Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Public urination

I believe she has no arms because she is holding herself

At times it seems like it's only me, but women needing to frequently pee seems like a fairly consistent problem throughout our fair sex. We may forever be resigned to being viewed as the weaker sex on the strength (weakness) of our bladders alone. I'd like to say I'm better or worse than others, but honestly, there is no rhyme or reason to my bladder so I can't really place myself consistently on one side. One day I can be like a camel, as shown by the time I managed to pee just once on a 14 hour flight from Melbourne to LA, while other times I might as well be a burst fire hydrant with children happily frolicking in the rupture.

As I write, I feel like I am in bladder insensitive mode. I don't need to go so it feels like I'm trying conjure up some distant memory. Perhaps bladder stress is like child birth where we have evolved, in the case of childbirth, to forget the true horrors of the pain so we can do it more than once, and in the case of bladder control, so that we recover enough not to start wearing adult diapers prematurely.

The nuts and bolts of the situation

Bladder inconsistency makes it very hard to manage ones day, and more importantly road trips or outdoor concerts or festivals. For example, last Friday I'd drunk nothing all day, had a glass of Coke with my late lunch and then found myself on the verge of flooding the car 45 minutes later. We were on the freeway making a long drive home in traffic at 5pm. We had to pull off and take the street. While we were in a sketchy neighbourhood, mentally, being on the street assisted greatly in mind over bladder. On the street, you see options. A gas station, a restaurant, a bush, a gutter. They are possibilities and I daresay it is hope that has sustained civilised culture thus far and hope is no exception in matters of the urinary pouch. Even without actually stopping at any of these places, the option to do so eases the mind and the excruciating pain. On the freeway, it's a whole other pond. You are barely moving, but moving enough that you can't get out of the car. The only hope ahead is the sign marking 3/4 mile until the next exit, and if you choose not to demand that exit, you are now fixated on the next fraction of a mile until you can get off. This process may be as damaging to one psychologically as it may be kidneycally.

Only in matters of urination do I have penis envy. Here's a solution in the Shewee.

Once one has exited the vehicle in such an emergency, a new flood of terror hits. All those possibilities from the car are now treated as last resorts as one tries to maintain their dignity by pretending the potty dance in just the way they usually walk. If one finds themselves in a not-so-nice neighbourhood, or one heavily populated with homeless people, opportunities for restroom use plummet. In an effort to keep their restrooms adequate for their customers, they must keep out the homeless and for some reason, a clean, well dressed girl with eyeballs slowly yellowing is not enough to break the rule as one is turned away.

The ability to turn someone away with this dire need to urinate is an interesting one. When in the moment, it feels like a crime against humanity. Hasn't everyone been in this situation so that someone comes to you, crying urine and begging you to let you use their bathroom that you can simply say "no"? It appears to be the same part of the brain at work that says "Sorry" without a thought to a wino asking for change. This forgetfulness about the trauma of an urgent pee need is rampant also among city planners as you are often hard pressed to find decent and easily accessible bathrooms while out and about. Cities are the ones dropping the ball with their lack of bathrooms, forcing the uncomfortable ritual of the feigned patronage of an establishment to gain an audience with their porcelain.

I held one of these in my hand at a pharmacy, but couldn't bring myself to buy it. I have since longed for it on many occasions since. You pee into it and the liquid is immediately absorbed and turned into gel. Crisis averted.

This takes me back to my evolution theory. Even I, with all my bladder sympathies have found that when I have zero need to go and someone else is busting, it's not like watching someone appearing to get their eyes gauged out in a horror film. That's not even happening, yet as an onlooker, I manage to squirm as though it really were and shaken by the idea of it happening to me. In the case of peeing, it's as thought all liquids I need to expel simply evaporate from my body and I can't imagine what the person is going on about. Yet I DO know! I have squirmed, panted, imagined the humiliation of mopping up the car after the dam wall broke. With all that, for all the empathy I have otherwise, I cannot tell you why I don't quite engage in the panic when it's somebody else. I do my best from my theoretical understanding the problem, but the empathy is not there and for that, I feel like a monster. I'd like to be able to keep this in mind the next time a shop person says "no", but it's impossible to think rationally when you feel like your dignity is about to pour down your leg.

Making the best of it at an outdoor festival. My assistant decided to snap a photo in the midst of it.
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