People the world over are rethinking public bathroom etiquette.

Women in particular no longer chat amicably with the lady in the stall next to them. We keep our high-heels firmly planted in front of us, and we never, ever tap our toes. Likewise, we keep our hands to ourselves, resisting the urge to reach underneath the stall and ask for toilet paper.

We don’t, after all, want to send the wrong message to the user next door and end up in an ugly, life-changing scandal. Neither do we want a trip to the powder room to turn into a trip to the clinker.

Think Larry Craig.

One day the poor guy is trying to use the potty at Minneapolis International Airport, and the next he’s trying to hold on to his Idaho Senate seat.

According to Associated Press reports, an officer working an undercover sex sting said Craig tapped his right foot, (a signal apparently used in some social circles that means “let’s cuddle”), then moved his right foot so that it touched the side of the officer’s left foot. Craig then allegedly passed his left hand under the stall divider into (the police officer’s) stall with his palm up and guided it along the divider toward the front of the stall three times.

Who knew that finding a date these days took such covert measures? Makes me long for the days when smoky bars and beer-n-cheese brought lovebirds together.

When the officer showed Craig his police identification under the divider and pointed toward the exit, the senator reportedly exclaimed “No!”

When asked for identification, Craig presented police his U.S. Senate business card and said, “What do you think of that?”

Apparently, not much. Craig was promptly arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. He then pleaded guilty, offered to resign from the senate, recanted, and is now the unfortunate topic of cartoons running on editorial pages throughout the country. (See below.)

Stranger still is Craig’s explanation about his bathroom conduct. He “takes a wide stance,” when using the bathroom, his people claim.

And as the senator tries to convince a skeptical public that he’s a nifty guy who loves small animals and children and that — oh yeah - he’s not gay, the rest of us are scratching our heads and thinking how times have changed.

SARA VANDEN BERGE is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at 254-968-2379, ext. 240.