For most people, going to the bathroom is a burden—a necessary evil of the food and drink we must consume to stay alive. Our waste is, and always has been, a social faux pas, both in firsthand contact and in conversation. Occasionally though our bodily waste plays a grander role, working in strange ways to shape our culture and change history, from the days of noblemen to the modern era of the pop star. The following is a collection of some of the most notable moments in urination history.
• For hundreds of years, it is believed that Danish astronomer and nobleman Tycho Brahe, whose studies led to the discovery of planetary motion, died in 1601 as a result of holding his pee too long at a formal dinner. He had attended a lengthy banquet at which it would have been inconceivably rude to leave the table before dismissed, and the resulting strain on his bladder was thought to have caused an infection that killed him several days later. Thanks to modern scientific hair analysis, it is now known that he died of mercury poisoning, which is much, much less funny.
• Sexual Inversion, the first English medical textbook on homosexuality, is published by Havelock Ellis in 1897. Ellis goes on to write many volumes about human sexuality, though he remains a virgin until the age of 32, when he marries an open lesbian. Ellis is impotent until the age of 60, when he finally becomes aroused at the sight of a woman urinating. He coins the term for this fascination "undinism," but it is now known as "urolagnia."
• In the early 1940s, American painter Jackson Pollock drunkenly urinates into the fireplace of one Peggy Guggenheim during a New Year's Eve party. This is to be the beginning of a famous friendship between the two, as Guggenheim would go on to support Pollock financially for the rest of his career.
• In 1984, a gray Volkswagen Rabbit is stuck in rush-hour traffic in downtown Bellevue. Scott Kirby, age 4, desperately needs to go to the bathroom. His mother, Lauren, hands him a discarded cup and instructs him to pee in it. Something immediately goes wrong, and Scott begins screaming and urinating all over the inside of the car and in the face of his younger brother, Jeff, who is helplessly stuck in his car seat. Scott will never let his younger brother forget this story.
• Wet Set magazine begins publication in 1993 as a low-budget newsletter. It quickly grows to a high-quality magazine for "panty pissers, bed wetters, diaper lovers, and anyone who loves to read about embarrassing accidents or golden showers."
• Robert "R." Kelly is indicted in 2002 for soliciting a minor for child pornography, seven counts of videotaping the acts, and seven counts of producing child pornography. The videotape, which made its way onto the internet and into infamy, depicts Kelly urinating on the face of a 14-year-old. Kelly still faces the charges, but for some reason has yet to go to trial.
• In a 2005 performance, Fergie just can't hold it any longer and pees herself onstage at a Black Eyed Peas show. She continues singing and dancing through the set with a giant wet spot on her pants. Controversy sweeps across the internet regarding whether or not the event actually happened, with pictures and videos popping up on blogs and YouTube. The debate is finally put to rest when Fergie admits to it on a UK TV program, saying, "We had to rush onstage before I had the chance to go to the restroom. It was a very embarrassing night for me." For the first time in her career, I actually kind of respect Fergie. She is so devoted to entertaining her fans that she can't waste a couple minutes finding a bathroom—that's the sign of a true entertainer. It almost makes up for how many times I've had to hear that "My Humps" song.