Monday, November 21, 2005

When I Say I Have to Pee, I MEAN IT

Since Darren was so brave and shared his awful story, I decided that perhaps I should bust out my own. It's not that bad, but it was mortifying and it's not something I would care to go through again, either. In fact, I think I've blocked most of it out because I don't remember much of what happened afterward.

Now, one thing you need to know about me is that I always have to pee. It's just a matter of how bad. There have been times at work where I'll go, and then a friend will ask if I want to have a confab in the bathroom. I'll say yes, and I'll go again. I'm like a freak of nature. I've never made it through a movie without having to get up at least once, even though I always go just before it starts, too. And if I see a toilet, cue the Pavlovian response. The only time I didn't have to get up on a flight to go to the bathroom was while flying from Norfolk to Vegas a few years ago. I was so engrossed in "The Nanny Diaries" that upon landing I thought, "We're here? So soon?"

Road trips with me are the worst. If I'm driving a long distance with someone, we need to have "The Talk" that goes a little like this: "I'm probably going to have to go to the bathroom on the way. OK? Please stop if I do. Don't drive another 50 miles looking for the most convenient place to get off the freeway." The only way I can truly enjoy a road trip these days is if I'm the one behind the wheel, so I can have complete control over where and when we stop.

Since I inherited my miniscule bladder from my mom, she has always been very understanding of this (if not a little guilty). Most people have been, in fact. Some other people I'm married to are not very understanding at all. "But you just went two hours ago!" he'll say. "Don't ask me to explain it! I can't help it." He's one of those people that has been immune to "The Talk." He'll drive and drive and drive while he looks for a rest stop or gas station right off the highway with me sitting in the passenger seat saying, "But we could have pulled off here!" and "What was wrong with that place? Why didn't you stop?!" I often tell him I have to go before I actually do have to go, because by the time he stops, I'll barely be able to walk upright. He thinks I should be more like him because he once held it for something like 10 hours on a drive between Chicago and San Bernardino. While impressive, I don't think he's gotten the memo that everybody is a little bit different. I'll have to get him another copy. But what I wouldn't give for a bladder like that, though.

The other people who were never very understanding are my dad and stepmom. My stepbrother and stepsister were blessed with bladders like the Mr.'s. They said they often had to go to the bathroom in school, but that they could just hold it until they got home. I used to marvel at that. "But how can you hold it?" I'd ask. They'd shrug. My stepsister once suggested that I practice holding it, and I'd get better at it. I've tried that, and it made no discernible difference.

Whenever I said I had to go to the bathroom, dad and Lorraine wouldn't ever stop. If Karen and Glenn could hold it for hours on end, why couldn't I? Road trips were often miserable for me growing up. Sure, we kicked back in the conversion van, reading and snacking. But once I had to go to the bathroom, it was all over. I was in misery until we arrived at our destination or stopped for a break.

One day when I was 17, I was riding in the back of the van alone, while dad and Lorraine were sitting up front. I don't remember where we had been that day, but we were coming back from Hayward. At some point, I asked if we could please stop. I really had to go.
"But we're close to home. Can't you wait?"
"Um, not really."
"It's only a half hour."

We got to the San Mateo bridge, and started to cross. Home was about 20 minutes away at this point. I had to agree, it was ridiculous that I couldn't hold it for another 20 minutes, so I sat there in silence, gripping my stomach, rocking back and forth, trying to think of other things, cursing my stupid, useless bladder. It was impossible.

"Please, can't we stop at the gas station right off the exit?"
"No. You can hold it."
"I don't think I can."
"You're going to have to. We're almost home."

I tried to hold it. Really, I did. I wanted to hold it. Who wants to pee their pants, especially when it's well past the age of acceptability? I finally felt my body go weak from the sheer exhaustion of holding it for so long, and I just went. All over the cheesy brown velvet seat. Probably less than two miles from home. I felt equal parts relieved and horrified. I sat there, just staring straight ahead, wondering how I could tell them, if I should tell them, wondering if they were wondering why I had suddenly ceased begging them to stop. Did they know? I couldn't smell anything, so they probably couldn't, either.

We pulled up to the house, I got out of the van and went to my room and changed. It's the last thing I remember. I don't think they ever said anything to me, and I never brought it up. I don't remember if the van ever smelled. I don't remember a single damn thing. But I hope they felt really, really bad.

It's kind of making me wonder what else I have that's so well repressed up here in my head.