Sometime during the summer I was thirteen I wet the bed. This was an anomaly. I had never had issues with bedwetting, even as a small child. I wasn’t ill. I didn’t drink a two liter bottle of soda before I went to bed, I just woke up in the middle of the night and I was pissing myself. I think I lay there for a minute, stunned and half-asleep in my own urine, just not wanting to take whatever was the next consequential step. The windows were open because it was July and the world sounded like someone had spread crickets over its entire surface with a godlike spatula. I listened for signs of insomnia in my house and heard nothing.
After I cleaned myself off and stumbled into a pair of dry underwear, I took my Peanuts® blankets outside onto the second floor deck and spread them out on the sandpaper-like landing. We lived in the rural suburbs and the night was that kind of dark where whites like Peanuts® blankets and fingernails and underwear just barely glowed in whatever pale light reflected off the sky. I sniffed the air a few times to see if I could smell pee but it just smelled like air.
Then there was the problem of the mattress, which I flipped over and commended myself on my logic, although I didn’t have much choice in this matter. I had to go back to sleep, and I wasn’t going to sleep in excrement or try to lie on the fringes of the bed hoping my dormant body didn’t roll into the pis gutter. And now every time I read something suggesting you should flip your mattress as often as the seasons change I laugh a little remembering my thirteen-year-old self revolving a mattress in the middle of the night and thinking only: if you can’t see it, it isn’t there.
And I was right, I suppose. Surprisingly none of this backfired on me. When asked about the blankets I lied and said they smelled funny and needed airing out and was never asked again. The pis dried. The room didn’t smell. Life returned to its ordinary state of non-bed-wetting. The only change I made was making sure I peed before going to bed every night. That was all I could really do.
But I felt sort of betrayed. This may have been the first event that made me realize the human body is wild and precarious. If you can’t trust your body won’t pis itself in the night, then what can you trust? This random night of bed-pissing set me at odds with my body, convinced we were somehow pitted against each other, as though we were two completely separate entities.
But this is not about dualism; it’s actually about drive-in movies.
The evening before the peeing I had spent what felt like (and probably was) hours on the cordless phone with my friend Katy, sitting in the humid dusk on the sandpaper-y deck where I would later spread the pis-blankets. We had discovered the existence of a drive-in movie theatre somewhere in Connecticut and became absurdly preoccupied the way thirteen-year-olds do with the when and how of getting to said drive-in movie theatre. I had never been to a drive-in and believed them to be nostalgic and romantic. I fell in love with the idea in the same way I loved Sunday nights at the donut shop down the street when all the local aficionados would show off their classic cars. I also associated this drive-in magic with the possibility of meeting a BOY even though we would go with Katy’s parents and younger siblings in their Ford Explorer and drive-ins were dark and not conducive to meeting and falling in love with other thirteen (or fourteen) year old boys who would likely also be with their families in family-sized vehicles. Even so, she and I talked on the phone until it was late enough to almost be the next day. I fell asleep excited about the possibility of something new and different and woke up pissing myself, which was new and different, just not in the way I expected.
Life is unpredictable. I would never have predicted that the concept of drive-in movies would one day be inextricable from the concept of bed-wetting, but they are forever symbiotic in my head. I will also permanently associate the song “Kumbaya” with Girl Scout Camp and rice crispy treats with Jehovah’s witnesses. But these are stories for another day.