Dennis came to still sitting in the dentist’s chair. Anesthesia had a weird effect on Dennis; on most people, in fact. The college senior didn’t dream when he was this drugged up as much as his brain just turned off.
The last thing he remembered was the dentist asking if he’d made sure to go to the bathroom. Dennis hadn’t been sure why the old-timer had asked that, but he nodded anyway.
‘I wonder what he wants to know-?’ Dennis had thought. By the time his brain had reached ‘that?’, the clock had skipped ahead an hour, and he was drooling into the paper bib chained around his shirt.
“Well, kiddo,” the old man asked, “do you want the good news or the bad?”
“Gooo-noooog.” If he hadn’t felt so messed up, Dennis might have laughed at himself. He didn’t slur this much when he was completely shitfaced drunk.
“The good news is,” the dentist said, “your surgery was a complete and easy success.Yanked those wisdom teeth right out with no problem at all. Now there’s plenty of room for your other pearly whites.”
Automatically, Dennis’s tongue started to probe the back of his mouth. He felt more than tasted the bloody stumps where his last set of teeth had started coming in. He winced in pain. The dentist chuckled at that. Clearly Dennis wasn’t the first to do that to himself. “Wusha-baaaa-nooog?”
The dentist didn’t say anything. Instead, he replied by pointing down towards Denni’s lap. Wobbly as all hell, Dennis had to muscle himself up so he could see exactly what the ol’ tooth yanker was motioning to.
It was in the shifting of his weight from his back to his pelvis that he got his first clue. His groin rubbed up against something wet and clammy. The dark wet spot on the front of his khakis confirmed what his crotch had already told him: He’d pissed his pants.
Dennis’s cheeks flushed bright red. THAT’s why the doctor had asked if he’d gone to the bathroom before he’d been gassed off to dreamland. “Don’t feel bad, son,” the dentist clapped him gently on the shoulder. “Happens to a lotta fellas your age. Some people can hold their anesthetic and some…” He must have seen the embarrassment in Dennis’s groggy eyes. He changed track. “Nothing to be embarrassed about. Happens all the time.”
A soft click as the door to the operating room (is that what they were called when it was just a dentist’s office?) and a familiar voice. “Yes Doctor? Your nurse said you wanted to see me?” It was Mom. Even through the haze of the laughing gas, Dennis knew that voice anywhere.
“You’re his ride home?” The dentist asked. “A parent, maybe?”
“I’m his mother, yes,” she said. “He’s staying with us this weekend while he gets his wisdom teeth removed. Is he ready to be driven home? She walked over to the chair and leaned over. You okay, baby? Ready to go…” she saw the wet spot on his pants. “Oh…?”
“Yes, about that,” the dentist told her. “He had an unusually strong reaction to the anesthesia. Thought you might be able to help him.”
Mom seemed a little dumbstruck. “Help him?” Who could blame her? Dennis certainly didn’t know what the guy was talking about. “It’s not like I still carry a diaper bag around,” she joked.
The dentist’s laugh was hearty, good natured and absolutely fake. He must have heard something like that reaction a lot. He gestured over to a cabinet. “I’m sorry, I should have been more clear. Your son’s umm…reaction isn’t terribly uncommon. Take a look.”
Mom opened the double doors of the cabinet just above a handwashing sink. On one side were folded up clothes, the ugly mint green that could only be found in a medical setting; clothes very similar to the dentist’s garb. On the other side were stacks of underwear; but the way they were folded and how bulky they were made them look like more than just underwear. It was Mom who said the word first. “Diapers?”
“Medical briefs,” the dentist corrected. “Adult Pull-Ups if you prefer. That and cheap scrubs. Mild incontinence is a not-uncommon side effect, so I keep backups in stock.” He went on, as Dennis and his mother kept staring. “Nothing permanent,” he promised. “But things might be…hard to hold in for the rest of the day. Thought it prudent to be prepared.”
“And?” It took Dennis everything he could just then to formulate that one word clearly.
“And I thought you’d want help putting one on before you left.” He shrugged. “That or walk out of here in wet pants. Your choice. Or I could have one of my nurses come in and help…”
Dennis thought about the pretty women he’d seen up front. The secretaries and nurses and hygienists. Some looked like they were a few years older than him, but not too old for him. He imagined them snickering and pointing as he left, the damp spot around his crotch a not so subtle marker of his shame. Worse, he imagined them yanking down his pants for him.
“MOM!” he yelped. At least she’d seen everything; even if it had been a looooong while since she’d needed to.
Mom let out a laugh. Sold, Dennis knew. “Been a while since you called me that,” she said. “Okay, I’ll help you. I’ll take you home and you can sleep the drugs off.”
The dentist opened the door and slipped out. “I’ll give you two some privacy,” he said. “There’s also some old grocery bags that you can put his wet clothes in.” And with that, he was out of their lives.
“First thing’s first,” Mom said, grabbing both of Dennis’s wrists. “Let’s get my big boy up and out of that chair.” Unconsciously, Dennis rolled his eyes, even as his mother had to help him to a standing position. “What?” she said, jokingly. “It’s been a while. This is all muscle memory; mouth included.”
Dennis toddled over to the counter and had to lean against it just so he could slip his loafers off without busting his face. Ugh. Speaking of face, he got a nasty look in the mirror. More than his bladder had had a reaction to the knock out stuff. His skin had broken out in terrible acne again.
His skin had been blotchy all the way from seventh grade until his senior year of highschool. He hoped it wouldn’t take him this long to ditch it. The feeling of Mom yanking down his pants for him brought him back to the present. At least she was looking away and kinda sorta averting his eyes.
“This is just for today,” she reminded him, even as he stepped out of his wet pants and underwear. He hadn’t had to do something like this since before Kindergarten. “It’ll be boxers again tomorrow.”
She popped open the adult Pull-Up, plain white and ruffled around the waist so it could fit the maximum amount of sizes. “You’re still my big…” she giggled and slapped the counter. “Sorry, sorry. I’ll stop. I’ll stop.”
“Fanks,” he mumbled. He managed to pull the not-diaper up around his hips. The gross green scrubs were next. Less embarrassing, but he needed more help to get his feet through them; long legs and all.
Time to cut the tension. “Why do they call ‘em wisdom teef anywaysh?” He was getting better at talking. At least the numbness above the waist was going down.
Mom helped him finish by pulling the pants up herself. “It’s because of the whole ‘older people are wiser’ belief.” She grabbed his sneakers and helped him slip them back on his feet. Even redid the laces for him. Sneakers? Laces?! She didn’t see Dennis blanch. Damn. Anesthesia really had knocked him on his ass. He couldn’t even remember what shoes he’d been wearing.
“Yeah?” Dennis asked. That made sense. “Did the gash knock you on your butt this bad when you got yours taken out?”
Mom stood up and stuffed Dennis’s wet pants and undies in a shopping bag. “Nope.” That made Dennis blush a bit. “Never had them taken out.” She pointed to the back of her mouth as if he’d take the time to count her teeth. “I think you got your jaw from your father’s side.”
“Ah…” was all Dennis said. Didn’t have much else to add, truth be told. Nothing left to do but to take his Mom’s hand, and stumble past the other people in the waiting room. At least his dignity was largely intact.
Light snickers followed him out the door. It only then occurred to him that all the nurses already knew what the change of pants meant!
“How’d it go?” Dad asked when Dennis wobbled in, Mom still having to hold his hand.
“He’s no longer wise, anymore,” Mom joked.
“Nope…” Dennis said. “Not wiiize.” His mouth had regained most of its feeling, but he was still slurring a bit. His gums were starting to throb, and he let out a low moan unconsciously.
