Friday, February 14, 2014

On Love and Toilet Paper

In January, I got some new neighbors upstairs. I haven't actually talked to them, but it was apparent they're a heterosexual couple because I saw them kiss while the woman was holding a box she was about to bring inside on their move-in day. The first twoish weeks they were here, I didn't think much else of them, except that one of their cars was in the disabled space from that first day until I finally left that note (and I'm happy to report, they still haven't parked there since, huzzah!).

Some afternoon very close to that day, I was home with River (my dog, for those unfamiliar) and reading with some music playing softly in the background. She lifted her head from my lap and looked up at the ceiling with that well-known dog-head-turn thing, so I asked  her  what was wrong. She then stood, still on the couch (and me, ugh), and pointed her nose, grunting a little at the ceiling. I paused the music and listened. And there was a weird sound coming from the general up-and-over direction that leads towards our balcony. It was kind of like an, "Oooorgh, oooorgh," and not entirely to a rhythm or beat, so I scratched River's head and said, "Honey, that's just pigeons." Because we do get  a lot of them outside sometimes (the floor of the balcony gets covered in poop when there's no snow, ew), and it did sound pretty much like pigeon cooing.

I didn't turn the music back up, so when the sound got louder and more rhythmic, it was also clearer. And  instead of sounding like cooing pigeons, it was... well... a woman moaning in pleasure. Add to it the fact that every now and then, a louder, somewhat surprised and still female human sound  was coupled with the sound of a bed/mattress being pressed hard...

And it occurred  to me that this  was not the first time I'd heard it around that time of day. I thought back, and realized that every afternoon I had been home with River between 2 and 4pm, I had heard those same sounds and mistook them for pigeons because I was usually watching Netflix, and with the sound of the TV, the woman's moans of satisfaction were muffled, just as they  had been while I was reading with the music on in the background.

So then it sort of became a game for me- if I was home, I'd keep the TV or music soft enough to tell when they started, and then I'd turn it up once I took mental note of the time; I soon extended the window of Happy Time from 2-5 instead as a result. But there's definitely no mistaking it now, especially given how I've since also heard the man grunting along with her and saying some rather... mature... things about her taking  what he has and how good her p***y feels. Ahem. I can usually ignore it and not give a damn, but sometimes they get, like, way loud, and there's slamming and it sounds  like something is about to break (whether it's the woman or their bed or even both), and at that point, River usually starts to get anxious- she paces and whines, and, well, then I'm kinda like...

... so I do something like take River outside and/or  turn  up the TV or laptop. She still sometimes looks up at the ceiling, cocking (hah)  her head in curiosity, but she usually does okay when they aren't talking dirty (or at least when the words are indistinguishable). But it's obvious she hears it still. And it's the weirdest when she looks at me for an explanation. And this raises a fundamental question:

How does one explain sex to their dog?

But  seriously, I bring this up because recall that the first and main impression I had of this couple was them kissing until I realized they're also the Sex Champs. So it seems like, damn, they're adorable, have lots of sex... they must have a pretty good relationship, right?*

Well, on Thursday night last week, I got home from teaching, and before taking my coat off, I took River outside to do her stuff. When we were coming back in the building, I could hear shouting. Two voices, man and woman.

Ruh roh, some people are fighting, River, it's okay.

As we went up the stairs, I realized it was coming from... this Sex Champs.

And it's not like I think people that have lots of sex don't fight, but it just surprised me- I've heard the family downstairs fighting  before, so to have it come from somewhere else, and from this particular couple threw me off-guard.

And  the fighting was, not surprisingly, much louder than the sex, even when they get hot-and-heavy enough for me to need to distract myself and River. And while I was changing clothes and trying to set myself up for the  night, I didn't have any TV or music in the background, so I could hear them very clearly.

And they were fighting about money. 
It didn't surprise me in the least, but it was upsetting. 

And you know what? I was sad at first, and  then angry. Angry because while I'm not naive enough to think all this couple ever fights about is money, it pissed me off that the first time I'm aware they've done anything but fuck each others' brains out, they were instead screaming their heads off over their finances. 

Stupid gorram money.

And to add to the mix, I went to the grocery store Wednesday afternoon, and there was a couple arguing in the parking lot right outside my door. About money. 

Happy Valentine's day, America. THIS, is  the true meaning  of Valentine's Day, consumerism and a strangling capitalist structure: 

If you look at studies or help websites, dating sites  or news outletsdemographic-targeted and even finance websites, looking to figure out what people in relationships fight over, money is always in the top 10. And this isn't to say it's the only source of the problems the couple may be having, nor that if their money problems went away, all other ones would, too.

But speaking from experience, growing up in a low-income household, I can say this, being short on money makes other problems more intense, exacerbates them. And disputes over what to do with what money is there leak their way  into all sorts of stuff.    

"Money doesn't buy happiness."

Not  entirely. But I think it's bullshit if you don't at least admit it makes happiness easier. Or if not happiness, contentment. In relationships, with oneself, in life in general. It's Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, people. Visual aid, in case you're unfamiliar:

From the Wiki article, hyperlinked above.

I'm going to push a pseudo-anthropological argument,  here. I think we get so worked up over money because the capitalist setup creates a need for products to survive. We've evolved with the basic instinct to fulfill these needs, and there are certain things needed  in order to do that- but those things have been commoditized and turned into products. We must be able to purchase the necessities- we cannot go and get them ourselves. Even the basics of food, water, and shelter are commoditized. So financial troubles hit at what is basically the carnal need to survive, because we know, and probably not all that deep within our brains, that nothing in this world is free.

