New Voices author, Angie Pelekidis takes a look at life through an interesting lens. In “Midlife Crisis” a man begins wearing diapers. It’s an absurd notion that carries this story, which is about bodies and how they fail us, the fear of mortality, and the state of infancy, through to a powerful conclusion.
by Angie Pelekidis
One day, Anne’s husband, Dan, decides to start wearing diapers. He is forty-nine years old and has never had any incontinence issues, or signs of incipient senility. His father, however, died five months earlier, not long after suffering a super-nova stroke that obliterated a large section of his brain. Dan Sr. spent the last few weeks of his life in a hospital bed, diaper-clad, minus his dentures. His nourishment was dumped directly into his stomach through a plastic umbilical cord attached to an upside-down bottle at the head of his bed. He lost the ability to speak and could only repeat the same sound over and over again: “Va va va.” Questions like “Are you comfortable? Do you want another blanket? Shall I close the curtains for you? How about some TV?” all received the same response. Dan’s mother was also nearly speechless during those weeks. She spent hours at the hospital, holding her husband’s hand and staring at what he had become.
In bed, Anne watches Dan pull on his trousers over an adult diaper, so unlike the bulky ones she used twenty-plus years ago when her son and daughter were infants. “What are you doing?”
“This?” he says, gesturing toward his groin. He shrugs. “It’s just easier. I’m so busy at the firm. This way I don’t even have to leave my desk.”
“You’re not actually going to use it?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“What will your staff think?”
“They won’t even notice. See.” He turns around to show her his rear, and sure enough, there’s barely any sign of the diaper beneath his pants.
Dan leaves for work, and Anne would like to go back to sleep for a few hours until eight or nine, but she can’t because her brain is circling around her husband’s actions like a cat trying to kill a snake. Should she talk to somebody about Dan? No, she doesn’t want to worry the kids. And telling her friends is out of the question. She can imagine their faces, how odd, repulsive or, even worse, funny they’d find his behavior. It’s just a tardy manifestation of his grief over his dad, she thinks. The compassionate thing to do is humor him until it passes.
To read the rest of “Midlife Crisis” click, here.