Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Cold and the Need to Pee

Having stood in the middle of the field to watch the boys play in the semis yesterday morning, my face is understandably red and my neck and arms burnt crisp brown by the mid-morning sunshine. Thanks to the restorative properties of Olay – this is not a paid advertisement – I hope to have my golden complexion back after a week cooped inside the office laboring in front of my computer.

Make no mistake about it, though, most of January and now into early February has been pleasantly cool; nay, make that cold, even. The pleasant weather is getting an extended run – La NiƱa, the weathermen explain – and I am loving every moment of it!

Not everyone shares my fondness for cold weather, though. Many of our security personnel are from seaside towns down south; I can tell from their accents when I talk to them. It amuses me no end every time I see them wrapped in thick overcoats.

The guards on night-shift duties at the side gate – where I pass every evening after training – in particular, complain to me how they have become wary of the coming of the dawn. This is when the temperatures can really plummet. They say they encounter nothing of the sort in their seaside towns.

Why I get drawn into banter with the guards at the side gate is, by the way, a story in itself. Extreme as the cold can get at the field in the early evenings – especially when the northeasterlies whistle across it – I invariably almost always have to pee before leaving the campus. There is a small washroom just inside the gate.

I have been asking for washrooms near the playing fields for sometime; and, in fairness, my former people at the general services were prepared to respond. However, there were those who probably thought I was just being capricious; and suggested that anyone who needed to go could very well walk to the nearest washroom.

I have to admit that there is a warped sort of logic to that. Indeed, if football players can run on the field all afternoon, a walk to the washroom should not be a bother at all. Except, of course, that it is not every convenient.

The problem with the bladder is that it does not really give a lot of advanced warning as to when it wishes to be relieved. Everything is well and good when the lads are doing no more than simple drills. It becomes complicated when scrimmage is about to start or is ongoing and somebody has to go. The nearest loo is at least a couple of hundred yards away.

Time was when if any of us needed to go, we simply turned around and let go. Soil, as a matter of fact, has miraculous filtering properties and any fluids released unto it are simply processed naturally for recycling.

But then, as the school population grew, there were those who started to think that peeing in public was inappropriate. Fair enough; but my personal view is that the malice is always in the ones looking. We can always exercise our right to look away.

It is not, of course, as if people pee in public for the sheer fun of it. Although biologically there is nothing wrong with doing so – animals do it as a matter of course not only to relieve themselves but also to mark territory – modesty and civility dictate that we find somewhere private. If we do, then it is only because the need to pee has exceeded the need for modesty.

Most of the lads ask to relieve themselves just before scrimmage starts; and walk the short distance to the property wall to do so with their backs turned to the field. There is also this narrow walled-in corner where they run off to; albeit, the foul smell emanating from the nook is as much from the pee of players of other teams as that from ours.

Athletes preparing to engage in battle have heightened nerves; and one does not have to be a genius to know what nerves can do to the urinary system. That is why, in just about every school I have visited with the football teams I coached over the years, there is a washroom conveniently located close to the playing fields.

There was this one tournament back in 1987 when I was getting exasperated with my players because, just as the match about to start, first one player asked to run to the nearest loo to pee; and then, soon afterwards, another player asked to run to the nearest loo because he had to Number 2. The boys were overcome by nerves, and fortunately there was a loo nearby.

All I am trying to say is that I was not being capricious at all. The need for a washroom close to the playing fields is real, particularly in the extended cold weather we are having. Do not even ask me; ask the players, and not just ours. I can always walk to the side gate where I enjoy moments of banter with the guards shivering in the cold.

To Pee Or Not To Pee