I was in the men's room of an Italian restaurant the other day when the most amazing thing occurred: A how-to-speak-Italian lesson began playing over the sound system.
"Vino," a voice intoned. "Wine."
I looked around to see if anyone was taking notes. Thankfully, nobody was.
"Pollo," the voice continued. "Chicken."
This prompted a discussion among a few of us in there as to whether anyone really goes to the men's room to learn a foreign language.
And this prompted a secondary discussion about how needlessly complicated a trip to the men's room has become.
If I could take a moment to address the people who design men's rooms, here were some of the concerns voiced by our group.
OK, first things first: the door to the men's room should be clearly marked "Men."
No stick figures on the restroom doors, OK? We don't want to have to guess which stick figure is wearing pants and which is wearing a skirt.
Besides, we have a news flash for you: This is 2007. Women wear pants! You can look it up. It is in all the fashion magazines.
OK, this next one is important: no newspaper or magazine articles over the urinals.
Look, this isn't a library or a Barnes & Noble.
We're not here to read, OK? We're here to do, um, whatever has to be done.
Then we want to leave, pronto.
If a guy is coming to the men's room to read up on the Ravens' draft picks this April, he should seriously think about subscribing to The Sun.
All right, a word or two about the fancy new faucets in some men's rooms.
Let me be honest here. Half the time, we can't figure out what we're supposed to do with these things.
Do we just stick our hands under the faucet and the water comes out?
Is there some kind of button to push?
Some kind of knob to turn?
It seems they all work differently, no matter where you go.
So help us out here, will you?
All it would take is a little sign that says: "Stick your hands under the faucet," or "Push the button," or whatever.
Is that too much to ask?
Same thing with the automatic paper-towel dispensers.
What's the deal with these things, anyway?
Some have the little red sensor on the front of the dispenser. Some have it on top. Some have it underneath.
Are you trying to drive us crazy?
Can't you people get together and standardize these things so we're not waving our wet hands all over the place trying to get a towel?
OK, let's move on to the subject of hot-air hand dryers.
Here's a piece of advice: Get rid of the stupid things.
No. 1: They don't really work, unless you have, like, three days to spend rubbing your hands underneath them until you're dry.
No. 2: Men hate them.
Have you ever actually watched a guy use one of these things?
He'll stick his wet hands under it for about 10 seconds.
Then he'll say: "Oh, the hell with this" and dry his hands on his shirt and leave.
And do you know why he does this?
I'll tell you why.
Because he has a life to get on with, that's why!
Who's going to stand there drying and drying and drying his hands?
On a related hand-drying note, here's something we definitely don't want to see: some old guy stationed in the men's room handing out paper towels.
We usually see this only in the men's rooms of fancy restaurants and hotels, but it gives us the creeps.
Look, we don't care if the guy's wearing a tux and he's super polite - we figure he's some kind of perv.
Then our built-in perv detector starts flashing, and we get all nervous.
Oh, there are so many other concerns we'd like to share with you people who design men's rooms, but I see we're running out of space.
Fancy marble counters, huge lighted mirrors, pricey artwork on the walls, those little fountains you see in some men's rooms instead of faucets for washing your hands - we don't need all that stuff.
Just give us a simple, clean men's room.
Oh, one more thing, and this probably goes without saying: no Italian lessons piped over the sound system.
Please. We're asking you nicely.
To hear podcasts featuring Kevin Cowherd, go to baltimoresun. com/cowherd.