Monday, July 7th, 2014
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The Beauty of a Pissing Contest

People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, writer Cat Ferguson tells us more about a weeklong pissing contest she undertook with her roommates.

Cat! So what happened here?

I just moved back to New York City after moving away in 2010 for school. I’m subletting in a loft where I don’t have walls or a door, which is a little terrifying and weird, especially since I’ve spent the last three years either living alone or with somebody I was sleeping with. And now suddenly I’m basically in a giant studio with three strangers named Grace, Alex, and Ari.

A friend sent me a press release about this study that found all animals, regardless of their size, pee for the same amount of time: 21 seconds. This seems crazy! So as I was lying on my bed I told everyone in the living room (using a normal speaking voice, despite the fact that I’m on the “second floor”) about the study. The reaction was generally “Whaaat? No way.”

None of us can remember who suggested the experiment. It came about pretty naturally: Everybody time yourself when you’re peeing; we’ll see if it’s really 21 seconds. Throughout the week, I started questioning our methods—shouldn’t we have labeled them with our initials or something? Should we be taking notes? Some of us were using our phone, so half of us had milliseconds and half of us were just counting in our heads. I thought about these methodological problems a lot while I was peeing, but also at other times, like while sitting on the train.

We all got together over beers to answer your questions.

What were the results of the experiment, and what are your thoughts on it?

Cat (pre-experiment average pee time guess: 19 seconds):

OK, so rounding the millisecond ones to the nearest whole second, my average was 18 seconds. That makes sense to me? Maybe we’re all dehydrated.

Grace (pre-experiment average pee time guess: 22 seconds):

My confession to you is that I am the quickest pisser in the house. I struggle to reach 13 seconds. And I average like eight seconds. I’m also the worst reporter in this whole thing. It made me feel inadequate. I’m losing in a literal pissing content. I just stopped recording my times. I’d start timing and then be like, “Ahh, what’s the use?” And how bad I had to pee was not necessarily related to how long the piss was. I would be like, “I have to pee so bad, this will be a great time,” but then it wasn’t!

Alex (pre-experiment average pee time guess: 24 seconds):

I peed for 15 seconds like three times! Six seconds, 37 seconds, it’s all me. I didn’t ever factor in my drinking, but I can tell you drinking was a factor in making me pee more. Also, I think you pee less when you have to poop.

Ari (pre-experiment average pee time guess: 21 seconds):

Sometimes it was very short. I think I pee quick—not just in time, but like, the strength of the stream.

peetimes

Lesson learned (if any)?

Cat:

People love talking about bodily functions. I’ve brought this up a couple of times with people in the last week, and almost every time it’s launched a really intense conversation. I’ve learned a whole lot about people I just met. One guy told me, “I don’t pee when I need to. I pee when it’s like, 'I want to leave my desk, or I don’t want to see my boss, or like, oh, I’m here, I’m flossing, might as well piss.'”

Ari:

Can I talk about the empirical process? I studied economics in college, so I had to put aside my normal stickler-for-rules thing, because we were just timing our pees in the bathroom. I thought everyone collaborated really well, which I love. The lesson learned is we could do something for a week. I have serious commitment issues, but we really did it! I was proud of us.

Alex:

Even before this experiment, I always timed myself, like, “Let’s see if I can get 30 seconds.” When I was in grade school, my friends and I would be in the bathroom, and we’d stand next to each other and race to see who could go longer. And there was a kid who was like, “I always pee for 20 or 30 seconds.” I have a lot of random memories, and that’s one of them. I remember when [my friend] Michael said he could pee for 30 seconds.

Grace:

I’m a short pee-er, and I just have to live with that knowledge now.

Just one more thing.

It’s not so bad living in a giant studio with a bunch of strangers! Especially ones who are willing to talk about their pee on the Internet for their subletter’s entertainment. Also, for the record, after hearing about the experiment, Awl pal Brendan O’Connor went to the restroom at the Swallow Cafe and reported a pee time of 26 seconds, counting in his head.





Matthew J.X. Malady is a writer and editor in New York.

3 Comments / Post A Comment

Mike_B (#239,283)

21 seconds sounds like kind of a long time, tho

digipham (#57,024)

Ya are right.

nonvolleyball (#9,329)

I guess I'm the only person (besides this dude on goodreads) who remembers the part where Veda & Thomas J compete to see who can pee longer in the novelization of My Girl.

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