“Well, look at this, Gavi-poo,” Skye pointed me to the pen of animals in the distance. “This could be fun,” she offered. “Feed the safer animals. Pet them. Get a little messy. How’s that sound?”
I shrugged noncommittally “Could be fun, I guess. But what about...uh?” I gestured to my bottom half. No one might have taken note of me at the gorilla exhibit. There had been more clowns and vendors nearby the gorilla exhibits, still handing out gift bags and balloons and drinks. I wasn’t the only one my age wearing a ridiculous prop.
I didn’t think I’d have much luck of that coincidence at an exhibit targeted at actual babies. What if the parents there thought I was some kind of weirdo or something?
“What about uh?” She gestured to my bottom half. “You don’t need to be embarrassed about that.”
“Honey,” Skye cut me off and drew me close, nuzzling my forehead like a cat. “I take my clothes off for tips, and I’m not embarrassed. I just own it and nobody can embarrass me for it. Just own being a cute boy in a diaper today and no one will be able to embarrass you, either.”
“But-” I started to whine and protest.
“Own it, Gavin. Own it,” she encouraged me. “Besides, I bet you won’t be the only big boy in diapers out there. Now let’s go play in the petting zoo. It’ll be fun!”
As we came up to the pen, Skye was only half right. I wasn’t the only boy in diapers, but I was definitely the only big one. Every other diapered person in the pen was maybe three or four, at the most. All of the little boys appeared to be in scaled down versions of what I was wearing, safari print diaper included. You’d think one of them would be wearing Pampers or Huggies or Luvs. Were all the mothers just eager to use up the free diapers gifted to them?
As we drew closer to the petting zoo pen, it felt like we left the world of exotic animals and entered Old MacDonald’s Farm. The cement path gave way to dirt and grass. Sprinkled around the big interaction pen were small, bright red wooden barns, each one housing different animals for the petting zoo. Leafy trees provided sun-speckled shade. A zoo employee slouched, dozing on a stool by the gate. She wore the green zoo shirt and khaki shorts. No diaper for her.
Inside the pen was a conglomeration of common barnyard animals- baby sheep, piglets, chickens, goats, lamps, and even a llama. They all mingled together while little kids wandered about, feeding and petting them. The pen itself wasn’t mud as much as it was wet dirt, with hay sprinkled about it. I suppose what it lacked in aesthetics made for easier mucking and cleaning out.
A baby billy goat trotted up to all the toddlers and begged and bahhed for pellets of food A couple of hens, followed close behind pecking up what the greedy little goat dropped, a yellow chick close on their heels.
A little lamb followed its mother around the pen. Wherever she went, it went A sow laid in the mud in the far corner with her piglet, both taking mid morning naps.
“So,” I asked, Skye “What do we do?”
“We get some kibble from the dispensers, silly,” Skye nudged me. Not five feet from us was a clear plastic casing, with a little turn crank, like with a gumball machine. Instead of gumballs, though, there were innumerable little brown pellets. A sticker on the front read “25 cents”. I didn’t have any quarters on me, but a quick look around showed a change machine next to a few overpriced soda machines.
“Seems easy enough,” I said reaching for my wallet out of habit. Instead of my back pocket, my hand slid against the smooth, soft plastic covering my ass. My ears filled with a slight crinkle as a reward for my mistake.
“Skye!” My voice rose in a panic. “My wallet! It’s still in-”
“Right here, Gavi-kins,” Skye smirked as she dug into her purse, dangling my wallet by her thumb and forefinger. “I made sure to dig this out in the bathroom earlier when I was changing your pee-pee pants.”
“Skyyyyye!” I whined.
“Own it, Gavin. Own it. No one’s looking anyways.”
Hot faced, I held out my hand, palm up to take my wallet.
“Nope,” Skye said, dropping my wallet daintily back into her purse. “You don’t have any pockets. Besides, today’s my treat. Be right back, Gavi-poo!” She swished and skipped away to the change machine, leaving me alone by a playpen for baby animals and their mothers.
I leaned over and looked at the action going on. The children were behaving oddly. There were no squeals or shouts or giggles or crying, like I had expected. Instead, I saw a bunch of toddlers and pre-schoolers crinkling around in the mud, quietly feeding and petting the animals. They were well behaved. They were gentle. Some of them, I saw, made regular checks and looks around, blushing, like the animals were an afterthought and they were looking for something else.
They were all like little versions of me.
If anything, their mothers were rowdier than they were, cheering them on from the side lines with cooing cheers of “That’s right, sweetie!”, “ You can do it!” “Enjoy yourself!” and “Go Play!”’
