Moving to Freedom, .Org(on)

Men’s Room Logistical Considerations

public urinal in netherlands, from wikipedia

When I wrote about a 196-step stairway at my work, a reader was surprised I didn’t mention another pitfall of the big climb. This is when you ascend six floors, and your heart rate goes way up and you’re breathing like some kind of pervert, as you do, and now upon exiting the stairwell, you decide you have to pee.

So you stop in the men’s room and belly up to the urinal. Maybe someone is already nearby, or maybe they pull up after you. Then you realize the situation you’re in with the heavy breathing, and it suddenly seems very quiet in there other than the sound of your labored gasps of breath.

Bathrooms and urinals present many problems, of course. Dave Barry spoke to my soul when he wrote about “The Public-Rest Room Problem” in his Complete Guide to Guys.

This is a problem that guys face when they go into a public rest room. When women go into a rest room, they have the privacy of stall, but guys have to do it while standing pretty much out in the open, sometimes with many other guys standing around.

This can be tricky, because peeing is very much associated, in guys’ minds, with masculinity…

My point is that peeing has significance for guys that goes way beyond the mere elimination of bodily fluids. It is an important territorial statement. This is why, every time a guy enters a public rest room, he must confront a critical guy problem; namely: Which urinal should he use? His goal is to avoid, at all costs, peeing right next to another guy, because they would be infringing on each other’s territories.

So in the ideal guy rest room, the urinals would be located a minimum of fifty feet apart. Unfortunately, in the real world, they’re right next to each other, which means the guy often must make split-second strategic urinal decisions. To illustrate this process, let’s imagine a public rest room in an airport. *[…]*

And he goes on in thorough analytical detail.

I’ve been greatly scandalized when people break these simple rules. But it happens, and it’s an occupational hazard. I’ve come to accept it.

I was even more scandalized when someone I followed for a time on Twitter seemed to have the opposite problem. He was offended when people chose urinals farther away. This still troubles me.

The first time I saw him comment about it, I was disturbed, but I let it pass. Note that in my own Twitter usage, I typically don’t discuss bathroom goings-on. I save this kind of talk for blog posts where it belongs. No, wait. I’m afraid I can’t make any promises. Twitter is exactly the right place to discuss breakfast food choices and bowel movements. Anyway, I later saw another tweet from this guy, again complaining about someone not choosing a neighboring urinal.

I had no way of reconciling this with my world model, and to this day it’s an unresolved issue in my mental processing. It’s one of the reasons I eventually had to unfollow the guy.