Single Ply Ain’t Fly

Updated: May 25, 2016


By Kevin Wilson

Readiness is one of those military buzzwords that everyone with foliage, wildlife or bits of astronomy on their collar likes to throw around as the impetus behind whatever their agenda for that particular day is. For those lower on the chain, it’s usually a sure sign something’s about to go to shit.

“Sexual assault is a major threat to readiness”, someone will declare.

“Yeah, no shit. It kills morale and trust in a unit, and makes life hell for the victim. What are you going to do about it?” the rest of us reply.

“PowerPoint. PowerPoint for days.”


It’s a pattern that has repeated itself many times over the years.

Staggeringly high suicide rates? Why not make everyone sit through PowerPoint Briefings and a Good Charlotte video until they’re ready to blow their brains out just to get out of the briefing? Concerned with the perception that the public doesn’t view us as consummate professionals? Let’s ban visible tattoos and keep anyone with them from advancing up high enough to be a public disgrace, the Satan-worshiping bastards.

In theory, readiness should be a measure of a unit’s ability to go to war, and dammit, I say we fight to take it back from the Good Idea Fairy. Because while there are several very real problems that affect readiness that have no easy solution, there are several that can easily be remedied.

Ladies and gentlemen, I posit to you that the single greatest preventable threat to readiness of America’s armed forces is single ply toilet paper.

No, seriously.

Anyone who’s spent time in the military at all in the last thirty years has experienced the joy of MREs. MREs, or Meals Ready to be Expelled, are the portable, durable rations that the military relies on in situations where providing hot chow is either impractical or inconvenient. They come with a variety of sides and entrees, and in the last few years or so, have actually gone from merely edible to actually quite good in some cases.

MRETPOne thing hasn’t changed, however: whenever you have MREs, you have the MRE shits. You know the signs. It starts with the bubble guts, that churning sensation that says something has seriously gone wrong downstairs. Next comes the gas, so mind-numbingly terrible that it can clear a GP Medium in -40oF weather. The gas phase can last anywhere from hours to days, and the more MREs you eat in the interim, the worse it gets. And then suddenly, you realize that the little piece of hellfire you were about to release isn’t just gas, and you find yourself in a race to the nearest convenient latrine/porta-shitter/semi-secluded patch of grass behind an LMTV. If you win, you get the relative joy of dumping out enough solid waste to make a plumber take up heroin to numb the pain. If you lose, you still get that joy, but you’re gonna have to burn that uniform after.

Naturally, once you’re done building your own built-to-scale model of Mount Doom, you’re going to want to clean yourself up. If you’re smart, you brought baby wipes, or maybe some decent TP. But that sort of experience and dedication takes years to acquire, and there’s a very good chance you’re gonna be stuck with one of two things: a roll you or someone else stole from the barracks, or the packet that comes in the MRE. And unless your barracks is way the hell nicer than anyone else’s, all you’re gonna find is the same government bought single ply.

You soon find new meaning in the word suffering as your already acid-etched asshole is abraded raw by the little sheets of hell you hold bunched in your hand. Its properties are well known: abrasive as sandpaper, and about as absorbent to boot. The flimsy paper is quickly saturated, staining your fingers in a mixture of shit and shame and blood that no amount of hand-sanitizer will remove from your soul.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all dealt with the aftermath too: the days of discomfort and distrust, the fear that the next fart will be the trigger of another desperate dash to preserve what little dignity we have left.

But what if I told you that it didn’t have to be like that? Our grandfathers might have been satisfied with the barely useable squares of asbestos that the military has purchased for ages, but technology has marched on. Just like we no longer use the Brown Bess musket, so too must we accept that single ply is an outdated relic best consigned to the porta-shitter of history.

Gone are the days of the Veggie Omelette. Entrees these days are actually pretty good. Hell, the Chicken Pesto Pasta is freaking amazing. We can find Skittles and M&Ms in our MREs. How hard would it be to work out a contract with someone to get a few sheets of Charmin or Angel Soft thrown in instead of the John Wayne brand they stick in there now? “Rough, tough and don’t take shit from nobody” might be a good motto for life, but it’s a terrible approach to toilet paper.

Guys, this is an easy fix. Get on it. The assholes of the men and women serving our great nation deserve better.



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