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Men Are Disgusting: A Traveler's Guide to Navigating Men's Restrooms with a Daughter

Think Twice -- Second Most Effs Given -- The Chatty Kathy -- Who answers the phone on the can -- CPP -- Florida is weird -- Leroy-Jenkins-like -- After all, his pants -- This is freedom -- Me -- Catharsis -- It's everything else -- a few droplets

Marcel Derweduwen

Men are disgusting, and you should think twice before touching us. Oh, you might be thinking, they're not that bad. After all I am married to/am actually a man.

You are wrong, and this is scientific proof as to how wrong you are. You see, I travel a lot. Traveling necessitates using public restrooms. A lot of them. If you have traveled as much as I have - shat in these shoes, as it were - you'd know where to find the cleanest public restrooms (Barnes & Noble's, provided it's after 10:00 am, don't bring a book in unless you plan to buy, you're welcome). You'd know which to avoid (any exit with just one gas station. Like, they're all tied for last). You'd know that we piss like we're hunting duck, not deer, and no I don't mean we get right up on the TV, but that we fill the air with buckshot, except it's urine. For most it's not accuracy, it's sheer force. It ricochets off of surfaces you'd think would be designed to corral it, but in practice do the opposite.

Piss is everywhere in the men's room, and this is a result of the normal men. These are the guys like you and me. Not the ones that need to be re-classified into another species.

Please don't say that none of these people exist. Just nod your head, and say yeah, that sounds like us.

The following is by no means comprehensive. It is a sampling, the tip of the iceberg of all the filthy men I've ever met in men's restrooms.

All of these people exist. All of them are gross. Some of them are you. For drama, and comedy, and for reasons that will become clear, I've arranged these people from Second Most Effs Given to Least Effs Given, then we conclude with the person who Gives the Most Effs.

Got it? Good.

Second Most Effs Given:

Guy Who Stares Straight Ahead - Do not make eye contact. Eye contact might necessitate a conversation, an entreatment for gas money or, god forbid, he may think you had just looked down and were covering for looking down by staring at his face dumbly because you are in shock and you couldn't think of anything else to do but this. You might plaster a smile on your face as an added layer of disguise.

You just want to unburden your bladder, not be subjected to the rigors of small talk. You make no sound, you are a cat creeping to the litter box.

This person treats the rules of bathrooms like an electric fence - perhaps due to past shocks, rather than risk even grazing the thing, he skirts around it, content to pad around the lawn like the docile animal he is. There is no curiosity to see what's on the other side. The other side is us, and we scare him.

Older Man Who Just Wants a Few Dribbles - They just stand there forever, breathing heavily, sometimes mumbling encouragement to, or aspersions on, themselves. I feel bad for them, because I might be them in forty years.

The Guy Who Farts During - Let's be honest. This is all of us.

The Guy Who Laughs at the Guy Who Farts During - ibid.

The Chatty Kathy - We know, on some level, that some of the social mores that bind us out there, evaporate in here. For instance, you do not need to say hello when someone pulls up to the next urinal. Imagine you are at a movie theater, not say, walking down the block. We are not neighbors. I will not be offended if you think of me like a potted plant or whatever. We are cars passing in the night, our headlights blinding each other until we've passed and are gone.You don't need to know if I'm from around here, or if it is hot enough for me, or if I'd like to buy some life insurance (more on that in a minute).

The Guy Who Doesn't Make It - Usually in a stall, and usually because he drank too much. He's sorry for being so disgusting. Also, his sick has forced him on all fours and that is punishment enough.

Guy Who Tells You Exactly What He's Gonna Do Later to the Girl Waiting For Him Outside - Usually occurs in Vegas, for obvious reasons, but also has happened in - no I am not making this up - a gas station.

