For Men, and People Interested in Pretending to be Men
July 31, 2013 7:00 PM   Subscribe

Urinal Man asks players to choose the optimal urinal in a bathroom, and then grades their choices.
posted by Going To Maine (124 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 


It's not really grading, just taking a poll and reporting previous percentages.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:02 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


That sounds like what somebody who got a D would say.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:04 PM on July 31, 2013 [31 favorites]


Hehe. I got an A, actually. (Only two stars on Stage 3.) Sorry I didn't finish the quiz before commenting.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:05 PM on July 31, 2013


My A- is ashamed.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:08 PM on July 31, 2013


I got an A.

Also, funny Urinal story:

One time I was peeing before a flight and took one urinal away from the only other guy in the bathroom. It's quiet for a few seconds and then he says really loudly, "So how's the little guy doing?" I go in to a sort of preliminary fight or flight response and look over to see a bluetooth ear piece. He then went on to have a conversation about (I presume) his son.
posted by codacorolla at 7:10 PM on July 31, 2013 [49 favorites]


Internet poll reveals combination of homophobia and shame.
posted by 256 at 7:11 PM on July 31, 2013 [13 favorites]


I got a C, but now I know the "correct" answers and can go take it again?

Also, if no one is flushing those things I'm not using them at all. I will hold it. Seriously, one urinal was 87% full.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:14 PM on July 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


A+

...though it doesn't test how far back you're standing. Or if you're into arcs or bank shots.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:15 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, MythBusters proved that the first stall is the cleanest, which probably extends to urinals. So now you know.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:17 PM on July 31, 2013


I got a C, but now I know the "correct" answers and can go take it again?

It's different if you take it again. The scenarios seem to be randomized.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:18 PM on July 31, 2013


Obviously if you're first in, you go to the urinal at the end closest to the far wall (which, if you entered from the left, in this scenario is presumably the urinal on the right). If you pick the urinal at the end near the entry, it means you want every dude who wanders in there to look at the wee dribbling out of your useless junk, which is just weird.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:18 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait...my left, or stage left?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:20 PM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


I got an A with two stars on Stage 3. Stage 3's grading is wrong, because if you take a spot 3 urinals away from the existing pisser only the two of you can piss without awkwardness, whereas if you take the urinal closest to the door up to three people can piss without having an immediate neighbor. In other words, the methodology employed fails to account for the 10 AM / 1 PM / Third Drink Demand Curve.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:20 PM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


I could swear I remember playing a version of this like 10 years ago on some crappy Shockwave games site.
posted by Doleful Creature at 7:21 PM on July 31, 2013 [13 favorites]


One advanced urination technique is "crossing streams" with the guys next to you in a shared trough scenario, but without making them uncomfortable. This takes practice, so don't be discouraged if you're not successful the first few tries.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:21 PM on July 31, 2013 [9 favorites]


But how probable is it that they're all left-handed pee-ers?
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:22 PM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


This simulation is weakend by the fact that there's not a single lowered urinal to be complicate the decision.

Lately I've been wishing the urinals could be arranged along a diagonal line, so instead of High-high-high-low they could each be a little higher than the urinal prevoius.

In this quiz I find myself prefering to pick the urinal that will make the choice impossible for the next guy; sort of the 7-10 split of urinal selection.

Finally: where's the trough simulator?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:23 PM on July 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


Since most people are right-handed, it makes sense to use your left hand to wee, so that you can more easily defend yourself from attackers, while not making a mess of your shoes.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:24 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


All these fuckers who piss next to the wall obviously don't mind brushing up against a wall spattered with other men's piss. Optimal, my ass.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:24 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, MythBusters proved that the first stall is the cleanest, which probably extends to urinals. So now you know.

If urinal cleanliness matters to you, you're using them wrong.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:24 PM on July 31, 2013 [9 favorites]


The first time I played, I was going for the least-used urinal in every situation. I was happy to get an 8%. Maybe a girl thing?
posted by mantecol at 7:25 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I got a B-! Who knew being a man was so hard? Sorry about feminism, dudes.
posted by jenlovesponies at 7:27 PM on July 31, 2013 [10 favorites]


In Adam Levin's The Instructions, the main character talks about how you can choose urinals to assert dominance. So you intentionally choose the middle ones in order to make other people have to choose urinals around your choice. Not exactly a polite thing to do, but that passage did open my eyes to new ways of thinking about urinals, which is something not many books can claim.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:27 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


A- !

And I've never, ever used a urinal in my life.

It was pretty easy to get the trend after the first two though. It's pretty obvious that guys don't like standing near one another. I guess it could be an aim thing...

Or not.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:28 PM on July 31, 2013


The first time I played, I was going for the least-used urinal in every situation. I was happy to get an 8%. Maybe a girl thing?

Yeah. Again: It doesn't matter how often it's used or how clean it is. You don't actually make contact with the urinal.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:28 PM on July 31, 2013


Urinal Man! Urinal Man! Does whatever a...urinal can?

Is he a dot, or is he a speck?
When he's underwater does he get wet?
Or does the water get him instead?
Nobody knows,
urinal man.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:29 PM on July 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


That last one was indeed the hardest. Until then, you could count on prioritizing either being as far away from other piddlers as possible, or close to the exit for a quick escape.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:30 PM on July 31, 2013


All these fuckers who piss next to the wall obviously don't mind brushing up against a wall spattered with other men's piss.

