One night when I was, well, let me not say how old I was, for the sake of my dear mother, but let me just say that it was before I was old enough to drink alcohol. Anyway, I was drunk. And as I was too young to drink, I was also too young to know how idiotic it is to drive while drunk. It is not something, I’ll have you know, that I practice at all these days. In fact, neither is getting drunk. This particular night, however, I was really drunk, and I was driving home. And I really had to pee. And I mean, really had to pee. If I put my mind to it, in fact, I cannot recall any other time in my life when I had to pee so badly.
I lived in a small town and the roads were totally empty. I don’t recall passing anyone else on the road that night. Which is probably why I am still here to tell this story. In that state, though, I guess a tree or a telephone pole could have done the trick just as well.
I was too afraid to stop somewhere to pee. I was certain, and rightly so, that whoever was there would have immediately noticed how drunk I was, and they would have called the police, or even worse, called my mother.
I also figured stopping on the side of the road to pee would have drawn unwanted attention, in the off chance someone did happen to pass by.
Fortunately, by the time the urge to pee had gotten really bad, I wasn’t far from home. Maybe two or three miles, and I knew I could hold it until I got home.
And then came the train.
And what a train it was. It was the middle-of-the-night-forever train. At first I felt slightly inconvenienced, and waited for it to pass. Then I became very frustrated, because turning around was not an option. It would have taken me at least ten miles out of the way to try and turn back. And in my drunken state, I wasn’t even 100% certain I knew how to get home any other way.
So I waited.
Pretty soon, the frustration turned to panic. The train had no end in sight, and my bladder started to hurt. I mean, strong physical pain as I held it in.
After that, I just began to cry. This God forsaken train was never going to end, and I was going to pee on myself. I cried, and then sobbed-the heavy, deep crying you’d expect from someone whose parent or best friend had just died. It felt a little like I was going insane.
And then, a thought that had not occurred to me before suddenly entered my mind.
I have a fear of heights. I don’t have vertigo, where I get dizzy and completely panic when I’m somewhere high above the earth. I just get pretty nervous, and if I think about it too much, I guess I do get a little bit panicky. Once, a few years ago, I was on my friend Peter’s balcony, twenty-two stories above the earth. I was smoking a cigarette, talking on the phone. It didn’t bother me to be there. The view was good, and other than going all the way to the lobby, and then out onto the street, there was no other place to smoke. But suddenly, I started to panic, not about falling off the balcony, but about dropping my phone over the edge. I could imagine it perfectly, falling a very long way, and smashing into the sidewalk. I had to hang up the phone because it was freaking me out so badly. Even after I laid the phone on his little table that was out there, a good ways from the edge, the thought still overwhelmed me. All at once, I decided I would just pick up the phone and hurl it over the edge as quickly as I could. Only then would I vanquish the panic that it was going to fall. I picked it up to do just that, but thought better of it, because I could’ve hit someone, or their car, and by then I was done smoking, and I just went inside, with my heart still racing.
That was the second time I had such a thought. The thought of just doing the awful thing that was causing me panic. Just getting it over with, so I couldn’t be afraid of it anymore.
So there I was sitting in my car, crying my face off, practically hyperventilating, when that thought occurred to me. Just pee. Don’t let it happen. Make it happen. You will at once eliminate the panic that it is going to take place, and you’ll feel better because you’ll no longer have to pee. I was in a 1979 Toyota Corolla with plastic seats, so it would clean up easily enough.
So I did. I peed and peed and peed and it wasn’t the least bit disgusting. It was fantastic.
It was one of the best decisions I ever made.