Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Unspoken and Unwritten Law of the Men's Room Transcribed

Etiquette does not come easily for men. Granted, though Axe is now marketing a bodywash as a cure-all for the unfortunate hose-beast hookup, it obviously takes two to tango. If a woman really wants a gentleman, she'll find one. Spending the time between now and the supposedly mystical meeting with Mr. Right earning a reputation as Hester Prynne is not going to help the process. But I digress.

Men in all-men environments are rather savage. Al Bundy is not a too-extreme analogy. Frat houses, locker rooms, strip clubs, bowling alleys (on league night), bars, and other assorted locales are often the setting for the ever-so-cliched male behaviors that, despite decades of feminism, are still glorified in all forms of media and ruthlessly sought after by every teenage boy that doesn't live under a rock. Call it nature. Call it barbaric.

But don't you dare call it anarchy.

Most of the settings listed, save for the locker room, are co-ed (and there's much to be learned! Just read on...), so there's very few secrets about occurrences therein. But it's the mens' Water Closet, or Rest Room to us Americans, that displays a certain unspoken civility amidst all the unrefined machismo. In a room where scrawlings from the basest of cuss words to (as yet) undiscovered poetry often find a place on the stall wall, where the courtesy flush is 100% optional, and where the seemingly obvious duty of washing one's hands is overlooked a whole lot more than any man would care to admit or any woman would care to hear, the unspoken Order of the Urinal remains sacrosanct.

Well, not really. When it comes to order, especially order among men, there always have to be outliers, rebels, defects and the like. No matter how simple a rule, it will be broken for one reason or another. As order breaks down, ignorance spreads. Once just ignored, the law is forgotten completely! And being an unwritten law, this process goes exponentially faster than in other societies outside the bathroom.

Which is the sole reason the single Unspoken and Unwritten Law of the Men's Room must now, for its own survival, be written and, we can only hope, spoken among men who never knew or have forgotten.

The Urinal: A Basic How-To

When approaching a urinal, a man must make quick observations. Firstly, how many urinals are there? If there are but one or two, no rules apply and the man may do his business without a second thought.

However, if three or more urinals are present, considerations must be made. One must now take into account if any of these 3+ urinals are in use. If none are, the man should proceed to the one farthest left or farthest right. This is especially crucial if there are only three urinals.

Going to the center urinal would be folly, especially in the case of three. In the case of 3+, at least another user could still leave an empty slot between center-seeker and himself. Now, in the event an individual is already doing his business at the central urinal, one must simply shake his head knowingly and go forth. If one knows this violator, when washing hands it is not out of place to remind him of the rules. Now, if the bathroom is crowded and all urinals are in use, once again none of these rules apply.

As you can see, urinal etiquette is very limited, stunningly simple, and seemingly pointless. One may think, "What could possibly be so bad about being next to another dude at the urinal in the the bathroom?" Well, nothing exactly, except when one is alone in the bathroom with one or two other dudes. Awkwardness becomes especially prevalent in the case of the urinal wall:

(When someone takes a photo of urinals this classy, it's only fair to cite)

Imagine being the single user at any of these urinals, and another approaches and chooses to use one immediately adjacent. The only remaining step would be for him to turn his head, stare piercingly at your ear and with a rather coquettish voice ask "So, how's yours?" As a reminder, real men are not coquettes, nor coquettish. (Hence, the "ette.") Thus, all steps toward this state must be avoided.

And so, if for only this reason, urinal standards must be promoted and hopefully secured once again.

Now, some rather sly devils may think to undermine this mission with some rather crude evidence:
(Blame Europe)

In a case such as this monstrosity, I can only offer one piece of advice: the stall isn't necessarily reserved for Number 2.