A fear. Everyone's got one, I'm sure. A nervous tick; the type of anxiety disorder that has you crawling over the back of some wayward chair. A finger pointed at your chest, telling you to get off the couch and out of the kitchen. Sometimes, you have to look that inherent trepidation in the face and realize its soulless reflection. Those aren't human eyes. They belong to some dead trout fished out of the river ages ago. You can still feel the tender, feather-like choke of that fish bone. It's stuck at the base of your throat.
I dare you to finish eating it.
Brainpower can overcome even the most horrific life occurrences. There's an insurmountable mountain of crap (most of it incontestable) that can swing into a person's life and weigh heavily on their psyche. Like bricks sewn into the bottom of a weak bladder.
Take going to the Dentist, for instance. How many people enjoy that rancid trip? With the exception of both Arthur Denton and Wilbur Force, I can't think of too many. The Novocain numbs your tongue and gums, but you can still feel the ripping of flesh as that needle tears into your jaw line. A backed-up squirt of epinephrine erupts like a Fountain. The fact that there isn't any pain makes it even more disconcerting. Then there's the stench of soldering metal that tends to drip hot wax inside your mouth. The grinding of teeth. Some old man standing over you like a cat trying to steal your breath. You have to match every exhaling gasp to escape the spoiled milk flavoring of his tongue. There's blood, and lines of saliva that don't want to break free from your bottom lip. It feels as though the Doctor is raping your mouth with a fistful of barbed wire.
Movie PictureFear is the
Trout eye of the soul.Not fun.
I used to hate going to the Dentist. Mainly because I hate getting shots. Especially (all porn jokes aside) when they're inside my mouth. This stems from childhood. I vividly remember having about four of my baby teeth pulled all at once because they refused to come out (I still have baby teeth, by the way). Those stubborn suckers wanted to stay locked in there. Well, the Novocain my Dentist was using wouldn't take affect. I could feel everything. He just kept jamming that needle into the roof of my mouth. After the sixth try, I gave up. I told him to go to work. I could feel every single hack and saw that he performed. It was excruciating in a medieval type way. Thanks, Doc, for those keen gestures of pain.
I recently overcame this fear of going to the dentist office. Though, it must be noted, I did not have Dentophobia (i.e. the fear of such practitioners). No. I wasn't afraid of oral surgeons, per say. Actually, I was scared of the tiny Christmas packages of pain they (I've never had a female dentist) were prone to producing inside my mouth like some sadomasochistic Elf with a tonsil fetish. What I had would be called Agliophobia. The fear of pain itself. Sort of. It's a certain type of pain. I mean, I don't mind getting punched, and I love to press on bruises. The sensation is a rush. But the throbbing ache procured by a needle? That sh*t hurts. And the fear of such pointed objects is referred to as Aichmophobia (or Belonephobia).
Movie PictureThis fear didn't only stem from my youthful trips to the local Dentistry. I also had a run with a prick-happy nurse back in the day. I was sick as a kid, and often found myself in the Doctor's office. I don't remember what type of medicine I was being given, but that bitch assistant liked to use my arm as a dartboard. She'd literally throw that injection in the air and let it land on my flesh. The spike would sometimes go clean through the bone. A yelp. A laugh. It was cruel.
It was nearly impossible for me to overcome this childhood nightmare that used to play itself back in real time, over and over again inside my brain. The imminent thought of nurses and needles liked tying the balloon stem at the base of my brain. I used to asphyxiate myself just so I wouldn't have to think about it. Then I had to go and get Hashimoto's disease. Don't worry, it's not contagious. It's a thyroid condition that zaps your energy and causes your throat to swell up. Basically, it makes you want to take a lot of naps. And, suddenly, you can't swallow food. Having this requires a lot of blood tests. Which means a lot of needles piercing skin. When I first heard this, I nearly vomited on my shoes.
I have a tendency to flit about the Doctor's office in a fit of flailing limbs as soon as that hypodermic makes its first appearance. I'm a grown man; sort of…I shouldn't conduct my business in such a childish manner. I had to overcome this fear of shots quickly. And, by this point, you're probably asking yourself, how does this, in fact, tie in with movies.
Well, because I used to have another phobia. One that almost ruined my social life. One that I could not overcome and conquer until I became a movie critic. It took a lot of will power and brain control to defeat my most dreaded fear. Having worked through that major personal glitch, I decided that I could overthrow any ruling army. I used the same type of thinking prowess to rise above my Aichmophobia as I did to squelch a lesser-known evil. I share it with you now in hopes of uniting a small portion of the movie-going populace that also suffers from this disorder. And to educate those who know nothing about it. This fear is refered to as…
Movie PictureYup. That's what it's called. Less than 1% of the film-seeking public struggle with this malady every time they go to a movie theater. What, exactly, is Urotheatrophobia, you might be asking yourself? Well, that's a good question, since very little has been written about this psychosomatic aliment. A conscious disease. Urotheatrophobia is the fear of suddenly having to urinate or defecate during the middle of a film. Before sitting down, before the curtain is drawn, the victim is suddenly filled with a nervous anxiety. "Oh, God! What if I get to the middle of the movie, and I suddenly have to pee? What if I have to leave the theater right at the good part of the film? No! It can't happen! I wont let it."
