Sex, Drugs and the Middle Urinal

Photo courtesy Wiki Commons.

Photo courtesy Wiki Commons.

Xander Adkins, Staff Reporter

Fifteen minutes into the lunch period was when it hit me. I immediately got up from my plastic stool and walked to the exit as fast as my bladder would allow me. Slosh-slosh-slosh. Halfway through my trek across the cafeteria, I started wondering why I drank both of the bottles of water in my backpack. Slosh-slosh-slosh. Each step I took felt like it might just be my last. Slosh-slosh-slosh.

 I finally made it to the exit and gave my ID to the security guard at the door. 

“Where ya heading?” he asked. 

I gave him one look, and he understood. The sheer amount of desperation in my eyes said more than any explanation could.

 I didn’t even care anymore. I ran through the doorway and down the hall, pushing my bladder to its limit. SLOSH-SLOSH-SLOSH. I’d never been so happy to see a no-necked stick figure on a sign before. I ran into the restroom, overjoyed that my journey had finally come to a close, when I saw it.

 The stalls were full. There were three urinals in the restroom, the left and right ones occupied, with a line of three people waiting for them to finish. 

No sane man would throw away his dignity by using the middle one, but in that moment I was as sane as I was thirsty. I took my first steps toward the beautifully unused public toilet, which smelled of fresh urinal cakes and shone like the morning sun. My peers watched with awe in their eyes as I took the last steps of my adventure, and the sloshing finally stopped.

When it comes to awkward situations, I think most men agree that the fabled “middle urinal” is up there as one of the worst. 

Not only are you doing your business sandwiched between two other gentlemen who wish you hadn’t joined the party, but having someone you know right next to you makes the experience prime for uncomfortable small talk.

Most of the time conversation topics stay pretty surface level, which makes sense. If a stranger started asking me about the meaning of life while we were squished together using a public toilet, I’d assume he had just broken out of an insane asylum.

Even without mentioning the fact that tall people are one hundred times more terrifying when using a urinal next to them, it’s easy to see why the current layout isn’t preferable.

“[It’s] just the awkwardness factor,” history teacher and urinal enthusiast Patrick Weber said. “You don’t want to be shoulder-to-shoulder in the bathroom. That’s not really ideal.”

Most people seem to agree with Weber’s logic, as only 28.9 percent of Prospect boys use the middle urinal when there are people on the sides, according to a KnightMedia survey of 76 male students. 

Urinals are designed with efficiency and space conservation in mind, but neither of those goals are being accomplished when one-third of them aren’t being used by the majority of men.

This, combined with the overall general distaste for the middle urinal, makes me wonder, though; should we even have a middle urinal in the first place?

Now, look, I know. You can’t just get rid of the middle urinal. Most bathrooms have more than three urinals, and even if there are an even amount of urinals in the restroom (meaning there technically isn’t even a middle one), that just means two urinals are going to be unused rather than one.

But the middle urinal conundrum (or “unspoken urinal rule” as others have dubbed it) is an inarguable issue, no matter how stupid it sounds.

It’s a weird topic that many people have brought up, specifically on social media, although most of the time they’re only poking fun at the idea rather than actually thinking of a solution.

I’m shocked people aren’t taking this seriously.

It’s easy to think that getting rid of urinals altogether would be the solution. Regular toilets work just fine, and having a small room to yourself laughs in the face of whatever privacy the two-foot dividers between urinals have, if even that.

But for those who want a more creative solution, ‘urine’ luck. A huge change in urinal design, even if it seems like a Herculean task, would be completely warranted, especially with urinals for females becoming more popular. SheWee, a company that makes a plethora of female urination devices, claims to sell one of their products every three minutes.

 It’s nice to know that someday everyone, no matter their anatomy, will be able to share the immense hatred we men have toward the 28.9 percent that want to watch the world burn.

It’s not like women don’t know about men’s bathroom woes, as 71.5 percent of female Prospect students have heard of the “Unspoken Urinal Rule,” and a surprising 58.3% actually agree with it, according to a KnightMedia survey of 123 and 103 students.

Despite all my talk, though, it’s unlikely that a radical change in urinal design will take place anytime soon.

It’s clear that most men don’t mind waiting in a line to use a urinal as long as they aren’t shoulder-to-shoulder once they get there, but that doesn’t mean we should rule out any possible solutions.

The day the middle urinal conundrum is solved will go down in history next to the likes of the discovery of fire and first moon landing. It will most certainly have its own national holiday as well; unlike President’s Day or Labor Day, however, it won’t be appreciated just for giving me a day off school.