TIMBERLY, OHIO (OR “HOW I ENDED UP AT PROM IN DIAPERS”)
“How much longer, Dad?” I asked. For the past hour or so, every time I looked out the window all I saw were the same trees and mountains passing by. As if we were driving in some infinite loop.
“Should be less than 30 minutes, Am,” he answered.
I sighed. This drive was taking forever; considering West Virginia and Ohio are right next to each other, where were we going that it takes over six hours to get there? The battery on my iZune had died, and since that was the only source of entertainment I brought with me, I sat and stared out the window. Same trees. Same mountains. Same blue sky.
I took a sip of sweet tea from the McGuffin’s we stopped at for lunch. As I swallowed my sip, I felt a weird tingling from my lower body. It was simple: I needed to pee. But I could hold it in for another 30 minutes.
Or so I hoped. As each minute passed by, the urge became stronger. The occasional bumps in the road didn’t help either. I looked out the window hoping there’d be a sign for a rest stop or a gas station, but all I saw were more trees and mountains. I glanced at Tasha, happily rocking out to her MP3 player. I noticed her Leg Up bunching out the top of her pants. One of those sure would have been convenient at the moment.
“Dad, is there a gas station or something coming up?” I begged. “I really need to pee.”
“Why didn’t you go at McGuffin’s?” Mom asked me.
I rolled my eyes. Why do parents always ask that? I answered with what should have been the most obvious answer: “I didn’t need to go then.”
“We’ll be at the house shortly,” assured Dad. “Just try not to think about it. Distract your mind with something else. I know. I spy with my little eye something… something green.”
I rolled my eyes again. “Is it a tree, Dad?” I said with a smile.
“You’re getting too good at this game. The student’s becoming the master.”
Despite Dad’s “techniques,” the urge just got worse and worse. Fortunately, we soon passed a sign that read NOW ENTERING TIMBERLY, OHIO. The trees and mountains ended and were replaced by houses. Lots and lots of houses. Total suburbia.
It only took about another ten minutes to pull up into a driveway. The moving truck guys were already bringing stuff into the house when we arrived. But I had no time to stare and observe at my surroundings. As soon as the car stopped, I unlocked my door and rushed through the front door.
I think many people have been in a situation where they need to relieve themselves but happen to be in an unfamiliar area where the location of the bathroom is unknown. At least in public places when this happens, the restrooms are clearly labeled with those MEN and WOMEN signs. In a house, it is assumed you know where the bathrooms are, or at least you can ask the resident where you can find one. Unfortunately, since technically I was the resident but I didn’t know where the bathroom was, I had to resort to the primitive “search and hunt” method.
Running down the first hallway, I tried opening two doors that both could have led to a bathroom. When I turned the knob of the first door, nothing happened. The door was locked. The second door was a closet. My search continued.
I soon discovered we had an upstairs as well. Under normal circumstances, I would find that awesome. But my need to pee was getting worse, and I had no time to show how much I was impressed. If I didn’t find a bathroom, I’d pee my pants! So I ran upstairs and noticed a door slightly ajar. Peering in, it seemed to be a room that looked like a bathroom, yet there was no toilet. Only some sort of cabinet and sink.
I ran to the other side of the hallway. I found myself in the master bedroom, with a connecting bathroom. Finally. I sat down on the toilet and did what I needed to do.
A few minutes later I emerged from the master bedroom and went back to my parents, who were unloading boxes from the van. “Hey Dad,” I said. “I think there’s only one bathroom in this entire house. And it’s in your room.”
Dad looked hesitant. “Well, Am, there’s a reason for that. There’s uh… you don’t get your own bathroom.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“I know I should have told you earlier but you never would have agreed with it.”
“Told me what?” I was getting worried.
Dad looked into my eyes. “Amber, that was the last time you’ll be using the toilet for about the next three years. There’s a law here that all kids under eighteen must wear diapers.”
“Wait… what? Did you just say…?”
“Timberly-Mark likes having the families trying out their products, you know, to see if they’d be good for the market.”
“Okay, yeah I guess that makes sense,” I started. “But diapers? Wouldn’t just babies use that? Why don’t they have me test their paper towels or tampons or something?”
“The person I talked to was fuzzy on the details,” Dad tried to explaining to me. “He said it’s a fairly recent thing, when the company first tried releasing larger-size diapers for older kids, with control problems I suppose. They had all the kids and teens try them, and I guess it stuck.”
“It’s only for three years,” Mom said. “Then we can retrain you.”
I shuttered at that word “retrain.” The thought of having to experience potty training all over again. Wait, why did I even have that image? Like I was actually going to willingly stop using a toilet and instead sit in my own shit. “I’m not doing this.”
“Oh yes you are,” Mom responded sternly. “It’s the law. They won’t let you into school otherwise.”
This was too much for me. I was ready to walk away, straight out of town. Maybe hitchhike my way back to Jade’s house. What kind of town forces people to wear diapers? How the hell is that sanitary?
“If it makes you feel any better,” Mom continued, “you can wear your underwear for the rest of the day.”
I didn’t want this conversation to get further awkward, and I knew there was no way out of this argument. I sighed and said, “Fine, but I won’t like it.”
“It’ll take some adjusting,” Dad said, “but I think you’ll get used to it, especially when you see all the other kids are in the same boat as you. From what I’ve heard, nobody even thinks about it. It’s basically an afterthought.”
“Now that we’ve settled that, Amber, will you please give the movers a break and carry some things in?” Mom asked.
I’d barely say that “we’ve settled” anything, but I knew I had no say in the matter. I tried not to think about diapers, and instead I looked over at the moving truck. Some boxes lay on the ground beside it, just waiting for someone to move them inside. I picked up a box labeled AMBER’S BOOKS. After adjusting my weight to handle the heavy box, I made my way inside.
I’m not the most physically fit girl, but I managed to carry the box up the stairs with minimum troubles. Now to just find my room. “Dad!” I yelled downstairs. “Which one is my room?”
“All the way to the left!” he yelled back. Promptly I went there and kicked open the door with my foot. Peering up over the top of the box, I scanned the surroundings. And I was shocked at what I saw.
This room couldn’t have been for me. Instead of a bed, there was a crib in one corner, complete with bars around the sides. But this crib wasn’t built for any baby. It was huge, large enough to fit someone my size. It was built for ii]me[/i]. The bars were so high up that it would be impossible to climb out over the top unless they were lowered.
Then I saw a desk and chair in the other corner, an empty bookshelf on another side, and two dressers each with five drawers. All were painted in various primary colors, like something out of the toddler section of a Swedish furniture store. The carpeting was pink and the walls were white with cute little animals painted on.
This wasn’t a bedroom. It was a nursery!