Two kids. Two soccer teams. Two games each week. Plus practices. This summer I’ve spent somewhere between two and four hours, every week, on a soccer field. And through it all, I had managed to avoid using one of the port-a-pots.
Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have even thought twice about being without direct access to a toilet for an hour. Those were the days before I’d gestated and birthed children, and when I drank Diet Pepsi to the total exclusion of water, leaving me in a constant state of dehydration and caffeine-induced mania.
I gave up the Diet Pepsi and started drinking more water for “health reasons.” Which, in retrospect, is downright hilarious, since my resulting inability to hold urine has probably done more to jeopardize my life and the lives of those around me than any other choice I’ve made in my adult years – I roll through stop signs, run recklessly on wet floors, jump over stairs, and trample anyone unfortunate enough to get in my way, all in the quest to make it to the toilet in time. In those moments, I have a habit of murmuring, “Please, God, please…” over and over again, though not even I am sure what it is I’m asking Him for. Do I want him to rapture the pee from my body, so that I don’t have to go any longer? Or to help the line in the public restroom be short? Maybe what I’m really asking for my pelvic floor to be magically made stronger, so that I can kiss this issue goodbye and stop beating myself up over the fact that I never kegel.
(I read once that that the ideal time to kegel is in the car, stopped at a red light. The fact that some women willingly kegel where they can be seen by others makes me think that perhaps my pelvic floor is beyond saving, as the suggestion to car-kegel seems to imply that for others, kegeling is a fly-under-the-radar activity – they can squeeze the bejeesus out of their pelvic muscles while standing right next to you, and you wouldn’t even know. This was a revelation to me, since my kegeling experiences have always involved grotesque extremes of facial expressions and rude noises. If I were to kegel while stopped at a red light and was not accosted by some good samaritan convinced I was having a stroke, I would promptly lose all faith in mankind. Which would probably make me first sad, and then angry, and then I’d seek other angry, disillusioned people on internet message boards, and wind up part of some half baked plot to shake America out of its kegel apathy by covering the Washington monument with the world’s largest tower of pink hula hoops. And then I’d get arrested and be on TV screaming about the lack of bathroom breaks in my trial. And in that trial, the prosecutors would find this blog, and this post, and would think it was a cry for help and all of you? Would be named accomplices. So, really, by not kegeling, I’m doing you a favor. You’re welcome.)
Back to soccer.
That pair of green molded plastic monstrosities that hunkers on the edge of the soccer field, those overgrown hazardous waste receptacles that spend their days baking under summer sun, small swarms of flies congregating around the pitifully inadequate strip of ventilation just underneath the roof… It was the one thing I’d never done, the one thing I swore I’d never do. “I’d rather pee my pants,” I told Nick once, walking past the port-a-pots, my knees pressed firmly together against my need to go. “I’d rather burst.”
Without even going in, I knew that they were not being maintained well. Their physical reach was only about 20 square feet, but the aroma of “Shouldn’t have had that fast food today” and “Damn, I thought that infection would have cleared up by now” wafted a solid 30 feet more. I learned once in a Sociology class that people of tribal cultures, communities we think of as being crude and inferior, consider it disgusting that in our so-called “developed” society, we evacuate our wastes in the same space in which we cook, eat and sleep. Separate room or no, flushing toilet or no, they would never pop a squat in their living space.
If those tribal peoples were to see – and smell – these port-a-pots, they would keel over dead from shock, I’m sure of it.
Last night, fifteen minutes into Isabel’s last soccer game of the season, I was considering the port-a-pots. I had to go. Bad. I’d told Nick that I would rather burst, but as the prospect of an exploding bladder became a real possibility, I found myself reconsidering. There was nowhere else to go, and after the game the team was having a season-end pizza party; we had another two hours or so to be at the field, and there was no way I could hold out for that long.
“I’m going to use the port-a-pot,” I told Nick, straightening my shoulders.
He was shocked. “What?”
“I have to go.”
“But I thought you said-”
“I have to go.”
Walking around the edge of the field, I started my habitual prayer. “Please, God…” This time I finished it: “Please let me get there in time.” I was naive, and thought that was all I wanted.
I entered the smell zone first, not sure if it was better to breath through my nose – oh, the odor! – or my mouth – oh, the germs and bugs! I settled on an odd combination of the two, and felt like a suba diver in hostile waters.
I was touching the handle, and then I was inside. God heard my prayer – I made it in time.
And it was so much worse than I thought.
The seat was a mess. Underneath the seat – the holy shit, what the fuck is wrong with people? receptacle – was even worse. The smell was overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do. I had to pee so bad I could barely stand up straight.
Reflexively, I reached for the dispenser of hand sanitizer. Empty.
I searched for toilet paper. Dammit. No toilet paper.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
I looked around, assessing my options. The place was completely empty except for the pile of human waste below, the empty toilet paper tubes, and a small booklet tucked above the hand sanitizer dispenser that proclaimed THE WAY TO GOD!
I looked at the booklet. It looked at me. Jesus was on the cover, walking with some children toward a rainbow.
Hello, Jesus. It’s good to see you. You will wipe my pee now.
I grabbed the booklet and rifled through the pages, ripping out from the middle, where I figured the least number of germs would have landed. I squatted, and peed, and wiped. The page I dropped landed on top of the pile: a picture of Jesus holding a lamb.
Did I just fail a test? I wondered. I didn’t know. What I did know was that I was about to pass out from the smell. I nodded my thanks to Jesus and the lamb, and bolted.
I went to Nick. “I wiped my pee on Jesus’s face,” I whispered.
“You did WHAT?!”
“Wiped my pee on Jesus. There was no toilet paper… But someone left a booklet…” I tried to explain.
He shook his head at me. “We will never speak of this again,” he said.
“Okay,” I said.
So I wrote a blog post about it instead.