The last time I peed my pants I was 23 years old.
I was not drunk. I was not high. I wasn’t even asleep. I was standing beside an old truck in the beautiful rolling hills wine country of Northern California, miserably watching cars fly by as the pee travelled down my legs, soaked my jeans, and even filled my mud boots.
I’ll have you know that human urine is a very good catalyst for introspective moments. Why am I here? What am I doing with my life? What is the meaning of truth? Do I wait for the pee to stop before emptying my boots, or should I see if I can overflow them?
Like I said, I was 23 years old and living in Northern California. I was working part time as the livestock manager of a Morgan/Warmblood breeding farm situated in the hills/mountains between Santa Rosa and Calistoga. It was beautiful, the horses were beautiful, the land was beautiful… LIFE was beautiful. It was my first Christmas far enough away from my family that I wasn’t obligated to attend. Rather than suffering from homesickness or depression, I was absolutely THRILLED. I determined that this was going to be the first Christmas of my life without family squabbling, stress, or name-calling. I printed off a homemade flyer and pinned it up on the employee wall at Olive Garden, where I was also a server.
Not sure what you’re going to do for Christmas? Missing your family? Sick of your family and looking for escape?
Come hang out at my house! Bring a sleeping bag if you want to stay the night.
We’ll watch Christmas movies, eat cookies, and have a great time.
Everyone’s welcome, but leave all drama at the door.
I pinned it up on the wall at work, stared at it for a moment, then as an afterthought I scrawled on the bottom, “Sorry guys, but no pot allowed in my home.”
I was, after all, living in Northern California. My coworkers at Olive Garden seemed to consider cigarettes and joints completely interchangeable. I’ve never been anywhere that was more lax in their drug usage policies. For instance, when I asked one of my coworkers if she was going to join me at my Lonely Desperate People Christmas party, she tipped her head to the side, thought for a moment, and then said in her tiny, sweet little voice, “No, no. I don’t think I should. I’m going to be dropping acid the day before, and I may not be good for company yet.” She leaned forward conspiratorially. “You know how it takes a couple of days to find your rhythm again.” Uh… No? No I didn’t? “Thanks for the invite though!” She swirled around, and bounced off, blonde ponytail with its little blue ribbon swinging in a perky rhythm. I stood their gaping at her. Did she just say “dropping acid”? The day before Christmas? Wasn’t that something only angry, twitchy drug addicts did? My co-worker was 19 years old and extremely petite, with a smattering of freckles across her nose that made her look about twelve years old. She looked like should be out there playing with puppy dogs and giggling about stinky boys, not planning in advance to “drop acid”. I felt naïve, gauche, and had the sudden overwhelming urge to call up her parents.
At any rate, back to me peeing my pants.
My note generated some interest, and Christmas Day found my tiny living room decorated with a couple of coworkers, all of us determined to have a Merry Christmas despite (or perhaps because of) the lack of our families. For the first time in a long time, Christmas was fun. We watched Elf and The Christmas Story, we drank eggnog, and we laughed hysterically. We chased the horses out of my garden on more than one occasion (danged 2 year olds and their ability to push through fences!) and had a rousing good time.
The morning of the 26th I waved goodbye to the last of them, and then set about to go feed. Not surprisingly, we were getting low on hay. With 60+ horses, a couple of donkeys and some oversized pigs, hay goes fast. I counted the bales, sighed, and realized that I wasn’t going to be able to make it stretch to the next day’s big delivery. Besides, if the delivery was late were late… No, no. It was better to play it safe and head down the mountain to pick up a couple of bales. The feed shop might be closed, but they knew us well enough that I could just add it to the tab.
With a disgruntled sigh, I headed over to The Ball Scratchin’ Truck.
I wish I had a picture to show you The Ball Scratchin’ Truck. The Ball Scratchin’ Truck was a big, patchwork-colored truck, lifted to a ridiculous height on oversized monster-truck wheels. It was the kind of truck you usually saw big ol’ redneck boys driving—the kind that you rolled your eyes at when it passed you on the road, and made jokes about the driver’s genitalia size and obvious need to compensate. The panels had been replaced here and there with panels from other vehicles, the paint was mud-encrusted and rusty, and getting in and out of the darn thing was such an ordeal I occasionally wished I had a rappelling rope and harness. The ranch owner had purchased it dirt-cheap as a ranch-only vehicle, but ever since our hay truck’s brakes had failed (shooting it halfway down the mountainside before it crashed into a tree) it was the only truck we had capable of making the drive down the mountain. Even that was questionable, because in addition to lifting the truck to a stupid height, some idiot in the past had decided that a truck that size needed an itty-bitty little racecar steering wheel— you know the tiny little metal doughnuts you occasionally see on a barely-street legal Civic or Miata? Yeah, it had one of those. To make matters worse, the power steering had failed.
