It was March 23rd, 1994. Wayne Gretzky scored his 802nd goal, breaking Gordie Howe’s National Hockey League record for most goals scored in a career. Howard Stern formally announced his Libertarian run for NY governor. Amy Fisher's lover Joey Buttafuoco was released from jail. Richard Jacobs bought naming rights to the Indians new ball park at Gateway for $13.8 million (renamed Jacobs Field,) and Rush was playing at Richfield Coliseum.
I counted myself one of the lucky ticket holders for that evening’s show and marked the event a personal holiday. It was unseasonably warm that day so I spent it with my friend, Monika. We washed our cars and listened to copious amounts of Rush, breaking frequently to snack and drink beer. I was living at my mom’s house at the time and hadn’t yet reached my 21st birthday. Our fridge was filled, however, with a case (or more) of Genesee beer. It was cheap, had that tinny aftertaste all cheap beers have, and left my stomach in knots, but it did its job and got me drunk.
Showtime was nearing and my buddy, Vince, would soon be arriving to get me, so I bid Monika farewell and got ready. A cold Genny accompanied me to the shower, and another found its way down my gullet as I dried off. Good spirits made the beer go down smooth and quick. By my count, when Vince had arrived to pick me up, I’d already consumed a solid twelve pack.
We loaded up the van with the remaining beer and headed to our friend, Dean’s. The ride from my house to Dean’s was about ten minutes if that. During that brief journey, my bladder had filled to capacity. My leg was shaking and my teeth were clenched. As soon as Vince came to a complete stop, I bolted from the van and burst past my then girlfriend without so much as a howdy-do. The bathroom welcomed me and I drained my about to burst bladder, shivering as the relief washed over me.
Relaxed, I rejoined the group and was duly chastised by then girlfriend for already being very drunk. I obviously didn’t care. We regrouped and headed to the next stop, Dave’s. There were another half-dozen friends and die-hard Rush fans waiting there to complete the caravan. The ride duration, about ten minutes. As my bladder filled again, I was astonished to feel the need to pee consume me so quickly after the three-minute urination at Dean’s.
Once stopped, I found the side of Dave’s house the more acceptable place to relieve myself. I was timed at two minutes and felt completely confident that any and all beer in my body had been completely expelled, so after a few minutes of scuttlebutt, we split into two vehicles and started toward Richfield, which was a good forty-five minute drive.
I was in rare form and the first twenty minutes of the drive were filled with my jokes, singing, and pleas from then girlfriend to Vince to let her switch cars. Vince declined, hot on the tail of Dean who led the way. There weren’t any GPS units or cell phones in 1994, so Vince was especially focused on not losing his lead man.
It was minute twenty-six when I felt the familiar filling of the bladder. I was more angry than uncomfortable. I’d just peed twice, over two minutes each. How was this even possible? I could hold it, I told myself. My lively demeanor quieted and I stared out the window, watching the trees pass, trying desperately to keep my mind on something other than the pain that was now taking hold. The then girlfriend expressed some concern and when I told her why I had quieted, she just shook her head, completely disgusted to be associated with me that evening.
The pain was building with each passing minute and my abdominal discomfort was piquing. The highway signs said that we were getting close, but having been to many concerts at Richfield, I knew we had a good ten to fifteen minutes additionally off the highway depending on traffic. The pressure was working it’s way up my chest, forcing my jaw to clench involuntarily.
“Vince, I need you to pull over. I have to pee.”
“No way,” he replied. “I can’t lose Dean.”
“Vince. I’m begging you. I’m not gonna make it.”
At overhearing my plea, my sober friends laughed. Not only were they unsympathetic, but they were also equally as entertained. They even started taking bats as to how long I would last and in what or on who would I burst. I reached into my back pocket and retrieved my wallet. I counted out a couple hundred dollars and offered Vince ten dollars to pull over.
“No,” he replied
“I’ll give you twenty.”
Again, he declined.
“Vince. I will give you one hundred dollars to pull over right this goddamn minute!”
The asshole said no. He said no to a hundred bucks. There was nothing left for me to do but clench my teeth and pray. I looked through the van for anything that might offer my urine a home but there was nothing. Buckled over in what I still describe as one of the most painful moments of my life, we pulled into the lot. Vince rolled the window down and the attendant asked for twelve bucks. Vince turned and asked for two dollars from each of us. I couldn’t believe it.I literally threw my wallet at him and told him to take the money.
“Are you sure, Jimmy?”
“I just offered you one hundred dollars to pull over. YES. I’M SURE!”
We finally made it to a spot in the middle of the lot. I tried to stand and walk but couldn’t. I instructed then girlfriend and crew to go ahead and that I would catch up. I stood there in the middle of the Richfield Coliseum parking lot and unzipped what I’m sure were acid-washed jeans and peed. I peed and peed and peed. The river of urine flowed for miles (at least in my mind.) I smiled at several passers and even inspired a fellow Rush lover to stop and pee as well. When I finally finished, I had to stop and take several deep breaths. My friends were all inside and probably already seated. It took several steps for the pain to subside, but like a miracle, subside it did. I ran to the door, passed the usher my ticket, and settled in for what would end up being an amazing show.
Yes, I had a few beers at the concert and made a few trips to the bathroom. The ride home was smooth and to this day, whenever I hear Tom Sawyer, I have to pee.