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Sunday, April 24, 2016


Entrance to Tao
This cranky re-run is from April 2013, before all the restroom controversy over nothing.  I thought it somewhat timely.

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 in 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.

I was not the only idiot; the lady I had seen 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. Hilarious and many of us have been in weird situations like that. Certainly travel helps one become more accepting of the ways of others. While in France with a tour group we used both restrooms with either sex as it was more practical to keep the lines moving.

  2. Well, this made a brilliant post. I only ever got it wrong and that was in France. Humiliation personified!

  3. The bladder is very demanding. It does not seem
    to care about the surroundings. LOL

  4. In England you are permitted to pee on the nearside wheel of your cart (but only if it's horse drawn) - it makes life so less complicated ...

  5. I have seen those sinks before. Fortunately, a woman wouldn't have to guess that it was a sink in her restroom.

  6. Be careful if you ever go to some parts of the world where the facilities don't even remotely resemble what we use!

  7. OMG you made me laugh louder and i had to read it for my husband too ,such funny things happen when we are in some unfamiliar place surrounded by unknown signs and symbols ,you tell your stories so well Joe ,god bless you

  8. I don't know what to say except funny.

  9. Bwahahahahahahahaha. It's pretty bad when you can't figure out where to pee.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  10. Hmmmmmmmm. . .

    (*'balancing-hands' motion*)

    Pee in the sink? Pee on the wall? I suppose I might've eventually figured out that the wall was the way to go, if only because of what happened to you if you peed in the sink, back in my college days. . .


  11. I will have to remember to post my upscale oriental restaurant story

  12. Yes, I always give a good tip when I pee in someone's sink. It's the classy thing to do.

  13. I stepped into Tao at one of the big casino hotels in Las Vegas once but just to look around. It wasn't open at the time but the lady at the door let me take a look. I couldn't afford it either and I never even got a chance to pee.

  14. Man with all that running water, waiting to be sure where must have been killer:) However if the attendant used the word "pee", then a buck was probably sufficient.

  15. My husband arrived in France today. So much for his idea of waiting to see who comes out the door so he will know which restroom to use.

  16. ...dragged my Otoko ass into the Otoko room. <-- OK, this made me laugh out loud.

  17. I've never been in a restroom where you needed an instruction manual/tour guide. I would have played it safe and gone into a stall. I'm guessing they had stalls, right?

  18. I never like when it is not clearly marked "male" "female"
    "women" "men". When they get cute with their names, it confuses the heck out of me.


  19. I feel your pain. They should have had some "A-mur-ikan" writin' in there.


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