It was just after 5 a.m. and only had one neighborhood to finish. Delivering newspapers is a crazy way to make money but if you had enough customers it was worth the effort. Sundays were the worst with all the ads and extra sections; I just couldn’t be done fast enough.
The first street I had was the same one a former boss lived. As I made my way along, the darkness of the night remained, it wouldn’t start getting light out until I was almost done. A few houses ahead I noticed something in the street – not “on” the street but above it; something hanging down. Closer I drove and about two houses away it came into view.
With beautiful homes situated no more than twenty feet from any neighbor they were surrounded by huge trees on all sides. So big in fact were the trees that high above they shook hands with one another from across the street. I quickly realized the home I was passing was my former boss. He and his wife had three children, at least one that was in high school. I knew the decorations had been the responsibility of that child.
Toilet paper streamed down onto the street from those trees high above. It was as if I was entering a car wash or moving into the back room of the local independent video store. There was little if any wind soothe streaming white paper hung down motionless. I drove through it as if I were having my car washed. Unfortunately my mobile phone at the time was nothing more than a phone that could text otherwise I would have stopped and taken several photos to share with the world.
Before Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and a whole host of other means of communication we used toilet paper to “poke” or “troll” others. It was a lot of work and each “poke” had to be purchased, but in the end, the results were worth it. We would have a sense of accomplishment and teamwork because although we could have done it alone, there was only a true sense of accomplishment when a group of friends did it together.
At one point during some type of discussion, usually when boredom was nearing its peak, there was an idea floated to the group that we needed to T-P someone. Rarely was the decision a last-minute one as preparations had to be made; a plan of attack was always needed.
Who was the victim? Usually, it was the one friend that was absent in the day’s group.
When was it going to take place? Probably Friday or Saturday night – unless it needed to be completely anonymous and in that case it was to be a weeknight.
Where would we buy the toilet paper? The local grocery store.
When can we buy it? When the grocery owner was not there otherwise he knew what was going on as there is only one reason a kid buys a case of T-P.
Where do we get the money? Toilet paper was pennies a roll…search the couch!
Who was driving? No one; stealth mode meant we had to walk to the victim’s house and then run once done.
How do we get out of the house? We camp out that night.
You see? A plan had to be put together. And once it was there was no turning back.
Saturday afternoon would come and we had our tents setup in one of our yards. This part was strategic as well because we had to setup camp as far away from the victim’s house as possible so that we could run and hide once the T-P was placed. On this particular Saturday we setup in my backyard. Our victim? Glenn’s house. Why? No reason really, he had pine trees that lined his backyard and we felt they needed decorating.
Night came and it started to rain, a good toilet papering’s worst enemy. Rain made it difficult to get any length of paper across the trees; it just made the paper rip. And if it persisted, by morning all the paper would be on the ground or simply disintegrated. But this time we decided that the light rain would not deter our efforts and the plan continued.
10 p.m. and the rain changed into a drizzle. It was “go time,” we headed out. There were three of us, Jimmy, Buddy and me. Although we only had three rolls each we knew we could make an impression on those pine trees. Hurriedly we walked across Jimmy’s field and into Glenn’s backyard.
At first, I strategized with myself in trying to determine which way to toss the roll so that it had the best impact; you always wanted the roll to catch a limb so that it drapes the tree as it falls. With the rain and my wet clothing I just decided to give the rolls a toss. Jimmy and Buddy must have had the same idea because out of the corner of my eye I saw them just throwing the rolls as fast as they could.
But then, the excitement of the task overcame Buddy. I guess he was just full of emotions because he yelled, “Hurry up!” Oh No! You never talk when placing T-P. Never! Buddy broke the Golden T-P Rule, he spoke, and it was loud as well. Now we had to rush…but it was too late.
Less than a minute after Buddy’s outburst I was on the east side of the yard turning to place my paper streamer when there appeared out of nowhere and less than ten feet from me a small, round figure with long hair, shaggy beard and holding what appeared to be a beer bottle. It immediately shouted, “Whatcha doin’ boys?”
Back at the tent we planned our denial, then our apology, then our plan for clean-up because once you are ratted out there was no other way to survive. However, our prayers were answered when in the morning we discovered the rain had washed away nearly all of our handiwork. All our efforts were fruitless. We learned that it was the neighbor that saw us but he must not have said anything because Glenn never did mention his yard being T-P’d.
As Monte grew into the T-P phase of his life he told me about spreading ripped up magazines into someone’s yard. Now that would definitely be a mess and regardless of rain it would still be there in the morning. I have heard that some people ”fork” yards where they stick hundreds of forks into the turf and it takes hours to remove them all – again, good idea as rain won’t melt them.
5 a.m. at my previous boss’s house was the last time I ever saw a T-P’ing. I guess with new age electronic ways of communicating we have lost that personal touch of danger mixed with fun, excitement and something to talk about for longer than the next click. Maybe tonight I’ll go out and throw a roll or two just to remember what it feels like – but it won’t be more than that…have you see toilet paper prices lately?