A thing that comes from dreams, but would be better forgotten.

“Suddenly, you're Florence Nightingale.” I said, taking the mug from her hand and sitting up in bed.

Catherine got in beside me, wearing a black T-shirt and a pair of shorts. We'd been together three months, a fine relationships, almost frighteningly comfortable: mutually attractive, from the same class, good sex when one of us wasn't sick. “Drink that,” she said. I took a sip of something hot and lemony, sweetened with honey, and beneath that the taste of aspirin. She pressed her hand to my forehead. “Whoa.”

I drank the fluid down, making pained faces, then, fever-parched, drank a bottle of water as a chaser.

We usually stayed awake to talk, and I started in on a conversation about the difference between pigeons and rats, but she cut me off. After some moaning and tossing, I drifted off.

I woke, still feverish, and checked the time: 8, and I didn't need to be awake before 9. I turned my face into the pillow to block the light, and had a dream of walking through Brooklyn and coming to the East River. I greeted some friends, but could not recognize them. The clouds suddenly turned threatening.

I reached a spot below the Brooklyn Bridge, and stood for a moment. Someone was yelling, “no! No!” And then, in a burst of action, I unzipped my fly, produced my penis and let forth a torrential spray of urine, like a firehose putting forth. The spray smashed into a tugboat and knocked it over, the captain and crew diving into the river to save their own lives, and then, moving slightly, began to smash the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. On the shore people were screaming for me to stop, but I ignored them, and the bridge split in two and crashed into the river, dragging its towers behind it. Finally, triumphantly, I took aim at the Verizon building, a good mile off, but no match for the incredible and awful power of my—

And woke, instantly aware of a cold dampness, small but distinct, under my hips. Catherine snored delicately to my right. I explored the dimensions of the problem: it was a small patch, could probably be ignored, would dry before she came back home today. Not a disaster. I burst from the bed, limped to the bathroom, and voided myself, then tiptoed back to the room to find her awake.

“You got up in a hurry,” she said.

“Hey there, you're up. I needed the bathroom.”

“All the Theraflu. And the water.”

“That stuff really puts you out,” I said.

“Well, here, come in, she said,” and she began to roll over to let me into the bed—

“wait, I'll get in on that side—”

But she was already there, and moving in slow motion which I was incapable of stopping, she made a face and reached an inquisitive hand under the covers, placing that hand into a patch of her boyfriend's—my—cold urine.

“Umm,” I said. “That Theraflu plus the—huh. I just.” I put a hand over my right eye.

For my sake, she took the poisoned look off her face. “Oh,” she said.

“Nothing like this has happened since I was 6,” I said. “I never took Theraflu before.”

“Maybe you were just sweaty from the fever.”

Maybe so? Maybe this was my cover? No. “No. It's urine.”

Without thinking she brought her hand to her face and sniffed her fingers.

“No! No! No!” I said, watching as her face wrinkled back into the poisoned expression.

“So, yes, it is,” she said.

“I'll change the sheets,” I said.

“That's a good plan.”

“This has never happened before.”

“You just need to drink less water before bed.”

I took this admonition gratefully. “It's happened to other people I know, just never to me.”


“Yes, it's very common,” I said. “Men seem to have this happen to them all the time.” Was it? I didn't know. I thought I'd heard someone talk about losing bladder control, and I wanted her to believe that I was not some sort of weak-bladdered sickly man. “They just don't talk about it. It was only a matter of time for me.”

“I'm glad I could be here for the big day.”

I made a groaning noise.

“It's not a problem,” she said. “I'll just buy some rubber sheets for that side. I'm sure they make them.”

I sat on the bed, sad-eyed, and looked at my hands, and groaned.

“Don't worry, I won't make fun of you for this,” she said. She put her hand on my hand. “You're still my excellent boyfriend, Mr. Drippy.”




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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