I seem over the years to have developed a reputation for being something of a germophobe. This is a ridiculous notion; I am merely more aware than most of the existence of countless microscopic armies, unified in purpose and lying in wait to kill us all and of those among us, presumably sent by Satan himself, to unwittingly and callously offer themselves as military transport. This silent battle for our very survival occurs everywhere at once, but no more overtly than in the men’s room of any public place. I offer to you today the bathroom at the local Cineplex Overpriced as a battlefield by example and some indispensable advice in the way of defense along the way.
I use the men’s room to make my point simply because I hold the fairer sex in such high regard and assume their practices to be less Neanderthalic. I have never been in an occupied ladies’ room (save for the time one of my fellow coaches tricked me into thinking it was our team’s locker room. Fortunately, everyone had a nice laugh, save for the fat old lady adjusting her panty hose at the waist and myself, who has the sight of her constricted, blue-veined cellulite forever burned into memory). I prefer to think of women as poster children for good hygienic practice; I’m certain there are exceptions, but console myself with the notion that these particular ladies give themselves away in more obvious ways (i.e. their general appearance).
The first point of attack in the men’s room at the local theater is at the outer door; some of the troglodytes who came before have committed all manner of offense before entering (nose picking, crack scratching, personnel adjustments and the like) and left the traces for you at the handle. I prefer to enter by way of a shoulder or foot pushed into a virginal part of the door. Then it’s on to the urinals, where the first visible evidence of danger is revealed. For those of you who have yet to see one, the urinal is a fairly large porcelain conveyance of liquid waste, hung on the walls at a generally appropriate level. Some men comment that the water is often cold and even deep; while I’ve found that’s often the case, I am of course very careful and they are all lying and trying to be funny. I digress; the point is that the thing is hard to miss, and yet there is always a little puddle on the floor beneath them. What is wrong with these guys? Perhaps it’s a function of age. With kids, it’s a learning process; the little nipper still needs to be tamed, and with the older set, their prostates may be having fun with them. No matter; when I use the urinal, I find myself standing like a giraffe at a watering hole. I know urine is supposed to be sterile, but not when it’s someone else’s and festering on a restroom floor. Men who are less acute than I (all of them) inevitably step in these remnants of piddle and then track it everywhere; for this reason alone I do not subscribe to the “Five Second Rule” when it comes to dropping food on the floor.
There is a certain etiquette at the urinals to which all real men rigidly adhere; unfortunately, there is a shortage of real men in this world. First, man-code dictates that you never, ever, use the urinal next to someone else if another is open further down. This is not an issue of hygiene so much as one of general creepiness (it is, however, off topic for today and so we’ll leave it for another time). Then there is the courtesy flush; no one likes to use a yellowed urinal (least of all me). Unfortunately, the handle has been used by those that have already handled themselves. Thank God that society dictates we shake a guy’s hand instead of his junk, but that is essentially what’s happening whenever you flush. Because I’m a real man I adhere to the code, by way of a downward push with the closest elbow.
I think I can safely say that as long as I have been able to choose for myself, I have not gone “twosies” in a public restroom more than three times my entire life; in each of these incidents I would have suffered the most dire of consequences had I not (we can discuss this like adults, can we not? I suggest the wonderful children’s book, “Everyone Poops”, if this is an issue for you). I’m a home team guy when it comes to this basic function, and the reasons are obvious. Who knows what manner of man has presided on the throne before you, whether his cheeks were leprous, ridden with boils, or so hairy that he conveyed the attached DNA of dozens of people wherever he sat? The almost transparent paper with which to cover the seat is rarely available and as a barrier to pestilence is laughable at best. As this is obviously a matter of common sense, the man who routinely avails himself of the use of public facilities in this manner is clearly not in his right mind and therefore capable of anything.
I was once using the restroom (onsies) at a local movie theater when a man came bursting into the room exhibiting a most telling sense of urgency (if you are easily offended or otherwise given to propriety, you might want to turn away until the next paragraph. Wait…what?). He went into a stall, sat with a thud and then grunted as though lifting a piano. The emanation that followed was announced by a sound like a chair backing up on a wood floor, followed by that of a five gallon bucket of dishwater tossed from a third story window and hitting a cobbled street below. He flushed and was re-panted and out before I had finished. Even worse, he left without washing his hands! I was both shocked and stupefied by the expeditiousness of his evacuatory experience. Worse still, since I wasn’t able to follow, his actions had rendered the entire cineplex a biohazard; drinking fountains, benches, seats (maybe he’s an indecisive sitter), armrests and theater doors were all off-limits. After washing my hands over and over whilst muttering the horror, the horror, I had to wait a couple of minutes just for someone else to come and open the restroom door so I could get out.
My business partner and I once had a discussion: If we were transported back into the dark ages, could we offer something to mankind to improve their condition? He launched into a detailed exposition regarding his introduction of concrete, oil and natural gas to the general population; how quickly their lives would change. I had to admit at the time that he’d likely be a far more important and influential man than I. Since then, I have realized I could offer them two simple bits of advice and save millions of lives: wash your hands whenever possible and, whatever you do, stay away from the movie theater.