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Thursday, March 09, 2006 | was happy to learn that toilet papering is alive and well in San Diego.

I had had my doubts. The other day, driving to the store, I saw a house in my neighborhood had been toilet-papered.

Well, not the house. The yard. Trees, hedges, shrubs, fence. It’s how we did it in the old days. I had not seen a toilet paper job in so long, I wondered if they did it any more. But it turns out I just live in the wrong part of town. Telling the story to a Rancho de las Penasquitos friend, she grinned and said, “Oh, it happens all the time.”

But then, they probably don’t do it as much in California as they do in Texas. It is probably as regular an event in Texas as it was 50 years ago, when not more than a couple of weekends went by before one of the girls had her yard TP’d.

In those days, it was always a girl. Usually, the girl had dumped on a boy, who got even with the TP snow job on the yard. It could also happen just because a girl was popular, and the TP was a tribute, maybe genuine or maybe grudging. But the result was the same. The girl’s family had to clean it up.

There were some huge yards in my home town, and I saw toilet paper jobs that were as awesome as some of the Christmas extravaganzas that Texans like to create in their yards. And that was in the day when you got your toilet paper a couple of rolls at a time at Safeway. What could a few kids do today with one or two 36-roll Price Club packs? I should cruise Penasquitos and find out.

The job I saw in my neighborhood wasn’t bad. There were nice bunting effects on the hedges and multiple streamers in a couple of trees. But the trees were small. Overall, the job lacked the Texas grandeur that I remember, because the trees were too small. Strong-armed Texas high school football players could launch a roll that would clear the top of a 70-foot oak, and 10 or 12 such launches created quite an effect. I saw nothing like that on my way to the store.

Still, it would be a job for the dad to clean up, and I felt for him. It was the first toilet paper job I had ever seen, when my first thought was for the dad. I was never around, in the Texas days, when the dad would come out for the paper and discover the visit. I’m sure it was the daughter who got grounded, which now seems hardly fair.

It may not, in this case, have been a dad at all. That was only my snap reaction. It may not have even been a girl. This job may have been something between adults, teed off at each other about this thing or that, and the TP was one adult’s way of letting his frustrations be known. Juvenile, maybe, but more civil than a fistfight. What if the Shiites and Sunnis toilet-papered mosques, instead of blowing them up?

So I don’t know the “back story,” as they say nowadays, about this TP job. But I drove by again a couple of days later, to see if homeowners in this day and age know about toilet paper and rain. It doesn’t rain all that much in San Diego. But rain was in the forecast, and I was happy to see the toilet paper was all taken down. It rained hard, that night and the next morning. You get rain on a good toilet paper job, and the stuff is in the trees to stay.

www.michaelgrant.com

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