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April 23, 2007

Stage Fright

As most of the wretched souls who have the distinct displeasure of knowing me in the abysmal exercise in futility known as real life would probably agree, I am not someone who conjures up images of a person likely to experience stage fright. In fact, quite the opposite, I generally relish in the opportunity to publicly embarrass myself in front of multitudes of unforgiving people; my public performance of the infamous Engineering Dance (which has tragically become part of my clubbing repertoire) in front of hundreds of incoming Berkeley freshman in 2003 and 2005 should be evidence enough. However, last week, in a very uncharacteristic moment, I experienced a severe bout of stage fright at the most inopportune time: while giving a urine sample for a work-mandated drug test.

Now, I will grant you, dear readers, that peeing in a cup is a decidedly different exercise than dancing awkwardly on stage, but the concept remains the same. Performance-related anxiety, though much better in the bathroom than, say, the bedroom, remains problematic, and especially so, when the objective is to fill up 10 ml—and only 10 ml—of a small plastic cup. Besides the pressure of having to control the stream so as to not overflow said cup, one is also confronted with the challenge of beginning urination in a distinctly contrived setting. I do not know about the rest of you, but I choose to pee when I have to, not when I decide it is time to urinate. In fact, I can sometimes even experience stage fright when entering a crowded bathroom. I need to pee, but for some reason, it just will not start!

Luckily, in the aforementioned situation, after several minutes of standing around with a cup, I finally was able to produce the necessary 10 ml, though it took two attempts. The first time, I filled up 40 ml, accidentally poured out too much (damn the faulty meniscus line!), and had to repeat the procedure. Three cheers for functional urethral sphincters! It still took an inordinate amount of time, which was reflected in the dirty look the lab technician gave me upon receipt of the sample. In retrospect though, I think any time you can pee in a cup and not get it all over your hands, clothes, and the floor, you should count your lucky stars.

The experience of peeing in a cup—my first such experience—also brought to mind a number of questions. First, how do women pee in cups? I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that, but it seems like it would be a lot harder. Second, if stage fright is this severe while urinating in a cup, I wonder how bad it gets at fertility clinics? And on that topic, how the hell does that (fertility clinic) stuff work at all? It's going to take a lot more than functional urethral sphincters and a decent aim to get 10 ml in a cup. Thoughts?


I'm pretty sure you are allowed to have assistance when giving a sample of the latter variety.

Direct your attention to: and

Hope that quells your curiosity.

Katie, how exactly would you know?

Egg, thanks for the tips.

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