"Just thought of something," I reply as I rush into anything, any item of clothing that will prevent my small parts from going numb as I make my way to the bathroom.
What my thought consisted of is: I need to go potty. You'd think after twenty years of marriage, I could simply say to my spouse, "I gotta piss like a racehorse." And that would be that. However indelicate that phrase might be, it would have the benefit of being the truth, not to mention striking the right note of desperation.
It takes desperation to pee in the middle of the night at Chicken House. The house is stygian and a breeze ripples down the long uncarpeted hallway as I pad my way towards the back of the house. Even more than the lack of appliances or basic climatic amenties, I find myself routinely flummoxed by the hardware in our rental quarters; For some inexplicable reason, the Kiwi builders of a century ago thought it reasonable to retrofit the house with light switches at about eye level scattered randomly around the house. All the door handles are also at this odd height. I can't find a light. I can't find a door knob. I just bump around in the night like a zombie in a B-grade movie. Before I find the bathroom, I hear Jaime's bed squeaking against the wall and a murmur from my youngest.
Having roused the house with my antics, I now treat them to the pleasant sounds of water plashing into the echoing hollow pit which is the toilet. The cacophony is rendered particularly acute for several reasons. First, Chicken House possesses neither curtains nor carpet while the roof is made of tin. Every familial twitch and twitter bounces around within the kettledrum confines of the hallway and reverberates off the cardboard walls.
The second reason my tinkle resounds like a flash flood through an Arizona arroyo is that I have learned not to put my ass on the toilet seat in the middle of the night. Ceramic, it appears, can actually drop below the freezing temperature of water. Placing warmed butt cheeks on the lid surface results in profound numbness and red ring on the skin that can take hours to fade. So during the night, my privates hang roughly 3 feet above the water level assuring the highest possible volume of sound and splash. It is my hope this tactic will thus avoid a fecal, gluteus toasticus scenario similar to sticking my tongue on a frozen lamp pole.
The third problem is of course that my bladder is full. It is so full that I have been driven from fleece and husband-filled warmth into the dark, frigid night knowing full well that I'm bound to quite literally freeze my ass off. There is a chill, damp wind blowing through the cracks in the window behind me, down the back of my neck, and pooling in a swirling mist at my feet as the torrent goes on and on and on. Long enough that I hear Mera's voice call out in concern, "Mom?! Are you okay?"
Um. A nice little muscle twitch and a frantic attempt to deal with paper, lids, and jammies without making contact with any surface in the bathroom including myself, "Uh… yeah… yeah…" Just what I need. A solicitous pre-teen banging around in the dark with me. "I'm just … cleaning the bathtub!" She must not actually have been awake as silence greets my announcement.
Fumbling around in the dark, I decide that hygiene be damned, I'm going back to bed without numbing my hands under freezing water rubbing a chunk of frozen Ivory fruitlessly between my palms. No self-respecting bacteria could survive the Arctic conditions in Chicken House in any case. Rebounding off the wall a couple of times, I make my way back to my bed, kick off my slippers, and huddle shuddering under the covers.
DrC obligingly curls around me, generously donating unequivocal love and manly warmth to the effort of thawing me out. "Cleaning the bathtub? Is that the new hiking the Appalachian trail?" He sounds hopeful.
"If it wasn't before, it is now…"