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Nashville Scene The Potty Penalty

Nowhere to go at The Delph

By Walter Jowers

JANUARY 24, 2000:  The only good news to come from the Dolphins' miserable, lay-down surrender to the Jaguars: Football-watching men are through with standing in the extra-long men's urination lines at Adelphia Coliseum. If the people in charge of the coliseum's 868 commodes and urinals have any common sense, they'll make things right before next fall's preseason games.

Now don't think I'm complaining about my overall football enjoyment downtown. I've had a large time. It's just that I've missed every minute of every halftime. I missed the big parachute show. I missed the kids' Punt, Pass, and Kick competition. At every game, I had to spend 15 to 20 minutes standing in line, rubbing up against people I don't know--some of 'em wobbly-legged, red-faced drunk, and talkative--just so I can get a little bladder relief.

I know, some of y'all are thinking: Lay off the beer, Jowers, and you won't have to pee so much. Well, I don't drink beer at the football games. I am not about to pay four bucks for canned domestic beer, poured into a plastic cup. At every game, I get one of those little chicken-tenders baskets and a bottle of water. By halftime, the water has pretty much finished its journey through my body, and it's sitting on the runway, ready for takeoff.

While I'm standing in the pee line, making all kinds of new acquaintances, the women in the coliseum can take care of all their bathroom business without even breaking stride. That's because we men have 288 total "conveniences," in the form of 70 commodes and 218 urinals, while the women have 580 commodes, all to themselves.

Who do we have to thank for this? Politicians. The same people who freed the citizens of Tennessee to scrape up and scarf down road kill without any back talk from meddlesome wildlife-management types.

Our politicians, guided by Cornell University research showing that women spent twice as much time as men in public bathrooms, declared that our Adelphia Coliseum must have two female peeing places for every male peeing place. Never mind that HOK, the architectural firm that designed the Coliseum, suggested a 1.3/1 to 1.5/1 ratio. We weren't going to listen to any pointy-headed architects. We were going to by-god follow the mandate of the Tennessee Equitable Rest Rooms Act.

Here's what the politicians missed: Unlike a big government office building, where half or more of the people inside are likely to be women, the football stadium is mostly fulla men. I don't have any scientific data, but I can tell you from just looking around, there are about three or four men for every woman. Seems to me, somebody should've taken this into account.

Ever since the Rams game, the men's rooms have been chaos. First, a guy has to get in line just to get inside the men's room. The lines have been up to 40 feet long, and they are not orderly. There's bumping, and burping, and beer. At the Jaguars game, I even had some goof leaning on me. I thought about letting him lean into me really good, then stepping out of the way and letting him crash to the floor. But I decided that would just slow the line.

Each rest room has an in door and an out door. And so, each rest room has its little group of wise guys who think they'll get in faster if they go in the out door. It doesn't work that way. The out doors are at the commode end of the rest room, not the urinal end. There's a lot of waiting on the commode end.

At the urinal end, there are five urinals on the wall. Behind each urinal, there's a line of five or six men. I've heard some people complain that there's too much wasted space between the urinals, and that the urinals should be crammed closer together. Sorry, but that's the kind of sub-par thinking that got us into this sorry mess.

First, men do not need to be rubbing up against each other while they pee. It's not natural. It makes the hackles on a man's neck stand up. Second, you have to allow room for big men at a pro-football stadium. That's who shows up. Just look around. You can count the beanpole, knobby-kneed Unabomber types on one hand. Third, there has to be a little alley between urinals, so when somebody finishes peeing, he can turn around and walk out. I'm amazed I have to explain this.

If we really want to speed things up, we should have a few special men's rooms for guys who can't pee fast. There's nothing worse than being just one man back from the urinal, stuck behind a guy who just can't pee in public. Seconds seem like minutes, minutes seem like days. You just want to say, "Let loose, bubba, or get to the back of the line."

Clearly, we've got to do something. Understand, I'm not saying that we ought to change the potty ratio so much that the women have to wait. That would be wrong-headed, and impolite besides. But I will say this: About a third of those women's rooms need to be converted to men's rooms in the off-season. Either that, or we ought to just declare all the coliseum rest rooms unisex.

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