The reason for the stern tone from the old man? Butterbean and her sister were in real danger of being urinated on. By yours truly.
It was mid-morning, long before the twins' first nap, and shortly after my first half-gallon of coffee. I thought I would discreetly pop into the bathroom, leaving the door open so I could keep an eye on the girls. But the toddlers have been fascinated by toilets lately, and they raced in to investigate.
I was able to block Cobra with one leg, and in any case she got distracted by something shiny in the bathtub. But Butterbean would not be dissuaded. I shifted side to side to thwart her approach, but she proved quite deft at slipping around my leg and grabbing for the rim of the bowl. Meanwhile, I was trying to maintain my aim and pressure control, with limited success. Finally, I hissed something like "BACK OFF" at her, which spurred abject anguish on her part and corresponding waves of guilt on mine.
In a world in which gender roles have become less and less relevant, men have always felt that we could count on our one inalienable birthright--standing up while peeing.
That's why when my wife, upon hearing of yesterday's traumatic events, suggested that I pee sitting down, thereby leaving my hands free and eliminating the dangerous freefall zone that so entices the children, I sputtered. I have known European guys who sit while peeing, but that hardly make it any less effeminate. I might as well wear clogs and manpris.
As unsanitary and dangerous as it can be, upright bi-pedal urination is a hallmark of masculinity celebrated by American boys and men from the moment we acquire the necessary skills. Unlike our female counterparts, we can pee virtually anywhere, unencumbered by the need for facilities or even camouflage. Being on our feet, we are less vulnerable than sitters, ready for immediate fight or flight if necessary.
Every visit to a public urinal (the horror of doing so in flip-flops notwithstanding) is a tribute to our rough-and-ready forefathers: the soldiers, frontiersmen, cowboys, and farmers that made this country the superpower it still is today. Not by daintily lounging on a cushy commode, but by boldly inscribing the letters U-S-A into the snowbanks of history.
Nonetheless, for the sake of my children, I am considering compromising my values. If the situation arises again, where the levees, as it were, are crumbling against the force of the rising riverbank, I will assume the position of shame. But as an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, I have embarked on a regimen of mind-over-matter willpower exercises, and daily kegling, to obviate the complete surrender of my masculinity.