There is a bathroom related mental disorder that I think is pretty universally referred to as “stage fright.” It seems that the extent to which people suffer from this affliction varies in degrees of intensity. Essentially, stage fright means that one is rendered unable to urinate when in the immediate vicinity of others. For some, a relatively small buffer zone between oneself and another fellow urinator is needed−perhaps a thin protective physical barrier between 2 urinals is sufficient. Or maybe, in a situation where multiple urinals line a wall, if the urinators are staggered by intervening empty urinals, bladder evacuation may successfully occur.
I once knew a guy that couldn’t even make it happen if there were someone else anywhere in the entire bathroom. On an 9 hour plane ride down to Argentina, he was unable to urinate the entire time. That guy was severely disabled.
If my bladder is above the 50% capacity threshold, I can typically successfully go, regardless of the bathroom occupancy/urinal layout situation. Below 50%, it gets iffy.
I don’t really understand the mechanics of the disorder. I don’t think it has anything to do with shame, or embarrassment−I suffer from neither. Basically, the feeling is thus; when I peel open my pants and get down to business in front of a urinal, if there is somebody really close by, the pressure, or physical urge to urinate depletes by about 50%. So, if I was at the 75% threshold, it diminishes to about 25%, and evacuation can be successful. However, if I am at like 35%, and just trying to avoid having to eventually be uncomfortable in a movie...I guess I’m probably going to end up uncomfortable during the movie.
It is an awkward feeling, standing there, sandwiched between 2 pissing dudes, and being unable to make it happen. On the rare occasion that this occurs, I feel like an explanation is probably necessary. Like I need to tell these dudes why I seem to be just hanging out in front of the urinal, instead of doing anything practical.
“Really guys, I’m not just hanging out here, hoping to catch a peripheral view of your genitals, sizable and impressive though they may be. I just can’t piss. Seriously.”
Plus, if one is standing there in a busy bathroom, while 2-3 people cycle through on either side, in my mind, it starts to look really suspect. Or at least I think that people are thinking that I am looking really suspect. Honestly, I doubt anyone is even paying attention. But these thoughts probably add to the mental urination block.
Last night, I was at Kingsbury Hall at the Sufjan Stevens concert. I don’t have words for how gloriously, spectacularly, wonderfully beautiful that experience was.
I decided, previous to Sufjan taking the stage, that I didn’t want to wish at any point during his set that I had urinated. I was only at about 25%. But I didn’t want that, over the ensuing 2.5 hours, to rise above 50%. So, I ventured down the the bathroom.
There was a line of about 10-15 urinals along the wall, all but one of them occupied. They were pretty damn close together, those urinals; broad shouldered men would be pret-ty cozy. I moved into the unoccupied urinal space. I tried to think watery thoughts, and to imagine I wasn’t practically bumping elbows with 2 other guys with exposed genitals.
At 25%, I didn’t stand a chance.
I glanced over my shoulder, and there were about 4 dudes waiting to fill in any vacancies. Double the pressure. “Common little guy, I can’t just keep standing here. It is getting awkward,” I told it. The guy on the right finished, flushed, and left.
A new guy cycled in. Finally, after another excruciatingly long 20 or so seconds, I decided it was time to give up. But I was also torn about what to do. I felt like I needed to say something, explain my failure. Explain that I wasn’t really just a penis spy. I did have to pee. Just not quite enough. I decided it was time to try something different, something other than just slinking away in shame.
I sighed. “Too much pressure. Can’t do it.”
The guy to my right absolutely cracked up. “Too much pressure. Oh man, that’s funny.” I zipped up, and walked away, dignity somewhat in tact.
In the restroom, honestly, apparently, is the best policy.