Hold it!



I attended a two room country school in upstate New York, walking two miles each way on a narrow-shouldered road. Being young and completely uncivilized, I stopped on the road’s edge, lifted my skirt and let it rip whenever I had to pee. I squatted and waved as cars passed and thought nothing of it. But one day, a friend of my parents drove past and reported me for bad conduct. I was instructed to use the bathroom at school before heading home and never to pee alongside the road again.

I was confused. I didn’t have to go at school. I had to go halfway home along the road. How could I regulate that?  I tried skipping my bathroom recess break.

Minutes before school let out I raised my hand to use the bathroom. In those days you had to indicate exactly what you planned to do in the restroom before you were excused.  One finger raised, in view of the entire class, meant you had to pee. Two fingers raised, meant you had to poop. I raised one finger and Mrs. Rathborn, (who lived up to her name by being full of wrath) told me that I could wait. But I definitely could not, so I did the only thing I could do and peed in my seat. When the bell rang I ran out the door, making it half way home before being summoned back. “Mrs. Rathborn wants to see you,” a school chum yelled. “You’re in big trouble and have to go back.”

Mrs. Rathborn towered over my chair, arms folded above her ample chest, gawking at the small lake that filled the carved wooden indent where a butt was supposed to be. “What is this?”  I hated it when people asked questions they already knew the answers to. We both took a moment to stare at the lake. “I had to go and you told me I couldn’t.”  

She glared at my wet skirt, then dispatched me to the girls’ room to retrieve copious amounts of towels.  “If you ever have to go that bad again,” she said, watching me clean it up,  “just excuse yourself and go to the girls’ room.”

Easy for her to say, a person didn’t just do what they needed to do with Mrs. Rathborn hovering.