Really, it would make more economic sense for urinals to be installed in the middle of the bathroom, made of steel like a trough, and be circular like a fountain. You'd need only one drain (though it would probably be larger) and it would make the scenario interesting, because if you're the second urinator, etiquette would suggest that you stand on the absolute opposite of the wee-fountain to the first urinator, which is either extremely weird, or not very weird at all - it all depends on how intently you stare into the other man's eyes.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:32 PM on July 31, 2013 [17 favorites]


These Premises Are Alarmed: "
Lately I've been wishing the urinals could be arranged along a diagonal line, so instead of High-high-high-low they could each be a little higher than the urinal prevoius.
"

For the longest time I thought the short pissers were for little kids. I'm not particularly tall, and I'm always trying to be considerate, so I'd use the short one so some one else could use the tall one; especially when there were no little kids around. Then i worked for a plumbing company - it's for ADA. The height is set so a wheelchair user can do his business on his own. So if you're decent, you will avoid the short urinal.

If you're *really* decent, feel free to stove the head in of the prick who pisses all over the short urinal. Jerk.
posted by notsnot at 7:33 PM on July 31, 2013


Really, it would make more economic sense for urinals to be installed in the middle of the bathroom, made of steel like a trough, and be circular like a fountain. You'd need only one drain (though it would probably be larger) and it would make the scenario interesting, because if you're the second urinator, etiquette would suggest that you stand on the absolute opposite of the wee-fountain to the first urinator, which is either extremely weird, or not very weird at all - it all depends on how intently you stare into the other man's eyes.

Actually, in that situation I would choose to defensively weird out the first urinator by using the sink.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:37 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


But then you're back to the situation that you had with the individual urinals, which is "which sink should be used first?"
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:40 PM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anyone know when this game will be ported to Xbox Kinect?
posted by antonymous at 7:40 PM on July 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's pretty obvious that guys don't like standing near one another. I guess it could be an aim thing...

It's a somebody else's splatter thing, a privacy thing, a "B.O., breath and random throat rumblings of strangers" thing, and an "all other things being equal, more room is better" thing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:42 PM on July 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


God only a B.

I think I tried to be too smart instead of just picking the one farthest away at all times.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:43 PM on July 31, 2013


And, look, I can trust you guys with this story, right?

My son is 4 and really, really doesn't like the sound the automatically flushing urinals make (also hates those high-speed hand dryers). Recently I went with him into the men's room in a rather new AAA baseball stadium with modern self-flushing urinals. He stood at the short urinal with his pants around his ankles and his hands clamped firmly over his ears, peed, and the slowly backed away from the toilet in that pose, waiting for the frightful flush. It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen.
posted by These Penises Are Alarmed at 7:43 PM on July 31, 2013 [29 favorites]


Now do one for the old stadium trough! You could have different-sized dummies to negotiate as well, since there aren't an explicit number of places to post up and piss.
posted by planetesimal at 7:44 PM on July 31, 2013


Really, it would make more economic sense for urinals to be installed in the middle of the bathroom, made of steel like a trough, and be circular like a fountain. You'd need only one drain (though it would probably be larger) and it would make the scenario interesting, because if you're the second urinator, etiquette would suggest that you stand on the absolute opposite of the wee-fountain to the first urinator, which is either extremely weird, or not very weird at all - it all depends on how intently you stare into the other man's eyes.

I've posted about it before, but at my university most of the unrennovated buildings that were built in the 70s have the worst urinals in them. I've been informed through AskMe that they're unisex urinals (like so) which were frequent as a cost saving measure around that time. Not only do they not have side panels, but you have to stand sort of far off to use them properly, and your chance of showing your wiener goes from marginal to approaching 100%. I suppose that some people don't have a problem with this, but this is a non-starter in terms of me using a toilet.

To compound this, some of the restrooms even have all of the urinals in a central pillar configuration separated only by a mid-chest level wall (I'm surprised they even sprung for that), meaning that you do indeed have to look the fellow across from you in the eyes if you're using them at full occupancy.

Anyway, my point is that unless you have zero lee-way in your budget, applying economy to the facilities probably isn't the best place to optimize
posted by codacorolla at 7:46 PM on July 31, 2013


I tried to follow the instructions of "pretend like you really have to go." When times are desperate, that changes the decision weight dramatically towards the closer urinal when there are two/three equally bad (bad=people next to you) choices.
posted by Wulfhere at 7:46 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I got a B, but only because a real man isn't afraid to stand next to some wimp at a urinal.
posted by klanawa at 7:46 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Is it getting harder?" is not an appropriate question to ask in a men's room.
posted by ogooglebar at 7:47 PM on July 31, 2013 [14 favorites]


I could swear I remember playing a version of this like 10 years ago on some crappy Shockwave games site.

me too, and in the last level you just walk out without peeing.
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:48 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


If it's any comfort, my brothers, this felt a lot like the way I choose stalls in the ladies' room,. Especially back in the awful school I went to in Grade 6 with no doors on the stalls.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:51 PM on July 31, 2013


the first stall is the cleanest

A cut that didn't make Rod Stewart's greatest hits.
posted by inthelongrun at 7:56 PM on July 31, 2013 [11 favorites]


I also got an A+. But, there should also be a time factor, since if it's a crowded place then you're not going to have much time to calculate the odds and are going to need to rely on a well-developed reflexive sense of placement to be in the sweet spot.
posted by planetesimal at 7:57 PM on July 31, 2013


A cut that didn't make Rod Stewart's greatest hits.

No, it was a deep cut.
posted by ogooglebar at 7:57 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


just picking the one farthest away at all times

Always pick the urinal with the lowest number of adjacent occupied urinals. Standing next to 0 people is better than 1 and much better than 2.

If there is a tie between, say, two unoccupied urinals having 1 adjacent occupied urinal, always favor the urinal closest to the wall.

And, given the above two conditions, favor the leftmost urinal - the shortest path from where you entered the bathroom.

Not sure this is complete, but it covers most situations. I got an A+ anyway, so piss off if you don't like my requirements writing....
posted by relish at 7:57 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember this back when it was the urinal game on albino black sheep.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:58 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I could swear I remember playing a version of this like 10 years ago on some crappy Shockwave games site.

me too, and in the last level you just walk out without peeing.


Before posting, I did a modest search for other bathroom-related games to try and flesh out the post. This unearthed The Bathroom Simulator, which appeared to be similar but a little bit more preachy and apparently has a bias against metalheads and heshers. Possibly the one you're thinking of? (I also did a browse for bathroom simulations aimed at women. This yielded Bathroom Decoration 3, a badly designed thing where you position a random array of toiletries, bathroom furnishings, and one very anatomically incorrect woman around a bathroom. Hilariously, the ad that played before the game started was for G.I. Joe 3. What I'm saying is that there's a gap in them market out for a good simulation of how women choose toilets.)
posted by Going To Maine at 7:58 PM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


There is room for improvement here. Why isn't there a sink for stage 7? When all of the urinals are full and there is only 30 seconds to kickoff?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 7:59 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Remember: Don't show them how bad your ass hurts.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:01 PM on July 31, 2013



I could swear I remember playing a version of this like 10 years ago on some crappy Shockwave games site.

me too, and in the last level you just walk out without peeing.


Yep, that's my link above.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:01 PM on July 31, 2013


I once made a friend at a dive bar in Austin due to my casual disdain of public toilet etiquette. The bathroom was single occupancy that had no locks on the door but had both a toilet and a urinal. I was using the urinal when some guy stumbled in, looked at me, and mumbled that he was sorry. I told him that I didn't care, that it was one of the few anxieties that I didn't have and he told me that he got me completely. Soon we were standing and peeing in solemn understanding. I've been trying to convince my girlfriend to move to Austin ever since. Would pee again.
posted by dubusadus at 8:08 PM on July 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


Just in case you need a reminder of what happens when you break the rules.
posted by malthusan at 8:13 PM on July 31, 2013


Just arc it over people's heads. Shout "NOTHIN' BUT NET" as you do so. Throw down a smoke bomb when people turn around. Then keep disappearing and reappearing throughout the bathroom, like how David Bowie keeps blinking around in Labyrinth.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:14 PM on July 31, 2013 [9 favorites]


Just arc it over people's heads. Shout "NOTHIN' BUT NET" as you do so. Throw down a smoke bomb when people turn around. Then keep disappearing and reappearing throughout the bathroom, like how David Bowie keeps blinking around in Labyrinth.

Bonus points if you're doing the ball juggling trick at the same time.
posted by codacorolla at 8:16 PM on July 31, 2013


All kinds of shit goes down in dive bars when peole are drunk enough.

I've seen two off duty cops pissing in the same urinal, it was a single serving bathroom and they somehow didn't realize there was also a toilet. They were shouting "don't cross the streams"

Another time I was a a bar with like 3 urinals and a stall. I was second in line with a drunk guy from Ireland behind me. Guy comes out. Guy in front of me goes in. Drunk guy is peering through the half open door and starts pointing and slapping me on the back shouting "hurry up there is a free your-eye-nal" took me a couple seconds to realize he talking about the sink.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:22 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a gay man I have to say an important variable is missing, namely, of the guys at occupied urinals, which one is the hottest?
posted by dnash at 8:22 PM on July 31, 2013


C- on the first try. Guess it's good I'm not a guy. Otherwise I'd probably wind up peeing on the floor.
posted by PuppyCat at 8:23 PM on July 31, 2013


Korea's public restrooms are often unisex (urinal installed next to a stall) and sometimes people forget to lock the door. What's the etiquette if you are

a) a woman inside the stall and a man comes in and begins using the urinal
b) a man inside the stall and a woman comes in not knowing the person inside a stall is a man

Apparently I suck at this because in scenario A, I came out of the stall and traumatized the man and in scenario B, I waited for the person to come out of the stall until it was clear that person was stalling for time and would never come out as long as I was inside the bathroom.

My college dorm had unisex bathrooms (stalls only) and it was a matter of much discussion whether doing your number 2 business was impeded by the presence of the other gender.
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:24 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now do one for the old stadium trough!

Oh, please god, no. What a nightmare---a bunch of dudes facing each other on opposite sides of an open trough with their junk hanging out. Talk about stage fright.

But I remember once, at a concert venue, a girl propped herself up on one of the sinks, in the men's room, to pee. It was at that moment that my very young former self knew that I was all grown up.

A-
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:24 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


If there was just one other dude in the restroom I would wait behind him long enough to make him nervous and then take the urinal right next to his without acknowledging his presence in any way.

in this scenario it does not really matter what gender i am i think
posted by elizardbits at 8:24 PM on July 31, 2013


I tried to write a graph-theoretic proof of the optimal urinal choice once.. this is awesome
posted by Joe Chip at 8:28 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


♫ "You remind me of the bro,"
"What bro?"
"The bro with the power"
"What power?"
"The power of voodoo,"
"Do what?"
"Remind me of the bro!"

I saw my bro, holding hard as bro could hold,
What could I do?
Every space taken - it left my bro blue, the stalls too!
What kind of pissing hole to use?
*sink or trash can, some-thing frightening*
And bro said,
*gurgles*
"Arc piss, arc piss, arc piss, arc piss, work that magic spell on me, lean on back and arc your pee!"
"Long whiz, long whiz, long whiz, long whiz, work that magic spell on me, aim real well and hit it clean!" ♫
posted by codacorolla at 8:28 PM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sometimes I think guys are so lucky that they are anatomically wired to pee anywhere with relative ease and make designs in the snow. But the urinal thing, ya, no, I would not like that. I don't know if it's worth 24% less pay to have doors, but yes siree, I am damn glad I don't have to do the urinal thing.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:30 PM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've heard the first stall thing but it seems to me that the first urinals often have the most pee on the floor around them, so I don't think it holds true.
posted by neuromodulator at 8:33 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly I try to only use public bathrooms in fancy hotels. For instance all the W hotels have stalls with floor to ceiling doors. That is fucking luxury.

The other end of the spectrum is the the bathroom at Port Authority. They have a sign that it is patrolled by undercover cops. Couldn't you figure out who it was cuz who the hell else hangs out in the bathroom at port authority besides a cop.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:37 PM on July 31, 2013


In Adam Levin's The Instructions, the main character talks about how you can choose urinals to assert dominance. So you intentionally choose the middle ones in order to make other people have to choose urinals around your choice.
That's easy, you stand behind them and piss all over their legs.
Who's the alpha male now motherfucker?
posted by fullerine at 8:39 PM on July 31, 2013 [9 favorites]


I remember being a kid at the ballpark, using those urinals was an adventure, everybody went during the seventh inning stretch. The stadium would be ringing with John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" and I'd finally wedge my little way in between two beery men and By God, the Penises! Oh, how it seemed like they could piss for hours. Mine wasn't a case of stage fright, I was just in awe of all those big pissing dicks. Fuckin' A!
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:40 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seeing as I'm basically English and excruciatingly self-conscious in the gents I thought I'd ace this, but I got a C. Problem is, it isn't just about being as far as possible from the other guy - you don't want to be so far away as to make it look like you have some sort of freakish hang-up about this sort of thing, a space or two will do; also you don't want to use the urinal that's the most popular since it's going to be all gross and full of cigarette butts and gobs of phlegm (what's the deal with all these guys who have to spit while they pee?) so given an unlimited choice you choose one that's one or two away from the wall. Other complicating factors: how long til these other guys finish? How many other guys are going to walk in? It's a moral maze.
(I took it a second time and still got a C, due I guess to the above principles; also that in my ethos the further from the entrance, the better)
posted by Flashman at 8:40 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well that's Urine Man. What about Mr. Tambo?
posted by JHarris at 8:44 PM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


you don't want to be so far away as to make it look like you have some sort of freakish hang-up about this sort of thing

It might help to think of it as being courteous of other people's hangups.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:46 PM on July 31, 2013


I'm not seeing an option to enable the hard mode that is doing this in drag. Tucking is the Dark Souls of life's urinal etiquette game.
posted by emmtee at 8:48 PM on July 31, 2013


My fifth scenario was:

[O] [O] [U] [O] [U] [O]

(O- Occupied U- Unoccupied)

Having no option but to have a dude on either side of me regardless, I chose the closest urinal (3rd from left) from where I entered, and somehow I got zero stars for that.

Boo.
posted by rollbiz at 8:54 PM on July 31, 2013


My score: A

I have a shy bladder. Let me tell you, there are very few things in the world more embarrassing than standing shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of men at a baseball game, with my wang out, and not peeing. Also, I was at a urinal trough, not, just, like in the stands or something.
posted by GrumpyDan at 8:55 PM on July 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


Going To Maine: "In Adam Levin's The Instructions, the main character talks about how you can choose urinals to assert dominance. So you intentionally choose the middle ones in order to make other people have to choose urinals around your choice."

My current work bathroom has turned me into an advanced stall tactician. There are 3 urinals, so that's always pretty straightforward, but there are 4 stalls immediately adjacent. At first I took the farthest stall so I didn't have to hear people peeing right next to me while I did my business. Pretty soon it became clear that guys were walking into the bathroom and, because they couldn't immediately see that the farthest stall was occupied, made a beeline for it only to find the door closed. Bathroom etiquette admits of no hesitation whatsoever, so dudes were ending up in the 3rd stall, right next to me, for their requisite 10 minutes of sighing, farting, plopping, etc. which was not an outcome I particularly wanted. Now, seasoned veteran that I am, I take one of the middle stalls, thereby leaving the option for the next person to allow themselves the space that we both desire. So it's not necessarily dominance that would lead someone to pick a middle stall or urinal. Sometimes it's the easiest way to ensure that the most people have the most space and can make the best decisions in a tricky environment with limited information and a requirement for snap judgments.
posted by Copronymus at 9:02 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


