You're in town
Contributed by: Joe
It all started with the trough.
Off-white in the overhead fluorescent lights, its maw eight feet long, two feet wide and a foot deep. The dull gray water line snaking down the cinderblock wall branched at the trough’s center, and each side of said line sent a flaccid, multi-holed dribble of water down the inside of its mouth, glistening and washing away the effluent proffered therein. Men, real men, in their 30s and 40s and 50s, my dad’s age and older, came and went, stepped up, unzipped, flipped, shook off the drip, re-zipped and left. I washed my hands and milled around. With every passing minute, the six-pack of Old
The trough gurgled, mocking me.
And there I stood.
In the bathroom at work, you walk in to see four sinks lining the wall to your left, so you can’t see anyone on the other side. And on the other side of that wall, four urinals stand, no privacy fences between them. Shit.
So when I go in, I never know if there is someone standing there unzipped doing his thing. If I turn that corner and he’s shaking it off, well, that’s a relief. If I know the guy, some Hey, how you doings might be exchanged as he’s leaving. Otherwise, I don’t even make eye contact. I’ve got serious business ahead, and I can’t have any distractions. As soon as he turns the corner to, I hope, wash his hands before leaving, it’s time to get down to business.
The water running on the other side of the wall encourages me. Come on, you can do it. But, unless I’m simply bursting, it takes a few seconds to prime the pump. So I might start the countdown: Three, two, one (pause … pause … pause), blastoff! Or I might go on three: One, two, threeeeeeeeeeeeeeee … blastoff.
And maybe I start, but as soon as I hear the door opening, I get a little hitch in my getalong, bladder clamping damn near shut with the thought of someone walking in while the dude who just washed his hands is walking out. And that just will not do.
Beer was invented, I’m sure, because somewhere back in the long ago, some ancient motherfucker couldn’t take a piss with his buddy Grog trying to tell him about this fine piece of wooly mammoth pelt-wearing chick he met down by the waterhole, and the dude’s standing there with his dick in his hand wishing Grog would go the fuck away and leave him alone.
Anyway, beer is a great aid when it comes to taking a piss with other dudes milling around in the bathroom. But even then, you have to be at a certain level. If you — and by you, I mean me — have to piss after one or two beers, chick bladder style, you’re fucked. Might as well eat your piece of shame and go in the stall to piss, even if there’s an empty urinal, especially shameful if it’s an empty man urinal and not one of those get-piss-on-your-shoes kids’ urinal. Fucking things should be banned. Three beers in, you should be good to go unless there’s some asshole in there with his cell phone in one hand and his dick in the other. The sheer rudeness of that makes it hard to concentrate. Four beers in, you shouldn’t have any problems. Five or more in, the local high school band could come marching behind you, and your stream wouldn’t miss a beat.
Poor Richard got it just right: Beer is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy.
I went to see “Titanic” on New Year’s Day when it came out. Well, got drug to the damn thing is more like it. An afternoon of drinking and partaking, a pitch dark theater with a middle-of-the-row seat and a three-hour movie with water as best supporting actor was a recipe for pain.
An hour in, I had to piss.
An hour and a half in, I had to piss. A little more urgent.
Two hours in, I’m thinking, When the fuck is this piece of shit going to end? And where the fuck is the isle?
Two and a half hours in, I’m almost ready to piss in the popcorn bucket.
Three hours, the fucking thing ends and I damn near sprint to the bathroom. It comes in waves, high and low tide, strong for a minute, then drips and drabs, then strong again. A full 10 minutes I stood there and pissed.
Fucking Teak. I could have throttled him and Willy and Willy’s Teak-sister-wanting libido for dragging me to that movie. I should have stayed home and gotten stoned. Hell, I should have stayed home and toasted my hand over the gas stove burner. At least that would have healed, unlike my poor bladder and prostate, which no longer let me get a full night’s sleep without getting up to take a leak. Kate Winslet’s fine tits in no way made up for my misery.
The bathrooms at my college’s football stadium used to have troughs.
There’s nothing more disheartening than to see a 9-year-old kid and his dad step up and have no problem pissing when you can’t do a damn thing until the crowd thins out a little. I was never so thankful as I was when they remodeled the bathrooms and installed urinals. Urinals without dividers between them, but still a step up from the damn trough.
Whoever invented the trough should be flogged.
Sometimes at work I get up from my desk and head to the bathroom. On more than one occasion, I have peeled off and headed to the break room for just a minute if I see someone hit the door a few steps ahead of me. You know, check out the snacks I’m not going to buy, just biding my time until I think the coast is clear. Because I know that if we get to the urinal at the same time, I’ll stand there on the tee box, head down, eyes forward, waiting until he finishes, flushes and leaves.
God forbid if he talks to me. Hey, dude, keep your eyes on the matter at hand. I don’t mind small talk, banal pleasantries, the meaningless chatter of polite society. But leave me alone in here. I’m having enough trouble as it is; I don’t need you exacerbating the situation. So shut the fuck up now, please.
And for god’s sake, why the hell are you aiming straight down into the thing, making it sound like a cow pissing on a flat rock? Jesus, man, aim that thing at the side so you don’t get splatter all over your pants.
Sometimes, if someone beats me to the bathroom by a half an office length, I’ll go in and wash my hands, soap them up good and take my time drying them. That usually times it just right so that as he’s coming around to wash, I’m heading to the other side. I’m sneaky that way.
Mark and I got out of school that day and headed for the gravel roads east of town, a 12 and a six of Old Milwaukee in the trunk. It was fall, overcast, jacket weather. I choked down the first beer because, really, Old Milwaukee is about the worst beer ever made. “
After another beer or two, we went to school and the football game. We marched a halftime lap around the track with a physics class banner saying something about how we’re gonna beat the flux out of whatever team was kicking our ass that night. (Yeah, “The Breakfast Club” was our guide. We quoted that movie so much in class — I was president of the physics club because I knew the most lines, Bender and Anthony Michael Hall’s pathetic Brian Johnson, especially — it pissed Mr. Brooks off to no end.)
Our duty done, the Old Milwaukee insisted we had to take a piss. Mark had no trouble. I hated him a little for that.
Me? I had trouble. Oh, yes, trouble indeed. My face was red, and not from the beer consumption or the cool night air. After about 10 minutes, I finally gave up and went next to a light pole behind the bleachers to piss. A senior that year, I never even tried to piss in that bathroom again, my failure complete.
And that’s where it all started: a football field cinderblock bathroom on a cool 1985 fall evening. It became the bane of my urination. I had never even given a thought to having trouble taking a piss, but it was as if somebody flipped a switch inside me, and suddenly I was aware of an audience; all the bathroom’s a stage, and I’ve forgotten my lines. I haven’t been able to flip that switch to “off” since then. And by now it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy, tapping my bladder more than just a physical, biological necessity. Bloody hell. Piss, for me, a Descartian nightmare: I think, therefore I can’t.
I can, however, shit anywhere.
April 18, 2008