January 12, 2011
Focused Etiquette: For Guys
There are a lot of things that guys need to worry about, such as finding the right Valentine's Day gifts and fourth downs. But one important concern for guys that generally goes unreported is the way that guys hold themselves in the bathroom.
Keep your mind out of the gutter. I am, of course, talking about proper bathroom etiquette in a public restroom.
At this point I am guessing that most of my female readers must be thinking, "Men are idiots," while others are probably thinking, "I still don't really understand what it is like to be in a men's bathroom because you are all idiots."
I apologize. It is true that this column is geared towards those genders that typically use men's bathrooms. Sometimes even for its intended purpose. The best way to describe interactions in a men's public bathroom to my female readers is to compare it to a crowded elevator. Except this elevator has up to four more smells and at least one mysterious puddle.
In high school, it was simple: if you had to go to the bathroom you simply waited the six hours until you went home. The only other reason you would go to the bathroom was for more social reasons, like cheating on tests or smoking. Not for anything as mundane as going to the bathroom.
Another thing to avoid in high school was using the showers after PhysEd. Few things lead to more ridicule throughout the school year than being one of the few disgusting individuals who actually undress and shower after an hour of running, jumping, lifting and sweating. If you really wanted to one of the cool kids you would smell like a man no matter how early in the day you had class (I had my gym class first period two yeas in a row).
Of course this method of thinking is absolutely ridiculous. But when you are in high school you don't know any better. Now that I am much older and more mature I don't have to worry about such ridicule. This is because I follow the guidelines to proper Men's Bathroom etiquette.
I recently found myself in the bathroom of the arrivals section of Terminal 1 at JFK International Airport. We are talking heavy turnover; people who have been stuck in a confined space for several hours and, many of them trapped in a window seat next to a larger individual who took two Ambien before the flight. In short, people who really need to use the bathroom.
When you find yourself in this kind of high traffic bathroom you have to take Men's Bathroom Etiquette seriously. Just ask former Republican Senator Larry Craig.
There are several unspoken rules that guys follow in a public bathroom. These rules remain unspoken because of the first rule:
No talking. This applies to everyone unless you know the person personally, like a family member, a college friend you would definitely invite to your wedding or another guy you might hug if it were not for rule number 2:
No physical contact. Under no circumstance should you touch another person who is standing at the stall next to you. This means no accidental elbow or feet touching. If that happens then you are either standing too close to the other individual or you're stance is too wide apart. But don't look because you risk breaking rule number 3:
No eye contact. This applies to everyone. The only time you should make eye contact with someone is when you are looking at yourself in the mirror and then only eye contact you should make is with yourself. The best course of action that you can take it to stare directly at the wall while you are taking care of business.
These rules can be easily followed as long as you position yourself properly when you enter. If you are the first occupant, then take the urinal closest to the wall leaving enough open urinals for anyone coming in after you. Likewise, if there are five urinals and three are taken (usually as two on the ends and one in the middle with two empty urinals between each) then you should leave and find another bathroom. Waiting will only make you look like the kind of person that hangs out in public bathrooms.
That is why, when you are finished, you should leave as fast as you can, making sure not to bring any attention to yourself by doing things like checking how you look in the mirror or washing your hands.
Sure this is all very idiotic behavior. So to my female readers I ask only this: remember how idiotic your men are and be grateful for the universal remote you get for Valentine's Day. We tried as hard as we could.