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Thursday, April 4, 2013


Entrance to Tao

Many readers may find it surprising that the Cranky Old Man is not particularly sophisticated.  I am not a rube.  I am familiar with and adhere to most rules of etiquette and decorum.  I just do not do fancy well.

Years ago in one of my other lives, I was invited with my wife to Tao, a fancy NYC restaurant. Tao is an Asian style restaurant.  It is one of the fanciest, most expensive restaurants New York City.  It is a very popular celebrity hangout.  It is not as I was immediately chastised for calling it, a Chow Mein Palace.
Dining area in Tao
We were invited by a wealthy friend of the unbalanced wife.  I could not have afforded the tab otherwise.  Well I could have, but I am simply not programed to shell out anything over $30 for an entrée.  At Tao, $30 is an appetizer.  The restaurant’s décor was spectacular, the food was fabulous, the service excellent and the bill did not go to me.  It was a very enjoyable dinner.

At some point in the evening I needed to use the restroom.  At Tao you say “Excuse me; I’ll be back in a moment,” not “Be right back, I gotta pee.” I learned this piece of etiquette via a very humbling and painful elbow-to- the-rib correction.

Tao is a large restaurant, but I found the restrooms with little effort.  Determining which room to use was not so easy.  One door was marked “Otoko,” with a weird Asian symbol resembling a stick horse.  The other was marked “Onna,” with a weird stick figure resembling a cow.  I stood perplexed for a while until a young lady exited the door marked Otoko.  I assumed the stick horse represented women in the Asian world, so I entered the stick cow room.


My assumption was flawed.

Apparently I was not the only idiot; the lady I saw coming out of the stick horse room was just as stupid.

I realized my mistake and quickly dragged my Otoko ass into the Otoko room.  The Otoko room was more complex than any Otoko room I have ever been in.

This room had what looked like a sink with constant running water from a fancy faucet.  This sink spilled over to another smaller sink which then spilled over to a drainage trough.  Was it a fancy sink, or a fancy urinal?  Opposite the sink/urinal was a large wall beautifully decorated with expensive tile.   Water ran continuously down the wall and collected at the bottom in another drainage trough.  As I am not sophisticated I did not know if I should piss in the sink/urinal, or piss on the decorative wall.

Fortunately for me Tao has a man in the Otoko room whose job is to point to the wall and say “You pee over here sir” and when you are done and wash up in the sink/urinal he hands you a towel.

I thought I was a big shot when I handed him a dollar for his service.  Turns out in Tao I should have given him two dollars.

If you pee in the sink, you might want to slip him a fiver.


  1. I hear ya Joe. Far too often, "fancy" equates to "pretentious". I avoid both, like the plague!

  2. Oh absolutely love this post - still LMAO

  3. What is it with women and fancy restaurants. My Mrs. C. wants me to take her to a place called the French Laundry in Napa because it's highly touted on the Food Channel. When I consider the "outcome" of this overpriced food the expense hardly seems worth it.

  4. Maybe it's cuz I'm a girl but I can't wrap my head around a place, THAT FANCY...making you pee in the open against a wall at all. I sort of assumed real fancy men's rooms at least let you pee in a stall. Then again, if someone offered to let me pee in a nice fountain, maybe I'd enjoy it.

  5. Sounds too confusing. I would have slipped out the kitchen door, gone to the bathroom in the McDonald's across the street and then casually walked back in.

  6. Real men pee on a tree... out in the open...

    ...when nobody's looking.

  7. I've seen those pee walls... makes me nervous wondering where I saw such... hmm

    I know in Mexico I was in a place somewhere in time in the 60s and this restaurant's bar had a trough running alongside it at the bottom.

    Seems women used to not be allowed in bars and so men just drank and peed all in the same place.

    I think adding women cleaned the joint up a bit... jeeeeezus

    A far cry from your fancy place but I was in such a hurry at a WM one evening and mistook the symbol to mean women and walked in on a guy at the urinal.

    I never ... ever ... ever assumed ever again.

    I think going to the bathroom should be an easy, basic thing no matter where you are.

    remember pay toilets? talk about a rant! oughta be a law and I guess there is now because I haven't seen those in eons ... come to think of it. certainly would be no damn dime.

  8. If you had been in Japan, you might have gone into the only bathroom available: men and women share bathrooms in some establishments and the urinals are on the wall which the women must walk past in order to get to the women's stalls. :)

  9. I am very much in favor of self-explanatory rest rooms. It is not a place I go for confusion, or, in this case, Confucian. Not too long ago I went to the bathroom in a nice restaurant and did a little dance, waving my hands all over the place, until someone else showed me how to flush (you push the handle), get water and soap (push the handle), and obtain a paper towel (push the handle). I think she thought she was helping the handicapped. She was right.

  10. LOL! That's funny Joe. I saw Tao in Las Vegas but was too scared to walk in. Not because of the cost (well, yeah, that too I guess) but because it's a regular Kim Kardashian hangout. The whole thing seemed quite overwhelming.
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  11. Yet if the restaurant is good enough, the staff will never make you feel out of place. We were in a restaurant in France which had such a complicated menu that we weren't sure which parts we were meant to order off the set menu, a sensational summer truffle extravaganza (all of them apparently) and the waiter said, in a tone implying Europeans were nuts, not that we were uncouth and bumpkins, "Some people around here like to order both a fish course and a meat course for their meal", with a shrug.

  12. PS I'd have slipped you a fiver if you'd pee'd in the sink...

  13. Leave if to the high and mighty people of great wealth to complicate a most simple, basic function. I think the internationally recognized symbols for man and woman should suffice (the circle with either a plus or an arrow pointing upward). I know of more than a few people who have guessed incorrectly at the clever wording and symbology on doors, and it can be quite embarrassing. Why leave your customers guessing. The craziest thing was when I lived in Germany many years ago and public toilets often had dispensers in the stalls where you had to pay for toilet tissue... now that's downright mean! No wonder those people don't smile much!!

  14. I'm all for five star luxury, but overdone fanciness for no good reason gives me hives.

  15. Dont feel bad I made the same error without the language barrier in Canada. I was just distracted.

  16. Man, what an experience. Decades ago when I lived in Japan I made the mistake of walking into someone's home (I was fresh off the airplane after a 10 hour flight) and wore my shoes. My hostess shouted, "Eeeaaah," which someone explained meant, "Take off your damn shoes." The point was duly noted, and I never did that again while on Japanese soil. And to this day, I rarely wear shoes in my own house.

  17. I try to NEVER pee on walls--& I've been about 93% successful!!

  18. I've had clients take me out to dinner, but I must admit none were so fancy I couldn't figure out where to pee. You (or your ex) obviously have classier friends than me.


  19. Hey! I've seen that on TV! Not men peeing on walls or in sinks, of course. TAO!

  20. If that's what the mens room was like, I hate to think what the ladies was like. I guess you'd be out on your ear if you pee'd against the wall in the ladies.


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