I’ve begun collecting ideas for a screen play and came across a book that I thought would be pretty helpful. It’s entitled, “Now Write! Screenwriting,” and it’s basically a compilation of advice and different writing exercises from notable screenwriters of various backgrounds. One of the exercises is to make a list of ideas from personal experiences of all the things that make you cringe. Of that list you’re suppose to pick one of the points and write a short prose story about it. This is one about the time I peed myself in karate class:
I think I was about 7 or 8 years old when I was actively taking karate classes at the local YWCA. It started back in our public schools we were handed fliers that would list all the fun activities you could enroll in on the weekends or after school. They were long lists that included a variety of dance, martial arts, and different sports you could try for the season. There were four that were released each year, all on different sheets of really nice and extra long colored paper - blue for winter, pink for autumn, green for spring, and yellow for summer.
I remembered getting the fliers and not really caring much for them, that is, until I got into the Power Rangers. After watching the Power Rangers and already being a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I thought karate would be really cool to get into.
It was a Friday afternoon and the teachers were just about to let everyone out from school. You could tell our teacher was glad the week was nearly over. All the kids were bouncing around with anticipation and she just sort of gave up and had us color or draw stuff until it was time to go home. I wouldn’t doubt she probably made a stop at the bar that day, but at the last minute she remembered the fliers and reluctantly passed them out to us just before we all stormed out of the classrooms to start our weekends. I would grab the paper and just shove it into my backpack, already knowing it wasn’t homework and I didn’t have to do anything with it.
Saturday morning rolls around and after watching cartoons I remembered the paper in my backpack. I dug it from the bottom of my bag - crumpled and dirty with pencil shavings - and scanned the paper for some karate classes. After finding it I approached my parents bedroom with the pink sheet in hand. On the weekends I was always the first to wake up - my parents would sleep in from a week’s worth of hard work and my sister was coming up on her sleep-til-noon pre-teen years. It was dark and stuffy in their big master bedroom and I tried not to be too intrusive. As soon as I slowly opened the door, the slight creak and the ray of morning light that came in got them stirring. My mom glanced at the clock and realized she should probably get up. My dad could hear everything but didn’t want to get out of bed.
My mom sat up and greeted me, and I greeted her back as she stood up and headed toward the restroom. My dad was still in bed wrapped like a tamale. I said good morning to him and and he mumbled good morning back. I proceeded to tell him about my interest in taking karate lessons. He finally opened his eyes and actually seemed interested in the idea. You should know that my dad was a big Bruce Lee fan growing up, so he must’ve thought the idea of me getting into martial arts at a young age would be kind of cool for him to see in me. He also had a co-worker whose kids, not much older than me, were all in karate and were already high up in the ranks. Maybe it was a competitive thing for him or maybe he just wanted to live vicariously through me, but he lit up at the idea and was immediately enthusiastic about it. As soon as my mom came out of the restroom, we both told her about the karate lessons. Seeing the two of us getting all giddy over it, she had no choice but to give us the thumbs up.
The next day my dad and I went to register for the classes. I had always heard of the YMCA from that song by the Village People but I never heard of the YWCA. At first I thought it was a cheap knock off of the original so I feared the classes wouldn’t be as good. The location was stuck in this little corner of a partly vacant mini mall strip, and as soon as we walked in I saw kids I didn’t recognize in different dance and karate uniforms, which made me a little nervous but I already knew to expect that. But then there were teenagers and even adults walking around in karate uniforms, and at that point I felt the nervousness really kick in.
Apparently class was just about to start and the lady at the registry window said that I could jump in on today’s class if I wanted. My dad said okay and before I knew it, I was already doing the stretches with the rest of the class. I was nervous as fuck. I felt like I was thrown in without warning. I didn’t have a uniform so I stood out like a sore thumb. There were about 4 rows of students, 5 or 6 per row. The first row were all the really young kids, then as the rows got further back the students got older. I was in the first row and as soon as I stepped in, the instructor - a Jay Leno-looking Mexican guy with a faded black gi and a multi-striped black belt - told me to take off my shoes. I did so feeling as if all the eyes in the class were looking at me. They weren’t, of course, but I just felt incredibly self conscious at the time. I also remember the cold floor smelling a lot like feet.
After stretches he had us do a series of punches, kicks and blocks that slowly built up to a combination of moves. We did several varieties of this until it was time to spar. During sparring, he would pair up students of a similar skill level and have them go at it. He would have them break several times throughout the fight and explain why some moves were effective and why some moves were not. It all turned out to be a really fun and interesting day, as my dad sat in a fold out chair along the side of class with all the other parents, relatives and other onlookers.
I went home that day excited and feeling more like a Power Ranger. I showed off the moves I learned to my parents and got even more excited when I found out we were going to buy my uniform later that week. The weeks passed and I eventually started getting used to the routine, despite the fact I’d always feel a bit of butterflies just before the lessons started. I also found out that the majority of the students went to the night classes during the week in addition to the weekend classes. I was only a weekend student so slowly I started falling behind on the moves and all the “katas.” Katas were basically like a presentation of set moves that you performed like a dance. The newer kids that started around the time that I started already knew several of the katas and were already moving up belt colors, meanwhile I didn’t even know a single kata yet. It seemed like my confidence in the classes and my enthusiasm for them started falling off the further and further I fell behind.
