Letters to My Children: Never Miss an Opportunity to Use the Restroom

Book page

You know how it goes: you're sitting on the airplane and you look at your watch and you think, "Hmmmmmm, 30 minutes until the plane lands. Do I need to use the restroom?" Now, you actually might need to go just an itsy bitsy teenie little bit. It's just a little bit, but not enough for you to undo your seatbelt, climb over the aisle-seat passenger, trudge up the aisle, wait in line at the bathroom, go to the bathroom, trudge back to your seat, climb over the aisle-seat passenger and sit back down. So you sit there. Eventually the return-to-your-seat-we're-preparing-to-land light comes on, and it's to late to use the restoom. You have to hold it.

But now you have to pee. Badly. And the plane is delayed on the tarmack. And you can't leave your seat yet.

Or, you're out at the mall and you pass by the restroom at the food court. You think you might have to go, but, eh, not yet. So, you head into the next store (a kitchen or cooking store if you're anything like your mother) and shop for a bit. Then you're off to the next store. By the time you're at the next store, you really have to use the bathroom, but have no idea where the nearest one is.

The big department stores all have restrooms, so you try the nearest one. Is it on the first floor? The second? Why, oh why, is it always hidden in the back of the store behind the big women's clothing, and labelled "Women's lounge?" Who lounges in these places? You make it there, but then there's a line. Your bladder is ska-reeming and when you finally get to pee, and actually peeing hurts like you wouldn't believe possible.

Fortunately, neither of those situations has happened to your mother. (Maybe I should label obvious lies in a different font. Of course, if they're so obvious no label would be needed, right?)

So, here is my advice to you in this letter: when presented with an opportunity to use the restroom, take it if there's any (any whatsoever) inkling you might need to go in the next hour. If you feel like your bladder has something in it, it does, so just go now.

Now, this doesn't mean head out to find a restroom when you might have an inkling to go. If you did that, you'd be looking for restrooms and doing little else with your life. And that, my child, might be a boring, panic filled life.

What it means is, if the opportunity is there, take it. Go. Seize the chance to purge the plumbing.

Because once you realize you need to pee, it'll be all you think about.

So, why this advice instead of the saying, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"? That saying is relatively generic. This is a specific case and concrete example of when that saying is perfectly applicable.

An extended suggestion in this letter of seizing the peeing opportunity, is "Always carry toliet paper or tissue paper with you." If you can learn to pee in the woods, or next to a building, or on the side of the road, or in the neighbors yard, all without being seen or caught (the key phase here is definitely, without being seen or caught), then the toliet paper or tissues will come in handy in said events.

I recommend tissues. They're easier on nose and more versatile.

Written on a flight from San Diego to Chicago, landing in a snowstorm.