Not long ago I heard through the grapevine that someone of my acquaintance had had an unfortunate accident: After a long night of drinking ales and spirits, he apparently rose suddenly from bed in the wee, wee hours, waking his lady friend, who just managed to stop him from urinating on the windowsill.
The gentleman in question was suitably embarrassed, but not exactly mortified, as accidents of this sort are something that just kind of comes with the territory when one enjoys adult beverages in less than perfect moderation (and by that I mean “poisonous excess”).
Considering my own history of drinking myself incontinent, I am certainly no one to judge. I woke up half drunk and all wet more times than I care to remember (and probably a couple that I don’t) by the time I was 30, starting with two incidents in high school, both on couches at other people’s houses. In one case, I slunk out and hoped nobody would notice (it was a house party and the house was trashed so I thought it would be a while before anyone sat on the couch); in the other case, my host, a classmate we’ll call “Klaus,” said not to worry about it because he had done it a few times himself.
Klaus and I and most of our high-school graduating class spent the summer at the beach after graduation before heading off to college, and one night he managed to bring a young lady back to his room. As recent high-school graduates without adult supervision are wont to do, they had more than a few libations and he woke up in his bed soaked in his own pee, with the young lady still sleeping in blissful ignorance next to him. Clearly, a delicate situation. His solution, in my opinion, was the greatest tactical maneuver since Patton took Bastogne.
He got out of bed and went to the kitchen, filled a large pitcher with ice water, then came back to the bedroom and dumped the whole pitcher on his companion. When she woke up, disoriented and horrified, he said “Oh, baby, I’m so sorry! I went to get some water for us and I tripped on my way back to bed. Let’s change these sheets and go back to sleep!” The poor girl never suspected a thing. I have long since lost track of Klaus, but I can only hope that he is leading troops in battle.
It was later that same summer that I learned that while a blood alcohol level of 0.05% is enough to impair one’s driving, a blood alcohol level of (roughly) 1.5% will cause the drinker to re-animate from his drunken slumber, zombie-like, and unload on random objects with blank eyes and a total unawareness of what he (or she, let’s be fair) is doing.
A few of my female friends were sharing an apartment at the beach, and after an evening’s revelry everyone present had passed out, including a young man who’d bedded on the couch. One of the girls told a tale, with mounting horror, of this fellow coming into her room, opening his pants, and peeing into the makeshift shelving unit she’d made from milk crates, where she’d folded all her t-shirts.
If you are part of a social group that likes its refreshments with anywhere near the enthusiasm of the groups I have always seemed drawn to, ask around and I bet at least one person out of two has a good Zombie Pee story, and they don’t all take place in high school. I know a man, an exemplary father, loving partner, well respected in his field, who was caught peeing into the oven by his better half. I know someone else who once walked up to a couch, while people were sitting on it, and hosed it down. I have heard tell of people peeing on other people’s tents on big group camping trips. (For that matter, I have heard of people peeing in other people’s tents on big group camping trips.)
One of my very most favorite zombie pee stories takes place at Burning Man, the big desert freakout where people camp and enjoy all sorts of merriment. Tents are pitched pretty close together at Burning Man, but in most cases one has to walk at least a couple of minutes to the nearest port-a-potty. Nobody wants their mid-morning, bladder-bursting pee to be that big of an ordeal after a full night of indulgence, so a lot of people get around it by keeping a pee bottle in their tent. Take your emergency slash in the bottle, dump out the bottle when you go to the port-a-potty after you get up for real (which at Burning Man is when your tent gets over 100 degrees inside — about 9am) — it seems gross in the real world, but Burning Man, I’m surely not the first to point out, is not the real world.
Anyway, a friend of mine — an adult, registered voter with a mortgage — woke in the pre-dawn hours, slightly disoriented from the night’s excesses, and groped around his tent until he found his pee bottle. He unscrewed the cap and relieved himself, but almost immediately found the bottle overflowing onto his hand, onto his legs, onto his sleeping bag. It was then that he realized he wasn’t holding his pee bottle at all — he had unscrewed and was peeing into his flashlight.
I tell all these stories as prologue, and possibly as rationalization, of my own worst zombie pee incident, which took place in the early hours of New Year’s Day, 2004. I had been part of throwing a really excellent, ambitious theme party for New Year’s Eve, and in the course of events I personally consumed about ¾ of a bottle of tequila and probably a dozen beers.
I have no memory of the following incident, so I relate my wife’s version of events as she told them to me afterward: She was awakened by the realization that I was up on all fours, peeing through my underwear. She kicked and shouted at me in hopes that I’d wake up: “What are you doing! Get out of bed! Go to the bathroom!” Apparently there was then a momentary flash of consciousness in my eyes, as I kneeled upright in the bed and put one foot on the floor, but then I resumed peeing into the bed from this half-standing/half-kneeling position. She did not regard this as an improvement, and the kicking and yelling continued.
Finally, she tells me, I seemed to become semi-lucid, stopped peeing, and stood up and walked into the bathroom, where I finished peeing in the toilet (here we can only assume, as there are no witnesses to this part of the story). When I returned, she says I paused, picked up a pair of pants off the floor, and gently laid them over her, like a blanket, then laid down in the puddle and went back to sleep for eight more hours. In a related story, I have not had a drink since New Year’s Day 2004, and the drop in personal zombie pee-related incidents has been precipitous.
The lesson? I think it’s obvious: if you find yourself at the end of a particularly consumptive night, take an aspirin, drink a glass of water, and go to sleep in the bathtub.