My brother invites me last-minute to an art exhibit. I say yes because my only plans for my Thursday night were to read more of my book and, I don’t know, eat an egg for dinner or something. So I get home from work to change, and my brother drives us to the exhibit. On the way, he asks, ‘So do you know what this is about? Did I send you the info?’ He had not. We arrive half an hour early because we live in public-transit-time, not personal-car-time, and hang out at a nearby café to feel a little less like losers.
The art exhibit turns out to center on art pieces done by artists based on essays about freedom written by prisoners. Three of the artists share the essays they collaborated with and the inspiration for their pieces. The teacher who hosts the event and who taught the class the essays were written for shares her experiences and inspiration for the exhibit. One of the Jon Burge torture victims is in attendance. Everyone is spellbound and serious. It is both humbling and energizing.
At the end, I wait in line for the bathroom while my brother waits to speak with one of the artists from the panel– the whole reason we are here in the first place (because he saw on Twitter she was doing this tonight, and he wanted a reason to meet her). He keeps handing me his empty plastic cup and then taking it back, either because he’s confused about what we’re doing or he really just can’t get his mind to focus on anything other than meeting this person, anything like, say, finding a trash can. I finally make it into the bathroom, and as I’m opening the door to come back out, I feel a cold sensation in my pants on my thigh, close enough to my crotch that I think I somehow missed a drop when wiping. I’m embarrassed but keep walking out because I figure my pants will absorb it and also because I don’t want the long bathroom line to have negative feelings towards me for holding it up. As I walk, the cold feeling starts to spread. I think that maybe my body is revolting and peeing without my knowing it– without my even feeling it– and is somehow moving up my thigh instead of down, and by now I’m in the middle of the room with all these people milling about with this humiliating bodily insurrection going on in my pants but all I can do is keep looking down at my crotch to see where this wetness is and surreptitiously touch myself to check for it until finally, finally, my hand ventures far enough north that I tug on my jacket and feel the cold slithering up and out. Only then do I realize that I had simply tucked the bottom of my jacket into my pants when I was done in the bathroom and that the cold was just my zipper touching my skin.
I find my brother talking to the artist woman and stand looming to the side of her until he introduces us, and when he has gotten his fill of meeting-and-greeting, we walk to car and drive home. I forget about the pants incident entirely until we’re getting out of his car, and when I tell it, it doesn’t elicit the laughter I think it deserves. I had thought I was peeing cold pee, up my pants! I had thought I was losing all connection to my body! I had had an existential crisis in the middle of a crowd, and no one had noticed a thing! At least I’m laughing. I guess some things just aren’t as funny to other people.