Last week you learned that I pee when I laugh too much. This happened a lot in grade school. In fifth grade I began my friendship with the bus driver because of blotches left by pee. He found a way to deal with the problem without embarrassing me.
In seventh grade I also met gentleness with regard to my peeing. But this time I knew real embarrassment.
The incident began when Sister Mary McCauley, our seventh grade teacher, asked our class to speak for three minutes about something that interested us.
One by one we walked resolutely up to the front of the room. The boys mostly talked about wars and westerns. One of them had been to Yellowstone and described Old Faithful. The girls related how she’d learned to play the piano. Several talked about their favorite movie stars. One classmate had seen the Atlantic Ocean and talked about the thunder of its waves.
When my time came, I hurried down the aisle to the front of the room. Already a history buff, I’d chosen to talk about the Liberty Bell that hung in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia.
The boys knew my weakness because we’d all gone through grade school together. So as soon as I started talking, they crossed their eyes and tried on their most grotesque faces. I started giggling.
Then it happened: pee trickled down my legs. I tried holding them tightly together, but that only made the boys redouble their efforts.
More drips and dribbles.
I stood in a spreading puddle of pee.
I had to talk for three minutes to get a good grade, so I forged on with facts and dates.
The pee wet the tops of my white anklets.
The puddle kept spreading around my white and brown saddle shoes.
How much pee does a kid’s bladder hold? I wondered.
Finally, I finished and raced down the aisle to my desk. Maybe when I sat down, the pool of pee would magically disappear.
Sister Mary McCauley’s voice brought me to a halt. “Dolores, there seems to be a wet spot on the floor. Would you please get a rag and wipe it up. I’d appreciate that.”
The boys guffawed; the girls tittered.
I got a rag from the closet, wiped up the puddle, trashed the sodden cloth, and sat down quietly at my desk. Behind me, a classmate who was sweet on me whispered, “I liked your speech best.”
Well, at least it was the most entertaining. A real show-and-tell.