• Wayne Perkins

Stage Fright. A Man's story.

I was talking to a friend the other night, (Yes, I have a friend, and don’t act so surprised, some of the nicest people I know like me) having one of those conversations where both parties dribble on about nothing much and then, for reasons that are now obscured by drink and hard drugs, he mentioned about a time he had gone to the toilet and got stage fright.

Now it should be obvious to most of my readers that I am a guy, although I’ll be the first to admit that the physical evidence to back up such a claim could be in short supply on some of the colder winter months, so for the benefit of my women readers who may not suffer from or even know what stage fright is, we are not talking about someone standing in a toilet vestibule prepared to recite King Lear loudly in a Shakespearian accent to an admiring crowd and then suddenly losing his nerve.

No, we are talking about a guy going to a communal urinal to shake hands with the wee man, and then because there is some other guy standing beside him, or even nearby, finds the ability and/or desire to pee has disappeared.

It is a phycological problem that probably stems from some sort of fear, anxiety or shyness but it is a common problem in the male population and while the last thing I want to do is stick my nose into other men’s business (believe me!), I think it’s high time we looked shy bladder syndrome straight in the eye, as it were.

Its medical name is Paruresis and Google informs me that it is a very common social phobia, second only in fact, to the fear of public speaking. What most men don’t know is that 38% of the male population suffer from it on a regular basis and what even more people don’t know is that I just made those statistics up.

Be that as it may, it is a very common affliction.

If my memory serves me correctly, I only remember suffering from it once, at a bar in England if you must know, where I popped in to the lavatory to do the deed and empty out a few miscellaneous pints of Heineken and all of a sudden the pressing desire to pee just completely left me.

I was pretty peed off (see what I did there?) and so I stood there, puzzled and mortified in equal amounts, hoping the people standing on either side of me wouldn’t notice that the creek was dry, dreading that someone would ask the question of me as to why I had decided to come to the urinal and just casually hang out for ten seconds for no apparent reason with my penis in my hand.

It was a question, that, had I been asked, would have been challenging to answer. The first response that sprang to mind – Well, it doesn’t get out much - seemed only marginally less stupid than the second which was - I wanted to see if it could make new friends - but it would have never occurred to me to tell the truth – I’ve got stage fright - which was also by far the least embarrassing.

Thankfully no one asked and so I pretended to finish up, gave it a few good shakes to add some realism to the performance and hurried on back to the bar. Minutes later I tried again and this time produced a stream of such pressure that it sprayed back onto my shoes and left a dint in the stainless steel.

As I dried off the tops of my shoes on the backs of my jeans (Men know!) I experienced a feeling of great pride and the relief, in more ways than one, was considerable.

It has never happened to me again and bear in mind that I have done some pretty close quarter urinating in very crowded situations, where the wall of people lining the trough is locked tighter than the front row of a scrum and you have to elbow your way into position.

Sometimes the mass of desperate seething bodies is such that vision is virtually obscured and you have to do most of the setting up (if you know what I mean) by feel, gauge the distance and angle by intuition, and then finally, wishing yourself the best of British luck, let nature take its course.

Given the close proximity to other men’s tackle, and your discomfort and disorientation being made worse by the overwhelming smell of ammonia animating from the sodden urine-soaked floor, you end up just hoping like hell you’re actually holding on to the right willie and all I will say is that sometimes you are and sometimes you’re not but no one ever talks about it.

What happens at the urinal stays at the urinal.

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