There are any number of ways I can answer this question, such as:
1. Too many Sazeracs.
2. Someone roofied my drink.
3. Whiskies of the World Grand Tasting.
4. Blunt object to the forehead.
5. I’m the youngest child.
6. No one loves me (see number 1).
Therapists, however, usually steer you to look to your childhood, and while I can think of several highly damaging events (who can’t?), the most traumatic one on an ongoing basis was that I pissed my pants and the bed all the time.
I didn’t do this out of spite. I did it because I had chronic bladder infections until the age of about 12, which required me to take loads of antibiotics and also lie around in hospitals with a catheter full of dye stuck in my hoo-hoo while people x-rayed me to see whether the infection spread to my kidneys. In addition to this, my bladder was also too small, which meant I had to pee all the time even when I didn’t have an infection, and so I had to have an operation to make my bladder bigger. True story: they make your bladder bigger by basically by putting a bicycle pump nozzle in your urethra and pumping your bladder up till it stretches. I don’t even want to know the noise it made when they unhooked the pump. If I was on the medical team responsible, I totally would have laughed at the bladder fart that must have occurred, but considering that I was 7 and also knocked out on drugs, maybe they were properly compassionate and just felt sorry for for the little girl lying there, virtually lifeless, hoping she won’t pee her pants again when this is all over.
Anyway, having to pee all the time results in being terrified of sleeping over at your friends’ houses, because what if you pee while you’re asleep, and also having to keep extra pants at school because you can’t always make it to the bathroom in time even though your teachers are aware of your problem and you had something like a free pass to run out of the room and go pee. It also means that sometimes your neighbor would have to come pick you up during the schoolday to go home and change clothes, because you peed your spare pants, too. Oddly, I don’t really remember being teased about any of this, but the internal horror/shame/torture was enough to scar me for life. Also, I still pee a lot and can get really panicky about it.
Fast forward 30 years. I have this special friend, Sam. By “special” I don’t mean to imply that he is in any way mentally impaired (other than he’s kind of crazy). We are special friends because we are drinking buddies with abnormally high tolerance, and so are more fun than anyone else we know. Luckily for everyone involved, I see Sam only once a year or so, and somehow we’ve managed to avoid arrest for public disturbance for at least a decade, probably because we are so charming. I mean, I don’t mean to brag or anything.
So once, Sam and I both happened to be in New York at the same time and made plans to meet for drinks even though I only had an hour before I needed to leave for JFK, just the right amount of time to knock back two bottles of Champagne. Oh, I’m sorry, did I say “just the right amount of time?” Because it was totally not the right amount of time, because I wound up leaving 30 minutes late, and didn’t have time to pee before I left.
And that 30 minutes was crucial, because that meant getting stuck in rush hour traffic.
Which means the whole freeway was a fucking parking lot.
I suppose it is needless to say that I had to go to the bathroom really bad even when I got in the cab, but sitting in totally stopped traffic with no possibility of relieving myself on what is already a long ride when traffic is moving was nothing short of my worst nightmare. And then, the nightmare took a turn for the worse. The driver, perhaps seeing my anxiety and perhaps thinking I was worried about missing my flight, which was true, decided to exit the freeway and start driving through Sketchyasfuckville. I, however, naturally assumed that he was driving me off to the Queens to rape and murder me. Boy was he going to be surprised and/or furious when, upon instigating the rape, I pissed all over him! So, silver lining. Or golden one, as the case may be.
It turns out he just thought the backroads would be faster since the freeway was all jammed up, but let me tell you, it wasn’t faster at all. Everyone else was abandoning the freeway, so still tons of traffic, plus we hit every stoplight possible. And then I checked the time and saw that there was pretty much no way at all I would get on my flight unless it was late. And this was before the iPhone, so I couldn’t even easily check that. Life SUCKED before the iPhone.
AND DID I MENTION HOW BAD I HAD TO PEE?
Because never in my life have I had to go that badly. I asked the driver how much longer he thought it would still take, and he said 40 minutes. I began to do things like pinching the inside of my wrist really hard with my fingernails, banging my head on the window (“Hey lady, stop it, I’m tryin’ here!”), and so on, just to distract myself with pain from my impending urinary explosion. Finally I had no option other than to just pee a tiny bit to maybe relieve the pressure. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I had a panty liner in my underwear, sorry if that’s TMI, so it should have been fine. Except that I couldn’t stop in time, and actually peed kind of a lot before my kegels or whatever the hell they are kicked in and stopped the flow. I still had to go really bad, but at least now I thought I could make it to the airport, even though I wouldn’t make my plane. Which pissed me off (ha!) because if that was the case, I should have just stayed in Manhattan and partied instead.
As soon as I walked into the airport, I heard my name being called over the announcement system. Apparently I had to get to my plane RIGHT NOW OR IT WOULD LEAVE WITHOUT ME. I’ll say this: a lot of people bitch about United, but they totally came through for me. I ran up to the ticket counter and said “That’s me!” while uselessly pointing the the ceiling. The agent rushed me through priority security and ran me to the plane while telling the gate people to “Wait, wait, wait, I’ve got her!” on her walkie talkie thing.
Naturally my seat was way in the back, and I had to pass a planeload of people glaring at me. It also occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to properly go to the bathroom till 30 minutes after takeoff, thank you terrorists, so I did what any slightly drunk and totally panicky person would do: I pretended that I had to throw up. Here’s a tip: if you are the last person on the plane, and you get 1/4 of the way down the aisle, and you make a retching sound and cover your mouth, no one will stop you if you start running to the bathroom. And here’s where I should get an Academy Award for both amazing acting and extreme presence of mind: I kept making really loud retching noises in the bathroom so no one would know that I was just faking and was really just peeing! Ahh! Relief!
When I was done, I tried to look apologetic to the people around me, and then promptly fell asleep and didn’t wake up till I was back in San Francisco. And that is the story of how one time, I peed in a taxi.
PS, here are some other things you should know:
- That picture? That is my real pee. I took a picture of it just for this post, because I am dedicated to my art. Sorry if you think that is gross, but art is subjective.
- It looks like Sauvignon Blanc, but it is really real pee.
- The jar used to have Dijon mustard in it. I’m not trying to make a political statement by putting a picture of my pee in a jar that says “Product of France” on the Internet. Also I am not French, so technically it is not a product of France anyway.