March 9, 2007
Volume 35
Issue 10
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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019



Tour De Life by Beau Burriola
TP Roll
by Beau Burriola - SGN Contributing Writer

"It's ONLY a roll of toilet paper. WHY THE HELL CAN'T YOU JUST CHANGE IT?" I asked, looking into the bathroom mirror and waving the roll.

Suddenly the stern look in my reflection was replaced with one of horror when I realized I had just turned into my mother. I had even inexplicably said "why the hell" in that horrible way she used to with her southern drawl making it sound like "hay-ell".

At times like this, when I realize I am getting older, I am torn between the horror of becoming my parents and the thankfulness that at least someone is putting that damned roll of toilet paper on there. It used to sit there for days empty with little half rolls piling around nearby, a deliberate smack in the face to the institution of those pesky parental rules I was now free from.

Since the days of living at home, the list of things I do in my own life "like mom did" is getting longer, like taking out the trash, cleaning the kitchen floor, and keeping a jar of jalapeƱos in the refrigerator to eat with every meal. There are still a few habits I refuse to take on like her infamous use of a Folgers can sitting on the stove to store grease for weeks at a time because "you ain't s'pose ta pour grease down tha drain!" Until we were about sixteen, she let us believe the can was used for cooking. I thought it was her secret recipe in things I didn't want like her black-speckled omelets.

Now thanks to her, I allow myself the extravagances of tea light holders on the walls, a tablecloth, and dryer sheets. I wash my sheets every week on Sunday nights. A few months ago, I started rolling my towels that way she did with the half fold thing. I even started rinsing things before putting them in the dishwasher.

In Basic Combat Training, Sergeant First Class Prince taught us how to make the bed. Oh, did I learn how to make that bed. I can make a bed blind, any bed, with perfect hospital corners and a smooth top you can bounce a quarter off. I can because I HAD to. Although these days I refuse to obsess over the appearance of the corners on my blanket, I do occasionally try it out to see how I still do and I haven't missed a day. I can still shine a pair of boots, though I now have none to shine. I can still keep surfaces clean and bright, though nobody inspects them daily. I still put all my shirts the right way on a hanger, buttoned to the top.

Now thanks to him, I allow myself to enjoy some of those little things in the Army I that I hated to endure, like tucked shoelaces in a perfectly aligned row of shoes or the dreaded crisp hospital corners of a bed sheet that make the rest of life seem so orderly and conquerable.

While I'm still in no hurry to turn into my mother or to race back to the servitude of Sergeant Prince, it feels good to know I'm putting some of their good sense to use. Now, when I walk into my apartment and I look around, I can see a lot of the comforts of home and the discipline of the Army without having to have the people there to do it for me.

Beau Burriola is a local journalist, thanks to three frayed volumes of hand-written, coffee and food-stained ramblings. E-mail him at
visit Beau at

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