Hell, even our poops have a price on them- I've known people that don't conserve flushes out of environmentally conscious practices, but because every flush not flushed meant a few less pennies on the water bill. 

Or, still on the toilets, are you in a relationship? If so, has there ever been a dispute over how fancy the TP needs to be? I've overheard friends in heterosexual relationships get into arguments about this, and I would usually end up buying fancy TP for my mom and siblings when I visited the family before my parents got a divorce. Why? Because the woman  in the relationship wants nicer and thus more expensive toilet paper, and the man doesn't think it's a necessary expenditure. I myself yelled at my dad once that I wasn't sorry for "undermining" him by buying toilet paper that "wouldn't get stuck up my vagina."** 

Dark comedy, but it's for real. I, as a woman that has a hoo-hah to wipe, must spend more than a man would want to on what, yes, I completely  understand, is a first-world "luxury." But excuse me uber-hippies, I can't help it that I was born into a society that wipes and flushes. That's my personal baseline. I'm not ungrateful for that, but my point is that in order to take care of the primal need to take a gorram piss, I have to consider the cost.

So what do I do? I buy fancy TP and get cheap paper towels. Paper towels, those go on counters and mirrors. Toilet paper? It goes where only I go (which is why it's Valentine's Day and I'm writing about someone else's sex life and what goes on in my bathroom, and 
why  I've never experienced this fight whilst in my own relationship). 

I'm not saying all men use the kind of garbage you find in stadium restrooms. But what I= am saying is that the root over the Great Toilet Paper Debate isn't really the quality, it's the cost. The dude wants the cheaper one, not because he prefers to wipe his ass and the tip of his dick with a copper scrubber, nor because he wants to passive-aggressively mess with his significant other, but because since stadium-"quality" is cheaper, and maybe his ass-wiping technique is good enough, he doesn't think it's necessary to spend the extra money on something more like this, my TP of Choice:

And now you know far more
about my hoo-hah than anyone else,
save my OBGYN.

I probably seem off-point, but this is an example. 

Fights about toilet paper aren't about toilet paper. They're about finances. The roots of a lot of "issues" couples face are made of money.

I'm not trying to say I think I'd be doing more than sitting on my couch with my dog on Vanentine's Day if I were richer. But I do know for a fact I'd be less stressed if I either had more money, or if money didn't control everything I did, from what I ate to how I take a shit.

I have a friend (one of my dearest, closest friends) in a long-distance-relationship, and he told me yesterday that he was sad because he won't be able to do as many fun/romantic things with his girlfriend this weekend as he would like. His girlfriend he's spending like $100 in gas alone to visit. So it's prolly obvious: He can't do more because he doesn't have the money to do so. And he feels bad for this, as if it's something he has control over (he really doesn't- dude has two jobs, for fuck's sake).

Or my roommate, she spent her first Valentine's Day as a married woman away from her husband. Because they couldn't afford for him to take  the time off and fly out to visit, or vice-versa. They cooked the same meal and watched something together over Skype, but I was so upset for her over that. God, just remembering it now makes my eyes get hot and watery. 

Also, I lost count of how many friends in relationships that asked  me what to get for their S.O.s last year. Ones  that didn't follow my advice went  in a different direction because they couldn't afford what I suggested, and all of those people expressed to me regret that they couldn't afford more. With the others, I was extra-careful to try to think  of something cheap for them, and a few of them even asked for "something  cheap" when consulting me. 

If I ever did (or finally do) have someone special in my life on Valentine's Day, just seeing the stress and upset all of the buying or being unable to buy has caused my friends over the years, I'd insist he only spend time with me- a cuddle-or-more session would be plenty. 

Because there shouldn't be a price tag on love. But there pretty much is in modern society, and it pisses me off. The times I was dumb enough to think a dude was into me, I was a cheap date. It doesn't take much to impress me, just kindness, respect, and attention/affection. Because I don't think what you buy someone is a good measure of how much you love them. What matters is effort, sincerity, loyalty, gentility, patience. 

And I hope that, again, if it happens, my guy and I will be able to get past the money problems by being as responsible as possible, not taking financial things we can't control out on one another, and being open about any worries we have before they turn into fights. I think it's possible for love to beat out the Money Monster, but it's probably really fucking hard to do.


That couple above me? Totally having sex. Right the fuck now. They're FUCKING out the Money  Monster...

*I have a friend that suggested it's because one is  cheating. That totally poops on the entire point  of this post, but I'm acknowledging that thesis because it's a legit one that I hadn't thought of before because I'm a romantic and want to assume it's a couple in love having lots of amazing sex. 

**When I visited Mom for the first time since the divorce, I commented positively on the quality of the toilet tissue in the bathroom. She said, "Well, your Dad isn't around to buy sandpaper anymore." "It's the little things," I said back. 


  1. I thought the original fight was originally going to be about toilet paper :(

    To add my alternative perspective: my husband and I have, as you, had the toilet paper fight, but because he literally cannot remember that the only acceptable brands are "bear" or "puppy," not because we can't afford them, so I almost find it adorable (he has improved greatly).

    One final thought: name the wi-fi "my dog can hear you having sex".

  2. Hah, I dunno, while I don't think it's intentional, I also don't think it's a coincidence that when he does forget (which is adorable, yes), he grabs cheap-o stuff. It's habit.

    And I'm totally going to look up directions on how to change the wifi network... because I LOVE THAT IDEA!