Authored by Tom Davis, Vice President, Susan Davis International

In this weekly column, SDI will present helpful hints for coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and offer observations on a world turned upside down.

On the first day of Spring we recall the timeless words of Tennyson…In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of….where to find toilet paper?

SDI has been helping clients deal with crises for four decades. From kidnappings to bankruptcies, from hurricanes to cyber attacks, we’ve seen it all. Or at least we thought we had, because we had yet to face the uncomfortable reality of a world without toilet paper.

As a parasitic virus of undetermined origin (although I’m 89% sure it started in China) COVID-19 is wreaking havoc around the world. The stock market has tanked, the tank market is in flux, schools have closed, businesses are shuttering, and people everywhere have become acquainted with the quaint term—social distancing. With social life at a standstill, museums locked down, theaters closed, and every major sporting event this side of the UFC cancelled, those who thirst for activity are forced to resort to one of the few outlets still available, competitive toilet paper acquisition.

The latest events in this intermittent sport involve jostling, screaming, hair pulling, belly bumping, eye gouging and the occasional armed robbery. To the great sorrow of most of the uncivilized world, we cannot rely on this competition to continue because the world seems to be out of TP.

Fortunately, the enterprising person can make his or her own TP, following this simple recipe gained through a quick search of EHow.

Please note: Those of you fortunate to live next to a pulp mill may be able to skip steps 1-3 and simply order carry-out.

Step 1: Soak the paper in a bucket or a tub of water. This will help remove the ink from the paper. Remove the paper after the ink appears to be 75 percent gone.

Step 2: Place the paper in a large pot with a couple of handfuls of leaves and grass. This will help the paper fibers remain together. Fill the pot with water so the paper is covered completely. Place the paper on a heating element and let simmer for one hour. Do not boil at first so the dry materials may absorb the water.

Step 3: Raise the temperature on the heating element and bring the water to a boil. Let the pot boil for 30 minutes. Add more water, if necessary. Remove any foam with a spoon or ladle. The paper will turn into a pulp during this process.

Step 4: Remove from the heating element. Pour or ladle out as much water as possible without disturbing the pulp. Wait for the water and pulp to cool before removing the rest of the water. Do not let the pulp dry. Place the pulp back into the pot after all of the water has been removed.

Step 5: Add 4 tablespoons of baby oil to the pulp. Mix with a spoon. This will prevent the paper from hardening.

Step 6: Spread a towel onto a flat surface. Scoop out the pulp and place it onto the towel. Press the pulp with a rolling pin to flatten and spread the pulp into a thin layer. Use a rubber mallet to gently hammer any lumps.

Step 7: Place a second towel on top of the pulp. Place a board on top of the towel. Set heavy objects on top of the board to weigh it down. This will squeeze out any excess water. Leave the weights on top of the pulp for 30 minutes.

Step 8: Remove the weights and the board. Flip the towels upside down and remove the bottom towel that is now on top. Place the other towel with the layer of paper on it out in the sun to dry.

Step 9: Peel the dried paper from the towel and cut into strips.

Step 10: Enjoy!

For those of you who don’t have time to make your own because you’re still able to go out due to running a country, or being in the military, or naturally bulletproof to disease, or just a born rebel without a cause or brain, you may find a list of TP alternatives helpful.

Obviously you can cut squares from your shirt, and to a similar but lesser extent, slacks, trousers, sweatpants, or jeans. But if you’ve already gone through much of your wardrobe, survivalists suggest such longstanding go-to’s as the large leaved aster and the wooly lambs ear.

Pine needles will do in a pinch, and pinecones might suffice if you really want to rough it. The aloe sounds good, though it presents a bit of a challenge to rank amateurs, and the yucca sounds right but presents more of a threat than it’s worth.

In closing, hang in there. We’ll soon come to one of two likely resolutions. The number of people who actually self-isolate will grow to a point where TP is back in stock and available for purchase, or food supplies will dwindle to the point where the need for TP drops dramatically. The end is in sight.