We aim to please. So can you please aim?
Aspen, CO Colorado
Fair warning: The following column covers some thoroughly disgusting topics and touches (with great reluctance) on issues that, well … enough said. You’ve been warned.
We’re going to talk about men’s rooms. (Ladies, be brave and keep reading. These are things you need to know.)
By way of explanation, I’ll note that I’ve been traveling a fair amount lately, which means I’ve been spending a lot of time in airports ” and that means I’ve been paying way too many visits to airport men’s rooms.
Let me be very clear: We’re not about to begin discussing “toe tapping” or “wide stances.”
We will be discussing hygiene.
Men’s rooms can be rough places. This was a lesson I learned, indelibly, as a young boy ” about 6 or 7, I think ” when my father took me to a baseball game to watch the New York Giants at the now-defunct Polo Grounds stadium.
At some point, between innings, I raced to the men’s room and found it jammed. In those days (the very early 1950s) rules about the bathroom capacity were apparently pretty lax.
It was a hot summer day, people were drinking a lot of beer, and the line for the urinals seemed endless (particularly to a boy of 6 or 7). I waited and waited, getting more and more desperate, and finally found myself at the front of the line ” where I discovered, to my horror, that I had been standing in a line of men who were fed up with the long wait and had been peeing in the sink.
Not only was the idea a little repulsive, but the darn sink was almost shoulder-high for a kid of my age. No way could I manage to pee in it.
Some of the men laughed to see my predicament. I think I might have began to cry. At which point, the rough crowd, still laughing, took pity and ushered me to the front of the line at an actual urinal.
My point, as I said: Men’s rooms can be rough places, with strange rules.
And speaking of rules, I will only mention, in passing, the unwritten, unspoken rules of urinal selection. You guys know what I’m talking about. The most basic rule is this: When there are a number of available urinals, you must always choose the one that leaves at least one unused urinal between yourself and any other urinal user. There are any number of subtle variations that derive from that basic credo. But I digress.
My real concern here today has to do with men’s rooms floors.
Specifically, men’s rooms floors by the urinals.
In a word: Yuk!
Back in the days when I, as a young boy, found myself facing an impossible situation in a ballpark men’s room, urinals were vast, imposing porcelain monuments. They stood a massive 4 ” maybe even 5 ” feet tall and extended clear down to the floor. These days, urinals are tiny little things, suspended several feet off the floor. That saves a lot of money on porcelain, I am sure, but it leaves a lot of room for … um, shall we say, “expression”?
No. That’s way too delicate. Let’s be clear: Men are careless, sloppy beasts. We are proud of our glorious ability to pee standing up ” and we don’t seem to care all that much about our aim.
As a result (and, sorry, here’s where things get really gross ” remember, you were warned), the floor below the urinals at any major men’s room, is filled with puddles of liquid ” the nature of which is both self-evident and repulsive.
To put it plainly, there’s no way to use the urinal without standing in the puddle.
And if you’re in an airport, there’s the problem of what to do with your carry-on luggage. There you stand, with one or both hands full, faced with a task that requires both hands.
So you put the luggage down … aaargh! Yuk! (And if you try to manage without putting your luggage down, you wind up adding a whole lot more to a puddle.)
Really, it’s not just gross; it’s grotesque. (And, ladies, remember I told you that you needed to know about this. Just consider it when the man in your life comes home from a long trip and tosses his suitcase on the bed.)
All of this leads me to the obvious question: Why the heck can’t our brilliant architects design a better men’s room floor?
Right now, in places like the Denver airport, the men’s rooms floors are theoretically glorious expanses of marble (or some marble-like material). They’re meant to look deluxe ” but nothing’s deluxe when it’s covered in puddles of … you know.
A better design must be possible. I can halfway imagine one myself ” something involving nonslip metal grating. But what I can imagine doesn’t matter. What matters is what architects design.
And I know that the kind of hot-shot architects who design major airports spend a lot of time traveling. Which means two things:
1) They know exactly what I’m talking about, and …
2) Every time they march into a client’s office and set down their computer bag, there’s a high probability that that bag has recently been soaking in a puddle of, um, “liquid.”
And, as a final point, in these days of gender-equality, I have to note that several women with whom I have discussed this subject immediately began discussing a similar situation in the women’s rooms, using descriptive terms that included “hover” and “sprinkle.”
People! We have to be able to do better than this!
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High Points: Now I don’t want to be an apologist for the Aspen Skiing Company, but to me $199 to ski the crown jewel of American skiing during the height of what is traditionally the busiest time of year is a total bargain.