A+, three stars across the board.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:26 PM on July 31, 2013


A+

If I ever follow my destiny to be a drag king I'm confident I can be pretty method about it. *draws on mustache*
posted by Mizu at 9:28 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


One interesting open question in mathematics is, what is the number of urinals that maximizes the number of new arrivals able to make a non-awkward urinal choice divided by the number of urinals?
posted by Jpfed at 9:33 PM on July 31, 2013


Oh, and, funny story, I was at Queensland's Parliament House a year and a half ago, for a little workshop on government and parliament and that class of thing, and anyway, after the hilariously-named "Question Time", I went into one of the staff bathrooms (I'm a State Government employee, after all, and had my ID on display) to wee.

Going through the door to the gent's, the sinks were along the left wall, the toilet stalls on the far right, and you had to hang a sharp right around the corner to get to the little urinal niche. I rounded the corner and - BAM! - honest to god, standing there doing his business was the just-elected Premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman.

I recognised his vile little bullet head immediately. He's about four feet tall. I audibly muttered "Jesus Christ!" in shock and went into one of the toilet stalls. In the urinal niche there were three urinals, quite tightly-packed, and yep, he was using the middle one, and taking a wide stance - king boss of Pissville. Even if I had wanted to use the urinals I literally could not have, as he was taking up the entire space.

His ego truly knows no bounds.

I have a pretty big bladder so was in the toilet for a while, but when I came out he was still going, so as I was washing my hands I couldn't avoid him. He came over to the sinks and caught my eye in the mirror and I was forced to choke out a "Mr. Premier" in acknowledgement. "Who do you work for?" he asked, faux-chummily. He was just embarking on a massive sacking of public servants (15,000 of them), so I said "Uhh, I'm with the air conditioning mob" and swiftly exited.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:34 PM on July 31, 2013 [10 favorites]


Holy cow ... how is it that nobody here mentioned that XKCD had already analyzed the International Choice of Urinal Protocol (which, clearly, this test was based on).
posted by scblackman at 9:50 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, some people make pissing a Lord of the Flies experience. Some places build that experience right into the head.

When I first went into one of those places with the waterfall trough I had to go back out and make sure I was in the men's room, then figured they'd just remodeled and hadn't gotten around to installing urinals so I used the stall.

Came out and there's a guy just standing there pissing on a waterfall. I almost got angry until another guy came in, sized up distance, and whipped it out too.

Ah...you're supposed to piss on the waterfall....th'fuck is wrong with people? Constantly running fresh water, just goddamnit.
Never seen those big lips urinals, but it's the same vibe.
Hey, let's piss all over live poodles. Watch the hair turn yellow. Eat asparagus beforehand.

I prefer trees. No one around and the tree appreciates it.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:52 PM on July 31, 2013


And while we're at it ...

A Harvard man and a Yale man are at the urinal. They finish and zip up. The Harvard man proceeds to the sink to wash his hands, while the Yale man immediately makes for the exit.

The Harvard man says, "At Harvard they teach us to wash our hands after we urinate."

The Yale man replies, "Yes, but at Yale they teach us not to piss on our hands."
posted by scblackman at 9:52 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


B- due to a crazy final piss - apparently, in a XXXYYX situation, you're supposed to stand next to the lone pisser rather than join the end of the pissing line. I've been in toilets where this would get you killed, and am amazed that most folk who've taken the test would sidle up to the solo bloke at the end.

The test needs more context, too. Two men pissing next to each other when all other urinals are unused is especially interesting - in a known cottage I'd politely head straight for a stall to avoid interrupting any blossoming romance, elsewhere I'd just pick a non-adjacent and distant urinal (assuming that now-absent pissers had forced adjacency on the duo).

Also, I'd make different choices depending on whether I'd entered the bogs with a friend (1 urinal gap so we can chat), at the same time as a stranger (as far apart as possible) or alone (standard rules apply).

Oh, and there are toilets I use regularly where I have a favourite urinal and will use a stall if it's occupied, or where my preferred pissing location changes according to circumstance or superstition. For instance, at home games I piss in different locations depending on whether my team is winning or losing at half time, and at various grounds around the country I have lucky and unlucky piss locations based on previous pisses/results.

I won't even get into the way the appearance of the already-pissing men can affect one's urinal choice, nor the complexities that emerge when a fellow pisser initiates a conversation.
posted by jack_mo at 10:00 PM on July 31, 2013


One interesting open question in mathematics is, what is the number of urinals that maximizes the number of new arrivals able to make a non-awkward urinal choice divided by the number of urinals?

It's fairly straightforward, assuming you mean "adjacent to another user" when you say awkward. The trivial solution of a single urinal guarantees 100% non-awkward pissing, and no other solution approaches this. You can think of adding urinals; the first one adds an awkward urinal and the next one a non-awkward one, and so on forever. Whenever there are an even number, exactly 50% of the urinals are non-awkward. As far as the odd numbers go, with one urinal it's 100% non-awkward, at three it's 66.666...% non-awkward, at five it's 60% non-awkward and so on, tending towards 50%. So as far as #1 is concerned, three is the magic number.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:35 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


TIL that I am mentally a man.
posted by Salamander at 10:52 PM on July 31, 2013


You know, in my artless insomniac way, I was halfway through a Noel Coward parody about urinals, looking up things that rhymed and alliterated with euphemisms for pissing, and I just couldn't bring myself to add insult to injury. If any one of us gets a stall for anything, we should all get a stall for everything, dammit.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:56 PM on July 31, 2013


I am a PEEING SAVANT. A+, and less than three seconds per decision.

