By Patricia Marie Allen
Patricia Marie Allen
I noticed Sean’s clothes a little near the end of our fifth grade year. On weekends he’d come over to my house wearing shirts I’d see his seventh grade sister wearing the year before and shorts; I know I had seen similar shorts on girls.
One evening I mentioned it to my parents at dinner. “Mom, have you noticed Sean’s clothes lately?”
“What about them?”
“Well, … they kind of look… well different.”
“Yeah,” Janet added. “I’ve noticed. It look’s like he’s wearing his sisters clothes.”
“As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what he’s wearing,” Mom told us.
“He is?” I couldn’t believe it. I mean I suspected it, but I couldn’t really believe it.
“How do you know?” Janet wanted to know.
“I called his mother and mentioned that’s what it looked like and she told me that money was a little tight. She needs Sean’s school clothes to last through the next year, so she’s having him play in Shirley’s old clothes.”
I was aghast. “His sister’s clothes? What does she think? … He’s a sissy?”
“Let’s not have any of that kind of talk,” my father commanded. “You know we’re only a few dollars away from that ourselves. Sean is your best friend. Now if you value that friendship, this will be the last time you speak of it to anyone, not even Sean. That is unless he brings it up, then you will speak kindly. That’s what true a friend does and I won’t tolerate any anything less from you. Understand?”
That was about it until about three weeks later when he came over on Saturday. He was wearing a button up the front blouse. I could tell it was blouse and not a shirt because the buttons were on the wrong side. His shorts were a pair of cutoff jeans. The back pocket had the word “Chic” embroidered on it in purple. We were climbing around my back yard play set. As he brought his knees to his chest, his waistband pulled down enough to expose his underwear. I could plainly see he was wearing panties. Red panties with a white lace waistband.
“Oh my God!” I shouted, “Panties! You’re wearing panties!”
My Dad stepped to the kitchen door. “Richard Thomas Gaines! Come here right now!”
Sean’s face showed fear.
“We talked about this, didn’t we? You know that you were never to bring that up.” He turned to my Mom. “Mary, do we still have Janet’s old clothes?” My Mom nodded. “Take them to Richard’s room.” Then to me, “You go apologize to Sean and ask him to wait while you go and get your punishment.”
“Sean, I’m sorry I made a big deal out of you underwear,” I stammered. “Will you please wait for me? My father says I need to go in and be punished, but I can come out and play afterward.”
“OK.” He looked nearly as bewildered as I felt.
I followed my father upstairs to my room. He didn’t say a word; he didn’t have to. The look on his face said it all. When we got there, my mother was already there with several large garbage bags. She was in the process of dumping them on the bed. She began to sort them into piles. Underwear, skirts, blouses, dresses, shorts and pants all went into their respective piles. I watched, curious about what this all had to do with my punishment.
She picked up a lace trimmed pair of panties. “Let me have those,” Dad said. I thought that was odd. Then when she had a pair of yellow rayon flared leg shorts he wanted them too. The next item was a button up the front blouse with short sleeves and some yellow and green embroidery work on it, followed by a nylon camisole. Dad rummaged through some things and came up with some pale yellow bobby socks and a pair of my sisters loafers.
He turned to me and said, “Here, go in the bathroom and put these on.” He held out the things to me.
“Dad, those are Janet’s clothes.”
“Not any more. They were Janet’s old clothes, now they’re your play clothes.”
Once done in the bathroom, my Dad laid out the rules. “OK, we’ve decided that the best way to keep you from harassing Sean, is to put into the same boat. That means you will wear your sisters old clothes during the summer. Don’t feel like we’re picking on you. We had nearly decided that if Sean’s Mom’s plan had worked next year we were going to do it then anyway.
“Now go out and play with Sean.”
Totally dressed in my sisters clothes, I made my way to the back door. Sean was sitting on the cross bar of my play set. He had one leg spread to the side for balance and the other hanging straight down swinging to and fro. He was studying his toe.
I paused, trying to work up the courage to present myself to him. I sensed my father enter the room. Tears forming in my eyes, I slowly pushed the screen door and stepped out. I had tried to be quiet, but the spring moaned as it expanded.
Sean looked up, his face blank. I knew my father had moved silently to the door. He was watching me. I could feel his presence. With wooden legs, I went to join Sean.
“I’m sorry, Sean. I didn’t mean to tease you. I was just surprised. I’ll never, ever, say anything about it again.” The tears were streaming down my cheeks as my too late apology burst out.
“Did your father spank you?” he asked matter-of-factly, getting down. I shook my head no. “What was your punishment then?
“These clothes,” I bawled. “I have to wear my sisters old clothes.”
