May be doing a short road trip this weekend. An overnight trip, or maybe just a long drive. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week's Friday Flashback.
Of all the posts I've written, this is one of my three or four favorites. Not that I have them all ranked or anything. It's the quintessential Bone. Me in my element. The restroom. If there are two things I know about, it's Seinfeld and restrooms. And it really didn't take that long to write, either. I hope you enjoy it.
This was originally posted October 21, 2005.
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 midstream. These events have prompted me to compose this entry.
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 to do so, 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, please 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 may 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 squeezed in at urinal 3.
Also, as a side note here, let me say this. 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.
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. 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 small measure of privacy.
Also, sometimes the sinks are next to the urinals. If this is the case, choose a urinal away from the sink. That way no one who might come in to wash his hands will be tempted to sneak a peek, if you know what I mean.
Another reader wants to know, "What about the restrooms that have large tub-like basins to pee into, Bone? What's proper etiquette there?"
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.
In closing, I hope we can all see from these points 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 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 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 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.
Also 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: Patience rewarded
The split-stream: That rarest of all male urination phenomena
"Ain't it funny how a melody can bring back a memory? Take you to another place and time. Completely change your state of mind..."