Wednesday, December 30, 2015

To pee or not to pee

When I drink water, I pee a lot. I’ll drink several glasses of water during a meal, and then I have to make sure I’m somewhat near restrooms for a couple of hours afterwards. If I’m going to change locations, I always pee before I leave because you never know what the restroom situation is going to be like. You never know if you’re going to get stuck in a snow bank, have a flat tire, or get in an accident, either. Better to pee before you go.

That’s also advisable because you don’t want to race into a place careening for the restroom. To find out, for example, that there is no restroom near Banana Republic and you have to head all the way over to Nordstrom … and you might not make it. There is a reason why friends call accidents “Title Wave moments,” after the bookstore one of us just couldn’t quite make it to.

Mostly, no one would ever notice how much I pee. But in my Third Third, I have the time for long, really long, lunches. So I drink a lot of water (no iced tea, carbonation, or caffeine). And I visit the restroom three times minimum while my companions seem to have iron bladders. How do they do that?
On a road trip, my sister couldn’t get over how many times I had to use a restroom. She told me to see a doctor. My doctor said there’s nothing wrong with me, that she has to pee a lot, too. She says it helps to have protein when I’m drinking, but I don’t notice any improvement.

Mostly, this wouldn’t bother me. I know the good restrooms around town. I even spent some of my time as a columnist as the Toilet Police because back then I was concerned that all the stuff they were adding to toilet stalls – mainly gigantic toilet paper holders – was making it impossible to turn around. So I have a little restroom map in my head, and between bookstores, office buildings, and little shops, I distribute my water.
[Little aside: that isn’t my original thought. John Irving, in The Water-Method Man, conjectured that water invented people so it could relocate.]

This is also Alaska so a lot of peeing happens outside. That is so perfect: you don’t have to “find” a restroom. You just have to squat, carry supplies, and take them with you. Once you get used to this, you can pee anywhere. Even by the side of the road, you say, “I’ll never see those people again anyway.”

Which, however, was not the case when I was racing across town and the store restroom was closed and the Costco restroom was undergoing maintenance and the library restroom was occupied and so I looked at one of those green power boxes by the side of the road and ducked behind it. Only to have a bus come by. Me? I used to be the manager of People Mover. I know the bus drivers. So I waved.
But all this peeing has some awkward sides. Like bus tours. On our trip to Machu Picchu, our guide NEVER needed to use the restroom. Thank heavens for Carol; she and I shared “baƱo” hunt duties. Her husband, Art, pointed out an overhead sign with a stick figure. “No,” I said, “that’s the evacuation route sign. That man is running.” “Oh,” Art replied, “I thought he was running for the restroom.”
So right now, all this peeing is a source of merriment, a route to discoveries (found: new, clean, public restroom in Midtown!), even a bonding experience among women. At worst, it’s only awkward.

But eventually, it gets scary: my mother is 90. She’s so afraid of incontinence, she stopped drinking. Dehydration causes a host of other problems so her kids nag her about needing to drink more. She says she’d have to spend all her time in the bathroom, and it’s a little complicated because she also now wears pads. When I visit, she points out how many of the dining room seats all around have stains from resident accidents.

Is it any wonder I gave up iced tea?

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