Part V: The Flickering Light
Andy was so shocked to actually receive diapers for Hanukah that he hadn’t given much thought to the logistics of wearing them and school was no exception. In the stories he read, strange things seemed to happen when kids wore diapers to school. Either they were changed by the school nurse or someone of the opposite sex started babying them or it suddenly emerged that their best friend wore diapers, too. Andy couldn’t see any of that happening, but what he could see, if anyone found out, was teasing and lots of it. His social position was already precarious. Being caught wearing diapers would only compound that.
“Hey Dad,” he said on Sunday night. “Is it OK if I don’t wear diapers to school?”
“They’re your diapers,” his father told him. “But I certainly wouldn’t.”
“I don’t think I will.”
Andy saw relief sweep over his old man’s face. That sealed it. He would wear at home only and it would remain his secret. It was better that way, Andy thought. It would give him something to look forward to, something to get him through the day.
The next day seemed to drag, though, as Mondays often did. The fact that Andy knew he would be at home, diapered, in a couple of hours, only made things worse. Anxiety gnawed at him throughout his first couple of classes. At lunch, his friends told him he was acting weird and seemed distracted. That prompted Andy to try to focus on something else. He turned his attention to the rest of his classes, boring as they were; to the social studies test that was coming up at the end of the week; to that cool-looking movie, Avatar, which would be out soon; to the football season, where both the Saints AND the Colts had yet to lose a game. No one topic completely held his attention, but together, the swirl of thoughts succeeded in getting his mind off diapers for the rest of the day.
It was a trick that nearly worked too well. Andy had gone home, helped himself to a snack (milk and Oreos – a classic) and set out his books on the small desk in his room to do his homework before it finally occurred to him that he could be doing all of that diapered. He stopped what he was doing, grabbed a fresh diaper from the package, his fifth out of the original twenty, and put it on.
A strange thing happened next: Andy felt nothing. The diaper felt fine physically, or at least no different than any of the other diapers that he’d worn since Friday, but there was no spark of excitement when he put it on. He did not feel more mischievous or more secure or more anything, really. It was just like when Hannah changed him on Saturday. The thrill was gone.
Andy stared at the remaining diapers in disbelief, bewildered that his enjoyment would come and go. That never happened in the stories he read. The diaperee either loved being diapered or hated it. It was never just OK. He would post something to the forums later asking if this was normal. In the meantime, he went about doing his homework, hopeful that his enthusiasm would return.
It did not. He finished his homework, played some Wii and ate dinner with his family. Throughout all of it, the knowledge that he was diapered did not seem to do anything to his mood. No one drew any attention to it and Andy soon forgot that he had a diaper on. When nature called, he stood in front of the toilet and pulled his diaper down so he could pee, treating it as if it were no more than a pair of standard-issue briefs. Only a desire to avoid wasting it caused him to pull the diaper back up at the last minute.
Wearing diapers, Andy realized, felt a lot like lighting that night’s candles. There were no more presents to be exchanged, no changes to the blessings, nothing that would make him think additionally or differently about the meaning of Hanukah or Judaism or life or God, but he took part in it anyway because it was what was to be done.
Unlike Andy’s diaper, the message board was flooded when he logged in Tuesday morning. His post received a wide range of responses. One poster said he should be thankful that he had diapers at all. Another replied with “Welcome to reality, kid.” Not all the responses were antagonistic, however. Someone suggested that he wasn’t enjoying diapers as much because they were no longer new for him. If he wanted to enjoy them again, the poster advised, he would have to try something new along with them. Andy wasn’t sure what that meant at the time, but by the end of the school day, he had an idea.
“What happened to your pants?” his mother asked when he walked into the kitchen without them.
“Trying something new,” Andy told her.
She gave him a quizzical look and shook her head, but did not tell him to put them back on until his father was nearly home. During that time, Jake giggled at his exposed diaper and Andy began to feel like he’d accomplished something.
The accomplishment was short-lived, however. By Thursday afternoon, going pantsless had begun to feel as routine as wearing diapers had felt on Monday. Andy’s mind couldn’t be further from his attire when he sat at his desk at home, working out algebra problems from a musty-smelling textbook. The scrape of the pencil against the page, the jumble of numbers and operators before him and the temptation of the calculator in his backpack’s zippered outer pocket all seized his attention in a way that his diaper, at that moment, proved incapable of matching.
Later, he noted with some dismay that he’d only gone through half the bag of diapers. Hanukah was more than halfway over and he was unlikely to finish the rest by Saturday evening. His once-golden opportunity now seemed like a colossal waste.
Friday came and Andy finally caught a break. His social studies test was done with and he went to lunch feeling free and clear. He’d just taken his first bite of his cafeteria-grade (the crust tasted like sawdust and the cheese came off in a single coagulated layer) pizza when his friend Shane asked him if he wanted to go see Avatar that evening.
“My mom can drive us,” he offered.
“Sure,” Andy said. It was a no-brainer as far as he was concerned.
“Cool,” said Shane. “Oh, hey, you don’t mind if Audrey comes with us?”
Audrey was Shane’s alleged girlfriend. If certain rumors were to believed, she and Shane were going steady, but Andy didn’t know what to make of all that. He saw Shane talk to her in the halls sometimes, but he never saw them doing any mushy stuff. If they had, Andy was pretty sure he would have heard about it. The talk seemed like just that: talk. Then again, maybe Shane WANTED to kiss her and stuff, but didn’t want to seem weird about it. Maybe that’s what this whole going-to-see-Avatar stuff was really all about.
“Nah, I don’t mind,” Andy replied.
When he got home from school, Andy told his mother that he thought he did pretty well on the test and asked about going to the movies that night.
“Who are you going with and what are you going to see?” she asked.
“Avatar,” Andy answered. “I’m going with Shane and his…friend. His mom’s driving.”
Andy’s mother nodded, contemplated the choice of movie, decided it would be acceptable and gave her assent.
“We’ll light candles before you go,” she said.
He was not surprised to hear her say “yes.” If anything, Andy suspected she was relieved because that meant he would be back to wearing pants. But what she didn’t know and what Shane and Audrey didn’t know either was that he would be breaking his own rule and going to the movies in a diaper.