20 February 2010


My friend tells me that he was recently scolded for violating the protocol in the men’s bathroom. It seems that against the wall were three urinals, and a colleague of his stood at the one on the right doing his business, as my grandmother would say. My friend approached the center urinal and stood . . . well, doing his business, and he was subsequently reprimanded for violating unnecessarily the private space of the first man. Apparently, my friend, the latecomer, so to speak, was supposed to take the urinal one down from his colleague, leaving the center one as a buffer between the males.

In this instant, one man took offense that another male had stood too close during the event, though clearly my friend had taken his appropriate and respectful place before the urinal, and knowing my friend, I am certain his aim was true. What was the man thinking? Was he concerned that my friend stood at the urinal only to sneak a peak at another male urinating. Or worse, at his private part? Was he afraid his own tinkling might be too audible, and his excretory system would be revealed? In the place where I work where three urinals are on the wall; in the past, for my own sense of roominess I always chose the center one, which then forced the next user to choose to stand on my left or the right. I liked the sense of space, and I was there first! No one ever complained, though someone once commented on my demanding his choice.

At present, however, all of the urinals on the floor are said to be broken, and the stalls are all that is available. Coincidentally, the bathroom has become unisex, and so there is a greater caution when entering. A revolving sign is supposed to set the sexual orientation for the moment, but in a rush, we forget. I suppose it could be embarrassing. I do remember to lift the seat.

Last evening, while we stood at the urinals, a man standing next to me began to talk to those of us on either side of him, though I am not certain whom he was directly addressing, indeed if anyone; there were five or eight urinals up against this particular wall. He reflected on the skill of the pianist, he mentioned that the pianist seemed a rather large man, and while he urinated, he marveled that the pianist’s big fingers could move so facilely on the keys; then, he commented on the good fortune that there was not a second encore because his bladder was overflowing. I was not at all interested in discussing anything standing there at the urinal doing my business. I just wanted to get some comfort and return to my companion and the Hall. I was done, and wondered how to make a polite enough exit while zipping up my trousers. All this complexity because we happened to be standing next to each other peeing. Was he just killing time? Fulfilling what he believed was some obligation? There was nothing which really required a response: he was just talking. I suspect that if we stood on the coffee line the offer of conversation might never have occurred.

I wonder if such conversation takes place in the ladies room, where there are only private stalls. I wonder do the ladies converse through the walls of the stalls. I tend to doubt it.

And this evening there was a long line of men in the bathroom at intermission waiting their turn. As I watched the men step up to the urinal and then, having finished, step back and be replaced by the next man, the whole scene made me think of a pipe organ. and the movement of the men like the opening and closing of stops. But alas, here was no music, though occasionally a brief out-of-tune passing of wind could be heard.


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21 February, 2010 03:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


22 February, 2010 07:45  

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