I flashed my most vibrant ‘I’m about to be a grandma again!’ smile. My cart was full of baby shower gifts and I only needed one more thing. The nice sales clerk could help me, I decided.

“Hi—can you tell me where the diapers would be?” I rocked my cart like a drowsy baby at naptime and waited for her direction. She didn’t answer for a second or two. I thought that maybe she didn’t hear me, so I opened my mouth to ask again.

She spoke. Well, she made a noise. A nervous, throat-clearing croak. When her vocal cords were ready for speech, she whispered words my way. I barely heard her. But I DID hear her.

“Diapers?” She paled sympathetically, patted my arm gently and pointed toward the back corner of the store. “Right back there, honey. And don’t you think a thing about it.”

The clerk whooshed away, leaving me in a puddle of shock. I looked where she had pointed. Sure enough—it was the aisle of “Incontinent Aids”.

I wanted to run after her. To declare, loud and proud, that I meant BABY diapers. PAMPERSLUVSHUGGIES. Newborn size. For the BABY my son and his wife were having. But I didn’t.

It wasn’t her fault. The Depends aisle is getting longer and longer, folks. Products that used to come in one size and brand are now manufactured in every factory that houses absorbent material. They are colorfully packaged, playfully marketed and available in sizes from puny to portly.

And I’ve seen way too many commercials showing dancing women in these bulky bloomers.

Worst of all, my age lands me smack dab in the middle of the demographic targeted for their purchase. It’s some kind of cause/effect phenomenon, I guess. I don’t remember my Chemistry from high school—or would this be Biology? I should have paid better attention.

I narrowed my eyes warily and scanned this “diaper” aisle. No. NO. Not for me…I was just curious. The squishy bricks of underpants were neatly piled atop one another; they created a Wailing Wall of waning muscle tone and newfound marketing strategy. 

Words like “Strong” and “Absorbent” screamed into my eyes in myopically-friendly-sized print. The design of each product was illustrated with colorful diagrams, and little arrows gave a “Diapering for Dummies” explanation of the entire bladder protection-wearing process.

Sure. This could be my future. I may spend my waning days hobbling to Wal-Mart and strolling down this very aisle, comparing absorbency capacities and Velcro fastener strength. I was probably looking at the ultimate definition of the “Circle of Life”—but did they actually expect me to burst into a carefree chorus of “Hakuna Matata” as I encased my nether regions in plastic?

They could at least make these things prettier. Spritz them with flowers. Add some of those clever “moisture alert” dots that change color when it’s time for a change. Give me ruffles.

If I’m forced to wear bladder protection somewhere down the road, I guess I’ll be willing to trade continence for a little comic relief. Babies get cute pictures on their diapers—cover mine with Spy vs Spy comics from Mad Magazine (they always made me laugh) or maybe knock-knock jokes, and I will howl in full confidence of the padded undies I’ll be wearing.

I rolled my cart away from the “way-too-much-reality” aisle and got into the checkout lane with a box of Newborn Pampers, a roll of wrapping paper and a determined goal of dryness that only time, an unexpected sneeze, or a really funny story could shatter.

Contact Robin at robinwrites@yahoo.com.  Or send a letter!

Robin Garrison Leach PO BOX 5301 Quincy, IL. 62305.