Dad twisted his mouth a little bit and cocked an eyebrow. “What’s with the pants?” he asked. “Scrubs?”
Mom kept shuffling Dennis along. “The doctor gave them to us. Dennis needed them.”
Dennis dry swallowed. Please no, please no, please no, please no…
“I never had my wisdom teeth removed,” Dad said, “but I’m pretty sure dentist’s don’t operate down there…”
Please no, please no, please no, please no…
“He had a little too much anesthesia and wet his pants,” Mom said. “So he’s in trainers for the day.” There. Ripped that band-aid right off.
“Mom!” Dennis said, right before having to stable himself against a kitchen chair. “Private!”
“Nothing to be embarrassed of, Denny,” Dad said, a faint smirk on his mug. He hadn’t used that nickname since Pre-K. “Your mother and I changed your diapers before, we don’t mind doing it agai-?”
The palm of Dennis’s hand slapped down on the nearest flat surface. It wasn’t nearly as thunderous as he had wanted it to be, but it was enough to cut Dad off. “I…CAN CHANGE…MYSELF!”
The adrenaline carried his pounding footsteps straight out of the kitchen and to the bathroom door. His dulled senses, motor skills, and momentum sent him crashing headfirst into the closed door. Knees buckled. The world went topsy turvy. A set of strong arms caught him in a trust fall.
“Easy there, bud!” It was Dad. “You just had an operation and you’re woozy is all. No shame in needing a little help.”
No shame in needing a little help… Something about that phrasing stuck in Dennis’s mind. It’s something his father had told him repeatedly growing up, and his stupid pride made things worse. He’d told it to Dennis when he was seven and still wetting the bed; needing goodnites. Dennis had heard it that year in middle school when he’d broken his foot, but was too proud to let someone carry his books for him. Same spiel from freshman year of highschool, and they hired a tutor to stop him from failing algebra…and the tutor was someone he’d had a crush on. And now he was hearing it again when a bad reaction to anesthesia was making him need disposable underwear for all of a day.
“Sorry,” Dennis said.
Gently, his father patted him on the shoulder. “It’s my fault, son,” he said. “I shouldn’t have teased you. That’s on me.” Dennis looked back. The smile Dad wore was softer this time; a polite and gentle regret.
Mom took Dennis by the hand. “Come on, hun. Let’s get you cleaned up.” She opened the door, and Dennis was gently boosted back into a full on standing position.
“Thanks, Mom.” Dennis started wobbling into the bathroom.
“Anything I can do to help?” Dad asked.
Mom followed Dennis in and closed the door to just a crack. “Just make sure the dishwasher isn’t running. Hot water runs out faster if it is.”
“Got it.” Dad walked away.
“Oh, and maybe some water?” Dennis asked. “Knock out drugs dehydrate you, right? I think I read that somewhere.” It might be the placebo effect, but just thinking about it was making him thirsty.
When no response came, Mom said, “I’ll make sure to tell him.” She went for Dennis’s pants.
“I can do it myself!” Dennis whined, though he made no move to slap her hands away. This was like being drunk without the fun parts. He hadn’t even realized he was leaning on the bathroom counter again until just that moment.
Not even bothering to argue, Mom tugged the scrubs and the medical Pull-Up down to Dennis’s ankles. He was able to slip his shoes off and step out so that Mom could ball the disposable up and toss it in the wastebasket. Before she did, he noticed a yellow stain in the padding. A big one, too. Ooof! He hadn’t even realized that he’d been peeing. Must’ve been when he bonked his head or something.
“Arms up,” Mom said. Dennis obeyed, almost reflexively. Must be the drugs. The t-shirt was pulled off of him and added to the puddle of clothes on the bathroom floor.
“Thank you,” Dennis said.
Mom leaned over the bathtub, and turned the water on. ”Welcome.” Hot water came pouring out and steam started to rise in the air.
“Thank you…” Dennis repeated.
Clearly, there was a miscommunication going on. When Dennis said “Thank you” he meant it in the same way that a person thanked a waiter refilling their glass: Sincerely appreciative and also with the unspoken expectation that the person would quietly leave once the task was complete. “Um…a little privacy, please?” It felt so awkward to have to say it; in front of his own mother no less and naked to boot.
Dennis blinked. “No?”
Mom rolled her eyes. “Honey, you bumped your head not two minutes ago just walking here. I’m not going to have you slipping and cracking your head open.”
He looked at the filling tub, a cloud of steam already hitting the roof and fogging up the mirror. He’d only wanted to come in here for the privacy and the chance to wash his own stink off him. He was now being denied one of those things. “Can I at least turn the showerhead on?”
“I think it’s best if you just sit in the tub.” Already, she was guiding him, one foot then the other, into the tub. A kind of muscle memory was kicking in, and Dennis was sitting down before he could try to make a counterpoint. “Safer that way. Easier on your muscles.”
The tub was rapidly filling. The water was already filling up past his waist. His legs sang out. For some reason they ached terribly as if they’d atrophied or he’d sprinted three miles. The hot water felt wonderful to be submerged in. Something stubborn yet lingered inside him. “So you want me to risk drowning instead of cracking my head open?”
It was more of a joke than anything, and his mother took it that way. Dennis couldn’t drown if she was there watching him. She chuckled and opened a pantry underneath the sink. The lavender colored bottle she took out poured out lavender colored contents. A moment later, the water was becoming foggy, foamy, and lavender scented.
”There,” Mom said. “There’s your privacy.” Dennis relaxed a little. “And if you pee again, she added, “I won’t notice.” So much for that relaxation…
Once the bubbles encased and clouded his manhood, Dennis was able to relax a little bit. Truth be told it wasn’t that bad. As long as Mom didn’t talk (which thankfully she stopped), this was kind of relaxing. It was nice to just have his muscle aches be boiled away; and to have his thoughts be able to float in the water with him. He even let Mom break out a washcloth and get the parts of his body that weren’t submerged wet and soapy.
For the first time since waking up in the dentist’s chair, his skin was turning pink from something other than embarrassment. It was nice to just close his eyes and drift off as he was massaged and pampered. He’d had a rough morning, but it was turning into something of a spa-day. Too soon for his taste, the water in the tub turned tepid, verging on cold.
“Okay…” he finally spoke. The numbness in his mouth was completely gone. Even better, the pain in the back of his gums was gone too. He ran his tongue along the back of his mouth and felt no soreness or stitches. No taste of blood either. Amazing! Maybe the anesthetic hadn’t worn off as much as it had just started working in the places it was supposed to work. “I think I’m done,” he said. Ready to get out.”
“Sure thing, hon.” Mom grabbed a fluffy towel. “Do you need help getting up?”
So nice to be asked! Experimentally, Dennis leaned forward and steadied himself on the rim of the tub. The water supported his weight and the world didn’t seem quite so wobbly as before. “I think I’m good.”
Mom helped him out of the tub anyways and made a point of looking away even as she helped Dennis step into the towel. “Uh-oh!” Dennis stumbled…slipped really…and she steadied him. “Not quite.” She started leading him out of the bathroom. “I think a nap is in order.”
A shiver and a sudden sense of relaxed tiredness. The water droplets evaporating off of him and his exhausted muscles made the idea seem appealing. “Yeah. Okay.”
Dennis’s old bedroom was fairly spartan. In fact, it wasn’t even really his bedroom anymore. Since he’d moved into the dorms, his room had been converted a kind of bland guestroom. No more video game systems, movie posters, childhood trophies and keepsakes, bookshelves, or closets full of things that couldn’t be parted with come garage sale. Only bare beige walls and a neatly made bed with boring navy sheets, and an empty dresser remained.
Hindsight can be a real kick in the pants: When Dennis had scheduled his wisdom tooth removal, he’d planned to move back in for the weekend to recover, but hadn’t brought in any kind of suitcase… He hadn’t planned on needing a bath to get rid of any kind of pee-pee residue, either.
“My clothes,” Dennis said. “I’ve got a bag in my car…”
“Don’t worry about it.” Mom opened a drawer, and Dennis couldn’t help but gawk at what he saw. Goodnites. Bed wetting pants. Extra Large Pull-Ups. Whatever you wanted to call them, Dennis hadn’t worn them in years.
“What are those?” Dennis felt stupid asking. He knew the answer; but then again “What are those?” wasn’t really the question. He knew what they were, but he didn’t know what they were doing here.
Mom understood the question. “Just did some spring cleaning,” she told him, popping open a pair. “Found a half pack of these and thought to store them, just in case.”
The young man’s eyebrows shot to the roof. “Just in case, what?”
“I was thinking of grandkids in a few years,” she replied dryly. “But they’re gonna get used a little sooner.” Dennis opened his mouth to complain, and got a finger pressed to his lips before he could utter a syllable. “The dentist only gave us one pair of briefs and these are the next best things. You already had one accident. Let’s not have another.”
Dennis literally couldn’t argue with that. His energy was flagging, and he was not long for this waking world. He’d turned beet red splashing urine on the inside of his pants. How much worse would it be if he peed the bed in the middle of the day?
The fight left him as Mom knelt down and held the Goodnites open for him to step into. This time she didn’t even tell him to. He just did, only looking down long enough to make sure his feet slip into the holes. It was getting easier to do what his Mommy…erm…his Mother…wanted. ‘Wise’ or not, there were some habits that didn’t fade completely with age, and Dennis always was something of a Momma’s boy.
“Much better,” she said, and then snuck in a pat to his butt. The light swat caused Dennis to jump on his toes a bit.
He looked at himself in the dresser’s mirror. He looked ridiculous. A big boy in what was basically a Pull-Up. It was like the cartoons with the big muscle man in nothing but a diaper and safety-pin. Except, Dennis didn’t look like a muscle man.
Ooof! He looked like a wreck, truth be told. His skin was still blotchy from acne, and something had happened to his physique, to boot. The tone and muscle that he’d worked so hard for wasn’t reflecting back at him. He wasn’t flabby, but lacked any sort of definition. He was almost gangly. Practically pubescent. It reminded him when he was sixteen and he hadn’t “filled out” just yet as it were.
That couldn’t be. Still, it was a bit jarring that a Goodnite could still fit over him.
“It’s just for today and tonight,” Mom reminded him. “Till the operation gets through your system. You can wear your regular jammies tomorrow.”
“Brought you something to keep you hydrated.” Dad walked in carrying a glass filled with red liquid. His eyes darted down, clearly seeing Goodnites, but choosing to remark. Probably for the best. Mom’s nudging could irritate Dennis, but a single remark from Dad was sometimes enough to make him feel like less of a man; such was his ego. “Drink up.”
Dennis took the glass and stared at the cherry red stuff. “What is it?”
“Kool-Aid,” Dad said. “Thought it’d taste better than plain old water.
“Is that too much sugar?” Mom asked Dad.
Dad scratched a bit of grey stubble on his chin. “It’s still mostly water, hon. It’s Kool-Aid, not that high fructose crud.”
Dennis closed his eyes and knocked back the fruity drink. It was good. Really good! Sipping became gulping became guzzling. Dennis didn’t normally drink anything other than jaeger bombs this fast.
“Oh! Careful there champ! You’re dribbling!” With a reflexive gasp for air, Dennis put the empty glass down, his belly now feeling comfortably flooded and full. Like a well trained pit crew, Dad swabbed Dennis’s chin and neck with a wet wipe. “Good stuff, huh?”
Dennis nodded “Uh-huh,” he said. “Really good.”
Mom touched the top of his lip. “Missed a spot,” she told Dad.
That same smug grin came back to his father. “Oh, I just thought he wanted to look a little more like his old man.” Dennis looked back in the mirror. A stripe of red raced across his upper lip. An old-fashioned Kool-Aid mustache. He tried reaching out for a wet wipe so he could get himself, but his father simply stepped up and did it himself. “I’ve got it for ya, sport.”
Now clean, dry, and hydrated, it was nothing at all for Dennis to wobble to his old bed, plop down on the mattress, and start to drift off, over the covers.
“Should we tuck you in?” Mom asked.
“Oh just let him rest,” Dad said. “He’s a big boy.” There was more than a little irony in his voice. He was falling asleep in what was essentially a diaper without the tapes.
“We’ll wake you when it’s time for lunch,” Mom promised.
“Get some sleep,” Dad told him. Turning out the lights so that only a thin shaft of sunlight came in through the boring beige curtains that had been hung in Dennis’s absence.
Too late. Dennis was out before the lights. “Ni-ni…” he mumbled. He almost heard his voice crack.
For the longest time, Dennis had been a thumbsucker. When he had been a baby, he almost never went to sleep without a pacifier in his mouth. Even when Mom and Dad had taken away all his binkies in pre-school, he’d just switched to his thumb. It’s not something he’d meant to do out of defiance; it’s just that his body had gotten used to the act. He’d finally kicked the habit when he was eleven by having Mom and Dad tape oven mitts to his hands for a week straight one blustery winter.
Sadly for his teeth, the home remedy didn’t break the habit in time for him to not need braces.
After enduring two years of braces,and nearly half a lifetime of insecurity all because of a frankly infantile habit, imagine Dennis’s shock and embarrassment to wake up with his thumb tucked deep between his lips. He hadn’t known when it happened; no dreams about slurpees or anything that would make his lips start to pump. His nap had been a dreamless sleep; just silence and darkness where time had lost all meaning. It wasn’t unlike being in the dentist’s chair in that regard. Part of his mind wondered if he had slept the day away.
A glance at the kitty cat clock in on his wall immediately told him that it had only been a handful of hours. (Not immediately, actually…he had to find the little hand and then count by fives around the clock until he stopped at the big hand.) Dennis hadn’t even slept till lunchtime like he’d wanted to.
But if it was one thing he’d learned about himself, it was that when his body wanted to wake up, there was no point in rolling over and snoozing. His eyes were open and any attempt to close them again would just feel like prolonged blinks. He’d likely gotten more than enough sleep in the dentist’s chair.
Wiping his wet thumb on top of his comforter, Dennis let out a high pitched yawn; so high pitched that he startled himself into a sitting position. Immediately, he felt the sodden squelch beneath him. What the…?
Oh yeah…the Goodnite. He’d needed it this morning. But it was only for today and only while he slept… Tossing off the Paw Patrol sheets, Dennis swung his feet out onto the floor and stood up. With only his skinny thighs and gravity yanking it down; Dennis felt the full weight of the soaked garment threatening to sag right off his hips.
It felt…loose. Oddly loose. Was it because he’d wet so much, or was it somehow too big for him? Maybe it was one of those things where it had been stretched so thin from him putting it on that it couldn’t hold its proper shape after less than two hours of use.
He shuddered at himself for thinking of the word “use”. Gross. Out of a kind of nervous tick, Dennis ran his tongue over the back of his teeth. That, more than the wet night-pants caused him to suck his breath in.
Something didn’t feel right.
The young man grabbed the Goodnite at his hips and sloshed over to his dresser and knocked aside his dinosaur figures so he could lean forward and get a good look at his teeth.
Crooked! His teeth were crooked! What the heck was going on? Years of orthodontics down the drain because he accidentally sucked his thumb, once! “Okay…” he squeaked to himself. Something sounded weird about his voice too…it sounded higher than he remembered. It must be because of the panic. “Okay…it’s not that bad.”
They weren’t that bad. Bad, but not that bad. Not as bad as he’d remembered when he first got his braces put on way back when. Still crooked…but not too crooked. Will Ferrel had crooked teeth and he was still a leading man…in comedies at least.
Another plus was that weird breakout on his face had cleared up. He looked at the top of his head and blinked. Was his hair a lighter shade?
A quick knock and his door flew open. “You up, Denny?”
“Huh?” Dennis said. “Yeah, Dad. I couldn’t sleep.” Dad had changed t-shirts since Dennis had laid down. Instead of a plain button up shirt, he wore a grey t-shirt with a cartoon picture of a pizza on it. Weird, but okay.
“That’s fine, sport. You can get up from your nap.” Dennis felt oddly comforted that he had permission. “Still got a little time before lunch. Ready to get dressed?”
Dennis had to shake a few cobwebs out of head. A little leftover sleep, it seemed. Why was his father even asking? “Uh…yeah.” Something must be wrong with his ears, too, Dennis thought. Something about his voice just sounded…off…
“Okay. Do you need help getting that wet Goodnite off?”
Nervously, Dennis’s tongue ran across newly crooked teeth. “No.”
Dad walked past Dennis and straight to his old closet. “Okie dokie, champ. You can take it off then. I’ll help you pick something out.”
Rushing, Dennis shimmied his wet Goodnite down; feeling a plop as it hit the carpet so he could step out. He opened up his underwear drawer and stared down at it. A kind of mental nausea came over Dennis as a dozen questions assaulted him: Why were the walls of his room a different color? No more beige, but sky blue. Hadn’t he fallen asleep on top of his bed instead of under the sheets? Did that mean someone had snuck in to tuck him in? Weren’t his sheets plainer, too? Less childish looking? Where had the dinosaurs on his old dresser come from? And most importantly, “Dad? Why is my underwear drawer full of Pull-Ups?”
There were still Goodnites in the drawer. But right next to them were a small stack of disposable training pants. Light blue trim on the sides, and Mickey Mouse riding in his car, they looked even more babyish than the soaked faux camo under Dennis’s feet.
Dad seemed oblivious to the question. “Go on, big boy,” Dad told him. He placed a hand on Dennis’s naked shoulder. “Get dressed.”
Dennis looked up to his father and repeated the question. “Why are there Pull-Ups in my underwear drawer?” He flinched when he realized that he was literally looking up to his father. Mom was a shorter woman, and Dad was on the tall side, so Dennis was always a bit shorter than this father, but he could have sworn it was by a couple of inches, not anywhere so that he’d have to bend his neck.
Dad reached into the drawer and lifted up the stack of Pull-Ups. “Your underwear is still there.” Good old fashioned tighty whities (though they also had decorations on them) were bunched up under the toddler pants. “Your mother and I just thought it’d be better if you switched to Pull-Ups.”
“Just for today?” Dennis asked.
“Just for today,” Dad confirmed. “After the stuff the dentist gave you wears off, you can wear your big boy undies again.” He handed one of the Pull-Ups to his son. “Get dressed.”
Dennis did. All by himself. He hunched over, and leaned against the dresser for balance so that he could fit his feet through the leg holes. When he pulled them up they didn’t feel right. Something was off. Good. He really was too big for these. A temporary measure, at best.
Dad came back with a t-shirt that he promptly linked over Dennis’s head. “There we go!” he said. “Starting to look sharp.”
The college student looked down at his shirt. Gray, just like Dad’s. It also had a cartoon pizza on it; but this one was just a slice. Dad’s was a whole pizza…that had a slice cut out. Matching father and son outfits. Cute. Oi vey. “Thanks…”
Dad looked down at his Pull-Up and chuckled. “Denny, I think you need some help.”
Dennis cocked an eyebrow. “Huh? Why? With what?” He’d dressed himself.
Dad pointed at the front of Deniss’s waist. “That bright star right there? It says ‘back’.”
A fresh coat of paint was applied to Dennis’s cheeks. He’d been so focused on keeping his balance that he’d accidentally put on the Pull-Up backwards. That’s why it fit so funny…
“Here, let me help.” Dad took a knee.
Dennis tried to politely decline “No, you’re fine.”
Scriiiiiitch. Sriiiiiitch. Before Dennis could react The covert velcro sides were ripped open, sending the Pull-Up wafting to the floor like a leaf in the early Autumn. “Just easier to rip ‘em off and start over.”
His father just grabbed another Pull-Up and opened it, just like Mom did. “You don’t have anything I haven’t seen before, son.”
Dennis stepped into the new Pull-Up, just wanting to get this embarrassing day over with. But when he looked down, he did have something he hadn’t seen before. More accurately, something looked different. His public hair wasn’t as dense. Weird. Manscaping, maybe? At least the Pull-Up still felt pretty stretched out, pressed to its limit; like he was too big for it.
Good. That meant he wasn’t going crazy.
“Remember,” Dad told him. “This isn’t a diaper. This is just in case your body forgets to go potty.” He pointed to the mickey mouse ears centered right on Dennis’s crotch. “That Mickey Mouse will fade when wet if you have an accident. You don’t wanna chase Mickey away, do you?”
Dennis shook his head. A solemn vow had been made. A flash of denim blue. Dennis blinked. Dad was holding a pair of bib overalls. Only one word came out of the boy’s mouth. “Why?”
“You don’t wanna just run around the house in your underwear all day, do you?”
“These aren’t my-” Dennis stopped himself. Dad had a point. Not being a farmer, he couldn’t remember the last time he wore overalls- kindergarten, maybe- but there were certain practical advantages to it: They’d better hide his Pull-Up with no chance of it peaking out over the back of his pants, and the bib would cover up the childish t-shirt. “Okay….yeah.”
Dennis didn’t argue with help getting the overalls on. He’d had enough trouble with something as simple as a Pull-Up. Denim lederhosen was way out of his capabilities right now…
He looked down at himself. This would work, he decided. The legs went all the way down to his ankles, and the buckles on the bib were firm. The hardest part would be taking them off to go to the toilet, but that wouldn’t be an issue. He was awake now, it’s not like he’d be doing potty dances and having to rush for the bathroom.
“Come on,” Dad said. Dennis blinked again. Had he gotten even taller? Before leaving his room, he took another look in the mirror. It was still Dennis’s face looking back at him…or a face he remembered….
Together father went out to the family room. “Your Mom and me are still fixing lunch. How about you watch some T.V.?”
That was more than enough invitation for Dennis to take a seat on the couch and grab the remote. “Sure.” Finally, some normalcy.
Dennis started flipping through channels. He didn’t have much time for just vegging out at school, so it was nice to just turn into a couch potato. Within five minutes, he remembered that it was more than just studying that kept him from T.V. these days. Over a hundred channels and nothing on. Sports. News. Lame sitcoms. Gameshows.
Spongebob was on. Dennis remembered Spongebob. He didn’t remember this episode though. Squidward had hit his head and was now being treated like a giant baby. Were they still making new episodes? The college senior did not like it when the “Squid Baby” pooped his diaper and needed changing. It was a real case of “I’m in this picture and I don’t like it.” He lifted his seat up and felt the back of his pants; not that he thought he’d actually taken a dump in his clothes…but just in case.
Of course the episode ended with Squidward back to normal, followed by an older episode; one that Dennis vaguely remembered came on. Okay. Sure. A nostalgia trip wouldn’t hurt.
Dennis watched a Spongebob cartoon.
The “miracle” of lazy children’s programming made it so that while official marathons were a thing of the past, three hour blocks of the same show were the norm.
