Sunday, November 06, 2005

Dear Bone: The Column

I had my first experience with a shrimp burrito tonight at Las Vias. (That means, "the vias." I was Spanish Club president.) So... I don't know.

Today, we're starting a new feature here on If You Read Only One Blog This Year, called "Dear Bone." I got the idea from an email I received from a reader this past week, asking me a question about a subject on which he considered me somewhat of an expert: restroom etiquette. I started thinking that this would be a good feature for the blog. So, if you have questions for me, you can email them to me and I will answer selected questions periodically on my blog. Or, this will be the only one I ever do. Either way. So, here's our first letter:

Dear Bone,

I had an encounter last night and I desperately seek your advice. I was in between classes and, as you might guess, seemingly everyone takes a potty break. There are two restrooms that I can use and I choose to walk about 50 feet further to avoid a crowded restroom and the chance of someone violating Bone's Restroom Etiquette. I walk in and there are a couple of guys who apparently had the same idea.

Nonetheless, there are two stalls and three urinals. I really had to go. I just walked in and turned toward the first urinal next to the wall. As I unzipped, I realized that the guy I passed in the restroom used the same urinal because it was still flushing. I mean, it would be obvious to use that urinal since it is clearly within the bounds of proper etiquette, so the guy before me must know about the rules, too. I begin to get worried about the timing of my use of the urinal because there might be some lingering germs that are still in the air and haven't settled or, even worse, I could get splashed! I continue to empty my bladder and go back to class but if I find that I violated "Bone's Restroom Etiquette," I may very well have to seek professional counseling.

Please address this situation with the care it deserves.

Thank you,



Let me start by saying you likely will not need professional counseling. Well, not for this anyway. Just from the fact that you took the time to email me with your question lets me know you are a very conscientious urinator, as am I. It gives me great comfort to know that if I were in a public restroom urinating, and you were to enter, I could rest assured that you would not pick a urinal next to me. Any friend of proper urinal etiquette is a friend of mine. If only everyone were like us. But I digress. Now, on to your question.

My first advice for you is to never let situations like this sneak up on you. As you're walking towards the restroom, you should be completely prepared for every possible situation you might be confronted with once you pass thru those doors. With this particular "encounter" as you call it, the clear and present danger that I see is splatterage, or as you say, "being splashed." You are right to be concerned about this. Some toilets, urinals especially, may have a very powerful flush, causing droplets of water, urine, and who knows what else to escape the confines of the porcelain receptacle. If you are contacted by any such splatterage, obviously, you would need to remove and burn any clothes which you were wearing as soon as possible.

I see two ways you could have better handled this situation. The obvious one is to go to the next available urinal. From reading your letter, it appears that no one else was "on the line" at this time, so you could have shifted down one spot. Although with a three urinal configuration, the other end urinal would be the preferred peeing position. Secondly, if you see that there is flushing in progress as you approach, you might slow down your approach a bit, giving everything a bit more time to calm down by the time you address the stall.

I hope this advice has helped. By practicing proper urinal and restroom etiquette, these decisions will eventually become second nature to you, and you will no longer have to think. And let's face it, as men, the less we have to think, the better.

Your friend,

PS - Please never use the word "potty" ever again. And I hope that this is the only time you ever use the phrase "as I unzipped" when communicating with me.

(If you have questions for Bone or would like to seek his advice, please send an email to Dear Bone. Responses to selected emails posted on this blog. If you do not wish for your name to be used, please choose an alias, or one will be selected for you.)

"But it's just the price I pay. Destiny is calling me. Open up my eager eyes. I'm Mister Brightside..."


  1. I can't even comment on your blog out of self will anymore! You PRESSURE ME UNTIL I DO!!

    SO HERE! Haha...

    You are sooooo weird (:

  2. You know..just....whatever happened to days when blog commenting was an option, not a forced action?! Huh? HUH?!

    Yeah okay, I'm going to bed now..there, you got TWO from me! GASP (:

  3. Totally unrelated to bathroom etiquette, but completely related to the musical quote: I actually heard a person hosting a music show refer to The Killers as having a "boy band" look with a more sophisticated sound. God, just saying that makes me want to puke. Boy band they are not IMHO!

  4. i can see them being a boy band :shrug:

    but on bathroom etiquette. couldn't he have just waited, or looked down before he did his business. if he didn't have enough time to do that, he shouldn't have waited to the last minute to go. how old is he? 5? and if he's not 5, but 45, he might need to go to a doctor for some bladder control issues. :) then again, this is a dear bone, not a dear crys, so its all good if my humble advice goes unheeded.

  5. Oh jeez. I'm so glad I'm a girl. Who wants to stand up to pee anyway?

  6. Feenix: "whatever happened to days when blog commenting was an option, not a forced action?!"

    Those days are gone. Welcome to the new America. Big Blogger is watching you!

    Carnealian: Part of the boy band stigma, to me, is the music. The sappy, sugary love songs. Killers and boy band? Never crossed my mind. No.

    Crys: You have a lot to learn about being a man. The men's restroom would chew you up and spit you out. Just the fact that he's concerned about the issue indicates he's not a 5 year old. Kids have no urinal awareness. They've yet to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    Lass: Who wants to sit on a public toilet? Blech. Germophobe alert!

  7. actually IL, I don't want to sit down either. And apparently Bone, I will never understand, being a girl and all.

  8. Well, I guess we could go out and invest in those anatomically compatible siphons that allow us to stand up and pee like men. Really, I just prefer dropping trou out in the woods, hoping I don't get bit on the butt by a snake. :)

  9. This is why girls go to the bathroom in groups -- to prevent one of our own from ever making this kind of grievous breach of bathroom etiquette.

  10. Crys: Yes, and those little paper cover things some places have? Give me a break.

    Lass: Ha ha! You've left me speechless, for once. I don't know what to say to that :-)

    Fly girl: So that's what it is! I think that every guy has always wondered just why it is that girls always go in groups.