- Every trip to the bathroom, and the short walk between the bathroom entrance to the urinal and its subsequent procedures is a carefully thought-out and intricately choreographed endeavour. Like a well-rehearsed actress, for us guys, the process is natural and practically congenital; and in the occasion of the unforeseeable adversity, our actions are consistently perfunctory, being so well-versed in confronting such situations having faced them countless times before.
Based on some anecdotal evidence, in any given week, it is probable for one to visit a public urinal approximately seven times. Taking into account the exclusion of my toddler years this brings my lifetime urinal visits to a sum total of approximately 4000 at the very least. 4550 if we’re splitting hairs. Much like breathing, the sheer magnitude of the occurrences of urinal encounters discounts the events to merely a happening of human nature - something so unavoidable and so common that it’s simply not worth thinking about.
For the most part, that’s true, urinal visits are often stark routine events which make no alterations across a course of one’s life (or day). But I did think about it, intensely deeply and this is that story. -
I excuse myself from the study table, and lift myself off the forcefully ergonomic seat. Making my way towards the grand exit of the study hall I notice the green exit sign flickering with astonishing and eye-rattling subtlety. The bathroom on the other side, beckons. My companions are in the know of the destination I am heading for - the bathroom - so I walk at a leisurely pace, portraying casual nonchalance. I am certainly not in desperate need to release my inner fluids at this stage and neither do I want my friends thinking that I am.
Illustrating desperation in such a delicate situation as the first steps towards the bathroom is an indescribably enormous no. People start picturing you doing despicable things, and it becomes evident that for the last hour the obligatory nodding during that conversation was merely a cover-up as you diverted all your brainpower towards bottling the implacable flow flooding the downstairs area.
Sure, casual walking in times of sheer desperation is a lie, but it is a white lie for the benefits of social etiquette and is therefore more than acceptable.
I jog down the stairs and take the sharp turn towards the mens bathroom. A scraggy looking hipster with chino pants partially rolled up and green boat shoes departs through its modern wooden doors, he subtly adjust his pants giving them a sharp aligning twist.
I think to myself, I’m about to go in there and do the exact same thing as you did - SPLENDID! Or perhaps, foot to the pedal you managed to achieve the full deal, you disposed of your faeces too. In which case, I take my hat off to you - physically sitting down on a toilet seat is no task for the faint-hearted; not to mention the approving splash that quality excrement makes as it is birthed from the anus diving into the new oceanic world below attracts attention in a situation when you least want it.
But the fact that you may have managed to sit down on a seat, finish your load and depart without appearing utterly traumatised paints a pleasurable picture of the toilet conditions behind that brown wooden door. It’s a comforting thought knowing that if the ideal urinal situation doesn’t present itself, then a cubicle is still fair game.
I push the wooden door open with an amount of force which allows it to exhibit a satisfying swing. It’s a grand entrance, to a less than grand location - though admittedly, for a public bathroom the condition is impressive. The fragrance of sweet soap overpowers the odour of stale urine and toilet water, and I look down at my feet smiling at the notion that what I’m standing on is indeed floor, not floor polished by a glistening layer of urine.
I place a gratuitous tick in my mental check box - this is definitely a bathroom I will want to visit more often.
My legs instinctively direct me to the right towards the urinal portion of the bathroom. Hmmm, classy, it houses separate container urinals, as opposed to the unhygienic and aesthetically displeasing aluminium walls. This is certainly an above average bathroom facility. But then again why wouldn’t it be? It’s housed in one of the most architecturally significant landmarks in the city of Melbourne - the State Library of Victoria. Surely its bathroom facilities would seek to do it justice.
My eyes glance around as I engage in the most resource-intensive and crucial stage in the entire bathroom-going process - which urinal to choose; in the context of urination this is a black or white life and death decision. Obviously the fact that what I’m presented with is an assortment of container urinals eases my decision slightly - I only have to make a decision on which urinal I’m going to let it rip, as opposed to my centimetre-perfect alignment along a tin wall.
Ah bollocks! Both the corner ones are ‘out of order’ with A4 paper strapped across them with clear tape. It’s common knowledge to always elect corner options when confronted with them, even the two corners of my school’s tin wall urinals are stained a sickly grainy yellow from chronic overuse. Naturally, electing a corner urinal eliminates the chances of multiple penis counterparts pissing beside you.
This is my interpretation of the ideal situation - the corner option. The ICBE labels the ideal situation as one in which a bathroom contains only one urinal eliminating the element of choice altogether. At least in that situation you wouldn’t have to pee next to anyone. I guess choice really is as much a curse as it is a blessing.
My contemplation continues as I wonder towards the out of order urinal to investigate its issues. *Gasp*, a man rocking the horrendous junners look untucks his polo shirt from his jeans and unleashes his fountain in one of the centre urinals! It occurs to me that the centre urinal is never out of order simply because its use is only applicable in desperate emergency situations when all urinals are taken and cubicles for whatever reasons are simply not an option. One does not simply stroll in, in junners and occupy a centre urinal with alternate opportunities and options abound!
