I once heard about this Japanese toilet for lades that had buttons to play both soothing and distracting sounds to cover up the sound of their urinating. I thought to myself, “Oh my God! How can I get my hands on one of these or at least a machine that can distract me from the fact that I am pissing mere inches from another person!”
I’ve always had a shy bladder. A wallflower of a piss pot. A shrinking violet at the urination ball. When I would go camping with my family, instead of peeing in the woods right next to the tent like a real outdoorsman, I had to bundle up and trek the 12 minute walk in the pitch dark to the toilets at the camp ground. 12 minutes in the dark for a 12 year old girl who has read far too much Encyclopedia Brown is a long damn time. It’s always been something of a challenge for me to relax that way.
I’m not exaggerating. When 9/11 happened, my reaction to it was to have a panic attack that manifested itself with me not being able to evacuate my bladder for almost a full day. I tried everything, running water, taking a warm bath, thinking of the ocean, listening to Billy Ocean. Nothing worked. I had to have my friends take me to the emergency room, fully thinking that I would have to get a catheter. Instead, I got into the exam room, the pain starting to spread up to my kidneys, and I finally was able to let it go. All over myself.
So, when I moved to New York, one of the first bars that I went is the now defunct Mars Bar. This bar had a bathroom so gross that if you touched anything you’d end up with Hepatitis C. I knew, KNEW, that I had to figure out how to get over this AND learn how to piss standing up. I am pretty sure that the only reason that all New York women take yoga is so that they get good at squatting to piss. There are far better ways to stay in shape without having to do something called the downward dog in public. I didn’t take yoga but I learned how to relax and piss standing up.
My shy bladder is now the bell of the pissing ball. I’ve peed at the top of a seven story abandoned radio tower in Berlin, in the fake planter of an office complex at 4am, in the woods of Prospect Park, in an alley on the South Side of Chicago. I guess I owe New York City that. It literally scared the piss out of me.