We have learned so many new ways of doing things during the pandemic. But in all likelihood, none is as weird as what award-winning essayist Paula Ganzi McGloin learned to do on a long drive from Delaware to upstate New York. What she learned is, urinating in a moving vehicle is no easy task for a woman!
My step-daughter, Casey, was expecting her second child and asked her dad and me if we would stay with them to watch her first child, Rowan, when his little sister arrived.
We were thrilled!
Then the pandemic changed the world. After quarantining, there was the issue of getting from our house to theirs, a six-hour drive, without breathing in others’ germs.
“Can I ask that you not use the rest stops along the way?” Casey requested. I got that. If someone without a mask in the rest stop coughed or sneezed, we might unknowingly walk into an invisible Covid cloud.
Online searches for female urination devices generated pages of pink gadgets: The Tinkle Belle, GoGirl, and SheeWee Flexi, advertising the convenience of “no need to bare all your assets” and “wee whenever.” I purchased a pink silicone funnel-shaped device, the tip fitting into a long clear extension tube.
Came the morning of our trip— with a cooler full of sandwiches, grapes, water and ice tea—I knew there was no way I’d make it from southern Delaware to Ithaca, New York , without urinating.
But I was still a virgin to going-on-the-go. At my feet was a tote bag containing the device, hand sanitizer, wash cloth, and an empty water bottle. I placed part of a beach towel on my seat, the extra length left to the side for coverage.
Ninety minutes into the drive came the moment of truth. Billy drove into a mall parking lot, deserted due to the early hour, and stopped near a patch of woods where he could get out of the car and relieve himself.
“I’ll let you know when I’m done,” I said, still in the car, dismissing my husband.
After glancing around, I adjusted my skirt and panties and put the device in place. Before letting go, I braced my feet on the panel below the glove compartment, perpendicular to the floor to lift my bottom off the seat. There was a split second before the point of no return, when I couldn’t help second-guessing placement, angles, and coverage. And then— with my body arched, feet braced, one hand holding the device in place and the other holding the neck of the bottle with the inserted extension tube— I let go.
Whoosh! The sound of splashing filled the car as a warm, golden stream gushed through the tube and into the bottle. When I was done, I capped the bottle, used the washcloth, and adjusted my skirt. After a squirt of hand sanitizer, I declared the adventure a success and beckoned Billy.
“How did it go?”
On our return trip, we stopped at Billy’s property which he uses for camping. It’s part forest, part field with a small shed on a deserted mountainside, the birdcalls and hunters’ gunshots the only sounds piercing the quiet. Billy needed something from the shed, I didn’t even need to get out of the car. But when nature called, I decided to try the device standing up.
Leaning against the car, everything in place— wow, that’s easy! I thought of Elaine Benes’ remark about the male anatomy in the Seinfeld shrinkage episode: “I don’t know how you guys walk around with those things.” But as I stood directing the tube effortlessly here and there, I appreciated for the first time the convenience of a penis.