The End of Public Potties and You!
“You’re not making progress as quickly as I’d expected, sweetie,” Mommy told me in a lilt.“I could sort of still understand having a hitch in your speech, but every time you start to wet, you’re still grimacing. And then it’s shifting to a smile as soon you can feel the tickle in your labia. That’s not polite; it makes people think that you’re paying attention to going potty and not to them talking.” To illustrate her point, a spot had spread from just in front of the low point on her diaper—which remained exposed largely so that I could see when she was using it—and she neither paused nor shifted her face one millimetre.
“Mommy”, I said back, “You can really tell?”
“Yes,” she said. “And until you get that under control, I can’t sign off on your going into public.” ------
Let me step back here. I know today’s kids can probably not totally identify with a story like this. You learn how to keep from messing your diaper and that’s it. But in the mysterious before-times, potty-training a kid was a whole lot more involved; it led to even holding your pee in—or, more accurately, it led to “needing to run to the potty—though at the time they were called toilets and the place where they would be in public was ‘the restroom’—within about 30 minutes”. You were expected to wear underpants made of cloth—a lot of it the same fabrics that still get made into women’s bras. And the idea was that nothing came out of you unless you weren’t wearing anything “down there”. When you first got them at around age 3 or 4, Mommy and Daddy would call them your “big-girl panties” or “big-boy underpants".
In practice, that usually worked OK for boys, not least because they could sorta use their penis to cheat even if their bladder gave up (though elementary-school teachers could usually count on each one for at least an incident, and possibly two or three, of wet pants throughout the year because they didn’t notice they “had to go to the bathroom” until they were within 2-3 minutes of needing it, and it was a bit further from the classroom than that, or the teacher was slow with the hall pass.) With girls of any age, it was double-edged; basically, more often than not, your panties—even outside your period—were a little damp coming off, and the only way to know for sure whether it was sweat or wet or if you’d been “a little turned on” was to have at least a moderate knowledge of the difference between your scents. Buuuut full-on wet-clothes accidents were less likely because we couldn’t cheat and, theoretically, made the “have to use the baffroom” call sooner than boys because of it.
At any rate, it was all reliant upon public potties being a thing. That makes sense; if you’re out of your house for more than 3 or 4 hours, the only way not to have to wet is for someone to invent a change to human metabolism that recycles all the water that leaves your cells rather than turning it into urine. And some biological scientist would prolly then point out to me that idea isn’t any more healthy than “trying to hold in a full bladder” because the waste products that combine with that used water in the kidneys would still be there and still need to be flushed before they make you really really sick.
But of course, public potties were nasty even under the best circumstances, and a lot of them failed to be cleaned nearly often enough to be the best circumstances. So when COVID permanently changed the way people interact, one of the things that didn’t see a full reopening were public potties.
In a way, it was somewhat good that the event that led to a fear of unwashed areas touching surfaces that touched other unwashed areas held off until well into the 21[SUP]st[/SUP] Century (largely would have been better if it hadn’t happened at all, of course, but there are some advantages to the current way we go about things too).
Had it happened before, there wouldn’t have been nearly as good an alternative to public potties as we actually had. A large part of the reason potty training had become a thing was that there was no reasonable alternative that involved wearing anything you’d gone potty in until the mid-to-late 20[SUP]th[/SUP] century. Natural fibers wick wetness to all their surfaces, and then it gets transferred to anything that the wet garment touches. Rubber and later plastic pants over a cloth diaper helped to keep what a baby was on top of dry, but couldn’t do a thing about the damage that pee does to skin, especially since a good portion of that damage is pee combined with oxygen, and there’s no good way to make a cloth diaper airtight. So diaper rash was a constant problem for kids before potty training in the days before I was born. And early disposables didn’t improve on that much. Either way, when a diaper came off, you were only slightly less wet than under your swimsuit having come out of a swimming pool. If even slightly less.
Then came the materials revolutions of the late 80s and early 90s. Suddenly, there were hyper-absorbent polymers—which only got used in actual baby diapers to start—that could hold more than a bladder could, and would mostly isolate the nasty compounds from the skin. It was still a good idea to change an actual infant within about an hour of when they started wetting, but it wasn’t imperative for their health the way it had been before 1988. That tech got into diapers for physically-grown-up people right around 2000, and we can give credit (not for the last time in this piece) to the adult babies (and the diaper lovers, but this is the main time they get credit) for that.
