Posted by: Jerry Langford | 07/13/2016

You’re In Control!

I am finally writing this absurd rant because A) it’s long overdue, B) nobody else will write it, C) men will be able to relate and D) women will be intrigued, fascinated and disgusted. Hey, I’m here to serve.

Urinal Etiquette

Guys, please don’t feel obligated to start up conversations at the urinal. If one guy finishes early, is he supposed to continue standing around waiting for you to finish your story? Standing there watching (and/or listening) is a creepy behavior we try to instinctively avoid.

If there are multiple urinals to choose from, always allow one empty one between you and the next guy. I’m suspicious and uncomfortable if someone makes it a point to stand right next to me when they don’t really have to. Women, it would be like a total stranger sees you sitting alone in an empty movie theater and chose to sit down right next to you. Creepy, right? Well, once you’re streaming, it’s difficult to switch to a different urinal. Not impossible. But difficult.

There are numerous issues going on, of course. Those of us with nervous bladders have trouble starting a stream unless it’s quiet (and, preferably, we’re completely alone). Then there’s the awkward “closeness” we have to endure as we stand brushing shoulders with strangers, co-workers, or (worse yet) bosses. If I’m wearing sandals, there’s an effect that I call “the splatter factor.” And it’s just gross to be lightly sprinkled with someone else’s urine.

Men are gross enough as it is. Put them in a restroom and the gross-quotient only intensifies. For example, guys, please don’t rate or score sounds you hear in the bathroom. Flatulence is an inevitable fact of life, but saying things like, “I’d give that a 9.5,” doesn’t really help to break the ice. Or maybe it does? I’m not sure on this one.

Women may envy how quickly men are able to enter restrooms, do their business, and walk out. This is especially true at major events when there are long lines to the women’s restrooms. Well, urinals make that happen. And guys not washing their hands afterward (yes, we see you!) make that happen, too. But while urinals are helpful overall, can we just agree on some standards?

I prefer the floor to chest-height open urinals (though these seem to be a thing of the past). They fit all sizes and heights. Some “bowl urinals” are placed too low or too high on the wall. This results in splatter, overspray, and numerous other challenges. It’s also really embarrassing when you’re using a shorter urinal and a really short guy walks up but can’t even reach the high urinal next to you. Or vice-versa. I’ve been in both situations. It’s like being in a handicap stall when you see wheels roll up and the guy starts pulling at the locked door. Mortifying. You just want to crawl under the divider to the next stall instead of walking out of that one.

But I digress.

Urinals. Can we have some proper spacing upon installation, please? I don’t stand this close to people on a subway. Some urinals are wedged so close together, you have to squeeze in-between the guys on each side. Awkward. And what about those so-called privacy dividers? In some restrooms they’re in place and in others they’re non-existent. Most of us prefer our privacy! Isn’t it bad enough that we’re sharing intimate space while relieving ourselves?

Thank goodness the old “trough urinals” are less and less popular! Though they can still be found at County Fairs, Speedways and Sporting events. I found one half-circle urinal in Central California in the form of a waterfall. Let’s keep the tourism icons out of the bathrooms, okay? In Texas, no joke, there was even a waterbarrel urinal where guys would stand in a circle and face each other while streaming. Uh, no thanks. It’s bad enough I can hear whether you have prostate problems and can sometimes smell when you last ate asparagus, I don’t want to watch, too. And I don’t like the idea of guys aiming their streams at each other. Call me old-fashioned.

At least we can be grateful for indoor plumbing, right? Sure beats the old 2-holers or 3-holers in some really antiquated outhouses. No wonder many guys skip urinals entirely and just stand in a private stall. But that’s not kind to the guys waiting to sit down. And don’t get me started about the terrible aim of those standing streams! Urinals make life easier, no doubt. But, hey, let’s keep the conversation to a minimum and not crowd into others’ personal space.

Thank you for listening. Now wash your hands before you leave.



  1. Allow me now to also criticize people who talk on the telephone while in the restroom, but from the perspective of the one being spoken to. It hasn’t happened yet, that I know of, but if it ever does happen I will hang up on anyone who calls me while they’re using the restroom. Dude (or ma’am), I do not want to hear certain “noises” over the phone that tell me, a) what you’re doing and b) that you have no problem with allowing me to hear you while you conduct your business!

    • Thank you, Brian. I was saving this particular aspect of bathroom etiquette for the sequel article, but I think I’ve “worn out my welcome” in there.

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