It was early in our relationship, that period where you’re still sharing and discovering attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. This time, with this one, I had pledged to be forthcoming about all the things, to not hide parts of myself out of fear of rejection. This time, I was going to be my imperfect, sometimes eccentric, sometimes-too-much self.
Things appeared heading in a serious direction (because, above all, I’m a serious man), and so I needed to tell her. We sat down on the couch; I cleared my throat. “I have something I need to tell you.” She cocked her head in that way people do in movies when they’re really open and ready to truly listen.
“I pee sitting down.”
The idea settled into my head long before the action began. It was an episode of Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” I’d seen sometime in 2004. In the episode, Larry first requests that his visiting dad put the toilet seat down when he’s finished because Larry pees sitting down. His dad says, “What are you, pussy-whipped?”
Later, in a bit of irony, Larry falls in the toilet and hurts his back while attempting to pee at night because his wife left the seat up (she had been sick and vomiting). When his friends ask how it happened, he admits the truth: It was dark and he pees sitting down. The exchange continues with his business manager, Jeff:
Jeff: You pee sitting DOWN?
Larry: Yeah! Have you ever tried it?
Larry: It’s more comfortable. When you get up during the night, you don’t have to turn the light on and wake up. And you get to read.
Jeff: What are you reading!?
Larry: I’m reading a lot of stuff.
Jeff: What stuff?
Larry: If I pee 20 times during a day, I can get through the whole New York Times for God’s sake!
Jeff: 20 times?
Larry: Yeah! Hey buddy, while you’re peeing all over your shoe, I’m learning something!
Larry makes some excellent points that began to make more and more sense, ideas that began to incubate for the next eight years. Along the way, I encountered information that discussed the body’s reaction to light and how turning one on in the middle of the night, say, to use the bathroom, can disrupt sleep cycles. By not turning on a light, and by not having to concentrate on aim, one can stay as close to asleep as you’d want to be while sitting on a toilet.
Perhaps the bigger issue was cleanliness. I don’t care if you think yourself a sniper when it comes to urination: sometimes you’re going to miss. You might hit too high on the side of the bowl and it splashes out. You might hit the water too cannon-like and it splashes out. You might have that weird thing happen where it mysteriously comes out at a 90-degree angle. You either clean your bathroom every other day, guys, or you sit.
I finally made the decision around 2012 or so. It just made too much sense (above all, I’m a serious, logical man). But I was always afraid people would find out. I’d excuse myself to the bathroom in a pee situation and they would hear … nothing. Somehow, peeing standing up has been firmly tied to masculinity. Sitting and peeing is something women do. So, was I a man or woman? Which is a ridiculous question. Only an insecure man with legitimate questions about his fragile virility, and gender and sexuality identities would be so hung up on peeing sitting down.
So I began sharing my habits with those men closest to me. I won’t out any sitters, but let’s just say it wasn’t scorn, laughter and humiliation I was met with, but commonality and shared experience. Not only did it make sense to people, many did it too.
In fact, recently, while hanging among my best of male friends, I quieted the room and announced that I had something sensitive to share. It was a big moment; all eyes were on me. “I pee sitting down.” “Oh yeah. That’s normal for me,” one said. “I do that all the time,” said another. Everyone went back to their conversations as if I had announced that I indeed wear my underpants under my pants instead of on top.
It is my guess that many more men pee sitting down than would admit to it. It’s understandable. Just last weekend, I went to use the bathroom at the Loungin’ Lizard in Cortez. One door said “For those who sit,” and the other said, “For those who stand.” Good thing each sign also had the recognizable man and woman figures or who knows which one I would have used. It’s this kind of masculinity-shaming that needs to stop.
So when I decided to be open about my pee practices with the woman I would eventually decide to marry, after all the build-up and fears of rejection, after I fully admitted that I pee sitting down, she said with an understanding smile, “So do I.”