War Cries in the Porcelain Jungle

When I wrote this, I had the voice of Ira Glass (from This American Life) stuck in my head.  I greatly suggest reading the below in his voice / style if possible — Don

I work in a huge office building where people are forced to keep to themselves.  Small talk is not just frowned upon, it typically results in termination or, worse, you might make a friend.  Instead, we of the 35th floor spend our days looking at computer screens and yelling into speakerphones at people who we are not certain are real.  The hallways are filled with zombies who stare at their shoes as they shuffle coffee and items from the printer back to their offices.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m actually dead or dreaming or maybe the subject of someone else’s boring dream.  It’s at times like that, when I feel myself losing hope, that I turn to the bathroom.

The bathroom is a completely different scene.  My floor only has one men’s bathroom to serve the exactly 463 dudes who call the floor home.  This absurd ratio of men constantly ingesting coffee and donuts and all natural cane sugar sweetened kombucha to bathrooms ensures that the bathroom is never empty.  Never.

But our bathroom isn’t home to the typical mundane bowel movements and hand washing that you’re probably imagining, either.  Our bathroom is predators and prey, coming and going all day.  When we enter that bathroom we are able to cast off the chains of our office jobs and finally be men again.  And sometimes, for the briefest of moments, we can become something greater than men: we become free.

What makes our bathroom special is the fact that we compete at stuff like taking leaks and dropping turds.  Between the guttural war cries from the gladiators of the sink to the constant echo of farts the place is all man.  I have literally never seen a woman in the men’s bathroom.

I’ve also never been in another men’s bathroom like the one on my floor.


Competition 1: Pissing the Loudest at the Urinal

My friend Jack once told me he didn’t trust people who peed quietly.  That was the day he became my best friend Jack.  A weak urine stream is a sign of bladder shyness, a narrow urethra, penis cancer, or something worse.  All of these are decidedly unmanly.

So the object of this competition is simple, you just have to make more noise using your flow than the guy next to you.  Your manliness is a direct reflection of the volume you’re able to produce.  While seemingly pretty straightforward, this is probably the most hotly debated competition in the bathroom.  There are two basic camps: those who piss onto the back of the urinal and those fucking asshole cheaters who piss into the water.  There’s also a grey area of people who aim right at the edge of the water making a weird fizzy noise, but those kind of people are just cowards.  No one likes them.

The righteous back of the urinal pissers believe that the cackling of their flow as it smashes into porcelain is what God intended.  It’s natural.  It’s a level playing field where the pressure a man is able to produce is the only important factor in determining his volume.  I’ve heard claims that this aerates the urine and causes that sour smell to linger in the bathroom, but it was a woman who told me that so I was all like “what the fuck do you know about it?” to her and she didn’t say anything else.

Those who jet directly into the water are clearly trying to hide something.  They’ll often attempt other things to distract you too like spitting into the urinal, clearing their throats, or whistling.  The weakest men will even attempt to talk to you, looking in your direction even though they know that eye contact between two men who are peeing instantly turns them both gay.

I mostly just piss on the floor because I got bad blood with the cleaning lady.

Competition 2: Thoroughly Washing of the Hands

This is the one challenge that everyone participates in regardless of why they’ve entered the bathroom because, as everyone knows, your hands are coated with Fecal AIDS the instant you enter and only running water over them and pretending to use soap will remove the infection.  The challenge here is that the water is blisteringly fucking hot.

Scoring is similar to gymnastics.  Competitors are responsible with putting together a routine, the complexity of which determines their overall possible score.  Deductions are then made based on how the routine is executed by people waiting to use the sink (this leads to fist fights about 18% of the time).  My personal routine involves scraping under my fingernails, a complex bit where I interlock my fingers to wash between them, and then I follow up with a surgical scrub up to the elbows to add a little razzle-dazzle and make people think maybe I’m a doctor.

Deductions boil down to two types, failing to keep a neutral facial expression / remain silent and poor execution of the tricks in the routine (typically due to rushing through it because your skin is literally coming off).  Obviously adding cold water is the worst thing you can do and is an instant sign of pussiness.  However, also like gymnastics, this competition is full of pussies, so don’t be surprised to see it happen.

