I come from a very long line of Mormons. Both sides of my family helped settle Utah and we’ve been here ever since. Being Mormons, my family also has a tendency to breed like a family of rabbits. I have seven aunts and uncles by blood on one side, and five on the other. I have five brothers and sisters and something like forty cousins.
All of my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents live within about a twenty mile span of each other. This has many benefits (think how quickly we can move people in and out of homes, and night games are always packed) and a couple of downsides, one of which nearly ended my parents’ marriage.
My mom’s mom had six children, and as a consequence knows how to cook. Every time we would go over to her house as children, she would stuff us with cakes, cookies, candy, chocolate milk, pop, marshmallows, entire bags of licorice, whole turkeys, etc.
She lived about a half hour away from us, which often presented problems on the way home.
Normally it was one of my younger siblings (I am the oldest) that had the issues with bladder control. On one memorable night, however, it was my dad.
We had had a typical family gathering, with bottomless supplies of pop, punch and assorted goodies. My dad at the time was a hopeless addict to Diet Coke, and had consumed roughly half his body weight in Coke cans.
In addition, Dad is a type 1 diabetic. When his blood sugar goes too high, his body, in a desperate attempt to stop onslaught of sugar coursing through his blood vessels, tends to do this:
On this particular night, my siblings and I had been dragged screaming from the house (who doesn’t want to stay at Grandma’s?) and forcibly buckled into the van. In all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, Dad forgot to use the bathroom.
As we began the drive home, my dad’s grip on the wheel became tighter and tighter, and we started going faster and faster. His left eye began to twitch. His legs started shaking. Once we hit the country roads, I think we were in danger of breaking the sound barrier. My mom leaned over to him and asked, “Dear, do you realize you’re going ninety five around the curves?”
“No choice, no choice,” Dad wailed hysterically.
We started snickering in the back seats. This, we felt, was divine punishment for not letting us stay longer at Grandma’s.
About fifteen minutes from home Dad snapped. He slammed on the brakes hard enough that the airbags were in danger of deploying and we skidded to halt on the shoulder, leaving a trail of molten rubber behind us.
I should point out now that it was about ten o’clock and pitch black outside. We were miles from anywhere and the only source of illumination was the van’s headlights. My dad had positioned the van so it shone out over a fence and a field. He began clawing at his seatbelt, and almost had his fly unzipped before the door was open. “I’ll just be a minute,” he gasped, waddling toward the fence.
We sat in silence for a moment, my sister and I suppressing giggles. Then my mom piped up.
“DO IT DO IT DO IT” We chanted from the back. So my mom quickly climbed into the driver’s seat, started the car and peeled away. We all burst out laughing.
My mom drove about five hundred feet down the road, then did a U turn and pulled back up to where Dad was. We all expected to see my father, chortling merrily as he walked to the van, telling us we’d succeeded in giving him a good scare.
When my dad re-entered the van’s headlights, however, we were greeted with this:
“What did Daddy spill all over himself?” asked my youngest sister. My mom fought the sudden urge to lock the doors and drive away again.
Dad was already gesticulating forcefully as he began staggering to the passenger side. He opened the door to climb in and I swear our hair was swept back as a torrent of sound washed over us. I wondered briefly if Dad had acquired Turrets’ syndrome, because what he was saying was disjointed, foul, and distorted from rage.
It took a few minutes for my mom to calm him down enough that we could understand what happened.
Dad had stood there, feeling extremely relieved as he did his business, when the engine unexpectedly roared to life behind him and he was plunged into sudden darkness.
He whirled around (still doing his business) and watched the van pull away. At that point, his fatherly instincts kicked in, and fearing that something terrible had happened he sprang into action. He began chasing after the van.
Unfortunately, his brain forgot to send other commands to his body besides “RUN.”
The first one would have been to pull his pants back up. The second command would have been an order to watch out for the barbed wire all over the ground from the decaying fence. The third (and I would argue most important) command, which should have been given priority, would have been to stop peeing.
Within four seconds, the following happened:
We sat in silence the rest of the way home. I think my dad thought it was out of sorrow for the horrible thing we had done. He didn’t know that I had put a hand over the mouths of two of my sisters to stop them from laughing and I was biting my own lip so hard it was bleeding. My mom had apologized both sincerely and profusely, but I later found fingernail marks in the steering wheel from where she had gripped it in a desperate attempt to hold in her own laughter.
I think Dad burned those pants in a fit of pique. Not long after, we sold the van. He claimed it was because we had another baby on the way. I think it was really because he couldn’t look at that van without remembering that hysterical summer night his bladder got its revenge.
I know I couldn’t.