Friday, October 21, 2005

Urinalysis: Male Restroom Etiquette

Picture the following... You find yourself at the airport, with an impending renal requirement. After walking past several gates, you finally see the restrooms. The urinator's oasis. You rush inside. Fortunately, it's not crowded. There are maybe 15 wall stalls, and only a couple are taken. You position yourself at the second stall from the left, four urinals down from your nearest fellow leaker, unzip, and let it go. Ahhhh. Suddenly, without warning, midway through your discharge, your personal space is invaded. Without any thought for common sense and everything that is good and homophobic, someone sets up camp at the far left urinal, right next to you. What the freak?!

This situation happened to me recently. Twice! I had to fight my natural instinct to yell out "What the crap?!" to the offending parties. As a friend of mine said to me when I relayed this story to him, "You can't pee with someone right next to you!" Indeed! Of course, it's much too painful to try and cut off the flow and move, but it was all I could do not to switch stalls in midstream. These events have prompted me to compose this entry.

The rules
There are unspoken rules of men's room etiquette. I don't know how we know them, we just do. Well, most of us anyway. Some are common sense. Some, otherwise. I will now attempt to acquaint you with some of the more important rules and procedures for the very natural process of urinating in a public forum.

Rule #1. Always, ALWAYS leave a buffer zone of at least one urinal between you and the nearest peer. Always. Simple enough? Apparently not for the dysfunctional pee people I encountered. I will allow some leeway on this rule if and only if there is some sort of partition between urinals. But even then, skip a space if at all possible.

Rule #2. If it is impossible to skip at least one urinal, then check for an open stall. Yes, that's right the good old traditional sit-down toilet. Most of these are fully-enclosed, except for perhaps a foot or two of space at the bottom. If no stall is available, then I recommend leaving and coming back at a later time. Although waiting is acceptable, as long as you wait over by the sink. Don't wait directly behind someone who is doing his business. I mean, really, most of us have been in prison at one time or another, and it's just a little uncomfortable, that's all.

Rule #3. Once you're at your station, employ the three 'S' method of public urination (snuggle, straight, silent). Get in close, look straight ahead, and don't speak. No one likes a loosey-goosey-necked urinator. Don't look around. No one likes a long-distance bomber either. Get as close as possible to the porcelain without touching it. And don't make small talk. It's not a social event. It's a bodily function. Besides, you should be more worried about what you would do if someone were to steal your wallet right at this very moment. Because really, this would be the opportune time, don't you think? (That's what I always think about when I am peeing anyway.)

Addendum A. (The Stall Clause). If you're using the toilet... defacating... and you get done. Wait until the restroom is completely clear before exiting and washing up. You've just done that, and we don't want to put a face with the odor, Stinky. Really.

I guess that will do for now.

Next, let's look at a couple of examples. These are situations that you might very well encounter, and how best to handle them.

Situation 1: There are five urinals and three stalls. Urinals #2 and #5 are occupado. What do you do?

Answer: Since it would be impossible to skip a urinal on each side, check the stalls. If you can't find an open stall, you can pretend to wash your hands until a urinal comes open, or just leave and come back in a little while. If urinals 1 and 5 would have been occupied, you could have safely and properly used urinal 3.

Also, as a side note here, let me say: Beware of the stinky stall surprise. For some reason, people either don't like to flush public toilets, or don't know how. If you encounter this unpleasant stink bomb, exit the stall immediately and find another appropriate location.

Situation 2: There are three urinals. The far left one is occupied. The other two are open.

Answer: This one is easy. Use the far right urinal. For added protection, you might also employ a 30 degree turn, what I like to call the 'privacy turn', away from the other urinals. This works especially well on an end urinal.

Reader questions
Now for some reader questions. Or questions that I made up and attributed to readers. Whichever.

One readers asks: "Bone, what if I enter an empty restroom? Is there a best choice of urinals?"

I'm glad you asked. Really, you're only going to be in there for a short time, hopefully, unless you have some sort of problem. So it doesn't matter so much. Still, to be safe, choose an end urinal. Then, if someone were to violate the one-urinal buffer zone rule, you could still do the 30 degree turn and get a measure of privacy. Also, sometimes the sinks are next to the urinals. If this is the case, choose a urinal away from the sink.