Something caught my eye in the dirt that threw me off a bit: Footprints. Lots of them were all over the place on the ground. Big foot prints, and shoe marks littered the mud and hay covered pen. They were too big to be women’s footprints by the looks of them, not on average anyways. Maybe Skye was right, maybe I wasn’t the only adult who had come to the petting zoo today.
Catty corner from where the two pigs slept, was a hay filled pen within the pen. Two rabbits, a mother and her kit, hopped around in their private little pen. That was odd, I realized. Bunnies didn’t typically have only one baby at a time. Neither did pigs, now that I thought about it. Same with lions and wolves. Yet each of those exhibits had only a single male cub.
Something strange was going on here. When the tour guide had mentioned that there had been a breakthrough in veterinary fertility treatments, hence the mother and cub theme, I had just thought they had found a way to make the animals mate. Maybe it wasn’t as simple as that. Maybe the animals, forced into pregnancy, had lots of miscarriages or unhealthy babies, leaving only one baby per mother, even in animals that birthed litters.
“Hey Skye,” I waved my girlfriend over as she came back with some quarters. “Something’s weird about this zoo.”
“Don’t be silly, Gavin,” Skye waved off my concerns, “you’re just imagining things.” Her body tensed for a minute.
“No, seriously,” I pressed on. “There are a lot of baby animals here.”
“Well yeah,” Skye relaxed when she realized what I was talking about.
“But there aren’t enough baby animals.” I told her. “Animals that birth litters still only have one baby a piece. Maybe this treatment their using to make mothers is a little shady.”
“Huh…” Skye seemed to mull it over. “You are too clever by half, Gavi-kins. I hadn’t thought of that. I’m impressed, big boy.” I practically exploded with pride at the compliment.
“Now detective Gavi-kins, why don’t you do the honor and get the first bit of feed?” she handed me a quarter and gestured towards the kibble machine.
“Don’t you want to do it?” I asked, trying to avoid getting in the dirt and the muck with all of those little kids.
“I do,” Skye admitted, “I really do. But when I take my turn, I’m going to take a reeeeeeally long time, so I thought you’d want to go first and get some fun in feeding the little critters.” she lazily tilted her head to the side.
“Why can’t we both go at the same time?” I asked. Skye tilted her head to the other side as she thought about it.
“We coooould,” she replied. “But then I wouldn’t get to stare at your cute little butt bending over when you feed the animals without people noticing, and then you wouldn’t get to stare at mine on my turn.” She blushed a little and licked her lips seductively.
“Oh you are bad!” I guffawed from sheer shock.
“Yeah I am,” she flirted. “Now are you gonna go out there and give me a little show, or what?”
“Yes ma’am!” I practically saluted before crinkling off to get some pellets. I speed walked over to the machine and slipped my quarter into the little slot. I grabbed the rectangular knob and gave it a twist, making the quarter vanish as a handful of kibble spilled out into the waiting chamber below.
I lifted the shiny metal flap and kibble poured into my open hand. It was time for this incredibly awkward day to start becoming enjoyable. I turned from the pellet dispenser to stare about the pen and wondered where to start. I quietly observed the little kids and the baby animals. Two kids took turns feeding a hungry and ornery baby billy goat, who practically jumped upon them in order to get to the pellets in their hands. The kids didn’t squeal or jump as I’d expected little children would. Instead, both little boys got bug eyed and quietly tried to scamper away from the energetic baby goat, who just followed them until he found another little boy who was crouched over to feed a little lamb. The goat jumped, practically crawling over the docile lamb to shove his own head into the little boy’s hand and steal the lamb’s pellets.
All these little kids in diapers. Just like me. I blushed and tried to shove that thought out of my head. Instead I concentrated more on the animals. I walked around the outskirts of the pen a little. At the other end of the pen was a little black boy standing close to his mother. He’d lured the baby llama over with the pellets and just stood there, calmly petting the fluffy, dirty coat as the animal licked pellets from his hand. He giggled and babbled at the animal, tilting his head back to grin at his mother with some drool running down his face.
I smiled at the scene. Then I giggled when something soft and wet tickled my toes. I looked down and jumped back in surprise to see a rotund little piglet grunting and snuffling about my feet. Through the thick layer of dirt and dust and drying mud, the pink skin poked through in patches. I wobbled slightly on the uneven ground then fell with a thump and a crinkle. Luckily the diaper was so thick, and the edge of the pen was more grass than dirt. Between both the grass and diaper padding, my fall was cushioned. Some pellets fell from my clenched fist and landed by my feet. I sat, stunned and just staring as the piglet quickly gobbled the dropped food up before any other animals could. Then he went back to sniffing around my feet.