A tap on the shoulder. Dennis looked up from his spot on the carpet. “It’s time for lunch.” Mom said. “How’s your appetite, Denny?”
Dennis leaped to his bare feet. “Starving!” His eyes lit up. Did his voice sound higher? His throat didn’t hurt, though. Dennis’s attention drifted from his throat to his clothes. He could have sworn he’d been wearing blue overalls, not red. Weirder still, the leg cuffs ended just below his knees. Hadn’t they come down to his ankles just a little while ago? Was he hitting a growth spurt or were his clothes shrinking?
Dang. That must’ve been some strong stuff he’d gotten hit with. Clothes didn’t just change color, and only shrunk in the wash. The stray thought that he’d had some kind of miracle growth spurt was equally ridiculous. He was a big boy; all done growing.
“Coming Denny?” Mom was looking over her shoulder. Not wanting to hear his own strange yet oddly familiar voice, Dennis just nodded and padded along, the crinkle as he walked the only sound coming from him.
Mom’s ears wiggled a bit when he closed. “Oh, I almost forgot,” she said. She turned around and looked down at him. “Do you need to go potty?”
“No…” It was an automatic reaction. It was also the truth, but not in the way that Dennis might’ve preferred. His bladder did not ache in the least, that was true. But were his pants dry? He legitimately couldn’t tell. The Pull-Ups seemed a little looser. Almost like they were sagging a bit. He felt the temptation to reach between his legs and give the padding a squeeze but that would have tipped his mother off that he didn’t REALLY know the answer to her question.
Mom clicked her tongue. “Okay…” She’d said it in that way that grown-ups did when they didn’t really believe you. He paused, long enough to let his mother get a few steps ahead of him and wondered: Hadn’t he gotten taller than her around middle school?
Nervously he ran his tongue across the back of his teeth. They felt straighter than they had after the nap. This was all in his head. Things would make more sense after all of the medicine got out of his system.
When he got to the kitchen, Denny didn’t have to guess where he was supposed to sit. “What’s this?” He pointed to the chair within the chair. He’d seen baby pictures of him circa age three sitting in it.
“That’s your booster seat,” Dad told him. The bigger man hoisted him up by the armpits.
“Hey!” Denny protested. A combined glare from his parents stopped him from protesting further. He sulked, instead just folding his arms over his chest as Dad finished buckling him in. It made a bizarre kind of sense, Denny supposed. He could barely keep his balance while putting pants on, today. It might be best for him to have something to keep him stable in his seat.
Dad probably dug it out of the attic with that in mind. Though for something that had been sitting in the attic for nearly twenty years, the booster seat was in remarkable condition. Like everything else, it was a bit of a squeeze, but a manageable one. It didn’t even creak or crack under his weight, and the chair barely made a scraping sound as Dad muscled him up to the table.
Like a professional waitress, Mom came holding three bowls at once. In her right hand and the crook of her elbow were a shredded mishmash of shredded meat and gross looking chopped up vegetables. “Chicken salad for me, and Daddy.” she said. Denny wrinkled his nose at it. It looked like cat food to him. “And a bowl of macky cheese for Denny.”
In her left hand was a bowl of golden noodle goodness that made Denny’s mouth water. Macaroni and cheese! It was good to have a bit of comfort food when he was feeling so low. Mom took the seat next to Denny. Dad sat across from him. Mom dipped a plastic spoon into the cheesy gunk and picked it up. “Okay big boy. Open up!” The spoon came shooting out towards him, a speer stabbing at a lion’s maw.
“Maaaahm!” Denny whined, turning his head. A bit of cheese sauce smeared on his cheek.
“Come on, honey,” Dad said. “Give the boy a chance.”
Mom twisted her mouth again, weighing the options and consequences. “Fine.”
The spoon was put in Denny’s hand. Cheek stained with cheese, Denny took the spoon and shoved it in his mouth. His tongue fairly orgasmed at the taste and texture. Let his parents eat chopped up chicken and mayonnaise or whatever it was that went into chicken salad. He had everything he needed right in front of him.
He dug the spoon in and shoveled another bite in. “Mmmmmm!” He couldn’t help but squeal as he swallowed. A bit of cheese leaked out the corner of his mouth. “Yummy!”
“I think he likes it,” Dad nudged Mom. “Good call, hun.” Mom smiled and blushed a bit.
Denny loved the macky cheese so much that he was willing to ignore his parents’ terrible flirting with each other. He loved it so much that he somehow managed to miss his mouth on the next go around, an elbow noodle plastering his upper lip. How had that happened?
The next spoonful was successful though. The third wasn’t. Denny was halfway through the bowl and only hitting a fifty percent success rate. He was going as careful and slow as possible, but his limbs were practical. His face began to turn red with frustration. Every spoonful he missed was a bite of macky cheese denied to him!
If not for the bib catching him, his shortalls would be terribly stained. Bib?
“Okay, I think he needs help.” Mom said. Her bowl was scraped clean. She even ate faster than him. She took a baby wipe from the spare pack off the dining table and dragged it over Denny’s mouth.
Dad dragged Denny’s chair away from the table, “I think you’re right, hon”
“Wait, I’m not done yet!” Denny said. “I’m still eating.”
“We know,” Dad said. “We’re helping.” Denny heard a click and then felt a slight pressure against his stomach. Denny looked down at the tray that had been slid into place. His booster seat had been the kind that started out as a highchair but could be converted to a booster seat. It was being converted back…
Mom saw the impending tantrum in Denny’s eyes. “It’s not permanent. It’s just for today. First thing tomorrow, we’ll turn your highchair back into a booster seat.”
There was something off about that statement, but Denny couldn’t quite put his finger on what.
“Ready big boy?” Mom said. She dipped the spoon into the pasta and spooned it into his waiting mouth. It was much better to have a full belly than a full bib. It wasn’t even until the third or fourth serving that Mom started playing games with the spoon, pretending it was a submarine firing torpedoes filled with yummy payloads.
Mom was scraping the bottom of the bowl. Denny let out a mighty belch while she readied one of the last payloads, and looked away. “ ‘Scuse me.”
“That’s alright, sweetie.”
He looked away anyways, feeling silly for not remembering to cover his mouth. When he saw his cheese smeared mouth reflecting dimly in the microwave, he realized that he had a lot more to feel silly about then a simple lack of manners.
Denny looked younger. Much younger. The reflection was his, but it was one that he hadn’t seen since roughly fifth grade. There was more to it though. Mom and Dad were acting funny. He was acting funny. FIfth graders didn’t wear Pull-Ups. They definitely didn’t get spoon fed in highchairs by their Moms.
“Mom…” That voice! That’s why it sounded so strange. It was pre-pubescent. His body was shrinking down to elementary school and his parents were
Denny opened his mouth, chewed and swallowed the macaroni and cheese. Wait! Why was he doing this? Was it affecting his mind too?
“Mom!” He cried out. “Mom! Stop! Something’s wrong!”
“Mommy’s all finished, Denny.” She took a second wet wipe to his face and unclicked the tray. Denny grabbed her by the wrists when she moved in to unbuckle him, just so that she’d pay attention.
He tried to summon all of the seriousness his squeaky voice could muster. “Mom! Something’s wrong.”
Mom stepped back. Dad turned around from doing dishes in the sink. “What’s wrong, bud?”
“Mom. Dad. This is wrong.” He gestured to himself. Undeveloped body, toddler shortalls and booster seat included. “There’s something wrong with me. I’m not supposed to be like this. I’m twenty-two, not ten. I shouldn’t be in a booster seat or training pants, or any of this!”
Mom and Dad exchanged bemused smiles. “Of course you’re not ten,” Mom said. “Not yet.”
“It’d be very silly if a twenty-two year old was in a booster seat.” Denny noticed how his father emphasized the word “year”.
“I’M SERIOUS!” he shouted over them.
In a bit of theatricality Mom put her hand to her face and tapped her chin. “Sounds to me like someone doesn’t want any popsicles for his desert.”
“If he’s too fussy, he might not get orange…”
An itch of panic. No popsicles?! He loved orange! “NO!” Denny powered through it. His mind was definitely being altered with the rest of him. “NO! NO! NO! NO!” He was too far away to pound the table and the feeding tray was gone so he settled for hammering his balled up fists into his lap.
“Yikes,” Dad said to Mom. “He’s really working himself into a fit.”
“DAD!” Denny begged. “MOM! PLEASE! SOMETHING’S WRONG WITH ME! I WENT TO DOCTOR…DOCTOR…” Crud! What was that dentist’s name?
“Madison?” Mom suggested. “Doctor Madison?”
“YES!” the young and getting younger man said. “THAT ONE! I WENT TO THE DOCTOR AND WET MY PANTS!” His tiny throat was starting to clench up and he had to power through just to choke the word out. “THIS ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE HAPPENING! I NEED TO GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM! I NEED SOME KIND OF EXPERT. I NEED A NEW DENTIST! I NEED…I NEED…” who did one contact about one’s body going back in time? “I NEED A CHRONOLOGIST!” No such thing, of course, but if there had been…
The back of Mom’s hand pressed to Denny’s forehead. “He is a little warm.”
“That could just be from him shouting.”
“Still,” Mom said. “He has been acting funny since we brought him home this morning. Maybe he’s having a bad reaction to something they gave him? Better safe than sorry.” She gave Denny a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll go get the car ready.”
Dad nodded and sighed. “You’re right. I’ll get Denny ready.”
Yes! They were getting the car.
Dad came and unbuckled him, and Denny started getting a tour of his own house via being carried over his father’s shoulder. “Dad,” Denny said. “I can walk.”
Dad didn’t break his stride. “I know. I’m just gonna have to pick you up anyways.”
“Pick me up? For what?” Denny found out when he was laid down on something soft and cushioned. “Huh?” He didn’t have time to react as his father pulled a restraint across Denny’s chest. “What’s this?”
“You’re kinda wiggly today, bud.” Dad told him. “This is so you don’t roll off while I’m changing you.”
“Changing?” Denny rolled his head to the side and saw his reflection in the dresser mirror. There had been a bookcase where he was currently laying. The thing he was on had shelves, but those shelves didn’t have books on them. “No!” Denny yelped. “Daddy! Not that! Please don’t put me in a diaper, Daddy!” He tried to unbuckle, but his fingers lacked the strength to push the catch.
That wasn’t normal. Ten year olds were stronger than this, and didn’t have to lay on changing tables, besides. Did he even look ten anymore? He might’ve been younger, even, losing a year between the kitchen and room. “DADDY!”
Unphased by Denny’s crying hysterics, Daddy unbuttoned the snaps running up and down the inseams of Denny’s.shortalls.
Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop.
Those definitely hadn’t been there before. Reality itself was turning against him.
“Don’t worry, Denny,” Daddy promised. “This is just because we’re going out and we want you to not have to stress out about making it to the potty.” The ripping off of the hidden velcro sides felt like tiny rips in Denny’s brian. “You need a change anyway.”
He started wiping Danny’s penis down. He forced himself to look below his own waist while his father finished wiping him. The open Pull-Up was indeed soaked. He didn’t need to see the faded mouse ears to know that. More disturbingly, his pubic hair had completely gone the way of the dodo.
Dad muscled the man-boy’s legs up to finish wiping him and then balled up the sopping Pull-Up like the diaper it really was instead of the underwear it was supposed to be. Mickey didn’t go away, though. The Huggies Size 6 that was slipped under him had similar decorations; though thicker padding and a white unisex coloring.
“This is just for today,” Daddy promised. “You’ll get your big boy Pull-Ups back tomorrow.”
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Always tomorrow. His life was being stolen from him in degrees, with an ever babyish stick and empty promises that he’d get slightly older tomorrow. “What if I don’t make it that far?” Denny whispered.
His father must not have heard him over taping the diaper on and popping the snaps back in place. “You’re almost too big for these…”
Not for long.
A pair of socks and sneakers later, and Denny was being carried through the house again. This time, he was able to ride, albeit uncomfortably on his father’s hip. “Hurry, Daddy! Hurry!” All that got him was a condescending pat on the back.
Mommy had already started the van when Daddy had carried him into the garage. “Okay, we’re ready to go.” Daddy slid him into a forward facing car seat and started buckling him in. “Got the diaper bag?”
Mommy patted a blue canvas number that Denny could never remember seeing before. “Right here. Fully packed. Was he dry?”
“Nope.” Daddy slid into the passenger seat “Not at all. Might have to think about putting off potty training for a bit.”
Denny slinked down in his carseat. Already they were talking about dialing back his potty training as if he’d never finished it. And adults talking about him as if he wasn’t there or couldn’t understand them was something he wasn’t used to.
“Guys,” he pleaded from the back seat. “I need to get.
“I know,” Mommy said, pulling out of the driveway. “We’re going as fast as we can, sweetheart.
“Don’t you remember?” Denny said. “I’m twenty-two. I’m about to graduate college.”
“Oh yeah?” Daddy asked.
“Yeah.” Denny said. “But then I went to get my wisdom teeth removed and I wet myself while I was asleep…
“Huh…” Mommy remarked. “Go on.”
Denny was really hating the sound of his own voice. It was technically him, but it wasn’t in a range he’d remembered. “And since then, I think I’m getting younger and younger.”
Daddy didn’t turn his head. “Oh really?”
“Yeah. Like first my voice changed back before puberty. Now I don’t have any pubic hair. No wait. I think I started getting shorter first…”
Mommy nodded. “Uh-huh.”
Waves of relief were pulsating through Denny’s spine. “But my clothes are changing too,” he thought out loud. “I didn’t even have any clothes at home. Then I had Goodnites. Then Pull-Ups…”
“I getcha,” Daddy said.
“And my room is turning more and more into a baby’s room. The changing table wasn’t there before lunch. And even if I’m nine or whatever I shouldn’t be wearing diapers or sitting in a car seat.”
They were agreeing with him? “I think something is happening with my mind, too. At first I thought it was the anesthet…ane…the knockout gas for my wisdom teeth, but it should have worn off by now. But it’s hard to tell how it’s affecting me.”
No response. Then Mommy glanced at Daddy. “Wanna do pizza tonight?”
“Guys? Mommy? Daddy?”
Daddy tapped Mommy’s shoulder. “Your turn.”
“That’s nice, baby,” Mommy said. “What else?”
“You can’t understand me, now. Can you?”
“Oh really?” Daddy chimed in. “What else?”
They weren’t really listening to Denny, he realized too late. They were just doing the thing that parents of young children do by pretending they could understand the babble so as to encourage the kid to talk… He leaned forward in the car seat and looked out the window. The roads looked so unfamiliar. Where were they even going? Would it do any good to ask? “This doesn’t look like the way to the Dentist…or the hospital.”
“Okie dokie. What else?”
He hung his head. “Nothing. Never mind.”
The parking lot was packed and no hospital in sight. Dennis tried to figure out where they were, but when he read the signs in the plaza he realized that the letters looked like they were nothing more than chicken scratch. “I can’t read…” Dennis gulped. “I can’t dress myself anymore and I can’t even read.”
“Yup-yup, hun,” Mommy said after the second or third lap around the lot.