“Oh,” he said softly, “I understand. I have to wear my sisters clothes, because my Mom can’t afford to buy lots of clothes. It bothered me at first. It won’t be so bad.” He hugged me gently. “You’ll get used to it.”
I was horrified when I realized I was responding to the hug and pulled back. “Do you really get used to it?”
“Oh sure. My Mom started making me wear Shirley’s old clothes during spring break. She said that my good clothes had to last through next year. She always buys them big enough that I have room to grow into them, but I always ruin them through the summer.
“I didn’t like it a first and would only wear the things that really looked like boy’s clothes. And you remember, during Spring Break, I was sick? Well, I was just embarrassed to be seen in my sisters clothes. But since then I decided that it would be OK. You were my best friend and the only one who would see me… I’m the only one who’ll see you. Since I’m already wearing girls clothes, it’ll be even easier for you.”
“But what about all the people, the neighbors living around here?”
“Do you really know them? Are you friends with any of them?”
“Well then, what do you care? They don’t affect how you live in any way. Besides some of them will probably think you are a new girl in the neighborhood. That is if they notice at all.”
Well, it took some time but I calmed down and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon with Sean. After that, Sean seemed to flaunt the fact that he was wearing girls clothes. One day he came over in a powder blue long sleeve T-shirt with flowers embroidered on it and a scoop neckline. His pants were hip huggers, white, back zippered and stopped at mid-calf. Personally, I was staying away from the ultra feminine things that now occupied my closet space. Not only my closet space but also my drawers. Every bit of my boys clothes, including my underwear and pajamas, had been packed up for “next year.”
What surprised me about the whole thing was I really came to like sleeping in the nightgowns. My sister never did like pajamas, except for baby dolls. Even the panties, once I got over the embarrassment, were enjoyable. However, most of the pants were just too tight in the crotch.
Well, as it does in the Northwest in early summer, a summer storm came through. We had several days of rain. Sean called on the second day and invited me over to play games with him and his sister.
“Mom, can I go over to Sean’s?”
“Sure, honey. Be sure to wear a coat.”
That’s a Mom for you. Sean and I aren’t outside playing right now because it’s raining and she thinks I’ll not realize I need a coat. “I’ll be right over, Sean.” Hanging up, I rushed to the closet. “Mom, where’s my jacket?”
Mom came into the hall. “Oh, it’s right here,” she said, taking Janet’s old car coat off the hanger.
“Mom, that’s Janet’s coat!”
“It’s her old coat. Did you forget that you’re wearing her old clothes this summer?”
“No,” I mumbled, taking the coat. It was tan cloth with brown leather thongs and wooden bars for buttons. It had zippers on either side so that in bad weather it could be worn fully closed for maximum protection, but in nicer weather, they could be unzipped and allow more freedom of movement. It also had a hood. I decided that was a plus. With the hood up fewer people would know it was me in the girls clothes.
Arriving at Sean’s, I was greeted by him waiting on the porch. “Great coat,” he said loudly. “I always thought it looked great on Janet!”
His choice of clothes was positively effeminate. His shoes were patent leather over pastel yellow knee socks. His white shorts had wide, button on suspenders which he wore over yellow V-neck blouse with a wide, floppy collar and long bloused sleeves. With his shaggy hair, anyone who didn’t know would have thought he was a short-haired girl. I hurried inside, lest anyone notice us.
“So what are we going to do?” I asked, taking off my coat. I noticed Sean and his sister checking out my choice of clothes. Next to Sean, I was positively masculine. I had on some sneakers, with pastel blue trim and ankle socks. My pants were polyester pull-ups and my shirt was a scooped neck yellow T-shirt.
“We’ve got lots of board games,” Sean offered.
Shirley went to the hall closet and brought to a stack of games. There were six in all. Most of them were old. I didn’t like Monopoly ® or Big Business ®, so those were out. None of us knew enough about Tripoli ® to play that. That left Careers ®, Sorry ® and Clue ®.
We started out with a quick game of Sorry ® Shirley won that hands down. Next we played Careers ®. That took a little longer. Sean came out on top on that. We followed that with three games of Clue ®. We finally agreed that was enough of that.
We put the games away and sat around bored. All that was on television were soap operas. Shirley spoke up after a time, “Sean, do you think that Rick might like to play our special game?”
“I bet he would. Come on Rick, let’s go upstairs.”
With that he jumped up and led the way with Shirley close at hand. I wanted to ask, “Just what is this special game?” but no one gave me the chance.
When I got to Sean’s room he had already dropped his suspenders off his shoulders and was pulling his top off. Shirley was digging though drawers.
“Take your top off, Rick.”
Dumbly, I did. I stood with horror as I watched Shirley hand Sean a bra and come towards me with a second one.
“Ah, I don’t know about this… why do we need to put on bras?” I asked, feeling threatened.