The pig kept nibbling on my toes. I sat there, padded rump in the dirt, giggling as the oinker kept licking and tickling my toesies with its tongue. Heh. The little piggie was nibbling on my little piggies. That thought made me feel incredibly witty and clever. I had to tell Skye that one when I got back over to her at the edge of the pen.
Slop slammed into my left ear as a thick, pudgy finger jammed something into it from behind me.
“CRUDDY CARL!” A nasal, almost repugnant voice shouted loud enough to reverberate the gunk so rudely placed in my ear. Without thinking, I clapped the palm of my hand over my ear and rolled to the right, avoiding my attacker. I quickly scrambled to my feet. Without thinking, I scraped the mud out of my ear and wiped it on my t-shirt. I looked around, trying to lay eyes upon my assailant.
He wasn’t to my left. He wasn’t to my right. Then I looked straight down in front of me. Standing in front of me, hands on his hips and his chin held high was some obnoxious little brat. His dark brown hair was short and wet as if someone had just run water over it recently. I could make out some blonde highlights at the tips of the bedraggled mess. What kind of douche dyed a kid’s hair, anyways?
He was a fat little cuss, too. He was the kind of fat that substituted for muscle on the playground before puberty. His sleeveless top and basketball shorts did very little to hide the diaper bulge underneath. Around his wrist, an orange balloon bobbed at its tether.
He sneered at me more than smiled. His dark brown eyes twinkled with complete disdain for anyone who wasn’t him. This was a brat. The kind of brat that grew up to be a bully who grew up to be a complete and total tool.
“Get it kid?” The pudgy, pug nosed preschooler smiled up at me, his expression complete three year old arrogance. “It’s a Cruddy Carl instead of a Wet Willy, cuz I got some mud in your ear too.”
Kid? Kid? I wasn’t a kid, even if I was in a diaper with stupid looking cartoon animals. He didn’t have any right to address an adult like that. Somebody had to set this brat straight. I reared up to my full height glowering down at the little rugrat. He stared back at me defiantly, not even flinching.
“Meh,” the little punk grunted. “You’re too dumb to get it. You’re just a baby,” the brat waved me off and turned to walk away back towards the pig.
“Excuse me?!” my nostrils flared, and I put some bass in my voice. “What did you just call me, young man?” He looked back over to me, his brow raised quizzically, like he was taking me in.
“I called you a baby, punk. What about it?”
My blood turned hot. No way was I letting some little bastard talk to me like that. I dashed around and faced him, stared him down his pug nose and pudgy double chin.
“I am not a baby,” I growled.
“Then why are you wearin’ a diaper?” he asked, his arms crossed, a cocky smirk plastered on his face.
My blood froze. How did I counter that in a way a three year old would understand?
“I-I’m getting into the spirit of things here,” I lied. “Everybody is doing it. It’s like a costume.”
“Looks like a diaper to me,” he retorted.
“It’s NOT,” I spat. “It’s just a costume.”
“Did you pee your pants today?” the little brat said, still leaving his arms crossed.
“Uh..” I hesitated, “no!”
“Yeah, you did.” the punk called my bluff. “You pissed yourself and your mommy had to change your wet pants for a dry diaper, didn’t she?” He thumbed back to where Skye was waiting for me to finish playing. “All the little babies are wearing their zoo diapers today. They were being given away in the gift bags.”
I glanced around. Walking by, I saw mothers and their children walking, being carried, and pushed in strollers rolling by. The ones whose diapers were out in the open all looked identical to mine. There were even a couple kids just like that playing in the petting zoo with us.
“Skye’s not my mom,” I took the easiest defense.
“Pfft,” the preschooler snorted, “Okay, you’re babysitter, or your cousin, or big sister. Whatever. She still wiped your ass and put that diaper on you. You’re still a baby.” I was beginning to shake with rage. I’d never wanted to beat a kid before, but there was a first time for everything.
“What about your diaper?” I pointed to the obvious bulge in his pants. “You’re wearing a diaper, too!”
“Am not!” the little punk snapped at me, for the first time on the defensive. “I am not wearing a diaper, you little baby!”
“Looks like a diaper to me,”. Now it was my term to give a smug grin and cross my arms.
“It’s not!” he screamed at me. And without warning, almost as if he wasn’t even thinking about it, he yanked his basketball shorts down past his knees. I got a good gander at what he was wearing. Well, it wasn’t a safari diaper, but that’s where the differences all but stopped.
