Taking A Stand On The Can, Ctd


Probably the last batch of the bunch. A reader sends the above photo:

I had to share my favorite piece of bathroom graffiti – not the most sophisticated I’ve ever seen, but it made me laugh out loud.

This one probably will:

A buddy of mine is in the U.S. Navy. In one of the restroom stalls at his naval base someone wrote, “Describe your shit using the name of a movie.” Dozens of people contributed to the list. Some examples from the crowd-sourced latrinalia: Children of the Corn, The Green Mile, Grease, Little Rascals, and (my personal favorite) Big.

Another passes along an apocryphal story:

Abraham Lincoln loved to tell a story about [Ethan] Allen. He returned to England after the war, and the British made fun of him. One day they put a picture of George Washington in an outhouse where Allen would be sure to see it. He used the outhouse but said nothing about he picture. Then the British asked him about it and Allen said it was a very appropriate place for an Englishman to hang the picture because “nothing will make an Englishman shit so quick as the sight of General Washington.”

Many more below:

Okay … okay … I can’t resist submitting my favorite one.

I think I saw this at Cafe Intermezzo on Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue back in the mid-’90s. Of course, someone had written “Free Mumia” on the wall. Someone edited that to read “Free Mumia action figure included with every Happy Meal!”


In one of the stalls at school in the UK in the ’80s, I still remember it fondly …

The US has Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope, and Stevie Wonder.
The UK has Maggie Thatcher, No Hope and No Bloody Wonder.

Another reader:

Here are a few I have enjoyed over the years. Above the urinals in Waggoner Hall at the University of Texas at Austin and home of the Classics and Philosophy Departments, circa 1972: “Veni, Vidi, Wee Wee.”

In the same men’s room: “Don’t throw toothpicks in the toilets. The crabs here can pole vault.” And written just below: “Yeah, but do they throw the javelin?”

Another passes along this photo “from the bookstore here in Greenwood”:

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I’ve hesitated to join in on the bathroom graffiti thread, simply because the two I remember are not quite the stuff for family viewing, but I still thought they were funny. One was in a bathroom at the famous Hole in the Wall club in Austin, Texas: “I don’t care how gorgeous she is – somebody, somewhere, is sick of her shit.”

And another, spotted in a stall in Arkansas during a road trip: “What does Texas have in common with a old lady’s [vagina]? Everybody knows it’s down there, but nobody gives a shit.”

(Upon reflection I think either could be transposed to the other sex.)


Many years ago I read an article (in Esquire, I think) about graffiti on the walls of women’s public restrooms.  My favorite was “Let him sleep on the wet spot tonight.”


Seen in ladies room, Oslo, Norway, 1974:

I saw a man ride up on a bike.
He took off his knickers and said,
“Take what you like.”
I didn’t like his knickers
So I took his bike.


Could I submit one that I saw in Germany many years ago? Translation wouldn’t carry the rhyme.

In diesem Hause wohnt ein Geist,
Der, wenn man drin zu lange scheisst,
Kommt, und dir in die Eier beisst.

Update from a reader:

Oh, but I have to try and translate and still make it rhyme:

In this house there lives a Geist (Ghost)
Who, when you sit too long and shites
Appears and you in the cajones bites

In another update, a reader provides a “variant on the German submitted by a reader, this one with a reply (and my own rhyming translation)”:

In diesem Hause wohnt ein Geist,
Der jedem, der zu lange scheisst
Von unten auf die Eier beisst.

Mich aber hat er nicht gebissen,
Ich hab ihm auf den Kopf geschissen.


Within this stall a ghost doth flit
Who, if you take too long to shit
Will nibble on your balls a bit.

So far I’m safe, he hasn’t bitten,
Because upon his head I’m shittin’

Wunderbar. Another reader:

If you happened to sit down in the first stall of the fourth floor bathroom of the Folsom Library on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2006, you would find a portrait of Bob Saget staring directly at you – in pointillist style of course:

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Why did someone spend hours of their own time on this? Because Bob Saget.


My all-time favorite: “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”

And one more:

My personal favourite from college (between the Theology and Ancient History departments):

Don’t worry if you don’t know what eschatology is
It’s not the end of the world …

Taking A Stand On The Can, Ctd


A reader sends the above image: “The art teachers at this school had an enjoyable retort to bathroom graffiti.” Another adds two examples of latrinalia to the long thread:

My personal favorite, from a stall in the University of York in the UK (my alma mater):

There is nothing in life so overrated as a bad shag.
And nothing so underrated as a good shit.

Close runner-up was the handwritten addendum to a sign saying “Please do not throw cigarette butts in the urinals”:

… it makes them soggy and hard to light.


baconI haven’t seen this one posted yet: In the bathroom I once saw that someone had written notes under the instructions on the hand drier saying “press button … receive bacon.” Looks like it’s a real meme nowadays (see attached image), but I cracked up the first time I saw it.