I am also available for consultation via text message if you encounter a urinal crisis at the movies or the ballpark: for the low fee of $0.99 I will TELL YOU which urinal to use.
posted by scrump at 11:11 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ice Cream Socialist: "All these fuckers who piss next to the wall obviously don't mind brushing up against a wall spattered with other men's piss. Optimal, my ass."

I agree wholeheartedly: brushing up against a wall spattered with other men's piss is disgusting. That's why I'm always careful to cover the wall with a nice even coat of my own piss before getting close enough to brush up against it.
posted by koeselitz at 11:26 PM on July 31, 2013


...for the low fee of $0.99 I will TELL YOU which urinal to use.

Have you considered turning this gift into an app? Urinal dilemma? Pull out your smartphone, photograph the people peeing, it sends you (or later, when this takes off, one of the staff you have trained) the picture, you hit a number, and they see a flashing arrow pointing to the correct urinal to use.
posted by frimble at 12:13 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I worked at a place where we needed a passive-aggressive sign in the men's room: "I don't want to get it on my shoes either. It's not as big as you think it is. Stand closer."
posted by ob1quixote at 12:22 AM on August 1, 2013


I should add: This was the kind of place where people wore suits and ties to work.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:25 AM on August 1, 2013


cjorgensen: "I got a C"

I gotta P!
posted by chavenet at 1:18 AM on August 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


If you got an A urine the majority.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:19 AM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't believe there's such a thing as urinal etiquette, specifically.

Compare it to any situation where people have to line up horizontally, like a row of seats on a subway car, or a line of ticket machines at a large station. People give each other space at first, then gradually fill in the gaps as it gets busier. When the gaps fill in to the point where you have to be next to someone, people pause briefly while they decide who they'll be next to.

I don't see any difference between the behaviour at a row of urinals, to a fixed row of anything else.

Guys who are terrified of another man seeing their penis seem to use the idea of "urinal etiquette" to validate the idea that everyone else feels the same way. But I think most men are just using a general etiquette of personal space.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:06 AM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


TheophileEscargot: I think you are right. It's mostly just human nature.

In Adam Levin's The Instructions, the main character talks about how you can choose urinals to assert dominance. So you intentionally choose the middle ones in order to make other people have to choose urinals around your choice. Not exactly a polite thing to do, but that passage did open my eyes to new ways of thinking about urinals, which is something not many books can claim.

See, that's the problem I think. I got a respectable B, because I was playing 11 dimensional chess and always optimizing for every other stall. Not just at that moment, but in the future. Since I'm the most recent visitor, at least one of the other users would be leaving before me. So I chose the stall that would leave me the least chances of being "orphaned" when someone else left. Anxiety + an engineer's brain is a hell of a thing.

But then I looked at some of the other answers people gave. There are a surprising number of (I presume) chatty-cathy's who seem to want to sidle up and be close to whoever is near. "Yay, I get to be near someone! Yay!"

But now I wonder if they aren't just trying to be pink-shirt-wearing, my-hotwife-is-hotter-than-your-hotwife, you're-gay-if-you-don't-want-me-touching-you-while-urinating, I'm-uncomfortable-so-I'm-going-to-make-you-even-more-uncomfortable dominance freaks.
posted by gjc at 3:14 AM on August 1, 2013


Rule 1: Whenever possible, select a urinal such that there is one empty urinal between you and any present occupant.

Rule 2: There is no need to place more than one empty urinal between you and any present occupant.

Rule 3: There is no need to worry about how awkward it may be for the next guy, because gay panic is making it sufficiently awkward for you, so fuck him. I mean, don't fuck him. I mean, wait.

Rule 4: If you cannot place an empty urinal between yourself and anyone else, just use the first available one from the entering direction, or else have to justify to yourself why you didn't want to stand next to those 1-2 guys.

Rule 5: Pissing takes like twenty seconds anyway, just fucking get on with it and go back to paying too much for drinks that are going to put you back in this godforsaken room within the hour.

Algorithim success: D+.
Sense of game theory superiority: intact.
posted by Errant at 3:16 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the longest time I thought the short pissers were for little kids. I'm not particularly tall, and I'm always trying to be considerate, so I'd use the short one so some one else could use the tall one; especially when there were no little kids around. Then i worked for a plumbing company - it's for ADA. The height is set so a wheelchair user can do his business on his own. So if you're decent, you will avoid the short urinal.

This is probably a whole 'nother argument, but I always assumed bathrooms were sort of egalitarian combined with first come, first served environment. Just because someone is in a wheelchair doesn't mean they shouldn't have to wait their turn. It's rude to monopolize the ADA toilet, unless it's the last one available, in which case you are allowed to take it. And it's just good manners to give someone in a wheelchair the privilege of first passage. But for urinals especially, pissing takes such a relatively small amount of time that it is weirder to leave it open than to just use them all equally.

