Don’t Shake the Snake! (Men’s Bathroom Etiquette)

Don’t Shake the Snake

After a hundred years of indoor plumbing and billions of complaints and reminders from women, men have finally learned that they must lift the toilet seat before urinating. And it will probably take another hundred years for them to learn to return the seat to its lowered position after urinating. But men’s bathroom etiquette does not begin and end with toilet seats. (In public restrooms, by the way, rather than doing the “male thing”—lifting the seat with one’s shoe-protected foot so as to avoid having to touch the usually filthy seat with one’s bare hands—a gentleman should use a handful of toilet paper to protect his hands as the seat is lifted, discarding the used paper into the trashcan. Lifting the seat with one’s foot, though tempting under some circumstances, only exacerbates the problem by adding street-germs to the ones already thriving in public bathroom stalls). After urinating into the bowl, toilet paper or a paper towel should be used to wipe away any urine that may have been misdirected onto the rim of the bowl. (If the rim is not wiped dry, the seat will be lowered onto the urine-splattered rim, causing the next gentleman, who, like all other gentlemen, will raise the seat before urinating, to have to handle an unclean toilet seat. After flushing, the seat and the lid (if there is one) should be lowered so that the subsequent occupant encounters a wiped-clean, closed toilet.

One of the reasons there is usually so much urine around toilets instead of in them is because most men—even gentle ones—have never been told, not even by their dear mothers and older sisters, that the penis should be wiped dry with toilet tissue after urinating. (Somehow, men think that only women need to wipe themselves dry after urinating). Instead, most men, almost ritualistically, but certainly triumphantly, stand over the toilet, trying to skillfully shake any residual urine into the bowl. But shaking and aiming are opposing actions, resulting in about half of what was intended to go into the bowl landing elsewhere—sometimes embarrassingly onto the very gentleman’s trousers. Obvious solution: After urinating, a man should simply use a few squares of toilet tissue to wipe his glans dry, discarding the paper into the toilet before flushing.

When using a toilet where people outside the bathroom or those in nearby spaces are likely to overhear what is taking place in the bathroom, a gentleman must conduct himself with utmost discretion. When urinating, for example, it would be polite under the circumstances to direct the flow of urine onto the porcelain next to the water reservoir as opposed to directly into the water, thereby reducing the possibility of announcing to those in audible vicinity exactly what is taking place within the bathroom. In other words, when nature calls, a gentleman need not call attention to it.

Hands should always be washed with soap and water after urinating. And a conscientious gentleman, even in a public restroom, will always use paper towels to ensure that the wash-basin area is cleaner and drier after his use than when he encountered it.

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