Another reader wants to know, "What about the restrooms that have large tub-like basins to pee into, Bone? What's proper etiquette there?"

Well, I know exactly what you're talking about. And this is pretty much a judgment call. First, I would try to find an unoccupied basin. If there are none, look for a stall. Still no luck? It might be possible to urinate in the same basin as somone else. It really all depends on the basin size. If there's any chance your 'streams' could cross, then you definitely want to avoid that. How awkward would that be. I mean, if you're gonna do that, you might as well hold hands. Even if no one is there, always position yourself near one end of the basin. Similarly with the restrooms that just have streams of water running down the wall into a drain (I hate those), it's a judgment call. A good rule of thumb always is to allow as much distance as possible.

I hope we can all see from these points that I've tried to make that when a man enters a public restroom, the choice of stalls is not some haphazard, random, close-your-eyes-and-hope-for-the-best-result process. That's OK in the bedroom. But not here. This is much more important.

The renality of it is this: It's a logical process. And it's really not that difficult. With apologies to Janet Jackson, we all live in a urine nation. So let's make the best of it. You can't just go anywhere. However, if you just apply yourself and follow these simple guidelines, you too can engage in proper public urination. And that means a better, safer, more pees-ful world for all of us.

And be looking for my future diatribes, including:
Outdoor urination: When, where, and which bushes are prickly?
High and low urinals: The long and short of it
Proper flushing technique: The kick flush (You can always burn your shoes later)
Proper handwashing: The paper towel first technique
Hand blowers: Your patience is rewarded

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Big game this week. Come on, Bama.

"I came along. I wrote a song for you, and all the things you do. And it was called yellow..."


  1. HA HA! Oh, I have tears running down my face! I don't understand why men have to make it so difficult! Why do you even have urinals then if some of them have to go unoccupied because of the spacer rule? Why not just go all-stall like the girls do? Oh, that's right, because you don't know how the seat functions...

  2. Wow, that was laugh out loud funny. Not going to blogs until next week but had to come to yours, and you answered some questions that I had always wondered about. Thanks

    Always thought that woman had it more difficult because there are always too few stalls.

    And love the story below it

  3. You're a dork. I can't believe you spent that much time talking
    about that! That could easily be a Seinfeld Ep.

    Lil Bootay

  4. Lass: We know how to work the seat..... OK, maybe we don't :-)

    Pia: Yes, now you know the complex inner-workings of the men's room. So next time you ladies are waiting in line, maybe you'll be thankful ;-)

    Bootay: "That could easily be a Seinfeld Ep."

    You're right! Unfortunately, there are no more new Seinfelds. So I guess it'll have to serve as more fodder for the J&K Show :-)

  5. You are too funny! Actually I find it quite strange that guys have all these "rules" for the bathroom. I think it all comes down to being said it Bone! Do you think there are this many rules in a gay bar restroom? I don't think I would like to have to pee that close to another woman. I mean, you know there would have to be conversation, recipe exchanges, "oh where did you get those shoes?"

    I think maybe you should write some rules for the ladies room. At least where I work, the ladies room is...well, foul. I've smelled better barns. I think, what do these women eat? Smells like something died. How about a courtesy flush? You are not a cow (well, o.k. maybe you are) could you try and at least squat when you pee so it doesn't cover the entire stall?

    Go Bama, Go ND!

  6. This summer I went to Kentucky for a family reunion camping adventure,where I had to pee behind the one small lone bush on top of a mountain for an entire weekend.Bad enough during the day when I had to worry about one of the guys seeing me,but a nightmare after dark worrying about getting bit by a snake while peeing.Of course the men just peed behind their pick-ups day and night and by Sunday,all my dignity gone,so was I.Trust me it made visiting a men's room seem like a walk in the park.Go Buckeyes.

  7. That's hilarious. :) Apparently today's the day to blog about bathrooms-- I just did so as well!

  8. Hahahahahaha!!! That's so funny. It's also really true. I feel exactly the same way, but I couldn't have put it into words as well as you just did. All this time I thought I was the only one who felt that way.