In most patients, this triggers a reflex common with OCD suffers. The theater patron is suddenly overcome with an Obsessive-Compulsive impulse to keep returning to the bathroom until the very minute the film starts. Yes, this is Obsessive-Compulsive behavior. But most Urotheatrophobia victims do not engage in other traits associated with the common OCD patient.
I personally found Urotheatrophobia to be very debilitating. For most of my young life, every time I went to the theater, I'd have to make sure to go pee at least twenty times before sitting down. Back and forth, from my seat to the bathroom. I couldn't stay put for more than 20 seconds without running to that urinal one last time. I grew up in Philomath, Oregon. There were only a handful of theaters for us to attend. There was a quadroplex in Corvallis. We also had two stand alone theaters, The Whiteside (which they closed down shortly after the theatrical run of the first Lord of the Rings film) and The State (which was dubbed the Ninety-Nine Center, because that's how much it cost to watch Midnight and Second Run films there; it was torn down and replaced by a parking lot). All of the Theater Workers knew me. The ushers. The ticket takers. Even the manager. A blonde lady that used to give me boxes of trailers (I'm not sure why I used to take them; I still have a ton from the early Nineties if anyone wants them), she would gather everyone around so that they could watch my Urinal Marathon.
Movie PictureA thousand childhood nightmare in the making - Part 2I hated it. They're laughter crushed my hypersensitive spine. I was embarrassed, and like Michael Landon in that "Peed the Bed" Movie-of-the-Week 'The Loneliest Runner', their taunts should have been enough to cure my anxiety. But nope. I could not overcome this constant fear of suddenly having to urinate in the middle of a movie. I'm not sure what I was so afraid of missing. I mean, almost every movie made in the Nineties sucked. So what if I missed a scene or two?
Actually, I've been able to pinpoint the "B. Alan" origins of this disorder. Full blame can be placed on George Lucas, Irvin Kerchner, and the At-At Walker. Like many small children, Star Wars locked my tiny imagination in a box, and I didn't want to miss a moment of its sheer colorful brilliance.
Movie PictureAichmophobia is the fear of needles.It was the Summer of 1980. Probably the best summer of my life. Ever. (Except for that tiny moment in July of 1989, when I lost my heart forever to some stupid girl in black & white checkered shorts. I cut a watermelon with a samurai sword. She smiled. We drank milkshakes at McDonalds after watching fireworks. She drove away sitting on someone else's lap.) My Aunt was in the Hospital, so our cousin was staying with us. Every morning, after swimming class and softball, we'd run down to the D&D Market and purchase Empire Strikes Back trading cards. The set with the red borders.
I remember; it was a Saturday. We'd yet to see this new Star Wars film, because it wasn't playing anywhere near us. My cousin Bobbi, my brother J. David Orange, and I were swimming in the Alsea River. Skipping rocks and hucking bricks at afternoon bats. We hadn't seen my dad all day. He was up the creek, sipping Oly from a pull-tab. Without warning, he comes floating up to our rock fort on an innertube and says, "Guess what, kids? You're going to The Empire Strikes Back!"
This was a big deal, because the only theater showing Episode V was a good trip away from where we lived. In a fevered rush, we toweled off and hopped in the car. We drove for about two hours. My dad dropped us off (to go sit in a bar across the street; he didn't care about Star Wars). We bought our tickets. We went in. The lights went down. And the movie started.
Movie PictureGuess what I forgot to do. Yeah. Go to the bathroom. I was a dumb little kid. I was so excited, I didn't even think about it. The intensity of those star-crossed events engulfed my tiny brain. I was awash in the glow of that screen. Then it hit me. A three fingered knock on the ol' bladder door. It soon turned into a full fist. The Urine push started hurting. At the precise moment those goddamn At-At Walkers made their first appearance. The thudding hoof-stomp of the new THX Sound System created itty-bitty wakes inside me. They splashed against my intestinal wall.
I didn't want to miss this awesome ice fight. I couldn't. No way.
So, just as Freddy Benson would have done, I let the encroaching wave of piss go. There. In my pants. I flooded my jeans. And then sat, watching The Empire Strikes Back for the first time ever in my life, drenched to the bone. The stink rose like a hurtful bitch. The other patrons around me started to pitch a fit. Suddenly, the left side of the theater, where I was sitting, grew empty. Everyone had moved Far, Far Away from me. Even my brother and my cousin.
I moved to sit next to them. They weren't having it. J. David yelled at me, and the people sitting around him agreed. I needed to go back to my wet chair. The humiliation and shame was insurmountable. I sulked off into the shadows, unable to enjoy the rest of the film. On the way outside, I was whipped with a bike chain, "You're too old to be pissing your pants, B. Alan! What's the matter with you?"
