Before setting foot in a men’s restroom, you’d better be aware of both the practices and the unwritten rules that govern these establishments which are exclusively reserved for the male species. Even if you’d feel discriminated now for belonging to the other, female half of the world’s population, it's worhtwhile to continue reading. For it would not be the first time that a woman ends up in a men’s restroom one day, either deliberately or by mistake. To cut the long queue in the women’s restroom, or to engage in some kinky, behind-closed-door activity in the first case. Or because she's simply too tipsy to distinguish between the male and female signboards on the door in the latter case.
Just like any other man, I have accumulated vast experience with public restrooms in my life already. And I guarantee you, they come in all sizes and shapes, as if they want to reassure their male visitors that they need not worry about that particular body part which they come and relieve in those restrooms in the first place: for those parts come in all sizes and shapes too.
We men are expected to be quite open-minded and versatile when going the toilet. Yes, we do use trees, ditches, grass fields, rocks and all kinds of artefacts which nature provides us. So not necessarily do we even bother to enter the man-made restrooms in the first place. We men therefore better admit it: we are not much different than the primitive mammals with which women compare us sometimes.
But the artificial restrooms which the human species invented for us are sometimes just as varied as those imaginary ones we find in nature. We are made to pee against brick walls, metal plates (gosh that sound…), marble tiles. They ask us to aim at a hole in the floor; at a sticker of a fly (assuming that we will hit the target better); at mothballs (to disguise the smell of the drains)…We have to pee in oval bowls, in squares, triangles and circles. No wonder many men are good at mathematics and geometry.
Urinals come at different heights too. I have observed that they are often lower in Asian countries. This implies that, for one and the same person, there’s a longer distance between the centre of his body and the urinal bowl at which he’s supposed to aim. A macho Caucasian would straight away declare that the average length of their member is different (read: longer) than their Asian friends, requiring more available ‘hanging space’ above the bowl for them than for Asian guys.
I wouldn’t put it in such a way myself. I am probably not a macho. Rather I believe that the higher or lower positioning is simply based on the assumption that the average Asian male (as a whole) is not as tall as their Caucasian fellow. To avoid too much splashing outside of the bowl, the distance for the urine to drop is therefore reduced by hanging the bowl lower. Personally I don't think it matters much, thanks to Newton and his gravity. Whatever liquid that falls from a height goes down anyway; only the height of the waterfall will be different.
But what about the other way around? What if you are a short guy and the urinal hangs relatively high? What if a short Asian guy goes to Europe on a holiday, for instance? Let’s put it this way: shorter guys would probably make great fire fighters.
Oh, there’s so much to share about restrooms interiors and design. What kind of crazy idea did that creative architect have in mind, who installed a mirror on the wall to which a series of urinals were attached? Not only is it confronting to see your own private parts double (“Am I drunk or what?”), even worse is that you almost have no choice but to watch your neighbour’s piece of equipment being projected on that wall also. Trust me, the view is not always very nice. It’s awkward even, especially since we men are bound by some secret code that prescribes how we should behave when another man is doing his business while standing next to us.
While we do what we have to do, we sometimes talk to our neighbour, which proves that contrary to common misconception, men are effectively capable of doing two different things at the same time. And regardless whether there’s a divider between the two urinals or not, it’s a fine line for us to walk when chitchatting casually with our neighbour while releasing our bladder. It requires the same kind of mental discipline not to intuitively glance down as when we talk to a big-breasted girl exposing her cleavage in all its glory.
We therefore often chose to simply meditate and stare at the wall in front of us, ignoring our neighbour altogether, yet consciously aware of each other’s presence. Because nonetheless, as relaxed as we may seem while standing there, still there is this unspoken, hidden tension that hangs between us. We smell this stubborn stain of competiveness, which is just as ever-present among men as it is among women, and it riles us as if it were the smell of urine itself lingering in the restroom. Our silent game is very childish: who will stop peeing last? As if we believe that the longer you pee, the bigger your water tank must be.
Victory is yours when the waterfall sound next to you finally stops and your neighbour starts the closing ceremony, commonly referred to as the “shaking ritual”. Female readers probably frown their eyebrows now. Because essentially you are faced with the same issue, but I doubt that you deal with it in the same manner as we men do. I can not imagine that any of you wiggles her body after finishing, while still seated on the toilet cover, for instance. But we men do have something called the “shaking ritual” indeed, to solve that similar problem which a waiter has when pouring wine into a wine glass: he doesn’t want any drops to fall onto the table cloth after he finishes pouring. So how about that “shaking ritual” then? Well, we do what smokers do: by tapping the cigarette, a smoker will ensure that the last few crumbs of ashes fall neatly into the ash tray. Drink, smoke...aiya, men...
(very likely to be continued)