“If peeing in your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis.”
Everyone's peed their pants before right? I'm not talking about diaper clad pant wetting – that's understood. I'm referring to 'old enough to know better', urination in the Levi's, public embarrassment grade leakage. I've had my fair share of societal faux pas, some of which have included public urination, and one in particular has left an indelible mark on my psyche.
In first grade, I was in Mrs. Ekle's class. I remember a few distinct features of that year of my elementary career – Reading A year with Frog and Toad, Andy Peck and I playing with Transformers action figures at recess (that's the original Transformers – none of this Shia Labeouf business), Matt Hobbs contorting himself into yoga positions during our comprehension worksheets, and the beloved afternoon milk breaks.
The milk break was more than just a reprise from academia or a benefit of USDA subsidies to the dairy industry. It was an exercise in civility and control. We lined up, alphabetically, cruelly leaving me to the portion of the line that I'd command for the majority of my career in the Central Lee School system. It seems they were ardent supporters of alphabetic organization, at least in the 90's. This left me taking up the rear my whole stint in Central Lee academia.
On the day which stands out among every other in my first grade experiences, we lined up at the door and, upon reaching relative silence, began our single file trek to the lunch room, where we'd brandish our blue card stock lunch tickets for punching, proceed past the brushed steel coolers until we found the rectangle box of chocolate or white dairy that suited our fancy. Then we'd circle back into the hallway and sit against the wall while we consumes our beverages.
The wall was a free for all. No rules of seating based on last names. No mandates banning free speech, or any speech. It was one of our brief respites from the uber-order that is elementary school life. So we clamored to the mustard yellow wall that stood opposite the cafeteria and attempted to find an open space next to our friends. Fifteen minutes later, as we prepared to deposit our empty cartons in the appropriate waste receptacle, Mrs. Ekle marched before us, obviously furious. In tow was a girl whose full name I honestly cannot recall, but her first name was Mary. She was in tears.
In an egregiously furious tone, Mrs. Ekle brought down the wrath of a mother rhino onto the students before her. As we soon learned, Mary had been ostracized, turned away from the wall by every student she approached. All she wanted was to sit and drink her milk, maybe some small talk. But this had not been afforded her.
I can recall Mary's appearance – ashamedly all to well. Bear in mind the fact that I was not in any way fashionable, popular, or even couth in my elementary days. I do not recount the following memory from the ivory tower of any chic appearance of my own.
Mary was not always the most kempt. She generally had mysterious stains on her obviously second, third, or fourth hand clothing. The odors that exuded her being were not always identifiable, and rarely were they pleasant. Mix this with awkward social conduct and it's clear to see that her classmates, myself included, were not always the most welcoming. I am not at all condoning the behaviors of my first grade self. Kids are mean, and we were probably mean to that girl. I will say that, on this particular day, I was not party to the injustice that befell Mary. I don't know that I would have treated her any differently, but I did not malign her on that occasion.
Upon receiving the brimstone of Mrs. Ekle's disappointment, we all sheepishly stood, resumed our alphabetic chain gang, and shuffled back to the classroom in silence. Our judge, jury, and executioner stood before us and delivered our sentence.
“For the rest of the day, we are all going to work in silence. No one is to utter a word. Take this time to think about the way you treated Mary. Would you like to be left out that way?”
We had about an hour to ruminate on our misdeeds. We pulled out workbooks, drawing paper, and activity pads and commenced the restitution process. About a third of the way through our noiseless trial, the chocolate milk began to make its way through my system and into my underdeveloped bladder.
I raised my hand. Mrs. Ekle, from across the room, shook her head, a somber, silent
I sat their for a few more moments, trying to focus on the workbook. Which image was not like the others? I couldn't tell. All I could focus on was the ever growing urge to let loose the torrent of urine that was building. I stood and began to approach the teachers desk. I was stopped in my tracks by the steely glare of a tempestuous tutor. She pointed at my desk, and I returned, growing ever more desperate. I began to dance in my chair. I crossed my legs. That just made it worse. I looked around to see if anyone else could see my panic. I squirmed, vainly attempting to coax the fluid back up into my digestive system. Finally, I could hold it back no longer. The dark stain began to eek through my Ninja Turtles Underoos and make itself evident on my pants. I shrunk into my seat. The other students at the table began to smell that something was amiss. It didn't take long for the entire class to draw the conclusion that I had peed my pants.
As titters and murmurs began to break out across the silent classroom, Mrs. Ekle stood up to reprimand the cacophonous children. As she strolled about the room, she too caught the acrimonious scent of urine on her palate. She found me doggedly close to the underside of my work table, and sent me to the nurses office to get cleaned up.
Leaping from my chair, I walked with such a hurried pace that it bordered running. With the chance of being stopped for excessive sprinting, I slowed down to a loping walk. I reached the nurses office, explained my accident, and was told to STAND where I was while the nurse found some replacement garments. She disappeared into the bathroom and returned with two items. Handing them to me, she callously said,
'These are the smallest ones I got. They'll have to do. Use the towels in the bathroom to pat yourself dry.”
As I locked the bathroom door, my eyes fell on the brown sandpaper that hung from a dispenser beside the sink. It wasn't inviting in the slightest, but compared to the clammy feeling I was currently experiencing, it was a step up. I disrobed from the navel down, cleaned up as best I could, and slid the oversized, dingy pair of white underoos onto my tiny frame. I then hoisted up a pair of stonewashed jeans that had to be made for a 5th grade girl. Clutching the baggy waistband to my nipples, I poked my head out of the bathroom,
“What do you want me to do with my...old clothes?”
I was handed a paper grocery sack and with an ill fitting belt strapping the gigantic pants to my torso, I soon was on my way back to my first grade classroom, pee pants in tow. I rebuffed the piteous looks and sneers as best as possible, sighed a monumental sigh of relief upon hearing the final bell, and raced to the bus.
The walk home from the bus stop was one of both dejection and relief. The paper sack hung at my side like a bag of cement, the weight of my shameful urine pulling my arm down and causing my chin to rest on my chest. I dared not make eye contact with the cars that drove by – everyone surely knew what that bag signified. I reached our back door, collapsed into the house and tore away any reminders of that awful incident.
In retrospect, this catastrophic event of my elementary school tenure seems comedic. But somewhere in my soul, the events of that day still shame me. I doubt that anyone else remembers the day I peed my pants in Mrs. Ekle's first grade class, but if they do, I hope they don't hold it against me.
The trials we face as children shape who we are today. How we react to those trials shape how we view the rest of the world.
All names used in this essay are used for comedic purposes only. I mean no defamation and harbor no ill feelings to anyone for the events that occurred. I hope you enjoy my self deprecation as much as I enjoy sharing it!