“I pooped myself,” my wife said sheepishly.

“Really?” I giggled, laying in the driveway next to my motorcycle and a pile of tools.

“It’s not funny!” She furrowed her brow in warning.

“All right. All right.”

“It happened so fast. I thought I was done, but after I left the bathroom I suddenly needed to go again and, well, I didn’t make it.”

Elizabeth’s confession was no surprise. Pregnant women have endless problems regarding the bathroom and my wife was no different. During the third trimester as the growing baby stole space from her bladder, Elizabeth would waddle to the bathroom every twenty minutes only to emerge unrelieved because she managed only a squirt. It was an unrelenting cycle for her of discomfort and disappointment. She generally kept a sense of humor, but as time passed and the pregnancy took its toll she started losing control of her functions.

“It’s just a little crap, honey,” I said. “Don’t worry about it.”

“But it’s so embarrassing.”

“We all have accidents.”

“Pooping myself?”

“It’s nothing a shower and washing machine won’t fix.”

“Easy for you to say. You didn’t just soil your pants.”

I put down my wrench and looked my wife in the eyes. “It’s time I share something with you. Something that happened during my trip to Manchester.”

The English city had been ground zero for the most foul, most heinous incident ever to beset me as a grown man. It was a dark memory that sat in my closet sharing martinis with cackling skeletons.

 

Two years earlier I had gone to Manchester for a scientific conference. My flight departed San Francisco in the afternoon, so I spent the first half of the day at work before hopping a plane. It was sixteen hours of crowded terminals and recycled air that took me through Frankfurt, Germany before ending in England the following morning.

By the time I arrived at the hotel – a large European chain overlooking Piccadilly Gardens  –  I had not slept in twenty four hours. But once there, sleep was not an option. Going to bed during the day would ensure a long night awake when the city was dormant as well as a subsequent day of fighting to stay awake.

To combat the problem, a colleague from New York City who was also coming to the conference had suggested we stay awake by going to a bar. Chris was a true master at turning any functional necessity into an excuse to drink, and this was no different. He had found a way to use beer as a tool to stave off sleep.

When I called his room there was no answer, so I unpacked and shuffled emails for a few hours to keep awake. The second call still gave no answer, and with nothing else in the room to keep me awake I headed for the bar. European football was in full swing and there was bound to be sports zealots there who would drink with a drowsy American.

Ten minutes later I sat alone at a line of stools at the hotel bar. Tables throughout the place were vacant too, besides a few nicely-dressed folks who sat by themselves ignoring the game. The bar was decorated with the same neutral-tone, non-offensive crap most hotels use these days, and a neighborhood pub would have been better. Someplace with leaded-glass windows and mahogany fixtures adorned with brass patinaed by the oils of a human hand. But leaving the hotel would make meeting Chris harder, so I tucked in with the bartender and ordered a pint of Old Speckled Hen.

The first beer was good. The second better. The third divine. And after still no answer from Chris on the bartender’s phone, I ordered a fourth beer and shot of whisky to quell my annoyance at his inability to materialize.

It was a bad choice.

The rush of alcohol combined with jet lag and thirty waking hours exploded in a psychedelic buzz. My vision distorted so edges blurred. Lights were haloed in a creamy haze. Sounds oscillated between muted and tinny as a horrible numbness flooded my limbs. I watched as my hands paid the check with various British coins from my pocket spilt awkwardly on the bar. My body rose, floating through the surrounding ether.

Back in my room, the bed sat conspicuously. Crisp sheets and a fluffy quilt emitted the flowery scent of soaps used to cleanse the linens. A chocolate sat smiling on the stacked pillows. But as the bed beckoned me, a tiny voice yelled, “You can not sleep!” I rubbed my chin and thought, “Maybe I could just lay on the bed, but not sleep?” Surely the television was loaded with intriguing programs to keep me awake as I reclined for a spell.

Kicking off my shoes, I tucked under the covers. It was divine.

Channel after channel played mundane melodramas or commercials hocking unneeded crap. A group of channels finally came showing football games. One had an especially bombastic announcer that made staying awake seem plausible. The ball was kicked in and the man yelled “GOAL” for a period long enough that he had to stop and recharge his breath. This was sure to keep me awake.

