Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The Heartbreak of Incontinence




You can judge the inclusiveness of a society by its diaper commercials. I believe Shakespeare said that. Or maybe it was Groucho Marx. I always get the two of them mixed up.

Anyway, back when I attended a segregated public school for cripples in the 1960s, there was a kid who was about 12 years old but he wore diapers. Everybody knew he wore diapers even though nobody ever talked about it out loud. Everybody always whispered about it when the kid passed by. The kid walked on crutches, and he was always kind of slumpy and gloomy. People probably thought he was like that because he was carrying around a load in his diaper. But it was probably because he was carrying around a load of shame because he wore diapers but he wasn't a baby. He was experiencing the heartbreak of incontinence.

There were no diaper commercials back then to make someone like him feel hope. But today you see commercials where happy, confident adults are playing tennis and riding horseback while wearing diapers.

That shows how far we’ve come as a society. Being incontinent doesn’t mean you have to hide away anymore. Life is still full of possibilities.

Of course, those commercials also show how far we still have to go. All the happy, confident people in those commercials are old. That implies that we of the continent majority will accept you and your diaper wearing as long as you are old. But if you’re young and incontinent, well, there are no happy, confident role models for you. And the reason they’re happy and confident isn’t because they aren’t incontinent anymore but because they’re not afraid of springing an embarrassing leak.  In other words, they feel good about themselves because they bought this product that empowers them to pass as continent. The subtext here is that springing a leak is still something to be ashamed of.

I’d like to see commercials where a happy, confident father walks his daughter the bride down the aisle when suddenly he springs a leak for all the world to see. But keeps strutting proud because so what. It’s just a leak. What’s the big deal? Better yet, it would be so cool if the young bride was the one who sprung the leak but still kept moving forward.

When I see commercials like that, I’ll know we’ve found a cure for the heartbreak of incontinence.

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