I don’t know how many of you out there have ever driven a vehicle without power steering, but let me tell you— power steering is important. Turning the wheel of a car that doesn’t have power steering requires a lot of muscle. Turning the pathetically tiny wheel of a gigantic, lifted truck that doesn’t have power steering… well, let’s just say that it was more than borderline dangerous unless I took the turns very , veeeery sloooooowly. Rounding one mountain curve in the Big Ball-Scratchin’ truck required me to make approximately 8-10 complete revolutions on that ridiculously tiny steering-wheel, and each revolution was a true test of my strength in a time of my life when I was used to tossing hay bales and carrying huge serving trays. Usually, after just one trip up and down the mountain, I was ruined for the rest of the day. My triceps would be burning and the muscles on my forearms would be trembling and exhausted.
Annoyed that I was going to have to make the trip down the day after Christmas, I didn’t even bother dressing nicely. I threw on the pair of mud-encrusted jeans I’d fed in the day before, a pair of mud-encrusted galoshes, and wiggled my way into a stained sweatshirt. Nobody was around to see me, but somehow dressing like a slob made me feel liked I’d made my point about how I felt about the trip. At the last second, I realized I was going to be heading by a Starbucks on the way down. I brightened, and grabbed the new Starbucks card that I’d received as a Christmas gift the day before (bless you, Doug. Bless you.)
It was a foggy day, and not many people were out on the road. As I suspected, the feed barn was deserted. I backed my truck up to the stack, grabbed my hay hooks, and loaded about 15 bales in the back of the truck. Lest you think I’m some kind of superwoman, the process took almost an hour, included a lot of swear words and sweat, and I rudely stole all the bales from the top of the stack.
I slipped a note under the manager’s door to let him know who the mysterious thief was, then headed over to the gas station to fill up. Not surprisingly, the Ball Scratchin’ Truck got about 7 miles to the gallon… downhill and BEFORE it was loaded down with hay. I was already low on gas, and there was no way I was going to be able to make it back up the mountain without filling up.
I hopped from my ridiculously high driver’s seat to the ground, unscrewed the gas cap, reached into my back pocket….
And realized I had forgotten my wallet on my kitchen table.
I didn’t have a mirror around to check, but I’m pretty sure that my face “blanched” when I realized what I had done. I didn’t have my checkbook. I didn’t have my credit card. I didn’t have any way of getting back up the mountain (that’s the problem with living in the sticks—you can’t hitchhike home even if you wanted to). The ranch owner was a doctor who was in the middle of a 48 hour shift in the emergency room, so she wouldn’t be home for over a day. All of the friends that I knew well enough to call in a situation like this were hundreds of miles away— I just hadn’t lived there long enough to develop those kinds of friends.
Crap. Crappity, crapcrap.
I stood beside the truck, brainstorming. What to do, what to do… I glanced around, and there, in the distance, I saw it.
Starbucks, thy coffee and thy proximity have saved me! I reached into my pocket, and pulled out my gift card, and gave a huge whoop of relief.
In my muddy coveralls and stained sweatshirt, I half-jogged, half-galumphed my way down the block. Pausing in the parking lot, I took a moment to perform the Get-the-Mud-off-Sacred-Indian-Dance-Stomp. A few of the clean, well-dressed customers heading back to their cars took a moment to stare at me getting all jiggy in the parking lot, but I was past caring. By the time I finished, a sizeable pile of mud and dried manure was scattered all around me. I stepped gingerly over the pile, gathered up my confidence and took my place in line. It was a surprisingly long line for the morning after Christmas, so it took a bit before I reached the counter.
“Welcome to Starbucks. Would you like to try a Peppermint Soy Latte today?”
“Uh, no. No, thanks. Actually, I have kind of a weird question. I have this gift card here. Can you tell me how much is on it?”
