I can’t pee at public urinals.
And it’s only gotten worse the older I get.
When a movie lets out, or it’s the seventh inning stretch at a baseball game, the pressure in my bladder is second only to the unbearable pressure in my fevered mind as I make the death march to the bathroom.
Suddenly I can see individual dust particles falling and can hear a butterfly flapping its wings two hundred yards away. Colors are vivid and scary. My every nerve tingles, but the ones that control my bladder shut down completely.
Many is the time I’ve stood at a urinal, pants unzipped, painfully aware of the man standing next to me, who can fart and pee with ease, and, after waiting an eternity for nothing to happen, I press the flusher down anyway (hoping to trick my neighbor into thinking I can pee like a normal person; always followed by me chiding myself for thinking the man next to me has any interest in whether I pee or not; followed by me wiping the flop sweat from my brow with a paper hand towel; followed by me quickly exiting the restroom, eyes cast down).
The type of toilet is critical. Here, in ascending order of difficulty:
- 70/30 chance I’ll be able to relax my bladder. Sometimes I close my eyes and hum to myself to block out the noise of the guy in the stall next to mine. The best kinds of stalls for those of us suffering from UPA (urinary performance anxiety) are the ones you sometimes see in fancy hotels, where the partition walls go all the way down to the floor, preventing me from seeing another man’s trousers crumpled on top of his shoes. If only Larry “Wide Stance” Craig had been in such a stall, the whole unfortunate misunderstanding in the airport could’ve been avoided!
Urinal With Partition.
– 50/50, depending on whether someone is standing within three urinals to my right or left.
Urinal With No Partition.
– 70/30 I won’t be able to. Y’know, as I’m thinking about it now, maybe all this is just my lizard brain taking over. 10,000 years ago peeing without paying attention to your surroundings might have resulted in a cheetah taking off your penis.
Maybe I’m being too hard on myself.
– 0 chance. Zero, nada, zip. If a terrorist put me up against the wall and threatened to shoot me if I couldn’t pee at the trough, I’d ask him to aim straight.
Doctor visits where I have to give a urine sample are a whole separate species of nightmare.
Even if I have a one-person bathroom completely to myself, if I’m one iota aware – and I always am – that a nurse might be within a ten foot radius outside that door, I can’t go. I have literally drunk seven glasses of water in the waiting room, nearly draining the water cooler and earning the other patients’ disapproving glances. And still, odds are, I won’t be able to perform.
Standing next to a perfectly good unoccupied bathroom in a doctor’s office, I’ve had to ask the nurse for a key to the bathroom down the hall. It’s absurd. They don’t let on, but I know they’re judging me, and finding me wanting – as they should.
Being blind drunk sometimes mitigates the problem, but it’s not a quick or sure-fire solution, plus rolling into the doc’s office hammered at 9:30 a.m. is probably not worth the DUI and 2 p.m. hangover.
Please tell me I’m not alone. Please tell me I’m still a good person. And please tell me you’ve figured out a solution to the life altering problem that is UPA.