How Slate Writer Got Away With Pissing In Depends And Calling It A StoryRemember when Vice magazine forced that intern to make and eat twelve flavored popsicles from this own semen to see how long it would take him to puke? Well you can't just do that sort of thing at Slate. You need a news peg, and some sort of underlying cultural criticism and/or geopolitical argument, a few riffs on the cognitive science of stoking consumer desire, maybe a reference to The Pentagon Papers. And most importantly you need a guy like Justin Peters here. Justin is the 27-year-old editor of a "print journal of arcana, deadpannery, and cultural criticism, nominally dedicated to the examination and deconstruction of that which vulgarians dub 'the American Dream'" you have obviously never heard of. Today on the internet you will find this vulgarian reviewing adult diapers for SlateNEWS PEG? It is the "Geezers Issue" at Slate! Old people may be the only group whose failing eyeballs are actually less coveted by advertisers than politically engaged public sector-employed poors, but John McCain is old! And he is about to be elected president, holy fuck. OH GOOD FOR THEM! SO WILL I LEARN STUFF LIKE HOW THE DEMENTIA THAT GENERALLY SETS IN DURING ONE'S MID-SEVENTIES COULD EFFECT JOHN MCCAIN'S ABILITY TO GRASP COMPLEX ISSUES SUCH AS SOCIAL SECURITY PRIVATIZATION? Hm, don't think so! But they had this Brooklyn 27-year-old get drunk and feign incontinence in six brands of disposable "undergarments" and that is the point of this post. EW! WHAT HAPPENED? Nothing, duh. You know how dudes piss in the streets when they are drunk? Maybe they even got cited for it once, and everyone found it highly amusing that the one day Mr. Highbrow Literary Elite shows up to the office in a suit it is because he urinated on the wall of a police station, sort of like how it's kind of amusing that this guy's literary journal is called Polite. Not LOL-funny, obvs, but "all the female assistants at Slate who are busy researching the mortgage meltdown or whatever get to roll their eyes" funny. SO HOW DID THIS GET INTO SLATE? Glad you asked! For starters, young Peters came to the task armed with a cultural-economic theory:
Like chocolate, beer, and jewel thieves, the best adult diapers come from Europe. This is not coincidental. European manufacturers don't have to cater to institutional purchasers' demands, so they're more likely to sell on quality rather than cost.
That makes no sense at all, considering that we are the ones who are supposed to be coveting their nationalized health care system not least for its ability to cut costs by purchasing "institutionally!" But nevermind. Then you throw in a little pathos:
The diaper swelled until it could swell no more, at which point streams of urine began running down the sides of my legs. Even though I had locked myself in a bathroom to perform the test, I still feel unaccountably ashamed, as if God were laughing at me-a feeling made worse by my inability to exit the diaper.
And a few quippy little "hit grafs" such as:
The word Attends sounds a lot like the word Depend, and, indeed, the two brands are similar-similar in their mediocrity, that is.
OK almost done! All we need now is the elusive killer wonk-cred-displaying simile.
They were about as absorbent as a drainpipe, sagging under the weight of the water and leaking like Daniel Ellsberg.
See what he did there, kids? A less-Slate-appropriate Slate contributor might have written "Scooter Libby." I probably would have Googled the name of some sort of infamous hydroelectric power plant built by Bechtel in the seventies as part of a CIA strategy to prop up some murderous but Soviet-hating dictator. And that = why it has taken an hour and a half to write this damn thing. [Slate]