It was recently announced that in the past three years, 51 people have drowned in the canals of Amsterdam.

One  person drowned because of a crime. The other deaths were accidents. Of the other fifty people, it is believed that most of them were men who were drunk and relieving themselves in the canals. Apparently, they were standing at the edge and fell in.

There have been requests to have more ladders and life rings attached to the docks or landings of the canals.

While I have sympathy for all of the families involved, it is hard for me to have sympathy for men who think that because they can, that they have the right to urinate in  busy waterways. There are plenty of public toilets in Amsterdam. The city offers many opportunities to urinate for free: check out the photographs for proof of these toilets that are just for men or for very limber women.


I have driven by men who are standing by their parked cars, on a highway, relieving themselves. This summer I saw a man relieve himself about 50 feet from our car. This was at a rest stop that had a gas station and restaurant. He couldn’t be bothered to go inside, I guess. Why is this behavior acceptable? It seems that people don’t think it is too bad because the man is still dressed and standing up.

I have a theory that maybe men are jealous of dogs. Dogs have the freedom go wherever they want to. In this country, there are poop parks for dogs called Hondentoilet (I wrote about this in a post called Dog Day Afternoon). All throughout the country, there are grassy areas intended for dogs to do their business. Maybe men want to have the same rights. If there is not one outdoor space for them, then they will have to go in other places, like the woods, a highway, a parking lot or even near a canal. If dogs can have a space, then why not men too? Imagine that it is 2am and you are leaving a bar in Amsterdam. The good news is that you are not driving or riding your bike, as you are pretty drunk. But you have the urge to relieve yourself and you are so happy to see the Mannentoilet (male toilet), a square of grass just for men. Why bother with the bathroom in the bar or a portable toilet on the sidewalk, when you can have some fresh air and a view?

I am making fun of this situation, obviously. It is sad that people lost their lives, but it did not have to happen. If you are going to drink, be responsible for yourself. Please keep your pants zipped until you are home or in front of an urinal. And if you are feeling wobbly and not sure of yourself, don’t go near the canal. The canals are full of honest women trying to earn a living on those houseboats and no more excitement is needed.

Recommended reading: SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR by Matthew Quick. This tells the story of a homeless teenager who knew where to go for relief! This beautiful book was written for teens but it absolutely can be enjoyed (and has) by adults. I love books that make me laugh and cry and this book delivers on both counts.

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  • Matthew Quick  On January 16, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Thanks for the shout out, Jane! Holden misses you. E-mail me your snail mail address and I’ll send you a BOY21 ARC. Cheers! Q


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