I was living in New Brunswick in a big sloppy partyhouse. Of the fluctuating house members there was only one permanent female. Her name was Nicole, and she never hung out anywhere but in her room. A sanctuary from the chaos around her, no doubt. One afternoon I came home from an early shift to find her on the couch in the living room. Apparently there was a Full House marathon on television and she was an obsessive fan. I too am a deep fan of the show, and was happy to join her for the remainder of the run.

She was surprised that I enjoyed Full House. Because frankly, it’s a dumb thing. But my ability to ascertain an episode’s entire premise after three or four pieces of dialogue convinced her of my level of fandom, and we enjoyed what was likely the first connection her and I had ever shared.

After a few episodes Nicole, in keeping with her gender, complained repeatedly of having to go to the bathroom. Provided with ample commercial breaks and sitting four feet from the bathroom, I said what every male says in this situation: “Then go.” It would take me years of this manner of exchange to learn to just allow them their mindless complaints. But I was still young and inexperienced, so a healthy argument arose from this. It culminated, somehow, in a challenge that neither of us would leave the couch until the Full House marathon had ended.

What neither of us knew at the time was that the station putting on this marathon wasn’t messing around. They must have played every single episode, and I had been at work when it started.

The first few episodes into the challenge were fine. Her new sense of competition quelled what complaints she had swelling up inside of her in the spirit of putting on a tough face. I had pissed just after arriving home, and by the nature of her needing to go before the competition felt I was in good standing. But Nicole was no chump. Two hours into it my tiny bladder began sending signals to go seek relief.

I believe the parameters of us not being able to move off the couch, not just simply forbidden from using the restroom was a fluke of the conversation, but it ended up being equal in its agony. We twisted and turned seeking comfort for limbs exhausted with disuse. Every newly conceived position also had to compensate for the abdomen which after eleven episodes could not have even a milligram of weight on it.

Our other housemates had come and gone in their own fashion, some tired of the same episodic structure and canned laughter, others simply did not want to be around the two melancholic weirdos on the couch. By the time the sun had set, all humor had left the situation, and thoughts of permanent damage to my organs began wandering around my subconscious.

After batting the word RUPTURE out of my mind for the ninth time, I turned as Nicole rose awkwardly to her feet, and padded wordlessly into the bathroom.

I had won a battle, but the next one was waiting for me at the other toilet in the house. I climbed the stairs in agony, and locked myself in the bathroom. I stood in position staring at my junk, waiting for alleviation for over a minute. The pressure inside me yearned for a release, and I was out of ideas on how to be of assistance. I had followed all the steps I learned as a child, and found them lacking results for the first time. I began searching my memory for health class notes in a desperate attempt to help the situation. Perhaps knowing that my “pelvic floor muscles” were to blame would somehow provide a solution.

I spent what felt like an entire episode of Full House in the bathroom without urinating. The pain continued to find ways to increase and expand until it felt like my entire body was just an outer casing for my ballooning bladder. I eventually put the seat down, and sat defeated and began calculating my impending hospital bill and shameful exposition.
There is something to be learned immediately from this story: don’t mess around with your biological processes whenever possible.

However the underlying lesson I took from it has broader implications. Whenever you’re trying to force something in life, take a moment to relax. It creates room for introspection, and more often than not I find that the use of force was what was causing an issue in the first place. This is applicable in everything from relationships to getting a sofa through a narrow stairwell.

After a few moments of calm on that disgusting partyhouse toilet, I felt a stirring within, and mercifully began to painfully urinate.

That region of my body is often the source of intense elation, but nothing compared to this. The fear of physical damage drained away with the rest of my useless filth, and were I not sharing this house with other people, I am sure I would have cheered.

I finished my business, washed my hands, and returned downstairs. The living room was now full of my housemates, happy to have their television back. I am sure they assumed my inner glow was a result of beating Nicole in the competition.