Somewhere in Washington, about 50 miles north of my last sip of coffee . . . and I need to pee. I scan the roadside signage, trying to come up with a reason to stop that would just coincidentally involve access to a bathroom. There is nothing – it’s not time to eat and we stopped just over an hour ago for a drink (see the previous mention of coffee), and I can imagine no good reason to detour our journey into a strip club or an auto-body shop.
Sigh. Maybe I can hold it until lunch. I glance at the clock . . . 10:02 am.
Maybe we could eat a really early lunch.
Maybe I could surreptitiously pee into the glove compartment.
Maybe I could somehow travel back through time and adopt children and thereby preserve my pelvic architecture.
Maybe I need to start wearing some sort of sexy absorbent undergarment on road-trips that are going to involve liquids.
Mark shifts in his seat, “I hate to throw us off schedule, but I’m going to need to stop and use the bathroom pretty soon.”
Oh thank god.
I reach to pat his leg understandingly, “No big deal. Pull over at the next place you see.”
Kallan pipes up from the back of the car, “I have to go to the bathroom too.”
Kallan is my favorite.
It’s now safe for me to chime in, “Me too!”
Maj is annoyed with all of us, “What is wrong with this family? Someone always has to use the bathroom. We just stopped. We just stopped a little while ago and there was a bathroom. I know because I had to wait for you to use it. Why do we have to stop again? Why must I be inconvenienced?”
Kallan points to a sign that indicates gas stations and fast food in seven miles, “There, Daddy. There will be a bathroom somewhere in there.” She turns to her sister, “Maj, if you think you are being inconvenienced now, just think how inconvenient it would be to make the rest of the drive with the car all splashy and soaked in pee.”
Maj curls up into her seat, pulling her feet up off of the soon-to-flooded floor, “That’s disgusting.”
I turn in my seat to talk to Maj, “Maj, not everyone has your urine-storage capacity.” Seriously, the girl can drink huge glasses of water and then go hours and hours without needing to pee. I reach back to rub Maj’s shoulder, “Let me rub your hump, babe. For luck.”
Maj’s voice goes tight with anger, “I am not a pee-camel, Mother. We have been through this before. It’s not funny.”
Kallan giggles, “Pee-camel is a little bit funny.”
I speak apologetically, “Sorry, Maj. I’m just jealous, that’s all. Ever since . . .”
Maj interrupts, “Mother, I do not want to hear about how pregnancy ruined you for jump-rope and trampolines and large-sized cups of coffee. You just hush.” She glares at me, “It’s called holding it . . . ever hear of it? HOLD . . . ING . . . IT.”
I smile, “I would be happy to hold my pee, Maj.” I cup my hands, “Although I do think that it will start to run through my fingers after a while . . . we have a long drive ahead of us.”
Kallan snorts with laughter and Maj shakes her head, “That is not what I meant and you know it, Mother.”
Mark speaks musingly, “If I was a long-distance trucker, I wouldn’t need to stop.”
Kallan is curious, “Truckers don’t pee?”
I explain, “Daddy means he would pee in a cup or something. Truckers don’t have time to stop and pee. They have to get where they are going on a schedule.”
Maj moans, “Unlike this family.”
I laugh, “Oh my god, Mark . . . I so want to live that moment in our lives — you driving down the freeway peeing in a cup, Maj in the back screaming her head off . . . yes, please.”
“Truckers don’t pee in cups,” Mark corrects me. “They pee in milk-jugs. I saw it on TV.”
“Wait, Daddy.” Kallan wants to understand, “You saw truckers pee in milk-jugs on television? What show is this?”
“No, no, no . . . I just heard about it on TV.”
Kallan is still uncertain, “Where do the truckers get the milk-jugs? Do truckers drink a lot of milk?”
Mark ignores these questions, “Yessiree, I would just pee right into a milk-jug. I would never stop. I would be King of the Road!”
“Yeah, Daddy,” Maj sneers, “because that’s what standing between you and royalty – a milk-jug of pee.”
Kallan is thoughtful, “Wait, Maj. Maybe Daddy’s onto something . . . there was that one princess.”
“Kallan what are you talking about?”
“The one with the pee . . . remember? It was the pee that revealed her true princess status.”
Maj is without words.
A few minutes later, we are standing outside of a gas-station bathroom.
Mark goes in first; Kallan and I toss the bathroom key (which is attached to a huge wooden paddle labeled RESTEROOM) back and forth.
Maj is aghast, both at the contamination issues involved in our game of key-catch and the misspelling of the word restroom. She rants loudly as we stand outside the bathroom about the stupidity of people who cannot spell simple words and who feel the need to attach their keys to wooden paddles and who apparently fear that the world is filled with travelers eager to steal the key to the bathroom and there is dirt everywhere and only stupid people would choose to live in a city whose main features appear to be concrete and the smell of spilled gasoline and blowing dirt although all that said . . . her family is also quite stupid and so possibly what her family members interpreted as a need to urinate was actually the magnetic pull of stupid to stupid and what is she doing in this family anyway because heaven knows she deserves better than this, and . . .
Kallan interrupts her sister’s harangue by tossing her the resteroom key, which Maj allows to thump against her chest and fall to the ground.
They stare together at the key for a moment, and then Kallan bends to pick it up, “Let me ask you this, Maj. If I were to pee in your bed, would you notice? Would you have trouble sleeping with pee?”
Maj lets out a little shriek of horror.
Her sister nods, “I thought so.”
Mark emerges from the bathroom, and as Kallan and I take our turns, Maj stands outside and offers royal scathing judgment of undisciplined peasant bladders.
And then we are back on the road.
Where there is time to work out Maj’s title . . . Her Royal Humped Highness, Princess Maj of Pee-Camelia.
Another hour passes in ridiculous fashion.
And then I start scanning the roadside signs, trying to come up with a reason to stop that would just coincidentally involve access to a bathroom.
It was a big cup of coffee.