Urinal Analysis

Last month, Yduj and I took a road trip to Montreal.  After suffering through a long wait at the border crossing, I sought out the public bathrooms located just beyond the checkpoint.  As I was standing at one of the urinals, a very large man stepped up to the one next to mine, looked over at me and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to bother you.”

My first thought was, “Gee…what  interesting customs these Canadians have!”  But any feelings of  equanimity soon vanished as I found that I could no longer pee with this Canuck standing next to me.  My bladder had seized; it was as frozen up as Lake Ontario in January.  So after standing at the urinal long enough not to insult my new-found friend,  I made it over to an enclosed stall where my bladder thawed and I was able to complete my mission.

This was so much different from the decorum one expects in the USA.  In America, there are unspoken rules of behavior for men in public bathrooms.  With an emphasis on unspoken.  Ordinarily, it’s  keeping one’s head stock still, bent at an angle of about 70 degrees, and eyes purposefully disusing any peripheral vision.  And–this is very important– no talking.  I mean really… no talking whatsoever.

This doesn’t mean we don’t have a sense of what’s going on and who’s in the room with us. We do.  We’re certainly aware of who’s standing on either side of us.  I remember when I was in college and went to the Tonight Show with my friend Richie.  And how excited he was after going to the NBC studios bathroom and returning to report that he had just taken a piss next to Frank Sinatra.  Talk about being “this close” to greatness!

Not that I haven’t had my share of brushes of bathroom fame, as well.   A few years back I found myself at a urinal at the Angelika movie theater with Lou Reed as my neighbor.  I suppressed the urge to begin singing ever so softly, “And the colored girls go doo do doo do doo do do doo”, and kept my head down and eyes straight ahead.  Which was probably a good thing because he doesn’t strike me as someone with a good sense of humor.  And although I “sensed” he was short, I also “sensed” he was a tough guy.  I don’t need trouble like that.

While visiting in Montreal, I needed to make a number of stops to public bathrooms.  At times, I considered adopting a “when in Rome do as the Romans do” approach and try out this new-found custom on one of my urinal comrades.  Thought I’d start with,  “Nice weather we’re having, eh?” and see where it went from there.  But I realized… like me, my bathroom buddies were probably tourists, and engaging them might easily be just a few short sentences from the Gendarme being called.  I don’t need trouble like that either.

The “back to back” looks like trouble


8 Responses to “Urinal Analysis”

  1. Rob Says:

    “I’m not going to bother you” is bothering me!! Good lord, man!

  2. Richie Says:

    My comment was going to include the Frank Sinatra story. I’ve repeated it many times (when properly relevant), but it was so long ago, I had forgotten that I was with you at the Tonight Show. This is now a (partially) recovered memory. I believe Frank was still alive at the time of this near encounter.

    You might wonder what a properly relevant time might be, or not.

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      As far as I’m concerned any time would be “properly relevant”. I’d work it into as many conversations as I could. You don’t think this is the first time I’ve told my Lou Reed story, do you?

      Glad you could corroborate my recollection. Maybe people will take me more seriously now.

  3. Kitty (My Husband Hates Veggies) Says:

    Two thoughts: One, It would have been brilliant if you had sung the “Doo – Doo” line to Lou Reed over the wall of a stall, cause, I mean, what if he actually was…….? Second, as far as “When in Rome”……when I was in Rome, in a public bathroom, my friend and I stumbled upon a man who was enjoying, by himself, much more than the fine cuisine that Rome had promised. I would suggest, when in Rome, to just stick to what you know.

  4. David Says:

    Thanks for the protocol advice…we are off to Canada next week. But its British Columbia….western Canada may have entirely different attitudes

  5. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    be careful. that’s the wild west. i wouldn’t talk to anyone, eh!

    have fun

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