Sometimes I really resent the fact that I have a bladder- don’t get me wrong; I’m very grateful that I have one as opposed to having some kind of awful condition, but I wish humans had been invented not to have to wee at all. Many day to day activities are completely governed by the fact that I have to be near a toilet. If I am going on a trip, I can only have either orange juice OR hot chocolate for breakfast, which, as you can imagine, is pretty much as serious a problem as is possible to have. There are even some drinks, like tea, that seem to go literally straight through me. The other problem I have is that I can go from not needing the toilet at all to OHMYGODI’MGOINGTOWEEMYSELF in the space of just a few minutes. On tour, we have very long trips in our van, and I have taken to going to the toilet every time we stop, whether I need it or not.
This has worked for the most part, but the other day I had an almost-disaster. Coming up to a town in Italy, I knew that I needed the toilet, but we could actually see the town, so I knew it wouldn’t be long. Besides, we were stuck in traffic, so even if I'd said I couldn’t have gone anyway. Because there was nothing to be done about it, I didn’t mention my desperation until it was too late. Thankfully this story does not end in me weeing myself in a van, but the fact that I didn't mention my complaint for a long time reminded me distinctly of this incident when I was very small:
I went through a period of being car sick when I was young where even the mere prospect of a long journey or simply smelling the inside of the car would put me on the edge of vomiting. I seem to remember that both my sister and I would complain of feeling 'car sick' before we'd even left the house. Anyway, moving back to a different kind of bodily fluid, I was desperate for the toilet, and the traffic was moving about a metre a minute, if that. 45 minutes later, we had only just arrived into the town and I was the most desperate I have ever been.
It’s funny, needing to go to the toilet- it’s painful, absolutely, but it's worse than mere pain as it consumes your entire body and mind and sends you utterly potty. (If you’ll pardon the pun!) I was told by my van-mate later that he was really worried about me because I looked to be in severe distress- whether he was sympathetic about my pain or merely worried that I'd soak all his worldly possessions in urine is neither here nor there, but I don’t remember much from the agonising 20 minutes that we spent driving through the town at 5mph dodging various people on bicycles and pedestrians that obviously were not used to cars being on these roads. I recall that I tried to comfort myself with some Leonard Cohen, but his soothing, husky tones only made things worse. After a while, I realised that if I didn’t do something in 20 seconds, I was going to wet myself.
I asked for the van to be stopped, whereupon I said- “don’t worry, I’ll find the hotel!” Not even knowing what it was called. Thankfully, somebody reminded me to take my phone with me. Staggering deliriously into an ITALIAN restaurant in ITALY, I ran, wide-eyed, up to the first waiter I saw, and almost yelled:
He said he didn’t, but I asked: “Kanne ich seine toiletten habe bitte?” Which I think means “Can I please have your toilet?” But thankfully he understood me and I ran for the door. My wee lasted for over a minute.
Coming out of the restaurant, I was faced with the glorious sights and sounds of Italy, and thought to myself- “life feels GOOD right now.” Like I was on some kind of drug (they should market a drug that always makes you feel like you’ve just done a wee- I think it’d be a top seller!) I happily noticed that the van had only moved 8 metres in the time that I was in the restaurant. I got back into the van, realised what a fool I had made of myself and remained almost silent for the rest of the journey. The smile didn’t go off my face for hours, however.