“We’re going to play dress-up,” Sean explained as he easily fastened his bra behind his back. It was a move born of much practice.
“I’m not sure I want to put on a bra.”
“Why not? You’re already wearing everything else,” Sean reasoned. “Come on it’ll be fun. We can wear dresses and everything,” he continued excitedly.
Shirley acted as if she hadn’t heard our exchange and slipped my right arm through the strap and gathered my left, guiding it into the other. There was something fascinating about the process. I stood, mesmerized, as she fastened it behind my back. She fussed with it a bit. I looked up in time to see Sean drop a full-slip over his head. I watched with awe and dread has he took off his shorts. Shirley worked with amazing deftness to put a full-slip over me. I’m not quite sure just how she managed it because I don’t remember cooperating at all. But then, I don’t remember resisting either.
In one quick motion, she had my pants around my ankles. I automatically stepped out of them as Shirley stooped to assist me. While she was down there, she untied my shoes and got them off as well. I suddenly felt naked! Sean was grinning as he sat on the bed working with a pair of white tights.
“Do you want to wear tights too?” Shirley asked.
“Oh yeah, Rick, you’ve got to try them. They’re the greatest,” Sean offered.
Shirley didn’t wait for my comment and went straight to the dresser. “Sit down and I’ll help you,” she instructed.
As I sat, I was aware of the tactile sensations that went along with the nylon. As Shirley threaded my toes into the tights, Sean stood and pulled his up over his hips. It took him a several tries to get them properly adjusted.
“Stand up,” Shirley commanded, taking my hand. She bent and worked with first one leg and then the other. Soon I stood looking at a grinning Sean; acutely aware of my nylon encased legs. Shirley opened Sean’s closet revealing several dresses. She began picking through them. She brought out a really pretty yellow thing. It had obviously been a party dress bought in better times. Laying it on the bed, she got out a white dress. Pretty, but not quite as fancy as the yellow one. “What do you think Sean? Which one shall we have Rick wear?”
“It’s his first time. I think he should wear the yellow one,” he replied, lifting the white one over his head.
Shirley bunched up the yellow on and lifted in front of me. Not knowing what else to do, I lifted my arms and let her fit it over me. I mean, I sure couldn’t leave dressed the way I was.
Sean brought shoes out of the closet. His were sandals with a broad toe strap and thin straps that went behind his heal. Mine were yellow with pointed toes. Both had a one-inch heel.
Shirley ushered us into the bathroom and attacked Sean’s hair. As I watched the process I shivered with the thought of what was happening. This was way more then just wearing my sisters old clothes to save mine for next year.
Shirley had called it their “special game.” Sean knew exactly what she meant and what to do. It was obvious that they had played this many times before.
Soon Sean looked like any girl our age and Shirley turned her attention toward me. Brushing, combing teasing and spraying. “You’ll have to let your hair grow a bit if you want to be really convincing,” she told me. ‘Convincing? If I want to be convincing? What convincing?’
“There,” she said. “Pretty good even if I do say so myself. I’ve seen girls with shorter hair.”
I turned to the mirror. I saw a girl in a really pretty yellow dress. She’d have looked better if her hair had been longer. She looked like my sister, only younger, more my age. ‘Oh God! It’s me! I’m the girl in the mirror! How can that be? I’m a boy, I can’t be a girl!’ I touched my face and watched the girl in the mirror do the same. I looked at Sean.
“Isn’t it cool? We look like girls. We cold fool anyone. My Mom says I could go anywhere and no one would know.”
‘His Mom? She knows he does this?’
“Let’s go get a special lunch,” Shirley said, leading the way to the kitchen.
There, Sean and I put on aprons and Shirley directed us in the preparation of soup and sandwiches. I was in charge of the soup and Sean made the sandwiches.
As we ate, Shirley coached us in being lady-like. Things like sitting up straight, sipping without slurping and taking small bites and chewing thoroughly with our mouths closed.
After lunch, we washed the dishes and went back upstairs. By now I was a little more relaxed and could appreciate the rustle of my dress and feel of the sensuous material as it caressed me as I walked upstairs. I thought the game was over and we’d go back to wearing pants, but I was wrong. Instead, we changed into more casual dresses and came back downstairs where Shirley introduced us to the joys of playing jacks.
We sat on the hardwood floor, Sean instructing me on just how to spread my dress to maintain my modesty and still have the freedom of movement to play the game. I was surprised just how much skill it required to bounce the little ball and scoop in the increasing number of jacks. It was actually a challenge when it got above three.
For the rest of the afternoon we played all sorts of games the boys generally avoided as too “sissy.” Somehow it was fun and just seemed right. Then without warning, Sean’s mother came home. My heart leapt into my throat. I was sure she’d be upset that Sean and I were in dresses.
