“Never make a decision when you need to pee.” -Leonard Cohen
The GPS on the dashboard said we were still 20 minutes away from Épernon. This Saturday morning was the fourth Saturday morning in a row in which Olivier & I had woken at 6am & made the hour-long drive to Épernon or Rambouillet.
Maybe it was the fifth Saturday. I’ve lost track.
Four or five Saturdays in a row. Rising early. Spending the day in our car, or in the car of another real estate agent. We’ve met five of those, now.
Or maybe six. I don’t remember.
Don’t ask me how many houses we’ve wandered in & out of in an effort to find one that we can fall in love with. I’d say about twenty. Twenty houses.
Maybe thirty. I can’t recall.
Anyway… where was I?
Oh, right. The dashboard. The GPS. 20 minutes.
I looked over at Olivier. “Um… I have to pee,” I said.
“Didn’t you just go before we left the house?”
“Yeah. But that was like, 45 minutes ago.”
“I didn’t drink anything this morning,” he said. “I just had one glass of orange juice so I’d be all dried up & ready to walk around all day.”
“Well, look at you. All dried up like human jerky. I still have to pee. I can’t spend the day looking at houses if I have to pee. I’ll be too distracted. We have to make a pee stop.”
Olivier shook his head. “We’re already running late. I’m sure the real estate agent has a bathroom in their office you can use.”
We arrived at the Realtor’s office & after a few minutes of introductions, looking at photos of houses & jabbering about what kind of house we wanted, we asked a lady passing by if there was a bathroom.
“Of course.” She nodded and pointed up. “It’s upstairs.”
I rose from my chair, planning to make a short trip up the steps.
“Oh, but you can’t use it,” she said. “There isn’t a door & there are people up there.”
I sat back down, wondering how in the hell these people work here every day, deprived of the means to pee comfortably & at will.
Our Realtor smiled from across his desk. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I understand. We’ll go to an empty house first.”
About 15 minutes later, we were on our way to look at the first house, which was not empty. We were greeted by the man who is still living there and we ambled from room to room, asking questions about exciting topics such as energy efficiency & neighborhood noise. When we opened a door to the water closet & peeked into the tiny room with a toilet inside it, I tried to push all fantasies aside of what it might feel like to sit upon it & experience the sensation of sweet relief for the next few minutes.
The good news is, I survived without peeing myself. I even managed to focus my attention away from the increasing pressure in my bladder long enough to take a look at the surroundings & take in a few details about the house.
We drove to the next house & as we made the journey, I felt every bump & pebble on the road. Upon arriving, we were greeted by the two hungover teenage boys of the owners. Again, we went in & out of rooms, up & down flights of stairs. I had developed an awkward gait & could no longer take in details about the house because my mind was fixed on clinching & the uncomfortable social situation that would occur when my kidneys exploded.
Finally, we found the third house to be completely empty. No furniture, no humans. As the Realtor went to open the shutters, Olivier opened a door & pointed inside.
“Look, here’s the toilet & no one’s here,” he said. “You should go now.”
Without saying anything, I started digging around in my bag for tissues & jumped inside.
The next few minutes were pure bliss. There, in the empty water closet of some strangers’ empty house, my entire body finally relaxed & I thought about how great the continued house hunting would be, now that I would be able to concentrate & walk normally.
And the bliss kept going…
… and going.
I thought I would never leave this tiny room. After almost 3 hours of straining my bladder, it seemed to be taking its revenge on me by unleashing a never-ending torrent.
Or, perhaps my body & bladder were just confused. It didn’t seem to understand that I had been out of bed for 6 hours & decided to behave as though this was its morning pee.
And finally… FLUSH!
No. Nothing. Try again.
Nope. Just the sad clunking, plunking sounds of a toilet trying to flush without water.
I meekly exited the tiny room, finding Olivier & the Realtor having a look at the kitchen.
“There’s a, uh… problem,” I said.
“What? No water?” Olivier asked.
That’s when the Realtor began running around the house, trying to find the main water valve for the house, telling me each time he passed by me, “Don’t worry! It’s not serious.”
My husband, always reassuring, could barely contain his laughter.
“Very funny,” I said. “You’re the one who told me to go in there.”
“Aw… I know. It’s okay,” he said. “It’s not your fault that you have a bladder the size of a walnut.”
“Gah! Now the Realtor has to take care of my pee!”
Once again, he whooshed past us. “C’est pas grave!”
The bad news is, the poor guy never found the valve to turn the water on. So, now that I had marked my territory, we left to continue our house hunting.
We split from the Realtor long enough to stuff our faces with kebab, then returned to his office. As I made the long walk from our car to the front door, my husband, still as reassuring as before, said, “Wow… I know the walk of shame when I see it.”
And I shitwalked through the drizzle, under the gloomy gray skies, back to the Realtor’s office. We spent the rest of the afternoon traipsing in & out of weird houses with bright green walls, kitchens with no counters or cupboards & one with a particularly disturbing pink bedroom in the basement that appeared to be for young female kidnap victims.
The rain had grown from drizzle to downpour; the kind of rain that soaks through your hair, dripping down your scalp & into your eyes, even though you’ve only been walking in it for about 45 seconds.
I had lost my pride. I was dripping wet & my allergies were kicking in.
Then… we found it. The house. It didn’t take long for Olivier & I to agree that yes, we do want this house & that yes, we can definitely see ourselves living in this house.
The decision was easy at that point… since I no longer had to pee.