Three or four years ago (when I was still recording in that last recording studio), he said, I was walking great distances every day to burn off the chocolate sticks I was eating during every session in the studio. The chocolate sticks were the only things I could eat that wouldn’t leave me feeling too bloated to sing (well, I guess fruit would have worked but fruit in a recording studio…?). Anyway, this was on a day between sessions, a “day off,” during winter… a very, very cold (Thunberg-mockingly so) winter. Foolishly, as a fool is liable to do things, he winked, I grabbed a very thin pair of gloves (the kind you can use with a touch screen) on the way out the door.
Two hours into the walk my hands were hurting from the cold so I started the return trip. Wife and Daughter were visiting Wife’s old school chum, so, nobody else would be there when I re-entered the castle, encrusted with ice. Thirty minutes from home I realize that not only were my hands burning (on the way to becoming numb and then frostbitten) but also that I needed to pee. Needing to pee is so much worse in the winter, I find. I calculated (by taking a quick reading of the meter on my bladder-box) that I could just about make it to a WC (Wife has her own and Offsprung and I share one) without having to run a few kilometers at top speed.
When I hit the corner of the block on which my beloved family and I live, finally, I found I had to use little tricks to keep my mind from initiating the piss protocol. You know how your mind will sometimes behave as though being a block from home is “close enough” and therefore you are forced to intervene, intellectually, in order to interrupt the involuntary part of the process, singing songs to yourself about sand and parchment and scratchy parched dehydrated landscapes in a post-Thunberg apocalypse…? Or maybe that’s just me.
I got to the front door of our building feeling totally in control and, as luck would have it, a neighbor on the way out of the building held the door open for me, saving me 10 precious seconds. Breezed through the front section of the building and across the courtyard feeling urgent but not too urgent. Got to our front door and fumbled in my pocket for the key and realized my fingers were numb as iron claws and it was very, very difficult to get the key out of my pocket and into the keyhole. It took a solid 30 seconds and, at this point, the alarm bells were ringing and bright red lights were flashing and a merciless metallic voice, counting down to zero from ten, had commenced as in the climax of a low-budget spy flick from the 1960s, our hero mere moments from doom.
Got through the front door without taking time to close it again, dashed down the hall to Wife’s bathroom (the door was open), positioned myself in front of the toilet bowl and realize with unprecedented levels of terror that my still-frozen fingers were certifiably unequal to the task of undoing my (or anyone’s) button fly. A zipper might have been (un)do-able. The button fly? No way.
Whimpering, I clawed and twisted and bashed at my fly with useless, dowager-dead appurtenances, then opted for trying to push my pants down with brute force but my newish belt mocked and blocked me. I was forced to face up to the implications of the crisis. The sooner I let go and unreservedly pissed my pants, the sooner I would be able to clean up the mess, and change into clean clothes, before my family got home, so I could pretend it had never happened.
With an uncanny blend of 80 parts adult shame and 15 parts childish glee and 5 parts animal frankness (I was suddenly not in any way an improvement on any ostrich in a poorly-run petting zoo, ruining a picnic table), I stood there, in my parka, hood still up, softly lit, pastel flower decals cheerful on all the WC walls, my back to the uselessly welcoming toilet bowl and, after carefully stepping off of, and removing, the little blue circular carpet from the tiled floor, I embraced my fate and let ‘er rip.
Even when I was, say, five, I never let ‘er rip in my school pants, nor even in a wading pool, a tub, a lake, a shower or the ocean, naked or in trunks. I have been trained to deny this animal impulse: the animal impulse to piss one’s modern pants. This animal impulse has been conditioned out of me as though I were an Aborigine raised by Quaker pilgrims. I deny this animal impulse and uphold civilization in the spiritual increment of the individual level… normally… so this was strange territory. It was not liberating. Do not indulge unless forced to.
I soaked my lower self wearing a sarcastically fatalistic facial expression. Checkmated by Fate! But I made it! I made it just in time! Life is not fair.
My pants went gushingly warm and then a puddle spread rapidly across the tiles, faintly and simultaneously reminiscent of two citations from Ulysses, one built around the comic word bunghole and the other around the lovely word laved. My hands were by then just barely thawed enough to manipulate the little sink’s faucet as with a monocled cripple’s war-hooks. I thawed my fingers enough to then unfasten my newish belt and unbutton my fly and get my thoroughly soaked pants, underwear, socks and trainers off and, held gingerly and at a disingenuous distance from my immaculate self (he bowed with a self-satirizing flourish) into the washing machine.