One day, in the last ten years, I was standing in someone’s bathroom, going about my business, when I noticed a tub of Baby Wipes on the back of the toilet. This struck me as odd as there were no babies in the house. If there were no babies in the house, what could they possibly be . . . using . . . the . . .
What is wrong with people? What is wrong with me? Why such a strong reaction? For some reason, it struck me as unseemly, like a grown man drinking breast milk. I had the brief very irrational conviction that such behavior was a gateway to pedophilia.
I shook it off. Just a weird, very practical family. But soon enough, I saw Baby Wipes in adult bathrooms more and more. It was a trend. An unstoppable one. Indeed, it became so widespread that some companies dropped the Baby from the name or rolled out line extensions. It became perfectly acceptable for a childless adult to walk into a store and buy a tub of wet wipes then go home and wipe his ass with it!
Playtex, the maker of Wet Ones, is undoubtedly thrilled about the development. Indeed, I imagine that since the invention of Baby Wipes, Wet Ones and all of these things, there have been drawn-out fights in the marketing departments of these companies.
“There’s an untapped market out there! We need to tap that market! Tap it, I tell you!”
“We’ve been over this. We are not advertising these things for adult use. It’s just unseemly. And why do you keep saying tap? It’s making me uncomfortable.”
“Unseemly? Who cares about unseemly when we could move thousands of more units a month? Now you’re getting squishy?”
“What? My forefathers got doctors to give testimonials for cigarettes. I worked on BP’s Beyond Petroleum campaign. But there are lines! And why’d you have to use a word like squishy?”
Luckily for makers of Baby Wipes, Americans took it upon themselves to discover adult uses for the product. I don’t know which genius made the intellectual leap. Indeed, I’m not sure it was a genius. A man, most likely. He’s stuck at home with the baby one morning. After a night out with the boys, he’s hungover on beer and cheap tequila. He’s made repeated trips to the bathroom and is feeling a little, shall we say, chapped. While changing baby’s diaper, he grabs the Baby Wipes and a thought occurs to him. Maybe. Just maybe. Then he shakes his head clear, memories of that breast milk he tried flooding back, making him want to vomit in his mouth just a little. He doesn’t use the Wipes. Not that day. But the thought stays with him, won’t let him go until one day, he caves and, feeling a little ashamed, he makes his first wipe and . . . it was a transformational moment for such a man.
He keeps the secret to himself, until one night, prompted by booze and a Bud Light “Real American Genius” radio ad, he tells some friends. They turn on him, tell him he’s sick. But he knows how this is going to play out. Soon enough, the entire neighborhood is using Baby Wipes. Maybe not for every bathroom visit, but on many.
Soon enough, it’s so out in the open, these people are telling other people. “Let me tell you girl, you need to get you some Baby Wipes. It will change your life.”
All of which I find extremely strange, considering out country’s relationship with bathroom matters. Think about the Charmin bears, mocked and loathed in this country. I’ve heard people go on about how disgusting they are. But from where I’m
shitting sitting, these are the only toilet paper ads in the country that make any kind of sense. They’re the only ones that acknowledge a) what toilet paper is used for and b) a product feature other than softness. Is toilet paper used for wiping your bum? Well, does a bear shit in the woods? (See? This ad is genius). And while no one necessarily wants to see bits of paper stuck to the bottom of a bear’s ass, men across the country recognize the problem. But what do we usually get in toilet paper ads? Babies, kids, puppies and promises about double-ply and softness.
But enough about the bears. The point remains that adults started using Baby Wipes and the ilk. It became so accepted, in fact, that producers of these technological marvels started marketing them toward adults. Don’t believe me?
Check out this from the Wet Ones site: “Why settle for dry toilet paper when you can get a fresher clean? Fresh ‘n Flush personal hygiene wipes are made with a unique, gentle cleansing formula that soothes as it cleans.”
That ain’t exactly directed at a mom thinking about her baby, now is it?
And this. “Large wipe for thorough cleansing, coverage and freshening.”
That’s right, not some weak little baby wipe. A large wipe–big enough to cover your big adult ass.
And all of this behavior is endorsed by Bill Nye the Science Guy.
What’s this world coming to? I mean, really, what next? Some company just dropping all pretense and selling a five-gallon bucket of All Purpose AssWipes?