Bladders: Not For a First Date

The prompt: Write about something you would never share with someone on a first date.

The something: I pissed myself in New Orleans.

I have a nickname for my bladder: the coffee filter.

Like water flowing through a coffeemaker, liquids enter my body and exit a short time later, just colored different. It’s tough for me to strike a balance between proper hydration and constant urination. If I drink slightly too much water, or have one too many coffees or beers, then my bladder freaks out and tells me I have to go every 15 minutes.

The problem’s been with me since I was a child. On family vacations, which usually involved long drives, I’d sit in the back seat and hope my last Coke wouldn’t wreck my bladder like the aliens from Independence Day wrecked cities. But it always did. My frequent calls of “Can we stop?” exasperated my parents—my dad would hunch further over the steering wheel and my mom would rock her head back, though they’d quickly reverse those movements to try to preserve my feelings.

As I grew, my bladder didn’t. Today if I order a Maker’s Mark neat it’s as much because I like the taste as because it doesn’t flood my bladder like beer—though of course I pretend it’s entirely because I’m a bourbon-swilling hardass.

I frequent a 180-mile stretch of Virginia highway, and I have the mile markers of its rest areas memorized. My friends are mildly impressed but mostly annoyed when I call out something like: “There’s a good place to piss at exit 291.”

When booking a flight, I’m obsessive about trying to find an aisle seat. My cover story is my size, but it’s more because I’ll probably have to hurtle to the restroom at some point; on my scouting report, “6’2″, 230 pounds” sounds much better than “urinates frequently.” 

Regardless, I never thought my bladder was all that disruptive to my life—until I pissed myself at a bar. New Orleans. Mardi Gras. One bathroom, long line, I lost.

“That got your attention, eh?” said the urologist I went to the following week. He diagnosed me not with a small bladder, nor a coffee filter in place of a bladder, but with an overactive bladder. It often gets overstimulated and thinks it’s full, even if it’s not.

The doctor prescribed me a pill which decreases the frequency slightly and the urgency tremendously. So I still piss a lot, but it’s not as overwhelming. The field of urology is a frequent target for jokes—one I will always try to resist.

Given that I’m sharing my condition with the Internet, maybe it’d be pointless to keep it zipped up on a first date. She’d probably figure it out anyway when she reads my incredibly famous blog when I take a pre-dinner piss, later abandon the table while we wait for our food, and then visit the restroom again after we settle the check. It’s not an easy problem to hide.

But it’s not a terrible one to live with, either. As far as health flaws go, I’ve got that, bad eyesight, and irritable bowel syndrome. All three are manageable; none will kill me, unless I lose my glasses while rushing to a restroom and instead blindly fall into a pit of tigers.

Maybe my date would find my perspective on the coffee filter agreeable. Or maybe she’d wait for me to go to the men’s room and then sneak away from the neurotic mess who convinced her to come to dinner.

The prompt: Write about something you would never share with someone on a second date.

The something: I’M SO GLAD YOU STAYED!

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