Historically, when I've spent a few romantic days with someone special for the first time, I've taken extra care in choosing bras, panties, and other assorted lingerie. I've picked clothes and shoes in which I feel and look my best. I've moisturized all over to make my skin extra-touchable, and I've shaved all the important parts extra-close. And I sometimes even followed the old wives' tale of drinking pineapple juice in an effort to...um...taste sweeter.
None of these preparations could ready me for peeing myself in the middle of the street in front of that someone special — and everyone else.
Dan and I had been friends for a few years before we decided to become more intimately involved. We went out for a delicious steak dinner when I was in his city, Chicago, on business. We joked and laughed and discussed classic rock while drinking wine, forgetting our age difference (I'm older by 18 years) and bonding over similar interests and shared experiences.
A few weeks later, after text discussions about maybe giving being a couple a try, he came to the Bay Area to spend four days with me, arriving exhausted and late at night. Early the next morning, while he was asleep next to me, I was jarred awake by pain. My whole lower abdomen felt like it was on fire, and I really had to pee.
When I went to the bathroom, instead of the relief I expected, the pain intensified as the urine flowed. I could hardly breathe. I forced myself through deep inhales and exhales that would have made my yoga teacher proud, and eventually the pain was more manageable.
I got off the toilet, downed three Advil, scoured through the cabinet for the probably expired cranberry pills from the one other time in my life that I had a urinary tract infection, and floated a handful down my throat with water. And then I went back to bed and pretended like everything was fine.
In the late morning, we decided to visit the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. So I donned the purple sundress and sandals I had planned to wear that day, grabbed a bottle of water, threw a dozen Advil and the bottle of cranberry pills into my purse, and off we went.
We acted like kids, touching everything in the exhibits and having fun with science. We explored how things worked. We laughed, teased, held hands, and stole a kiss or two in the stairwell and in empty exhibit rooms. I kept sucking down water, running to the bathroom to pee, and refilling the bottle each time to have the excuse of why I needed to pee so often.
We took a break for a late lunch with wine, followed by tour of the Museum of Art's four stories. Tired of walking and wanting to check out a new restaurant in San Francisco, we returned to my car to drive the 60 miles, which I suggested he do since he knew where the restaurant was. Traffic, as usual, was slow.
By the time we got to the city I really had to pee — so badly I said so aloud. No gas stations were visible. No fast food restaurants either. Dan turned down a side street, looking for somewhere, when he suddenly said the closest place with a bathroom I could use was the hospital three streets away.
"Can you wait?" he asked as I squirmed in my seat, trying to find a position where my bladder didn't feel squished.
"I'll try," I said, mortified by the thought that I might not make it. I willed the urine to stay inside.
I thought the bladder gods were on our side when we found curb parking across the street from the ER and next to another part of the hospital. I raced from the car, barely closing its door, and tried a handle on the hospital's glass door. Nothing happened. "Shit," I said aloud.
"Over here," Dan said and started crossing to the ER.
I trailed behind him, but before I got two feet into the street, I flowed like Niagara Falls. I froze in place as piss soaked my dress, saturated my sandals, and puddled in the street.
"Too late," I said, at which he turned around to see the mess. "I have a UTI," I explained.
He crossed the street to me and held my hand, warmth in his eyes. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Vanity," I admitted, knowing I had none now.
"My family is in medicine. I would have understood," he said, as he wrapped a jacket around my waist and helped me back into my car. And he was right: His dad was a surgeon, his mom a nurse, and I knew that. But admitting the UTI didn't seem so sexy.
And peeing myself on a San Francisco streets wasn't sexy either...but it also, surprisingly, caused me to feel no shame.
Dan drove me home so I could shower and change into dry clothes and shoes. He remained empathetic over the next few days and encouraged me to call a doctor to get an antibiotic. He checked in regularly to see how I felt.
We had a great time visiting a Baron Wollman Rolling Stones covers exhibit and sipping our way through wineries in Napa and Sonoma counties, hanging out with mutual friends in San Francisco, and listening to a lot of music. He was also with me when my publisher called to say they were buying my next book. We had a fun-filled week — except for that one urine-soaked moment.
A few months later, Dan and I parted as lovers, but we have remained friends. I appreciate his graciousness and how he has never joked that I pissed myself on a city street. I have no idea if he ever told anyone, and at some point, I decided I didn't care if people knew.
But in the end, it may not matter how soft or smooth our skin is or how sweet we taste if we piss ourselves in public.