Holding Forth

Published on July 28th, 2017 | by Richard Black


Potty Anyone?

A few days ago my wife asked me if I “had to go to the potty?” and I realized that our relationship was in dire straits. Men my age don’t go to the potty. We take a leak. We hit the head. We take a shit. In polite company we go to the restroom or even use the facilities. We do not, and I can’t stress this enough, use the potty.

Women my wife’s age do not use the potty either. Honestly I’m not sure what they do to excuse themselves to take a leak in this day and age. Back in the sixties or fifties or 1800’s women used to “freshen up” or “powder their nose”. Then again women in the 1980’s used to powder their nose a lot too. Men did too but it didn’t have anything to do with voiding their bladders.

I quickly corrected my Laura on her gross misuse of the term “potty” as well as its implications before we went on about our day and everything was lovely. I’m kidding of course. I gave my wife a shitty look, rolled my eyes and  held it in like big boy until we got to the zoo or the store or wherever we were going before saying something about buying some ductape or seeing the walruses and scampering off to the pisser.

I wasn’t upset with the question itself. I’m in my forties after all and the years haven’t always been kind. I’m losing my hair and my body seems to be hell bent on storing up fat for the winter. I’ve even had my fair share of…accidents. I don’t often soil myself but when I do it’s usually after an unholy trifecta of day drinking, unlicensed taco trucks and allergy season but that’s beside the point.

“Potty” is a term used for toddlers who need to be reminded that their bladders or bowels might be full. It is not a word intended for adult consumption and not just because that’s just gross. And yet here we were.  My wife and I are both well entrenched in middle age and she was still asking me if I needed to go to the potty and I, if I’m honest, have asked her the same question.

“Potty” I mulled the term over and over in my brain for…well not days or hours but at least a few minutes. Why does my wife feel compelled to ask me if I need to go to the potty? Why do I feel compelled to ask her the same question? Why, for example, does my father still ask me if I need to use the potty? I’m forty two for the love of God.

The issue kept me up for all of ten or fifteen minutes until I fell into a sound and dreamless sleep…until of course I had to wake up and go to the potty. It was then as I was taking a leak that I had a minor epiphany of sorts.

I recalled potty training my daughter and while it wasn’t the worst experience I’d ever been through it certainly wasn’t pleasant. Darcy took to the toilet fairly quickly but her mother and I were so concerned that she’d have an accident that we would constantly ask her if “she needed to go to the potty” for the next…well four or five years.

To her credit Darcy always gave the thought some consideration before rolling her eyes which was a fairly impressive feat in a three year old. Despite the fact that my daughter pretty much always made it to the toilet her mother and I continued to ask the question.

And then, at some point, Laura and I began to ask each other if the other needed to potty. It may have started as a joke I can’t be sure. What I do know is that however it morphed into a question that we ask each other and our daughter at least two or three times a day.

I’d always thought that I’d become more mature after having a child. It turns out that I’m really just regressing at least when it comes to my vocabulary and ability to have an adult conversation. Before we had our daughter Laura and I used to be able to talk about politics and literature. Now after a long day of stay at home parenting or a stint at the office all we can muster is a query about the state of each other’s bladder.

In a way it’s sweet. At the very least when I or my wife ask each other if “we need to go to the potty” it implies that we’re still concerned about each other. I suppose it’s just one of those pitfalls or milestones that all parents and spouses fall into like overtly farting under the sheets in bed or falling asleep during sex.

My wife and I come from a long line of men and women who can’t express themselves well when it comes to emotion. Maybe asking Laura if she has to go to the potty, and having her do the same of me, might be about as intimate as we can get at this stage in our lives. I’m not happy about it but then again who am I to argue with tradition?

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