I am not talking about a bro bragging to his bros revolving around him like satellites. I am talking about a stranger, saddling up at a urinal/stall, and because he is just exploding with self-love he can't stand it, he must pour the knowledge that, Yo, he can't believe he boutta get this girl up to his room and {redacted, redacted, so many redactions, the seventy longest seconds of your life later you can stop redacting} on you.

To my female audience, you knew this happened (maybe not the gas station part, but the rest), you are not surprised. No. Just no.

The Businessman - How would you feel having a conversation with, say, your insurance agent. Perhaps you just got married, and you're thinking of taking out a life insurance policy. You just want security is all, and to know your loved ones will be taken care of if the worst happens. Imagine you've just had what you think was a pretty professional conversation, and you feel good about the direction your agent has directed you towards.

Then you hear the toilet flush. The fourth wall has been shattered, and that wall is public decency.

Who answers the phone on the can? Who does that? Men, that's who. Cuz we're gross.

I have heard people selling landscaping concepts - did you look at the rendering, oh you like the azaleas, I agree, I agree completely, they really do add something, okay, we can get started as soon as we get your deposit, yes I can take a credit card, hold on let me get a, get something to write with -  and even complaining about the reason - yeah, I know you got good food, but listen to me, no, just listen, I told him it was undercooked, he said it was medium rare, he told me it was fine, it wasn't fine bro, you want proof, hold on listen to this - they are actually on the toilet seat.

Captain Pissy Pants - Perhaps you are in Tunica with a few of your friends. Perhaps you've all had a few. Perhaps you see one of your friends heading for the exit. And there are people following him, causing a ruckus, laughing, whipping out camera phones.

This is what happens when you have had a few, realize you need to pee, and go to the urinal. So far everything is good, under control. You have mechanically completed all of the requisite steps to pee. So far, that is. You've sidled up to the urinal and your boy is next to you. Perhaps you become a Chatty Kathy for a minute, talking about how the roulette or what-have-you is going, how you might've lost your ass even though you tell your boy you're even, and then you realize you've been pissing the entire time.

Did you, did you..... did you forget to unzip? You laugh at that silly though. Of course you unzipped. Of course you did.

You look down. Now. Right now. In this moment. What are your options? Your friend is right next to you. You have a piss stain matriculating its way south towards the northern edge of both your boots, and a quarter mile walk through a casino that prides itself on being so bright you never guess it's dark outside.

There are no good options. You just stride out, into the halogen lit brightness of the casino. You know you will be seen. It's not a short walk. Somewhere, there might still be security tapes of you striding quickly out of the Gold Strike with piss-stained jeans.

You wonder how many days, months, years, more.... how long will the nickname stick? How long? If you just knew the exact date this moment would be manageable.

The Beach Bum - Florida goes on forever. I've driven the length of that sneaky infinity and in parts there's no clear way of telling whether you're still inside it or not. Go thirty minutes away from the beach in any direction, and you might think you were in Florida or Alabama or Arkansas if you didn't see the sand, and it's not like the sand turns to red clay when you cross the state line into Georgia.

The point is, Florida is a weird, massive place, but there are signposts if you know where to look.

If a gentleman ever sidles up to a urinal shirtless, you are probably in Florida. If he is wearing athletic shorts and flip flops (the ultra-thin kind which sound, with every step on the tile floor, like they're spanking an unruly child), you are definitely in Florida.

This man will almost always ask you for money. You should give it to him because his skin looks like a TV dinner wrapper cooked too long. He needs it more than you.

Guy Who Brings a Girl Into the Stall - This happened on the floor of a New Orleans bathroom. In other words, it was allowed. The girl had a boyfriend, and because about 50% of the bar heard it/took grainy cell phone video of the parts that jutted out from underneath the stall door, he eventually found out.

Guy Who Drops Trow at the Urinal - We've gone through all the levels of rules, and met the people who were increasingly willing to break them. This man sits atop the mountain, unassailable, and without pants.

If you think this man gives slight more effs than the guy who, well, gave effs in the stall, consider the following:

1). Booze are not involved here.

