I sat attentively through the length of the ride, peeking out of the only corner I could see over into the cabins of cars as they drove by. Men and women joked as they sat inconspicuously in their driver’s seat, and a slight twinge of jealous, though greatly muted, poked at a part deep in my belly. I’m sure, though, this was merely compounded as we drew nearer to a new life.
We passed through a small suburbia after exiting the highway, and the further we went the houses turned from townhomes to small single family ones hunched closely together, to larger and more stoic homes that sat with austerity far from the sidewalks. Even through the tinted rear windows I could see vibrant shades of orange and rust fall en masse from the trees. Eventually, passing through the blocked streets where most of the homes resembled one another greatly, the truck slowed and carefully turned into one of the many straight driveways and slowed carefully just shy of a tall and slightly worn basketball post. I looked around and saw a white fence dotted with more fallen leaves that stuck to it because of a fresh rain. Though the home was relatively close to the streets and sidewalks they were not largely traveled, and oak trees loomed over the streets and created a privacy canopy for the upper half of the house. Karen hoisted me from the seat and stood me on the driveway, and I stood there taking note of everything while the couple retrieved a few items from between seats and in the trunk until, her hand outstretched welcomingly, Karen beckoned me to follow her over the flagstone inlays and into the back door. We didn’t enter through the front - that was for guests.
Karen pulled open the half-glass door and led me into a room lit only by the a bluish fall hue, the type of light that remains only after being filtered by the October clouds, then the trees, and finally is dampened by the time of day.
“RUFF!” A deep yelp sounded from the adjacent room, and after taking only two steps inside I had to shift all my attention to the clamoring of thunder, and as I scanned all the open spaces of the room I locked on to a large white hound that galloped clumsily around a corner. Seeing that her pack leaders were home, her ears tightened in happiness, her tail spun wildly and uncontrollably, and she almost broke into a full sprint to greet her long-lost alphas.
“Hi, Piper! Hello! Nice to see you!” Pete yelled playfully as he encouraged the mutt to wag even harder and find something to lick, and then she noticed me. Piper tiptoed loudly towards me, certainly not intending any ill-will, but wanting to ensure that her owners had not mistakenly brought home a spy or evil-doer. Her tail still wagging inquisitively she ran her wet nose authoritatively over my chest and armpits, inhaling sharp parts of the air and trapping all of my scents in her nose, ending with her sniffing my crotch area and poking it with her muzzle as if to ask me directly what I was trying to hide.
“Hey, it’s alright, sweetheart,” Karen began, and I noticed then that my hands were gripped unconvinced to her pants, and I had noticed that I was beginning to take steps away from the animal and behind the legs of Karen.
“Come on, let’s get you a tour,” she said as she picked me up with ease, lifting me high above the curious lick of the dog.
Karen brought me slowly into the heart of the family room and my eyes began to investigate the surroundings of this little suburban showroom. The living room laid a foundation for the cornucopia of everything delightfully typical this room was home to. In the corner sat a large television, a newer model and surely expensive, but not hung with a sense of arrogance that suggested the owners made the purchase for show. As silly as it sounds to describe a TV as such, I dare say it was the perfect example of the mindset of this family. They were not afraid to embrace their affluence, but they approached it with a disciplined appreciation for maximizing the value of things. If they were going to buy it, they were going to use it to it’s full potential, and forego anything, in this case, the hanging and shrouding of a television, that would inhibit its full engagement.
A large plush sectional stood flush against the wall and served as a bench for a number of worn and ill-matched pillows, and the mutt, after some excitement towards the visitor had waned, jumped onto the couch and with a sigh cornered himself in what I gathered was his usual spot. A video game console sat messily at the base of the entertainment stand, and the entire room opened to an expansive and well-lit kitchen with modern amenities and austere rock-based countertops. The townhome reeked of commonality that was rampant among the cookie-cutter style homes similar to this, but they were able to outfit their home so as to make it as lavish as possible, and it eventually settled into being descriptive of an upper middle class home.
“Oh, mom, he’s adorable!” a shrill gasp broke my investigative trance. Here I was introduced to Sarah, the late-teenage daughter of the Vaughn’s. Sarah was a slightly heavyset young girl that got most of her facial features from her father. She appeared that she was either in the fourth or fifth grade, and however much she tried to act as though she was a maturing young lady, her overt giddiness betrayed her, and she gushed at my presence like a group of sorority girls at a pop music concert.
“Hello, Toddy! Welcome to our home!” She cooed as her focus turned towards me, her fledgling maternal instincts coinciding with her teenage perkiness into a frightful blend of excitement, and she stretched her arms forward. As I tried to retreat into the safety of Karen’s arm she shifted me and it was just a brief moment before I was being transferred to this preschool-hyena, now in her arms as she spastically tried to coddle me by jamming her nose into my face, despite my obvious body language pleading for her to refrain.
“Mom, he’s precious! How old is he?”
“He’ll turn three in a few months.”
“And already so big! You’re so big, look at you!” Again, I winced unmoved by her friendliness.
“Well, Todd, this is Sarah,” Pete began, “I’m sure she’ll have no problem introducing herself to you, as you’re probably well aware by now.” Pete smiled to Karen and they exchanged approving smiles at their daughters toddler-wrangling ability.
“Sarah, will you show Todd his room and introduce him to Josh? Oh, and tell Josh we’ll be having dinner in a few hours and to be down here on time.”
Karen’s order was like a gun sounding the official transfer of responsibility from Karen to Sarah, and she giggled and almost ran through the kitchen and to the stairs. She was clearly determined to love me to death.
“Josh, meet your cousin!” she ordered, much less lovingly than she had been a moment ago. I guessed there was some hidden radiation emanating from her brother’s room, and whenever she topped the stairs and became within range, the curse of the sibling strained her happiness.
“Wow, a baby. That’s so cool Sarah. Thanks for showing me.” Josh was unmoved by my presence, and I was somewhat thankful for that. I wasn’t sure if I could handle another overly invasive family member. We had luckily (for me) caught Josh in a trance laying on his bed, his eyes bonded to a TV and a video game controller molded into his hands.
“Don’t worry, Todd, Josh is only a dork ninety-seven percent of the time. It was nice seeing you Josh,” she said mockingly.
“It was nice seeing you too, sister and new baby.”
Sarah began the turn to leave by rolling her eyes exaggeratingly, and began skipping down the hall, bouncing me almost violently as we went.
“Here we are, Todd!” She whispered close to my ear. She was insanely more excited to introduce my room to me than I was, and as we arrived at a closed door she slowly turned the knob and opened it in such a way as to create some type of imagined climax. “Wooooooowwwwww!” she cooed quietly as we entered, trying to build my sense of excitement. Had I known how to, I might have played along to be friendly.
The room itself was more stoic than the downstairs, and Sarah assured me, multiple times, that more decoration and toys would be coming in the near future. In the meantime she would guide me to every piece of furniture and knick-knack to describe nearly every conceivable use for them.
The somewhat plain at this time, the room was very much to my liking. It was fairly free of any decoration or coloring that was overtly geared towards people my size. There was a captain’s bed in the corner, it’s vibrant coffee-colored wooden frame accented with two pull-out drawers, and a pastel-blue bedspread served neither to be too whimsical nor serious. The only other piece of furniture was in the opposite corner, a large upholstered rocking chair that looked thick and soft, with a matching ottoman was placed just in front of it.
“Sarah?!” A yell from downstairs crept into the room faintly.
“Show Todd the bathroom, and could you check his pull-up while you’re in there?”
“Ok, mom!” Sarah answered with delight unparalleled, in honesty, by anyone I had ever met before. It was obvious how thrilled she was to have a genuine little person in her care, and I was certainly more life-like than any of her dolls.
