I don’t know how long Doctor Kurtz has lived in the apartment complex. I’m also not completely sure what kind of doctor he is, as I know he does not work in a medical clinic nor does he teach at a university. But I met Doc a few years back when we ran into each other at the mailbox. He had been holding an abnormally large package, and—being curious as I, Melissa Jerrilyn Edwards, am—I asked him what it was for. Doc told me it was for his new secret project, but if I wanted to go to his apartment to check it out, he would be more than happy to show me. My mom always told me not to go into any stranger’s house, but one time I went on that sex offender website and there was no history of anyone pedos living at this complex. So I went with him and checked out his project.
Turned out Doc was an inventor. His room is full of all sorts of gadgets that he’s put together. And ever since that first time he showed me his “secret project” (which turned out to be a blender that doubles as a paper shredder) we’ve been close friends. I know it’s strange for a fifteen-year-old girl to call a zany middle-aged man a close friend but I don’t really have anyone else. I’m the only kid that lives in the complex, other than those twin toddlers who stay with their grandmother every weekend. My friends from school are not in a walking distance, and I don’t get my driver’s license until next year. So I usually only hang out with them on Saturdays, when Bethany picks me up in her car to go shopping at the mall or some other really girly thing to do.
So Doc’s my friend at home. And he’s really entertaining. Every week or so when he finds me at the mailbox he asks me to check out his new inventions. I’ve become his guinea pig, always testing out his crazy ideas that are great on paper but not always successful during the test mode. Luckily I’ve never been hurt, but my teeth were charcoal black for a week when I ate a piece of the bouncing chocolate he invented. Nevertheless, I end up in some crazy situations. Each time I visit Doc I question why I continue to help him out, yet whenever he invents something new I always come back. Maybe something’s wrong with my reasoning skills.
Take this incident that happened just a few weeks ago, for example. I was at the mailbox collecting my mom’s bills for who-knows-what and Doc happened to already be there. He wasn’t collecting his mail; it was as if he was waiting for me.
“Hey Doc,” I said.
“Melissa, I’ve finally done it,” Doc said excitedly. “I’ve—”
“…made the greatest thing ever invented,” I finished for him. “Doc, you tell me that about every invention.”
“No, but this one’s actually the greatest. In fact—”
“This one could change the world,” I finished again.
Doc looked puzzled. “Am I really that predictable? Anyways, I want to show my newest invention. Do you have time the time?”
“Well I sort of have a test on Great Gatsby to study for.”
“Please, all you have to know is that he dies at the end… and something about eggs. I promise you that you will love this.”
For some reason I could never say no to the guy. So I dropped my mail off at my doorstep and followed Doc to his apartment. If I may digress for a moment, I just want to say that Doc’s apartment is amazing. I don’t know how the landlord let him do this, but somehow Doc tore down all the walls, painted everything white, and put up a bunch of fluorescent lights on top. It kind of looks like the faux-batcave from The Dark Knight. Except instead of Batman’s nearly empty room, Doc keeps his room stashed with all sorts of strange gadgets, and then some not-so-strange random things.
So I stepped into his room as usual and waited a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the lighting. I followed Doc to a shelf in one of the corners, which was piled to the top with kitchen utensils and dishes.
“Check this out,” Doc said to me. Underneath an upside-down mixing bowl, he pulled out a brown paper lunch bag. And out of the paper bag he pulled out a plastic bag. And out of the plastic bag he pulled out a squarish white cloth. He started unfolding it, and that’s when I noticed what it was.
“It’s a diaper,” I said unenthusiastically. “Doc, I think someone already invented that. In fact, I wore them as a baby. Chances are you did too.”
“No, it’s not a diaper,” corrected the ecstatic man. “These are called Potty Pants. It’s a toilet that you wear as underwear.”
“Yeah I believe that’s what a diaper is.”
“No, no, no! Don’t you understand? What’s the difference between a diaper and a toilet? A toilet… you can flush anything that goes in it. With a diaper, all the mess just stays in there until you take it off and throw it away. Yuck.”
