Chances are good that you annoy the hell out of Amy LeBlanc.
Don't take it personally – it's just the things you DO. Putting the toilet paper on the roll so that it dispenses from the bottom. Shaking your wet hands and splattering the mirror after you wash up. Throwing dishes in the sink all willy-nilly.
OK, maybe it is you.
"For those of us of the female persuasion," the East Wilton woman complains, "who therefore use the toilet paper roll far more often than our male friends, it is very nice to be able to pat the roll and have it neatly dispense EVERY TIME. It's NOT fun to need to use the loo in the wee hours (pardon the pun) and have to turn on the light, thus waking up entirely, in order to solve the TP unrolling mystery. So rolling the TP over the top is a courtesy."
Got that? Toilet paper needs to unroll over the top. It's a household nuisance that makes people crazy. The Great Toilet Paper debate has the power to ruin friendships and marriages.
But not if you know how to work it. We heard from one 80-something from Rumford who has been married for 60 years. To the same woman! And they don't necessarily agree on how toilet paper should be dispensed.
How do they make it work? Use separate rolls.
"She has hers and I have mine," our senior says with an air of magnanimity. "I put mine over the top. It's easier to get at that way."
A diplomatic solution if there ever was one. This older gent is so careful about not upsetting the delicate balance of his marriage, he asked us not to use his name.
You can go the separate rolls route yourself, or you can get creative like our own Judy Meyer, the Sun Journal's daytime managing editor.
"We solved that issue at our house by setting the TP roll on a bike fork, allowing the roll to swivel for a user's particular taste," said the Buckfield resident. "So, if someone goes into the bathroom and the TP is over, they can swivel it to make it to under before sitting. And, they can make an under go over, too. It's not the most attractive thing, but it's pretty slick. And eliminates arguments."
As household nuisances go, the matter of toilet paper (I refuse to call it TP) is the one most likely to generate yelling. In response to our query, almost everyone resorted to exclamation points when stating their case. Some just want to scream, others will take matters into their own hands.
"Over!" declared Sherry Spencer Wilbur of Mechanic Falls. "If I use a bathroom that has it under, I fix it."
"That's totally me!" Ruby J. Card, of Auburn, agrees. "I hate when it pulls off from under the roll."
But let's get off toilet paper before someone gets hurt. There are plenty of other nuisances and you don't even have to leave the bathroom to get on LeBlanc's bad side.
"In most homes, every bathroom has a hand towel or a towel dispenser," she writes, in response to a recent Sun Journal query about readers' household pet peeves. And even in written form, you can sense she's beginning to seethe. "I would like to know why some folks find it necessary to shake their hands ABOVE the sink before using (or not using) the provided towel. The result is that the mirror is splotched and there are water spots on the walls, not to mention water all over the counter."
Our 80-something respondent knows about nuisances. Cupboards where plates and bowls are not sorted by color or size. Open oven doors. Somebody using his hand towel. Failure to wash and dry the tub after using it.
He has a whole list of this stuff. But is he perfect? Nossir, he is not. When he gets to eating, his wife cringes at the sound of silverware scraping against the plate. He munches potato chips like a beaver chewing bark.
"I have to go eat in the bathroom," he says. "Can you imagine that?"
According to the Census Bureau, less than 10 percent of Americans live alone. That means 90 percent of people are living with others – wives living with husbands, kids crammed in with parents, friends bunking with friends, boyfriends shacking up with girlfriends. That's a lot of people getting on the nerves of others with their various bad habits and differences of opinion. Most people don't have to stop and think when you ask them what kind of behavior gets under their skin. Most of us have working lists.
"Here are some other household peeves I can't stand," writes Card. "When people leave cupboard doors open or drawers are left open. When the toilet seat is left up and toilet not flushed or when the bathroom door is left open and my toddler ends up playing in the toilet or throwing things into the toilet."
That's four uses of "toilet" in one sentence, so you can see how troublesome that humble appliance can be. But take heart. You can irritate Card in other parts of the house, too.
"I always have the kids and myself and my husband reuse their cups," she says. "I cannot stand it when they waste clean cups for just one drink."
We try to interrupt but she's not done. There's furniture, which she needs to be neat and orderly. There's the problem of people dropping food on the floor and not bothering to pick it up. There's hair or toothpaste in the sink.
For just about anyone, hair anywhere is a killer. It's disgusting and it clogs drains. It sticks to things and you can't shake it off. If it's somebody else's hair, it's five times as annoying.
"Let's just say Chewbacca bathes in my living space," says Crystal LaChapelle, who works herself up into a fuming froth before she's done. "And to top that off, people could quickly rinse a friggin' sink when they brush – you know, before you have to scrape toothpaste spit off a marble sink!"
She's riled in the kitchen, too. By people who finish all but a few drops of milk and put the container back in the refrigerator. Or hang out with the fridge door wide open while contemplating the mysteries of life.
"Don't stand in front of the fridge with the door open for more than five seconds," she says. "My son has a habit of 'fridge-camping' – sitting inside the fridge on the bottom looking into it like the contents will magically change if he stares long enough! And the one that will piss me off for the day is when my 11-year-old leaves the empty box of waffles in the freezer, empty waffle bag on the counter, and the trash can is less than two feet away! It took me a week to get over that last time!"
They become so irate just talking about this stuff, you want to quickly change the subject. And just about all of us exist in this state of restrained frustration. We love our spouses and our kids, but sometimes when we look at them over the dinner table, we have long fantasies about strapping them to the mop bucket and spinning it around and around and around until they learn to stop their annoying behavior.
Or so I'm told.
It seems to be just another part of the human experience. Humans get peeved about things that occur inside their habitat. It doesn't mean you're too picky or too demanding or, God forbid, grumpy. We just don't want to spend all of our precious time doing things like wiping down mirrors, closing cupboard doors or clawing at the toilet paper roll to find the business end.
"Grumpy?" says LeBlanc. "No. I'm just in the don't-make-work-for-me camp!"