“Hi girls, having a good time?” she sang merrily. I jumped up ready to run. “Rick, don’t you look sweet? That dress is really cute on you. Sean, you should give that one to Rick. It looks even better on him then it does on you.
‘My God! Sean’s mother knows all about it and thinks dresses are fine!’
“Richard, will you be staying to dinner?”
“Umm… I’ll have to call and ask.”
“Why don’t you do that? We’ll be having spaghetti, nothing fancy.”
The rest of the evening was surreal. She treated Sean and I as if we were girls. We helped in the kitchen to prepare and again to clean up after dinner. Mrs. Erikson played board games with us until it was time to go home. I changed and found myself a little let down as I put my pants back on.
The next day the sun was back out and Sean was over to play as usual and things returned to as close to normal as they could with us wearing our sisters old clothes. All week, I wondered about that “special game.” Things were definitely weird. The weirdest part was that once I got over the shock of it, I had fun. That in retrospect was even weirder than Sean’s mother acting as if Sean and me wearing dresses was as common as house flies. Then, on Friday evening, rain sat in again.
Sean called after dinner, “Weather’s gonna rain all day tomorrow. You wanna come over again?”
“OK, I guess. There’s nothing much to do around here when it rains.”
So in the morning I dressed in a pair of cotton twill pants and a lightweight white turtleneck pullover and put on my sisters car coat. It was raining so hard that Mom insisted that I take her beige umbrella. When I got to Sean’s, his sister answered the door.
“Sean, Rick’s here,” she called out as she let me in. Sean came running in from the kitchen.
“Rick, there’s stuff on my bed for you. Hurry up and change. Mom’s gonna let us help make cookies.”
I stood aghast as he spun on his heal and dashed back into the kitchen. He had on a blue jumper over a white blouse with cap sleeves and a ruffled collar. For shoes, he was wearing patent leather Mary Janes and lacy anklets.
“Come on,” Shirley said, “I’ll help you.” She led the way upstairs. She looked at what was on the bed and said, “You know, I like your turtleneck. I think I’ll just find a skirt to go with it. Slip off you shirt and let’s get a bra on you.” Off came my shirt and she fastened a bra around my chest. “Put your shirt back on while I find you a skirt.”
I complied and had to ask myself, ‘Why am I going along with this? I mean I don’t have to. There’s nothing in my Dad’s rule that said I had to come over here and wear dresses or skirts.’
Shirley found a black and white plaid box pleated skirt and fastened it around my waist. Again before I knew it, my pants were around my ankles. “Do you want to wear tights, or knee socks?” she asked.
Remembering how much I had enjoyed the tights last time I said, “Tights,” just a little to emphatically.
Shirley smiled and produced a pair of white semi-opaque tights. My breath became short as Shirley helped me encase my legs with them.
“Next time, I’ll teach you to put them on yourself.”
In the kitchen, Sean had added a white pinafore apron and his mother had a yellow one waiting for me. We spent the next three hours rolling dough and cutting shapes as the batches baked. We had a lot of fun. Some of them we even decorated.
We had lunch, including some of our cookies as desert. Sean’s mother praised our efforts making cookies and promised a surprise reward for us. I went home that evening with two dozen cookies. My mother was impressed that we hadn’t just played some dumb game, but had done something “worth while.” She said she liked cookies as well.
“Mom, Sean’s Mom was happy about all the cookies and she said if I’d come over tomorrow she’d have a surprise reward for us.”
“Well, I guess you’ll just have to go over again in the morning.”
So, bright and early, I was at Sean’s. I was glad to see the weather had cleared overnight. That meant we wouldn’t be stuck inside. Once there, Shirley took me to her room while Sean went to his mothers.
Shirley spent a long time picking an outfit for me to wear. She was getting out her good clothes. I didn’t know what was up, but apparently, for our surprise, we needed to be in some fancy clothes. She ended up with a really frilly dress in a mint green. It looked a little young for Shirley, but I’d seen plenty of girls my age wearing dresses like it.
“I should have given this to Sean, but it’s such a nice dress and this was one of my favorites. I’m going to let you wear it for today, and then I guess I’ll give it to Sean. He’s really nice now that he’s used to wearing dresses. I used to be afraid he’d ruin it.”
She helped me into a bra, slip and real pantyhose. Not tights, be real, shear pantyhose. I couldn’t believe how great they felt. I thought the tights were great, but the pantyhose sent me over the edge. The slip rubbing over them caused electric charges all over my body. It distracted me as I stood to let Shirley drop the dress over my head. It wasn’t until she buttoned it up my back that I realized the bra she put on me had more padding than before. There were real noticeable bumps on my chest.
