Don't be fooled by the commercials. Babies are filthy little creatures.
Their spit-up will absolutely ruin every last one of your shirts. The color, consistency and volume of their poop (and the uses they're able to find for it when left "napping" in their cribs) will horrify you. The distance and range they are able to spew vomit may very well have you consulting both an exorcism manual and a 24-hour crime cleanup crew.
After tending to babies for close to six years, I've come to two conclusions. One is that love truly does conquer all, because despite my aversion to all things icky, I can catch my children's vomit in my hands and scrape their two-day-old poo out from under my fingernails without flinching. The other is that there's a reason our memories all start somewhere around 3 years old—we block out the early years because they're just too damn disgusting.
The idea, then, that an adult would want to revisit that time—to wear diapers again and drink from a bottle and be totally at the mercy of others—pretty much blows my mind. So when I got an email out of the blue from a self-professed "adult baby," I did what any rational columnist would do. I interviewed him.
"Bella," as he's known in the online world, is a 24-year-old heterosexual male. If you happened to see him out and about, he'd look and act just like everyone else. But at home, it's another matter.
"Generally, I play the role of a toddler age 2-3," he told me. "I wear cute clothes, suck on a pacifier, drink from a bottle, cuddle with my stuffed animals and play with dolls. I wear a bib and eat with my hands. I love to play with crayons, and can draw some excellent stick people. To an extent it is a full-time thing for me. I wear diapers to bed every night, not because I need them, but because I want to. When I have adult things to do around my apartment, I often just go about them as normal but in my diapers and baby attire."
I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that a person could get enjoyment out of attempting to replicate the baby life, which is about the most boring thing I can think of. But Bella is far from alone. Once he started poking around on the Internet, he found a sizable online community of men and even a few women who enjoy doing the very same thing. In his real life, though, he's only told a few close friends about his habit, and has even managed to find a woman who's agreed to "babysit" him from time to time.
"She does not interact with me as adult to adult, but rather in the way that a babysitter would with a toddler," he explained to me. "She makes me dinner and helps me eat, makes sure I get a bottle if I need one, plays with me, keeps an eye on me to make sure I behave, and generally just tends to my needs. While she visits my home for this type of activity, she becomes the authority figure. She makes the rules. Things like throwing food may result in a timeout. All in all it is very innocent role playing."
That's right—innocent. Bella insists that for him and many others, playing baby isn't some weird sexual fetish. In fact, those who do get sexual pleasure out of the practice focus almost exclusively on the diaper element and go by another title entirely: Diaper Lovers.
"To the best of my ability, I function and think as a young child," Bella said. "My mind goes away from being focused on adult things like sex, money and responsibility. Rather, my thoughts are consumed by far more important choices such as: Should I use the pink crayon or the green one? What is softer, my stuffed bunny or this pillow? Should I have milk or apple juice? My focus shifts from the horribly frustrating adult world to the simple and easy life of a child. My biggest concern is giving and receiving innocent love; my biggest fear is time out. My biggest joy is making 'Mommy' proud and knowing she is smiling because of something I did."
I try my best to stay open-minded about Bella's lifestyle because he honestly seems like a nice guy, albeit one who's going to have a hell of a time finding a girlfriend. I mean, his situation really takes the "There's something I haven't shared with you" conversation to a whole new level.
But according to Bella, you might have met an adult baby and not even known it. "The majority of us are very normal and productive members of society," he said. "We go to school, we work, we socialize and we pay our taxes. We stand in line with you at the post office, the DMV, the grocery store and the movie theater."
Think about that the next time you're out shopping.
On second thought... don't.
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