A Guide To Using The Men's Room

While we've seen some crazy things go down in the men's bathroom but mostly it's just a place to pee when you are in public. Not everyone seems to remember that. Here are some helpful hints for your next visit.

Rule #1 – The Buffer Urinal
What’s more uncomfortable than rubbing elbows with a stranger while standing, legs akimbo to avoid the puddle, at the urinal? This is basic field strategy here guys. Dave Barry covered this years ago. You never, ever, ever, select a urinal directly next to one already in use, not when there’s a choice anyway. If there are three urinals to choose from, pick one on the outside. Leave the center one for the guy who may actually die if he doesn’t get to the bathroom. If the one of the outside ones is in use, choose the one on the opposite end of the bank. If both outside ones are in use and only the center one is available, wait. One of the other guys will be done soon.

Rule #2 – Announce Your Presence
If you are using a stall and have the place to yourself, it’s one thing. But as soon as you hear the door open, you need to make your presence known. Am I suggesting that you say ‘hi’ and introduce yourself? Absolutely not. No way. Instead, do a little cough. A sniff can be mistaken for the shuffling of a shopping bag or a heavy winter parka. Plus, you may not want to be inhaling through your nose. I’m just saying. A cough is more effective, distinct and has the added bonus of being absolutely, 100% impersonal. Let’s remember, you’re in there to get something down, not to make a friend.

Rule #3 - No Eye Contact, No Talking
Okay, I have had exactly one interesting conversation with a stranger in a public restroom. It was at a grocery store. He was old, a WWII vet who was waiting for his meds. He seemed a bit lost and confused and began talking to me as I was washing my hands. But that one incident does not make it okay to speak with or look directly at another man in the men’s room. It’s never okay. Don’t be the guy who walks into the bathroom and tries to strike up a conversation or says something like, “Whew, it smells like Big Foot’s tomb in here!” Even if it were funny, the situation does not call for comedy. If there is, for some extreme reason, an occasion that necessitates inter-personal communication, eye contact is strictly prohibited. Stand, stock still, eyes forward like a Marine on inspection. When entering and exiting, keep your eyes down. When standing at the sink, it’s okay to look at yourself in the mirror, but absolutely never should peeking at your neighbor be allowed. Ever.

Rule #4 – Clean Up After Yourself
If you dribble on the seat, leave a mess of water and soap around the sink or miss the waste basket with an errant paper towel, pick it up. This isn’t elementary school, this is a men’s room. You may be in a huge hurry to get out of there and I understand that, but come on, you’re an adult. Act like it. If you leave drops on the seat or a toilet unflushed, that automatically removes that particular facility from use for at least 10 hours. Have some decency. And while you’re at it, after you rip off some paper towel, wipe the push bar and start the roll out so the next guy can rip a piece directly off. Why should I have to suffer your laziness the next time I go to get some paper towel only to touch an oddly gelatinous coating on the handy push bar? Clean and dry, that’s how you should leave the place. Repeat the backpacker’s mantra to yourself over and over: “Leave no trace. Leave no trace.”

Rule #5 – The Proper Stance
Whether in a stall or at a urinal, keep your stance narrow and your positioning square against the target. In the stall, a wide stance could lead to unexpected touching or, worse in the case of Senator Larry Craig, a political scandal. It’s important at the urinal too. No one wants to touch boots while you’re doing that. And if you stand at an angle, you’re likely to incur civilian backsplash casualties. I shouldn’t have to wear a disposable poncho into the men’s room because you don’t understand that the angle of incident is equal to the angle of reflection. In short: AIM.

Rule #6 – Don’t Linger
I am as guilty as the next guy of spending, perhaps, a bit too long in my bathroom at home. A lot of times, it’s the only time I get to myself to read or get caught up on all the staring and doing nothing I have fallen so far behind on since the kids came along. But, not here, not in the men’s room. Those who linger here are waiting for something. What? A chance to mug someone? A new friend? A visit from aliens? How am I supposed to know? It’s not something I do. When it comes to the men’s room, think about Chile’s. ‘Get in. Get out. Get on with life.’ Put an end to the awkwardness and discomfort. Do your thing and move on. The men’s room is not the place to stop and smell the roses.