A sort of life

A hymn to yesterday

RICHMOND, Va. — Since it’s been all about the honesty these last couple of days, I think it’s time we have a chat about what may be my greatest weakness.

Man, especially when endorsed by kindhearted women, drinking problems, or untenable loneliness, is capable of tremendous feats. His latent talent is unquenchable. He is unstoppable.

Except man, even an exceptionally notable man, is only human. We are fallible. And I, as a man, have one great weakness. I have a shy bladder.

I didn’t always.

There was a time I could urinate anytime, and anywhere I wanted. I needed no motivation. In fact, I recall several such scenes: in the bushes behind a 35A bus stop with a scenic view of the Friedensreich Hundertwasser incinerator, chanting, “Floppy nut-sack!” which was what we called a classmate whose real name was Fabi Patzak. Fabian Patzak.

Then there was the time Ardi Maher and I used a building off Gymnasiumstrasse after a Limp Bizkit concert. We were drunk and found ourselves at some Mexican themed bar a few blocks from my place. It was there the two of us made sweet conversation with two older beauties. Actually, I slurred and Ardi talked. And in retrospect, they were probably pros.

Then there was those too few times at the “quarry,” where Justin Young and I took turns guarding the cooler as the other stumbled over those passed out and those making out — finding his way to the trees.

Those were the days.

Now, I can’t seem to find relief. I felt my prowess slipping when I moved to Australia. I can still remember the day. I had just gotten off of a moonlight cruise. I was on a boat that had sailed in the America’s Cup. In fact, I believe it won the America’s Cup in the early eighties. It may have even been the last Australian vessel to win the cup. Anyway, I had just stepped off, and having consumed a great many ounces of champaign and many a bottle of pale ale, I decided to stumble into the w/c.

It was there I stood, johnson in hand, when the captain of the ship I was just on rocked up to the urinal next to me. He was a funny guy. A fruit. And though, I could care less about ones sexual preferences, this guy bothered me. It might have been his handle bar mustache. It might have been his looking down at my junk, but I just couldn’t find respite. He finished and left. And I still couldn’t go.

Ever since that day I’ve had trouble going at any urinal. It’s gotten progressively worse. At first I was still able to do what I had to do provided there was a buffer zone of two or more urinals. But when I drank, I needed bigger and bigger buffer zones. Which of course was bad news since I tend to frequent establishments that have small, squeeze in tight spaces. And then I just couldn’t do it anymore.

So I sought sanctuary in the stalls. This was great. Privacy. Space to take your time. But then that too began to get tough. I was at a Redskins game at Jack Kent Cooke stadium and in a stall and I froze up. The pressure of a room filled with liquored men queued a mile long was too much to take. And so the slow decent continued.

Then last week I went to the movies. Urinal, stall, I had nothing. I had to go home to find it.

And laugh if you want, I’m chuckling here, but this is a devastating thing. Every pundit I’ve talked to has told me I could rule the world if it weren’t for this one weakness. And worse, I don’t know how it’s going to end. What if it gets worse? What do I do then?

Which brings me back to the beginning. It’s about honesty — and now you know about my kryptonite. And brunettes.

“A hymn to yesterday” is from Volume One: Frank’s Wild Years (1983–2009). Written between 2003 and 2009, Volume One was this author’s attempt to find meaning from life as a young twenty-something. While this endeavor would ultimately fail, what remains is a comical tale of loneliness and debauchery.

A half-read book is a half-finished love affair

A half-read book is a half-finished love affair

A bible lays open in the empty sanctuary at Emmaus United Church of Christ on December 7, 2005.