A dozen more below:

Finally! A thread to which I can possibly add!

My favorite stall in college had two remarks that were stacked on top of one another. The stall scrawls were written in different handwriting:

There’s corn in the my poop
Better than the other way around


UCSB, circa 1975, inside a stall at the bottom of the door, about 8 inches from the floor: “Beware of limbo dancers.”


When I was a student, anti-nuclear demonstrations were big. Some sanctimonious person wrote in a stall, “You can’t hug your children with nuclear arms.” Someone thoughtfully replied, “No, but you can prevent them from wetting the bed.”


When I was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, I saw in a bathroom stall in the Math Department’s Eckhart Library the following text written just above the toilet paper dispenser: “U of C diplomas. Take one.”  I laughed then complied.


Above the urinal in a men’s restroom at a golf course outside a small ranch town: “This is the only place on this course where somebody won’t try to correct your stance or adjust your grip.”

Another sends a brilliant NSFW ad we posted several years ago when it first came out:

I saw this today, and I thought it fit well with the theme. Wait for it!


Spotted above a urinal in Michigan decades ago and never forgotten (probably because it’s all too true):

No matter how much you shake and dance
The last few drops go down your pants


I remember this graffiti from back home: “More than three shakes is masturbation.”


In the men’s room in the library of the University of Amsterdam: “Here I sit and contemplate, do I shit or masturbate?”


Not graffiti, but a note from the management posted behind the urinals in a restaurant men’s room in Cottage Grove, OR: “We aim to please. Will you aim too, please?”


I can’t believe I’m adding to this thread, since I’m a 66-year-old grandma now, but here it is: Many years ago I was at a little bar in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale, and on the back of the door in the women’s restroom was a glorious big poster of a gorgeous man, bare to the waist, with Levis low on his hips that were unbuttoned down a couple of buttons (and this was in the late ‘60s when such eye candy was very unusual and very provocative).  On the bottom of the poster was written in pencil, “What’s waiting out on the barstool for you?” I’m sure there were a lot of unhappy guys in that bar who couldn’t understand why they just couldn’t score there.

And last but not least:

This bathroom graffiti from a pizza joint in Tallahassee is wonderful:

“Anything will work as a dildo, if you’re brave enough.” – A. Lincoln

Taking A Stand On The Can, Ctd


Some bathroom graffiti for Sunday:

On the inside of the door of a stall in the ladies’ room a Korean Presbyterian church in Philadelphia:

Psalm 139:1
Lord, you have searched me out and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up.


One I first saw about a year ago; fun for a 56-year-old to learn new grafitti. In one handwriting: “John 3:16“. Below it in a different handwriting: “Bill, about 4:30“.


From a Canadian university in the mid-1980s: “Jesus Saves”.  Written underneath: “but Gretzky scores on the rebound!”

Many more below:

My favorite (and only) graffiti I remember from college is: “Jesus saves … Moses invests … Mongol hordes”.


When I was at the University of Iowa back in the ’90s I saw this gem:

Jesus lives!

Followed by:

In my penis!

Trumped by:

So it takes your penis three days to rise again?


During the 1970s, the preacher/faith healer/television evangelist Oral Roberts had a very successful ministry, but he was widely seen as a huckster by “mainline” Christians. Thus, a stall in a men’s room in Speer Library at Princeton Theological Seminary had the following graffiti: “Do you believe in Oral Roberts between consenting adults?”

Another shifts away from the porcelain god:

My favorite bathroom stall wisdom is this nugget seen in a stall in Peabody Hall, home of the University of Georgia philosophy department. It stated, quite simply: “I shit, therefore I am.”

More philosophy:

From a stall in Oxford:

“God is dead.” – Nietzsche

With the addition:

“Nietzsche is dead.” – God

Another reader:

Men’s room stall, UNC-Chapel Hill philosophy department: “Heisenberg may have been here.”

And another:

A reader wrote about the incongruity of writing to an erudite blogger about bathroom graffiti, but a few years ago I wondered into a bathroom at St. John’s College in Annapolis and had to take a picture of the graffiti that read “πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ muthafucka” and honor the wisdom of whoever wrote them. As a classics PhD, I knew those words to be adapted from a chorus in Sophocles’ Antigone “There are many terrible things [but none worse than man]” (line 332). This citation shows the contexts where πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ  usually shows up.

One more:

Found in a men’s room on the 4th floor of the Philosophy Building at UCLA (circa 1968):

To be is to do—Sartre
To do is to be—Hegel
Do be do be do—Sinatra

Taking A Stand On The Can, Ctd


Your toilet humor continues:

I gotta say my all-time favorite piece of bathroom graffiti is “All in all you’re just another prick in the stall.”

