David Sedaris’ book Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls: Essays, etc. came out in 2013 and I immediately devoured it developing a near fatal case of owl diabetes which is why my thoughts on one of the essays in this exploratory book are emerging a year to the month of publication.
In the essay “Day In, Day Out”, Sedaris questions why on September 5, 1977 he “…would start keeping a diary…” (226). I can’t pinpoint the exact date when my own diary keeping began, but I do know that it began upon the order of my divorce attorney who told me to write down everything, every conversation, incident, encounter however small it seemed. Accordingly I filled three yellow legal pads full of drama and chaos, and after the divorce was finalized and I had moved from Indiana to Florida my obsessive recording of my life continued. My diary’s appearance changed over the years from the ugly legal pads to spiral notebooks, to a wide variety of pretty notebooks actually designed for the purpose of writing in. As the outward appearance of these diaries became fancier, they could not hide that the drama that had inspired their beginnings had dissipated over the years to droll, routine observations that will probably never find their way into the archives of a famous University library when upon my demise they are discovered and I posthumously become the unsung author of the week, or more appropriately, weak. I pity the poor researcher who has to read that for the last 28 years nothing happened and I’m tired and going to bed.
I admire Sedaris for having the courage to try to read the six diaries that recount his encounters with crystal meth and in doing so is reminded “… that not all change is evolutionary…” as he, now older but not necessarily wiser, grew “…from the twenty-five-year-old who got stoned and accidentally peed on his friend Katherine’s kitten to the thirty-five-year-old who got drunk and peed in the sandbox at his old elementary school. An Accident? Really? And his sister Amy certainly should have, as he recalls she did, questioned his act by her incredulous “Don’t you realize that children have to pee in there?” (229).
My temerity has not given me the balls, well that’s genetic as well, to read any of the diaries that are repositories of my life as a sober-but not sane or particularly wise-person, but some quirk of mind has caused me to remember everything I have done from childhood to finding sobriety at the ripe old age of thirty-four. Given that these diaries account only for my life in sobriety and little about peeing in odd places, it seems odd that I can’t remember these subsequent years at all. So reading about the places Sedaris has peed brought to mind the book by Dr. Seuss Oh, the Places You’ll GO! Dr. Seuss would no doubt disapprove of my obvious connotation when I consider commandeering his title for my own little volume on the places I’ve peed, and it is with all due respect to him and not meant to disparage him in any way that if, in fact, the plans for this book ever flow I would use a slight adaptation to OH OH! The Places I’ve Peed!
Peeing on a kitten reminds me of Rabelais’ Gargantua who wiped his breech with a March-cat although her sharp claws did scratch all his “perinee”. I admit though that peeing on a cat might be easier than wiping ones bum with a cat, and it would certainly be easier for a guy like Sedaris to take aim at a kitten in motion, for in my case peeing on an active kitten may put me in the same pain as Gargantua. Though had the occasion arisen, I would have had no problem peeing on a sleeping kitty which would be a bit easier on the pussy. But for the places I’ve peed, I’d have to say that a sandbox is a bit lightweight. New York City’s Central Park took the place of a sandbox as I found myself in a crowd of concert-goers on their way to see Charlie Daniels. A bush just off the beaten path partially hidden from the park-side seemed an appropriate relief station but as I exposed my white bottom and proceeded to pee I realized on the other side of the bush the throng of pedestrians on the sidewalk had an unobscured view of my own personal moon, though this was probably nothing new to New Yorkers.
Other places I’ve peed include a comfort station conveniently located smack dab in the middle of Florida Avenue, NW just off DuPont circle in Washington DC where my plans to paint the town red ended in only a yellow puddle.
A less trafficked place to pee is usually located off a main thoroughfare, but of all the places I’ve peed the side pocket of a pool table in a crowded bar may have been the one where I really left my mark. I could say those were all accidents but truth-be-told they were all intentional acts displaying my feelings toward the location, establishment, or people on who’s territory I peed. There are no diaries of those times, just moments internalized eternally-or rather externally-in my memory. These days I write my diaries in ink, but those pre-diary years consisted of a more organic medium, enhanced as it was by a variety of substances.
My idea for the book entitled OH OH! The Places I’ve Peed may not land on the New York Times best seller list, but it is thanks to David Sedaris and his wonderfully funny and reflective collection of essays, etc. in Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls that leads me to urinalysize my own peeing history and resolve to try to read my own 29 years of old diaries. Hopefully the cat hasn’t peed on them.