*** picked up by the Good Men Project — July 2013

Teaching Your Son Men’s Room Etiquette http://goodmenproject.com/families/teaching-your-son-mens-room-etiquette/


Learning to share…

Tying his shoelace…

Riding his bike…

These are lessons that either mom or dad can teach a young son…

But there are some things that only a father can teach his young son.  This is one of those things…

There are many rites of passages and life lessons that a father must teach his son, but there is one not only help the son make friends and influence people, but also to increase his upward mobility and prevent fisticuffs. 

It was during the second intermission of a boring Kelowna Rockets hockey game when I was patiently waiting for my turn at a urinal, I looked around and realized what a peculiar and strange place a men’s room is;  it suddenly dawned on me that I would have to teach my son the rules needed to survive a trip to the men’s public washroom.

Now, this is not a tawdry tale of waste elimination, rather it’s a study in the human behaviour, specifically MALE human behaviour.  Now I do not want to exclude women from this journey.  I want you to come with me, come with me in the men’s room.  Your washroom probably has its own dos and don’ts, but I want to give you a little glimpse into the bathroom jungle that men face every day.

First of all, when a visit to washroom is necessary, both genders react differently.  Women, tend to ask other women to join them on a trip to the loo, and off they go… but if I suggest to any other man that I am going to the washroom and would very much like for him to join me, not only will he not join me, there will always be an awkward vibe between us… always.

So it is always a solo mission to the lavatory.

So son, “when entering a public washroom.. the first thing you must do is count how many others are in the restroom.. if you alone, then you are in heaven… and can basically behave like you were at home…  you can sing, dance, make goofy sound effects – whatever… but if your “SPIDEY senses” detect other dudes,  then things get a little more dicey…  and that is where our lesson begins…

Now every public washroom presents unique challenges. If your business is going to be quick and can be taken care of standing up, you must assess the situation.  How many urinals is this washroom equipped with?

One urinal is UTOPIA.  Absolute heaven.  You walk in, see one, and your eyes light up.  It is you and you alone.  If you get a little stage fright, no worries, you are the only one in the audience.  ONE IS HEAVEN…

TWO is the WORST.  Left or right, whichever you choose, you will have company, close company.   Now if your pee-partner, let’s call him FRANK is already “manning” one of the urinals, then you MUST stall to give FRANK time to finish.  Fun time wasters include washing hands, retying shoes, blowing nose – these time wasters should give FRANK time to finish up – giving you SOLO time (see above).

SO then Frank vacates, you nod at each other like gunslingers and then you jet to the urinal before another desperate user arrives.

If you enter a washroom with THREE or more urinals , you must MAINTAIN the BUFFER ZONE.  No need for time wasters if all parties adhere to the buffer zone.  YOU – BUFFER – FRANK.  Simple.  Most men know and understand the BUFFER ZONE.  Under no circumstances shall any man use the pristine middle urinal.  If some rogue renegade chooses the middle, between you and Frank, then fear that man and consider him an assertive ALPHA male.

Now, if for some reason, you find yourself in some high class joint that doesn’t even have urinals, let alone dividers, you will find the ever popular TROUGH.   Yes, ladies, it is as it sounds –  trough of urine.  Worse yet there are no clear lineal spatial dividers – nothing.  Just a free for all – pee for all.

So as with urinals, the rule is you only look straight ahead – nothing exists in your peripheral.  You look straight ahead.  Find a poster or crack in the plaster and stare.  Never ever glance to either side.  It doesn’t matter if a drunk Penguin waddles up beside you – it doesn’t exist.

The last survival tip covers the rules of conversation at the urinal.  There should not be any period (especially not at the urinals).  That is a NO TALK ZONE!   Conversations may only be started at the sink.  Choose a safe MANLY topic – and believe me the manlier the better.  Monster trucks, hunting, football, or rodeo are all safe.  Neither man may know what he is talking about, but keep your voice low, sentences quick, and keep flamboyant hand gestures to a minimum.

Finally, there is no handshaking in a washroom.  It doesn’t matter if through the door comes a friend from 15 years ago that once saved your life by pulling you from a burning car, you do not shake hands – just the gunslinger nod.

Speaking of hands, for gosh sakes son, wash your hands!!  Men are a lot of things, but hygienic and man are two words that seldom collide in the same sentence.   NEVER touch the door handle under any circumstance!  Use anything – paper towel, coat pocket, ties, or other friends to get that door open and get you back to civilization.

So to recap… To make friends, influence people, get promoted, and prevent washroom fisticuffs:

  • Never ask another man to join you on a trip to the washroom.
  • One urinal is heaven
  • Two is the WORST and you require time wasters…
  • If 3 or more urinals, maintain the BUFFER ZONE (even if it means using the back-breaking-low-level-foot-off-the ground kids urinal — MAINTAIN THE BUFFER)
  • No talking, but if you must, use manly topics for all conversations.
  • Eyes are straight ahead at all times.  Nothing exists in your peripheral…
  • Wash your hands ya savage and return to life.

Question not why these things are the way they are, just accept the law of the jungle and move on.  And please please please wash your hands!

So if you are a dad, I trust this was a refresher for you and now you can start talking about it to your son.  And if you are a mom, now you may better understand the  look of relief on the face of men in your lives when they return from a successful trip to the men’s public washroom.

Now I have only dealt with the “stand up trip” to the little boys room… the other sit down situation requires delving into such fascinating topics as courtesy coughs and courtesy flushes.  But my son is only 6, so we still have time for that talk!

Is there anything I missed?  What would you add to the rules of the Men’s Room?

Any Dos or Don’ts that you stress with your son?

Until next time!