Another reader:

Personal fave: DYSLEXICS UNTIE!


From my college dorm circa 1970: “Free the Jackson five!”

Many more after the jump:

This poem is from my high school lavatory:

Here you sit in silent vapor;
The person before you used all the paper.
The bell has rung, you must not linger.
I feel for you; You must use your finger.


Here’s a personal favorite, in the bathroom at The Chapter House in College Town right outside Cornell: “Don’t drop acid.  Just take it pass/fail.”


This was actually a small sign that we saw in some random pub somewhere in England, quite a while ago: “If you feel like the bottom is falling out of your world, drink Real Ale and you’ll feel like the world is falling out of your bottom.”


From the men’s’ bathroom at the University of Texas Business school, in 1981: “Save the whales … collect the whole set!”


On a condom dispenser in Cambridge, MA about ten years ago: “Insert baby for refund.”


Posted in a latrine at the VFW in in Wisconsin over the urinal: “Bucks with short horns stand close. The next Brave might be barefoot.”

One more for now:

Someone wrote something filthy along the lines of “I’m going to fuck your mother so hard your Dad walks funny”, which itself wasn’t so funny, except someone else came along later and in different pen and wrote underneath “- Tom Hanks”.

I wonder how long they stood there thinking of the best name to put, because I thought about it a while, and I think Tom Hanks really is the funniest name you could put there.

(Photos from the tumblr Notes from the Stall)

Taking A Stand On The Can, Ctd


The popular thread on bathroom graffiti continues:

I was going to write to say that your other reader‘s college was not unique in featuring restroom grout puns.  I remember a similar collection in one of the men’s rooms at my large university. But it turns out this phenomenon goes far beyond our two schools. A quick Google search reveals a tumblr collecting photos of grout puns called “The Groutlands”, a reddit thread, and even an Urban Dictionary definition of groutfitti:

It involves writing in the tiny space of grout in between tiles in public toilets. The phrases always are made up of some pun using the word grout. Other examples include movie titles, like “The grout, the bad, and the ugly” or simple words, like “groutrageous.”

One of the photos from The Groutlands is seen above. Back to many more submissions from readers:

I can’t believe I’m actually writing about this to someone whom I consider to be the most intelligent person in the blogosphere.  But here goes. From the bathroom stall of my university, in 1994.  Imagine Julie Andrews singing this:

Blowjobs and handjobs and licking Clitoris,
Watching my grandmother douche with Lavoris,
Flossing my teeth with an old tampon string,
These are a few of my favorite things!


At Stevenson College, UCSC, in the men’s room across from the main classroom, circa 1993, someone had written on the condom dispenser: “THIS GUM SUCKS.”

Another goes geopolitical:

This was in the early ’00s in a Safeway bathroom. It’s the only piece of bathroom graffiti I remember, because I’m still trying to figure out quite what it means: “Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon should eat pork together.” Can’t tell whether it’s just a big Fuck You or a call to compromise and find common ground by doing something unpleasant and unthinkable together.

Another political stand:

Princeton University, early 1980s: “SAVE SOVIET JEWRY”. Underneath, in another hand: “WIN FABULOUS PRIZES!”


From a Jamaican restaurant in Madison, WI, circa 1993:  “If you jerk it, they will come.”


High school was a rich vein for this. One of my favourites: “Flush hard, it’s a long way to the cafeteria.”

And another:

Spray-painted on a concrete seawall: “Man’s downfall will be his own intelligents.”

Another notes:

Your other reader neglected the essential preamble to the “paid a dime but only farted …”

In days of old when men were bold
And toilets were not invented
Men left their load by the side of the road
And walked away contented.

But here I sit, broken-hearted …

There. Nothing like a nice high-brow contribution to start off the new year!

Another agrees:

You know what I love about The Dish? Where else can you read a lengthy post about bathroom graffiti followed by a post about the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta? And feel the same level of enthusiasm for both?

Taking A Stand On The Can, Ctd


A helpful reader points out:

You omitted the web motherlode of bathroom graffiti: “notes from the stall

A few photos from that tumblr are above. A dozen more readers submit their own examples of latrinalia:

My very favorite bathroom graffiti was seen in a women’s room in a bar on 6th street in Austin in about 1976 or so.  Someone wrote “My mother made me a lesbian.”  Below that, in another ink and hand: “If I get her the material, will she make me one too?”

I laughed then and I laugh now.


I’m so glad to have a Dish thread to share this with. It’s one of my fondest memories of my time at UCLA when I was working on my MS in Computer Science. This was written on one of the stalls in the women’s restroom in Boelter Hall, the engineering building:

A mathematician named Paul
Had a hexadronical ball.
The cube of its weight
Plus his pecker times eight
Is his phone number, give him a call.

