How Should I Pee In Public?

A photograph of the writer.

SCAACHI KOUL was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, BuzzFeed NewsThe HairpinThe Globe and Mail and J...

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I’m not going to tell you that I give great advice. I usually just end up yelling, which is not very effective, for some reason.

Of course, the best advice usually rooted in common sense—an easy thing to ignore when you’re in the midst of a crisis. Wife and mistress share the same birthday and you don’t know who to take to dinner? Pick the woman least likely to murder you in your sleep. Not sure how to handle a boss who micromanages? Seduce him to the point that he becomes uncomfortable being in your presence. Have some questions about gynecologist etiquette? All you need is persistance, a little elbow grease, and the ability to neither care nor notice when people are disgusted by you.

In theory, it’s all so simple. But in practice? Sometimes you need someone to scream it into your face. Lucky for you, I am here, ready to take your questions, and very liberal with the CAPS LOCK KEY.

It is my sincerest hope that in our time together, I will be able to unfuck you.

I work in an average-in-every-way office, and, because I am easily persuaded by literally everything I read, have been thinking about switching to a standing desk. I would be the only person in the office to have one, and due to union rules, couldn't even build a proper one myself—I'd just have to stack boxes on my current desk, only adding to the (almost surely negative) attention. Should I suck it up and bring in some milk crates? Or, because I am prone to embarrassment, am I doomed to die the same early death as my sedentary co-workers?

- Heads Up

I too have read those reports, the ones that say sitting for so very many hours a day will inevitably kill us, and that standing desks are the solution. All those articles about the advantages of standing desks, however, seem to forget the biggest disadvantage: if you set up a standing desk at work, I will murder you. Using a standing desk is the worst thing you can do in an office, on par with having sex on the copier or trying to make small talk in the kitchen. (I DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOUR DEAD SISTER, BRENDA.) Not only do standing desks draw attention to you, they give you a false sense of superiority because you’re not going to die as soon as the rest of us—except you absolutely will, because I will make sure you do.

The standing desk craze seems like yet another solution to a problem whose severity has perhaps been exaggerated; people have had office jobs for decades, but there continue to be people who live very long. (Some may say too long, BRENDA.) Not to say there aren’t health risks associated with working in an office—like oily Pad Thai, or the suspiciously cheap sushi place across the street, or the pizza that’s “whole wheat” but okay, come on, it’s just cheese and bread. Sit at your desk, do not make a sound, eat an apple, and bike home. You will not die.


My partner and I are in the process of furnishing our new apartment. My parents have a lot of heirlooms kicking around the house—furniture, dishes, silverware, instruments, books. Most of these are nice, but not at all our style and totally not necessary for normal human life. Four sets of dishes? No. No. No. I appreciate the family history and heirloom-establishing intentions, but I don’t want them. How can I let my parents know their precious family housewares are not welcome without hurting their feelings? I love my family, not their flatware.

- Drowning in Dishes

My initial reaction is to tell you to take all the heirlooms, burn your apartment down, and then rise from the ashes like a phoenix, reborn without all the trappings of our modern life and dishes with birds on them. For some reason, though, people frown on my fire-based advice, with objections ranging from “that’s illegal” to “please stop setting fires inside my apartment.” Onward, I guess.

Anyway: parents! The worst. Always trying to be nice and give you shit—potentially valuable shit. Have you gotten those dishes appraised? Hey, maybe you can send them to me. I am poor. I like money.

But really, have you considered just telling your folks that you have neither the room nor the use for them? Some people would rather their charity be put to use by somebody, anybody, rather than stored away. There’s a chance your parents will have some hurt feelings over it, but unless your mother is my mother—who once wept for a full day when I told her I would only be able to come home for two weeks at Christmas instead of three—it will pass rather quickly.

Alternatively, you can concede to accept a few pieces, things that are small and manageable or that you like, at the very least. That way, you can mitigate your refusal of a Victorian fainting couch by accepting a box of spoons.

The fire offer still stands, though. It’s the only thing that makes me feel alive anymore.


It is acceptable to pee in a urinal that is adjacent to a urinal that is already in use? There are only two urinals at my current workplace, and I wonder why they would install two urinals, sans divider, beside each other if that sort of side-by-side peeing was socially unacceptable.

- Not Sure If I’m Peeing Correctly

Not only do I not have a penis, I pee sitting down, in a stall, silently judging everyone else for pooping, all the while assuming they are judging me for pooping as well. Needless to say, I feel a little out of my depth on this one.

Occasionally, I will get problems that I won’t feel qualified to answer. In these cases, I will ask any of the many experts in my Rolodex. For this one in particular, I asked Hazlitt Senior Editor and Penis In Residence, Jordan Ginsberg. Jordan, how do you pee?

Absent the option to wade half a kilometer into the middle of a cornfield to relieve yourself, peeing next to folk is a sadly inescapable component of the workplace experience. What are you really afraid of, though—that someone is going to see your dink? Possibly your testicles, if you’re one of those rare creatures who feel the need to undo your pants completely at the urinal, belt and all? No one cares; this isn’t gym class (though my inner thighs are awfully rope burned). Besides, trying to shield it from the world will only draw further attention to the fact that your penis is exposed to the elements and oh my god what is that coming out of it.

What you’re really worried about isn’t that somebody will see your hilarious penis, but rather, that they’ll catch you missing the urinal altogether—peeing on the rim, your hands, your pants, into your coffee, onto an adorable kitten. That’s fine. Not everybody has an enviable stream. No shame in treating yourself to a seat in a nearby stall. But hoping that your employer will pay for dramatic plumbing-based renovation (or even adding a divider) is (pardon the unintentional pun) a pipe dream. “Socially unacceptable” is dependent on the whims of capitalism, and in this case, the market has decided there’s nothing wrong with putting wieners in close functional proximity to one another. Just be thankful they don’t make you pee into a trough.

Being a boy sounds super gross. Thanks, Jordan!


I’m tired of being ruled by FOMO. I need to break free, but I’m afraid of becoming an irrelevant bag of meat.


The idea that any one moment is more inherently valuable than any other is a fallacy. Our lives are composed of an infinite number of possibilities, and worrying yourself over what others are doing elsewhere at any given time does nothing but deprive you of the drive to create your own worthwhile and memorable experiences. Invariably, a person concerned with living an interesting life (and, by extension, unconcerned with the lives of others) will end up not only spiritually fulfilled, but the object of envy of those poor FOMO-afflicted souls elsewhere. Most importantly, though, stop fucking saying “FOMO.” That goes for “bitcoin,” “self-care,” and any sentence started by a long and drawn out, “ummmmm.” From here on out, any questions including any of those words will be dutifully ignored and then I will find you and I will squeeze the life out of you with my bare hands. This list is subject to change at any time. You go straight to hell.

Unfuck Yourself appears every Wednesday. Got a problem? Send it here.

A photograph of the writer.

SCAACHI KOUL was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, BuzzFeed NewsThe HairpinThe Globe and Mail and Jezebel. She is the author of One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter.