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See A Man About a Horse

A listener in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, recalls that his grandfather used to announce he was headed to the restroom by saying, “I have to go see a man about a horse.” An earlier version of the phrase is, “I have to go see a...

Ancient Graffiti

When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., parts of the ancient city of Pompeii remained intact, including the graffiti written on its walls. Much of what was written, not unlike today’s bathroom etchings, is naughty and boastful, with people...

Social Media Replacing Graffiti

Amid the rise of social media oversharing, you’ll notice at least one peculiar change: people don’t seem to write on the walls of public restrooms anymore. But if you’re in search of some good old fashioned bathroom stall graffiti...

Johnny on the Spot

Does johnny-on-the-spot refer to a person or a porta-potty? Or both? The term johnny-on-the-spot, meaning a fellow who helpfully shows up at just the right instant, dates to the 1870s. But in the early 1900s, the john became a common euphemism for...