2). So comfortable does he appear in this position, one can only assume it's not a moment of passion, but his default stance.

3). This did not happen in New Orleans

4). The very beginning of civilization is when man realized he should be clothed. It's in the Bible. This man has not read the Bible, or if he has, he lingers on its contradictions - how can God be vengeful and merciful; how can free will exist if God knows what we will do before we do it?

He eventually casts it aside as silliness. It has no hold on him, this flimsy law for someone else. He scoffs at your rules. Your frowns, your averted eyes, your purposeful coughs announcing your presence because surely he thinks he's still alone, maybe you should leave and re-enter a little louder to give him a chance to fix himself - all your hand-wringing is lost on him.

He lives apart. You are the weird one for subjugating his nether-regions to the confines of cloth, for thinking about whose urine his pants are sponging up. They are, after all, his pants. It's weird - voyeuristic even - to think about somebody else's urine soaking into a third somebody else's pants.

Stop thinking about the seventy-five percent of this man's bare ass peeking out from under his collared shirt - a shirt two sizes too large, and surely always untucked if it had something to have the option of being tucked into - just stop already.

Because this man has just lit a cigarette and is smoking while at the urinal and has not stopped urinating. This is what you can do when you don't have to use your hands for silliness like holding onto your pants.

This is, in a single word, freedom.

When the Apocalypse comes, this man will plunge Leroy Jenkins-like towards it because it will feel like home. And he'll probably be pantless.

That Brings us to the Man Who Gives the Most effs:

Guy who brings his son daughter into the Men's bathroom for the first time, i.e. Me, Sometime in the Not-Too-Distant-Future - This is my destiny. My cross. With my two month old daughter, I see it out there, floating somewhere near the curvature of the earth.

Years from now, when I am out with my daughter, at a restaurant, or an airport, or my gas tank nears E the same time my daughter's bladder does the opposite and, God forbid, the next exit only has one, solitary, gas station - she will turn to me and before she says a word I will know that this beast's hour has come round at last.

I will be somewhere else. I will be here, in this moment, typing these words to you, remembering all of these people, exorcising them one by one out of my nightmare and into words.

You see, this has all been catharsis. When something terrifies me - and a man talking, within a hundred yards of my daughter let alone in the same room, about the precise sexual position into which he will contort his conquest shortly, you know, does - I imagine it as terrible as it can possibly be. I look it square in the eyes for a piece, before then shoving a clown suit over its snout, wrangling it to the dust, suffocating its terribleness in comedy.

I don't know what else to do. Short of traveling with a child-sized hazmat suit, or a tarp, or a reservoir of Purel (which, by the way, only kills 99.9% of germs the other .1% of which, I can only assume, live in the Chernobylian aftermath that is a Men's Restroom), I don't know what to do.

Because the truth, the deep, deep truth, is that I'm not scared of any of this. It's not some other man's urine smearing itself on my daughter's dress's fringe that terrifies me. It's not even the bacteria teeming on the toilet seat, and the handle and the faucet and probably swimming in the very air that will one day make its way into her mouth - because, until a certain age, everything eventually ends up in their mouth - she falls ill, so I stay up with her through the night, losing sleep as she does too, staying close, as close as possible, because maybe my closeness won't absorb all the nastiness from her, but at least it will make her feel safe.

It's everything else. It's your delicate heart being crushed by some stupid boy. It's the cars hurtling past us, any of which could suddenly veer into our lane. It's all the things I won't be able to give you, except right now, these words, nothing more than a few bits and bytes of information marooned on an Internet blog about, of all things, basketball.

They're not much, a few droplets in an ocean, but at least they're yours.

It's not enough. Because it's less than everything. Because you're sitting next to me, right now, and you're cooing like a songbird in the deep woods, comfortable in the wild before I've released you, gurgling soft language I don't understand, not yet, and it's so soft, as soft as an unseen stream, just loud enough to make me think everything will be okay.