Over the years I’ve often wondered what it is about men and spitting when in the toilet, or more importantly, why they feel compelled to spit before urinating. This whole spitting activity was completely foreign to me, until one day, I noticed that the guy standing next to me spat into the urinal before relieving himself.
Just to be clear, ordinarily, I’m not a spitter. There are of course exceptions, such as: whilst cycling, running or phlegmy cough; the build-up of mucus in these circumstances is quite natural.
The first time it happened, I thought the gentleman next to me was merely clearing his throat, something nasty that needed to be expelled – and rightly so. I really didn’t attribute any conscious thought to it at that point, although something of the event must have remained in my subconscious because I started noticing urinal spitters more frequently.
At first I put it down to cultural aspects and perhaps also related to the types of places I was visiting. Eventually I realised that this wasn’t connected to cultural or socio-economic attributes at all, it cut across all levels of society.
What really surprised me, and in fact spurred on this post, was my own and unconscious participation in the spitting game. Yes, that’s right, completely out of the blue, I found myself baffled by my own actions at the urinal – I actually spat before urinating. It wasn’t that I had phlegm or that I wanted to mark my territory, it was something very automatic and unexpected.
As any self-diagnosing hypochondriac would, I decided to dig around on the Internet; I found plenty of comments by equally puzzled people. On the whole, it didn’t really reveal anything out of the ordinary, actually, most female comments were disgusted at the mere thought of spitting let alone be witness to one in progress.
There were a couple of comments which suggested that men do this – much like animals – to mark their territory. I find this a little hard to believe because, the urine as well as the spit, end up in some sewer miles away from where the territorial claim supposedly took place; although we as human beings engage in some pretty bizarre activities.
Here’s a list I compiled of the most common reasons why people think men spit before peeing:
After reading through hundreds of posts scattered throughout various websites, I found it most amusing how some women (and men) denied that spitting in this context exists, even going as far as branding anyone asking the question, as deplorable deviants – I guess there is no cure for small-mindedness.
I’ve also discovered that discussing male toilet habits with other males is frequently met with an unusually negative response, as if to suggest that somehow this topic is taboo and should never be touched – nobody told me.
Maybe I did cross the line that one time I asked the guy standing next to me why he just spat. Ok, I lied – I’ve asked quite a few urinal spitters over the years, what better way to collect credible material from the offending bunch?
The abovementioned list, is in no way comprehensive of urinal spitting habits, but one of the most credible theories, at least in my book, is:
…by that token, we would expect fewer men to spit in well-maintained and hygienic urinals. All the more reason to keep scrubbing that toilet. A more Darwinian version would probably sound a little like this:
I spit before I pee because I like to think, “Here in front of me is the primordial soup, the building blocks of life, the nuts and bolts of species to come—here, in this porcelain vessel made by man, from my fluids and the fluids of others could spring a lifeform that in a million years will run down the diminished creature once known as homo sapiens and make it roadkill.” Then I flush because I never have lightning handy when I need it. – Mo Nickels (http://www.metafilter.com/user/264)
I’m not really sure what will become of my spitting habit. I can’t say that it happens that frequently at all, but when it does, I’m not really aware of it until after the fact. Either way, I put it down to something as primal as going to the toilet, you go when nature decides.
A marine and a naval officer are standing next to each other at the urinal, and upon finishing, the naval officer notices that the marine promptly exits the restroom without washing his hands. Considering it his duty, the naval officer chases down the marine and states, “Marine, in the navy, our officers are taught to wash our hands after we take a piss!”. “Haha” replies the marine, “In the marines, they teach us not to piss on our hands!”.
Saliva (English pronunciation: /səˈlaɪvə/, referred to in various contexts as spit, spittle, drivel, drool, or slobber) is the watery and usually frothy substance produced in the mouths of humans and most other animals. Saliva is a component of oral fluid. In mammals, saliva is produced in and secreted from the three pairs of major salivary glands, and hundreds of minor salivary glands. Human saliva is composed of 98% water, while the other 2% consists of other compounds such as electrolytes, mucus, antibacterial compounds, and various enzymes.
The production of saliva is stimulated both by the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic. The saliva stimulated by sympathetic innervation is thicker, and saliva stimulated parasympathetically is more watery.
Sympathetic stimulation of saliva is to facilitate respiration, whereas parasympathetic stimulation is to facilitate digestion.
Could this then lay the foundation for yet another theory, one where the production of saliva is an automatic reaction because we’re holding our breath when entering a stinky lavatory, and thus increasing saliva production to aid respiration?
As good a theory as any other.