“Ok, come on Todd,” she started, yanking my hand and leading me into the hall which had darkened as evening approached. She guided me to the bathroom hallway she shared with her brother and brought me to the large porcelain structure. She placed me in front of it like I was some sacrifice to a foreign god, and then took a few steps back, her inexperience leading her to wonder if she was required to help or if dignity mandated her to leave, so she compromised by standing awkwardly between me and the door. All I could do was look at the toilet which plateaud just above my waist. I rhetorically asked myself what I was doing standing in front of this behemoth, its successful use would require a certain amount of acrobatics that I was unlikely to possess, and I thought that even if I were able to finish the climb it would have taken a length of time that would have rendered the initial effort void.
A few minutes passed with me standing still and eyeing the toilet, and her standing a few paces back looking intently at me. A handful of occasions happened in which I just sort of looked at back at her, wondering what she might be waiting for, and I think she thought the same.
“Maybe you don’t have to go? It’s OK, but just remember where it is in case you have to. Let’s check to see if you went potty already.”
Now that she had regained a knowledge of the situation and how to proceed, she straightened herself with confidence and came towards me, stooping just behind me. She spun me around with the delicateness of a malfunctioning robot, her remaining clumsy of youth adding to my less developed sense of it, and any harmony of movements between us were quickly erased. She pulled my sweatpants to my ankles and began to investigate my pull-up. It was clear this was her first time conducting such research and she was unsure how to assess the wetness level of my training pants. She squeezed the front of it before spreading my legs apart, to do the same to other regions of the pant. I could see in her eyes she was doing so only for complete professionalism and that she was soured by not knowing how to answer her mothers question, and she was very reluctant to break the privacy seal of the pants to further inform herself.
Stumped, she did the only thing that made sense to her. She stood and moved towards me, bending at the waist and interlocking her hands behind my back, then torqing upwards, struggling to balance my weight in a manner that would allow her to still stumble downstairs to present me to her mother for ultimate approval.
“Ok, hold on, hold on,” she delayed, for when we approached the stairs gravity tugged me downwards and I began to slip from her grasp. She set me down though still determined to bring me to the decider of wetness. I was growing somewhat timid by her lack of mothering prowess, and I was slightly skeptical that I would survive this brief encounter down the flight of stairs, a thought which surely must have been evident in my facial expression. Sarah again brought together her hands behind my back, though this time closer to my center of gravity, her elbows coming to hug just below my ribcage and she held me uncomfortably around my abdomen, starting to walk down the stairs.
She took each step carefully, as this was clearly the most taxing form of transportation she had ever conducted. However, an unplanned event merged itself with this situation that I was unprepared for. Because of her tight grip on my belly, every step downward we took jolted me forward, her arms providing a barrier that pushed on my insides at every step we bounced on. On about the fourth or fifth step I began to notice a fullness inside me that was not dissuaded by such prodding, quite the opposite. I felt the pressure grow and start to press against my pelvis from the inside, and around the seventh step I became acutely aware that it was crucial for me to be where I was a few moments ago, standing ignorantly in front of the upstairs toilet. Like a cresting wave, on the ninth bounce, the pressure was too great and I began to squirm and grunt slightly, wanting to free myself from this school age girl’s bond.
“Ok, ok we’re almost there.” She coaxed. I could see landing just steps ahead and planned my sprint back to the bathroom. As her feet touched down on the last step she moved to place me down, but as soon as each of my toes made contact with the floor, and I could feel myself stretched completely lengthwise, I immediately lost control of my bladder, releasing the taught pressure from within. I could only stand there half squatting while I deposited the rest of the urine into the pull-up, looking at a bewildered Sarah with a mixture of disdain, anger, and confusion.
While I had been in the house I hadn’t said a word. I said just a few more to Karen and Peter. I was in a foreign place among people I didn’t know well at all, and now I was standing barely clothed in front of an essential stranger as I filled my pants. I think it was this moment when everything really sank in, and as my bladder emptied I was filled with an overwhelming sense of disarray. It seemed the only place for all of the frustration and anxiety was to pour out of me, and so, for the first time in many years, I cried. It started with a small sob and puffs of air and eventually disintegrated into a full body experience as I plopped onto the hardwood floor, first sitting, then turning over onto my stomach and burrowing into my arms with my ankles still conjoined by my lowered pants. It was the most satisfying release I have ever felt.
Amid the relative chaos, of my tantrum Karen came and flipped me like a pancake into her arms, and though my eyes still closed and still borrowed into my arms and hands, the plush reply of her sweater was much more satisfying than the cold wood of the floor.
“He’s really tired, it’s been a big day for him,” Karen whispered to Sarah, who I’m sure felt bad and much like the culprit for all of this. “Come on,” she calmed, “let’s take a seat on the couch and just rest for a little bit. Peter will finish dinner.”
With that I was taken into the living room and Karen sunk into the couch. She returned my pants to their “up” position before curling me softly into her side, and soon I began to slow my heaves as she danced her fingers over my bangs and behind my ears.
“I know it’s been a big day, Todd. I can’t imagine how fast everything has come at you, but don’t worry about this, accidents happen, it’s not a big deal.”
“It’s not dat,” I replied between inhalations, “Its just - well, I come here and dere is alweady a woom and den Sarah puwlled my pants down and it’s just too much!”
I wasn’t making any sense. I was just overwhelmed, pure and simple. I was very embarrassed to be sitting here in wet training pants less than 48 hours after being an aged and physically capable man. The finality of everything was finally starting to permeate my brain, and I think my anxiety was so great precisely because of it. This wasn’t something I would “wake up” from.
“Aww,” Karen chuckled, “it’s ok big-man. I know it’s tough to have everything so new. Don’t worry about any of it and take as much time as you need. Nobody said you had to get settled in the first hour.”
Her words were very calming, to say the least, and for about an hour, we just sat on the couch, watching TV on a low level with a few table lamps lit for a soft glow, and in the room adjacent I could hear the crackles and scrapes of Pete finishing the meal that Karen had started.
“Sarah, Joshua, come on!” Pete yelled through the staircase, and a few seconds later Sarah gingerly descended the stairs, and a few seconds after that Joshua clanged uncoordinatedly downwards, both of them turning into the kitchen and heading to the softly lit kitchen table. Karen stood and then turned to bring me along. As she picked me up and I moved freely for the first time since we sat, I could feel the gels of my pull-up squish together as the weight of my legs pushed inwards, and my entire crotch felt slightly chilled at the dampness.
“We’ll get you changed after dinner,” Karen whispered, maternally sensing my even slight discomfort, then depositing me in one of the tableside chairs. My chin peaked just above the tabletop, offering me a slight chuckle after some time of feeling a little depressed. Sitting at this perspective was like being able to hide but engage the table at the same time.
Dinner passed uneventfully and I was perfectly willing to act as the outsider and observe the nuances of the family. Sarah was excited about nearly everything, and though Josh tried on numerous occasions, it was rare for her to become flustered at anything. Pete liked to control the conversation of the table and Karen was content to sit quietly and, much like myself, watch her two children and husband interact.
After dinner Josh was tasked to clean the table and did so hurriedly and Sarah continued on talking about whatever it was that she was talking about. Pete went to the family room and began the search for the hockey game, and Karen asked me to follow her upstairs. She led me to my room and left for a moment while I used this time to explore my new room, now with solitude.
“Todd, come here a sec,” she said as she poked her head through the top of the door frame, and I followed her down the hall and to the bathroom where she had prepared a shower.
“I thought it might be nice to take a shower and have a few minutes to yourself.”
