As I go about my daily life, I am often troubled by a glaring shortcoming in the personalities of today’s young people – the lack of a solid work ethic. Nowhere, I believe, has this ever been more apparent than in my front yard last week.

I am the father of two middle school aged boys, so I wasn’t terribly surprised when my youngest walked into the house on a beautiful Sunday morning and declared, “Dad, we’ve been TP’d!”

I calmly took another sip of my coffee, closed my laptop, and flashed him a smile. He looked at me, confused. See, what he didn’t yet know and was about to learn was that, in my day (I’m nearly forty. Am I allowed to say “In my day!”?), your house being toilet-papered was a badge of honor, a right of passage, a sign that you were one of the guys.

After today, my boys would be part of a fraternity of young men who spent summer evenings plotting and planning late night raids to the homes of church friends, teammates and school buddies. They would feast on fear and adrenaline, their cat-like senses probing the night for the sounds of approaching cars and victims stirring in their beds. They would take pride in a job well done, in a tree well-hung, in a hedge gloriously mummified in 2-ply splendor.

So.

Imagine my disappointed when I emerged from my front door only to find the most dismal, depressing, lackluster display of toilet papering I have ever laid my eyes on. I nearly lost hope in an entire generation of men right there on my front porch.

photo 2Our house is what veteran TP’ers call “a target-rich environment.” We have six tall trees in my front yard. We have a three-tiered planter with an array of bushes. We have a hanging bench swing, two Adirondack chairs and a table used for holding our cocktails on the warm summer evenings when we choose to sit out front and yell at our kids while they play in the street.

Of all of the targets at their disposal, the social deviants who had assaulted my home had decorated not two, not five, but ONE tree. One. The furthest tree from my front porch. The tree with the easiest getaway route. The tree that, technically, doesn’t even belong to me – it belongs to the city – which means I can’t trim it or take it down without producing a court order and sacrificing a chicken, but that I am completely financially responsible for any damages it may cause should it, say, crash into my house. I digress.

It was there I was inspired to pen this treatise on toilet-papering. I do this for several reasons: as an open letter to the young men who “TP’d” my house; as a coping mechanism to relieve my disappointment; and as a reminder that there are certain guidelines that every toilet-papering job should follow.

1. Buy in bulk

photo 1After pulling the toilet paper from our tree and taking stock, I deduced that our assailants had used something just south of three rolls of paper. Three. Rolls. Not even one full package of toilet paper. Seriously, people – when it comes to TP’ing – go big, or stay home.

After high school I was part of a raid that used 196 rolls of toilet paper and a store mannequin. The scene looked like a guy streaking at the North Pole.

2. Don’t skimp on quality.

There’s nothing worse than hurling a roll of toilet paper over a tree branch only to watch the stream of paper snap and sail to the ground just after it meets a bit of resistance. A solid two-ply paper is worth its weight in gold.

3. Make yourself a Wire Hanger Toilet Paper Roll Holder.

photoDespite its horribly long, awkward name, this device can help make your TP’ing more efficient and professional. While the “two finger” method can always be employed, nobody can wrap a bush faster than a young person properly utilizing the WHTPRH. Bonus: You get to pretend you’re a commando laying detonation cord prior to blowing up an enemy bridge/vehicle/encampment.

4. Don’t touch the vehicles.

Nothing can raise the blood pressure of young man’s father like the news that his car has been covered in a) shaving cream, b) toothpaste, c) eggs, d) pigeons, or anything else at all. Young people do not understand the value that men place on their vehicles because this part of their brain does not develop until much, much later. This is the same part of the brain that makes them think that oversized hats with flat bills and price tags still on them look cool.

During college, I served as a high school intern at my church. Several of my students decided to Saran Wrap my car – which is hilarious, in theory. Theoretically, the humor stopped when they accidentally dragged the serrated business edge of the box across my hood, resulting in a 3-foot row of 50 tiny scratches across the roof of my car.

5. Pick your targets wisely.

Properly papering the property of a pal leads to laughs, great stories, and the anticipation of impending retribution. Hitting the house of someone you don’t like or don’t know is just stupid – feelings get hurt, you usually can’t tell anybody except for the people with which you TP’d, and you spend most of the next week with your ear to the ground, waiting to get found out. Also, parents are generally a lot more forgiving once they see that their child is elated over getting TP’d by a friend. Parent Pro Tip: Just the right amount of parental disapproval is a great way to add to the “cool” factor of being papered.

6. Make memories

Staying up past their bedtime is always a treat for kids. Staying up past their bedtime and getting in a car and “ssshhhh” and running to a house and throwing rolls of paper and “what was that?!?!” and running away and jumping back into the car and laughing and laughing as dad drives them back home – that’s the stuff of which memories are made. My sister, Michele, still credits the times that my dad took her and her friends out to TP another girl’s house as some of her best memories.

If you’re a dad reading this, and you can’t stomach the idea of TP’ing the house of one of your kid’s friends, then fake it. Arrange ahead of time to hit a buddy’s house, even if it means bringing the kids back over later to help clean up the mess. A lot of memories and character can be built over a round of pancakes, coffee, and “Man, you kids sure got me good.”

……

In the end, my boys found out who it was that TP’d our house: our neighbor, Dillon. Connor and Camden were playing across the street with their friend Raffi, who received a text from Dillon. After a good laugh, Raffi texted back something that involved lawyers and private investigators.

We are currently planning our counterstrike. In the meantime, Dillon is spending his days hiding in his bedroom, peering out the window, waiting for the cops to show up, only leaving to use the bathroom where, unfortunately, he’s out of toilet paper.