I’m so uncomfortable talking about butch and femme identities in connection to my own genderqueer self I’d rather write about peeing my pants. So call me a coward or weird or undisciplined if you want, but that’s what I’ll do today. And yeah, I’m still going to post about butch/femme stuff soon as I promised Raye a week ago and myself four months ago. The drafts are piling up. They’ll turn into something postable soon; I need them to.
Let’s be clear, I don’t often pee my pants. In fact, the last time I peed my pants was in 4th grade* and before then, the last time was in 1st grade. All shocking, isolated events. Okay, maybe I also peed my pants on my Tinder date in September. I DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW. It was a bloody time, if you feel me. Not sure what was happening down there, but whatever it was, I certainly had not bled through my pants in public before.
But let’s go back to 4th grade before I share about my dating prowess (I’m a catch! Who wouldn’t want a super pee-er or menstruater?).
One night in 4th grade found me in my family’s cold, unfinished basement playing air hockey with my 2nd grader brother Andy and 5th grader Mallory—my dad’s friend’s daughter who was babysitting Andy and me while our dads visited upstairs. I was offended someone a year older than me was babysitting me in my own house. It was insulting, but maybe that was the only way Mallory could be convinced to come over. We weren’t friends.
We were playing air hockey in the largest actual room in our large basement. A room containing boxed clothing, holiday decorations, boxes of wrapping paper, tissue paper, collapsed and uncollapsed Meier & Frank gift boxes for clothing, ribbons, and the like. Old vases, random wicker, the Barbie & Ken wedding dolls my parents were given on their wedding day because they are Barb(i) and Kenn. Never opened. We are not doll people, but yes my parents look the part except less plastic and tan and my mom has more muscle.
As the puck slapped the sides of the table, I squeezed my thighs together in the dark room and admitted I needed to pee. I’d hold on awhile before going upstairs. That didn’t go well. Andy made me laugh so hard my bladder dissolved into warm, wet, and itchy pants, and a puddle at my feet. In front of our pseudo-babysitter, Mallory, no less! I swore Andy to secrecy then skulked up the basement stairs to the main floor, casting a furtive glance at my dad and Mark in the living room before escaping to my bedroom upstairs where I changed.
The night was awkward but continued on. I hoped for silence on the subject, but when Mom arrived home and tucked me in, she brought it up.
“Andy said you had an accident tonight.”
I had been betrayed. Andy doesn’t know it, but for years his telling our mom about me peeing my pants convinced me he wasn’t trustworthy. It was the last straw. I had made my preferences clear, and he had told our mom anyway.
That was the 4th grade incident. I survived. I continued with my life.
Upon graduating from Oregon State this past June and returning to Portland, I went on a few casual dates with folks on OkCupid and Tinder during summer and early fall. I say casual not in terms of sex, but rather not placing much expectation on the dates. Casual sex isn’t something I’m capable of, if that’s not clear already. Anyway, having committed to enjoying myself on dates even if my date and I don’t click (usually the case), I try to come up with fun activities.
On this particular date, I met my date, whom I’ll call Sun Glasses or SG, because they never removed their sunglasses during our afternoon together, outside a cafe in my Richmond neighborhood. Within 5 minutes of meeting, we mounted our bikes to pedal through SE to the Esplanade, where we laid our bikes down on a dock, I pulled Yahtzee out of my backpack, and I taught them how to play.
I was wearing a tank top and old, faded running shorts, and kept my legs crossed and/or my crotch covered the entire time because I was self-conscious of the length of my shorts. Already a recipe for success. Maybe 20 minutes into our date, I felt myself involuntarily pee or bleed. Whichever, it was warm, a surprise, and unwanted. I eyed the river, but my bare feet were numb from the cold water already. I didn’t think I could jump in without shivering and chattering for the rest of the date. Also, I wasn’t convinced that I’d be able to pull myself up back out of the water up the slippery side of the dock—or that SG would help me. They were not warm or sociable and I couldn’t tell if that was just because they had a headache, or if they were just indisposed to being with a stranger (me).
This happened a few times. I crossed my legs even tighter. During one of SG’s turns, I escaped to the end of the dock to eye the water; I returned disappointed with a still-full bladder.
After we parted ways on the esplanade, I pedaled away with relief, certain we’d never hang out again, but that I’d definitely get to use the toilet when I got home. There are some wins in this life. Suspecting a small disaster in my shorts, I kept my ass to my seat while biking home that day, even up a 6-block long hill. And you know what, there was. As soon as I got inside my house and realized I was alone, I pulled my shorts down and saw a huge stain on the crotch/ass. Dark like blood, but maybe not. Toss-up, really. You may think “Kid, that’s not a toss-up—you either know or you don’t,” but I swear I don’t know what happened down there, Les. I smelled my underwear after changing and was still uncertain. I did start my period that day. Either way, the event was unprecedented.
I texted SG immediately. “APOLOGIES FOR MENSTRUATING THROUGH MY SHORTS. That’s never happened before!” I’m not one to beat around the bush. Some folks suffer through their embarrassments but I’d rather just address it head-on and let it become humorous. What if they had seen?
SG responded, “I didn’t even notice. Don’t worry about it!”
Which is good if it’s true, but also, why didn’t SG notice? I wondered if I should be offended until I realized I don’t go around staring at people’s crotches. Also, SG was wearing sunglasses.
So who knows what happened that day, but maybe my body was only confirming what my mind was thinking: I wasn’t actually interested in dating at that point in time. Maybe I was bleeding/peeing to get out of it.
That’s what I’ve got for you today, Les. Sometimes we pee, sometimes we bleed. Sometimes when it’s really inconvenient. We’re delightfully and ridiculously human. Happy New Year to you, wherever you are. Rest in peace and power.
*Also, there was that very first night in Tokyo when I was in 5th grade. The train ride to the hotel from the airport was the longest commute of my life as I struggled to hold my bladder/bowels and stop throwing up. Alas, my body could not contain itself. Such a miserable little 10 year-old trying to remain stoic. Peace to you, 10 year-old self. You made it. You also maybe threw your underwear away after hiding it in your suitcase for awhile.