First off I’d like to say this about single motherhood: there is no doubt in my mind that this may be the hardest job on the face of the Earth and women who make the choice, or have no choice, to take on this task should be recognized for their efforts. Having said this, I have discovered that there is a dark, dark side to this that I never considered before. I found this secret flaw when I took the oldest boy to Walmart and he asked to use the washroom. Being in the big city, I was voluntold that I was to provide myself as the official washroom escort in order for the boy to relieve himself in safety.
One of the most uncomfortable situations that a man could be in is to be standing in the men’s room without having any of his own personal business to attend to – followed closely by being a teenager and having to call the dentist to make an emergency house call to detach his daughter’s braces from the loose skin of your scrotum. Yet there I was, standing in the men’s room waiting for the boy to go to the bathroom. To heighten the uncomfortable feeling, the boy stood beside me against the wall instead of moving towards the empty urinal not more than ten feet away. He was waiting for the stall he told me when I asked.
“Oh,” I said quietly. We were silent as we listened to the loud grunts and gentle splooshing for a minute or two. “I thought you said you had to whiz?”
“Yep, I do,” was the response. I looked at the unoccupied urinal then to the boy.
“Well….” I motioned towards the porcelain fixture.
“I need to sit down,” the boy answered in anticipation of my unasked question.
“Yep, to pee.”
“Oh, I see.” We spent the remainder of the time in silence, including the time when the stall became free and through the hand washing afterward. It was at this moment that I realized that up to this point he had never used a public washroom when we were out in public. His brothers had – and they stood up, the littlest one proved he had the ability to pee standing up in the summer. The dog and he had a rivalry going for a certain spot in the yard which at one time had been a flower bed but through force had been taken as a communal digging spot. This area proved not to be big enough for the two of them, which resulted in the dog relieving himself in the dirt in front of the boy as to state, “This is mine, back off”. The boy’s response was to relieve himself over where the dog had gone to assert his claim. I didn’t tell his mother that night how he managed to make mud pies. I had assumed that the perchance for the standing posture for urination was based on peer to peer modeling, past down from eldest to youngest.
I know that behavioural imprinting is the basis of childhood learning, especially in the toddler years. I know that many women have no choice but to take their male offspring into the ladies washroom with them. I also realize that city raised kids don’t have the multitude of natural urinal opportunities of those raised in rural areas. Yet for some reason I kind of figured that it was a natural instinct to want to make the rainbows in the urinary arc that fascinated me as a child. To be a boy who needs to sit down – well, that just wasn’t nature’s way. What would happen if I decided to take the boy camping? Would I be expected to carry along a portapotty in my back pack? How was I going to induct him into manhood in a few years if I had to get him to attempt to squat over an electric fence? How could I let him be denied the master practical joke of ruining his buddy’s windshield wipers then pee off the back of the bed of the truck when they’re traveling behind his ride as they are going to a bush party? What kind of person would I be if I ignored this situation?
After the boys went to bed that night I decided to bring up the stall issue with their mother, thinking surely that this dire emergency of manly cataclysmic proportions would have her shaking in agony over such a harrowing revelation, crying “oh what ever shall we do”…which she did say though the enunciation was not quite what I had envisioned it as.
To further suggest that she was not as alarmed at the staggering severity of the situation she shrugged her shoulders. I’d heard stories of vicious beasts tearing the flesh off of men; grizzly bears, tigers, hippos, wolves, ninja squirrels, but never in my heart had I dreamed that someone I knew could be that cruel to another human being. That belief was broken and stomped on when she said:
“So he prefers to sit down – big deal,” the boy’s mother chided.
I had to steady myself on the arm of the couch as my head reeled. Big deal? How could she abuse the term “big deal” by making it sound flippant? It was then I realized the truth of the situation – she was in shock. Often when people go through a traumatic situation their minds often go into denial as a defensive technique, the poor thing, but I knew that the only way for her to overcome the trauma was to face it no matter how difficult it would be for her.
“Listen it’s just plain dangerous for a man to be sittin’ to take a whiz,” I pushed.
“Say you’re walkin’ in the woods and suddenly out of the bushes jumps out a rabid muskrat – what do you do?”
“You walk around it?” She offered as an answer. I put my hands on my hips and let out a laugh.
