Ah the joys of the night out. Released from the shackles of the office and the home, the boss and the wife, you’ve been spending a night out with the boys at the local watering hole. Last call for alcohol has come and gone and your final bottle of Lone Star beer has been downed. Before hitting the road, sometimes literally, you stagger to the uh… watering hole… for some last minute "relief."
But what’s this? You’re hearing voices! And not just any voice but a sultry female voice. Well now, that just ain’t right! As all men know, there is an unwritten rule. We do not engage in conversation in the john! Not only is this voice a serious breach of Male Restroom Etiquette, but also it’s… a woman’s voice!
Most men have spent the entire night trying in vain to get a woman to talk to them…or trying not to hear what certain women are saying. The men’s room is the last place you’d expect any luck. And it’s the one place a guy knows he won’t be asked, "Honey, would you take out the trash?" Perplexed, a guy will ask himself: How the heckers did she get in here?
But hold on! What’s this? The female voice is telling the gentleman answering in the call of nature that he is not to drive home drunk! Ok, that’s good advice. But it doesn’t answer the question. Where’s that voice coming from?
Well, Pilgrim, if you’re in the state of New Mexico, there’s a good likelihood you are hearing a new electronic gizmo designed to "curb" drunk driving and produced by… I kid you not… Wizmark Technologies.
You see, what Wizmark produces and New Mexico has purchased is an electronic do-hickey which senses when a man is occupied in front of a urinal and unable to depart. Then the voice of the woman of his dreams warns him not to drive drunk.
She is giving the guy darned good advice. But will he listen? If there is one thing we men are geniuses at, and it may be the only thing, it is the ability to tune out unwanted female advice. Right or wrong, the male brain cannot process female instructions or suggestions. Honey-dos and Honey-don’ts get totally lost in translation. Often, they can be scrambled around all kattywhompus bass ackwards. We men will do the exact opposite of what The Fair Sex request. In psychological vernacular such behavior is termed "reactance."
For example: A man being told to "get off the couch and mow the lawn" hears "let me get you another beer so that you can sit there like a lard butt watching The Packers." Men are not trying to be difficult deliberately. It’s the way the male brain is wired. Lady, don’t buy your husband at Radio Shack! As is, where is, no warranty expressed or implied.
With this fact established, I’m not too sure Wizmark’s contraption is going to do anything but encourage any man worth his Tequila to get a whole bunch more liquored up and go burnin’ rubber down main street, a whoopin’ and a hollerin’. That’s a surefire DUI with a few other violations tacked on just for good measure.
Also, consider this. The talking urinal is probably cute and funny early in the evening. How is it going to be received at 2:00 AM? Not good at all to put it mildly. Men will be sick and tired of being… uh… nagged about driving home drunk. They are apt to talk back and argue! "Oh yeah? I’m not too enough drunk to drive home you (seriously inappropriate language)!"
What if the loo has several specimens of frustrated, inebriated masculinity all arguing with the same electronic woman’s voice? This could get ugly. Lacking an actual female to confront, will they start brawling amongst themselves? Tsk, tsk. Well, boys will be boys.
Some heavily lubricated "gentlemen" may actually think they’ve found the woman of their dreams and refuse to… uh vacate the premises. Drooling and fumbling in a disgusting manner, they may resort to shouting out: "I love you!" I do not want to see this.
But what about the Ladies Room, huh? Are we supposed to think that only men drink and drive irresponsibly? Balderdash! I don’t buy it. I know better. A group of loose women out on the town can be counted on to wreak ten times the havoc as would the same number of men. Where did gender equality go? How come Wizmark doesn’t have a talking loo for the ladies? Hopefully it’s in the works. I mean, fair is fair. Wizmark… you gotta love the name… can go out and hire Pierce Brosnan or Barry White to do the vocals. Or if they want to go the el cheapo route, I’ll do it for half the celebrity fee. "Madam, may I suggest you have the concierge call you a cab?"
But then, maybe this might not work either. Certain voices could elicit screams of horror resulting in the need for another drink to settle fragile feminine nerves, or in litigation, or in frightened (and tipsy) women running from the restroom directly to the parking lot, to their cars in pursuit of the most direct route home, thus to be arrested for speeding and drunk driving.
Well… I wish the state of New Mexico and Wizmark Technologies all the luck in the world in their venture. This marriage of the nanny state and high technology is well intended.
In the meantime, if you hear voices in the water closet, you’re not crazy… But you are crazy if you drive home drunk.
Elizabeth Gyllensvard contributed to and edited this story.
Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo and Los Angeles. Currently he resides somewhere in the Caribbean.