“Of course! My pleasure. Let’s see… it has $15 of available credit. What would you like to order?”
“Well, uhm,” I stood there for a moment, feeling my face get red. “Actually, see, the problem is that I’ve run out of gas, and, uh..” I fidgeted. “I forgot my wallet, and this is the only thing I have, so I was wondering if I could just get cash.”
The barista gave me a sympathetic look. “I’m sorry, I can’t do that. I wish I could, but it’s against company policy.” I gave her a pleading look, but she seemed immune to my desperate situation. “So.. Are you going to order anything?” She glanced behind me at the line that was stretched nearly to the door.
“Oh, uh. No. No thanks.” I stepped out of line, and leaned against the wall. What now?
I sat there for a moment, and then my only option was to try to get someone to buy it off of me. Glancing down at my dirty, hobo-looking outfit, I sighed. Figures. I’d obviously brought this on myself. If I’d cleaned up, worn something cute and actually brushed my hair, I would have remembered my wallet and the Starbucks would have been deserted.
Stupid wallet. Stupid me. Crap. Crappity, crapcrap.
I stood there for a moment, eyeballing the line and trying to decide who seemed like the most approachable person. I didn’t want to get kicked out of Starbucks for harassing their clientele, so I wanted to make this work on the first try. After a few moments deciding, I opted on a woman in her mid-40s who had a sweet, approachable expression.
Swallowing my nervousness, I stepped forward.
“Hi!” I said brightly.
“Uh, hello,” she said, eyebrows suddenly lowering as her expression became guarded and distrustful.
“I have a rather strange question to ask, and it’s okay if you want to say no.” I tried to give her what I thought was a winning smile, but she shrunk back as if I was snarling at her. “I work at a ranch up the road and, uh, well I’m kind of low on gas. I forgot my wallet on my table, and all I have is this Starbucks gift card. They won’t let me cash it in for money, so I was kind of hoping you could let me buy your drink with the card, and then maybe you could reimburse me with cash? Is that okay?”
She stared at me in guarded silence.
I stared back at her, and smiled nervously. “It’s okay if you don’t want to, but..” I trailed off, hopeful.
She stared at me in silence, then heaved a huge, exasperated sigh. “Fine,” she snapped, then heaved another put-upon sigh.
I couldn’t believe this. She was acting like I’d asked her to hide a bag of weed so the cops wouldn’t find it on me. “Look, if you’re uncomfortable,” (and it was obvious from her crossed arms and angry body language that she was), “I can ask someone else.”
“No, I’ll do it,” she snapped, previously friendly expression suddenly replaced by an angry watchfulness.
To this day, I have no idea why my request made her so angry. During the interminable wait in line, she ignored me angrily, only occasionally glancing at me with a distrusting expression. I tried (and failed) to make small talk with her, and I asked her twice more if she wanted to back out of the deal, but each time she snapped that she was comfortable doing it… which she obviously wasn’t.
We made it to the front of the line, she placed her order and I meekly handed over my card to the cashier. The woman spun around angrily and headed to the counter to wait for her drinks. I waited for my receipt, then followed her to the drink counter. She seemed surprised to see me, and gave me a rude look. Her body language all but screamed, “What are YOU still doing here?”
“Uh, I was, ummm…” I paused, nearly drowning in the stiff tension and uncomfortable feel of the situation, “Umm… my money?” I nearly choked on that last part. The woman stared at me, as if I were a distasteful beggar. “The refund? I bought your drinks, and in exchange, you were going to refund…” I stared at her in growing frustration. Seriously, was she going to make me beg? Reaching into her purse, she begrudgingly pulled out the refund, dropping it into my hands from a distance, as if I carried infectious leprosy.
“Thanks,” I snapped, irritated that she made it seem like I was stealing her money. I turned around and headed out of the Starbucks. Eight dollars might not buy me enough gas to get home, but I was willing to chance it rather than spend another minute in that particular Starbucks.
I was right about one thing— eight dollars didn’t buy me much in the way of gas, but I figured if I put the truck in neutral on the downhills, I just might make it home. I crawled up into the front seat, turned it on, maneuvered it onto the highway, and started for home.
I made it to the base of the mountain before the truck overheated.
I’d like to say that I reacted to the overheating in a positive, patient, Christian manner. Let’s just say that I didn’t, that it involved a lot of angry “Oh, COME ON!”s, and quite a bit of tire-kicking. Hey, at least they were big tires. They were able to handle the kicking.
