The New Dilution

Posted by jdg | Wednesday, June 04, 2008

So we're using cloth diapers with the new baby. I haven't written anything about it, because frankly I'm not sure how to write about it without sounding like a hippie blowhard and I fear just by mentioning it, I'll receive half a dozen reactionary e-mails about how washing cloth diapers is just as wasteful as disposables and how dare I make my readers feel guilty for choosing their Elmo-saturated disposable Pampers, etc. Sure I could go on and on about how disposable diapers reflect our decadent, wasteful American values, and how now that the red Chinese have chosen disposables over traditional splitpants, these two superpowers will soon be embroiled in a new cold war with stockpiled mountains of superabsorbent polymer-based biological weapons. But then I'd have to go to early-morning yoga classes and move to Portland and shop for local organic produce. By bike.

But I do love these cloth diapers. We're not getting them free and no one is paying us to write about this. I think my wife just randomly chose a brand based on the number of animated gifs on their website. But these cloth diapers never leak like disposables. Plus they're licensed-character free and come in bold primary colors. They're also really soft and he's never had a single rash.

Until yesterday afternoon, I would have even told you that the washing is no big deal. Sure, every few days I have to dump a brick of clammy, soiled diapers into our washing machine. But that's it, really. You start with a rinse cycle, followed by a full wash.

Unfortunately, yesterday I had the misfortune of going down into the basement during the spin cycle of that initial rinse. Our washing machine empties into a basin during the spin cycle. As desensitized as I have become to all things scatological over the past few years, nothing---nothing---could have prepared me for what was pulsing into the wash basin. Vomiting out of the tube was this butterscotch-tinted gray liquid, quickly filling the room with the humid perfume of pickled baby shit that had marinated in a brine of cold urine for a week. I watched it rise in the basin as the washing machine spun. Just when the vile brew threatened to spill over the top it began to subside in a roaring, fecal Charybdis above the drain. I swear I heard the voices of demons or lost souls calling desperately to me from the gurgling ferment.

Then it was gone. And with it went any judgment I might have held for anyone who chooses disposable diapers.