As the tiny men chased the ball along the pitch, green spouts formed on the side of the television. The room evolved into a forest where trees spread to the horizon. My bed grew into a deep patch of ivy that cupped my form. Fragments of blue sky broke through the trees above leaving puddles of light here and there. It was lovely.

But the woods grew dim and my joy waned. Something was out there. Something ominous. It was invisible and noiseless, but coming. And it was angry.

I curled up in the ivy and hid. An overwhelming need to urinate soon came, but getting up to piss was out of the question. The beast would find me. Then the answer came to me – I would piss in the ivy where I lay. Why not? Ivy was a plant and plants need water. Warmth encircled my waist as the pressure released.

My body jerked upright then leaped from the bed. I stood frozen, still half asleep and buzzing from alcohol and jet lag. Something was wrong.

As a child, I had wet my bed. At first it was no different from other kids, but when it persisted to the age of six things got weird. Other kids found out and started making fun of me. Sheets had to be repeatedly washed and towels were kept by my bed for late-night accidents. It was a dreadful thing for a kid to endure. But it ended and I got on with life. I managed to go without incident for thirty years, even making it through the intoxicated years of adolescence. But at thirty seven years of age, my streak was broken.

The bed came into focus and there in the middle was a massive yellow circle. I had just pissed my bed.

First came disbelief. Then shame as I frantically began stripping the bed, throwing the wet linens in the corner. Reaching the bare mattress revealed that it too was soaked. Fearful the piss might have gone through to the box spring, I pulled the mattress off the bed and stood it against the wall. The box spring was dry. Thank God for small favors.

I went to the bathroom and with my clothes on took a Silkwood shower. Scalding water ran freely over my body as I used two hotel shampoo bottles and a bar of soap to scrub my clothes. After cleaning and hanging them over the curtain rod, I turned attention to my skin. Lathering twice finally removed the film of shame.

Steam billowed from the bathroom as I walked naked to the hotel telephone. “Can you please send new bed linens up to room 317?”

The concierge must have had a computer with my information because he replied, “Of course, Mr. Moore. Is there something wrong with the room?”

“The room’s fine. I just spilled a drink on the bed.”

“Would you like us to clean it for you?”

“No! I’ll do it. Please just send up the sheets.”

“Yes, Mr. Moore. They will be up shortly.”

I got the hotel hairdryer from the bathroom and began blowing the mattress standing against the wall using the highest heat setting. The room warmed as the hairdryer ran and soon smelled like an uncleaned port-o-john in August. Still deep in a haze, I closed my eyes and did my work.

A light thumping came that sounded as if it was from the adjacent room. Once it stopped, I returned my attention to drying the mattress. But after a bit the thumping came again. Still tripping on alcohol and jetlag, I stupidly looked at the wall.

The door opened and man’s head poked through as he said, “Mr. Moore, I have your–”

His eyes surveyed the room. He took in the piss-laden sheets piled in the corner. The wet mattress leaning against the wall. And, finally, the naked man staring dumbly at him with a hair dryer screaming on full blast. Without another word, he backed out and closed the door.

“Hold on!” I bellowed, tumbling towards the door, not bothering to cover myself. I grabbed the soiled sheets, stopping at the nightstand to take a twenty-pound note from my wallet. Opening the door, I took the clean, folded sheets from the man then handed him the balled-up, soiled sheets with the bill resting on top.

The man looked down, then back up and said in a tone as dry as British gin, “Thank you, Mr. Moore.”

 

Elizabeth stared at me in shock. “That’s horrible.”

“But at least your accident was here,” I said. “And it’s just between you and me.”

“Fair point,” she replied. “I’m still upset.”

“Why?”

“I feel like I’m falling apart. I know I’m pregnant, but the older I get the more I’m sore. The more I’m tired. And the more I can’t hold my…stuff.”

“We’re getting older. Hell, neither of us can sleep through the night anymore without getting up at least once to piss.”

“Does that mean we’re falling apart?”

“Yup. And it’s gonna get worse each year. Just like this thing,” I said pointing at the old motorcycle beside me.

Elizabeth eyed my bike with suspect. For years it had leaked oil from a multitude of places. I tried various combinations of gaskets and sealants to stem the flow, but nothing worked. Elizabeth quietly abided my bitching, listening to endless diatribes on each leak. All but one.

Amidst the myriad of leaks, the sprocket seal on the main drive shaft of the engine began dripping. The shaft transferred the motion of the pistons to the transmission, so the seal was an important one to fix. The first time I replaced the seal as the manual required. It still leaked. The second time I did the same except with a healthy coating of high-temperature silicone sealant applied before pressing the seal into the motor case. It still leaked. The third time I tried an “old tractor secret” from a fellow at work. He said with great confidence the leak would stop if I used two seals, one in the normal orientation and one backward. I did and it leaked worse than even. Ready to throw in the towel, I replaced the seal one last time in the regular manner. It leaked. Cursing the old bike, I vowed never to change the seal again. I gave up, accepting the drive shaft would leak.

But a few weeks later something unusual happened – it stopped. Normally seals work for a period, then begin leaking from wear or breakage. But this one did the opposite. As I continued to fight all the other leaks, this one stopped as soon as I let go of my frustration and accepted it. I stopped trying to control this one thing and the old bike to made it right.

“Don’t ever compare me to one of your bikes again.” Elizabeth commanded.

“What? You don’t like being called a greasy old hog?”

“You better watch what you say or I’ll come down there and–”

“Not with that belly you won’t.”

She stared at me with eyes narrowed. Her face softened and she said, “I don’t want to get old.”

“You can’t stop it.”

“And I don’t want to fall apart.”

“It’s gonna happen.”

“What do we do?”

“Just go with it. Enjoy life.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You didn’t just crap yourself.”

“No I did not.”

“And your clothes still fit!”

“Yes they do.”

She stood over me with her hands on her hips. Her elbows pointed to each side of her rotund belly making her look like a giant tea pot.

“I’m done with this conversation,” Elizabeth said. “There’s stuff I need to finish.” She shambled towards the house, but before disappearing through the front door added without looking back, “Before I get old and fall apart.”

Still laying next to my motorcycle, I picked my wrench back up and mumbled, “At least we’ll do it together.”

25 Comments

  1. Thanks to Karen Hollingsworth for the painting used with this story. More of her lovely work can be found at: http://www.karenhollingsworth.com

    Thanks also to Elizabeth McCarthy and Donald Gately (http://motorcyclenostalgia.com) for copyediting.

  2. My fave one yet! Having 2 kids, tell your wife I feel her pain, er, shame. But I love the sentiment of falling apart…together. Well done. Well done, indeed!!

    • My wife was a good sport to let me publish this one for the world to see.

      • I was wondering if your wife agree to having this published….at least you embarrassed yourself as well… I’m trying to think of embarrassing stories from college, but for some reason am drawing a blank.

        Great story!

  3. Once again your story brought a smile to my heart and conjured up my own memories long ago forgotten. You have a great way with words and lending insight to the everyday world we live in. Keep up the great work. Yep we all grow older and fall apart. But it’s so nice to know you have someone to share it with.

  4. Lovely, smelly, and sticky. Good stuff.

  5. Being the half centurion that I now am, I can tell you that the leaks will definitely get worse. As my hormones rage at the start of menopause, I find my eyes have started leaking pretty often as well! Don’t fret, as long as you have one another, you will survive every leaky stage of life!

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride through “the event”…even if it made me cringe.

  7. Great story! I was chuckling to myself the whole time. You know the awkward chuckling where you sit in front of the computer and are smiling and sort of giggling and you know if people were paying attention to you, you’d look like a weirdo.

  8. This was very well done. Now maybe it’s just me, but I thought the topic was rather commonplace. The way you wrote it made it well worth reading, but I’d still rather read about interesting/exciting events than ordinary ones, assuming the same level of writing skill. Perhaps that’s why so many authors write fiction.

    Just trying to be honest… I hope it’s constructive. Thanks for sharing your stuff with us!

    • Rod,

      Thank you very much for the feedback. It’s important to me that I hear all reactions to my stories – positive, negative, and worst of all indifference. Judging by what’s been written in the motorcycle forums, this one has turned out to be polarizing, which I did not expect.

    • The guy pissed his bed and was caught blow drying the mattress while naked. In what world is that “commonplace”???