Most grown-ups who wore diapers unwillingly in the 20[SUP]th[/SUP] and early 21[SUP]st[/SUP] centuries weren’t in charge of determining what they were wearing, because they had caregivers and too often were in group homes. Those places often picked the furniture for the ease of recovering it from a diaper overflow and too often picked a diaper based entirely on price, with the idea that as soon as any little accident happened, the wearer would be rushed to the potty to finish going, and then cleaned up by the caregiver. ABs and DLs did not run on the same standards.
Almost to a person, they’d not wanted to be potty-trained in the first place, and their unhappiness about it had led them to try to get back into diapers the second they found access to them. This included methods such as, if they were small enough and their charge not yet night-trained, stealing a couple diapers when they went babysitting, buying especially baby diapers with their own money if they had it when in high school, and all sorts of other interesting tricks (the most interesting one I heard was the guy who duct-taped the top of one largest-size baby diaper to the bottom of another, their padding facing each other, than taped that facing backwards to the rest of the front of the one that was now serving as the “back half of a single diaper”, then when the tapes from the back one still wouldn’t reach the front one, used extra duct tape to connect the tabs to the landing area. And then after all that, didn’t understand he was supposed to tuck his penis, yet somehow didn’t leak as badly as a contemporary Depend did. He explained that at the time, baby diapers had a ruff at the top as well as down the sides, so even if he got aroused, there was still something to catch the pee and direct it back down). And they found the feeling of wetting in a diaper so enjoyable and reassuring that they honestly questioned how Mommy had ever managed to convince them it was uncomfortable in the first place when they were being potty-trained. But moreover, especially as modern absorbent tech had gotten better, they also found that they were possibly more comfortable continuing to sit in a wet diaper than in a dry one, as long as they didn’t overcome its capacity and start leaking.
An ability to stay in a diaper while it’s wet is basically just what the doctor ordered when you need people to stay out long enough to need to go pee-pee and you don’t feel confident with public potties because humanity has been turning animal diseases into human ones for the last couple decades at a rate nearly as great as the one that turned so many horse and cattle viruses into human ones during the Agricultural Revolution. ------
But on the other hand, very little of humanity was openly a fan of padding, and of wetting themselves, before 2020. And that meant that 95% of us had potty habits that might have been healthy in a world of big-girl-panties wearers, but were deleterious in one where a night at the symphony ended with taking off a wet pamp when you got home. That was where someone like Mommy Monique came in. -----
Mommy Monique honestly probably preferred to not be a Mommy. Very few of that wave of mommies and occasional daddies did—there were a few who’d been “just” DLs before the padding revolution, but it seemed the majority of them were adult babies. The ones who weren’t being mommies and daddies 24/7 were prolly spending their off hours barely articulating grown-up words, because people like me who’d hired Monique and others like her in order to be able to go out and about again were making things so stressful. And it didn’t help that especially the AB ones didn’t particularly see a good way to untrain, or maybe “diaper-train” us, that didn’t involve invoking some babying (no surprise, since that was the dynamic that she and her peers had managed to be untrained under when it wasn’t considered normal to be trying to break 6 and a half billion people of their potty-using habit). My actual gave-birth-to-me mommy probably didn’t know that when she found Mommy Monique on the list of names of professional un-trainers, noticed she was local, and set things up in the hope that we’d be cleared for extended time away from our house as soon as possible.
I’m not sure that, had she found a different trainer, things would have been too different; I mean, enough of them kept the babying side that the “infantilisation of the adults” that had been a slow-moving thing since the early twokays quickly picked up steam. There’s a reason that I’m in a position to regularly refer to potties as “potties” and first used the word “adult” instead of “grown-up” four pages down my memoir. But over the next few weeks, you’ll get the chance to see what the whole un-training process was like. It’s a window into a world that only existed for a short time, because nobody today trains a person to wear big-girl panties. Which means they don’t need a challenging course to stop acting like they are wearing them.