The Aftermath: Un-training 101

Chapter One
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.

As a side-note: that was four Word pages. If it had looked as sparse in Word as on here, I’d likely have tried to put the whole story into one post!

Feedback very appreciated. Proofreading less so.

Sorry I can’t get rid of the italics. It’s the way I hear others speaking; there’s too much emphasis that doesn’t get across unless you read it as emphasised.

As for the rest, I have a much longer Ch-2 that’s still actually only half of what I want to say up to this point, so I’ll be heading back in to work on 3 after I play some Marvel Puzzle Quest.

It…may go opposite your preferences, though, Anna, as one of my big habits is that what I run through a full edit is rarely better than my “draft”.

If things aren’t springing to my fingertips nearly full-grown (ironic!), it’s usually because that’s not the way things will ever want to go.

It’s also ironic, 'cause I can’t improv in live action to save my life!

Chapter Two
Freedom and Near-Imprisonmisses

“Laura,” I heard a somewhat-robotised voice say from my iPhone, “I think we have some good news for you. I’ll need to patch your mom in on a three-way call. Actually, I’d prefer a face-to-face live chat…

“—But you know full well even I don’t like those and she’s worse about it so you’re not pushing the point. The Distancing Committee has some control over me, but not to the point that you can dictate being able to see us. Especially since you know as well as I do that there is no symptom you could twig to just based on seeing us, Kyla. And you also know my mom despises cell calls if avoidable, so you are going to call our landline.” (“Chat” and “But” had actually been said directly over each other—I had mainly not been happy to keep getting supervised from afar by some stranger, with the right to look in on us to make sure we were in the house, and Mom made me look thrilled by comparison. I didn’t want to think about what would have happened if she’d called while we were out with our Lab-Rottie-Pit mix, even though we were making sure not to get closer than 5 feet to anyone else even while off the property with him. I granted she had some good points—after all, the Committee was also serving as our personal shoppers in order to avoid triggering the delivery surcharges the actual stores weren’t being too willing to waive—but I can’t quantify how little this was a woman I’d ever have chosen to maintain either a business or personal relationship with.)

I tapped the virtual mute button on my phone screen and called down the hallway, “Mom! Distancing has something they need to tell both of us! So your phone’s gonna ring in a matter of seconds and I think she needs us with somewhat-easy access to our computers!”

“Today, of all days?” a shout came back up the hall, but then the landlines began their insistent chirping. “Hello?” I heard Mom’s voice through her phone.

“Ah, Sandra. I have good news—we’ll be starting to reopen the outside world to folks starting tomorrow Should make a pretty good late-71[SUP]st[/SUP] present for you. But there are a few changes that we’ll be making—everything suggests that there are still way too many people alive out there who can make long-term contact with diseased animals, and then eventually something possibly even nastier will make the jump from animal-to-human, and then eventually-eventually it will have enough time within some human before it kills them to mutate into a form transmissible human-to-human, and…”

I tuned her out somewhat. I’d seen Kyla—with a facemask when we were first assigned her during the lockdown in a somewhat-person-to-person encounter, and a couple times over Dad’s laptop when she’d been insisting on face-to-face contact with him before he was hauled off to Adventist—but that didn’t stop me from picturing Beepatrice from Questionable Content, complete with “lovable-failure” settings, when I heard her voice, rather than any human let alone her actual appearance.

“…so basically we have to assume that the next one could be more devastating and possibly even more transmissible, so there are a few things that we won’t be re-activating. Drinking fountains really shouldn’t have been a thing in this century even before this, and every public event is going to have its seating capacity reduced so that people are about 2/3 of a yard apart, but the one that might be the most challenging is that we don’t really see a good way to justify reopening at least the majority of public restrooms. Aside from the aforesaid water fountains, there’s nothing quite as almost-well-designed to take microorganisms from one unwashed body part, to a surface that they can probably survive upon long enough to be a problem, to ­another unwashed body part. And while we’re sure most people will be washing any hands that brush even just the skin parts of their bottom well before touching their face—well, that’s still an area with an orifice.

“Closing…public…restrooms.” The first word had been started by both of us simultaneously; I’d backed off because even if Dad was gone the fear of ever being the one to interrupt that he’d driven into me by all means other than physical beating lived on and Mom had finished it.


“I like the tone of that ‘yes’ even less than I liked the words of the sentence before it. What are you still not telling me?” I was very glad at this point that I was in the living room and Mom was up in the loft with her desktop computer so she couldn’t focus her glare on a target—like me.