Then she attacked my hair. She sat me at her vanity and brushed, combed and teased and finally sprayed. She followed that with mascara and blush. Just when I thought she must be finished, I got a coating of lip-gloss. When I got a look at the mirror I saw a girl of at least twelve if not thirteen. As I stood transfixed by my image, Shirley slipped a pair of light green shoes on my feet. I wouldn’t have noticed them, I was so spellbound, if it weren’t for the inch and a half heels on them. I felt a little off balance as she led me down the stairs.
In the living room I was greeted by a cute eighth grade girl who just gushed over me.
“Oh Rikki, you look great! I’m soooo jealous. Shirley said that I couldn’t wear that dress because it’s her favorite.”
“Well Shawna, you’ll be glad to know that after today, I’m putting it in your closet. You’ve become a lot more genteel and I think you’ll take care of it now.”
Then it hit me. I had been called “Rikki” and the voice from the girl called Shawna was Sean’s. They had turned us into girls. I looked as all girl in the mirror as Sean did standing there in front of me.
“Isn’t this cool?” Shawna asked. “We look like girls!”
‘Cool? Whoa, that sounds like he’s really into this.’ I was still in shock of finding myself looking like this so I didn’t consider the fact that I was enjoying the feel of the unfamiliar garments swirling around me as I walked; that I was joyously aware of my nylon clad legs rubbing together.
“OK girls, let’s get some pictures,” Mrs. Erikson said, holding a camera. Shawna linked arms with me, grinning from ear to ear. His (her?) smile was contagious. I smiled as Shirley stepped in behind us. Mrs. Erikson took three pictures.
“OK girls, get your coats. We have to get a move on.”
Shawna and Shirley started grabbing coats out of the closet. Shirley helped me on with a light cotton raincoat that stopped a couple of inches short of my dress hem. Before I knew it, we were all in the Erikson’s car heading downtown.
“Where are we going?” I whispered to Shawna. He just shrugged his shoulders.
“The last time Mom took us out to lunch.”
“Last time? She’s had you out of the house before? In a dress?”
“Yeah, it’s so cool. Everybody treats me just like I was really a girl.”
I paled at the idea of anyone seeing me. Yet, I didn’t object out loud. Shawna just grinned as the car rumbled down the street. Much to my chagrin, we came to a stop in the parking lot of a family restaurant.
A hostess greeted us. “A table for four today?”
We were led to a table by the window. A waitress appeared a few minutes later. “Hi, can I take your order?”
Mrs. Erikson ordered us all salads and a half sandwich. Mine was turkey breast. Some how, I expected some recognition of the fact that Sean and I were boys in dresses, but there wasn’t so much as a wink or even a second glance. The waitress was pleasant and smiled and gave us great service.
From what Sean had said, I expected that we would be going home when lunch was over. To my surprise, we went to a movie instead. It was great. We saw “Shrek.” There were a lot of kids there. I think we were almost the only girls there in dresses, but no one paid any attention to us. While the movie was going I totally forgot what I was wearing. It wasn’t until we got outside and a little breeze sprang up and sent my dress gently wafting against my legs, that I remembered I was a boy in a dress.
On the way home, I had a thought that just didn’t fit in the scheme of things. If it was tight money that made Sean’s mother put him into his sisters clothes, then how could she afford to take us all to lunch and a movie?
“Shawna, if your mother is short of money, how come she spent the money to take us to lunch and a movie?”
“Short of money? Nah, my Mom just got a promotion.”
“If your Mom got a promotion, then how come you have to wear your sisters old clothes?”
He shrugged his shoulders; “I just like too.”
“You like too?”
“Yeah. I think it’s cool. I liked the clothes and then when Mom told me that if I was going to wear them, then I might just as well wear all of them and that way I could save my school clothes for next year.”
“Wear all of them? I don’t understand. How does wearing dresses help save your school clothes?”
“No, I started wearing Shirley’s dresses, but only around the house. When Mom caught me is when she said I should wear all of Shirley’s old clothes. So I started wearing her jeans and sweatshirts to play in. When you didn’t say anything, I started wearing the softer pants, shorts and shirts. I was really scared when you got upset about my panties. I kind of hoped you’d just ask me about them. That way, I could tell you how cool it is and maybe get you to try it.
“Well, when your Dad got mad and you had to wear your sisters clothes, I knew I had someone to share this with. Isn’t it cool?”
“Yeah, sure. The dresses feel really neat and when Mom takes us places I really get a kick out of how people look at the clothes and just assume we’re girls. Don’t you like it?”
I had to think about it. He was right about how it felt wearing dresses. That first time at his house with Shirley had been a kick. Of course I almost died when his mother came home. I’d thought sure she would come unglued, but she was cool with it. I remember feeling lightheaded, a kind of high when she didn’t react badly.