“Fanks.” I really was appreciative of this. Karen left and closed the door, leaving it open by just an inch. I pulled down my pants with a minor amount of clumsiness and repeated the process with my shirt, resulting in me standing on the bathroom carpet with a droopy and bulging pull-up. I looked around for a stool to see if I could prop it near the sink to see the mirror. I wanted to see what I looked like, to take a few minutes to really inventory everything. I hadn’t really had that opportunity since the whirlwind of everything that seemed to happen in one quick, encompassing moment. However, there was no such stool around and I resigned to just moving onwards and forwards. I shimmied the pull-up off my waist and it fell with a damp thud onto the carpet, and I carefully pulled back the shower curtain and stepped in, making sure to avoid any slippery spots, and stood in the warm mist and began to relax.
What seemed like only seconds later, but likely closer to twenty minutes, Karen knocked at the door and brought me away from my utopian imagination and into the real world of the Vaughn’s.
“You ready, Todd?”
She stuck her hand into the shower and shut off the water, pulling back the plastic curtain and extending a hand for me to steady myself as I exited. As I stepped onto the carpet she draped a large towel over me, leading me back to the bedroom.
As we came in I noticed she had laid a few items of clothing on the bed, expertly arranged one-by-one. I dried myself as Karen moved about the room, preparing a few things as she went before sitting on the edge of the bed.
“Todd, do you, by chance, remember at what age you were potty-trained?”
I hadn’t really thought of it. I don’t think it’s really a momentous occasion that everyone cherishes among their list of memories.
“I know it’s your first day and you’re stressed out already, so I don’t want you to get worked up by this, but I think you may have regressed a little further back than you thought you might.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you’ve been with us an entire day and you haven’t used the toilet once...” She trailed and subconsciously moved her hand to the collection of items on the bed. I followed her fingers as they brushed over some folded clothes until they rested on a small rectangular white object. We exchanged glances in silence, her trying carefully to not say anything demeaning and I still looking curiously at the items on the bed.
“Would it be alright if we just played it safe for the next few days and wore a diaper instead of a pull-up?”
As Karen said this I marveled at the diplomacy of it all. The one side of her face scrunched in a way as if she was feigning a frown, but her eyebrows pinched upwards to suggest the question she asked would be better phrased as a command instead. It was politely forceful.
“I guess, but for how long do you fink it will be until I don’t hafta wear eiver?”
“Well, we’ll just take it day-to-day. Whenever you think you don’t need it is fine, you don’t have to worry about it.”
“But why can’t I just wear de pull-up? What if I hafta go to the bafroom?”
“Honey, I just don’t want you to be uncomfortable. Pull-ups are made for an accident once in a while, not for someone who has a few accidents at a time. I really think you’ll be more comfortable in the diaper. Do you want to just try it for tonight?”
I didn’t really put up a fight; however, Karen’s softening glances deterred any objections I might have had, and I acquiesced as I lowered my head and nodded. She almost happily jumped forward and removed the towel that hung around my shoulders, draping it over my head and quickly drying my hair before tossing it aside. She stood and turned to enclose me between her and the bed, and propped me onto the edge, scooting me back, and then gently pressing her two fingers into my chest as I fell slowly onto the mattress. I lay naked and with my legs curving over the bed’s edge as I looked up to her, her eyes not focused on myself but her hands that deftly rifled through the items on the bed.
She picked up the white object and I looked at her every move. The diaper was lined with pastel green trim, and as she opened it, stretching the plastic and removing the creases made while it waited in the package, I saw the inside was lined with a fluffy faint green coloring. She dropped the opened diaper on the bed next to my waist and reached for a small purple jar. She popped the cap of it and dipped her finger into it, and immediately following took my ankles together with the other hand and lifted them skyward, coating my waist area with jellied goo that was heavily fragranced of lavender. She kept my legs airborne as she reached across and grabbed the diaper that sat off to my side and as she pulled my ankles higher my lower back lifted off the blanket, and she slide the back of the diaper underneath it. The whole time I lay limp and pliable but completely comforted by her soft and firm movements.
