The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

BUSINESS AT HAND: I don’t mean to complain here, which, if you’ve spent any time at all reading The Passing Parade, you know is a base falsehood of the most egregious sort, since The Passing Parade’s raison d'être, if you’ll pardon my French, is to allow me to spew bile, venom, and tobacco juice all over that nice new pair of white pants your mother gave you for Christmas whenever and wherever the mood strikes me, but to nip this digression in the bud, something that I don’t always do in time here, can anyone, anyone at all, please tell me what idiot decided that putting a button on the flap of my boxer shorts was a good idea? Could someone please point this pathetic miscreant to us, his numerous victims, so that we can transport this clod to an undisclosed secure location and there, without so much as a smidgen of good will, anesthesia, or that nice chocolate ice cream with the fudge swirls and the marshmallows in it, and definitely not the kind with the bits of Oreo cookies in it, pop this benighted moron’s kneecaps off with a crowbar? Such punishment, while drastic, is scarcely equal to the enormity of the offense, for to place a button, or any other impediment, for that matter, at such a strategic location bespeaks a contempt for the masculine urinary imperative that scarcely knows any bounds in the vast and sordid catalogue of human crime, he said, quoting Winston Churchill. Why then do buttoned boxer shorts, like pet rocks and New Coke, two other bright ideas whose time came and, fortunately for us all, went with blinding speed, even exist?

Let us, just for a moment, examine that wonder of modern engineering, the men’s room urinal. The urinal is a porcelain marvel, simple, utilitarian, and yet artistic as well, as Marcel Duchamp proved in 1917. There is no place for such a device in the ladies’ room, except in such places as San Francisco, where not all the ladies are women yet; the hormone shots take some time to kick in, or so people tell me; and yet I am sure that many women would admire your typical urinal for the clean stylish lines that make them a welcome addition to any public building; urinals blend well with almost any style you choose to think of, although I am partial to Art Deco urinals myself; Conceptualist urinals require too much thought.

But today’s emphasis on style should not blind us to the urinal’s basic utility. Take a look at the restrooms in any public building after a long night of eating and drinking and what you will see is a long line of women standing outside the ladies’ room, waiting in quiet desperation to get through the door and into a stall before an untoward accident happens in the expensive dress you intended to return to the store tomorrow morning, which isn’t going to happen if you go first, what with most clothing stores taking the altogether unreasonable attitude that if you pissed in it, you bought it, honey, there ain’t no returns for soiled merchandise (don’t you just hate that bitchy salesgirl and her snotty tone and why are you always the one who gets her?).

In observing the men’s room, by contrast, what you will note after only a few minutes of close observation is that men enter and leave this area with the greatest of alacrity. The line, if there is one, moves at high speed through the door and men who just went in are often out only a couple of minutes later. The reason for this swift flow of bodies is the urinal and its central role in the operation of the modern men’s room, where its great stylishness and beauty take second place to the device’s basic utility. The urinal exists to eliminate male micturation at a high rate of speed. Indeed, in our digital age, the urinal has gone high tech, rendering it even faster than ever before; today’s digital urinals do not have a handle or any other sort of flushing apparatus at all, and do not require any sort of human contact. There is nothing for the user to touch, no need to worry about skulking viruses trying to catch a free ride on one’s hands or on the friendly back of Mr. Willie Peter Johnson; the male user merely zips up his fly and steps away from the urinal, and a motion sensor will flush the urinal for him. The modern urinal thus renders urination swift, safe, and sanitary to a degree hitherto unimaginable in the long and noisome history of human evacuation. But, and I should say here that I think that this is the crux of the matter, although there are many who might disagree with me here, the whole point of the urinal is lost if you have to unbutton your damn underwear first.

Imagine, if you will, a man who has waited to the very end of a sporting event before heading for the nearest men’s room. A loyal fan, he did not want to miss a moment of the action on the field, and so controlled his bladder, even though he did not help his own cause by downing several oversized and overpriced beers during the game. By the time this particular game is over, our loyal fan has several quarts of scarcely processed hops-based diuretics backed up all the way to his kidneys and his sphincter is about to give up and call it a day, that’s it, I can’t take it, I’m not putting up with this crap anymore, not for what I’m getting paid. The only thing that is keeping the sphincter on the job and holding back the flood like the little Dutch boy is that the men’s room is nearby and soon all will be well.

Our loyal fan gets on line and soon, very soon, much sooner than any woman in a similar situation would find herself sitting in a stall in the ladies’ room, he finds himself standing in front of a urinal, ready to attend to the business at hand. There is just one problem; his wife / girlfriend / mother / significant other gave him underwear for his birthday / Christmas / whatever, and this modern underwear, you guessed it, has a button on the flap. So this poor alcohol-befuddled schnook is trying to unbutton his fly while the guys behind him and his own sphincter wonder just what in the hell is holding up the parade here, why is that guy playing with himself up there when I gotta pee, dammit, will someone call a cop and get that pervert out of the way before I piss in my damn pants?

Finally, in absolute desperation, the pain having become totally unbearable at this point, our loyal fan hooks his thumb in the underwear’s waistband and pulls it down just as the sphincter says, that’s it, no more of this, and starts high pressure spraying whether our loyal fan is ready or not. With any sort of luck, our fan has managed to get himself clear of the fly in time, or, if not, that he is wearing dark pants so that huge stain won’t be quite so noticeable at first. If he is really lucky, the other men in line will beat him to a pulp for playing with himself in public, the freak, and our loyal fan can spend the night in the hospital, where he can tell everyone that he wet himself while lying unconscious on the men’s room floor, which, while undignified, doesn’t make you look like some kind of complete idiot. It’s as good an excuse as any other, I suppose, and when he gets out of the hospital he can help the rest of us find the lousy bastard who put the button on the flap. There’s a day of judgment coming for that moron, friends, and to that jackass I just want to say that I strongly suggest you find some small, secluded, isolated nook of this beautiful planet where the people don’t wear underwear on a day to day basis and consequently don’t care what you have done to us, a place where we can’t find you, because you will not be happy when we do. No indeed, you will not be happy at all. Remember, you have been warned, smart guy.


  • At 8:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I don't even bother buttoning my boxers -- I just use it to know if I've got 'em inside out or not when I'm doing laundry.

  • At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We could make this scenario even worse with the experience that I am frequently coming across in new pubs and clubs where they are installing stainless steel square shaped troughs that resemble cattle feeding troughs. For some reason they are located at a height the forces me to stand on the toes of one foot. Now add into this scene the need to unbutton a boxer short and you have a disaster in your hands, literally.
    My favourite urinal is in a pub called The Philharmonic in Liverpool.


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