Every night, right before a much deserved period of unconsciousness, I enter the bathroom and perform a ritual—a ritual convincing my wife that my mind has finally snapped. Everyone pees before bed, a quick micturition to get the pipes all clear and keep the weird dreams about watersides and lemonade stands far from the bedside journals. I’m no different. I may do strange things, I’ll grant her that. Shoveling food from a bowl with a spoon seems efficient to me, I believe there’s no real measurement to how much sugar on your cereal is “too much,” and while I may put my pants on one-leg-at-an-awesome—I refuse to admit that there’s anything wrong with trying to drain out every last drop before I finally lapse into a few hours of drooling and heavy thoughts. I can’t help it. I’ll take the before-bed constitutional like everyone else, but if I’m still awake and I can think about it, I’ll wander back into the bathroom and get to work on that hernia. Our bathrooms are small too, and by my third pre-sleep visit, I’ve run out of bladder pressure, so I’ve got to do this weird sort of spinal bendy move to keep things off the floor. For my poor wife, it’s just that hairy bastard waking her up yet again to head to the john, some strange man who looks to be doing squat thrusts and sounds like he’s slowly squeezing fresh orange juice directly into the toilet.
The whole thing is going to be about pee, if you hadn’t figured it by now, so I’ll only subject you to that one paragraph before this very sentence warning you about more. On self analysis, I wrap an unbelievably large part of my existence around taking a piss, and if I’m going to write extensively about my stomach (which I have), I figure this sharp little essay might as well be about my bladder—just as long as I’m not penning one of these in a few years all about my feet, lungs, or anything to do with my shitter. I’m peeing, constantly, forever in my third trimester, and it’s got my internal clock wound to a perfect beat.
I wake up each night at least twice to let it all out, which is why I take fifty or so damned trips to the porcelain before I finally fall asleep. My theory, which has been proven dead wrong for the last twenty years, is that the less in my body, the less I’ll have to actually wake up for. This isn’t true, and wake up I always do, the last person in the world to ever wet the bed. I’ll be having a dream, some terrific orgy I’ve concocted in my brain, and right as I’m getting started with the oil baths and eunuch sacrifice, my seventh grade shop teacher will repel from the ceiling, nudge me in the ribs, and tell me, “Hey. Get up, time to pee.” I’ll awake and head for the bathroom, angry that I never had a chance to try out the water slide made entirely of breasts.
Now, I don’t want to hear about my prostate, no I don’t have a grapefruit sized something near my bladder, and I’m not riddled from head to toe with diabetes—I just have to pee, like, all the time. I’ve been checked, by a real doctor, to see if it’s time for me to start paying closer attention to the Wilford Brimley commercials, or if I’m old enough to start having a stranger’s thumb up my ass on the regular, and the results are negative. I am young, healthy, and I consume a considerable amount of tea. Movies require a special sort of planning in this regard, and I’m not alone here, as there’s an entire website devoted to getting you to the restroom and back into the theater before the next car chase. The site is called RunPee.com, and it’s come in handy more than once, and by more than once, I mean always.
You bring up the website (or iPhone application) and find the movie you’re off to see. It’ll list for you a number of “pee times” throughout the movie, areas where they consider the pace dull enough that you won’t miss much, non-plot-specific conversation, scenery changes, and every time Robert Downy Jr. isn’t saying something rushed and funny, or simply “handsoming” at the camera. The cue is listed by a line of dialogue, indicating when you need to get up and take care of business. For instance, a movie in the theaters at the time of this writing is Underworld: Awakening, and I’m sure it’s just dandy, a real winner. RunPee.com tells me one of the best times to head to the restroom is 59 minutes into the movie for a “pee time” of three minutes. The cue is, “When Dr. Jacob Lane gives Quint a shot in the eyeball to make him immune to silver.” You can read a synopsis too, a quick paragraph telling you what you missed in the interim. In this case it was apparently something about a guy named Sebastian and some vampires and the sunlight and I don’t care I’m not going to see the movie anyway.
Long car trips are what do me in, the stuff I really need to be on my A-game for. I keep the beverages to a minimum, and I’m always prepared with an empty bottle or two for emergencies, somehow envisioning actually peeing into the things while I’m on the road and without alternative. This little game was put to the test a few Thanksgivings back, my wife and I stuck on the interstate, cars for miles, and me sitting in the passenger seat, sweating and nervously holding my crotch like I’m trying to secretly suffocate a pigeon. After minute forty-three or so, I shot her a look as if to say, “I’ll always love you, this has to be done.” She glared forward for a moment, then looked back at me as if to say, “Come back with your shield, or on it.” I unlocked my seat belt and gingerly stepped into the back seat of our car, the empty soda bottle already in hand for the occasion. My wife asks for a play-by-play, and I’m fumbling everything. I’ve got my back faced toward the other lane of traffic, and I’m trying to arch my spine in a funny position that achieves a good angle, as well as lets me see my own gear now that it’s free and breezy. “Positioning, okay, it’s a wide mouth bottle, I’m in, now… to focus.” “You can do this,” she replies, “aim well.”
As we all know, after you’ve hulled up your own pee for too long, your body starts to get used to it, giving it a name and a place to live, reluctant to let it go. I’m in the back seat of our car, tackle stuffed into an empty soda bottle, and on my knees, focusing the whole scene with wide eyes like a cornered rapist. A few minutes of intense focus finally unlocks the gates, and relief washes over me and into the soda bottle. The nervousness returns, however, as I shout to my wife in the driver’s seat, “It’s… uh, I’m running out of room here.” “Don’t, shit, well, stop!” she yells. I consider a sharp reply, but we both know the score by this point—I either stop suddenly and experience the sharp pains of nature interrupted, or cover the car in piss. While the title of this article is not misleading, I assure you, on this occasion I stopped, zipped up, dropped the closed soda bottle into a zip-lock bag, and spent the next half-an-hour in minor agony until we found a rest-stop. I learned a valuable lesson about mid-travel urination on this trip: prepare for volume.