Then one Sunday my father, who would normally always sit on the sidelines and watch me during class, had to run some errands on this particular day while I was in class. He told me he would return when I was done and pick me up, but with my confidence getting shakier and the butterflies getting worse, I didn’t want yet another leg of the chair to be kicked from under me, but he had to do what he had to do.
Our main instructor was on vacation so they had one of the younger guys lead the class that day. He was trying to do his best, and whenever he would forget certain routines, the older students were really supportive and helpful in reminding him what to do next. After stretches we had an exercise where the rows of students would do a series of kicks or punches up and down the length of the room. The room was fairly large so he could let multiple lines go at a time, leaving the remainder of the class waiting their turn.
Growing up I was incredibly shy and timid. It was hard for my to raise my hand in class, to volunteer for projects or speak out whenever I was suppose to. It would get worse when I was having a bad day, and that day I was feeling particularly bad and discouraged. My anxiety was running high, my dad was gone and I wanted more and more to quit karate. Then, suddenly, I felt a violent urge to take what felt like the biggest piss in the world.
I thought I could hold it in until the end of the class but the clocked showed that we weren’t even half way done with the day’s lesson. I didn’t know where the restroom was and I didn’t have the guts to simply ask the instructor where I had to go. It seems really silly and stupid now but at the time, the tension felt as big as asking the prettiest girl at school out on a date. I kept holding it in and figured if we kept moving I would be fine. Other students would stop to chit chat with me while we waited our turns to do the moves up and down the floor, but I would just nod and smile and not really listen to a word they were saying because I was more concentrated on holding my piss in. While we were waiting our turns I would tighten my butt cheeks, squeeze my dick or pace around in an attempt to make the sensation go away. It was only getting worse and I felt an internal panic growing inside me.
Drips of piss were starting leak out and I started holding my breath and concentrating really hard not to let go. Meanwhile everyone was oblivious to my internal struggle - this mental and physical battle within myself that no one else in the room, or the even the world, had any idea about. The instructor let a big group of students do their moves up and down floor and there were only a few us left behind to wait. My body and my brain were in a conference room together fighting - my brain telling my body that it had to fight through it, it has to endure, while my body kept shouting how it just wasn’t possible, it just was not physically possible. Then, my body won the battle. It said, “FUCK IT!” at the top of its lungs and let the geyser of piss explode out of my being.
A wet spot instantly formed on the pants of my gi. I felt the warm piss flow down my legs and form a yellow puddle at my feet. The puddle got bigger and bigger and bigger, and nothing felt more glorious than to let it all go. No one noticed me in the act but it wasn’t long before people saw the puddle. A big group of students came back from going up and down the floor and approached the lake of piss I just created. I stepped out of the puddle just in time to hopefully disassociate myself from the evidence of the horrendous act. Luckily no one pointed fingers or named names. The poor instructor, who was already struggling through the day, was presented with yet another challenge, only this one was completely unexpected and disgusting. I distinctly remember one of the students looking at the puddle confused and asking, “Where did all this water come from?” And another student grimly replying, “That’s not water.”
An older student quickly grabbed a nearby mop and bucket and proceed to do the noble act of cleaning after me like the disappointed owner of a new puppy. Meanwhile I didn’t say a goddamn word and just went along with the rest of the class like nothing happened. But they all knew, they all knew.
I was embarrassed, to say the least, and even more angry and upset at the fact that I had to linger around to wait for my dad who was late from his errands. The first thing I wanted to do was storm out of that building and never see anyone from the class for the rest of my life. When my dad came back, he asked me how class was, to which I lied and said, “Fine.” Of course I was too ashamed to tell him what happened, but I’m sure he got the sense, from my lack of conversation, that I was not feeling very happy at that moment.
I had a friend at school who was also taking the same karate lessons at the YWCA, but during the week nights when I wouldn’t go. Occasionally we would discuss the moves we learned and we would hang out because of it. Then a week or so later he told me about a time when he pissed himself during class. It seemed like too much of a coincidence. I felt like he was trying to bait me into confessing that I had done it too, but I didn’t say anything. I knew the story had circulated to the week night students, but I wouldn’t dare reveal that it was me who really did that. I felt like a fool. It was time to get out.
I told my parents I wanted to quit karate and they didn’t understand why. I just told them that it was boring and stupid and I wanted to do other things. My dad was a little bummed out about the whole situation because he thought I would grow up to be a Bruce Lee fighting champion that could defeat all his co-worker’s kids in a battle. Sorry, dad. Not in this life time. There was bit of hesitation in telling them, but I had already experienced far too much trauma to back out of this decision.
This was a deep secret of mine that I carried with me for years and years into my childhood and early adolescence. After enough time had passed, though, I enjoy telling the story from time and time. It was embarrassing and really stupid, but I’m not the only one who has had embarrassing and stupid moments in their life - we all do. Life is pretty much made up of stupid and embarrassing moments.