If by the end of your routine your hands are bright red and you managed no more than a few facial twitches, you probably did pretty well.


Competition 3: The Art of the Fart

The fart-off has been around for as long as two places to shit have been in the same room.  I’ve read that from the time a boy learns to control his farts to his death (except for that weird period in middle school where farts are embarrassing and not funny, I blame our teachers for this outrageous bullshit), he will spend 19,473 hours on average honing his butt trumpeting skills.  This instinctual desire to have massive farts stems from when we were all chimps and knew that farts were not just mating calls, but also a way to ward off predators.  It’s clear that the men of my floor all took their fart practice seriously as kids, making for vicious battles.  I was once in a four-way fart-off that lasted six hours.  There were no losers on that day.

The rules are simple though, each person farts attempting to top the other with a more impressive, creative fart.  The first person to fail to fart on their turn or to produce a sad, faggy fart loses.  The classics like the American bowl grumbler, the sad violin, and the strangled horse are all solid choices.  But personally, I try to go for the shart whenever possible, the runnier the better.  I find the slick gurgling sound of shit bubbles catches my opponents off guard and typically unable to answer before time runs out, almost always assuring my victory.

But sharts are hard to come by, so I cheat, kind of.  By using performance enhancing foods, I ensure I can produce when I sit down on the throne.  I keep a microwaveable bean burrito stashed in the back of the kitchen freezer for days where I think I might wind up taking an office dump.  And I know what you’re thinking, how do I keep my coworkers from stealing the burrito?  Simple, I write “Jizz Flavor” in red sharpie on the package.  I’ve only lost one burrito ever.

The prize for winning a fart-off?  You get to chuckle smugly for several seconds.  But be warned, you will never experience joy like that chuckle ever again.  It’s been known to ruin lives.

If you’re a real bad ass you can start a fart-off at the urinal, but I’ve seen more than a few people shit their pants trying to pull this off, so be careful.


Competition 4: The Grossest Daily Act

This one is pretty self-explanatory.  It’s my favorite competition and it’s not for the boys.  Creativity is king here and the best thing each day wins.  I’m not sure what else to say so I’m just going to just list the three best entries I’ve ever seen.

  1. Lots of guys use the bathroom as a chance to clear their nasal passages.  Most use a napkin, maybe some toilet paper, and you’ll even see the occasional farmer blow or pick and flick here and there.  But one time I entered the bathroom and saw in perfect Comic Sans the name “Edward” applied to the center of the mirror in boogers and snot streaks.   Edward, wherever you are, kudos for your creativity and your ability to enough nasal fluid to complete the job, though based on the color and volume it was pretty clear you have a sinus infection, buddy.
  2. A stray pube at the urinal is nothing to be shocked by.  However, I’ll forever be in awe of the time I encountered a perfect cone of them left on top of the urinal so that you’d touch them if you weren’t paying attention and grabbed the handle to flush (our bathroom is low tech).  The concentration this person must have had to keep plucking handfuls of dick carpet and then carefully arranging the strands while simultaneously engaging in a piss volume contest and possibly a fart-off is just impressive.  Oh, and they were red.  Gross.
  3. If you didn’t see a urinal deuce being number one, then you probably didn’t go to college and should get the fuck off our website; we don’t write this crap for you.  But the thing that makes this one special is actually two things.  First, it was one of those gigantic and perfect one solid piece turds that shoots up out of the water, thrusting it’s glory to God.  Second, I witnessed the act: the artist strolled in, saw all the stalls were full, went to the urinal and took a nonchalant shit.  He walked away, flushing, like it as no big deal.  There was something about the way the water glistened behind the magnificent dook that made me feel a higher power in the room.  The beauty forced me to my knees and I wept until some passerby slapped me in the back of the head with his dick.


That’s it, that’s the simple secret that keeps the men of the 35th floor from going postal and burning the building down.  There are other competitions, but I’ll save those for a future column.

So if you ever find yourself in Houston and you wander into my building and make it to the 35th floor, consider yourself warned.

The men’s bathroom is a fucking jungle.

Posted in Don, Humor Essays

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