Written by David Vogel Wednesday, 15 August 2007 04:21
I admit that men are not always the most polite of genders. But when it comes down to the really important stuff, we generally have a basic understanding of what is appropriate and what is crossing the line.
There are exceptions to this rule, as was rudely brought to my attention last weekend while visiting Wichita to see the musical “Hairspray.”
I decided a while back that I should start enlightening myself to culture outside of the movie theater by going to live shows and broadening my horizons by sitting up in the balcony and squinting in the general direction of the stage, or at least wherever the most light is.
On this particular occasion, I also broadened my horizons by eating sushi.
Let me just say right off the bat that I do not particularly enjoy fish in any form, except for various kinds of fried, breaded fish that are imported in cardboard boxes from the remote Deep Fat Fried Seas of grease off the coast of South America.
This phobia has a lot to do with the smell of fish, which apparently is attractive to some people (not me). My dislike could also be partially to blame on a traditional Norwegian type of fish called lutefisk, which is one of the most disgusting things we have ever kept in a Tupperware dish.
Unfortunately, nobody else in the car cared for my fish detest, so we went to this interesting restaurant where the menu contained nothing that did not contain some sort of fish or vegetation that was not intended for digestion.
But, surprise, this column is not about fish. It is about the Men’s Restroom Code of Conduct.
When I stereotype people who go to see live shows in large theaters, I usually picture them as somewhat classy, cultured people, who have a decent understanding of social rules.
I soon found out that stereotypes do not always hold true.
Here’s what happened. While visiting the men’s room during intermission, I was victim of a clear violation of the Men’s Restroom Code of Conduct.
There is an unspoken rule that men abide by in restrooms. It states that if there is one empty urinal between two occupied ones, then a man will either wait until one of the taken facilities is vacated, or will find either an empty stall or a fairly good-sized potted plant, whichever is easiest.
This is especially true if there is no divider in between.
The restroom in issue at the Century II concert hall had three urinals. When I walked into the room, the two outer spots were in use, so I waited patiently for one to open up.
Once I had finally gotten my turn and had been there for maybe five seconds, a man deliberately snatched the middle position, which was a major violation to both the Men’s Restroom Code of Conduct and my personal space.
Especially my personal space.
If you are sitting there thinking, “Why is that such a big deal?” then you are most likely a woman.
I found that nonmales do not grasp the concept of why this is a big deal as I discussed the incident after returning to my seat in the balcony.
Tonja, the adult sponsor of the group, could not quite understand why I was upset.
I explained to her the rule about not using the middle urinal.
She turned to her son, Evan, who had not been listening to our conversation, and asked, given the situation, if he would take the middle spot.
No, was the quick reply.
This seemed to shock Tonja. She could not figure out how all males, especially Evan, knew about such a rule. So she asked him where he had heard it.
“I guess I was born knowing,” came Evan’s reply.
“So what happens if there are four urinals all lined up?” Tonja asked me after thinking about Evan’s answer for a while. Apparently, as a woman, it intrigued her that men are actually fairly organized about these issues.
“I don’t know,” I replied.
Honestly, I hadn’t taken my thought process that far. A set of three receptacles was all that was on my mind at the moment, given the current situation. I figured that calculating the answer would probably involve some sort of calculus or trigonometry, neither of which I have been trained in.
However, to prevent future violations of this law, here’s what I propose we do. In every public men’s restroom across the country where there are more than two urinals, every other one will be uninstalled, and in its place a hired painter will paint the wall to make it look like there is one there, just to make the restroom look fuller.
This would eliminate having to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a complete stranger at such an awkward time.
Also, we men need more potted plants.
* * *
A cough releases an explosive charge of air that moves at speeds up to 60 mph.
Don’t ask why.