It All Happened With Courtesy

It was 2000, and I had arrived at Reagan National Airport with enough time to have a beer before my flight.

It was only a few months after the Music City Miracle had yet again stuffed the hearts of every Buffalo Bills fan into the garbage disposal, where there was already a spoon, and flipped the switch. It was the fourth quarter of the Wildcard Game, and the Tennessee Titan’s Lorenzo Neal handed the ball off to Frank Wycheck, who tossed a (it wasn't a) lateral to Kevin Dyson, who ran down the sidelines for the game-winning 75-yard touchdown. I had watched the loss alone, living in Washington D.C., far away from the lake effects and lip-chapping winds of Western New York, my home.

I piqued two business travelers’ attention when I asked the bartender if she had Labatt Blue. Or maybe it was the denim skirt, the thickly knitted turtle-necked tank top, or that I finished my first beer in less than five minutes. Whatever it was, we got to commiserating and they got to buying me more. Five beers and 30 minutes later, I heard the last call for my flight.

There wasn’t enough time to find the ladies room. The flight was only 45-minutes long. And anyway, there would be a bathroom on the plane.

It was on take-off that I realized my mistake. It was a small plane; there were less than 50 seats available and each passenger had their own row. The flight attendant, who seemed personally offended there weren’t more of us, told us where the emergency exits were and that the “Fasten Seatbelts” light would never go off. I looked to the back: there was no sign that the bathroom wasn’t occupied. There was no sign of a bathroom, period.

I began to pray for prevailing winds. Or whatever winds make you arrive more quickly at your destination. Twenty-five minutes into the flight, I stared out into the clouds, willing the announcement of the initial descent, and began to cry. I remembered a scene from The Simpsons, when Grampa Simpson held it in too long and his kidneys burst. The pain. I remember the pain. A part down there, near a part that I liked and wished no harm to, was about to burst. My swollen, ripe bladder pushed muffinly against the waist of my skirt. 

And I thought: I’ll just pee a little bit. No one will know. It’ll relieve the pressure and—I shifted uncomfortably and promised myself I would prove false the long-proven fact that you cannot just pee a little bit.

The few seconds I let it loose were nearly orgasmic—my eyes drooped sensually, my shoulders relaxed. Until I closed the dam and felt the warm. And the pain began again, though this time worse: if registered in decibels, it would’ve resulted in the death of hearing tissue. I practiced square breathing through the tears. Focused on the tray table in front of me. And realized what I would have to do.

I quickly asked for another Diet Coke before the flight attendant strapped herself in for landing. And I peed myself. Time seemed to dilate. I gloriously, gloriously pissed myself, the urine pooling between my thighs, breaking the barrier of the denim and seeping into the seat. When it finished, my mind clear and my bladder empty, I knew what needed to happen next. 

I moved the arm rest, scooted over to the middle seat, and poured my entire drink on that place I had ruined. And then, a different kind of miracle happened: I found scented hand-sanitizer in my backpack, squirted it on top of the wet to cut the smell, and prepared for landing.

I exited the plane and said nothing. I had wiped down my legs with notebook paper. I would not draw attention to myself. 

And then I proceeded to the bathroom, where I put my ass in front of the hand dryer and waited for my boyfriend to pick me up.

When Gerard Depardieu pissed himself before his plane had reached cruising altitude, he gave a warning to his fellow passengers, “Je veux pisser, je veux pisser.” A witness explained what happened next: “…and then he did it on the floor. No one said anything. It all happened with courtesy.”

And though Depardieu and I took different approaches, he didn’t piss himself so much as asked if he could go, was refused, and then pulled his junk out and let loose in the aisle. I feel we are forever bonded. A kindly father, an unlikely hero. 


Jess Stoner's novel, I Have Blinded Myself Writing This, is available for pre-order from Short Flight/Long Drive Books. She lives in the sweat and brisket of Austin.

Categories: Airports, Airplanes

Latest Stories
Checking In/Checking Out

Filter by Category

Everyone has a story to tell...

Submit Yours Here

Points of Departure: