My husband insisted that, after four solid months of almost total social isolation, that we had to go to the beach. Every year, his parents rent a beach house on the Outer Banks. Every year, each of the three siblings are expected to converge, with their children, for at least a week. Generally, we stagger visits, but there’s always a few days when like, fourteen people share four bedrooms, and the screams of eight children echo from the walls. Global pandemic? F*ck it. We were driving seven hours through pandemic land to get there. No excuses.
I reminded my husband COVID cases were spiking to record levels in North and South Carolina.
I reminded my husband I had become more than slightly agoraphobic.
I reminded my husband that this year, we’d have fourteen people in one house and no escape.
But f*ck it, pandemic land it was.
I Made Stipulations
If he insisted on a seven hour drive through the wilds of pandemic land, I had several stipulations that would be followed to the letter or I was not accompanying him, and neither were our children. I was not getting COVID-19 from some hacking tourist. I had rules. And these rules had to be followed.
No drive-thrus, because they involved interaction with an actual human being. We would carry all of our own food and drinks. No going through fast food joints, no stopping in convenience stores.
The only stop would be for gas, would occur once, and would involve excessive sterilization.
No public restrooms.
We have three boys. They could learn to pee in bottles or whatever.
I assumed we still had their frog potty, and I’d peed in the frog potty before while driving long distance.
So We Got Ready
We packed for the drive through pandemic land: all the shit we needed for the beach and then some, because not only would we be at the beach, we’d be trapped in a house not our own with a bunch of other people related to me only by marriage. Eight of those people would be between three and ten years old. These people would need amusement that wasn’t a tablet or an endless loop of Gravity Falls and Ducktails. That meant board games and toys. My husband wanted to drag along a lot of condiments. I wanted to drag along a lot of Red Bull. The things toted through pandemic land required a car carrier.
I was informed, a week before our drive, that we did not have a frog potty.
I was handed a plastic pink device that fit over my privates and funneled pee into a sort of a thin stream.
During our trip through pandemic land, I was expected to pee in a bottle.
We Hit the Road Into Pandemic Land
My husband had some brilliant idea that since the kids weren’t really eating lunch, but rather subsisting on snackage from the hours of about ten o’clock to seven o’clock, we’d just bring two boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts, which they were guaranteed to snarf. And they did, indeed, snarf some for breakfast. My husband packed a large cooler full of iced teas in bottles, which, when drunk, would double as Pee Bottles.
We had driven for about two hours into pandemic land before a Pee Bottle became necessary.
But we were safe. We stopped at a rest area and pulled to a far distance from any cars. Iced tea bottles had been emptied. I had various computers and purses at my feet, so I couldn’t really plant my feet on the ground. I wedged myself backwards, dropped my pants, mooning the woods and any errant truckers, and tried to pee.
But my kids were talking and peeing and I was wedged in a car and there was a pink thing and a bottle and fuck that.
“I can’t pee,” I told my husband.
“We can try again later,” he said.
Pee Became An Issue Driving Through Pandemic Land
Pee discipline became lax. The kids drank a ton of iced tea, and when they had to pee, my husband began simply passing back a bottle, telling them to make sure they capped it up really, really well, and to be careful. I had to receive the bottle of warm pee.
We ran out of pee bottles somewhere in the middle of North Carolina. Our six-year-old was whining to pee, and we were out of pee bottles. My husband opened the window and tried to pour the pee out the window. It all splashed back on his arm. He uttered words that should not be heard in the presence of children. But our six-year-old did get to pee.
Finally, I had to pee really really really bad. Like, my-bladder-hurts bad. My husband pulled off an exit on I-95 into Deliverance Country, where I was expecting banjos and waiting for the scary men to emerge from the woods when I dropped trou and wedged myself and finally, finally, finally began peeing.
My legs became very, very, very warm.
As it turns out, I have the peeing aim of a three-year-old boy, and had just peed all over my jeans. The rest hit the bottle. I cried. I told my husband he needed to get on top of the car, into the carrier, and find me a pair of shorts. I sat with the door open in the middle of nowhere with pee pants in pandemic land waiting for plague squirrels/murder hornets/herpes monkeys to appear, bawling, until my husband handed me a pair of Daisy Dukes. I shucked off my jeans and stuffed them in the bottom of the wheel well.
I smelled pee for the rest of the drive.
No one ate any donuts and the kids were about to kill each other out of hangry. My husband and I chugged Red Bull, ignored the mounting pee bottles, and sang David Bowie very loudly: And I don’t wanna live with somebody’s depression…
When we got to the beach, every hard surface in the house had to be sterilized. I chased five children on the beach and nearly collapsed on the sand. We had made it through pandemic land. And I had to pee again.
But I had to wait until they sterilized the goddamn toilet seat.