“So you’re saying that you can flush this diaper?” I asked.
“POTTY PANTS,” Doc exclaimed. “Completely revolutionary. Think about it. Parents never having to change their kids’ pants ever again. The same goes with old people. Or adult babies.”
“No more embarrassing accidents either. Whatever ends up in that diaper will go directly into a toilet.”
“Wait, how’s that even possible?” I asked, extremely skeptical.
“Quantum physics,” said Doc. “Remember the transporter I invented?”
“Yeah, in fact you still owe me a new PSP.”
“Hey, as soon as I can resolidify the floating molecules, it will be as good as new. But as I was saying, I used the same technology from my transporter. Anything that falls into the Potty Pants will be automatically transported into the nearest toilet. Then all you have to do is flush. Have to be careful around public male restrooms though. The transporter doesn’t recognize the difference between a toilet and a urinal.”
“Why didn’t you just have it transport directly into the sewer system?” I questioned.
Doc gave me his annoyed face. “Please, Melissa, who’s the inventor here? The transporter’s not the only technology used though. I used several concepts from those Japanese toilets. After transporting the excrement, Potty Pants will automatically wipe and clean your, uh, downstairs. It also has a built in heat sensor that will keep your warm in the cold or keep you cooled in the heat. At one point I also had a device that could make it talk, but I realized the world isn’t ready for talking pants.”
“Gesundheit. Also I added extra comfort by using a material similar to what they have in Tempurpedic mattresses. These might just be the most comfortable pants in the world.”
“If not the most awkward…”
“And then lastly I used a mix of different deodorants to create an odor block. No longer will there be any awful smells coming from an accident.”
“Then how would a parent know when the kid needs changing, or uh, flushing?”
“That’s what this is for.” Doc pulled a tiny rectangular device out of his pocket. “There’s a tiny Bluetooth device embedded inside the Potty Pants which is linked to this remote. If a mess occurs, then the remote will start beeping and flash a red light. You can then press a button on the remote to flush the mess, and moments later the Potty Pants will be completely clean. Isn’t that incredible? No more checking diapers. All you do is press a button. I’m trying to develop a compatible iPhone app but it’s difficult since I don’t know what an iPhone is.”
“Doc, this is actually pretty ingenious,” I admitted. “Definitely a marketable product. I bet Billy Mays is looking down from heaven, jealous that he can’t pitch the commercial. Does it work though?”
“Well that’s why you’re here, Guinea…I mean… Melissa.”
“You want me to wear a diaper?” I asked. I was surprised, even though I should have seen it coming. Since when had I ever visited Doc and left without getting caught in the middle of his inventions?
“Not a diaper. Potty Pants,” Doc assured me. “Please, Melissa. I’ve tested them inside my apartment. But I got to see how well they work out in the open. You know I’m not a people person.”
“I’m not even sure if you’re human.”
“Come on, aren’t you going anywhere this weekend?”
I immediately wanted to say no, but I always feel awful when I lie, especially to Doc. “I’m hanging out with friends at the mall on Saturday.”
Doc jumped up and clapped his hands. “Oh perfect! We can test it to see if it can handle constant movement.”
I thought Doc was out of his mind. He expected me to wear a diaper in front of my friends? I didn’t want to upset him though. The product was definitely a good idea, and maybe if it was successful, he’d let me in on a share of the profits. Then my mom and I could finally move out of our apartment and into a real house. I debated what could go wrong. The Potty Pants were odor-proof so if I were to use it, my friends wouldn’t smell anything. And even if I did have to use the bathroom, I would just rush to the restroom, take off the diaper, and go like a normal person. And Doc would never know it.
“Alright, I’ll do it,” I finally said after much hesitation.
“Thanks Melissa,” Doc said extremely gratefully. “Come see me Saturday morning before you leave with your friends. I’ll make sure the Potty Pants are ready for you.”
I left Doc’s apartment and headed back to my place. I tried studying, but my mind was completely focused on those Potty Pants. What had I gotten myself into?