise your citizens’ drive for productivity, but somehow, a person with a roll of TP just seems sicker than a person with a Kleenex in their pocket.  Or even one of those on-the-go packs of Kleenex.  Just stay home, okay???  At least until your need for toilet paper has passed.

Me, I’m a cotton hanky person, a big fan of the man-sized “pocket square.”  I carry them around even when I don’t have a cold, because they are so incredibly useful in so many ways.

I know that turns some people’s stomachs, too.  I’m not sure why.  Someone said it’s because you’re “reusing” it – but honestly, when you have a cold, I’m betting you’re reusing your Kleenex a little, too.  And a used Kleenex is a heck of a lot more disgusting than a used hanky.  Okay, there is the fact that you’re reusing OTHER people’s hankies.  But I assure you, they are washed well in between and air-dried, in Israel’s strong and cleansing sunshine.

In an effort to win you over to my side, I offer you these six totally non-aliyah-related reasons why hankies are better than tissues (and LIGHT YEARS better than the stigma of hauling TP around with you!):

  • No stigma of hauling TP around with you!
  • Will not disintegrate in your pocket / purse like a tissue or TP
  • Will not dissolve in the laundry like a tissue or TP
  • No endless buying tissues or handing out rolls of TP to sick children
  • Many other uses for a hanky – I’ve used them for cleaning wet slides in playgrounds, wiping down tables in restaurants and more
  • People (who aren’t grossed out) think you’re all “green” and cool

The greatest reason of all is that no matter how good the toilet paper is in Israel, it still gives you that nasty beet-red nose when you have a cold.  You know, I used to think the red nose was from the cold itself, but – at least for me – it’s not.  It is a direct consequence of wiping your face a million times with what is effectively scratchy sawdust.

I hope now you’re at least thinking of trying a hanky.  Where can you get them?  In Toronto, I’d buy them in the men’s underwear section of WalMart.  Here, I just bought a stack on AliExpress

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(olde-fashioned, but good)

Why not buy them locally?  Actually, I tried, in the shuk in Tel Aviv.  The guy swore every which way that they were cotton, so I didn’t open the package.  Of course, they were not.  Don’t use a hanky that isn’t cotton.  It might look the same, but absorbency is the name of the game, and nothing else does the job as well.

Especially… yup, you guessed it:  Toilet paper.

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


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