On July 12, Jack Kennedy visited a music festival organized by Aiki Beach Park in Seattle. The festival wasn’t huge, but it was enough for Jack to visit all the food and wine vendors who lined up the long beach strip. Music from the event was so loud, he could hear the pulsating jazz-centric bass at his apartment, which was located a mile away. His friends told him that they were going to be at the event; they asked to meet up with him. By the time he arrived and stood at the exact spot where they wanted to meet up with him, his friends were nowhere to be found.
Five minutes passed. Ten minutes passed. The sun set over the water and a cold breeze gently pushed against Jack’s left arm. The wind was getting stronger as the last rays of daylight retreated behind the curtain of ocean. Despite the cold breeze rushing in, it was surprisingly warm that night. The changing weather reminded him of his erratic water heater in his parents’ old house in Sacramento, California. He could never take a consistently warm shower and his parents – always struggling with their finances – procrastinated on fixing the water heater. Over time, he got used to the inconsistent water temperatures.
Jack shrugged off his irresponsible company and wandered around. Every time he took, he heard plastic rustling inside his pants. Sometimes he pulled his pants up and adjusted his belt to make sure that his pants were not in danger of sinking to his knees. He decided to take a break from being acutely self-aware by buying a bottle of Corona with a cup of ice and sat on a plastic chair, facing a large stage. A band was performing some cover songs from the 1960s and 70s. He listened to an electrifying cover of Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky.” He tapped his foot and attempted a drum solo with his hands slapping his knees. When the song was over, he looked at his wrinkled, vein-ridden hands. He was born the same year the single was released: 1969. He knew that time was passing by at an alarmingly quick rate.
He was willing to let his random thoughts of mortality fade temporarily into obscurity as he listened to the music. A woman sat down beside him on one of the last free seats near the stage. The woman crossed her legs and set her pocketbook on her lap. The dark green depths of her eyes caught Jack by surprise. He smiled and politely moved a few inches to give her some personal space. She smiled back at Jack, looked down at his waist momentarily and cleared her thought.
She leaned over and whispered to him, “Your diaper is showing in the back. I mean, just the waistband.”
Jack’s heart skipped. He felt numb when he should’ve felt fear. He quickly pulled the back of his pants up and tightened his belt. “It-It’s not what you think it is,” he stammered. A lie, obviously. He was caught. Or perhaps, he wanted to be.
The woman chuckled softly and shook her head. “Oh please. As someone who had to take care of two baby brothers when mom was at work, I know what a diaper looks like,” she whispered.
“Okay, you got me. Happy?” he huffed.
She sighed and looked in his eyes. “Look at you. You’re blushing. That’s so cute.”
“I am not cute!” he protested. A couple sitting in seats in front of him – a man and woman in their mid-20s – turned around to see what the commotion was about.
Jack had a chiseled face with a tasteful five o’clock shadow. If he shaved his face, he was capable of looking like a mischievous teenager. He had soft skin, few wrinkles and had good genes: handsome, but not cute, he would say. A part of him wanted to think he was wearing diapers because he wanted to stay a bouncy, young boy. Deep inside, he knew that his urinary incontinence – the ultimate feeling of hopelessness and dependence – would be the only reason for him to wear adult diapers.
“My husband thinks he’s not ‘cute.’ See? You can never take a compliment! I say, ‘You look nice today,’ and you always think I’m being sarcastic!” she said, punching Jack’s shoulder playfully.
Jack decided to play along. “Well, you know, I can never be too sure.”
When the couple lost interest in the fake married couple’s banter, Jack thanked the woman under his breath. “But do you mind if I enjoy the show?” he asked her.
“Don’t mind at all.”
Kathy was 25, and she could barely suppress her motherly instincts. She felt embarrassed for Jack, who wandered around the festival, not aware that his crinkly, diaper waistband was peeking over his pants. The wardrobe malfunction reminded her of her brothers, who – when they were toddlers – refused to wear pants. And when they wore pants, they let their pants ride to the ankles. She lovingly referred to her siblings as the “Soggy Bottom Boys” for that very reason. It was easier for her to check if they needed changing or not, at least.
During the show, Kathy looked down at Jack’s crotch, wondering if he needed a change.
Jack noticed her wandering eye. “No, no. I’m alright. I’m alright,” he said.
“Sorry. I’m Kathy, by the way.”
“Jack.” He wasn’t in the mood for small talk. It felt awkward knowing that a stranger was aware of his diaper. He wasn’t comfortable with her knowing, but he was a little excited at the same time. Someone knew his secret. Despite the awkwardness, Jack slowly regained his composure. Perhaps, somewhere in his mind, he was expecting to be caught eventually. The initial horror of being discovered subsided. He felt his heart beating normally again.
When the show was over, Jack and Kathy walked on the beach, surrounded by people – noisy tourists enamored with their smartphones, children running aimlessly through the crowds – but he felt alone. His friends deserted him. He spent his time talking to someone he didn’t know; someone who knew that he was wearing a diaper. He felt obligated, if not blackmailed, into having a conversation with her.
“Are you from around here?” Kathy asked.
“I’m from San Diego. I moved up here two years ago. My girlfriend, at the time, had family up here. She wanted to be close to home. And right after I moved up here, she broke up with me. Fortunately, I like it here so I stayed.”
“That’s turning a negative into a positive,” said Kathy. “You don’t have any family or friends in San Diego? You could move back if you wanted to, right?”
Jack shrugged. “My parents are divorced. Mom is in her 60s and she has her new life. She has her new family, new set of friends. Doesn’t want me around. Dad took my brother up to Vancouver and moved in with my uncle.”
“So you’re alone now?”
“Sure seems like it.”
As soon as he admitted to being alone, Jack tried to ignore that aspect about him. Kathy sensed that Jack was coming from a dark place, so she tried to be encouraging.
“One thing about Seattle is the fact that there’s so many groups and cliques you can be a part of. There’s a ‘scene’ for everything. With the wonders of sites like Facebook, you can network and eventually come across people who are just like you.”
“Like me?” said Jack, pointing to his chest. He laughed. “Sometimes I wonder. ‘Hey, you piss your pants? I piss my pants too! Let’s be friends!’”
“I’ll tell you one thing. There are men and women all over who, for medical reasons, have to wear diapers. I’m sure there are support groups for that sort of thing. I dated a man who wet the bed. At night, he would apologize to me before he fell asleep – that is, when we slept in the same bed together. He’d wake up the next morning wet, and I told him the same thing I said earlier: I had younger brothers who I took care of like I was their mother. To me, bedwetting is like, ‘It is what it is.’ I hated to see him agonize over it. It personally didn’t bother me.”
Jack was slowly figuring her out. “But he didn’t wear anything for it?”
“He didn’t want to. I mean, he knew he had to – but he had pride. He felt ashamed. One day, he said something to me like, ‘I don’t want you to be my mother,’ and he left me. I called him and he never called me back. It was over, just like that.”
“So I remind you of your ex?” Jack muttered. “That’s bad.”
Kathy waved her hands dismissively at Jack. “That’s not it at all! It’s just that I’m sensitive to others who have similar issues.”
“If you offered to change him, maybe he would’ve reconsidered leaving you,” said Jack.
“Maybe, maybe. But that sounds like something you would want.”
Jack went wide-eyed. He snorted. “I’m not saying.”
“You’re blushing again. Don’t be so coy!” she said, pointing at Jack.
Jack cleared his throat. “Okay, time out. How about we get to know each other a little better? Are you free for lunch tomorrow?” he asked.
“Yeah, I think so.”