"You pee on the puck."
"You pee on the puck. They smell better the more you hit them."
What smells better?
"The pucks. They come in different flavours."
Flavours or scents?
"Different smells. Like bubble gum. It's like a game."
Well, this is just so typical. Here we are exploring the bathroom habits of men and boys and already we're getting a lesson in how the need-to-pee can be turned into a game. And it is just so predictable that the game would involve a puck.
Welcome to my nightmare.
I mean, welcome to my home.
It's a run-of-the-mill household operation, or at least it was until our family of five embarked upon a basement renovation, made essential by the need to move the drum kit and a variety of high-volume electric stuff to quieter, sub-ground-level environs.
It made absolute sense to include a bathroom as part of the new digs. And in a moment of sheer, how shall we phrase this, insanity, one of us came up with the grand idea of incorporating a urinal into the plan.
I'm going to claim now that it was my husband's idea, and that he was supported in the scheme by son one, son two, son three, and undoubtedly by the boy dog too, who always seems to be on their side. I've called them the Five Penises before and I see no reason to change my habits in this regard.
A urinal. Brings to mind shorter line-ups at Maple Leaf Gardens and also evokes the image of not-very-clean porcelain. I was not sure that a urinal is what I really needed in my life. There were one or two things rather higher on the wish list. A dining room table would be nice.
On the other hand, there was something about an at-home urinal that was appealingly absurd. A talking point! And it at least raised the prospect that urinal-using boys would result in less cleaning up of the ickily splattered toilet which, yes, has been left with the seat up once again.
For a woman in a frightening minority in a house such as this one, it is a good idea to try to incorporate life changes that will result in the lone woman sounding less like a harridan. The thought of never having to say again, "Put the seat down," was immensely appealing.
I had not a clue that urinals could be such a complicated business. There are state-of-the-art automatic flush urinals that appear to rise half the height of a bathroom wall and that cost the world. There are pedestal style urinals that have the look of a lidless toilet.
There are jolly-looking wall mounted versions that sit above the floor, with flush handles, all gleaming white and looking like a reasonable bathroom accoutrement.
Perhaps, I suggested, one of these shiny new wall mounted objects is what we should purchase?
Who knew that some unnamed people could get so passionate about the style of a peeing receptacle? As it turns out, this certain unnamed person had a bad experience once with one of these bowl-shaped urinals that resulted in some disastrous backsplash, which was cause for trying to hoist the groin area of the pants of the unnamed person up in the area of the hand dryer in the hopes of returning to the Very Important Restaurant Lunch with some small level of dignity. Some moments stay with you forever.
I was forcefully convinced that the only type of urinal to have is the floor-mounted version, some of which appear to be of such size that they could double as showers for small people.
How esthetically pleasing could this be?
As luck would have it, I was able to spend many quiet moments on http://www.urinal.net deep in the study of urinals. The website bills itself as the "best place to piss away your time on the Internet," and after scrutinizing pissoir from Brazil to Thailand I had to agree.
I quickly realized that there could be some very unappealing outcomes. There were deeply grungy urinals that appeared to be nothing more than a metal trough, or, yes, simply a wall with a drain at the base. The very pong of the thing came wafting right through the computer monitor.
Helpfully, the website additionally allows individuals to post their residential urinals, which at least sent the comforting message that we are not the only nutty people when it comes to washrooms. I quite liked the urinal in Tom's basement, "a beautiful Crane ... with a Sloan Royal Flushometer." Tom installed a small television above his urinal "that plays what's playing on the big screen in the rec room."
Alas, Tom's urinal was the off-list wall-mounted variety.
There was little else to compare. Most concerning was the photo of the urinal sent in by Eric. "We like to play horseshoes and drink beer at my friend's house, but we got tired of running inside to pee," he writes. "For our comfort, he rigged up this old sink in his garage to serve as a urinal.
It drains into a gravel-filled underground hole outside. You flush using the little white plastic pail, which is dipped into the big pail next to it."
How low, I wondered, could we go?
It was my husband who found the urinal of his dreams, in the basement of Addison's on Wabash Ave. in the city's west end.
Addison's is an homage to magnificent plumbing. Cast-iron radiators that are filigreed works of art. Tubs, toilets and sinks, including a corner sink with a porcelain spout which, my husband decreed, we just had to have.
I had to agree. It's lovely.
But the urinal? I sensed a moment of airless hesitation in my husband as we made our way down to Jim Addison's basement, where the representation of my husband's longing stood off in one corner. He was clearly anxious that I would hate it.
I will admit, it did take my breath away. It was, um, larger than I anticipated. Stately would be a positive word to use here. It stands three feet, eight inches tall and is 18 inches wide. It is porcelain, and fissured throughout with hairline crackles, as one would expect of a piece of porcelain that's nearly 90 years old. Back in the day, this urinal was one of a group that stood in a public washroom at the east end of the Bloor Street viaduct.
My husband saw a grand piece of history. I wondered who had used it. I hesitated. But the look of love in my husband's eyes was so fierce, and, really, he demands so little.
So into our house it came. Not easily. It's a mother of thing.
My husband was insistent that a platform be built. And that a piece of marble be cut to sit atop the platform. The entire production seemed very grand, very, as one neighbour phrased it, Versailles.
A temple it is. When the flusher is flushed, a sheer waterfall cascades down the back of the porcelain. The sound is most pleasing.
Discussions are ongoing as to whether to treat the back wall behind the monument itself with chalkboard paint so that urinal users can express themselves in more ways than one.
I'm expecting a high level of potty humour. Boys, after all, will be boys.
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