June, 1990 + Augusta, Maine
The Governor of Maine had invited a cross-section of disabled or handicapped or challenged or otherly abled or crippled folk to the State Mansion for a photo op. He also wanted to speechify about all the great things he had done for us, such as allowing seeing eye dogs on brewery tours. He had accomplished embarrassingly little.
I hated these contrived and artificial settings and still do. It's too much like being a trained seal. I went at my much admired and respected boss' request.
I was late of course, fashionably so. I could barely push my chair on the exquisite, deep pile, cream colored, wall-to-wall carpet. I found my spot at the back, close to the exit. The twenty by thirty foot room was beautifully appointed with huge, light-brown, velvet curtains. Seats matched the decor and were placed in neat, evenly spaced rows. Ample room was provided for wheel chairs and other nobility devices.
I looked around at the people in the room. There were a number of greeters, seaters, and self-important, officious aides hurrying about, as if the sky were falling. These aides wore dark hued suits, ties, and rather severe blouse-skirt combinations that bespoke 'business only'. This group was mostly young go-getters who were the legislator and governors of years to come.
There certainly was a wide variety of people in that place. Present also were two elderly gents, each of whom could be one hundred years old. These guys lounged in hospital beds. One of them kept trying to cough up fur balls the entire time. This was one of those Michael Jordan moments when I'd be hanging with my blind, crippled, and crazy homie. The last category of participants was closely watched. Those suit and tie people policed this event so nothing embarrassing occurred. Can you imagine the panic if one of the invitees shouted, "Satan speaks; get thee behind me Governor"?
The Governor began his self-congratulatory, prepared speech. He was framed behind two eight foot windows encased in oak and sumptuous velvet. This was no accident. The room and all were set up so listeners' attention focused on the speaker.
I distractedly listened to part of it. The other part I spent wondering what that attractive redheaded Aide knew about quadriplegic sex. After fifteen minutes of trying to pretend I gave a shit, I began to get a subtle whiff of processed uric acid, or piss, as it's known in the vernacular.
'Some poor bastard's leg bag or foley or night bag is starting to stink', I thought' Probably that toothless old dude half asleep near the front'. The longer the speech droned on, the less subtle the odor became. I was amused at the thought that this politician was being subjected to the dank fragrance of urine in his own, albeit temporary, home. The smell got worse. Like the dawning awareness the offensive odor is not in the dream, but in waking reality, I began to entertain the notion that the essence of eau de urea was mine. This was not so amusing a prospect.
I knew without doubt who the culprit was. I leaned over and looked down to confirm. Just as I had known, I saw and smelled a spot the size of a basketball under my leg bag. I watched the steady drip, drip, drip enlarge this spot by the second. 'Uh, Oh' I thought, 'I've got to get the fuck out of here'. I cast my glance about and saw that no one was on to me. So as not to raise suspicion, I sidled slowly back and out.
One of the helpful young aides pushed my chair, complete with the unabated trickle to the door. I thanked him and lowering my head to keep a very low profile. I finally made it outside to freedom, like E. T. from his pursuers. I chuckled a bit on the way back to my office. I felt smug to have left my mark on the whole vacuous affair. Like a male cat, I had marked my territory. 'I showed that political hack what it means to invite me to his Mansion', I mused.
When I got back to work, my Boss asked me how it went. That Governor was not her favorite either. I felt free to say, "Oh, it went OK, except someone or other stunk up the place by urinating on the carpet".