  9. As always, great story. You keep your audience riveted…

  10. Great story my man! Good to know when it comes time to pick tent partners! LOL

  11. You tell a great story! The only bad thing is I can’t get the picture of you naked and smelling of piss out of my head. Please next time keep it to the bikes instead of your nasty birthday suit adventures!

  12. If you have never been married or have never been in a good marriage there are some aspects of this story that can be easily missed or hard to understand. Why? This story highlights the special bond that forms between a couple after a period of time.

    The bond takes on many forms and purposes in the marriage and it becomes the fabric that brings a couple closer together through both spoken and unspoken actions. In this case, the bond (while laughing inside in this case) humiliation is prevented by compassionately offering a self deprecating story that would have best been lift to the dark corners of history. In the end both are drawn more closely together then before her event.

    A friend posted Kevin’s blog on motorcycle forum we are members of to share. The response was most interesting coming from the younger forum members. In their responses what a I saw happening was two fold: no understanding of the concept of “the bond” and that of why getting older together is a good thing:

    Life and most importantly time are funny things when you are young they; are always present and there is way to much of both. There is no practical reason to acknowledge anything close to aging (as getting older is really a long way off)! This very attitude manifested itself by some of the forum members response to the posting of Kevin’s story.

    One day, everyone walks into the bathroom and for what ever reason they look into the mirror for just a minute longer than normal…and it hits you. You realize that being 20 was a month of Sunday’s ago and you can’t figure out where all of the time gone. You don’t feel any different, you still like most of the things you did when you were 20, but the mirror reminds you that time does catch up and things change.

    Change in this case can be a good thing when it is shared with your spouse. Getting older with someone you love is one of the greatest gifts in life we can experience and sadly it is often over looked in today’s environment.

    There were some strong analogies in your story as this really struck a chord with me. I loved your article and am grateful that my friend shared your blog with me. You gave my wife and I a good laugh.

    • Eric,

      Your comment is thoughtful, wonderful, and I’m deeply touched that you took the time to write your feelings on my story.

      I looked through several motorcycle blogs and noticed the disparity in reaction you spoke of in your comment. You encapsulated the root cause of it with great clarity.

  13. Wait a second… are you blaming me for pissing yourself?! Hell, I definitely would have stopped whatever it was that I was doing had I known you were going to haul off and give the mattress a golden shower…

    • First, I am blaming you for pissing myself. I’m American and thus nothing is ever my fault.

      Second, I know exactly what you were doing when it happened, since you told me the next day – sleeping, you bastard.

  14. I love slice of life type stuff, I dug the story too!

    ….although I must admit, the hair dryer part was gross, haha!

    Great work!

  15. I don’t know how you kept all of your bits intact when your wife read this.

    I too have felt the shame of the warm wetness. It turns out, if you can drink a pitcher of beer in less than three minutes you can also cover a couch in urine.

  16. This is far more common of an occurrence than you might think. Allow me to share two stories, and although they are variations of your theme, it seems to underscore the correlation between getting pissed up and incontinence.

    My brother, who used to drink with the best of them, expired one night after enjoying himself at his favorite watering hole and during the night he awoke to relieve himself. He actually reached the bathroom, and inasmuch as the clothes hamper had a hinged lid that opened he decided to baptize the laundry with recycled beer. The other incident happened to a good friend after a Halloween party. He decided to TCB; he dressed as Elvis, complete with a big ass Elvis wig, chops and that white polyester suit. He was The King. By the end of the night he was finding it hard to walk, but with the help of his better half he left the building and made it to bed, but not before peeling off his costume and tossing into a corner of the room. Receiving a call from nature he stumbled into what he thought to be the bathroom, but was actually the corner where his Elvis costume was laying. You had Karate Kick Elvis, you had Overweight Elvis, well we give you Pissing Elvis.

  17. Why do the guys seem to think this is “typical”…LOL!?

    Another fantastic story that makes me think about my marriage, my kids and getting on my Honda and riding into the sun.

  18. From us parents and motorcycle riders, thanks for showing what marriage and pregnancy are really like. It’s nice not to read (or watch) another puff piece based on Hollywood’s reality. – Harris

  19. I love this story…and your commitment to each other, sharts and all. I have a couple of hilariously fond memories of craptacular incidents over the years, it’s a good thing you were supportive…you truly can relate. :)