To learn the idiosyncrasies of man we have men’s restrooms.
There is no other place that more deftly displays each man’s foibles. To the tune of watery restroom music; paved by squeaking checkered floors moist with pee-stained footprints and muddy Rorschachs; walls of smudged mirrors tagged illegibly; and props of crap-filled toilets with seats hosting puddles of someone else’s tinkle.
The dirtier the restroom, the more audaciously these idiosyncrasies reveal themselves.
Welcome to the Men’s Restroom
Each man conceptualizes the men’s restroom differently. For some, it’s a place to be reserved, do business, and quickly leave. For others, it’s a haven where anything goes. The following are anecdotes about common awkward situations in the men’s restroom.
The awkwardness of peripherals
The urinal architect is a kinky fucker. He has to be kinky because he knows that without a barrier between urinals, our peripheral vision can pick up strangers’ junk.
Walking into a new bathroom to discover segregated urinals feels like finding freshly baked brownies. So most men understand the unspoken rule:
As long as we stare straight ahead at the snot-covered wall, we don’t have to worry about our peripheral radar.
But then there’s The Shaker.
It happens often enough. I walk into the restroom, which is moderately busy with bodies. I unzip at an open urinal, flanked on both sides by other men. I lock my sights on a booger smeared to the tiles before me, and do business.
Then it happens.
The man to my right finishes. How do I know? Because he is violently shaking his junk, and my peripherals can do nothing but take the punch. I can’t turn away to the left because there’s a man at that urinal. I’m stuck here, an unwitting witness to vicious shaking. I close my eyes but it’s worse–the flapping sounds reverberate in my mind’s eye. So I open my eyes again, and take it like a man. My god, the poor junk. What did it do to deserve this treatment? The vertical whiplash continues, likely splattering his shirt and pants. His arm shivers at intervals as he ravages the snake in short bursts of angry energy. He never learned the calculated flick, a strategy that leverages inertia to direct the droplets. Instead, his wang is a solo fleshy castanet thrashing like mad.
Then it stops. His knees bend to shovel the battered package back inside his drawers; zips up, and walks off.
Sigh of relief.
Never make eye contact
It is nonsensical not to acknowledge the only other person in a room. In the men’s restroom, it is paramount.
Eye contact breaks the men’s restroom contract of anonymity.
When it happens, it’s not the eye contact itself that spurs your heart rate; it’s breaking the connection. Whoever looks away first is the guilty one.
But there is a worse way to go.
You were thinking about something else; you didn’t mean to look there, but you did.
Still worse, the guy saw you look. Now you’re fixated on that booger again, nervous sweat breaching your pores.
You can sense his gaze aimed at your downtown. But he gets one revenge glance. That’s customary.
If a guy gazes down at your product for no reason, and the gaze is fixed, you’re dealing with a Peeping Tom and should take immediate evasive action.
The longer it takes, the longer it takes
Sometimes it just doesn’t come.
You’re standing there, trying to will open the canal, but it remains shut. You can hear the play by play echo against painted cinderblock. It’s a stadium restroom and you’re peeing into an aluminum trough alongside a dozen other wasted men anxious to get back to the game. You can feel eyes on your back. There’s a crowd of eager men all dancing on tiptoes to take a leak, and their stares bore into your spine, tightening you up still more.
Three men have already come and gone to your left, four to your right. Which is more more daunting? That you can’t squeeze it out, or that these people might think you’re there because you like it? With each moment pressure builds. Men peeing all around. Some barely take it out before blasting veritable shoots against the metal. Drunk men in a men’s restroom growl and moan and fart and huff. You feel so little.
Then it comes out. An itty bitty squirt. Then BAM! It gushes like a goddamn firehose. In this second you restore your dignity, and you stand proud beside surprised individuals flabbergasted by the power of your stream.
He didn’t know I was there
Occasionally, you’re alone in a restroom. It’s wonderful.
It was a cold February, late at night. I had diligently cleaned the toilet seat, prepped it with paper, and sat to my business.
The restroom door creaked open and shut. I heard a man’s staggered footsteps, and saw his figure through the gap.
“Let the games begin,” I thought, referring to my ensuing efforts to curb all bodily noises until the stranger departed.
But a huge eruption cut across the silence like sharp thunder as the man released a massive fart. He hawked and spat a loogie on the floor. He moaned and spoke to himself.
“Fuck, oohhhh, fuck yeah. YES.”
Through the gap I saw his fist bang against the wall as he released a squeaky one that made me wince. Then he addressed his own member:
“Come on, Jimmy, spit it out. Let’s go I ain’t got all night.”
I heard each squirt connect with ceramic, each accompanied by progressively fainter moans.
Finally it was over. A zip, footsteps, a door shutting. Freedom. I waited. Then I finished, stood, flushed, washed, and left.
I wasn’t fully through the exit when I stopped cold.
Over the highway rest area loomed the freezing dusk air of Midwest winter. There were two cars, mine and his. He stood 3 feet from me, a cigarette dangling limp from his lips, and we locked eyes like two rabid animals unsure who is prey.
He didn’t know I’d been in there. I didn’t know he was still out here.
For a moment, all that moved was the condensation of our breath.
I let the door shut behind me, straightened my shirt, and walked toward my car. He caught the cigarette with a trembling forefinger. As I passed, we shared sheepish grins one last time, and exchanged awkward nods.
All was forgiven.
In a men’s restroom there is no room for spite
For we are all equal before the body purge plight
Let us gather together and support one another
Poop, and pee, and be comfortable my brother