The other day, Alice.com released a list of the cities that spent the most per order on toilet paper from December 2010 to December 2011. While we didn’t make it on that list, we did make it on a related one.
You probably haven’t heard of Alice before now, which is what makes their list, and infographic to go with it, an impressive work of self-marketing.
Data-wise, it’s entirely based on how much people spend at their website, but when Fort Walton Beach, Fla., sees it’s No. 22 on the list at $15.47 per order, you can bet the newspaper there will mention it. Because, hey, it’s funny and somewhat interesting, if not entirely meaningful. Alice doesn’t have to pay for anything, but gets a whole lot of free advertising.
In any case, I’ve now thoroughly buried the lede of this column, namely that Odessa-Midland (yes, they actually listed us in that order) spent the least amount of toilet paper per order of all the metro areas in the U.S., just $7.84. That’s compared to the national average ($12.40) and the top spender in the nation: Fayetteville, N.C., at $21.82 per order.
And in getting this news, the first reaction is to try to interpret it.
Is not spending much on toilet paper a good thing? Or should we be embarrassed? We know it doesn’t mean anything, but what does it mean?
We are, in fact, the bottom of the bottom spenders, and whether that’s because we are tough folk who don’t need to pamper our nether-regions with multiple plies, or we stretch our rolls last longer than other people, or because everyone just gets their toilet paper at Wal-Mart and Alice.com’s stats for Odessa-Midland are based on that time in July that Jacob Martinez thought he might try buying a couple of rolls off of the Internet – who knows?
(For most of you, that was just a strangely specific hypothetical example; but all of the Jacob Martinezes reading this are saying, “Hey! I didn’t buy any toilet paper on the Internet.” Although I’d like to think some Jacob Martinez out there is saying, “Wow, I did spent $7.84 on toilet paper at that website. How did he know?”)
Ken Brodnax, the late, great columnist and indelible presence in the Odessa American used to do his Bottoms awards every January for the year before. We lost him in early 2011, and lost his column in late 2010. I don’t know if he had planned to keep his annual celebration of the pinnacle’s opposite going past the silver anniversary. The last one I seem to be able to find is 2009’s awards but I could have sworn he did it in 2010, too.
Oh well. It’s the sort of thing only he could have kept going, at least kept going right. But, you can imagine the sort of column he would have written, who and what would have been on it. There’s certainly never a lack of candidates squirming at the bottom of the heap in West Texas.
But today, all of us in Odessa-Midland can hold our heads high, or maybe just proudly grab our ankles. According to Alice.com, we were all Bottoms in 2011. Because that’s how we – don’t – roll.