Then today. I thought sure that when we got out of the car at the restaurant there’d be a real uproar when Mrs. Erikson took us inside. I was already trying to come up with excuses of just how I got mixed up with the idea. I mean two boys, dressed up like girls were bound to make people in the restaurant upset. But no, the hostess recognized his Mom. It was obvious that Shawna had been there before. I could hardly remember what we ate, I was so giddy. Then the movie. I was glad we were so far from home. With all the kids at the theater had we been anywhere near home, there would have been some who would have recognized Sean and I. When the lights went down in the theater I was so relieved that I nearly floated out of my seat.
As I thought about all this, I found myself grinning. I guess it was pretty cool.
“Do you go places in dresses a lot?”
“Oh a couple of times a month. I think Mom thought it would embarrass me, but I loved it from the first time. I was scared to death, but it was a good kind of scared. You know the kind you’d like to do again?”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. The whole time I thought some one would realize we were boys and I knew I’d die if they did. But even so, I’d do it again.”
“I’m sure Mom would be willing to take us out again. She says she likes it too. I guess, when I go with her as a boy, I do dumb things. But she never has to discipline me as Shawna,” he grinned.
We got home about 4:30. Reluctantly I changed back and headed home. I went in and plopped in front of the TV. Some local store was advertising their girls clothing line. I was horrified when I realized that I was wishing I had one of the dresses.
Things kind of went back to what was passing for normal, Sean and I in my backyard playing in our sisters old clothes. Sean seemed to be oblivious to just how feminine the clothes he chose were. He was wearing things like peasant blouses and Capri pants. His choice of shoes ran to the feminine as well. He wore a myriad of sandals and even out right girls flats.
What amazed me was the lack of reaction by my family. I detected not one second glance or extended first glances. That was about to change. Sean’s mother was required to attend some kind of convention and would be gone for a week. She made arrangements for Shirley and Sean to spend the week at our place.
So, they showed up at our place, Friday burdened down with suitcases. It was like a party. But what stands out in my mind was not only did Sean wear very feminine clothes, he was wearing nail polish. Neither my Mom nor Dad seemed to notice. But I did see Janet eyeing his hands.
The weekend went as any weekend might have. The only unusual thing that went on, was that Janet and Shirley were together more then ever before. They were two years apart in school and as such didn’t see each other much. On Monday Mother Nature dealt us a bad turn and we woke up to rain. We sat around bored, all four of us. Mom was busy doing laundry.
“This weather sucks,” observed Janet. “I wish there was something we could do for fun.”
“At home, when it rains, Sean and I play dress up,” Shirley replied. My heart stopped.
“Sure, when we can’t go out, I gain a full-fledged sister. Sean becomes Shawna.”
“I still don’t understand.”
“Sean wears my old dresses.”
“Yeah, I do up his hair and do a little makeup. He’s really cute as a girl. We could take him anywhere and everyone would think he’s a girl.”
“He really looks like a girl?” Janet asked eyeing a grinning Sean.
“Yep,” grinned Shirley.
“I don’t know, what about your Mom? Won’t she be mad when she finds out?”
“Oh no, I had to have her show how to do his hair. Do you have any old dresses we could use?”
“I don’t think we should make him do anything he doesn’t want to. My folks would be angry about that.”
“He likes it, don’t you Sean?” Sean just grinned and nodded his head. “See? Let’s do it. Show us where the dresses are. Come on Sean,” Shirley said, starting upstairs.
“This I gotta see! Come on Rick.”
Janet had me by the arm, ushering me toward the stairs. I was so deep in disbelief that I didn’t resist. Upstairs, Janet opened the hall closet and dragged out the plastic bags with her old clothes in them and began sorting through them in her room. I stood aghast as they began holding dresses up to Sean. Finally they came up with a blue party dress. It was full and had little puffy sleeves with white lace on them.
“Oh, that’s gorgeous,” Sean said, “That’s the one I want… and look, here’s a yellow one that will look good on Rick.”
My heart stopped. “Me?” I gasped
“Why not?” Janet grinned.
“Oh, come on Rick,” Shirley said, “Sean really likes it. Don’t you Sean?” He grinned at me and nodded.
“Here, Rick. Let me help you get undressed,” Janet said, pulling my top up. Mean while, Sean had begun to strip as Shirley fished out a bra for him. Dumbfounded, I just went along. My mind was racing.
‘If I object, then Sean might say something about those times at his house. If I don’t then Janet will think I want to do this.’ “I…” I started. I had decided to speak up and object, but… ‘what if Sean tells about the movie?’ That stayed my tongue.
Sean stood there grinning as Shirley hooked one of Janet’s old bras around him… of course Janet followed suit with me. I was surprised that she could manage to hook it, what with my heartbeat reverberating through my chest. I would have thought the vibration would have prevented such fine coordination.
