I didn’t mean to pee at a stranger’s house on my wedding day. But I did.
After Rich and I exchanged our vows and walked back down the aisle together, my friend, Cassie, handed me my first drink as a married woman. Then we lined up, and people hugged and congratulated us. Then we took family photos, wedding party photos, and pictures of just us.
A couple of hours later, our best man, John, chauffeured us down the mountain to my hometown, to the reception.
The distance between the wedding and the reception was 50 miles. Why am I telling you this? Because I never remember going to the bathroom during all those hours of pre-wedding nerves, the ceremony, and then all of the photos.
I realized I needed to pee about halfway to town, and I knew I couldn’t make it. I grew up going camping in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter on this mountain and I knew there was nowhere to stop—other than the side of the highway. And I was having trouble wrapping my head around the visual image of me squatting alongside the road, with my white wedding dress hitched up around my waist.
Gritting my teeth and willing myself not to pee all over my brand new dress, we finally made it to the bottom of the mountain. (Let’s just say the winding roads and a fearless driver probably didn’t help, although he did make good time.) We were still about 10 miles from town when I saw a house up ahead, “That house. I know who lives there. Stop there!”
When I was 18, I moved away from my hometown for college and came back a few summers to work and live rent-free with my parents. Now, I was 29, so it had been a little while since I had lived there. But I was confident I knew whose house it was.
The best man hesitated but hit the brakes anyway, “You know who lives here?”
“You sure you can’t wait?” Rich asked.
“Yes, I’m sure,” I said. “I really need to pee.”
John slowed the car down, and we pulled up to the house. Rich stepped out of the car first, then I slid out across the red plush bench seat of the Cadillac.
I walked up to the door and knocked.
The door opened to someone I did not know.
But my bladder didn’t care.
“Can I use your bathroom? We’re on our way to our reception,” I said, gesturing over my shoulder to my new groom, leaning up against the white Cadillac in his gray suit. “And I really have to pee.”
I don’t remember exactly what she said. But I do remember thinking that someone standing at your front door in a wedding dress might get a little more of a pleasant greeting.
But she agreed to let me in. After she showed me to the tiny bathroom, I managed to get the door closed behind me and my dress. (Which was like trying to stuff a marshmallow into a piggy bank.)
All the movies that show the bride getting assistance from her bridesmaids to use the bathroom are no joke. I really could have used the help getting on the toilet. But, there I was, alone in a stranger’s bathroom.
Then I washed up and made my way out of the house. The three of us loaded into the car; the best man barely contained his laughter as the doors slammed shut.
He laughed at me the whole way to the reception.
“Well, she sure was friendly!” he smirked.
“I swear I knew who lived there! He must have moved,” I said, shrugging my shoulders. But I didn’t care because I felt like I could breathe again.
That’s one of the things about growing up in a small town; you swear you know everyone, and everyone knows you. But this time, that didn’t work out.
I’ve been reflecting on my 38th birthday next month and some life lessons I’ve learned. (Inspired by my Internet friend, Ruth.)
And this is one of the most practical lessons I’ve learned: Never pass up an opportunity to use a bathroom. Even if you don’t think you have to go, or you think you can wait before leaving the house/getting in the car/sitting down to nurse your baby/leaving your wedding.
Just go. You might regret it later.
(Or not, you could end up with a great story to tell.)