Q: If one makes a genuine effort not to be seen while peeing outdoors, can that still be considered urinating in public?
Frank Allen
March 2009

A: Yes and no. The need to shake the dew off one’s lily away from modern facilities is one of life’s many inevitabilities (and one of its few remaining pleasures). But taking precautions to not be noticed by the general population when that need arises is always advisable. When, however, such measures fail and privates are displayed publicly, the golden rule of outdoor potato straining has been broken and public urination is at hand (and in hand). This goes, the Texanist has learned, against many a community’s ordinances, and being cited for being sighted while seeing a man about a horse is no laughing matter. Don’t become known as public enemy number one for making a reckless number one.

Q: During backyard get-togethers at our house, my husband will wander off to the back corner of the yard and let loose with a big ol’ pee. He thinks this is perfectly acceptable behavior. What’s wrong with him?
Name Withheld
November 2010

A: Sometimes when nature calls a man, he may take the call in a natural setting, such as a stand of shrubbery or behind a tree. At other times this is altogether improper, and the man, in this case your husband, must make every effort to seek indoor facilities. Knowing the difference between these two types of situations is critical. Having attended soirees of every ilk imaginable (an intimate dinner with Lady Bird Johnson one night, a fandango on the outskirts of Ciudad Acuña the next) and having relieved himself both indoors and out, the Texanist has developed a few handy rules for determining the propriety of alfresco elimination. (Note: These rules apply only to number one; it is a rare party indeed, and frankly one that the Texanist would rather not be invited to, at which open-air evacuation of the bowels is permissible.) First off, nearly any gathering that has no women at it, no matter where it is located, is a kosher setting for an outside pee. If the crowd is mixed, relative proximity to an accessible building is a good way to make the determination. If you are less than two hundred feet from an entrance, pissing in the bushes may appear willful and lewd; more than two hundred feet and it begins to seem pragmatic and manly. Another telling indicator is the sort of refreshments being served. If a keg is flowing and greasy brats are being devoured straight off the ends of plastic forks, go ahead and water the lawn. But if there are little bowls of almonds and olives on the tables and chilled white wine in real stemware, try to find a toilet. The particular situation you describe is hard to evaluate. With such wee information to go on, the Texanist is unable to make a clear judgment, though the details (gender of guests, proximity to house) seem to suggest that your hubby should be making his water inside.

Q: Is it okay to relieve oneself while swimming in the Gulf of Mexico?
Name Withheld
May 2013 

A: The Texanist appreciates your taking the time to write, but honestly, a ruling on the propriety of pee-peeing in the Gulf of Mexico seems a wee bit silly. Texans have been answering nature’s call in that choppy brine for as long as they have been wading out into it. Right or wrong, this is a behavior that is unlikely to change—no matter what the Texanist says. Or does. 

Q: Why can’t she put the dadgum seat up?
Name Withheld
November 2009

A: The Texanist knows what you are thinking: Were all toilet seats left in their logical resting positions (up), then nobody seeking an unsoiled locale for an evacuative perch would ever again be left to deal with an unclean one. Problem solved, right? Wrong. In addition to occasionally missing the bowl, you have also missed a significant point or two with regard to these kinds of business dealings. To begin with, a toilet that is used by a woman alone has almost nothing in common with a dedicated male can. The former is basically a pleasant seat with a shelf for holding a pleasantly scented, restorative potpourri, whereas the latter is really no more than an open sewer. But here’s the key: When the sexes share a john, it must hew to the girls-only standard. No sense in arguing. This is according to long-held and impossible-to-overturn conventions that dictate proper behavior between ladies and gentlemen. Get used to it. And while you’re at it, learn to enjoy holding open the dadgum door, pulling out the dadgum chair, and throwing down the dadgum raincoat over the dadgum puddle. You will expend little energy in doing so, and even the most radical of feminists will appreciate the courtesy.