Her words were sincere, but boy, did they strike up a whole new level of anxiety within me in that moment. Because I was on my way to the men’s room of a hotel, armed with my shiny new EZP. I was about to attempt something I’d never done in my 18 years of boyhood – I was going to use a urinal for the very first time.
In so many ways, that white porcelain fixture represented a final frontier for me. Time after time after time I have walked past it, whether at concerts or airports or restaurants or casinos, stepping away while all the other men step toward, segregating myself in the stall. They may not have seen it as a reminder that I was different, but I always did.
I’d look down and see the feet in the next stall over, facing the opposite direction of mine, and sigh. I’d hear the bold, loud sounds of water echoing from across the room as random guys did so effortlessly what I could never do. In a way, it felt silly placing so much emotional weight on something so juvenile and commonplace as peeing. But we place great value on the things we cannot have, and damnit, I wanted to stand.
Shortly after I came out, I fashioned my own STP device from the handle of a plastic milk jug. It was awkward at best and its career was short-lived. I tried one or two official STPs before giving up, because it was never the kind of experience I wanted to have. It wasn’t enough simply to be vertical; I wanted to be using a penis – my penis. I put the failed devices in a box in the closet along with any remaining notion I’d ever get to step up to that urinal. I resigned myself to always being different, to always falling short.
And then the EZP happened to cross my path, and suddenly, I was full of possibility again. It came in the mail mere days before I headed to a weekend convention at a big hotel. With public restrooms. And urinals.
I practiced and practiced at home. I didn’t want to waste this opportunity. In my excitement, I told all my friends who were there with me what I was going to do. But when the time came, I immediately regretted that decision. When I nervously slinked away to step up to the plate, my buddy patted me on the shoulder and wished me well, and I suddenly felt ridiculous for caring about this so much. But I stepped inside that room and walked up to the fixture on the wall that had eluded me for so long. I tried to look casual, but on the inside, my heart was pounding. I stood there for a solid minute, head of my EZP in my quivering hand, the living embodiment of “pee shy.” But then I took a deep breath and blocked out everyone and everything around me, and I managed to relax. And then, I was doing it. I was doing it!
And suddenly, I was 23 again and seeing my new flat chest for the first time and feeling that rush of, this is so right. And I was 20 again and shaving my face for the first time , and I was 18 again and hearing my new name and pronoun. It was all of those emotions around finally doing something that you should’ve been doing all your life. I found my way back to my friend’s arms, and I hugged her, and I cried. And then I grabbed the nearest water bottle, psyched to go back for round two.
There were 4,000 people at that convention, and I guarantee for the rest of the weekend none of them were as excited to have to go to the bathroom as me. Nor has anyone been so thrilled to use every gas station urinal on the 20-hour drive back home. But hey, I’ve got a lot of lost time to make up for.