It seems to me that if there is a situation where there could be a wait time, everyone using all available fixtures increases throughput and reduces the waiting time for everyone. Leaving the ADA stall open doesn't help the person who is still waiting in line in the hallway. It just slows them, as well as everyone else, down.
posted by gjc at 3:30 AM on August 1, 2013


A+. Girl. Just used the same algorithm I would use for cinema or Tube seats.
posted by Acheman at 3:31 AM on August 1, 2013


Errant- your algorithm seems logically correct, so the fact that it didn't score highly means there is something else at play. I can't imagine that there are that many people so homophobic that they are dithering about which urinal is least gay, but maybe I overestimate humanity. There must be some instinctual monkey-brain thing going on that I just don't get.

But mensrooms are a strange place. It depends a lot on the context. In my workplace, I swear half the people use the mensroom to let out their Seinfeldian anxieties and tics that they have been holding in all day. How much noise do you *really* have to make, freak? My favorite, and most enraging, behavior is the paper towels to touch everything game. Especially when they just fling their door opening doily back onto the bathroom floor. It wasn't long ago that such behavior was a joke on a sitcom. Now it is defended and almost encouraged.
posted by gjc at 3:44 AM on August 1, 2013


I can't imagine that there are that many people so homophobic that they are dithering about which urinal is least gay, but maybe I overestimate humanity.

Well, NYC subway etiquette mostly applies on the early stages - full stars - but on the later stages, where you have to be in an adjacent stall to people no matter what, it fails. I think this is not necessarily because of homophobia - on the subway I wouldn't deliberately sit any closer than I had to to another person, it would feel weird and invasive. It doesn't matter what gender they are.

I have no idea what's happening on the upper levels though. In the subway, you'd be looking at the type of people, who is least annoying/gives you the most space, but no such options here, alas.
posted by corb at 4:41 AM on August 1, 2013


I don't have my code books with me, but from memory, here goes....

Short urinal: it is for ADA, but not only for those folks. Because, when you design public restrooms the first thing is to calculate the total occupant load then (usually) divide by two to get # of males, then refer to guidelines that tell you how many total fixtures (of which a certain number may be urinals.) After you know how many urinals and toilets, you refer to accessibility guidelines to figure out how many of each type fixture has to be accessible. Then you need to calculate travel distance from remote areas to ensure restroom distribution meets that set of guidelines, then double check ADA guidelines to see how many of each type off accessible stall is needed...

Whew. Short answer: number of fixtures are based on total occupancy (available for anyone to use). ADA fixtures are part of that total and it's just nice to leave that one available if possible since the person who needs it doesn't have any other good option.
posted by mightshould at 4:59 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's still working but barely. I only got to scenario two before I was bored out of my skull. When the West Coast shows up to "work" this site is going DOWN.
posted by bukvich at 5:04 AM on August 1, 2013


If there was just one other dude in the restroom I would wait behind him long enough to make him nervous and then take the urinal right next to his without acknowledging his presence in any way.

You must work in my building.

I have so. many. horrible bathroom stories from work. Between the facilities literally falling apart to horrible, nasty coworkers I have the worst bathroom experiences at work. I never had these problems when I worked at our main office, but at this offsite location everyone seems to have been raised in prison or something.

In terms of etiquette faux pas in the men's room, I think they can be ranked from mildly annoying to horrific:

-Picking a urinal right next to you when others are available.
-Pulling down your pants to use the urinal (you have a zipper on your trousers, use it).
-Talking about work while using the urinal next to someone else.
-Farting, spitting, or other non-urinating functions while pissing.
-Talking about bodily functions while in the bathroom. I heard what was going on in the next stall, you don't need to share. (A verbatim quote from yesterday: "I tried to take a shit, but all that came out was gas! What's up with that?")
-Any combination of the above. I had one guy walk in to the bathroom while I was the only person there, stand awkwardly right behind me while he tried to decide what to do, and then picked the urinal right next to me, dropped trou to his ankles and started chatting to me about nothing in particular.

I also want to find the guy that has explosive diarrhea every single day and force him to scrub the fucking toilet bowls that he defiles because he gets shit spray in places I wouldn't think possible.

Follow me on Twitter for more bathroom humor, or find my column in Readers Digest!
posted by backseatpilot at 5:26 AM on August 1, 2013


In Vietnam, in a small village that stank of fish sauce (they make it), I used a urinal that consisted of a long trough made from cinderblock through which water periodically flowed, with about twenty guys using it at once. Since then, I have been a little less picky about American urination arrangements.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:28 AM on August 1, 2013


I walked into a restroom at a PA Turnpike rest area, finding one other person at the urinals. I went to the very first urinal, which was on my left as I approached the row. As I was going about my business, I could see out of the corner of my eye that the other man, who was three urinals away, was doing quite a bit of "shaking". This was not the usual sort of shaking to get rid of those last drops, so I started to think the guy was having some sort of trouble over there. I risked turning my head slightly to see what was happening, figuring he would be looking intently at his penis while he violently shook it, but he was instead staring directly at me. I locked eyes with this man for a moment, his dick now aimed directly at me, waving frantically. Now I knew. I wasn't upset by the idea of him trying to pick me up, if that really was his intent. I'm not homophobic in the least. Still, this was an egregious violation of the urinal code, so I felt obligated to give him a stern, disapproving look before finishing up and washing my hands. I wonder how he would have scored on this test.
posted by orme at 5:33 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


And for the love of God, have music or some sort of sound playing in the bathroom-- there's nothing more quiet then the sound of expectant pee in a small (think 4 urinal) public bathroom.
posted by Static Vagabond at 5:56 AM on August 1, 2013


A few weeks ago I was traveling by car across China, several hours inland on a primary expressway. We stopped at a rest area where I used the most amazing trough I've ever seen. It was 40 feet long. The wall was an eight-foot high panel of etched glass looking into a bamboo forest diorama. A rushing waterfall flowed down the glass, onto tile, and down a long drain.