There are obviously situations in life when it is desirable to be the centre of attention, peeing is not one of them. I’ve endured enough awkward moments in bathrooms to justify my saying that, and I’m still only young! This man looks in his 40s, surely his awkward bathroom experiences would number in the 100s, and with his evident tendency to elect the worst possible option, I’d justly double that number.
My mind cycles as I relive the most awkward moments in my life - taking a dump in my pants in prep after being too nervous to ask the teacher to visit the bathroom, playing sword fights at the urinal in 2nd grade and accidentally pissing on my opponent…OH, and having the teacher shower me after unloading in my pants. It occurs to me that all these stupendously awkward moments share a common characteristic - bathrooms - and that bathrooms inherently are a fertile breeding zone for awkward moments if one doesn’t play their cards right.
Occupying a middle urinal is certainly not playing cards right. Trust me, I’ve tried centre urinals before and the resulting nervousness often makes the pissing task a mighty ask, which only exacerbates the situation. Pissing in a centre urinal with two men beside, identical stances, flies undone with unbuckled belts hanging limply is an exasperating situation which invokes a deep sense of harrowing self conciousness.
The cool nonchalance that said two men always seem to exhibit is merely a contradictory veil over what is always a menacing and judgemental silence - albeit with the soothing monotonal splashes as exiting fluid meets the ceramic or tin wall on the other side.
Perhaps you realise that you really don’t need to pee after already prepping the urinal stance - “oh, you seem to be struggling, want me to lend you a hand?”
Perhaps the turbulent pitter patter of your pee just won’t stop after you downed a super sized slurpee - “Gee, looks like someone’s keen!”
Or perhaps - the worst situation - you’re caught in between the two and your body isn’t sure whether you need to pee or not but will divert a small portion of the yellow fluid to the disposal vehicle just to lend your bathroom encounter a purpose - I don’t even want to imagine what the two men are thinking at this stage.
I resume from my lengthy thought coma, and peer into the out of order urinal, there’s a bundle of dusty hair just lying where the urinal cake should be. It’s a tad lengthy to be of the pubic variety, but nonetheless, genuinely off-putting. Having contemplated so heavily my position regarding urinals, it seems an unworthy downgrade in status to suddenly start peeing in it. I consider briefly a cubicle, but an act as lowly as peeing should not be deserving of locked door and cubicle treatment. Such things should be reserved for faece disposal and similarly sophisticated duties. Cubicle, you may retain your dignity.
Placing my hair-splitting conscience aside, I take a stance at the urinal adjacent to the out of order one after careful deliberation. After all, the cubicle I’ve elected is equivalent to a corner one anyway since the out of order urinal is not an option to any potential pissers.
Fantastic. Suddenly all the scattered pieces of my life adjoin cohesively, the puzzle pieces of my disjointed mind harmoniously match - this urinal is the one for me. A man strolls in, assesses the urinal options briefly and turns to his left, takes his stance and unzips the front of his pants. He is not standing next to me, he is not standing near me, finally, a worthy member of society clearly well-versed in the commandments of bathroom etiquette.
My pale yellow stream flows decisively, and approvingly, yelling at me as it departs my disposal vehicle, informing me that I elected the right urinal - the perfect graveyard. Oh stop it delightful yellow fluid! I try my best.
Upon completion, I quietly zip up, trying to attract as little attention as possible. Inside, my world is a delightful unicorn-laden utopia where horses urinate beaches. I’ve achieved my bathroom goal and exceeded my expectations on almost every facet. I feel the need to jump for joy but its questionable whether its considered acceptable to tie so many emotions to the act of peeing. In regards to bathroom etiquette if you’re not sure, then it’s probably not right. I keep my feelings to myself.
The sink stall beckons and I clean my hands - soap and everything. I carry my dripping hands to the electric hand dryer, hold them under for a second before the sensor activates and I indulge in the satisfying warm gust. Oh, that’s the stuff. My mind winds into contemplation mode again as I stand by the dryer. Electric hand drying is such an inefficient method, paper towels are much faster due largely to their direct application. Either way, I realise why I never dry my hands on my clothing anymore; people make odd associations after you visit the bathroom and suddenly anything even remotely moist takes on the label of urine.
Imagine using my pants as a paper towel, my goodness I must have target problems to have missed the urinal from point blanc range. And drying my hands on my shirt? I might want to seek medical help regarding my seriously, seriously concerning issues with aim.
I flip back into the moment, my hands are dry and exhibit a pleasurable crusty warmth. The man who exhibited exceptional urinal etiquette departs the bathroom without cleaning his hands - oh well, nobody’s perfect. I’m sure he has his reasons.
I follow him out of the bathroom back to society - a society that acts surprisingly cavalier towards the fact that I have just touched my genitals.