"Let him lie in it," my father would tell my mother when she changed my sheets in the middle of the night. "That'll teach him." And after awhile, I guess she grew tired of the ritual and did as he said, leaving it up to me to take care of it. I would get up at night and remove the soiled sheets and place them in the hamper. Sometimes I would put on new ones. Sometimes I would just curl up in my blanket, if it wasn't too wet. Or simply move to the other end of the bed. I tried just lying in it, thinking maybe Dad was right and that I would "learn" not to do it. But on cold nights, the initial warmth would soon fade and I would awake in a pool of freezing liquid, shivering. I would place an old towel over the wet spot and move my body to a drier area.
"What's the matter with you?" My father would ask with contempt and disgust. "Don't you know when you have to go to the bathroom?"
"I don't know," I replied to both questions. When it would happen, I was asleep and would awaken once it was too late and my bladder had already let go. As I got older, it became more upsetting to be startled awake and realize that I had done it yet again. But mostly, it was a comforting feeling. Oh well, I would think and let myself be surrounded by the warm liquid. It felt like love, only more consistent.
"He'll grow out of it," my mother would say. But long after my baby brother, three years younger, could get through the night dry, I was still wet. I began to think there was something horribly wrong with me. Was it possible that my potty-training had gone awry? Did I lack the ability to just hold it? This became painfully evident once I started school and having "accidents." Going to the bathroom had become a horrible and disgusting thing to me and to interrupt a teacher during class was unthinkable. The other kids would laugh at my inability to wait until recess. So, I would sit at my desk and try to hold out. Sometimes, this would work and at break, I would scamper off to the restroom to do my business privately, secretly. But other times, I just couldn't hold it. The blood would drain from my face as I felt my bladder betray me. At first, no one would notice but, inevitably, urine would drip from my seat onto the floor, sometimes making a ridiculous streaming sound and causing some little perfect blond girl to scream. Then they would all stare and laugh. Our teacher would sigh loudly and dismiss me. I would struggle against my tears as I stood up, the seat of my Garanimal pants completely soaked, and I would walk slowly out the door of the classroom.
I was in the principals office often enough to be a delinquent. The office ladies would see my coming and already be on the phone to my mother. When I would get to the door, they would shoo me out. "Wait outside. Your mother is on her way!" Forced to endure even further public humiliation, I would stand on the curb, wet, waiting for Mom. Depending on the time of day, and her disposition, Mom would either take me home and send me upstairs to change or she would bring new pants with her and I would have to go back to class, in unmatching Garanimals. It was around this time that Mom obtained a prescription. A cure! A little pink pill take was guaranteed to stop all "accidents." The only problem was that I was deathly afraid of little pink pills. The first time, I was open enough to the idea, but as soon as it hit my tongue, I could taste the chemical and would become violently nauseated. After that, I would struggle and cry and fight with every fiber of my being to keep that damn thing out of my mouth. Even when they would go down, they didn't work. So, Mom gave up.
Then there was "The Loneliest Runner," a Michael Landon TV movie about a boy whose mother would hang his soiled bedsheets outside the house and he would have to run home from school to retrieve them before anyone saw. The boy becomes a competitive runner and in real life, he became Michael Landon. I hated this movie. But my parents would force me to watch it every time it came on and say things like, "Maybe we should do that to you? What do you think?" To which I eventually replied: "I would run away." Since we lived on the Mexican border, this was deemed a credible threat and they didn't push the issue. But they found other ways to torture me. After all, there was still that undescended testicle...
TO BE CONTINUED...