I consider making it across the United States, on the ground and in a big truck, one of the most awesome accomplishments in my life. The only thing I’ve ever done that compares is being pregnant and having two babies. (Not at once, for God’s sake — I waited 11 years between them; it took me that long to forget how awful it was.) Traveling with George isn’t nearly as uncomfortable as being pregnant, but when I was pregnant I knew where every public bathroom in our city was, and since I’ve been on the road, I’ve mapped out most of the public facilities on the highways and byways. (How’s that for a segue into yet another bathroom post?)
I was super-excited to get to California. It’s a pretty place, extremely diverse and unimaginably huge when you have to travel the length of it. We started out in Otay Mesa, and went all the way to Seattle, which gave me the West Coast tour almost as far as you can take it. I’m still in awe of how beautiful this country is, and once again I spent most of the trip with my mouth hanging open, cooing, “Woooow!” the entire time.
We had been all the way up and were making our way back down toward Casa Grande. I loved the mountains, I loved the farmland. I was not impressed with the desert. Consequently, every time we stopped, it seemed like we were in the middle of it. Being somewhat of a nerd, I’m a little nervous any time I’m around vast amounts of sand. I can’t help but imagine the huge sand worms from Dune plowing their way underground so they can pop up in my face and eat it off. I’m not entirely comfortable with any surface that shifts continually. (Remind me to tell you how fun I am on a boat.)
We made it to Imperial Dunes before I declared if we didn’t make a pit stop soon, I was going to make a mess in the truck. George is really good about stopping when I need to, but we had been in the middle of nowhere for about 9,000 miles, and there hadn’t been anywhere to stop. I don’t want to get real graphic here, but I have yet to, and probably never will, master peeing in a bottle. It’s a skill that should be an Olympic sport. There was also no way in hell I was going to squat down in the desert and bare my nether regions to the thousands of scorpions and sand fleas I was certain were waiting to leap onto me, and, well, let’s just say the mental picture wasn’t anything I could get over enough to pee in the desert. We finally found a rest area, but when we stopped I didn’t see anything but a shack with a stovepipe sticking out of it, and was fairly certain that couldn’t be a bathroom.
“Why are we stopping? There isn’t a bathroom! I’m seriously going to pee myself.”
“There’s a bathroom.”
He was acting weird, I knew something was up, but I had to pee too bad to be able to focus on anything else. He got out and started walking toward the little shack.
“Come on. Let’s go to the bathroom”
“Are you escorting me to the toilet now? How could I possibly get lost somewhere you can see for 11 miles into the distance?”
I definitely knew something was up now, but I was too busy trying to walk and not pee myself. I was doing the dance, we all know it, you can sit in the parking lot of a rest area and watch a hundred different versions of it, but they all mean the same thing. I was at def-con four, security status red on the pee meter.
“Have you been here before?”
“Is it gross?”
He didn’t answer. In 17 years, I’ve learned that silence means one of two things — either he was pissed off or the answer was yes. I hadn’t spilled any nail polish in the truck recently, so I was pretty sure he wasn’t mad.
The smell hit me before we opened the door.
“Holy Jesus, it’s an outhouse.”
Not only was it an outhouse, it had a second hole in the floor that had some unidentifiable and extremely vile liquid bubbling in it. The hole was exactly the diameter of a giant anaconda, and I was convinced the bubbling was anaconda snot. I could just see a huge serpent with a bad case of hay fever lurking beneath the surface of the bubbles.
“Are you effing kidding me?”
“Babe, this is it unless you want a bottle or to pee outside.”
“I can’t pee in an anaconda cage. I can’t even walk into it.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I’ll go in with you if you need me to.”
“Oh good. The snakes won’t need to eat again for a long time after they devour us both. We’ll save the lives of other innocents who think this is actually a bathroom instead of a food trap for giant reptiles.”
There was no turning back. I had to pee so bad my eyeballs were floating. I’ll have to say when we were taking our vows 17 years ago, I never expected part of the “for better or for worse” to entail him having to hold my hand while I pee because I’m afraid of being eaten by giant snakes who live in a snot hole in the floor of an outhouse. Once again, life on the road taught me a lesson. Also, it taught me to start training for the bottle-peeing Olympics of 2014.