There were several guys there, and troughs usually make me shy, but wow that waterfall was so inviting. Plus, Americans in inland China are basically rock stars, so I took care of business no problem.

Yes it WAS a urinal trough and no I did not accidentally pee on a beautiful bamboo diorama.
posted by rlk at 6:34 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bizarre game concept. I honestly thought up to now the urinal/bathroom etiquette thing was strictly a TV/movie trope. I've always just picked the nearest one free. I'm supposed to worry about what other people in public toilets are doing? Where they're standing while they urinate? Wow. Maybe it's an HFA thing, but I feel like I'm lucky to be ignorant of all this social-dynamic stuff going on.
posted by The Zeroth Law at 6:48 AM on August 1, 2013


I am also available for consultation via text message if you encounter a urinal crisis at the movies or the ballpark: for the low fee of $0.99 I will TELL YOU which urinal to use.
posted by scrump at 11:11 PM on July 31 [+] [!]


Agent for S.C.R.U.M.P.: Special Consultants Regarding Urinal Maximum Potential
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:51 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


One advanced urination technique is "crossing streams" with the guys next to you

Spengler: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.
Venkman: What?
Spengler: Don't cross the streams.
Venkman: Why?
Spengler: It would be bad.
Venkman: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, "bad"?
Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal.
Venkman: Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.
posted by Kabanos at 6:56 AM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think the other side of the homophobia equation are us neurotics with the nagging paranoia that anyone is a potential hair-trigger bully. Which I why I usually wait for an available unless the restroom is deserted.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:01 AM on August 1, 2013


available stall
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:14 AM on August 1, 2013


TheophileEscargot's theory, except: preferentially NOT the urinal against the wall, whereas I will always take the train/bus seat near the wall/divider.
posted by ctmf at 8:22 AM on August 1, 2013


That is the most fun I've ever had pretending to pee.
posted by MoxieProxy at 9:27 AM on August 1, 2013


By far the funniest urinal story ever, from Kumail Nanjiani on Conan the other week.
posted by opsin at 9:35 AM on August 1, 2013


B+ because I only sorta pee like the girl I am. Like many of the folks here, I thought the data wasn't sufficient to make real decisions, e.g, how messy is the bathroom and do any of these dudes look dangerous? But maybe men think about that differently.
posted by immlass at 9:58 AM on August 1, 2013


F. One star in total.

Which made me happy. I'm a transwoman; I haven't been in a men's room for most of a decade. I figured that if I WAS in a men's room using the urinal, I'd already be putting myself into a deliberately awkward and confrontational situation, so I chose the one my Pissing Distance Instinct told me was the absolute worst choice. Every time. Take the spot that will make it worst both for the guys in there right now, and for the guys who come in while I'm still pissing out the several liters of water I've been holding for a while for just this moment. SASSY PRICKLADY OWNS THIS BATHROOM.

I've been thinking of getting genital surgery lately. I haven't really missed the urinal dance. But now I kinda want to go use a crowded one at least once before I get rid of the handy aiming deceive.
posted by egypturnash at 10:39 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I take issue with the rules of this game. For several of the later tests, no urinal was the correct answer.

Most in my office seem unaware of these rules, I might add.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:43 AM on August 1, 2013


In Vietnam, in a small village that stank of fish sauce (they make it), I used a urinal that consisted of a long trough made from cinderblock through which water periodically flowed, with about twenty guys using it at once. Since then, I have been a little less picky about American urination arrangements.

If I recall, the urinals in the BC legislature were exactly like this. Only granite and cleaned religiously.
posted by klanawa at 3:51 PM on August 1, 2013


I think this proves, above all, that urinals are placed too close together in public bathrooms.
posted by JHarris at 5:33 PM on August 1, 2013


I also seriously doubt it's a homophobia thing. I scored an A-, but I use the exact same arrangement policy for subway seating, regardless of the genders of the other people on the train. It's purely a personal-space thing.
posted by Bugbread at 6:35 PM on August 1, 2013


A-. I'm a girl. Is It Getting Harder? LOL. But actually, no, it's getting easier because I'm getting more examples of the pattern.

In closing, I'd like to note that if the restroom door does not have a sign indicating that it is intended for men only, and upon entering you encounter a single room lacking partitions and containing a toilet, a sink, and a urinal, you've got yourself a single-occupancy unisex bathroom. Please lock the goddamn door. Because when I walk in on you using the urinal, I'm embarrassed to have intruded, you're startled, and now there's even more dribbles of piss on the floor to stink up the place.
posted by desuetude at 11:19 PM on August 1, 2013


All these fuckers who piss next to the wall obviously don't mind brushing up against a wall spattered with other men's piss. Optimal, my ass.

Good news! It seems most places have added partitions between their urinals, so now everyone can brush up against a piss-spattered wall.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:20 AM on August 2, 2013


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