Wednesday, May 11, 2011

bonfire bon voyage and some culture shock

On Saturday, some of my oldest and dearest friends from high school got together and gathered 'round a bonfire to eat hot dogs and drink adult beverages and play some rousing games of "would you rather?"- but the real intention for Saturday evening's festivities was to bid bon voyage to my friend Ty, who left for Afghanistan this week. [Tangent: It has been forever since I have been to a good quality bonfire and it was perfection. Although, I am pretty sure the inhaled concoction of smoke and deep woods Off! has angered my allergies. Oh well, you live ya learn.]  My friend Ty joined the Army about 4-5 years ago, after she had graduated college and started a career- kinda the opposite of the way most people do it, but she has always been the gal to go against expectations.
this is my visualization of what Ty looked like in combat in Iraq- very troop beverly hills
I jokingly refer to her as Army Barbie because all through college, she was the one that was always put together with full makeup and hair perfection, and she didn't love the fact that occasionally my conversation topics veer into farts and dick joke territory. [Tangent: This is not to say she is a prissy bitch, OH NO! She will cut you. That's the lovely thing about my friends.] However while at the bonfire amid the barrage of questions about all aspects of her near future (from hair color to food)- she raised an interesting cultural taboo that I was unaware of: People in a many Middle Eastern countries don't use toilet paper! [Tangent: Despite always living in Middle Tennessee and never having left the country even while owning a legit passport, I consider myself a cultured gal. As a child, I subscribed to National Geographic: World after all. The fact that something this huge could completely fly under my radar unsettles me.] It's not that people in many cultures substitute toiler paper with something else (a napkin, a paper town, a Kleenex, a post-it, an old t-shirt), no third party in brought into the clean up- the left hand is used. Ty even said that she offered some locals her roll of Charmin and they looked at her as if she was insane, "why would I wipe off my hand with your crazy paper?" She didn't explain to them that it was indeed a buttwipe barrier and not a disposable hand towel.

I am in no position to judge any other culture, especially given the US's ridiculous celebrated obesity epidemic, so I will just say that this news is fascinating to me. 
potty humor and puns. magnifique.

I was a little in disbelief, and kinda thought some people had lied to my friend as a way of hazing her Army style, but no: I confirmed today per my friend Tyler, a teacher in Saudi Arabia, that indeed hand wiping is "a thing" in many cultures. He concluded that many bathrooms in his neck of the sand were consistently swampy and water-logged due to bathroom-goers hosing off their hands post poop. Consider my mind a bit boggled.  


Before you get all judgey and weird and high-horsey, please consider that this is not the rule across the board, but is just an aspect of their culture. There are likely things about the US that other countries find illogical.


  1. I'm going to pass on comments about the poop/hand thing. (I knew that) and say .....

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY TY! God bless you and keep you safe!!

  2. just had to let you know that i have that rupaul book. and it's awesome. i've read it 3 times. the first chapter is devoted to his drag transformation. it is magical.

  3. This is also a thing in Asian cultures.

    The way it was explained to me is this...if you were walking along the beach and stepped in Dog shit, would you A) wipe it off with toilet paper or B) stick you foot in the ocean.

    Most people choose B) which is the reason why water + hand is 'superior'. I still can't get behind it, but I understand the thought process.

  4. This just exploded my mind grapes. Now if only I could find a paper towel to clean this up.


I thrive on comments, so what do you think?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...