Movie Picture"I didn't want to miss the movie."
"Well, you really screwed up this time." It wouldn't be the first or last, either. After that, my fate was sealed. I became a toilet junky. After the Empire Strikes Back, I couldn't go to a movie without squeezing every drip of metabolic waste from my bladder beforehand. I could actually feel my kidneys starting to cave in. I would always miss the Coming Attractions and the Trailers. What about the Pre-Show Entertainment, you might ask? Forget about it. I couldn't sit through that sh*t. My reasoning: Whatever amount of urine I could discharge before opening credits, the better…
Everyone knew I had a problem. But no one would speak of it. My parents wrote it off as a mild form of OCD. After being checked out by a Doctor, they claimed I didn't have the symptoms associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I told a physiatrist about my phobia, and she said I'd have to work it out myself. There were no self-help books on Urotheatrophobia at that time, though. So, as you can imagine, it was a tough struggle…
I eventually made some headway. But it wasn't easy. My first step to recovery came in the form of a date. How was I supposed to take a girl to the movies if I was going to get up and go to the bathroom a million times beforehand? That's called an impossible task. No girl wants to be with a pisser. They'd think I had a sever brain disorder. Which, I guess I did…
Movie PictureI'd rather piss myself thn miss the battle on Hoth!I remember taking a girl to see Young Guns. She was the sister of J. David's girlfriend. I didn't really like her. I didn't really want to go. But J., being the awesome guy he is, made sure we got there a little late. That would keep me from running back and forth to the urinals. It worked. My problem was, I didn't want to miss any part of the movie. If it had already started, I could run real fast, go once, and then be back in my seat never to return to that Porcelain God again. He would not be my ruler.
We came into the theater during the dinner table scene, where Charley Bowdre and Dirty Steve are calling Chavez a "Dirty Mexican." Then Billy the Kid says, "Because he was hacking on me." That slut put her hand on my knee. All I could think about was this new miracle cure. Going to the movies late. That fixed me up real good…
The next step in my recovery came with actually being attracted to a girl, and getting to take her to the movies. She stole my attention, and I couldn't even think about peeing while sitting next to her. I just wanted to feel her knee skin against mine. It was mesmerizing. That came as Cure number 2. Hot female flesh. It'll do it to you every time.
Sadly, that hot dish was the only girl that ever wanted to go to the movies with me. She decided to seek out greener pastures, and I was left to wander the theater auditorium alone. My fears returned. And I soon found myself back at the lip of that toilet, staring into the deep recesses of a Urinal Cake. The Piss Biscuit. Things got real ugly in 1989. My parents took me to see Tim Burton's Batman.
Movie PictureI've never had to sh*t during a movie before. This was the first time. I've had a problem with constipation for most of my life. So, this came as a shock. I think it was the Mall food. I wasn't going to sit there and sh*t my pants. No way. This was diarrhea, baby. I could feel it. After Batman's opening fight prologue, my ass was out of that seat. Fast. I flew to the restroom, and skipped the first thirty minutes of the film. My parents said I didn't miss much. I believed them. To this day, I still haven't seen the first half of Batman; and I guess that's why I'm not too excited about the new one coming out.
Well, Urotheatrophobia continued to wreck havoc on my movie going experience for the next few years to come. All the way up until the year 2000. The year I became I full time film critic. I suddenly realized that, here in Hollywood, going to the bathroom a thousand times or more before the start of a movie is a losing proposition. Especially when you have to go it alone. And there's no one to save your seat.
Having someone save me a seat was always my biggest crutch.
I had to buckle down. And sit there. Sometimes for forty-five minutes before the lights would dim. I had no other choice. I had to go once, and then find occupancy, or risk losing my seat forever. It took a lot of willpower. And a lot of rotten movies before I realized that I didn't need to make return trips to the toilet. Hell, I could do five-hour car rides without making a pee-hole peep. That's the reasoning I focused on. That thinking process saved me. I just refused to consider the piss push as an alternative. I ignored it, and the phobia went away…
Movie PictureI couldn't have chosen a better time to overcome my Urotheatrophobia, what with the Airport Security Checkpoints they've now set-up at most screenings. Those Security Guards almost make it impossible to make return trips to the restroom. Though, sometimes, I do slip, and occasionally find myself going pee two or three times, even though I'm wanded each and every time out of the gate (do the honestly think I've hidden a video camera in the stall, or what?).
Yes. Being a film critic cured me of my Urotheatrophobia. The thought process I threw into motion in overcoming this disorder also helped me overcome my inherent fear of needles.
"B. Alan…What the f*ck are you talking about?"
I was attempting to identify and address a fear that has plagued many moviegoers since the dawn of the silent film era.
"I've never heard of anyone having this problem before. Ever. Except you. And you're insane."
It's a plague. Can I help it if I'm the only one courageous enough to come forward?
"B. Alan Orange. You know what?"
"I Hate You. And Your Stupid Column…"
All right. Fair enough.
I think I have to go to the bathroom. Excuse me...
Dont't forget to also check out: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back