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Of Pees and Queues

Posted on 2008.09.10 at 02:45
Current Mood: sillysilly
Current Music: Stand - R.E.M.
I was chatting today with two women of my acquaintance when the subject of urinals came up (Note: This was their idea, not mine). Now this is not an area in which I have invested any great degree of scholarship, but of the three of us, I qualified as the resident expert on the subject.

The reason I’m writing this post is because my friends posed some very earnest questions on the subject. To the extent I’d thought about it (which wasn’t much), I guess I’d assumed that most women knew more about the situation than they do, if my friends were anywhere near average in their knowledge of the subject. So as a public service, I want to present a few objective facts, and to answer some of the major questions posed by my inquisitive friends.

This is your basic modern urinal. Pretty straightforward in function, I believe. There are typically at least several of them, and sometimes quite a few of them, in a line against the wall. The following general questions were asked:

Q: Are there privacy dividers between the urinals?
A: Occasionally, but not usually in my experience.

Q: What are those things at the bottom of the urinal [not shown here]?
A: Deodorant cakes. I’ve also noticed that many bars/restaurants dump ice into the urinals. I’m not entirely certain why they do this; perhaps it serves some deodorizing purpose. One of my friends expressed dismay at this, worrying that there might be some “splash-back” into the ice container that could potentially end up in one’s drink. All I can say in response is, I hope not.

Q: Is it weird to unzip right next to other guys?
A: Generally not; you’d have to awkwardly crane your neck to see much, which I’ve never seen anyone attempt (though I’ve heard a few weird stories, but that’s for another post entirely). It is not uncommon for some guys to have difficulty urinating in the presence of others. It’s sometimes referred to as “bashful kidneys.” In such cases, one adjourns to a closed stall to do one’s business.

This is the only photograph shown here that was actually taken by me. Lest you think I have some sort of fetish about urinals, I should add that it is the only photo I have ever taken of one. This particular one is located in the men’s room at the Pulaski Park Field House here in Chicago. I was struck by the massiveness of it and, as I was alone in the men’s room, I decided to snap the picture. I felt as if I were defacing the ruins of an ancient Greek temple, fer cryin’ out loud! This conspicuous consumption of porcelain was once typical of bathroom fixtures. The one shown is certainly well over half a century old.

These are trough-style urinals. The ones shown here are in the men’s room at Wrigley Field. I believe I have only ever seen these at large facilities such as stadiums and arenas. The following questions were asked:

Q: Oh my God, are you serious? These still exist?
A: Yes, I’m afraid so. I’m no great fan of them, but they are efficient, I suppose.

Q: Don’t you worry about getting splashed by someone else’s business?
A: Well, I don’t worry about it, but yes, I have felt a splash on my hands from someone else’s business while standing at one of these. It’s not a good feeling. At all.

One of my friends resolved right then and there that from now on, when she is at a baseball game with a guy, she will no longer ask him to bring her back a hot dog when he gets up to hit the men’s room. My other friend went on to observe that such a trough system can serve the needs of a great many men simultaneously in a relatively small space. “Now I understand,” she added, “why the lines at the men’s room are so much shorter than the ones at the ladies’ room! That is so unfair!”

Well, I guess I have to agree that it is unfair, for what it’s worth.

Anyway, if any of you have found this information enlightening, or at least diverting, then my efforts have not been in vain. Or, to quote from Monty Python, I hope that this entry has been “…like a stream of bat’s piss…shining out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark…”


(Deleted comment)
charlesofcamden at 2008-09-10 19:53 (UTC) (Link)
Good find! Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
charlesofcamden at 2008-09-10 21:15 (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm... well, a woman I know in Michigan has an old urinal that she keeps on her sun porch. It's filled/decorated with dried flowers and suchlike. But if yours is actually functional, then you would hold a unique distinction!
denii or deniss
aeazel at 2008-09-10 14:50 (UTC) (Link)
While in London I encountered the occasional trough.

Urinal cakes disturb me. Why the name cake?
charlesofcamden at 2008-09-10 19:52 (UTC) (Link)
I don't know why they call them cakes, but I suppose it would be much more troubling if they instead called them "urinal cookies" or "urinal Danishes."
denii or deniss
aeazel at 2008-09-10 19:55 (UTC) (Link)
I vote we skip urinal baked goods all together.
dummylady at 2008-09-10 15:09 (UTC) (Link)


Well I'll be doggon! I do learn something new everyday!

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