November 1, 2002
There isn't a topic that's considered out of
bounds anymore. The most personal aspects of everyone's lives are
paraded through talk shows and documented in TV specials. Sexual
dysfunction is water cooler talk and kids know more about the birds
and bees than Pamela Lee.
So I don't feel like I'm stretching the
bounds of propriety by passing on a recent report that about seven
percent of Canadian men have a psychological condition that prevents
them from using public urinals.
It's also known as "shy bladder
syndrome". Men with it can't "go" in public,
especially if someone is in the next bathroom stall or standing at
the next urinal.
When you think of it (and the ladies are
going to have to trust me on this one) urinals are a pretty odd
social custom. Even though I grew up in a family that believed that
the only parts of the human body you can discuss are the ones that
stick out of your clothes on a cold day, for some reason I've never
thought twice about using a urinal.
It's probably one of those things it's best
not to spend too much time thinking about.
Even if they're not the usual subject of
polite conversation, they are a remarkably efficient convenience.
Just think about the relative lineups for washrooms at sports
events. It's not that women's washrooms are badly designed - it's
that someone put some thought into men's bodies.
In a bar men can get up, go to the washroom
and be back in their seat before anyone even knows they're missing.
This also explains why men don't go to the washroom in pairs like
women. There really isn't any point in striking up a deep and
meaningful conversation that only lasts 45 seconds.
There are strict rules about permitted
conversations while standing at a urinal. There are in fact only two
things you can say while relieving yourself next to another
The first is: "How's it going?",
to which the only answer is "Fine".
The only other thing you're allowed to say
standing next to another man is: "Great game, eh?" But
it's important to note that you're only allowed to say "great
game" in a bathroom if you actually are at a sporting event.
Aside from the ability to get back to
drinking your beer faster, men have other reasons for liking
urinals. There's no seat to worry about, and if it has an autoflush
you're pretty much in man heaven. Enlightened bar owners fill the
bowls with ice or even little advertising pictures down at the
bottom. In the US for a while targets with pictures of Osama Bin
Laden were all the rage.
I have a friend who likes them so much he
had one installed in his basement bathroom. Needless to say, he was
the envy of all his male friends.
Considering what an ingrained part of the
male culture it is, it must be difficult to have a shy bladder and
miss out on all this fun and convenience. The only time I was at a
loss in a public washroom was in Germany. Unknown to me they have
the charming custom there of using female washroom attendants in
men's rooms. Although she didn't mind a job that involved hanging
out with the boys (if you'll pardon the expression) it certainly
dampened my enthusiasm.
After all, a guy needs a little privacy,
even if you have to share it with a dozen strange men..