The other day I ventured into the restroom to relieve myself of some liquid waste. There were three urinals lined up next to a single stall. An elderly gentleman was already stationed at the urinal on the far right. Following proper man-law, I positioned myself in front of the urinal on the far left.
Things were moving along quite well, when I noticed the elderly gentleman was no longer keeping his head forward and his eyes up. I could feel him looking at me. I froze like a deer in headlights. My mind was racing to figure how to handle the situation, when the man broke the awkward silence.
"Those are nice shoes." Yeah right. My shoes are two years old and horribly scuffed up.
Again, I was unsure how to handle myself. Speaking of which, I had finished my business, but was too afraid to move. In a matter of seconds, my brain whipped up a response that would both establish my sexual preference and deflect the compliment away from me. "My wife picks out all of my clothes; she'll appreciate the compliment."
He responded with a comment about his own wife, which diffused the situation. I was able to zip up and we bantered at the sink for a few moments and continued about our day. When it was all over, I reflected on the whole scenario and figured that perhaps not everyone is aware of standard "Proper Urinal Etiquette."
(Thanks to Phil for the pic!)
To begin, I consider Proper Urinal Etiquette to be a subsection of man-laws. It's something that should come naturally to all men. It is an unwritten code that all men know and follow. When proper etiquette is not followed, chaos ensues. The entire vibe of the restroom is thrown off and nobody can perform. You might as well leave and try again later.
The following is by no means an exhaustive list. Some situations just cannot be planned for, and you'll need to follow your instinct. If this list comes as a surprise to you, then please don't follow your instinct. And for the love of all things holy, learn how to behave at a urinal!
Proper Urinal Etiquette
1) The One Gap Rule. When possible, always leave at least one urinal empty between yourself and the occupied urinal. Take the urinal that leaves the widest gap possible, while keeping in mind that there also needs to be an available gap for the next guy.
2) The Head Forward Rule. This is the Golden Rule of Proper Urinal Etiquette. When occupying your urinal, there is absolutely no reason for you to turn your head. All of your attention should be directed at the business in front of you. The only exception to this rule is when an entertaining advertisement has been provided up on the wall. In this case, if you turn your head, be sure to over-exaggerate keeping your head up.
3) The Don't Talk To Strangers Rule. Urinal stations are not country clubs or chat rooms. You're not there to make new friends. When a man stands in front of a urinal, he has one thing on his mind. Chatting him up should be the last thing on your mind. Pretty much any rule you learned about strangers when you were a child can be applied to urinal etiquette. Don't take candy from them either.
4) The Keep Your Pubes In Your Pants Rule. I have no idea how so many pubes find their way onto the urinal. It's gross and we don't need reminders that you were there. If this is a problem for you, just use the stall instead and flush your hairs down the toilet.
5) The No Dumping Rule. This may seem to be an obvious rule. However, I have seen it before and consider it a major faux pas.
I hope this list helps. Be sure to play The Urinal Game below and test your skills on urinal etiquette.
Also, this picture was taken in the same restroom that I had my encounter in. Notice the sign and the automatic flushing urinal: