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There Is More Than One Way to Pee Outside

Photo-Illustration: by Stevie Remsberg; Photos;Getty Images

Hot Bod is a weekly exploration of fitness culture and its adjacent oddities.

The particular choreography of our everyday hygiene habits, while natural to all of us, often remain a private mystery from the rest of the world. “How is everyone else doing this?” we don’t often ask, as we pee or shampoo behind closed doors. And even when we’re attending to our business in the great outdoors — on a hike or camping — our primary objective is to relieve ourselves while remaining discreet and well hidden. What a mystery we are to each other!

After college, I biked across the country, from Providence to Seattle, which also meant I peed on the land from Providence to Seattle. In the immortal words of a biking mentor: “World is toilet.”

In pandemic times, as we are barred from each other’s houses and public spaces, I’m back to treating world as toilet. I’m outside a lot more and so is my bladder. For Vice, Hannah Smothers wrote an insightful critique about how coronavirus has affected the public restroom situation in American cities under various states of shut-down. The question of human dignity, decency, and safety regarding bathrooms is a complex and worthwhile macro-problem.

My current concerns are very micro: literally how are we peeing outside? What is the posture of our urination? Specifically those of us who have a yonic construction to their anatomy. If you have a phallic construction, I assume the tree-facing standing position remains quite effective, if not, innovate among yourselves, because I didn’t talk to any of you while compiling this list of Pretty Good Peeing Positions:

The Prim and Proper Wall Sit

Developer: Lisa, my former roommate
For this set-up, find a tree you can set your back flat to, as if doing a wall sit, but with your feet planted further away from you than they would be regularly. Shorts/pants/undergarments can be around your knees or ankles.

I was resistant to trying this! But Lisa, my former roommate in Chicago (and a very beautiful singer) swears by it — even instructing visiting guests down their garden alley to pee this way when they visit. (“I send my friends home,” the other former roommate tells me.“If you have to pee, leave.”)

I like this position for the relative protection it affords. You’re blocked by the tree already, and because you’re almost standing, it’s pretty easy to quickly close up shop in this arrangement if people are approaching. This posture is further from the ground than any others I have tried, and because of something due to fluid dynamics, there is more risk of splash — so, like, try to pee less, regarding volume per second?

The Low Goddess Squat

Developer: The ancients
This deviates from the regular squat by getting that butt really really low to the ground. This is best if you have loose pants or shorts that you can gather out of the way of your stream (I often hold them away and up with one hand). I think this position is risky if you have pants on (more fabric) or tight shorts that won’t let you take a really wide stance. The proximity to the ground gives some control for aiming your urethra. I like this position for how low it is, especially if you’re peeing in a place without a ton of cover and there are only brushy shrubs around.

The Tree Grab

Developer: My back-packing mentor Rebekah
For this deal, you find a thin but strong tree to grab onto with both hands, and lean your tush out as far as possible, keeping your knees close to the tree, ankles directly below. I like the comfort of my arms reaching all the way around, so a tree with a diameter of a telephone pole is probably maximum thickness.

The Paused Crab

Developer: My editor’s friend
This position is one of the more creative innovations in the world of peeing outside. This posture is somewhat like a chill yoga bridge, and a lot like if you’re pretending to do a crab walk. I particularly recommend this position if you’re wearing leggings, because you just need to lower them below upper thigh. Tight pants, gotta crab.

This list (I hope!) is not comprehensive. I bet there are many a million different ways to pee outside to accommodate every terrain, to suit every person’s outfit, mood, flexibility. And if you’re interested in gearing up, the classic tree-standing position can be orchestrated for all with a Go Girl device, which I have never used except to practice inside.

Regarding supplies, as always, I am generally anti. I’m pretty carefree about just dripping dry (with a little requisite undercarriage shake), especially because if I’m far out on a bike ride or a hike, I’m showering afterward anyway. I’d always credited my drip dry nonchalance to my general tolerance for getting a little gross sometimes, but I’ve been corrected recently by my friends who are prone to UTIs and YIs (yeast infections, does everyone acronym them?). “I do not have that luxury,” said a friend about dripping dry. “I will get a yeast infection even if I just do it once. During pandemic time, I carry Kleenex with me everywhere.”

As for other pesky stuff, I just want to quickly shout: WATCH OUT FOR (1) POISON IVY! AND (2) DEER TICKS! This is a regionally specific warning, but both are rampant everywhere where I hike. Especially never wipe with a leaf. Even if you know it’s not poison ivy, never wipe with a leaf, because it might be poison ivy. As for ticks, avoid brushy tall grass and do a rigorous tick check after anyway. Because the apple doesn’t fall far, on a recent bike ride my mother had pointed out a great place to pee , and I found a tick crawling up my ankle. The spot has now been banned in the family. The spot is cursed.

Still, I pee undaunted! World, in a pretty bad spot right now, really is toilet.

There Is More Than One Way to Pee Outside