A Bursting Bladder


Say what you want about Sigmund Freud, but he got one thing right: I have penis envy.

That’s not to say I have penis envy in all facets of my life, but when it comes to the convenience of getting to use the world as your toilet, boys have it made. And I think most ladies would agree; it seems pretty cool to write your name in the snow.

Being a rather outdoorsy person, this potty problem has plagued me my whole life. As a child, I tried to use my resourcefulness to solve the issue. For example, whenever we went to the beach, I wouldn’t build sand castles like the other silly children; I’d build a sand toilet. My mom found it unsanitary to urinate in the ocean, so my sand toilets became an architectural achievement of both comfort, relief and functionality. First, I would dig a deep hole for my feet to go in. Once I was able to sit up perfectly straight, with my feet dangling in the hole, I began work on a secondary hole about six inches back. You can guess what this one was for. But what really made my sand toilets the Taj Mahal of sand structures was the attention to detail on the seat portion and the comfortable yet strong backrest. I would sit on my sand throne like a queen, and I didn’t have to move a muscle when it came time to relieve all the apple juice I’d been drinking. (Gotta stay hydrated when building a sand toilet.)

When I was older, I spent a lot of time camping. It was during this time I perfected the tree-hugger, the spot-and-squat, the potato leak, the rock-and-rollaway, the Pee-Wee-Wee Herman and the Abraham Leak-oln.

If I’m being completely honest, I started to think of myself as an outdoor bathroom aficionado. But any great artist must someday face a challenge so great that it will either best him or come darn close.

My moment came when I was hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru.

It was the first day of the hike and had been raining all day, and we hadn’t passed a single bathroom stop.

Apparently, the Incas can build a massive hidden empire, but a port-a-potty stumped them. To make matters worse, the group hiked together at one pace, and there was no opportunity to break away.

When we got to the campsite, my bladder was at risk of spontaneous combustion. I grabbed my headlamp and headed into the woods.

The bulk of the trees around our campground were either covered in thorny vines or poisonous vines. In the pitch dark and pouring rain, with nothing but my tiny headlamp, finding a place to go was becoming impossible. What I would’ve given for a sand toilet.

Finally, I found a tree with an exposed trunk that was surrounded by bushes. Perfect for hiding my exposed trunk. I got into position, and just as I was about to relieve myself, I heard:


I clenched. I looked from side to side, my tiny headlamp shining into the rustling bushes, but I couldn’t see anything. My heart raced. Maybe I’m just losing it — delirious from full-bladder syndrome. I began to relieve myself, when suddenly the growling got louder and the shaking of the bushes more severe. Clench!

Again, I moved my headlamp from side to side, trying to see something — anything! — in the dense bush, but in the darkness and rain, it was amazing I had even found this tree. I really needed to empty my bladder, but there were pumas in these parts! Was going to the bathroom really worth being torn to bits by a large-toothed mammal? But at that point, I had no control. I tried to go for the third time.


Nope! Nope, nope, nope. I pulled up my pants and got back to my tent as fast as humanly possible. There would be no relief tonight.

That night, everyone’s tents flooded severely. We all woke up drenched to the bone. And though I’d like nothing more than to blame my wet clothing on the flood, I can’t ignore the fact that by sunrise, my urge to urinate was gone.

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