“We—can’t allow anyone out long enough that they would otherwise need to use a public toilet, Sandra. You’re officially allowed out on the streets, but your Committee app will report when you leave the house and when you return, and if it’s greater than four hours, we’ll arrest you for public endangerment once you get home because there’s no healthy way to hold things in for—well, really, for even three-quarters of that time”.

“There has to be a way around that. That doesn’t even let most people return to work outside of their homes.”

“We’re working on that. We should have the details on the plan for that by the end of the month—May, I mean, not April, since the end of that is today!”
OK, so I was wrong about the “computer” part. First time for everything; “I’m not psychic! I’m only possibly psycho!” I muttered as we closed the lines.

It wasn’t the worst day in April, but that April 30[SUP]th[/SUP] may have been the worst birthday the family had had in April, and Dad had just fallen short of even reaching his 71[SUP]st[/SUP]—on the 16[SUP]th[/SUP]—when he gagged his last on the 12[SUP]th[/SUP], so that one hadn’t been great either (there weren’t too many non-2020 competitors for the title). Yay, finally allowed out!

Boo, under nearly as tough restrictions as the DUI conviction Dad had been railroaded into, partly because the deputies came out for his last name long before they could have seen his blue eyes, just as the crisis started–for his actions last October! Happy birthday, Sandra Babakolas! Let’s see how we can top this when yours rolls around in three weeks, Laura! -----

So the 21[SUP]st[/SUP] rolled around with the restrictions still in place—and with me, in particular, having nearly run afoul of them about four times, because once I’m out at one store, I prefer to try to hit most of them, and back then I additionally preferred to do the Wal-Mart and the Super Target both on foot from the end of one’s parking lot furthest from the other—they were only a suburban mega-block apart, each on the west side of the power center that takes up a half-mile each direction, and you need to get your walkies in somewhere when your active hours don’t match up with the dog’s! Besides, the Target in particular was a Pokestop. ‘Course, so was the Safeway about ¾ of a mile, and the wrong side of a wide gulch, north of the Wal-Mart, but still. I wanted my Target run anyway, if just to check if the deli had made a wrap instead of just croissants and normal sandwiches for the first time in four months. Always managed to get in just under the wire, though, even if both Mom and Kyla were glaring at me each time.

I was sitting at my laptop, its internal fan being worked so hard that I was reminded of about row 20 inside a climbing 727 (yes, I’ve actually heard that sound. Yes, I know that makes me middle-aged if not old even in 2020. Shut UP!), when the app alert chirped on my iPhone. Evil things, state-mandated apps. Even more so when they have a unique and unchangeable alert so you have no choice but to look in immediately. In this case, it was ordering me to open it and make contact with Kyla immediately, so I did (though I pointedly set it to “voice” rather than “video”.)

“Laura, hi. We need to get your mom on, and preferably through—”

“—sorry, no app contact for you. You’re calling her on the landline because she forgot to charge her phone the last day and a half, and while it’s a cheap Samsung, that’s still a bit too long out of an outlet”.

“Fine. This time I have good news, though. And you’ll need to be by your computers. Or at the very least, by one of them.”

For all that I was 40-plus, I also had the mindset of a 19-year-old in the best case, so wasn’t no way in HELL we were gathering around my computer. In addition, it’s easier for two people to look at a separate monitor than a laptop from two angles, so that left Dad’s out to a degree as well. I hiked upstairs, buttonholing Mom on the way. Upon reaching the loft, I told Kyla “Go ahead. Call.”

“Sandra. Laura. We can reveal the solution to letting people stay out of the house again. I’m afraid it’s not just a matter of making restrooms more hygienic; it might be possible, but it could go bad quickly. We’ll try to maintain a few at rest areas, but the upshot for the rest of us is a little bit in a different direction.

Basically, while very few people were looking, another branch of medical and comfort technology had been going in a direction that is almost perfect for dealing with the need to wet during times when there’s no access to anyplace to do so.”

“Wait, what? You’re not making sense.”

“Maybe I’m explaining it badly. What it comes down to is, there’s no way to avoid having to…ummm…void yourself when you’re out for that long, but there’s nothing to say you have to do so in a toilet.”

“Pret-ty sure that public urination was illegal even before this for public health reasons, Bee—err, that is, Kyla”.

“Oh, no, and ewww! Try the other direction. For about two decades, people have been devising diapers that can still be worn safely and comfortably even once having been wet in.”

“That’s a solution?”