What followed was in some kind of gauzy chiffon world closer to a dream then reality. In the end, I was wearing a yellow sundress made of the softest material I’ve ever seen. I don’t think the whole garment could have weighed an ounce. The half-slip I had to wear under it weighed twice as much. The socks I had on were knee length yellow, opaque nylon things. For shoes, I was wearing white sandals.
I began to worry. No matter how this came out, this wasn’t going to be taken for a joke. I couldn’t see how my earlier excursions into “girlhood” could remain a secret.
Janet and Shirley began fussing over our hair. Janet really got into the game and did some lipstick and blush. In the end, Shawna and I stood side by side looking at the girls we’d become. Sean, the big goof, was smiling ear to ear and flouncing around, making the hem of his dress swirl around his legs.
“Isn’t this cool?” he asked no one in particular. “We look just like real girls. Nobody could tell we’re boys.”
“That’s right,” Shirley offered, “I’ll bet we could take you downtown to any department store and march you right into the fitting rooms to try on dresses.”
“Oh wow,” Sean said, “Do you think? Wouldn’t that be cool Rikki?”
The color drained form my face as Janet grinned and I said, “Oh, yeah… cool…” My eyes were so wide open I could feel them drying out.
“Oh come on ‘Rikki’ I think that would be fun. I’ve always wanted a little sister.” My stomach knotted up.
It was only a matter of time before my Mom and Dad knew I’d already been out as Rikki. Tears began to well up in my eyes. Janet saw it and hugged me close.
“Don’t worry Rick,” she said, “we won’t do anything to embarrass you. If we were to take you out, we’d make sure no one would suspect that you were anything but a girl.”
I couldn’t tell her what was really bothering me. Not that it mattered. This was coming to no good end.
“Let’s show our sisters to your Mom,” Shirley grinned.
“OK,” Janet agreed and I found myself being led, like a man to the gallows, down stairs. Janet paused at the kitchen door. She winked at me and took my hand. She leaned into kitchen. “Mom, you know how Rick is wearing my old clothes?”
“Well, I was thinking, why shouldn’t he wear all of them?”
“All of them? You mean your old dresses and skirts?” Janet nodded. Mom chuckled. “I doubt that you could get him into anything like that.”
“I don’t know about that,” Janet said, winking at me. “I think I could talk him into it. I think he’d look really cute too.”
This whole time Sean was behind me grinning. Janet pulled me into the kitchen and stood me in front of her.
“Well, well, well, I guess you can… and you look so cute. It looks like Judy’s old dresses won’t go to waste. What does Sean think about this?”
“Oh, I think he’s OK with it,” Janet replied as Sean bounded into the room, looking like the Cheshire Cat.
“He does it all the time at home,” offered Shirley. Mom’s eyebrows raised. “He started last year. That’s how come Mom decided he could wear my old clothes all the time.”
“Sean, Rick, why don’t you two go watch some TV,” Mom suggested. Sean happily skipped into the living room. I stopped around the corner and listened. Shirley and Janet stayed with Mom. “Look girls, I don’t mind you having a little fun, putting the boys in dresses, but, Shirley I am concerned that your mother might not like it. So maybe you should get the boys back into pants.”
“Don’t worry,” Shirley assured her. “He does it at home all the time.”
“He does? And your mother knows?”
“She’s OK with that?”
“Sure, she tried to embarrass him out of it several ways, but he doesn’t seem to care so she just lets him wear them.”
“Embarrass him? What did she do?”
“Well, she’s taken him to dinner at a restaurant, to a movie, even shopping for dresses. Every time he has taken to it like a duck to water. Her last effort was to have him dress up when Rick came over.”
“Wait a minute. You talk like Sean likes wearing your old clothes.”
“He does. When Mom caught him in my old dress, she made a rule that he had to wear my old clothes everywhere but school.”
“I thought it was because you were on a tight budget.”
“Well, that’s kind of what she tells everyone.”
“Are you going to get into trouble for telling me that?”
“No, Mom told him if he was going to wear my clothes, he would have to admit he liked it and wear everything. I think Mom thought it would slow him down but Rick didn’t react the way she thought he would. So I guess she’s resigned to the whole idea that Sean is as much my sister as he is my brother.”
“Well Rick was pretty upset in the beginning, but we told him that Sean was to be treated as if nothing was unusual. When he saw that Sean was wearing your underwear he came unglued. That was when we decided that in order to get him to not behave badly toward Sean, he could just do the same.”
“Sean was delighted. He came home just bubbling about Rick’s new wardrobe. It was shortly after that, that Mom told him he had to tell Rick about the dresses or quit wearing them.”
“So how did Rick react to Sean wearing dresses?”
‘Oh, oh. Here it comes.’
