When I was in fifth grade, we had two teachers—Mrs. DeNoon and Mrs. Something Else Equally Weird That I Can’t Remember. Mrs. DeNoon was my homeroom teacher who taught math and science, and after lunch we’d switch classes and have reading and social studies, I guess, because what do fifth graders even learn in school? Anyway, after lunch we’d line up in the hallways and use the bathroom before we switched classrooms. Usually I would not go, mostly because I didn’t want to be in the bathroom with the other guys because usually I’d be stuck in there at the same time as some other idiot who would relish the temporary absence of an authority figure and piss all over the floor or hang from the window sill while screaming or, I don’t know, slamming himself into the stalls. These were the kids that I went to school with, I swear to god. All I wanted to do was sit around quietly and read my books and not have to go to PE and have a fucking chance to sit in the tire swing for longer than three minutes, which was impossible goddammit because there was always a line of about twenty kids for the entirety of our thirty minutes of recess, and they always fucking got there before I did I’m pretty sure I spent a combined eight minutes in that tire swing throughout the entirety of 1995.
Instead of using the bathroom after lunch, I’d usually hold it until about an hour into the class in the afternoon. This was precarious situation, obviously, and occasionally I wouldn’t be able to hold it and would ask Whatever Her Face—the one who once responded to my mother’s suggestion that I didn’t have enough homework (not, of course, suggesting that I, alone, deserved to do more homework, but that the entire class, as fifth graders, were perhaps not being appropriately prepared for middle school, because, you know, my mother is a fucking genius at early childhood education, being someone who worked on computers for the Navy and not someone who was in charge of the education of about twenty children) by giving me, and me alone, extra work and, after I complained, said, “Well, talk to your mother about it, she’s the one who told me to do it”—if I could go to the bathroom. She’d let me go, begrudgingly.
Then one afternoon she didn’t. “You had the chance to go after lunch!” she shouted at me in front of everyone. “You’re just going to have to hold it.” So I did. I held it for about another half-hour which was spent trying to avoid bouncing that cheap desk on my thighs which I could not keep still for fear that relaxing my legs would only result in an unstoppable stream of urine drenching my pants. Finally I asked her again if I could go, and she loudly sighed and said yes.
And then I ran the fuck down the hall, not even worried that someone would see me, because THIS WAS SERIOUS. I jumped in front of one of those tiny urinals and hastily unzipped my pants. BUT IT WAS TOO LATE. I peed my pants while standing in front of the urinal. There is no greater image of personal failure than that, I am afraid.
Naturally, I started sobbing. That’s how I got through most crises in elementary school! (And, let’s be honest, middle school.) I huddled to the nurse’s office with the utmost shame and discomfort just in time for the vice principal to step out of her office, take one look at me, sigh and mutter, “I’ll call your grandmother, Tyler.” (I think her number might have been on speed-dial at that point.”
When my grandmother came to pick me up, she demanded to speak to my teacher. At the time, my teacher was this old, terrifying woman, although now I realize she was probably younger than I am and suddenly confronted by my grandmother, who was actually an old, terrifying woman. She tried to explain to my grandmother that I had the opportunity to go to the bathroom after lunch, to which my grandmother replied, “So why the hell does that give you the authority to tell a child that he cannot go to the bathroom when he needs to? If you needed to go to the bathroom, would you sit there for a couple of hours until you had urine running down your legs?” Embarrassed and shaken, my teacher asked me, “Why didn’t you go after lunch?!” Embarrassed myself (AND DESERVEDLY SO), I just blabbered, “I didn’t want to go with the other boys!”
This, of course, she heard as me being uncomfortable around other boys rather than not wanting to get in trouble when one of my classmates took a shit on the floor, because this was fifth grade and the appropriate punishment style back then was, “Oh, you were within close proximity to someone who took a dump on the floor and then kicked it around with his shoe so that he could cover as much of the tile as possible with his own shit? NO RECESS FOR YOU, TYLER!” And FUCK THAT, I just wanted to have the chance to sit in that goddamn tire swing. So, naturally, my cruel teacher told me that this could be our little secret, and that whenever I had to go to the bathroom all I had to do was just slip out quietly, because she understood and was so sorry, and then she patted herself on the back and went back to teaching our class. Of course, I was left there thinking, “You idiot woman, how is this our little secret when I left class for the rest of the day after everyone saw me nearly piss my pants, and also how’s it going to look when I can just leave class whenever I fucking feel like it and everyone else has to ask permission to use the restroom? Goddammit, can I just be home-schooled now?”
Anyway, long story short: Fuck you, Buzzfeed, there’s absolutely no way you could ever make me wish I was back in fifth grade ever again, you idiots.