There are some places you just don’t want to put your butt.
That’s what I said to my husband when I came out of the loo on a beach in Gozo a few days ago.
Because the thing about marriage is that, whether you want to or not, you have to listen to the other person’s stories. It’s in the vows. I speak, you listen, nod and say ‘No way!’ whenever there’s a silence. A commitment to looking interested whilst your partner shares whatever bullsh*t they wish to divulge is at the heart of every happy relationship.
Now for some context:
We spent the last 10 days on Malta and Gozo. It’s beautiful there, the food is delicious, and I drank a mango daiquiri which was so sweet that I swear I heard my teeth cry. It was a great trip.
But unfortunately, a few days in, I got a hard dose of sunstroke. I took my eye off the hydration ball and tumbled fast into a state of pain and confusion I wish never to return to. It was chuffing horrible.
And as a result, once I’d pulled my mind back together and felt able to start consuming solid foods (I’d like to take a moment to thank Nutella for helping me believe that I would indeed experience joy again), I committed to chucking back water for the rest of the holiday like it was going out of fashion. I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. It was partly paranoia and partly because it was 34 degrees outside and if I didn’t keep my liquids topped up, I was bound to find myself with another one-way ticket to sunstroke town, and that is somewhere you only want to go to once. Think of it like the Times Square of illnesses. Once in a lifetime is plenty.
But the thing about drinking endless amounts of water is it makes you need the toilet. A lot. Now, if you know me, you will not think this is news. I always need the toilet. It’s my thing. Some people have their hair or their looks or their incredible Donald Duck impression as their thing, whereas I have my weak bladder. If I can ever find a way to make money from it, my god I will.
But this was ridiculous. It made my usual toilet frequenting look positively irregular. But I saw the need as a good thing. Because when you have sunstroke you don’t need the toilet at all, because your body is desperately trying to keep hold of every drop of moisture it can to keep you alive. HAVE I CREATED ENOUGH OF A SENSE OF DRAMA YET BECAUSE IT FELT VERY REAL FOR ME AT THE TIME.
Anyway, so that’s how I came to find myself on a beautiful beach in Gozo, ready to burst if I couldn’t get my toilet on and fast.
So I opened the portable loo door, and instantly added yet another instance to my memory bank of times when I wished I was a man and could stand up to go to the toilet. I won’t go into it, but things were a little grim and I did NOT want to sit on that. But one way or another I had to go, my bladder was not messing around.
My mum has always tried to instil three core beliefs in me: 1. Always cook your chicken properly; 2. Never wear shoes in the house; and 3. Always crouch over a public loo. Now, I have nailed 1 and 2 – I take my cooking very seriously and the mere thought of a shoe wearing foot wandering around my house makes me SHUDDER, but when it comes to 3 I have let her down due to a combination of weak thigh muscles and utter laziness. But on this occasion it was either hover or don’t bother (and P.S if I ever get a tattoo, I think that’s what I’ll go for). I had no choice.
So I went for it. And just like every other major milestone I’ve reached, I needed some seriously positive self-talk to help me through: “Ok, we can do this!” “Come on, Reeve*, you’re almost there!” “Mum would be so proud of you right now!” “Gosh, wouldn’t it be awful if this whole thing toppled over!”
*Reeve was my surname before I got married. In situations where I need to motivate or berate myself, this is the name I opt for. The single syllable is particularly effective at such times.
And I did it. I strolled out of there laughing and swinging my hips and high-fiving every fellow holidaymaker I passed. OK, the last part isn’t true – I wasn’t going to touch ANYTHING until I’d doused myself in anti-bacterial hand wash.
I rejoined my husband underneath our beach umbrella and regaled him with my tales from the portable toilet, whilst he smiled and nodded and wondered if it really would have been so bad if he’d just remained single.
The thought of my achievement, my ability to put mind over matter, and the prospect of whatever marvellous triumph I might take on next kept me smiling right up until the moment when I started to need to go to the toilet all over again.
That may have been the proudest three minutes of my life.