Thursday, July 24, 2008

Male Social Faux Pas

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that this is a males-only problem. I suppose women may have the issue too, but since I'm not allowed to be around when (if) it happens, I cannot be sure of pan-gender relativity.

I'm talking, of course, about the "Guy Who Wants to Talk to You While You're Peeing or Pooping in a Public Restroom" phenomenon.

Ladies? Does it happen to you? Do they knock on the wall and ask you how your day is going, or if you're enjoying the concert or whatever?

Anyway, this little facet of life (for life has much facets, many of them small) has been grunted into total saturation by just about every comedian or late-night talk show host. The punchline is always that this action is Strictly Forbidden, and any guy caught doing it should be handed a coloring book and sent right the hell back to Kindergarten. I mean, we just don't do that, right?

Okay. Why not?

Before I go any further, I would like to stress that I am not advocating a change in the social norm. I'm not pining away for the chance to have piss-conversations with strangers. As a sociophobe, I don't pine away for the chance to have conversations with anybody.

Maybe it's being trapped in the conversation. You can't jolly well walk away whenever you want when you're in front of a urinal. Biology takes precedent there.

"So! How about them Red Wings?"
"The Red Wings are total sacks of lame."
"Oh, well...this conversation turned sour in a hurry. I'm going to jolly well walk away now."
"Hey! You're peeing all over the floor!"
"I'm not listeniiiiiinnnng!"
"And those kids!"

I can understand that. Where the argument hits the wall is the simple fact that people willingly engage in unpleasant, unbreakable conversations outside of the bathroom all the time. It's a social faux pas to just leave the confessional booth while the priest is giving you your penance, too. If you could just wander off while your boss was pointing out one of your mistakes (you incompetent bastard, you) the world might be a better place. It would certainly be a different place.

Is it because we have trouble taking one another seriously when engaged in this most basic of biological acts? As advanced beings with highly developed minds (which is what we tell ourselves), do we find it hard to accept the fact that, just like the lemurs, we have to piddle?

I suppose it would be difficult to take the President of the United States seriously if he was at the podium, giving the State of the Union address and he suddenly got a crampy look on his face and asked everyone to follow him to a bathroom.

I personally would welcome the man's sudden honesty. Sort of.

Even if he didn't actually DO it, but just mentioned it, the vast majority of the population watching on TV would probably be unnerved.

"And that concludes the obscurantist bullshit for today, my fellow Amercians! You know that last law I told you about? I thought it up while I was on the crapper, fittingly enough."

Is it a matter of vulgarity, then? Then how come some of the most foul-mouthed comedians still consider it weird when someone talks to them in the restroom?

Maybe it's a matter of concentration.

"Gotta, uh...gotta...hey, um...pants..."
"Hey! Did you see that thing on the news today about the lemurs?"
"Oh, great. Thanks a lot, buddy. You broke my concentration. Now I gotta start all over!"

Concentration that bad would probably be indicative of more serious problems, I guess.

How about homophobia? That could be it. But are most men really that suspicious? They're afraid that some gay ninja is going to sidle up, distract them, then whip an abomination on them while they're not looking? Oh, those gays and their tricks! Though, the few gay men I knew were pretty loud in dress, voice and gesture. They were anything but stealthy.

So I guess it's a mystery! Thanks for joining me in this discussion, time-wasters. If I come up with any more Mysteries of Life, I will not hesitate to talk to you about them.

At a safe distance.

Like, over the Internet.


Anonymous said...

Paul, I can tell you have no idea about hockey, do you?

Also, the next time I am peeing at a urinal and the guy next to me wants to talk about his crotch itch, I am going to drown him in the toilet.

Paul FooDaddy Brand said...

Kevin, I can tell you have no idea about how to be awesome.

Seriously though, no. I thought I cared about professional sports once, but it turned out to be gas. Sorry, hockey!

Jack W. Regan said...

I hate "conversations" while in the bathroom, mainly because I'm not a big fan of small talk in general. I don't even like urinals.

This reminds me of a Garrison Keillor line, something like, "In the old days people used outhouses to do their business, because they weren't comfortable simply going into the next room." I didn't get the quote just right, but you get the idea.