Talk About Envy

Claire Rogers

Did you know you can ride your bike for a full day along Interstate 80 in western Utah and not find one bush or even a ditch for privacy?

My friend Kathe demonstrated a gadget long ago that has made hiking, biking, and my other activities so much easier. As the jokes pass around, it's been referred to as a Port-a-Jane, Her-inal, "big six-incher," and a "Yur-a-peeiní Lady." I refer to it as my "prosthetic device." It is simply an anatomically fitted little pink funnel, and as a matter of fact, it truly is six inches long. It allows me to pee from a standing position. Imagine the possibilities.

When Kathe first demonstrated it, I wouldn't even look. I was too shy. When I did look, I didn't see any skin at all, and neither did my husband (we've all been friends for years.) She recommended I order the more compact model. I had it within a week. Oh, the freedom! (Oh, the relief!) Yes, it takes a while to teach those old muscles new tricks. Years of holding tight becomes deeply ingrained and there is a great deal of self-talk in those first few tries. Practice, practice, practice.

My spare part works swell with loose fitting hiking shorts; just pull up the leg. Even with convertible hiking pants, I can partially unzip the leg. With an overhanging T-shirt or jersey, there is no exposure while pulling down the front of my lycra bike shorts. Running shorts work well too. Anything with elastic waistbands work fine. Snug fitting jeans are too much work, don't bother.

As we toured outback Australia on our tandem, my husband and I could both pee straddling the bike. Now that's twogetherness. If a car did happen by, we'd simply be fascinated with some interesting bird off in the distance. Besides, nobody would suspect what I was up to - women can't pee standing up.

On group hiking trips, I just drop off the back for a short while. Without having to remove my pack or tuck in my shirt, I can catch up without anyone ever having missed me. I've carried it with me on marathons and half-marathons. It even came in handy in an outhouse, "Edward Abbey's Outhouse" as it is affectionately called. Though the view from it was quite spectacular, the condition of the floor was not conducive to backing in and I much preferred being in a standing position in case of a need for a quick escape.

So there it is, I've finally shared my secret. In all seriousness, this one little accessory has tremendously improved my comfort level with outdoor activities. No more searching for cover, trying to squat low, out-of-sight and risking thorns, poison ivy, mud, or a scoop full of leaf litter in your shorts. No more trying to pull up hot, sweaty shorts. Deadly snakes in the bushes? No worries. No need for toilet paper now, just give it a good shake and rinse it out when you get home. I keep mine in a plastic pouch that fits in my pocket. It's shy and I'm modest, so I keep it out of sight.

I hope it is as useful to you as it has been to me. And if you'd like a demonstration ... call Kathe.

© Claire Rogers

Claire Rogers is a former park ranger from Washington State, now living and traveling full time in a motor home. When not writing, she enjoys hiking, biking, swimming, and running. Recent travels include a year-long tandem tour of Australia with husband Bob.

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