The bad one, the one with a name less spoken, was in the dead of winter. I’d left for work early, the roads iced over with a few inches of slush and accidents waiting to happen. It was one of those slow going drives, where after an hour the heat starts to get into your guts, gloves and hats come off, the window cracked for fresh air, and intermittent waves of nausea and hunger for the breakfast you were supposed to have. I’d peed twice before leaving the house, but with a morning packed with this much traffic, I knew it was only a matter of time before the ghosts of urine’s past would start rattling their chains and flood my thoughts with fears of a burst bladder and a closed casket funeral. The first pangs were my warning, but I was already miles deep in a part of town surround by more roads, residential areas, and false hope—traveling at about fifteen miles per year. I looked at myself in the rear view mirror, furrowed my brow, and spoke a warriors words. “It is time for the chaos of battle, Matthew, and we shall see this through. We are going to piss in the car.”
My future telephone with the satellites and the maps was little help. Something about the ice or my grim fate kept the GPS from narrowing into a solid location, so I had to wing it. The radio was off, I had to concentrate. I’d rattled around in the plastic bag I keep for trash, and came across an old fast food paper soda cup, and on quick inspection, it seemed intact enough for emergency containment. There were too many eyeballs on the road I was inching along, so I took the first turn I could find, right into the melancholy of a suburban neighborhood on a gray icy day. This little housing area seemed quiet enough, so I pulled in front of what I figured was an empty house, and just sat, wondering what I’d tell my wife when she’s bailing me out of jail.
I peered through the windshield, keeping the wipers off to conceal my devious plans under the snowfall, and I watched for movement—lights, the front door, anything. Without noticing anything of concern, I went for it. I braced my feet against the floorboard, lifting my ass a few inches and allowing me to unfurl my vegetables into a more malleable position. The paper cup came forward, and I’d tucked it right under the hog, poised and ready. Then, I seized up. The horrible bastard turned on me in my moment, and I couldn’t get my bladder to relax—me watching cars, the house, trying to piss and not get arrested for exposure all too much for my tender parts. A few minutes passed, so I gave up out of frustration, my manhood concealed for the moment by my winter coat, my plan starting to fall apart, and my bladder seizing in the throes of war.
I’m on the side-roads now, and they’re of less help, the whole town is locked up in this wintery debacle. I’m hungry, and I’ve been on the road for two hours, a journey that usually requires only thirty-five minutes or so of my morning. I’m slowly working my way in this one lane road, miles of it wait for me, and I’ve only begun to fight. I look into the mirror again, wipe the sweat from my brow, and kill the wipers once more. The guy behind me is close, but this is to my advantage, and the guy in front can’t see through my window. With the iron as hot as it’s going to be, I rebalance, ass up a bit, feet braced on the floorboard, and the idle of the engine propelling me forward with the slow train of traffic. The cup returns, and I start working towards a hernia like I hadn’t before. Waterfalls, lemonade, and warm baths are recalled, and I desperately try to convince my body how good it feels to let it all go. I imagine my spirit guides, feathered natives surround me in an aura of ancestral grace, and I’m pressing the inside of my abdomen—I’m a boa and I’m horking up a prairie dog—rows and layers of muscles flexing and contracting, working into a frenzy.
A few blocks pass, and I feel the first drops arrive. The cup takes some positioning, and my feet start to shake—I need to hold the car steady, but I’m looking out from the very top of the windshield, my neck twisted as I elevate myself inside of my own seat-belt. Then, the waves arrive. The cup fills, I start laughing, a mighty chant to the world erupts in my car, and I start cheering myself on, I can do this—penis—we can do this. It’s all coming on too fast now, I can’t slow it down. I do some quick calculation and I’ve got room in the cup, but my strange grip on the thing is starting to buckle under the weight of my pee, one slip and it’s going all over my pants and shoes. I feel like I can wrap it up. I’m not finished, but I’ve relieved enough pressure for another forty minutes or so, of that I’m certain.
You can’t just stop the machine though, oh, no, you wind it down, coax it from the ledge and get things all calm and friendly. This is the tricky part. I’m winding down, but there are a few streams already chambered, and one gets loose on a declining road, an arc of piss escaping the rim of the cup and landing all over my steering wheel. I swivel the car briefly, trying to regain mastery of the whole scene, then another escapes—this time heading to my right and landing all over the shifter console with a wet slap. I start to scream as things go awry, “Son of a bitch! Get a handle on things, you bastard you!” Right as I get my tackle readjusted, a final bellow makes it’s way for my pants, and splays out like a coffee spill on a laminated map. I assess instantly, snapping a lid on the cup and trying to get everything put back in place. Dry time, roughly twenty minutes. Arrival to work, roughly fifteen. Get to work, stay in office for ten, then reassess. Dark pants today, I was thinking ahead.
I made it to work in the time I’d planned, and the game still went off better than expected. No stain, no smell, just a little shame to wear with me throughout the day. The incident in the car taught me very little, other than my original fears were completely warranted, and to never drive the car without a big paper cup. The pee from that journey sat in the car for the entire day, waiting for me to roll the windows down when I’d returned. An hour after work, it was unceremoniously tossed all over a Jimmy Johns parking lot, and I just stood there for a moment, reflecting on the battle, a viking paying homage to the ghosts of war, and my spirit guides returning to the stars amidst the beating of mighty drums.