Archive for the 'Bladder control' Category

I need to pee

My friend Ralph moved to Santa Barbara about a year ago when the attraction of a senior living facility finally outweighed the charms of Ojai.

In Ojai, Ralph lived near Vons, about a five-minute drive for me. Before his Santa Barbara departure we often met at his home around 5:30 for drinks and lively conversation. Ralph made an excellent martini. Glasses chilled in the freezer, respectable gin, a whisper of vermouth, and two or three olives depending on their size impaled on a toothpick made specially for the task. He was a master at mixing just the right drink proportions including the ice cubes that chilled the ubiquitous stainless-steel container that cradled the solution.

I often stood next to him in his kitchen where he deftly shook the container until the drink was at its proper temperature, avoiding excessive ice melt that could overwhelm the drink if mixed by someone less experienced. He poured the liquid slowly without any trembling. He carefully measured the pour so that we each had precisely half of what had been prepared. Occasionally, I received a tiny bit more than half while Ralph, like a proper host, never had more than I did.

Sitting on his couch while Ralph occupied a matching easy chair, we mostly talked politics, movies, and the latest absurdities imposed by the City Council on its citizens. We spoke slowly while savoring the occasional sips we took when there was a break in the conversation. I tended to drink more quickly than Ralph did, and I made a special effort to keep from getting too far ahead. It took about thirty minutes to consume the drink, nibble on the olives and run out of things to talk about. A bit light-headed, we always had dinner while allowing my alcohol level to decrease to where I hoped it did not exceed the legal limit.

Things changed with Ralph’s move to Santa Barbara. The five-minute in-town ride became, on a good traffic day, an hour’s freeway race. My declining night vision made it impossible to make the drive at night, so lunch visits became the norm. While I love Ralph’s company, I felt like I was on the clock, checking to make sure that I got back on the road before Santa Barbara’s rush hour that usually began at two and didn’t end before midnight.

To maintain this schedule, I would leave Ojai at 10:30, begin lunch with Ralph at 12:30, and get back in my car at two. Martinis fell by the wayside. Drinking one around noon seemed obscene. Even if I could stomach it, my alcohol level would make me a prime target for the Highway Patrol, I’d fail the breathalyzer test, be unable to walk a straight line, and spend my remaining years in solitary at San Quentin.

Adding to my misery is Highway 101 between Ventura and Santa Barbara which has been under repair or adding more lanes since well before the last ice age. Few projects have lasted as long, with the possible exception of the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona which has been under construction since 1883.

Even the Great Wall of China still struggles to keep pace with the 101-highway project. Begun in 217 BC, the wall stretched over four thousand miles and endured three major renovations. Although largely abandoned, it is still under continuing maintenance.  There’s even speculation that some unlucky workers were entombed in the wall…as possible punishment imposed by travelers like me who were late to lunch with friends.

Most of us hardy travelers have acclimated to what seems like a highway project without end. Expectations of up to 75 minutes to traverse the gauntlet of dozers, articulated trucks, asphalt pavers, boom lifts, and backhoes was the norm…until last Wednesday.

Half-way through the odyssey, traffic ground to halt. Probably a fender-bender I thought. After due consideration the skies parted, and we began to move. Hope that’s the big one for today, I wished. But it was just the beginning.

When we did move, it was at an intergalactic pace averaging five miles an hour. At that speed, and with nothing better to do, I calculated an arrival time at Ralph’s of 2pm, just in time to pee and hop back in the car for the trip home.

Peeing became a focal point and I wondered about my bladder’s ability to outlast the remainder of the trip. Never one to unnecessarily test my bladder control proficiency, I began to think of ways that I might get some relief when the time demanded it. The more I thought about it, the tighter my bladder became. My brain was in control and it began the inescapable signaling of the need for relief.

Exiting the freeway to find a friendly urinal was not an option. Like my bladder, those roads were filled with cars whose unlucky owners were there for the duration.

I thought, wouldn’t it have been nice if I’d kept a plastic water bottle in the car like Jackie had suggested. Not for peeing, but for drinking. I could have opened the window, dumped the useless drinking water, and filled the empty bottle with the despised urine. I visualized inventing a new yoga pose to accomplish such a transfer.

Another option was to stop the car on the shoulder to relieve myself. This would involve walking around the front of the car, moving to the passenger side, and sort of angling my body back towards the front. This would prevent people behind me from seeing my frontal performance, leaving such a delight to several dozen construction workers including some burly women who would surely pummel me if the concrete buttress didn’t stop them.

Trying to pee after staunching the flow for too long is often a time-consuming affair, giving lots of onlookers the opportunity to view the show. At least with my gray hair and wrinkles, they could always write off the act by saying it was just some old guy who couldn’t hold it any longer, bless his heart.

I was excited each time the traffic moved. Maybe this was the end of the beginning. I thought, you’ve waited a long time but just hold on a bit longer. This nightmare is sure to end.

And it did. Two and a half hours after I began, I pulled up to the curb outside Ralph’s condo. He had promised me a vacant parking space, but that was long ago. There were none. Instead, I drove five hundred feet and parked the car on an adjoining street. I sat for what seemed like an eternity wondering if I could stand up and walk to Ralph’s before the heavens opened and my pants revealed the unthinkable.

I willed my brain to think “empty”. I rose from my seat, closed the door, and began the march to my coveted destination…slowly like Alec Guinness did in The Bridge Over the River Kwai. I made it to Ralph’s, pushed aside his welcoming hand, nearly tore the screen door off its hinges and raced to the guest bath.

Relieved, I ate lunch while silently visualizing what the return trip might look like. We finished and I gave Ralph a hug, filled all my pockets with his thick four ply Kleenex and began my way home.

The gods were kind, there was minimal traffic, and I got home in less than an hour…without a pee break.