You know, in case you suddenly grow a penis and need to take a crash-course in urinals…
Publish date:
November 22, 2012
toilets, urinals, toilet etiquette

I’ve always been fascinated by men’s toilet etiquette, which, unsurprisingly is more complex than ours.

Sure, us laydeez have some issues. Some women only go in large groups. Some women only go alone. Some women think it's fine to continue their conversations in cubicles to a Urination Soundtrack even when there's someone weeing in the cubicle between them.

If you run out of loo paper, do you ask the person next to you to pass some under the walls? Do you suffer in silence and wait until the loo is empty before shuffling into the adjacent cubicle with pants around your ankles? Do you use an old receipt? A Tesco bag? Your handbag?

Still, having interviewed a variety of different males from all walks of life (read: middle class, London-based, twenty-somethings who are my friends), it seems we have it easy.

It's a psychological minefield behind that door decorated with a stickperson not wearing a skirt. Here are some of the tips I picked up through the course of my investigation:

Etiquette issue 1: Spatial awareness.1. Don't pee next to someone. Do not intentionally stand and pee next to another if there are other urinals free, even if you are Good Friends. Especially if you are Good Friends.

2. Abide by the One Urinal Between Pee-ers Rule, if possible.

3. When entering an empty Pee Arena, always take the urinal on the end. That way nobody will be forced to pee next to you.

4. With regards troughs, cultivate a two-person gap. Never stand elbow-to-elbow, nor squeeze into too-tight gaps.

5. Thou shalt not cross the stream. If you don't understand what this means, re-watch Ghostbusters and use your imagination.

6. Sense of humour evaporates in the Pee Arena. Jokingly trying to hold hands with the person next to you will be greeted with suspicion.

7. If all urinals are taken, there is the option to use a cubicle which brings us neatly to...

Etiquette issue 2: Cubicle Use1. Urinals are for weeing and cubicles are for... y'know. I've just eaten lunch (for anyone interesting: coriander salad. Disappointing because I hate coriander and salad is boring. Essentially I played the opposite of a blinder here and I'll regret this meal for approximately 48 hours) so excuse me for not talking about fecal matter.

Oh I just did. I've thrown up coriander everywhere.

2. When there are no urinals, peeing in a cubicle is acceptable provided the door is left open to retain a sense of "hey, I'm just peeing what of it yeah?! No biggie! No worries! No big worries! I'm cool with you seeing me pee, obviously."

One interviewee explained that, if someone hears you weeing in a closed cubicle, you run the risk of being The Guy Who Doesn't Want Anyone Seeing Him Pee Because He May Have A Hilarious Willy/Emotional Problems.

3. Some experience a Zen-like effect when having their own Pee Arena in which to perform. One said he always shuts the door "so I can have a proper, relaxing piss, take my time, send a text..."

4. Closed Cubicles are also a place of hygiene, away from the free-for-all of the Urinal Space. "Shaking after you've weed really doesn't have much effect. You need a good wipe. Loo roll is important."

5. While a big taboo, two admitted to enjoying a sit down wee. Apparently many great men have been known to relax in this way, but nobody speaks of it.

6. Having a sit down wee on a urinal/in a trough is not advised.

7. One interviewee told of a "friend" who used to sit backwards on a toilet to wee until the age of 14 because he'd never seen any other men do it.

8. Closed Cubicles also help with pee-shyness. Oh, hello fantastic segueway.

Etiquette Issue 3: Pee-shyness1. All the world's a stage, and when you're pissing on the stage, you may experience stage fright. I'd like to see Mark Rylance perform his Tony award-winning lead role in Jerusalem while weeing in a small bowl.

If anyone says they've never had a pee-shy moment, they're lying.

2. It usually occurs in the Urinal Space when there are queues.

3. Some overcome it by relinquishing their urinal and coming back later. Some will stand there until it's done. The latter can be embarrassing when it becomes noticeable because "you're essentially a guy standing with his knob out looking at the wall"

4. One interviewee takes a deep breath and imagines a sort of magical sluice gate opening in their brain. Occasionally this works. Presumably only if you're Buddhist.

5. Transferring to a cubicle is sometimes difficult because of the common feeling that everyone is watching them and would question why they're Space Hopping.

6. Actual space hoppers do not help pee-shyness and are frowned upon in the Pee Arena.

Etiquette Issue 4: Talking1. There is no talking while peeing. Even if the Urinal Space is populated only by Good Mates, they will converse up until entering the Pee Arena, stop talking, and resume the conversation when leaving.

2. Cubicle conversations are an absolute no go. Some discuss their experiences, and have been known to commentate, but these people are universally agreed to be Unsavoury Loo Mavericks (ULMs)

3. When someone strikes up a conversation during weeing, this is often seen as ULM behaviour.

4. To avoid awkwardness, most men will not enter the Pee Arena with a friend, but will wait until they can enter alone. Sometimes this is not possible, e.g. in busy clubs/bars/in times of Pee Desperation. In most cases, it's OK to go in pairs provided it's not A Thing You Do Loads.

Etiquette Issue 5: Queuing1. Queues for the urinals are fine, if pressurized and occasionally leading to pee-shyness (see Etiquette Issue 3).

2. Queuing for the hand-dryer is, according to one interviewee, a step too far. "Once you'd peed you just want to leave. If there's more than one person waiting for the hand dryer I run out."

3. Queuing for cubicles is awkward, according to one interviewee, due to the possibility of eye contact upon entering a cubicle someone is exiting. Eye contact is to be avoided at all costs.

Etiquette Issue 6: Eye contact1. To be avoided at all costs.

2. In the Urinal Space, stare straight ahead. Do not stare at your own knob. Do not stare at someone else's knob, no matter how interested you are or how huge it looks in your peripheral vision. Do not stare into the eyes of the person next to you.

3. Distract yourself by playing one of two eye-contact-avoidance games: Wash The Speck Off The Trough/Urinal With Your Own Stream and Try And Hit The Centre Of The Urinal Cake.

4. If something awful happens, like you accidentally pee on someone else's shoes/jacket (this barely ever happens), do not acknowledge it. Leave the arena immediately.

5. When traversing around the pee arena, eye contact is often seen as a potential homosexual advance. Avoid. The interviewees who brought this up were eager to point out that they don't think all gay guys stare at guys in loos, and they have no problem with homosexuality, it's just something they feel strongly about.

6. Again, sense of humour is to be avoided here. Flouting the eye contact rules "for a laugh" will not work (see point 5).

Etiquette Issue 7: Sounds1. Do not whistle or sing jauntily while weeing. Do not commentate on how your wee is going.

2. Make as much noise in the cubicle as you'd like. It makes you more of a man. Overheard: "oh yeah" and "mmm" and "yeah that's right". Oh, I just threw up again.

If there are any males reading this, did I miss anything out?

Women, am I underestimating the ladyloo etiquette rulebook, and should I compile a similar list for female toilets to counter this? I just go in and pee and leave. However, maybe there's a whole world of rules and regulations out there that I'm totally missing out on.

Maybe I'm a terribly-mannered pisser. Oh god my parents will be so disappointed in me.

Stevie is tweeting about urinals and other business at @5tevieM.