“Oh, you think just walkin’ around will solve this? HA! It’s a challenge, babe, A CHALLENGE – its man versus beast, a battle for survival, it’s…”
“A muskrat?” Why is it that women just don’t understand the laws of nature? I decided that this was not the time to enlighten her on behaviours of animals in the wild against those displayed in zoos and pressed on.
“It’s a man’s will over the will of the beast,” I continued, “And you can’t do that squatting over it – that just opens yourself for watching your testicles go bouncing down the path.” She was quiet for a moment, letting the information sink through the layers of urban living that had hardened around her primitive survival instincts.
“Why would anyone?…what would make a person…?” she stuttered,” Why would someone be as stupid as to squat over?….what purpose would it serve to..? Who would…?”
She looked harshly at me.
“Oh yeah,” she answered her own question,”Sorry, forgot who I was talking to.”
The look in her eyes told me that she wasn’t being won over by my convincing argument of logic – I thought I better throw in an element of self esteem. “Besides, it’s the way most male animals mark their territory – they lift, notice lift, not squat, so that the scent mark is up high enough for others to notice.”
“That explains the two hundred fine for defiling public property and the three hundred dog grooming bill we got last week….”
“Listen, Meyers shouldn’t have let her damn dog lift its leg against the hydrant in front – that’s our hydrant, god damn it, she should have picked the mutt up and taken it to do its business elsewhere!”
“She’s a ninety two year old woman with a black lab!”
“Maybe she should consider getting a more manageable size of dog then,” I sniffed.
“What? A Chihuahua?” my partner snorted, “You’d drown the thing!”
I came to the conclusion that neither rationality nor citing human nature would swoon the boy’s mother over to my side of thinking. It was time to use the time tested trick used by women: Emotional black mail.
“Jumpin’ Jesus ona pogo stick! I tell ya it’s just not right! The boy’s gotta learn how to pee upright,” I argued, “It’s just….it doesn’t let a man…”
“Miss the toilet bowl,” his mother finished. Then she took the dreaded Feminazi pose; folding her arms before her and lightly drumming her fingers on her forearms as she locked her hips with an slight angle to the right and forward, her eyebrows raised slightly that one could take as bemusement yet with a slight curl to her lip that suggested the complete opposite. This pose would scare the hardiest of men, making them fall to their knees and beg for mercy but I am an Alberta male – we’re as swift as a drunk blind one legged turtle going up hill in a raging blizzard.
“Being a man means that you roll the dice on your targeting skills every time,” I contended, “If you ain’t then you might as well be in a dress. He needs to be standin’ tall when he whizzes, proudly proclaiming, ‘I am man, hear me tinkle!’ Do you want your son to be wearing a dress? Do ya? What kind of guy would I be if I let the boy continue in this manner? Hell, you might as well put me in a dress and call me Vivian!”
There was a brief sidebar on where the hell I would pull the name “Vivian” out of my head and if that’s the first name that pops out of my mouth when I think of women in dresses that maybe I should find out where “Vivian” lives and borrow one of her dresses.
“Look, if you don’t like it, then you do something about it,” she said with a challenging tone to her voice, then added, “Twit.”
I gave a harrumph and told her that I would just do that – I had a plan. She shot back that she was sure that I did then walked away, muttering something about a Mormon under her breath. She does that quite a bit; talking about Mormons after she’s had a discussion with me, which is strange since I am pretty sure she’s Catholic. Maybe she’s thinking of changing denominations or something.
It was a crisp wintry Saturday morning when the nine year old and I set out for a little drive in the country. To avoid any chance of him developing a bladder larger than his usual kernel of corn one I hedged the odds by purchasing the both of us the extra large “Big Gulp”s from “7-11” before we headed out of town. As we drove and slurped down our drinks I pointed out vistas of interest; the coulee that my friend Terry bet me that I couldn’t jump across – which ended up with me acquiring the skill of doing multiple downhill cartwheels at mach two and the skill of jumping ten feet using only the muscles in my buttocks after the tumbling stopped directly atop a wasps nest. I showed him the grove of trees that Terry bet I couldn’t swing branch to branch through like “Tarzan” – which I proved I could until that one branch with the bee hive. I showed him the slough that Terry bet me that I couldn’t wade across without falling which resulted into my first major research project: ways to remove bloodsuckers less painfully than one by one by hand (it should also be noted that for years afterward I couldn’t get a hickey or a blowjob without panicking, whipping out my container of salt and sprinkling madly atop the person’s head while screaming like a little girl who’s gotten her pig tail caught in the wheels of her “Barbie” Corvette) and where I learned that being scared of getting a whoopin’ for coming home with wet clothes was a far more agreeable conclusion than I had just experienced. The boy told me that he hoped he had just as many good memories as I had when he grew up.