“Stop the car and switch with me,” Daddy spoke up. “Denny’s getting restless, I think.”
Mommy stopped the car. “Good idea.” His parents got out and shuffled around the outside. Diaper bag on one shoulder, Mommy slid the van open and leaned in and leaned in to unbuckle Denny from his carseat. “Let’s get you to the doctor, baby.”
Knowing she wouldn’t understand him, Denny decided to hold his tongue. Even with the body of a seven year old (he’d guessed), he still felt ridiculous being carried around the parking lot by his mother. He did appreciate the gentle back rubs ,though, and that worried him.
The door to the doctor’s office opened with the ringing of a little shop bell overhead. It didn’t take long for Denny to figure out that this wasn’t the dentist’s office. Preschoolers and babies, real ones fussed on their parents laps or dozed in their mothers arms and cheap and well worn baby toys littered the floor.
“You took me to a pedia…” the word wouldn’t come… “a pee-pee…? You took me to a friggin’ baby doctor.”
Mommy just rubbed his back and bounced him a little. Denny caught a look at himself in a convex mirror. He was still too old to be in diapers, but he definitely looked like he should be going to a pediatrician. He was losing ties.
The lady at the receptionist’s desk wore light pink scrubs. “Hello may I help y-…Denny? What are you doing back here? Is he okay?” The question was clearly addressed to Mommy.
An idea came to Denny. “Lady, you’ve gotta help me! I’m not a baby! I’m not even a kid! I’m twenty-two! A big boy!” He squirmed in Mommy’s grasp. “A BIG BOY! I’M A TWENTY-TWO YEAR OLD BIG BOY!” There was almost no reaction from anyone. A few mommies and daddies looked up at the source of the noise, but quickly disregarded it when they saw the source. A dirty thought. “THIS WOMAN IS ABUSING ME! SHE LOCKS ME IN A CLOSET BENEATH THE STAIRS AND BEATS ME!” Desperate times called for desperate measures.
No one so much as stirred. Not even the few children who seemed old enough to talk reacted. This bizarre magic (no other word for it) was affecting more than he and his parents. It was affecting everyone who saw him.
Likewise, Mommy ignored him. “I think he’s having a weird reaction to the booster shot he got earlier today.”
“Booster shot? I didn’t get a booster shot!”
Mommy jostled him a bit. “I know…I know…” She patted his back. Then his bum. She was checking his diaper right in front of these people!
“I’ll let Dr. Madison know you’re back,” the receptionist said. “Go ahead and have a seat.”
“NO! DON’T HAVE A SEAT! GET ME OUT OF HERE!”
Mommy ignored him and sat him down in her lap. He struggled and shrieked to get out of her grasp, but she held him fast. “Are you feeling hot?” she asked. Big strong adult hands undid the buckles to his shortalls.
Denny caught the first falling strap, but not the second. She slipped off his shoes while “Mommy! Stop!” He was stood up on a neighboring waiting room chair. Gravity and Mommy’s strength went against his grip. HIs arms went skyward when Mommy yanked the t-shirt back over his head.
More not listening from his parent. “You’ll be more comfortable in just your diaper,” she promised. Mommy was getting the barest gist of Denny’s discomfort. Even as a kindergartener, Denny would have been mortified to be in nothing but a diaper. “You’ll have to be undressed in front of the doctor, anyway.”
Denny’s whole body heated up with humiliation. His hands shot down in a vain and futile effort to hide the front of his Huggies… That only made Mommy gently slap his hands away and check his diaper. “Still dry.” A few other mothers saw Denny’s undressed state and decided to do the same to their actual children. That didn’t help Denny’s mood.
“Denny Ides?” a nurse said, poking her head into the waiting room.
“Right here,” Mommy said. She stood up with Denny and followed the nurse out of the waiting room. How young did they think he was, now? The lay-down scale and lay down measuring mat they used to measure his weight and height didn’t give him much hope. At least they took his temperature with a forehead scanner, leaving the nightmare scenario of rectal thermometers a thing of the past and fetishists.
Left alone with Mommy in the exam room, Denny didn’t calm down as much as he kept quiet. Denny kept racking his brain: How was he going to get his Pull-Ups back?
The door opened up and an attractive woman came in. The white lab coat branded her as a doctor. She looked to be in her late twenties or early thirties. Even though he was only twenty-two in real life, she was decidedly to Denny’s tastes before this, with beautiful auburn curls and dimples. The crinkling in the front of Denny’s diaper alerted him to something else: He had a twenty year old’s lust and a six year old’s dinky.
“Hi Mrs.Ides.” the doctor said. She put on a big bright smile. “Hi Denny! Good to see you again.” Butterflies fluttered in Denny’s brain and he broke eye contact. “Someone’s feeling shy.”
Mommy transported him to the exam table. “He’s been feeling more than that,” Mommy told the doctor. “Something’s gotten into him today. I’m worried he’s having a bad reaction to the shot.”
“It’s normal to get cold-like symptoms within a day or two,” the doctor said looking a chart. “But everything seems to be normal.”
“This is not normal…” Denny said. No one listened.
“Yeah, I know,” Mommy said to the doctor. “It’s just he’s been acting rather….off…I guess.”
“He may be feeling some effects, but not enough for any outward symptoms.”
“The symptoms are pretty outward, lady.” The doctor ignored him, instead feeling his back and pressing a stethoscope to his chest. She continued to examine him, test his reflexes, shine lights in his ears and eyes. He kept making comments which were ignored or given just a cursory glance.
“Is he still eating?”
“Ate all of his macaroni and cheese.”
“He did have an early nap as soon as we got home. But he was playing in his crib not even two hours later.” Denny didn’t even have a bed back home anymore.
“Sounds normal to me. First time Mom, right?”
“Yeah,” Mommy said. “Denny’s our little miracle baby.”
Miracle is not the word Denny would have used to describe his situation, but it did give him some more insight. “Miracle babies” were used to describe babies who shouldn’t have been born, usually because the parents were thought unable to conceive. Everyone might think he was a little pamper pusher, but his parents were seen as just as old.
This cosmic injustice anger Denny to no end. Rage started to replace fear. A growl rattled up out of his body. “WILL YOU JUST FFFFUUUUGIN LISTEN!” Why was it so hard for him to make the “F” sound? He opened his mouth and felt for his teeth.
They were there, but only some of them. His front teeth were almost non-existent. He had a full on case of jack-o-lantern grin. His tiny pudgy finger recoiled as if it had touched a hot stove.
“Oh?!” A glove finger zoomed into Denny’s mouth and prodded at his gun. “This might be the culprit,” the doctor lady said. “I think he’s teething.”
“It would explain his appetite and irritability. He wants to chew. It hurts otherwise. I can recommend some good pediatric dentists for when most of his teeth are in.” It was only some shred of bewildered empathy that kept Denny from biting down with his remaining teeth on the woman’s finger. “Oh yeah,” she said. “One more thing. Do you mind if I take his diaper off?”
What about Denny? Didn’t he get to consent? Apparently not. His back hit the examination table; basically a changing table and the diaper was ripped open. “Gotta make sure his testicles have descended. “Heh,” she chuckled looking down at his shrunken penis. “He’s a boy alright.” Embarrassment at her comment and shock as she squeezed his tiny grapes took care of any erection that remained.
She stepped away and removed her gloves. “He seems to be developing just fine, in my opinion. I think you’re just worried over nothing. Which means you’re an attentive and caring mother.” she added. “Go ahead and get him dressed. No charge for the extra visit.”
“Thank you doctor.”
“Ffffuck you doctor.” It was a minor benefit that no one could understand him. He didn’t bother to sit up from the table. His body was aching to the point where sitting up to be pushed back down would have been more effort than it was worth.
