The sneeze seemed innocent enough.

My wife and I walked along the outer aisle of the grocery store when a dainty “a-choo” slipped out of her. She stopped in front of a health food rack, which was a bit odd for us. This was 2006 and she was seven months pregnant. Normally we just stopped that suddenly for ice cream, chocolate chips, or industrial sized bags of Twix.

She didn’t move.

“What’s the matter?” I asked. “This is the aisle for wheat germ, organic whole wheat, and pickled opossum gland. Pickled opossum gland isn’t even on our list.”

A shopping list in the hands of the wrong kind of shopper can be a disaster. Why even make the stupid thing if you’re not going to follow it? But in the hands of a professional grocery shopper, a list is as serious as a survival guidebook for the zombie apocalypse. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t exist, no matter how much sense deodorant might make.

She didn’t respond; she just stood there, silently.

“You OK?” One of Jason’s Rules for Life is “don’t try to understand what a woman does – ever.” This has helped me survive many discussions, arguments (even though I usually lose, I survive), and the occasional romantic comedy. Normally I’d just stand there and make faces at small children until she started moving again, but she was pregnant. That moved “not understanding” to DEFCON 4. Not serious, but be ready for anything.

“Stand behind me,” she hissed.

She never hisses, at least in public.

At that point I realized something was wrong. Things never got this strange for us in the grocery store; we usually saved our madcap hijinks for Wal-Mart.

“Why?” I asked, not knowing when to shut up.

“Because,” she said quietly. “I peed.”

Apparently “a-choo” wasn’t all that slipped out.

Pregnant women pee. A lot. Frequent urination is a common early sign of pregnancy, and it just gets worse from there. During pregnancy, a woman’s body holds nearly 50 percent more blood than normal, and this leads to a lot of extra fluid going through the kidneys. That fluid has to go somewhere. Like in your underwear at the grocery store.

“You peed your pants,” I said, a laugh dancing dangerously on those words. I shut up after that. I’m not that stupid.

I followed closely behind her through the rest of the store.

“I have to write about this, you know,” I said as we stood in the checkout line.

She looked at me over her shoulder. She didn’t turn fully around, of course. She had a wet spot on the back of her jeans.

“You will never.”

I promised I wouldn’t. However, the statute of limitations for many offenses in Missouri is five years. Our daughter is almost seven. I think I’ll be OK.


Jason Offutt’s latest book, “Across a Corn-Swept Land: An Epic Beer Run through the Upper Midwest,” is available at