The Talking Urinal Cake

I don’t remember everything my mother taught me growing up in beautiful Lockport, New York, but one thing that stuck with me all these years is the fact that I’m not supposed to talk to strangers. Talking to strangers is a good way for me to “find myself hanging around with the wrong crowd” or “going somewhere I don’t want to go.” Well, thanks to the Michigan State police  “talking to strangers” has taken on new meaning.

According to Sen. Tom Coburn’s Wastebook 2012  Michigan’s finest, and I’m not making this up, spent $10,000 in federal funds to purchase 400 talking urinal cakes. Yes, I did say “talking urinal cakes.” For those of you with weak constitutions, or if drinking your favorite beverage while laughing might cause a steady stream of said beverage to expunge from your oral and nasal cavities, you might want to close your computer and walk away slowly right now. Otherwise, read on at your own risk.

First and foremost I’m not so sure I’m comfortable with the term “urinal cakes”. To me, a cake is something that should be enjoyed with a scoop of ice cream and a tall glass of milk. Somehow I don’t think all the Rocky Road in the world would taste very good being spooned from a urinal, milk or not. Now, if you had a cake that was merely shaped like a urinal it would be fine; just as long as it wasn’t lemon. But I digress.

The talking urinal cakes deployed by the Michigan State Police are placed in said porcelain wall potties and designed to command the attention of male bar patrons as they saunter through the men’s room of their favorite watering hole. Apparently a talking urinal cake does more than just provide a “breath of fresh air” to combat the overwhelming odor of ammonia, it also dispenses some pretty sage advice.

The “Wizmark”, as it’s affectionately known, is a motion sensitive device that reminds men to call a cab or enlist the help of a friend to get home in the case of too many adult beverages imbibed. And, in one final “motherly touch”, it also reminds men wash their hands. That’s what I need; a urinal reminding me of my duty to personal hygiene.

I for one am duly impressed. In my mind there’s no finer way to spend taxpayer money than to create a device which speaks to men out of the depths of the urinal at a time when they might not even be able to identify the urinal for its intended purposes. These are men who, upon hearing the friendly female voice of the Wizmark, will be forced to ask themselves if they really just heard the urinal speaking to them. If so, is it appropriate to respond in kind? Is it appropriate to tell Ms. Wizmark to stop nagging? And, above all, is it possible to “drown her out?”

That last question is important if you have a restroom with 6 to 12 urinals. Just picture the scene at halftime when every man in the establishment heads off to answer nature’s call. With that many men wandering around the restroom those urinals will start getting chatty, I guarantee you that. Before long the men’s room will sound like your aunt  Gloria’s kitchen the morning of the Great Family Reunion and Organized Gossip Extravaganza. It’s like, “Dial it back ladies. Breathe before you die of Conversational Asphyxia brought on by Diarrhea of the Mouth.”

By the way, Diarrhea of the Mouth would make a great name for a rock band in the style of 1980s stadium rock, would in not? So anyway, back to the urinal cakes.

I ran the math, which is to say I brought up my computer-based calculator and ran a formula more complicated than trying to avoid the potential “fiscal cliff” Washington is dealing with, only to discover that each of these potty confections cost about $25 apiece. That’s one quarter of one hundred dollars for a talking air freshener men are going to take a leak on. What’s next, a $50 Tidy Bowl man that sings “Can’t Get No Satisfaction” while you’re sitting on the throne? Or how about $75 for an insanely jealous vanity mirror in the ladies room that tells her, “You’re beautiful on the inside, no matter what your date thinks. Oh, and by the way, don’t forget to wash your pathetic little hand you…”

It’s good to know the men and women of the Michigan State Police care enough about you and me to ensure urinals all over the state are equipped with state-of-the-art talking urinal cakes. I’m thinking a DUI lawyer needs to start formulating a new defense for his clients. Something along the lines of Ms. Wizmark giving poor advice. Then maybe he can sue her for everything she’s got. In the meantime, I’ll be working on a new urinal cake that belts out “Singin’ in the Rain” at the first sign of moisture.

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