John Duffy






Long Voyage Home

Before we all left Outback Steakhouse, my uncle signaled that he had to go to the bathroom. Otherwise, he said, he’d piss himself on the way home. My dad and I laughed. Do people actually do that? Piss themselves while driving?

Look, when it comes to road pissing, I’ve been in a lot of tight situations. Pee bottles, window blasters, pinch and holds, yellow submarines—I’ve been around, which is why I wasn’t that worried when, 10 minutes into my hour-long commute back home, I realized that I had to piss.

You may not know this, but your piss calculus changes a lot when you’re on the road.  I had about 50 minutes left.  Worst case, I’d pull into a gas station or a rest area. Or I could do literally one million other things to relieve myself. Same goes for the 40 minute mark, the 30 minute, and so on. A million choices. No big deal. 

But then something happens. The piss urges occur more frequently, each with a fury exponentially greater than the last. It may not be so bad right now, but when you’re barreling down the highway in a Honda subcompact and it circles back around, you’re gonna sweat a little—I promise you.

With 20 minutes to go, I realized that something serious needed to happen or I was completely hosed.  With my eyes on the road, I poked around on the floor looking for wide-mouth bottles, fast food containers—really, anything that could house the piss. At this stage, pissing into an old Chalupa wrapper actually seemed like a good idea. 

Ask any long-haul trucker and they’ll tell you the same thing: when you finally hit CODE RED status, the millions of choices you used to have actually dwindle to, like, two or three. That’s when you have to commit to something, and those two or three choices are usually 100% terrible. 

I was moving at 80mph and it was full-on raining. Concrete jungle, no major exits, no pee bottles, no choice. It was going to happen, so I needed a plan.

I remembered that my ill-fitting floor mats—designed for a completely different type of vehicle—were produced by Weather Tech, that company that advertises on TV. You see a guy with snow boots, and all the shit that he tracks into the car melts away and conveniently pools in the center of the mat.  They say they’re, like, designed by lasers or something. Fuck it, I thought. I’ll just turn on cruise control, unzip, and hope for a miracle. Worst case, I’d hit the steering column and it would splash back. (Or, I’d straight up crash the car and die.) Best case, the piss stream would form an arc that would land surgically into the floor mat’s laser-contoured moisture receptacle.

With no time to think it through, I blasted straight forward and pinched off. The relief lasted about three minutes until the urge came back, ripping through my shit so hard that I had no choice but to full-pressure-fire-hose it again. This time, I had managed to stop on an exit ramp near my house. The incline was steep and I could hear the piss pool sloshing around next to my foot. It hit the rear barrier of the mat, splashed over, and absorbed into the carpet. 

By the time the last blast hit—the most intense of them all—my confidence was shattered: I would not be able to hold it until I made it back. With no choice left, I fully surrendered to the piss urge. My day, my week, my life, everything was worth fuck all because tonight I’m pissing in my car. I let it rip and did what had to be done, right there, doors closed, windows up, with just a block to go before I was home.

When I pulled into the driveway, I could hear the piss pool splash over the side of the Weather Tech mat again. I got out, folded it like a taco, and emptied it onto the lawn. I’ll be god damned, I thought. Aside from the piss that absorbed into the seat and the surrounding carpet, that floor mat actually worked! 

I ended up spraying the affected areas with Windex and patting them down with a piece of paper towel.  No telling if it would do anything, but it seemed like a good idea. Then I went back inside.

Long day. Long year, in fact. I set my alarm and went to sleep. Fuck it, I thought. It’ll probably disappear.