On the Fear of Not Being Able to Wipe Your Own Ass

by Tom Swift

You don’t need a year’s worth of toilet paper. Of course not. And it’s silly to fight with someone over what you don’t need. But the senselessness makes sense: we are not rational beings. Certainly not entirely. Not even mostly. We are, in a way, always fighting over toilet paper — always grasping for things we don’t, rationally and logically speaking, really need. Toilet paper — or canned goods, if you prefer, or surgical masks — is the current placeholder. We grasp after externals, objects, as a way to calm our fears. In this case, and in many cases, the fear is of the unknown. Of possible illness. Maybe even of death. Very probably a number of other fears are in the mix, too. It’s OK that we did this. That is what we, as humans, do. We act on our instinct toward survival. Now we realize what we did. (Just like we realize what we did when one of us decided New Coke was a good idea and another of us authorized the theatrical release of Caddyshack II.) And between the stimulus and the response there is space. From here on out we can behave differently — we can choose not to hoard ass wipes and we can, say, place limits on the amounts of them that can be purchased at one time so that the supply is spread around. Meanwhile, we can consider the fear that drove us to elbow our way for that last 48-pack of Charmin.

What are we afraid of?

And why?

And why?

And why?

Alas, I don’t have answers. I do hope these questions lead you to some. More to the point, and we know this but always, at least I know I do, need to be reminded: the more we confront our fears the less control those fears have over us.