If you’re not familiar with Pavlov’s dogs, let me offer a little history. In simple terms Ivan Pavlov was a Russian Scientist who ended up discovering and studying the process of learning known as classical conditioning. He realized that dogs that normally salivate when food was present learned to salivate when an unrelated stimulus was paired with the food, like the footsteps of his assistant or the ringing of a bell. Anyone who happened to take Psychology 101 (in my case as an elective) would be familiar with Pavlov’s dog. Not to mention that the whole concept has been the butt of humorous cartoons and comedy skits for years.
Lately I feel that I am reacting to an unrelated stimulus whenever I walk into my house after an excursion out into the real world. I have never been fond of public washrooms. These days, with COVID in our midst, I avoid them even more. Over the years I have developed a pretty-impressive skill when it comes to bladder holding. It started when I was just a kid and didn’t want to go home when outside playing but also didn’t want to go in the woods because that somehow always resulted in wet shoes or worse. There was a local gas station that had a typical 60’s local gas station washroom. Picture clogged toilets and sinks full of dead bugs. Again, I couldn’t bring myself to do that.
After a couple of childhood years of having accidents, I developed my superpower of holding. We are talking long-drive holding because a lot of drivers I know don’t like to make stops. And outdoor-excursion holding because even as an adult, I still can’t go in the woods. Shoes and socks and even pants remain at risk. Then there is I’m-in-the-middle-of-something-else holding because I have a tendency to get overly focused on other things, like my graphic design projects when I was employed or a good movie now that I’m retired.
But something has changed. It doesn’t seem to matter how long I have been out in the real world. When I arrive home, I usually need about forty-five seconds to make it to the john. Lately, as I am trying to kick off my shoes, there is a cramp followed by a slight release. I begin running down the hall hoping that that drip is, or those few drips are, all I am going to feel before I drop my drawers and sit down.
This has happened several times in the past few months, and I am constantly looking around my entry to see if I can discover whatever stimulus I am reacting to. I need to remove it. It has to go. Surely this is a learned response. Surely I have been conditioned by something. Surely, because I am not ready to admit that certain parts of me are getting older than I want them to; and that my active future may depend on Depends.
Thank you for reading.