So this morning, ‘R and I had about 20 minutes to chat and we ran the gamut of different topics before I told him that I wanted to discuss the differences between the dynamics that happen in the Men’s Room vs. the Women’s Room. (we’re talking public restrooms here, in case anyone is lost) He was all for that and wanted to know what my questions were and why. I explained that my understanding was that men don’t speak in the restroom and how that was totally different from the women’s restroom and that I have heard life stories from strangers in there. (more on that later) His interest was piqued and he asked me what I wanted to know. Here’s a summary of questions I asked and his answers:
Q: So it is true that men don’t speak to each other at the urinals?
A: Yeah. There’s only like maybe 10% that ever say anything in the restroom.
Q: So when someone does say something, do you find it weird or call them out on how weird it is that they are speaking at the urinals?
A: No. I’m not that kind of guy. But I’ve seen it happen. And yeah, I find it weird.
Q: So let me ask you this. You have sons, is this something you train them to do? As in, do you discuss this with them? What the proper bathroom behavior is?
A: No, never had a discussion about it.
Q: So this is just learned behavior by observation? Or not “observation” because that is a no no, but just by observing behavior?
A: (laughs) Yeah, I guess so. No, I have never discussed it with my sons.
Pause, then ‘R says, “You know what’s really strange? When there is both a stall and urinals and someone is in the stall. Whenever someone enters, 9 times out of 10, the person in the stall coughs. What do you think that is about?” (obviously, ‘R has thought about restrooms as much as I have!)
Q: Do you cough as well when you’re in the stall?
A: No. But I feel like I am supposed to. Why is that?
My A: probably because that’s what you’re used to. Everyone does it, so you feel compelled to, but still don’t.
His A: Yeah, it’s strange really. . .
So we discussed different possible reasons why men cough to announce their presence in the stall. . .
Then ‘R asks me, “I take it things are different in the women’s room? I’ll have to ask my wife about that.” He’s an astute guy! So I proceed to explain to him my experiences in the women’s room and how anything can be shared and that women make small talk and we have no problem asking the person next to us if they have any toilet paper over there. ‘R explains to me that there is no way in hell a man would ever ask if there was toilet paper over there. They would improvise in any way possible to avoid that! (Including, taking off their underwear and using it as toilet paper!) ‘R is a funny guy!
Ultimately, I guess my point is that we can find common connections regarding any topic if we just broach the subject. ‘R and I had a good time today discussing this and laughed a lot! But if you really look at it, our discussion was a whole lot more than just bathroom humor. We connected over an odd topic, but we were true with each other.