There are a lot of things I will never understand about France. Ordering a Diet Coke and getting a glass with one ice cube in it, stores that close for lunch, and showers without shower curtains are among them. I just don't get it. But quite possibly the biggest mystery of all lies in the most mundane, if not a bit unmentionable, of household products. I will never understand why French people use colored toilet paper.
As a young undergraduate student in 2001, I was surprised to find a pink, notebook paper-like substance occupying the spool in the bathroom that usually is frequented by a white, soft roll of Cottonelle. What is this stuff, I wondered, and why on earth is it pink? As I would come to learn on subsequent trips to France, you can actually buy toilet paper in all sorts of colors. Unfortunately, I still haven't been able to figure out why. Are they hoping to match their roll to their decor? Are they trying to make les toilettes feel more festive? Is dying paper cheaper than bleaching it?
I'm not only confused by colored toilet paper, I'm also a little turned off by it. It makes me think that the paper isn't clean, and that last thing anyone wants to have to use is unclean bathroom products. White just seams more pure, more fresh, more, well, sanitized. Then again, maybe Americans are just stuck in a bathroom rut. Maybe we should cast off our boring white rolls, do like the French do and turn our bathrooms into party central. I'll bring the blue streamers! ...I mean toilet paper.