The men's restroom: All I want is a little consistency, please...

I appreciate and embrace consistency in all things. Find the fastest, most accurate, most efficient, least expensive way of doing something, and repeat as often as needed.

This is why men's restrooms infuriate me. 

Almost all men's restrooms contain urinals. This is good. They actually allow for the fastest, most efficient use of the restroom. They are quick to use and take up less space than a standard toilet, allowing for more of them. Urinals are the reason why the line to the men's restroom is always shorter than the line to the women's restroom. 

But here's the thing:

In the last decade or so, privacy partitions have started appearing between urinals in some restrooms. These rectangular pieces of plastic or wood have been bolted onto the wall between urinals, apparently offering a modicum of privacy to the user. 

"You can still see my head and my feet, but just try looking at my penis now, buster!" 


I'm not specifically opposed to these privacy partitions. What I'm opposed to is the lack of consistency between restrooms. Some have partitions between urinals and some don't, and this bothers me. Men either require this privacy partition or they don't, and I'm annoyed that we haven't come to a decision on this matter.

If it were up to me, I'd have no privacy partition. For a very long time, men used urinals without complaint or problem. Why we need to suddenly ensure the privacy of our genitals is beyond me. There was a time when men at Fenway Park and other baseball stadiums urinated into a communal trough without much complaint, and there are probably places where these troughs still exist. Men pee on trees all the time. Sometimes we pee side by side on the same tree. I can't imagine that many men suddenly felt the need for privacy while using a urinal.

But perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps a significant number of men require a strategically placed sheet of plywood positioned at penis height to feel comfortable.

"You can look me in the eye or stare at my shoes while I pee, but don't you dare look at my penis!"

Maybe men are more concerned with wandering eyes that I think. Perhaps exposure of the penis contributes to shy bladders. Maybe this is homophobia rearing its ugly head.  

What I've also noticed is that the smaller the men's room and the more professional or fancy the establishment, the more likely that there will be partitions. 

Therefore a corporate headquarters or an expensive restaurant is more likely to have partitions than a concert hall, a fast food restaurant, or a sports stadium.

This annoys me, too. 

Men who work in the corporate world or spend more on dinner are more likely to have penises that require privacy than men who attend football games or stop at a McDonald's to use the restroom?

Also, aren't these quite often the same men? 

I don't know.

But here is what I do know:

We either need these partitions or we don't. Either equip all men's rooms with these privacy partitions or stop adding them to restrooms altogether.

Consistency. That's all I want. A universal agreement that this added expense is either needed or not. We either need to hide our penises in the restroom or we don't.

I think not, but as long as we can come to some kind of agreement, I'll be happy. 

Sometimes a cell phone holster can tell you a lot about a person

I know. I shouldn’t’ judge. At least that’s what I am told.

I’m not really sure why judging is bad. I think the general feeling is that by abstaining from judging others, you promote kindness, compassion, and cultural sensitivity.

You also don’t arbitrarily place your lifestyle choices ahead of others. 


But judging isn’t always bad.

Judging the men in a patriarchal society that doesn’t allow women to vote or drive cars and beheads them for doing so seems perfectly acceptable to me.

They suck. Right?

Judging a parent who is smoking in their car while their baby is strapped into the car seat in the backseat also seems acceptable to me.  

These parents suck, too? Right?

Still, some judgments are probably more appropriate and productive than others. So when I saw the man’s cellphone holster, affixed to his belt like a modern day gunslinger (except not nearly as cool), I immediately thought poorly of him.

I knew that casting such aspersions was not right.

I recently adopted a policy of never making negative comments (or even having negative thoughts) about people based upon physical appearance. If Bermuda shorts in a blizzard makes you happy, who am I to think otherwise?

It’s been four months since I adopted the policy, and I have yet to make a negative comment about physical appearance aloud and have substantially curbed my negative thoughts as well.

It’s actually not hard. Once you tell yourself that everyone’s physical appearance is off limits, it’s only when you encounter an extreme example of physical appearance that those negative thoughts appear.

Half-naked teenagers. A woman struggling to walk through the parking lot in her three-inch heels. A man wearing a shirt that doesn’t entirely cover his gut. A boy wearing a shirt emblazoned with profanity. Women wearing large amounts of makeup.  

I haven’t been completely successful in avoiding negative thoughts about physical appearance, but I’m working on it.  

The same should apply to cell phone holsters. Right?

Then the man with the cell phone holster followed me into the restroom. He sidled up to the adjacent urinal. That’s when I noticed that he was holding a Styrofoam coffee cup in one hand as he worked the belt and button on his pants with the other. A moment later, he began drinking his coffee as he conducted his business. Slurping it, in fact, as if needing to maintain some sort of fluid equilibrium.

Liquid out. Liquid in.

The grossest thing that I ever saw was a man standing at a urinal, conducting his business while eating a hot dog, but this came close.

Then the man flushed the urinal, tossed his now-empty cup in the trash, and walked out of the restroom without washing his hands.

Nope. I was right to judge. The man was stupid and disgusting.

The cell phone holster was merely the tip of the iceberg.