by John Burnham


This piece was written in response to an assignment from our writing group to write about diapers or hangovers.


It’s closing in on ten o’clock and wife has yet to arise. This is a good indication that hot tongue and cold shoulder are on the menu today. I can’t say that I blame her. I’m a sorry sight, sitting on the floor of the bathroom with my arms around the commode and my cheek resting on the rim. When I’m hung over, this toilet bowl seems to be my only friend: it’s there to catch my gastric eruptions and to cool my fever. Moreover, it doesn’t deliver any lectures about the military-grade stupidity that got me into this condition.

A banshee wail interrupts my wallowing in self-pity. It’s only the baby crying, but everything sounds an order of magnitude louder (and more annoying) than normal. I hug the bowl. What to do? What to do? This assault on my ears and throbbing head is painful, but if I wait until it wakes my wife, it will be joined by a louder, more directed, attack. I struggle to my feet and steady myself against the sink.

The kid’s room smells really bad. My stomach does a flip-flop but nothing stings my throat. So far, so good.

I move Jr. to the change table. For some inexplicable reason, I look at the mess as I undo the diaper. Bad move. Before I have time to react, barf gushes out all over kid and dirty diaper.

Time for decisive action. I move kid and high-tech change table to the shower stall. After adjusting the water temperature to tepid, I use the hand-held shower head to wash down kid, change table, and dirty diaper. Fortunately, the kid seems to think this is a new game, laughs, and waves his hands and feet. I breathe a sigh of relief as the last of the smelly junk disappears down the drain.

After towelling Jr. off, I do a less-than-expert job of getting a clean diaper on him. There’s a big easy chair in the room, so I wrap him in a fuzzy blanket and we settle into it. Soon, he’s dozing and I have time to think.

This brief encounter has had a profound effect on me. In fact, I’m a changed man. I now know what I must do. There will be no more waffling about. Indecision has been replaced with positive direction: I will install that complete bathroom in the garage. After the fuss lil’ darlin’ made over the effect building that structure had on our debt situation, I’ve been hesitating about the amount of creature comforts I’d install. Now, it is clear to me. A complete bathroom and comfortable cot are in order.

Next time I spend a morning suffering the 90 proof flu, I’ll be doing it in the seclusion of my man-cave.