For those that don’t recall or never read the original, “Acting Like A Baby” was a silly little short story I put up last year about a kid with hypopituitaryism whose mother leverages her perpetually short status into something of a cottage industry, putting her in diaper commercials and toddler pageants and other similar nonsense, obviously living vicariously through the daughter thanks to her own failed acting career. Here’s my continuation, almost exactly where our heroine’s little “epilogue” left off. Enjoy!
“Goddammit, Jerry, this is NOT the script I signed up for!”
“Charlie, this isn’t my fault! The sponsors insisted…”
“Fuck the sponsors! This is bullshit!”
“Tabs, please, can you calm her down?!”
“Sweetie, you have to keep this in perspective!” Great, now they were tag-teaming me.
“Keep what in perspective?! That I’m going to spend the rest of my life being the world’s most famous fucking diaper baby?!”
“Charlie,” Jerry, the director piped back up. “Look, you have to understand, Huggies is rolling out their new Ultratrim, and they want your face on it!”
“I was supposed to be potty trained this season, dammit!”
“No, you were supposed to start potty training. Do you not get it, that we don’t have any other sponsors at this point? If you’re out of diapers, we’re all out of a job here!”
“I’m fourteen years old, Jerry! And everyone out there knows it! How am I supposed to have a career after this?!”
“Charlie,” Mom leaned in and spoke quietly.
“If you don’t do the show, I have to go back to work, which means you have to go to public school. What do you think the other kids in high school will say when they find out who you are?”
Damn her, but she was right. Ten tons of pure defeat dropped on my shoulders, and I buckled under its weight, sitting down on the floor as tears filled my eyes.
“Charlie, come on. The marketing people are working on something with Osh Kosh for next season, and Mattel might be getting on board too. You just gotta hang with it here for a few more episodes, that’s all.”
“Easy for you to say,” I whimpered. “You’re not the one going out there peeing on herself on national TV every Tuesday night at eight!”
It had already been a brutal six weeks since “Tina’s” potty training began. Sure, the Pull-Ups commercials were at least better than the diaper commercials I’d been doing four times a year for the last four years, but the scripts all demanded that my character be completely uninterested in potty training. Hell, that was the bulk of the comedy; “Grace” takes me to the potty, I don’t go, I head back to my chemistry lab or my computer or my physics books and promptly “have an accident”, which she or “Tony” get to discover later, since I’m much too busy to be bothered with the toilet. And oh yes, the suits at Huggies just absolutely ate it up.
Even worse was my mother’s ingenious “cover story” that got circulated to the press – that I was incontinent along with the hypopituitary crap. Ratings skyrocketed at that point; people already thought I was adorable as Tina the toddler with the 250 IQ, but now my story was “inspirational”, the brave teenage girl who overcame her disabilities by embracing them. I was America’s sweetheart. Except I was stuck in diapers all the time, everywhere I went. Well, Pull-Ups for the last six weeks. Now that was coming to an end, because Huggies wanted me back in diapers AGAIN.
Finally I capitulated and let Jerry and Mom drag me back to makeup to get sorted out, and I soon found myself back on the set to face the cold reality.
“Charlie, you ready to go for the next scene?”
“Yeah,” I muttered. “Ready to go” had been code for “wet” since the first season. In fact, I’d had myself a frustrated and dejected pee while the makeup and costume crews were having their way with me, making my tear-reddened eyes bright and happy-looking again, adding just the right amount of blush to my cheeks to look childishly adorable, and swapping out my far-too-grownup-looking Benetton sweatshirt and leggings for a bubblegum pink sleeveless knit dress, the hem of which landed right on my hips, of course, showing off the bottom half of my underwear to the world. Can’t have modesty get in the way of product placement, after all. Oh, and, of course, the barrettes and ribbons. Couldn’t do a show without a mountain of girly hair accessories stuck all over my curls. The only good thing about doing this show and the associated commercials for Huggies was that I finally was able to grow my hair out a little starting in season two, when I was supposed to be perpetrating like a three-year-old.
“Alright, places everybody!”
I halfway waddled over to the set and allowed “Grace” to hoist me up onto the cold metal exam table. She handed me a copy of War and Peace, which I opened to a random page and pretended to read, and off we went.
Doctor walks in casually. “So all the tests have come back negative, Mrs. Marcus. Tina is a perfectly healthy, astoundingly intelligent four-year-old who’s a little small for her age.”
“But what about the potty training?” Grace gives him a desperate gesture as she speaks, as though the world were about to end over it. I continue to ignore them, flipping pages frequently.
“Relax. Don’t worry about it. When she decides she’s ready, trust me, the light switch will flip on and that’ll be it. If you push too hard, she’s going to have attachment issues later on in life, and I know that’s not what you want for her.”
“Well no, but what am I supposed to do in the meantime? Put her back in diapers?”
“From what you’ve told me, absolutely. Don’t make a big deal of it. If she asks about the potty, then take her, but don’t put a lot of pressure on her. You have to remember, you’re dealing with a kid here who’s probably smarter than both you and I put together. She’s got a lot going on in that little head, so I’m not surprised she’s too busy for mundane tasks like taking bathroom breaks. Aren’t you, cutie?” He turns to me and pinches my cheek.
“Not now! Napoleon’th right in the middle of takin’ over Mothcow!” I lisped. Laughter from the audience.
“Oh goodness, and you’re wet again, aren’t you?” Grace asked.
“Uh-huh!” I reply cheerfully, still staring at the book. “Need a new pull-up, Mommy.”
“Well how about you lie back and let Mommy put a nice dry diaper on you, Tina?” the doctor suggests.
“Okay.” I flop back onto the table, holding the book up in the air above me. Grace sighs as the doctor hands her a plain diaper, and she reaches towards my hips, shaking her head. “Can we go to the thpathe mutheum after like you thaid, Mommy?” I ask.
“Camera one, zoom in on Charlie and… CUT!” Jerry shouts.
Grace straightens back up, then helps me off the table. “Mom!” I shout. “Mind getting me out of this nasty thing now?!”