Official Numerology

My mother was a prim person. She didn’t like foul language, never cursed, and did not countenance her children using slang language for bodily functions that were not to be discussed in polite company. But if we had to discuss such things–say, to advise that we absolutely had to pull over at the next rest stop or risk disaster and humiliation–we knew to use Mom’s preferred euphemisms: “number 1” and “number 2.”

I had forgotten “number 1” and “number 2” until I used the county courthouse men’s room today and saw that Mom’s polite terminology has been adopted by an official sign in an official establishment. Mom would have applauded their discretion.

Studying The Effects Of A Full Bladder On Human Thought

Let’s see — could having a painfully full bladder affect cognitive ability?  Believe it or not, researchers from Australia and the Yale and Brown medical schools have actually studied that subject and published the results in the journal Neurourology and Urodynamics.

According to the paper, here’s how the study worked.  Eight healthy young adults consumed 250 ml of water every 15 minutes “until they could no longer inhibit voiding.”  These poor souls were given “standardized measures of cognitive function” when they reported “an increase in the urge to void, a strong increase in the urge to void, an extreme increase in the urge to void” and then after sweet relief had been obtained.  In short, the test subjects drank until they were full to bursting and then had to hold it, no doubt hopping foot to foot, while they took tests.  Who designed this study, the Marquis de Sade?

The study concluded that having “an extreme urge to void exerted a large negative effect on attentional and working memory functions.”  No kidding!  Except at the bookends of our life span, the desire to avoid soiling the u-trou is one of the most overwhelming urges known to civilized human beings.  Anyone who has had to make the cheek-clenched speed walk to the nearest facility knows you are focused exclusively on trying to get there in time.  The surging insistence of impending bodily functions don’t leave a lot of brain capacity for pondering the deeper questions of existence.

Here’s an idea for the next study in this area:  how many great thoughts have been hatched by seated humans after the biological imperative has been satisfied?