Girls can be pee shy as well as boys. Although we don’t have to expose ourselves in front of strangers, the thought that behind the cubicle wall is another person, and they can hear what we are doing is enough to make some sphincters stay tightly shut. Despite telling yourself that it’s a perfectly natural function, that every human being on the planet has to empty his or her bladder several times a day and that the person in the next cubicle is audibly peeing into the bowl seemingly without a care, such phobias can be impossible to overcome.
Flushing sometimes works – the sound of rushing water and the re-filling of the cistern covers any noise you might make. Dropping a wad of paper down the pan to muffle the sound of your stream is another way round the problem, or perching to one side of the seat so that the pee trickles down the porcelain. Waiting until the hand-dryers are roaring can also be effective. But sometimes none of these tricks are effective. There are too many people coming in and out. Your bladder may be uncomfortably full (if it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be in a public loo in the first place) but there is just no way it’s going to void its contents for everyone to hear. So you pull up your knickers, operate the flush and wash your hands as if you’d actually done something and as soon as you get through the exit that naughty bladder reminds you that it really needs to be emptied, even more forcefully than it did before you made the abortive trip.
How can you beat this phobia? Sometimes if you wait until you are absolutely bursting – almost at the point of wetting yourself – then rush back to the toilets, the urgent need to go overcomes the shyness.
This carries its own risks. What if there’s a queue when you get there? Imagine the embarrassment of being the girl who’s crossing her legs and trying not to squirm, conscious that everyone’s attention is drawn to your unfortunate predicament. They may have been in a similar situation at some point in their lives, but do any of them offer you their place in the queue? Of course not. Some of them may be witnessing your discomfort and congratulating themselves on their foresight in finding a loo before they’ve reached such extreme desperation. If you were elderly, or very young, they might take pity, but when you are of an age where you should know better, why should they give up their place? Some might suppose you are over dramatising your plight, purely to queue jump. They certainly aren’t going to be fooled by such antics! Others may be wondering if you are going to make it in time, or whether you will end up standing in a puddle on the floor. ‘Perhaps she’s already wet herself a little bit,’ they might think. ‘Can she hold on long enough to get in the cubicle? Will the next flush, or the sound of a tap running, or someone else’s bursting bladder relieving itself loudly into the toilet bowl send her over the edge?’
Of course, trying to second guess what they are thinking makes you guilty of putting your own thoughts into their presumably innocent heads. For if you hadn’t left it so late, if you were waiting in the queue quite happily and you noticed a girl trying to conceal her evident desperation you couldn’t help but put yourself in her place, knowing all too well the frantic fluttering of the tired sphincter, the dull heaviness of liquid weight pressing down and the pangs of urgency as bladder walls contract sharply. Then there’s the awful moment when you know you’re going to lose control
, and you try and you try to hold it in, but…. It’s just a spurt, but it’s the beginning of the end. There’s the hot shame of the soggy gusset. You try to make a surreptitious check to see if anything shows on the outside yet. There’s still two in the queue ahead. What the hell are they all doing in there? Can’t they hurry up. Please hurry up.
Your vision blurs as your bladder, having achieved a brief release, increases its liveliness and oh no, oh no, please… Even here, in public, you try the last resort of the utterly desperate and crouch over, a hand clamped into your crutch, trying frantically to stem the flow but it’s coming now and it’s not just a dribble this time its more than that its Niagara Falls and your hand is all wet as urine floods your knickers and a dark patch spreads beneath helpless fingers, streaking the legs of your tight jeans.
‘She’s wetting herself
.’ someone says and all you can do is stand there red-faced as your bladder wins the game of chance, unable to stop, where only a short while ago you couldn’t start.