It took almost two hours but finally my plan for operation “Preteen dynamic erect posture linear urination elimination” paid off; the boy was squirming in his seat like bear with an itchy ass on sandstone. Those extra turns of the wheels through the divots and ruts in the gravel road really did the trick. I pulled the truck over and told him to do his business. He got out of the truck and closed the door as I fiddled with the radio looking for an acceptable station to listen to. Have you ever noticed that when one is driving, needing to pay attention to the road ahead, the radio always plays the tunes that demand your attention? It’s when you are in park that they play the music that are so terrible that you’d rather slice off your ears than listen to. It is my opinion that there are satellites up in space that track vehicular traffic and relay this information to the radio stations so they know what songs to play that turn a person’s brain to pliable mush – which is the obvious reason Nickelback has been successful; they’ve paid off those bloody radio programmers.
Having no luck on finding a station that was not currently playing Nickelback I looked out the passenger side window expecting to see the boy’s head bent down slightly while he drew his name in the side of the road’s snow berm. What I saw was the boy walking half way across the frozen field. I jumped out of the truck and ran to catch up to him. When I did catch him I said, between gasps of air, just where the hell did he think he was going. He pointed to the farm house off in the distance, informing me of his intent to knock on the door and ask to use their washroom.
“Jumpin’ Jesus ona pogo stick, boy!” I gurgled through the hyperventilation I was experiencing. “ Just whip the ol’ boy out and go!” His eyes widened and the flesh on his face turned pale.
“Pee….out here?” He said horrified as he gestured around the field, “In the open?” I told him, of course, that was the benefits of being a guy, you didn’t have to worry about freezing your butt – sure if you spent a little too much time you could freeze your wiener a might but that was what the entire point of zippers were, to provide some shelter when you’re letting it all hang out. The boy wasn’t convinced.
It was at this juncture that I felt my own bladder knocking on the inner walls of my urethra. This was going to be a teaching experience! Nothing is better than a concrete example for young minds to attach themselves to the learnin’! I told him to watch me and learn. The first part of whizzin’ in the woods was strategy I told him; I licked my finger and put it up, gauging which way the wind was blowing. Satisfied with the direction I would have to be facing to be downwind, I moved onto the second part of whizzin’ in the woods: Politeness, I told him, even out in the middle of nowhere, was paramount. I took a few steps away, turned around and undid my zipper and mentally put a forest fire in the snow that it was my duty to put out to save the desperate townspeople from. The customary backside cannon shot sounded the coming of the flood and I readied my targeting computer to show the boy my whizzing prowess, developed from years of droppin’ my pants in the wilderness.
Now I don’t know exactly the velocity that the human body releases gas from itself and the approximate time it takes to circle the Earth, or maybe Mother Nature decided that she wasn’t particularly interested in water sports that particular winter morning. Whichever one it was, it had astoundingly bad timing. Just as the townsfolk were preparing to cheer their saviour on, the wind went from east to west to west to east. Though I managed to turn the fire hose off post-haste, the “Big Gulp” had turned the manageable ounces into a tsunami that the breakwaters could not totally hold back. The light blue of my jeans turned to a dark blue. Damn, double damn. This was not going as well as I had thought.
I turned ‘round while zipping up, praying that the moistness didn’t freeze my fingers to the metal like a tongue on a metal pole. Not knowing what else to do, I gave a sniff of finality, pronouncing to the boy, “And that there is how its done.” I told him it was his turn, expecting for him to make the polite two foot walk and turn around.
He stood there for a second or two looking at me. He then closed his eyes tightly, bit into his bottom lip and gripped his hands into fists with such force that his entire body began to shake. There came the sound of two small firecrackers going off behind him. He opened his eyes and smiled…as the front of his jeans turned just a might darker bit by bit until they took on the appearance of waist to knee chaps. He gave his hips a tiny wiggle.
“And I didn’t even have to get my wiener cold,” he proudly said.
I stood in that field looking at the boy. I cleared my throat, gave a sniff.
“Come on, boy, we’ve got a busy day ahead of us,” I told him as I started walking back to the truck. He caught up, matching my pace.
“What we gotta do?” he asked.
“We’ve got a couple of dresses to buy”…..