    I work for a large corporation with offices worldwide, but the office where I work (division headquarters) has one crummy mens' restroom per floor. Amazing. I won't even go in the mens' room if someone else is in there. Well, for the urinal, yes, if it's an emergency. Anyway, I often spend endless amounts of time - each day - going from floor to floor to find an empty restroom that affords me privacy.

    I don't think this has anything at all to do with homophobia. But, it does have to do with respect for others

    Great post as always.

  9. Carnealian: Well, this is the unofficial blog for homophobes and germophobes everywhere :-)

    Never been in a ladies room... that often. Maybe you'll have to do those rules. Men seem to have a real hard time hitting the toilets, too. If you drop something on the floor in there... just let it go.

    Buckeyefans: Ha ha. Thanks for the comment. Worrying about getting bit by a snake? Ouch. I'll never go outside again.

    Sarah: Great minds think alike?

    Anon: No, I think most guys feel this way. I have known guys who would immediately go to the toilet and never use a urinal. I guess that was for the added privacy. Not sure though.

    Some new commenters! Thanks everyone.

  10. So, I thought of you this morning as I was sitting in the doctor's office. More specifially, the movie buffer zone, but this one was in your Selected Posts, so it will do.

    There should be a buffer zone in doctor's offices. I hate it when people sit in the seat right beside me, espcially when there are plenty of empty seats with noone on either side. I dunno - call me crazy, but it makes me very uncomfortable.

    Usually I put some of my things in the seat next to me to prevent this from happening, but today it was early, and I wasn't my sharpest, so failed to do so. Maybe it was also because there were so many available seats, I didn't think I should have to. Wrong.

    A lady came in and sat right beside me. I counted, and there were 16 other seats open that were not next to somoene. Why?!?!

  11. this is a great and true post

  12. I laughed so hard during this! Who knew. I've often wondered how all that went. I've heard some coworkers whisper about 'peekers' and the like, guys who steal glances over to see your package. And then the rare but comical man who comes up and drops drawers and all at the urinal. But this was a new side to the experience, and one that I found to be hilarious!
    First time visiting your blog but I will be coming back. Thanks!

  13. Tenacious One: I agree. Good point. Why would someone invade your personal space with so many other open seats far away from you? It makes no sense.

    d34dpuppy: Thanks. It's very true.

    Z: Glad you enjoyed it. I have no tolerance for peek-stealers.

    Thanks for stopping by :-)

  14. i just followed this link from shelby's blog. i had to stop reading while i pulled myself together. i was laughing so hard i could no longer see the words. on a more serious note, i'm glad i'm not a man, though i think the rule of not using the stall next to someone should apply to women as well.

    just like tenacious t, i hate it when i'm on the bus or subway, and people sit by me where there are plenty of unoccupied seats.


  16. I came over from shelby's
    have to admit..this even though with good humor, is something pretty serious, I always wondered if someone should put up the rules somewhere, specially in those restrooms with not much of the partition in between..

    very well written /..

  17. linked from shelby.
    I had no idea men had it so difficult. I thought y'all just ran in there and ran right back out.

    I know I've ran into a mens room because the womens line was too long. I don't remember seeing any one looking. ha ha. (actually it was m/t and I had my husband guard the door)


    I made this video exclusively for this topic. This is the answer to every bathroom problem us men face...HA!

  19. I am so glad that I am a woman right now.

    Although this does remind me of my feelings about treadmills and how you choose the appropriate one.

  20. Help! While devoiding myself of last night's chilli in the airport restrooms, I got blog surfing to pass the time while I passed the chilli and I found this blog with the rules. To my horror, I read the following:

    Addendum A. (The Stall Clause). If you're using the toilet... defacating... and you get done. Wait until the restroom is completely clear before exiting and washing up. You've just done that, and we don't want to put a face with the odor, Stinky. Really.

    This is the airport and the restrooms are busy. Non stop. They haven't been empty yet so I can't leave. Help! It's been three days!

    Sent from my Blackberry

  21. I look forward to you clarifying the rules for public urination outdoors, especially on restaurant windows.

  22. This is hysterically funny! U should do standup . Glad you're going back into ur vault for your priceless collection of classic tbone! Soo funny. I need to read this to my husband