It was bulky and full of padding. It was light blue with little drawings of racecars all over it, and it had a plastic sheen. It bulged in all the right areas even though there were no tapes holding it together. They were training pants. Old fashioned non-disposable, machine washable, training pants; like the kind that people used before Pull-Ups were a thing. I think I’d even seen that exact same design on a random google search of mine the other night. You find the darndest things on Google by accident. Don’t hit “I’m Feelin’ Lucky” unless you mean it.
It was time for a little childish psychology.
“Pull your pants up, dude,” I said, shading my eyes as if he had done something obscene. Beginning to blush, the little brat shimmied his shorts back up to his waist.
“Yeah...well…” he paused, “see, I told you they’re not diapers.”
“They looked an awful lot like diapers to me,” I replied confidently.
“Nuh-uh!” he spat. “They don’t look a thing like what you’re wearin!”
“They’re big and puffy like a diaper,” I stated.
“Yeah…” the brat was an animal walking into a trap, and he knew it, yet he didn’t dare disengage. He wanted to, no needed to see where this was going.
“And I bet they crinkle like a diaper,” I kept on. It was a safe bet given the plastic.
“Yeah….” the little punk agreed, reluctantly.
“And I bet you pee in them like a diap-”
“Ha!” the kid cut me off, pointing his finger at me like he had found an error in my logic. “They’re not for going pee-pee in!”
“What are they for then?” I asked, still maintaining my smug facade.
“They’re for just in case.” he said, confidently.
“Just in case, what?” I prompted him.
“Just in case I forget to go potty...I mean to the bathroom.” Oh this was too good.
“So if you don’t go to the bathroom,” I lead him along my train of thought, “and you pee in your pants, those things soak up the pee so your pants don’t get wet?”
“Yeah…?” he agreed, still not seeing
“How is that not what a diaper is for?”
“I….I….I….” the snot nosed brat stuttered
“I’m just sayin’, dude,” I looked down at him. “If it looks like a diaper, and sounds like a diaper, and does what a diaper does...it’s a diaper.”
“But…” the kid paused.
“I mean, I just started wearing this thing today,” I gestured to the zebra and lion infested bulge around my waist. “You probably woke up in a wet diaper just like that one this morning.”
“DID NOT!” the punk screamed, shaking his head furiously. “I JUST HADDA ACCIDENT! These were just in the gift bags and I didn’t have nothin’ else to wear!”
“You had an accident, and you think I’m the baby?” I asked incredulously, ignoring my own hypocrisy. Little kid logic was so much easier than adult logic sometimes. “Wait a minute…” a lightbulb of recognition lit up over my head. “Didn’t I see you by the gorilla exhibit about fifteen minutes or so ago?”
The kid paused. “Nnn...No!” Oh this brat knew how to be an asshole, but he was a terrible liar.
“Oh my gosh!” I cried out. “Yeah you were!”
“Nuh uh!” he denied
“Uh huh!” I corrected. “You were the one who was messing with the gorillas and peed your pants when they messed back!”
“Sometimes people have accidents, you little baby!” the kid was getting red faced now. “That doesn’t mean that I’m not an adul...a grown uh...a big boy! I’m a big boy!”
“Well I hate to break it to you, ‘big boy’” I pressed on, keeping him emotionally off balance. “But those training pants didn’t come in your gift bag. My gift bag didn’t have training pants in them. Did those shorts come with the gift bag too?”
He nodded, his eyes darting around furiously as he connected dots that he hadn’t seen.
“Yeah...no they didn’t,” I asserted. “That means you’re either lying to me, or someone slipped them into the gift bag.”
“I’m not lying!” The brat stomped his foot. “Somebody tricked me! Somebody put these things in the bag!”
“So that means someone knew you were going to have an accident,” I hissed to him. “Somebody knew you were going to wet your pants and prepared for it.” The kid’s eyes widened with realization.
“They knew you were going to piss your pants and tricked you into putting on that diaper by telling you it was something big kids wore, and you fell for it. You wet your pants and put on that diaper because they knew…” I leaned in closer so I could look him dead in the eye. “You. Are. A. Baby.”
The little brat just hocked a loogie in my eyes! Mucus and saliva dripped off my face while the pudgy little punk stomped off in angry victory, his orange balloon bobbing behind him. That son of a bitch! I was fuming as I wiped the remains of his attack and smeared it on the side of my t-shirt. I wanted to hit him. Hypothetically, I’ve never supported corporal punishment, but right then, I had never wanted to beat a child’s ass more than right then.
Then I got an idea. An awful idea. I got a wonderful, awful, idea!