As she lay my bottom down I felt the ridges of the diaper tickle the back of my thighs, though they were much more abrasive than the more subdued edges of the pull-up. She reached between my legs and grabbed the top of the diaper and flattened it just below my belly and pressed on it with a flattened palm, her free hand then moving to my waist and pinching a corner of the diaper, and I heard the unfastening of Velcro and cocked my head to observe her as she pulled a small printed tab around my side and affixed it to the front of the diaper. Simultaneously she moved her other hand to the counterpart tab on the other side and, with what I imagined to be her eighth hand, pulled the last free frontal side of the diaper tight across my waist and held it there while she brought the tab over it, following the same steps as before. She leaned back into a fully upright position admiring her work and I lay there feeling the confines of the diaper as it fully enclosed me.
It was much thicker than the pull-up and as I stood I was reassured with every step that such a large envelope would remain on me through nearly anything. My lower back felt the edge of the plastic high above my waist and my thighs were pushed apart by the middle of the diaper that had yet to fold and position itself as it was still somewhat like the flat piece of cardboard that it became while in its package. The front of the diaper was playful and marked with a teal and purple waistband, and a faint sea-foam print danced subdued on the cream colored faux-cloth covering. As I moved my legs I felt some of the diaper stick briefly to the cream that Karen had applied, and my nostrils were overtaken by the combination of lavender and another unidentified but pleasant scent.
“See?” She motioned, “that’s not so bad is it?” I was still slightly unconvinced despite her expert attempts and influencing me.
“I guess not, and, it’s only for a coupwle days, wight?”
“Right.” She smiled genuinely. She seemed authentically more content now that I was agreeable to her wishes and she smiled warmly before gathering the rest of the items off the bed. “Here you go,” she quipped as she handed me a light fleece pair of solid blue pajamas consisting of a Navy bottom and a faded sky top, and I dressed as she pretended to busy herself, but out of the armholes I could see her merely standing further towards the wall, watching to gauge my abilities and coordination levels, ready to assist at any moment.
She beckoned to me as she began to exit the room and I followed suit, toddling behind her with a slightly audible rustle coming from my waist. I followed her down the stairs and back towards the kitchen and into the living room where the rest of the nuclear family was. Pete was outstretched on the corner of the sectional and watching a hockey game on TV and Josh mirrored him from the adjacent corner, Piper lounging attentively next to him. Sarah was on her stomach in the center of the floor, her legs bent upwards and her toes dancing slightly as she was focused intently on a book she clutched open in front of her.
“Hey, sport - nice jammies!” Pete said playfully, making me blush slightly.
As I looked around at where I might sit my eyes met with Josh for the first time that I had been home, and we reciprocated a look that depressed me genuinely. For years whenever I entered a room and made contact with another male that was athletic and energetic, we would give some unspoken nod to signal that we both knew we were on some personality par. However, as I attempted to do the same now, my look was not met with a replying nod, but with indifference. Who could blame him? He was not born with genetics that would gear him towards gushing over little kids, and that’s all I was to him.
“Are you thirsty, Todd?” Pete asked in a high pitched voice I could tell he only reserved for me. I nodded in the affirmative as he walked by to the kitchen and I slowly made my to where Karen had just sat, feeling some sort of unspoken affinity for her as my caretaker, and hurdling the couch, eventually settling into a leaning position against her. I looked at Piper who had been focused on me since I came to the room. Without warning she lurched off the couch and made her way towards me, pausing to arch her back and stretch. She edged the couch and slowly extended her neck, huffing delicately any exposed skin of mine for about a minute, until she jumped on the couch, circled a few times, and fell next to me, resting her head next to my foot. It appears she had accepted me into her pack and decided I was now among those she was responsible for, and I smiled a bit because of it.
Pete came back and handed me a small green cup with a purple lid that came to a small spout in the front. Though I was reluctant to entirely embrace all the aspects of youth I took it, rationalizing it because it enabled me to drink while fully reclined. I settled further into the couch, my head propped on Karen’s thigh and my foot tucked inter the furry snout of a sleeping dog. My heart slowed and my brow became heavy. I think I fell asleep very shortly thereafter.