It all started in 1997. I was stricken with a particularly awful urinary tract infection caused by too much scandalous college sex (always pee after sex, ladies!), and attending a dinner at DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant with my best friend’s parents. I don’t entirely remember what I ate (although I do have a vague recollection of it being beige and slightly squishy), but what I do remember is the 3 large glasses of cranberry juice that I slammed in vain attempt to stem the infection until Health Services opened on Monday.
As the check arrived, I would make a decision that would scar me for years to come- I did not go to the ladies’ room before we left. LIFE ALTERING MISTAKE.
No big deal, right? I could definitely hold it for the 20 minute car ride back to campus. A 20 minute car ride that would turn into an hour plus jaunt around town to scope out off-campus apartments while my friend’s mother lectured her about making friends who have more money, and her dad told a charming story about drowning a sack of kittens in a river.
Meanwhile, I shifted in my seat (politely remaining quiet), begging my wounded bladder not to unleash a urinary torrent in the back seat of their Astro-van.
I am very proud to report that my body did not betray me that day (although, it was indeed a photo finish). But, it did leave me with a lifelong panic about being stuck in a car without a bathroom.
The worst incidence of this phobia would occur on a trip to Puerto Rico- trapped in a crappy rent-a-car in the endless gridlock of San Juan with nothing but a single median palm tree to shield my shame in case of an emergency.
Again, I would escape humiliation, but in a lot of ways I’m pretty positive that actually peeing my pants would have been way less awful than two hours of hysterical worry and bargaining with my body to behave itself.
Though not quite as dramatic as my Puerto Rican meltdown, I recently found myself playing the “where would I pee?” worst case scenario game on a 4 hour road trip to East Millinocket. The game basically consists of me silently evaluating each patch of the road for pit stop locations. An abandoned shed… A dense clump of trees… A house inhabited by friendly and sympathetic looking elderly people… They’re all good choices when you don’t want to ask your lovely driving companion to get off the highway (again) to find a bathroom just because you foolishly decided to have a latte at the West Gardiner rest area.
By the time we reached our destination, it was pretty much an urgent situation. Unfortunately for me, we had some in-town errands to run before we could check into our hilariously fish themed motel. Surely there would be restrooms at the bank or town hall, right?
Nope. My infinitely patient companion then trotted me into essentially every shop on main street in hopes of finding me a convenient place to go. Still, no dice. There really aren’t words to describe the level of embarrassment that goes along with letting an entire street full of shopkeepers know that there’s a good chance that you might pee all over yourself in the very near future.
“Try the gas station down the road by the highway exit.”
The “Toilet Finder” app on iTunes claims to know the location of over 60,000 public bathrooms worldwide! Sadly, not one of them is located in East Millinocket, which straddles a weird line between too rural to have a Starbucks, and too suburban to just be able to go cop a squat (or bust out your lady-branded pee funnel) in the woods.
It looked like we were headed back to the highway when we pulled into a small supermarket parking lot for one last ditch in-town effort. MaryAnne’s Market was mercifully staffed entirely by women. I’m pretty sure that the kind kind lady behind the counter could smell the desperation on me when I waddled up to the counter and inquired about the availability of a restroom.
They didn’t exactly have one.
It must have been my “one of my internal organs is about to perforate and make things very messy and awkward for everyone” look , but the check out woman took pity on me and led me behind the deli counter into a back room with an “employees only” sign on the door. It was tiny, dank, and had a questionable door lock (where I got stuck for a minute on my way out), but it was basically heaven. Heaven with a flush toilet and hand sanitizer. I thanked everyone copiously, and then bought some Boone’s Farm as goodwill gesture on my way out. Has Boone’s Farm even been made for the last 5 years?
I suppose this is what I get for making poor liquid intake decisions on a long car drive to go do yard work on a property that currently has no electricity or running water. But, not being able to wizz conveniently into a big gulp cup while still en route does make being a traveling girl just a little bit less convenient. I wish I could end this blog post with a list of clever hints and tips about how to survive a pee emergency in an inopportune place, but all I have is this: