I need your help. I am a bedwetter. I am 13 and I don’t know what do to or who to go to, or why I keep doing this. I hate myself, I wish I could change.

I wish I could talk to someone about this, but I’m scared. Like maybe talk to my dad, but I don’t even know my dad ‘cause he left us when I was little, and I think he hates me because whenever I call him he doesn’t want to talk to me. He never even remembers my birthday.

...I just wanted to tell someone who could help me, I’m so embarrassed. Please don’t use my name. What should I do? Please answer my email if you have some time.

Thank you,


This isn’t my normal column topic, but your letter struck a nerve. But before I say anything else, listen to me:

Relax. Breathe, my friend. Eat something manufactured by Little Debbie. Draw a warm bath. Watch episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.” Or at the very least, “Monk.”


the bed is not a huge problem. Granted, I’m no doctor, and my advice isn’t worth much. It’s probably a good idea to get checked out, just to be safe.

Still, I believe you will get through this. I swear. And do you want to know why I believe this?

Because you’re talking to a former professional bedwetter.

That’s right. I used to wet the bed. You might think you’re unique, but you’re not the only one in the world with at golfball-sized bladder.

I peed the bed for years. It got to the point where my mother wouldn’t let me drink liquids past lunchtime. “But I’m thirsty, Mama,” I would whine.

To which Mama would reply, “Swallow your own spit, I do enough dirty laundry to cover the needs of Mainland China.”

Does any of this sound…

Molino, Florida. Population 1,306. It was 1,307, but I heard Miss Carolyn’s mother went on to Glory last night.

You’re looking at hayfields, cowhouses, and a church every sixty feet. A night on the town would take four minutes.

The sky is cloudy. The foraging grass has recently been cut. It’s late autumn, a sweet fragrance hangs in the air because the papermill is in full bloom.

I once dated a girl from Molino. Her father worked at the mill in Cantonment. Every time I showed up to her house for a date, her father happened to be cleaning his Remington on the porch.

Jimmy’s meat-and-three sits off Highway 29. You can’t miss it. Jimmy’s Grill is just up the road from the feed and seed. Just look for all the trucks.

I am meeting my longtime friend and surrogate older brother, Steve, for lunch.

It is an average Friday afternoon. The parking lot is slammed with Fords and Chevys. You will not find a Tesla in Molino.

I open the door. The bell dings. There is

a wait. We are greeted by a line of guys in boots, waiting for a table. They are wearing neon safety shirts, covered in mud, and they smell like hard work.

“We love Jimmy’s,” they say. “Only place around that serves real tomato gravy.”

Soon, we are waiting alongside a gaggle of people. In line beside us is a group of women with frilly white hair. I ask what brings these women to Jimmy’s.

“We’re in a sewing circle,” the spokeswoman says. “One of us has low blood sugar, so we all piled into Rhonda’s car and came straight to Jimmy’s because Jimmy’s peanut butter pie cures low blood sugar.”

“They have great butterbeans,” adds one woman.

There is another lady in line who overhears our conversation. She is from Canton, Ohio, just passing through. “What the heck is a butterbean?” the woman…

This story was told to me by a friend. A retired nurse.

The nurse was passing by room 202 in the pediatric oncology wing. It was late. The hospital was decorated for Chrimstmas. Tinsel on the walls. Construction-paper chain-link garland everywhere. Pictures drawn by sick kids. Stick-figure Santas, anatomically incorrect reindeer. The gentle thrum of compressors. Mechanical beeping.

Outside room 202, a crowd was gathered around the closed door. There were maybe a few dozen doctors, nurses, techs and medical staffers congregated outside the door in silence.

“What’s going on?” said the nurse.

“Ssshhh,” said one of the doctors, pointing to the door. “Listen.”

It was singing. The nurse heard the muffled sound of singing coming from room 202. It was a child’s voice. A little girl. The song was “Jesus Loves Me.”

The medical staffers were all smiling. Some were sniffing noses, dabbing eyes.

“What’s she singing for?” asked the nurse.

“She sings herself to sleep every night,” whispered a doctor. “We all come to listen.”

The kid knew all the verses to the classic hymn.

There are multiple verses to “Jesus Loves Me.” Everyone usually just sings the first one. But there are others.

“Jesus loves me this I know,
“As he loved so long ago;
“Taking children on his knee,
“Saying ‘Let them come to me.’”

The medical staffers said the child sang almost every night.

“Jesus loves me—loves me still,
“Though I'm very weak and ill;
“From his shining throne on high,
“Comes to watch me where I lie.”

There was something so paralyzingly beautiful about this child’s song. Something hopeful, but also haunting.

One of the nurses in the group, listening, was a total wreck. The others were consoling the woman. Her face was pink and swollen. Her nostrils were clogged.

This nurse said the little girl had just received bad news today. “Her treatments aren’t working,” said the…

Sunset. My driveway.

“Okay, everybody get in the truck!” I shouted, using my cheerful American dad voice.

Although, technically, I’m not a dad. In fact, I don’t even have a traditional “family.” Not unless you count our dogs who weigh more than average middle-schoolers. Thelma Lou is 101 pounds of bloodhound. Otis Campbell (alleged Labrador), 92 pounds. Marigold (blind coonhound) about the same weight as a bag of Fritos.

I whistled and dogs leapt into my dilapidated truck, butts wagging, ready for action.

My wife, however, did not get in the truck. She glared at me, clearing her throat loudly, tapping her foot, until I handed her my keys to let her drive.

In nearly 20 years of marriage she has never sat in a passenger seat. She gets motion-sick when I drive and tends to puke on my shoes.

I knew all this going into the marriage. Her matrimonial conditions were simple: she always drives; I never play the accordion indoors.

Don’t get me wrong, our marriage is fair. We’ve made

many compromises. For instance, on our wedding night I agreed to always let her operate my truck if she promised to fill our closet with 52,339 pairs of shoes she will never wear. So far so good.

But our life together has all been worth it, believe me. The woman who drives my truck could have chosen a much classier guy for herself. She could have found someone with a great job, who came from good breeding, who owned actual formalwear.

Instead, she married a dropout who went to community college for 11 years and graduated with straight Cs in his early 30s. A guy whose personal truck contains hounds that cost more than his truck did.

But we’re a happy clan, that’s what I’m getting at. And tonight we had an outing. Once we were in the truck, we drove across town to a nondescript neighborhood. The…

Hi. We don’t know each other. But Christmas is on the way, and I wanted to introduce myself. Then again, my name isn’t important. I’m nobody special. I just wanted you to know that I’m thinking about you. I’m even praying for you.

I know you’re going through a hard time. Someone you love died. Maybe someone you once trusted hurt you deeply. Maybe your mother is suffering. Or your children are going through a rough patch.

Your loved one died by suicide. Or maybe it was cancer. Lymphoma. Alcoholism. Heart attack. Old age. Or a car wreck.

Then again, maybe it’s you who is in distress.

Maybe the doctor gave you bad news. Maybe your life is falling apart. Maybe you’re in a godawful state. Maybe you are lying on the floor, weeping, when you accidentally picked up your phone to read this.

Please keep reading. Because you’re the person I’m writing to.

Listen, I know the whole world is happy right now. Everyone is giddy with excitement. People are getting very festive, preparing their houses for Christmas, hanging

lights, installing hordes of gaudy yard art.

It’s hard to stomach all this joyousness when you yourself are stuck in agonizing pain. It’s hard to get excited about anything when your life has turned into a big pile of chicken scat.

You are disgruntled and cynical. And you’re not wrong. This is a contradictory and hypocritical time of year.

Everyone talks of love and kindness and benevolence. And yet nobody sees the invisible hurting people. Oh, sure, some folks volunteer to help the homeless and the orphans during the Christmas seasons. But for most people, all this talk of love and munificence is basically just a load of B.S.

I’m sorry, but it’s true. And you know it.

This is the time of year when TV commercials turn into ultra sentimental saccharin. Advertisers promote charity, compassion and love. And yet,…

My dad was born in a farmhouse. He had very little growing up. At least that’s how he always told the story. His family was pretty hard up.

His most valuable possession was a transistor radio he’d bought at a department store when he was a boy. He’d listen to the radio shows in the 50s. “Abbot and Costello” reruns. “The Jack Benny Show.” He’d listen to ball games. He’d root for Mickey Mantle. Roger Maris. The “Say Hey Kid.”

Otherwise, he didn’t have squat.

Which would explain why my father headed up the Christmas tree committee every year at the fundamentalist Baptist church (motto: “Buying life insurance is a form of gambling”).

My father would gather up donations from anyone and anywhere. He would shamelessly ask for money. He would even resort to sending paralyzingly cute Little Leaguers door to door, selling cookies.

The money earned would be used to buy balsam firs. He bought truckloads of trees.

At which point people in the church would submit addresses of families who needed help

for Christmas. Whereupon my father and his army of his friends would deliver trees in early December.

Every year, I would go with Daddy on these deliveries. Each year, we would load dozens of balsams into the bed of his F-100. My father would have a clipboard of addresses. And we would drive into the hinterlands, wearing Santa hats.

One night, I remember riding into a little trailer park, way out in the sticks. I remember how dark it was in the country. I remember my father parking the truck in front of a single wide trailer.

We walked up to the mildewed porch. Daddy carried a tree over his shoulder. We rapped on the thin aluminum door. When the door opened, a young woman was staring back at us. A baby on her hip.

Daddy insisted that we sing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”…