Equally nerdy:

My favorite piece of graffiti yet: “I’ll see you in the Eighth Circle of Hell, Counselor!” From the bathrooms of the Law School of the University of Chicago. (The Eighth Circle is the Circle of Fraud, of course.)

Well of course. Back to the peckers:

Found in the bathroom of Strawbridge&Clothiers, Neshaminey Mall, early 1970s:

I’m nine inches long and four inches round. Are you interested?
Fascinated. How big is your dick?

And another:

Seen above a urinal in a Jr. High 60 years ago: “The future of America is in your hands.”

Heh. Another updates a previous example:

In response to one of your readers: no, no, NO! The correct verse is “Here I am all broken hearted, tried to shit but only farted!”

It’s all downhill from there:

Here’s my all-time favorite, which appeared as a critique below a long string of back-and-forth commentary when I was an undergraduate:

Men who write on bathroom walls roll their turds in little balls.
And those who read these bits of wit can go and eat these balls of shit.


From a rest area in Oklahoma, ten years ago: “here I sit, cheeks a flexin’, just gave birth to another Texan.”

Oh snap. Another:

I was living in Grunge-era Seattle when I went to a bar in town called The Comet. Written on the bathroom wall: “Smells like teen urine.”

And another:

From an Irish-American ginmill in the Bronx, many years ago: “Paddy, how many times do I have to tell you? Cunnilingus is not the name of an airline”.


Here’s something I read decades ago:

She offered her honor
I honored her offer
And all night long
It was honor and offer.

One more for now:

Seen at the Connor Byrne Pub in Seattle: “I fucked your mother”.  Underneath, in different handwriting: “You’re drunk, Dad. Go home.”

Taking A Stand On The Can, Ctd


A reader responds to our recent post on bathroom graffiti:

Oh, I think you’ve started a whole new thread here. My personal favorite, from an old-style English public convenience: “Here I sit broken-hearted; paid a penny and only farted.”

Another sends the above photo: “Here is my favorite from a mirror at Telegraph Beer Garden in Oakland, from ‘parents'”. Another reader:

Do I have what it takes to turn this one into a thread? Let’s find out.  I want to add another dimension to why people scrawl bathroom graffiti, which is group identity.

When I’m in the bathroom at a trendy or well-known bar or club, I often notice a big difference in tone and quality of the wall scrawling, compared to the average truck stop or gas station. Jokes that are actually funny, bits of poetry, or even running conversations are much easier to find. It seems like patrons want to demonstrate the value of their establishment in the kinds of things they write. Sometimes the jokes are so good that I wonder if some of the paid staff were instructed to write them to contribute to ambience.

Spontaneous case in point: at my small, very bookish liberal arts college, someone penned, in the grout between the tiles above a urinal, a pun playing off of the word “grout.” Other students found this so delightful that they started contributing additional grout puns along other parts of the grout. “Grout Expectations,” “The Grout Books,” etc. After a few years of many people adding more puns, it got to the point where you had to be very lucky, or have a very full bladder, to successfully think of a new one before your purpose at the urinal was spent.

Eventually, the grout puns spread to other men’s rooms on campus. I never discussed these puns aloud with anyone at school, but it was clear that all of the male students knew about them and that many of us contributed at one point or another. (I never found out if they spread to the women’s rooms.) How can one explain this popular, leaderless explosion of puns on the unlikely word “grout”? How else but that it nicely conformed with our self-conception as a student body of being clever, non-conforming nerds who read too many books?

Taking A Stand On The Can


Julie Beck looks at latrinalia, or bathroom graffiti:

While it would be impossible to come up with a comprehensive unified theory of why people write poop jokes and names with hearts around them while they’re on the pot (other than the perhaps scientifically unsatisfying “Because it’s fun”), there are several factors that seem to be at play. One is that bathroom graffiti is a forum for anonymous, often-inappropriate expression, not unlike an Internet comments section, except with the added bonus of creating something tangible that exists in the real world. Plus, as Matthews notes, “It’s still illegal. It’s deviant, but it’s a low-cost deviant thing to do.” There’s a low likelihood of getting caught, and it’s usually something that can be washed off, or painted over.

Toilet graffiti also offers an interesting contrast to the way people typically behave in the bathroom. The unspoken rules of keeping to oneself, not making eye contact, and avoiding talking to strangers, all contribute to a sometimes-tense environment with the goal of shifting focus away from what’s actually happening behind stall doors. But the graffiti on the stall doors does not ignore it one bit. It crudely acknowledges and pokes fun at what we all go to the bathroom to do, and flouts the politeness surrounding it as well.

(Photo by Flickr user liquidsunshine49)