A trip fraught with hazards


Dennis Mattingly - Contributinng columnist



I’m quickly approaching 68 years old, which means all of my body parts are just as old.

At this age, your body gives you much less warning about autonomic physiological events, i.e. sneezing, coughing, or the need to empty a full bladder, among others.

Sometimes these events are interrelated, such as sneezing and peeing your pants. On the rare occasion when God seems to be in need of a good laugh, He sets into motion the circumstances, aided by the aging body, necessary to create a situation only dreamed of by comedians.

Last week, after only two nights in our Tennessee home, a storm came through and knocked our power out at about 1 a.m. Unfortunately, we were sound asleep and noticed neither the storm nor the dogs who had climbed in bed with us. They hate storms.

I used to be able to drive from Cincinnati to Jellico, Tennessee, without stopping to go potty. Now, when the urge hits, I dare go no farther than the next exit. Period.

So, at 2:30 a.m., when nature arouses you from a good sleep, men my age have about three minutes, at most, to get to the potty. And when you have lived in the same house for 30-plus years, this exercise can be done in the dark.

However, when you are in a new home only two nights, and haven’t even unpacked the multitude of boxes, things like light switches and electricity are essential. Sadly, an old bladder don’t care about such facts.

As I rolled out of bed, I tried to remember where the light switches were. It was pitch dark, and as I stumbled toward what I thought was the bedroom door, I stepped on the cat, really hard. She let out a screech, and when I jumped, my arm knocked the lamp off the table, momentarily distracting me from reaching my intended goal within that three-minute window.

I found a doorknob, which turned out to be the closet. The next doorknob was the correct one, and led me into the hallway.

The bathroom was the second door on the left, or was that the laundry door? My mind raced. In about 90 more seconds, the washing machine might have to suffice. My wife was still sound asleep, so she would never know.

Then, like Dorothy discovering her magic shoes, I found the bathroom door.

Now the obstacle was finding the potty in a bathroom, which was extremely dark and not the least bit familiar.

As most will immediately understand, the edge of a porcelain toilet is equal in height to the shin bone of the adult leg, and porcelain toilets are sufficiently anchored to the floor to eliminate the slightest movement when struck by the tibia.

But don’t get ahead of me, because right at that moment, I suffered a sneezing attack, and as I sneezed the third time, my right shin bone found the hard porcelain potty, which my bladder accepted as proof that I had reached my destination.

Thanks to my bronchitis, I was unable to make more than a low, raspy cry for help from my still sleeping wife. In complete darkness, I managed to find my phone, now thankful for the flashlight mode.

And with that piece of technology, I got a shower, cleaned up, put my clothes in the washer, and returned the lamp to its upright location.

By that time, all three dogs were on my side of the bed. I ended up on the couch with the limping cat.

Today I bought about five nightlights with a battery backup.

I think the cashier at the local hardware store, about my age, knew exactly why I needed them.

Maybe he knew since I was limping, too.

Dennis Mattingly is a resident of Sabina.

Dennis Mattingly

Contributinng columnist