i am 39 and a half years old and i no longer have 100% control of my bladder. ten years ago i was at this club called the darkroom in chicago on $2 corona night, and even back then in my "youth" my party strategy was "get there by 9 so no one takes the good chairs." which is what i liked to tell my friends when they scoffed at the idea of arriving at a nightclub while it was still light out, but the truth is that if i sit too still between the hours of 7 and 830 pm i will clinically die until noon the next day so if i'm gonna go out i need to have a bra and shoes by 655 at the very latest or that shit's not fucking happening. okay anyway it was reggae night and i had been guzzling lukewarm waterbeers for four hours straight in a pair of unforgiving jeggings and when my kidneys started pulsing in time to the beat of "murder she wrote" it was already too late. i looked in the general direction of the single-stall bathroom, its line snaked halfway around the back of the club, and breathed a sigh of relief that i was wearing urine-absorbing socks and sensible, closed-toed shoes.
yes i pissed my pants at the club but that was VERY COOL back then because it made me seem fun and spontaneous and it was my choice, not an involuntary consequence of my managing to avoid death lo these many years. i thought the spoils of reaching middle age relatively unscathed would be better than unrelenting anxiety and loss of control over my various nerves, joints, and limbs. i wouldn't have taken so many antibiotics if i knew i was just gonna grow up to fall the fuck apart the same year i finally nursed my credit score over the 700 line. what is the point of taking unsexy vitamins and paying my secured card on time if i'm gonna spend every evening examining stains on the clothes i wore all day while wondering aloud "what hole did that come out of?"
what misery it is, being a person and existing in a human body over which whose chemicals and hormones and cells you have very little control. with all of the evidence you've gathered for this experiment otherwise known as life on this dying ball of garbage, would you choose this again? you spend your whole youth waiting to be stable and confident, then as soon as you get close your nerves get bad and you spend the better part of most days covered in at least a tiny bit of your own waste. anyway, while you contemplate your mortality and endless human suffering, an exhaustive list of things i've peed on this year:
seat 3B on delta flight 2734 to lax i used to never have to pee on flights, due to a carefully calibrated combination of terror and forced dehydration, but now every time an airplane touches down with me on it a little pee squirts out to christen my arrival in a new location.
the recumbent elliptical machine at the ymca i had to buy special "moisture-wicking" compression leggings because it's nearly impossible for me to engage my core (WHAT) while also pushing pedals at a super high resistance for 45 minutes and trying to read the closed captioning on whatever episode of NCIS is playing. honestly i would just quit going rather than but it helps my shitty knees and you gotta see fourteen specialists to get so much as a tylenol these days and fuck that? so sometimes i leave the gym with a very "sweaty butt." anyway it could be worse i could emptying my entire bladder onto a squeaky wood floor to a pitbull song during zumba gold. although i bet they'd probably relate.
my pants as i approach literally any bathroom ever i understand the pavlovian response to seeing an outline of a toilet on a little plastic sign, but even if i could shield my eyes from it it's like the minute my tiny brain hears "bathroom?" my sphincter muscles relax whatever grip they had on my urethra and it's all downhill (downleg?) from there.
the gravel driveway outside the house we rented in la last summer lindy and i lived in this house at the very top of an inconvenient mountain in the hollywood hills last summer while making her show, and one night i drove our rented toyota camry up the steep and winding too-narrow path with a bunch of kombucha and alkaline water pooling in my bladder (FUCKING LOS ANGELES) and by the time i finally reached the garage i was just about to burst, then i slammed my hand in the car door because a dog i couldn't see in the dark barked at me and my response to the screaming pain was to cry, from my vagina.
my office chair i share a big, airy space that gets tons of natural light and is very peaceful with two people who can absolutely hear every echoed noise coming from inside the adjacent bathroom, so sometimes i try to hold it until they have a phone call or go to lunch and listen: holding it is no longer a real thing.
the floor right in front of my very own home toilet, while trying to extricate myself from a complicated jumpsuit i'm not even sure why i own a single article of clothing with buttons, let alone a fucking thing you gotta hike up to your cervix just to get it over your goddamned shoulders, but listen: i am not immune to trends. i, too, am vulnerable to the algorithm. and that's how i wound up shuffling from foot to foot as urine coursed discreetly down the pants that are also a shirt while unsuccessfully trying to dislocate my left arm to hasten the process of sitting down fully naked to try to squeeze everything out of my suffering bladder.
i cough, i pee
i sneeze, i pee
i laugh, i pee
i sit down, i pee
i stand up, i pee
i cry at a dog food commercial, i pee
i walk five steps, i pee
i step out of the shower too hard, i pee
i bend over to pick up the newspaper, i pee
i reach for a bottle on a high shelf, i pee
i frown at a news story on my timeline, i pee
i pull up to the pharmacy drive-thru window, i pee
i take a bite of something crunchy, i pee
i have to call customer service, i pee
i drop the remote, i pee
i google a meme i'm too old to understand, i pee
remember when you only peed yourself for sexy reasons, like drinking too many bottomless mimosas at brunch or during literally any kind of penetrative sex? now i can't look at a picture of a lake without leaking a little at the mere suggestion of a body of water, even one filled with e.coli and horrible bugs!
i watched that "naomi campbell cleans an entire airplane with a clorox wipe" video in its entirety at least twice, thinking is this before or after she dribbled a little bit in her travel pajamas after too many wines? because i've had to fashion a makeshift diaper out of the complimentary blanket they hand out on planes since i turned thirty-fucking-five. and that's even if i've managed to drink nothing but the swallow of water it takes to get an ativan down my throat during takeoff! how do the properly hydrated among you get through the goddamned day? are you just pissing in those thinx panties all the time? i've been following this hipster nutritionist on instagram (fuck you, an actual one is incredibly expensive and will actually hold me accountable which is a little too panic-inducing for my current frame of mind) and she was like YOU SHOULD DRINK THREE LITERS OF WATER EVERY DAY BEFORE NOON and first of all: who is awake before noon, let alone chugging water during that time? but also, just listening to her even say those words my bladder muscles reflexed so forcefully that you could hear the waves in the next goddamn room.
how do you stay hydrated without 1 it just drizzling out of you all the time without warning or 2 alienating everyone who loves you because you have to pull the car over every three miles to squat over the super big gulp you've designated as the urine catcher? (also, does it really help your skin look better or is that just some bullshit the suits over at BIG WATER are trying to sell us?) what was i so busy doing when i was kid instead of training my kegels before it was too late, memorizing soap opera storylines? committing petty larceny? now it's too late and i spend my whole day tinkling on trees in broad daylight while my lady hovers nearby with an inside-out bag stretched over her hand in case it turns into a poo. i'm gonna keep drinking it, and being damp 75% of the time, if for no other reason than the other nightmare thing that comes with the collapse of your decaying meat suit: all the fucking pills you gotta choke down to keep the fucking thing working. see you in the pharmacy aisle with the poise pads, boo!