Walking down the highway, I made it to a little rise where I was able to get cell phone reception. I called a few people, left a few messages, and sat down to wait.
It was then that I realized I really had to pee.
I glanced around, but the unfortunate fact was that the particular stretch of highway I was on was fairly open and flat and there were no bushes to squat behind. It was also semi-populated with large, expensive houses, so even if I was willing to pee in the open, I’d probably be peeing on someone’s front lawn. Hiding behind the truck was out of the question, as the ridiculously high lift made it impossible to use as cover. I was too far away from the nearest store to be able to walk, and while I even considered squatting by the side of the road in plain view (who cares if they saw my heiny? Nothing could be more embarrassing than abasing myself in front of that woman in the Starbucks), I figured that with my luck I would probably be seen by a police officer and be arrested as a sexual deviant. I’d probably be classified as a sex offender and have to spend the rest of my life knocking on people’s doors to warn them that I was moving into their neighborhood and to keep their children away from my large, shiny, white heiny lest they be scarred.
Besides, I’d finally gotten through to my friend, Doug (That’s Doug of the miraculous Starbucks card.. Bless you, Doug… Bless you) and he was on his way to give me a ride. How long would it take?
An hour later, I’d moved past the “Wow, I’ve got to pee” stage, well beyond the “bouncing-in-the-seat” stage and into the “crossed-legs- autistic-rocking, the-whole-world-looks-yellow-I’m-gonna-pee-my-pants-right-now” stage. I’d even broken down and walked over to the only house I could see and knocked on their front door, but nobody answered. I’m secretly glad that they didn’t. What would I have said?
“Hi! My name’s Becky! I’m a total stranger, dressed in smelly, stained clothing that’s covered in dried horse crap and I want to invade your home and piss in your toilet! Nice to meet you!”
No, no, it’s probably better that they didn’t answer.
I made my way slowly back to the truck, pausing every couple of steps to cross my legs and hunch forward in an attempt to keep the pee from escaping. I’m sure I looked ridiculous, but it worked.
Standing beside the Ball-Scratching truck, bouncing on my toes and crossing my knees, I realized I was out of time. It was either pee in public or pee in my pants.
With a sense of relief, I unbuttoned my jeans, reached for my zipper….
And it stuck. Seriously. No joking. It started to come down, and then it jammed. Completely, utterly, and permanently jammed (I actually ended up tossing those jeans because of the broken zipper). Dancing in a desperate circle, I tugged at it impotently. “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon…. WORK! WORK! NO, nonononono…” I tried to peel my pants down over my hips, but I just wasn’t fast enough.
And that was it. Like a two year old child, I peed my pants.
I stood there in that beautiful, classy, wine-tasting, millionaire countryside and I let loose. For the first few seconds I fought it, but after I realized the damage was done, I decided I might as well enjoy the sensation. It was a cold morning, and I’ll tell you what— that pee warmed me up in no time.
I’m not recommending it as an alternate heat source, but I just thought you might like to know.
I thought you might also be interested in knowing that while peeing yourself as a child is embarrassing, peeing yourself as an adult is more than just humiliating… it’s educational! Did you know that when every time you pee you produce about 24 gallons of liquid? I didn’t get a chance to measure it as I stood there wetting my pants and filling my boots on the side of the road, but I’m pretty sure it was somewhere between 20 and 25 gallons. Whatever the exact amount, it was a LOT. By the time I was done, I had moved past embarrassment and into the realms of being impressed with myself. I really wish there’d been some way of measuring. I think I peed an Olympic World Record amount, if there actually was a Urine-Output summer event. At the very least, I should have received some sort of honorable mention in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Cleaning up was disgusting, so I’ll spare you the details. I lucked out when I found an abandoned old pair of jeans wadded behind the front seat of the car. By the time Doug pulled up in his late 80’s Buick, I was standing by the side of the road in a wrinkly, somewhat moldy pair of jeans, no shoes, and red-faced with frustration. He pulled over to the side of the road, his glance taking in the Ball-Scratching truck, my bare feet, obviously borrowed jeans and my steely expression.
“Merry Christmas?” he said with a smile.
“You have no idea,” I said, as I crawled gratefully into the passenger seat of his car.