Peeing in a cup is a difficult and daunting task that women forget about… until that moment when the nurse hands you the dreaded plastic cup and points to the restroom down the hall. You see, for girls and for women, peeing in a cup is like trying to catch a fly ball when the sun is in your eyes. You just hold the baseball glove in the air and pray that the ball doesn’t smack you in the face. Maybe if the cup was a different shape, it might be easier. But its not—it’s a circle, and a small one at that.
And it never gets easier. Every time feels like the first time; and I have a pretty clear memory of being a scared little girl alone in a strange bathroom looking at the cup and thinking, “How exactly am I supposed to do this?” I still ask that question when looking at that cup, dreading what’s to come and just praying that everything will go smoothly. It’s a humbling experience that will likely make even the most mature, most brilliant women feel like terrified little girls. And I think it’s because, like trying to catch a fly ball that you can’t see, you have so little control in the matter.
Here’s the deal if you don’t already know what it’s like for a woman to pee in a cup: it is tricky because you cannot see what you’re doing. You can’t see where the cup is in relation to where the pee is coming from and you can’t see, or even accurately map the pee’s trajectory. You also can’t see how much you are releasing into the cup. You don’t want to “give it all you got,” so to speak. But you are supposed to fill it up to the line the nurse marks for you, which isn’t a whole lot of pee but more than a little bit. You definitely don’t want too much, because then you have to make a weird decision to either present an overly full cup of pee to the nurse or try to pour some of it out, both of which are just strange situations to be in. With all of that, there’s a lingering fear that you will miss and pee on the edge of the cup, or worse, on your hand.
My most recent experience was even more unpleasant than I expected, despite my thinking that it’s no big deal–I’ve done this before and I can do it again, no problem! It was a year ago and I had to take a drug test for a job. It was early in the morning and all I wanted was to get in and get out quickly.
The nurse hands me the cup and guides me to the bathroom where whatever shred of self-confidence and whatever amount of grace and poise I try to hold onto, vanishes very quickly. Sure enough, there’s a mark on the cup. I approach the task with contrived confidence. After 30 years of life in this world, here I sit: awkwardly placed on a toilet, legs spread wider than usual, one hand holding my dress up around my ribs and the other hand with a small cup searching for the right spot, just as I did as a child.
You can do this. Just pee a little. Stop peeing. Lift up the cup. Not enough. Reposition the cup. Add more pee. Careful! Not too much! Stop peeing. Lift up the cup. Still not enough. Add more pee. Only a little. How much is a little? Lift up the cup. DAMNIT! Almost there. Try again. Pee. STOP!!! Lift up the cup. Finally!
And finally I sit, continuing to pee without the cup, like a normal human. Feeling relieved in the moment, I very quickly realize that I’m not out of the woods just yet. Remember, I have one hand holding up my dress and the other holding the cup of pee. And I still have a couple things to do before I’m free, including pulling up tights.
First things first: I need some toilet paper. To free one hand, I let go of my dress and carefully pull it around to my lap. And I really try to get by with only one hand, but the toilet paper is kind of far away. At every attempt to rip the toilet paper, more toilet paper comes rolling… cascading out of the dispenser and onto the floor (which was quite dirty for a medical facility). There I am, a grown woman sitting awkwardly on a toilet with the skirt of my dress wadded up on my lap, one hand holding a cup of pee, and the other hand holding the end of a recklessly formed pile of toilet paper on the floor. This is ridiculous, I thought. I need to use both hands.
I hadn’t even noticed until I did. There’s no lid. THERE IS NO LID. Bizarre as it seems, I make the decision to be okay with setting down the cup of pee without a lid. But where? I look around. On top of the sink? It’s even further away than the toilet paper dispenser, and too small. On top of the toilet paper dispenser? Not enough space. You might think that on the back of the toilet is a good place. It’s not. It’s slanted. Where the fuck! The floor? THE FLOOR?!
So again, there I am, a grown, 30 year-old woman with my professional attire in a crumpled heap on my lap, sitting uncomfortably on a toilet between my own mound of toilet paper on the floor to my left and my lidless cup of pee on the floor to my right. The cup of pee is staring at me, daring me to kick it over. And I want to. In my growing frustration, I want to kick something, anything, especially that cup of pee. But I don’t because I’m a grown ass woman.
Finally, FINALLY, I am standing. My tights are up, my dress is back in position. I am NOT kicking over the cup of pee. Instead, before I wash my hands, I pick up my mess of toilet paper that I childishly created, and I throw it away. The icing on the cake for this story, or if you will, the lid on your cup of pee, is this: not only is there no soap to wash my hands with, but the faucet is broken. I try shifting the handle in every direction about a million times. There is no water. I can’t even rinse. Even if I could rinse, there are no paper towels and there is no hand dryer. Fuck it.
I walk out of that horrid bathroom with a warm, lidless cup of pee in hand. My chest is out and my head is high. I’m walking down that hallway, which was pretty short, with cool ferocity–but still careful to not spill the pee. I’m glaring at everything in sight as if even the chairs and doorways had been rooting against me, waiting for me to fail. Fighting the urge to express to the nurse my intensified animosity, I present that perfectly portioned cup of pee to the nurse with the strangest sense of pride that I have ever felt in my whole life.