In the Gents

The social niceties of public urination for men are manifold, though the rules unwritten. In a public urinal one mustn’t talk. One must stare at the wall whilst peeing, not look down. There’s a complex etiquette of which urinal one should elect. And there’s the standard distance away from the wall that one must stand. (Curiously, in Thailand that distance is much less than in the West.) It also appears that it’s mandatory to sprinkle a few drops on the floor in front of the urinal – at least, it appears so to judge by the state of most men’s public toilets.

Peeing is, of course, a competitive activity. A few years ago a company introduced a range of porcelain with a single fly printed at a strategic point. The idea was that men would aim at the fly, reducing spashback and misfired streams. Now the wily Japanese have gone one step further. Sega (the creator of Sonic the Hedgehog) have produced urinals with built-in video games controlled by pee. Now when one micturates one can make the skirt of a cartoon girl rise, and with sufficient force and accuracy one might even see her panties. Only in Japan …

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