BY NORAH WAKULA
Copyright is held by the author.
“ELEANOR, IT’S time for supper.”
Greg shot me the look. We scrambled.
That summer, Greg and I were four years old and we were best friends. We had a great friendship, except for one thing: I was jealous of Greg.
Greg was my outside friend, not one I ever hung out with in the house. So, we played outdoor games, like hide-and-go-seek, marbles, and trucks in a pile of gravel that earlier that summer had been dumped behind the Anderson’s garage. With Greg, I never played dolls or dress-up. No, we played boy games, and me — being somewhat of a tomboy — I didn’t mind a bit.
Greg and I squeezed out every second of the seemingly endless hours of that prairie summer until we heard the inevitable call: “Eleanor, supper time.” Or, “Greg, time for bed.” That’s when we’d scramble to our space, a space between our houses, just three feet wide, a space just wide enough for one adult to slide through or two small children to hide.
It was a safe neighbourhood and a safe time. In a prairie city in the mid-1950s, parents didn’t worry much about unsavory characters lurking around playgrounds for opportune moments to snatch up their kids. No drive-by shootings. No nice men offering candies from cars. If they didn’t show up right way, parents simply assumed their children were playing out of earshot, maybe in a neighbour’s kitchen eating cookies, or, as most often was the case, pretending they couldn’t hear.
The thing was, Greg could hide out forever; unfortunately, I could not. Eventually, I always needed to go pee. So did Greg, but this wasn’t a problem for him. He’d just lean up against the brick chimney, slip his fingers into the opening of his pants, and pee. As for me, I hadn’t yet finessed the art of squatting, and even if I had, I might have done so in the bush when my family went camping, but certainly not in the city in the space between our two homes.
The time always came when I couldn’t hold it in any longer. So it was always me who had to go in the house first. That, or pee my pants.
Besides the humiliation of having to go inside before Greg every evening, in the middle of the day it was inconvenient. Not only did peeing interrupt our playtime, but who knew what adventures Greg could get up to while I was held hostage on the potty.
It wasn’t fair.
I needed a solution to my problem
The next time Greg pulled down his zipper to pee, I watched. I noticed that what separated Greg from me was that Greg had this thin cylindrical object hidden behind his zipper that when he pulled it out and held it projected the stream of urine outside and away from the crotch of his pants. While in my case, without this apparatus, the pee dribbled down my leg.
How could I come up with this missing piece?
One bright Tuesday morning I woke up with a plan. Because I needed her help, I talked it over with my mother; of course, not revealing my motive.
“Mom, can you help me make something?”
“Sure, honey, what do you need?”
“Three things. I need a wiener. Some band aids and a needle — a long, long, long needle.”
“What are you going to make with them?
“What Greg has — down there.” I said, pointing to my nether bits.
I figured if I burrowed a thin hole along the length of the wiener, and strategically taped it on “down there”, the pee would travel out of me, through the hole in the wiener, clear my corduroy trousers, and land in a puddle somewhere passed my shoes.
My mother didn’t say a word. Perhaps she stifled a smile, but I didn’t see it. She walked up the stairs to the medicine cabinet, came back down with four strips of surgical tape and a blunt pair of scissors, fished a needle out of her sewing basket, and then opened the fridge.
“Oh, my, sweetie, I’m so sorry.”
Oddly enough, in a house that frequently ate hotdogs for supper, that Tuesday there wasn’t a single wiener to be found in the fridge. And likely that Tuesday was the first day my mother began to worry about the inevitable day she’d have to tell me the story about the birds and the bees.