Mommy held him down with one hand and took the old diaper away. “Not wet but…” she squinted at the front. “Size 6? How did this get here? Weird.”
Yes. Very weird. Just not for the same reason she thought it was. The diaper that replaced it was even smaller. Still snug…this did not bode well for Denny. Neither did the absence of shortalls and shoes as she dressed him. The pizza slice t-shirt had transmogrified itself into a pizza slice onesie.
The leak guard leg cuffs his new diaper still peaked out of the bottom. Everyone who saw him would know that he was diapered…not that they’d think there was anything wrong with that. A pre-schooler in a onesie might be odd, but it wouldn’t be unheard of him to be diapered. He ran his hand through his hair. It felt thinner. Finer.
Another glance at the nearest mirror showed him to be nearly blonde. He’d been born blonde, and his hair darkened as he’d gotten older….not much time left.
“Really…?” Daddy huffed as Mommy carried the regressing boy out of the clinic. “I just found a parking space.” He was pushing an umbrella stroller.
“Why’d you bring his stroller?” Mommy asked.
“I figured we could go on a walk after. Enjoy the fresh air.”
“It’s after now.”
Mommy started to lower Denny into the stroller. Another thing with a buckle that he had no hope of undoing. Another mobile prison. Another infantile contraption to just demote him further and further…
He bit down as hard as he could with his remaining teeth, right on Mommy’s hand.
“OW!” Mommy shrieked, and pulled back. With all his might, Denny pushed off the stroller’s foot rest and leaped out. He landed on the ground on his feet but did not run. His knees buckled and his arms caught him. He couldn’t even walk anymore.
The element of surprise was still all on his side. Scrambling like his life depended on it, the twenty-two year old toddler crawled between his mother’s legs. “DENNY!”
Round a corner! Hide! Do something! He had to get away! This might be his only chance. He was out of ideas otherwise. The opportunity of ideas was robbed from him. His body stopped. Was he about to plop down on the sidewalk, unable to even crawl?
Something was about to plop…
When he’d wet his pants, Denny had been blissfully unaware; either asleep or mesmerized by cartoons. As the single cramp flooded his system and his gut started to push, Denny had no such luxury.
He was pooping his diaper. He was acutely aware of each movement of his bowels pushing the mass out: His cheeks spreading and the warm solid lump coming out of him and then smushing against the back of the diaper; causing the Huggies to balloon ever so slightly before the padding’s give gave out and the mush spread out while more and more came out of him.
Shit. His adulthood. His future. His hope of escape. Everything was ending up in the back of that diaper and dragging it and him down into the abyss.
“Gotcha,” Daddy said, snatching him up. “Don’t scare us like that, little guy.” Too despondent to cry out, Denny could only wince as he was buckled into the stroller. Something broke inside him. What was the point of crying? All it’d get him was another diaper change if was lucky. He might as well get used to sitting in his own mess. Emptying his body’s contents into his pants was the only forward passage of time he was experiencing.
Denny sat in the stroller, sniffling as the world was pushed by him. Wriggling in discomfort, Denny tried to contemplate his fate… Maybe he’d get diaper rash. Yeah…that’d show ‘em….somehow. Being “fussy” might be the only freedom left to him.
“Connie? Frank?” a voice called out. The stroller stopped.
A woman holding the hand of a big-kid came in. “I thought it was you two!”
“Frannie?” he heard Mommy say.
“Oh my goodness,” the woman said. “Is this Denny? He’s getting so big!”
“Carter is too!” Daddy said.
The big-boy giggled and waved. “Hiiiii.” He waved at Denny. “Hiiii, baby!”
“That’s Denny, Carter.”
“Hiiii, baby Denny.” The big boy said. Denny rattled himself awake. That wasn’t a big boy! That was a little kid! He looked three…four at best. And Denny looked younger. It took him trying to count his few remaining teeth with his tongue for him to realize he lacked the ability to count. He must be sitting on that, too.
The grown-ups talked to each other, while Denny was “entertained” by the kid making “funny faces” at him. His gnashing teeth and spread (facial) cheeks and inside out eyelids were replaced by a turned up nose and audible sniffing. “Mommy,” Carter tugged on the grown-up lady’s pants. “The baby is stinky.”
“That’s because the baby isn’t potty trained,” the boy’s mother explained. “He goes pee-pee and poopie in his diaper.”
“Ewwww!” the boy giggled. Denny just wanted to die.
“Don’t laugh, Carter,” Mommy said. “It wasn’t that long ago that you were wearing diapers too.
“Nuh-uh.” Carter started to fidget uncomfortably.
“Speaking of which, I think someone is getting ready to do their potty dance.”
Oh how nice it would be to be understood by the grown-ups again, Denny thought.
“Come on, Carter, let’s go to the potty,” the lady said, taking the big boy by the hand.
“I got the last one,” Daddy said.
Mommy walked around to the front of the stroller. “Fine,” she said. “I’ve got this one. Come on, baby.” The stroller shrunk away in Mommy’s arms. “Whew!” Mommy proclaimed. She patted his backside for emphasis. “How did all of THAT come out of little you?”
“AAAAAAAH!” Denny cried out in despair. “AGABAH!” He sucked in his breath. Understand him or not, he couldn’t talk anymore.
“Looks like there’s a long line at the ladies’ room hon.” Daddy said, peering off into the distance. “It’s going out the door.”
Mommy looked at a nearby bench. “No big deal. I don’t have to go to the bathroom anyways. I can just change him here.” She flipped open the diaper bag and removed a changing mat.
No! “WAAAAAAH! AH-AH-AH-AAAAAH!” Not in public! Not in front of everyone! This was too much to bear! “WAAAAAAH!”
“Don’t worry,” Mommy cooed. “We’ll get you sorted out. It’s no fun to be in a dirty diaper, is it?”
Denny was down on the hardwood, looking up at the sky. His onesie unbuttoned and his diaper untaped so that everyone could see the mess he’d made of himself. His head feeling like a lead weight, Denny looked at once last time to see his half naked body. He no longer even had the autonomy to decide when and who he was naked in front of. His penis had shriveled down to a nub. His testicles had retreated inside him.
His tongue probed his mouth while Mommy wiped him. No more teeth, and plenty of room for new baby teeth to sprout out. His body had finally caught up to the way they were treating him. His mind wasn’t far behind. Maybe then this madness would stop and he wouldn’t get any younger; it wasn’t much of a prayer, but what else could he realistically hope for?
A cool cloud of baby powder enveloped his not-so privates. Mommy slipped the fresh clean diaper, one of many many more to come underneath him. “Size two already,” she said. “It seems like he was just in New-Borns.”
“Yup,” Daddy agreed. “They sprout fast. He’ll be going off to college before we know it.”
“I hope not,” Mommy said. She pulled the diaper up and over baby Denny’s pelvis. “I love being his Mommy. I wanna enjoy this.”
“Me too,” Daddy agreed. “Little stinker is cute.”
Denny cried and tears trickled down his chubby cheeks. He didn’t want to be this pathetic but cute blob. He wanted to be a man! He wanted to finish college and go on dates and get a job. He wanted his wisdom teeth!
Something else started dripping and Mommy looked at her shirt. “Heh,” she said. “I think he’s fussy because he’s hungry.”
She lifted her shirt up and unclasped the front cup of her nursing bra.
Daddy grabbed a blanket from the stroller. “I’ll give you two some privacy.”
The lights went out for Denny as his father covered his head so no one would see him suckling on his mother’s breast. He wasn’t even thinking in words anymore. The last coherent thought in the boy’s brain occurred right as he latched onto the milky teat.
“This isn’t so bad….”