“It’s the best we’re going to be able to pull off. We may eventually manage public changing stalls, but for now, the goal is to get you home wet while keeping your surroundings dry. That’s healthier than I’m sure you think it is; urine has the least pathogens of any bodily fluid when you aren’t shedding disease, and when you are, the infectious organisms stay trapped within the diaper and can’t go through its surface. Though there is still a catch.”

“The diaper-wearing by itself isn’t enough of a catch?”

“Snide. Anyway, the actual catch is that as I just mentioned, the idea is to keep any possible pathogens ­inside your diaper. Which means that if they get outside it, you’re back in the endangerment dock.”

“And if we’re infectious, then they will shed in urine, so it’s illegal for us to leak.”

“Smart girl, Laura!”

“There’s a way to guarantee we won’t?”

“At the very least, there are ways to severely minimise the risk. To the point that you will not be allowed out diapered without having undergone their training course. I just sent the link to Sandra’s email account. You’ll want to open it up immediately.”

Mom did, and up popped a site reading “Diaper Training. See the world without time limits!” Some of the models had their tops riding up, or their jeans or skirts riding down, just enough to show what was obviously plastic waistband, and they were shown enjoying all the activities we’d lost three months ago, even rides at the amusement park. Below it was a list of names and addresses, headed “Your trainers,” with a subheading “all training paid by the Colorado Distancing Committee”.

“Some of the names are already greyed out,” Mom pointed out.

“Yes, they’re already taken. We’re rolling this out as fast as possible and to people we’re prioritising. In your case, because Laura is going­ to go past her time limit sooner or later, and we don’t want her spending the next decade in La Vista or Denver Women’s.”

“So we need to move quickly?”

“Unbelievably so. This is going to be everyone’s path eventually, but I think we’re prolly offering it to more people right now than exist slots.”

“A lot of the remaining ones are a ways off. That would be tough to pull off in the time we’re allotted.”

“Uhhh—well, you really needn’t worry about that part. We’ll be driving you there rather than your own vehicle being involved, and, well…it’s a ­residential program. It kind of has to be; this is more in-depth than you’d think on the surface. Remember, we have to get you to where you will not have even a damp spot on your clothes, let alone anything they touch.” Three more names had gone grey as we were talking—it was updating in real-time?!? That was an extra touch of coding most state sites didn’t include.

I pointed Mom to that as another name went grey. “Hurry, mother!”

Mom moused over the name “Monique Monet, Aurora, Co, 80016”—reasonably close to home, that ZIP code being Southwest Aurora—and clicked it.

“A very good choice,” Kyla responded.

“You were watching the list as I signed her up?”

“No, Sandra, I was watching the list as you signed up, period. The training is for entire families, so they don’t have to be broken up again in a few months when the less-urgent members would otherwise have come due. Honestly, you’re lucky it doesn’t include your other daughter, Karyn, up in Eagle.”

I don’t know which one of us wanted to throw our phone most, but neither of us actually did so–despite our clearly twitching fingers.

“Ffffine. Anything else you want to spring on us about this residential training program?”

“Since pets aren’t exactly disease vectors, you’ll be allowed to pack them. In addition, pack anything you wish to have access to. You aren’t going to be going back home until you’ve cleared training, and they won’t be in a position to turn your home upside down for something you forgot, though you will still have access to our personal-shopper services while in training. However, one instruction is clear on most of these programs: “Do NOT pack any big girl panties. You will not have use for them again”. And it does specifically say “big-girl panties.” I’m not sure what that’s about myself; we’re a bit lower on the training triage chart.”

Between the choice being irreversible, and just the relief of no longer having a clock over my head, but combined with the fury that the state was going to be forcing people into diapers of all things, I didn’t think any more about it and just tried to get into a cele-birth-tory mood as much as possible.

Prolly wouldn’t have mattered if I had thought about it any harder, and certainly objecting was bad form. We’d stay in the rest of the day, pack tomorrow, and be off to Ms. Monet’s (wait, had Kyla called her Ms Monique?!?) on Saturday, and that was what mattered at the moment.

Looking at this again in the cold light of day, it seems like there might be some infodumps repeated in chapters 1 and 2. However, they kind of had to exist when I thought 1 would be standing on its own for more than 8 hours, as eyecatch material.

I’m seriously considering trimming them out of 1’s final form since 2 was added so quickly (as for why they can’t be removed from 2, that would be because it’s the source of information about the situation for the main characters!).

[new edit half a day later]

And as of 17:00 this evening, Pennsylvania has closed public flushing potties. So thanks to them for making this more plausible. BTW, if there really is a danger of viral spread from down below, porta-potties likely can’t improve on flushing potties and might make it worse.

I really hope we get to see more of this!