“He went along with it, even to the point of letting me dress him in my dresses. Not once, but twice. He didn’t even balk when we wanted to take him to the movies.”
“Rick? Our Rick went to the movies in a dress?”
“Oh wow,” Janet put in, “I wish I could have seen that.” Just then Sean came back.
“Come on Rick, the afternoon movie is starting.”
I didn’t stay because I was afraid of getting caught eavesdropping and Sean wasn’t trying to whisper or anything.
About fifteen minutes later, Janet and Shirley came in and sat down with us. After the commercial break, I had to go to the bathroom. All things considered it was just easier to sit down. On the way back, I heard Mom on he phone in the kitchen. She chuckled and said, “Sure, why not? Let’s do it.” There was a long pause. “OK, I’ll see you then. Love you, Dave.” I hurried back to the living room where Janet and Shirley were giving Sean girl lessons.
I got roped in and soon I was practicing sitting. Sitting! Can you believe it? Sitting. I never thought about it, but girls sit differently then boys. I mean I just sat and never paid attention. But it seems that girls pay attention. When they sit, they have to worry about what’s happening with their dress or skirt behind them and once they’ve sat down, they have to pay attention to just what their legs are doing. Come to think of it I guess I’ve noticed that part. I mean I sure notice when girls get careless and let the knees drift apart. Then when they’ve noticed me looking, they snap their knees together and give me a dirty look.
The girls devised a game that had Sean and me doing girl things in kind of a competition and they would score us, kind of like the Olympics. We got really wrapped up in it. I had no idea what time it was until I was in the middle of a stooping exercise. The object being to pick up something off the floor without exposing any lingerie. I looked up to see Dad standing in the doorway. I stood up quickly feeling the color drain out of my face.
“Hi Dad,” Janet chirped, “I’ll bet you didn’t know you had two daughters, did you? Doesn’t Rick look cute in my old dress?”
“Actually, much cuter then I expected. Well, Rikki, I’m seeing a side of you I never saw before.”
‘Rikki? Oh no! Mom called Dad. What did she tell him?’
“Your mother didn’t do you justice. She said you looked pretty good, but I’d say flawless. Excellent as well. And Shawna, you look great too.” ‘Dad seems to be enjoying this. How could he?’ He continued, “Janet, Shirley, don’t you think you’re a little underdressed? After all, if Rikki and Shawna are in dresses don’t you think you should be as well?” Then Dad just walked into the kitchen. A short time later, he and Mom disappeared into their bedroom. Sean acted as if that was the most normal thing in the world. I was at a loss for what to do. From what Dad had said it was clear that he didn’t expect us to change… I mean, he just sent the real girls upstairs to put on dresses because the boys were in dresses. ‘Why didn’t he just tell us to get out of the dresses?’ Too many questions, not enough answers. ‘Was that supposed to be a punishment for the girls? But they wear them all the time. If so, why punish them and not us? Surely he could figure out we must have cooperated in putting on the dresses.’ Then it hit me. It was only 4:30. Dad shouldn’t be home until 5:30 or maybe after. ‘Why was Dad home so early?’ Another unanswered question. Nothing was making sense.
Shirley and Janet came down, both wearing really nice dresses. Much too nice for just hanging out at home. Before I could question them, Dad came out in a fresh suit. He picked up the phone and dialed. “Hello, this is Mr. Gaines. I’m confirming my reservation for 5:30, party of six?”
‘Reservation? Party of six? What’s this all about?’
Mom came out in a nice dress and heels. Mom almost never wore heels. “Well, ladies, shall we be on our way?”
‘Dad just called us all ladies!’
We were all quickly ushered out to the car and we drove off. My brain whirred, trying to assimilate all that had just taken place. It was as if everyone else knew what was going on except me. Dad hadn’t seemed surprised or upset that I was wearing a dress. The girls seemed to know that they should wear nice dresses. Of course there was Sean. Fat, dumb and happy. He was in a dress and going somewhere. I’m sure he didn’t know or care where, but everyone else seemed to.
We pulled up to a nice restaurant. One of those where the guy in the funny jacket parks your car for you. We were greeted by a woman in one of those long slinky dresses. I think they’re called gowns.
“Mr. Gaines, party of six,” Dad told her.
“Of course, Mr. Gaines. Right this way,” she replied. This was obviously nicer then our usual family restaurant.
Over dinner, Dad announced, “My company just signed a five year contract. We will be expanding. Monday morning, we will begin tooling up a new plant and you are having dinner with the new plant manager. Money is no longer tight.”
It was a party atmosphere after that. I even forgot I was wearing a dress. It seemed as if dinner took hours.
Finally, at home, it hit me what Dad had said, “…money is no longer tight.” I was looking out the window thinking about that. We had found out that money wasn’t tight at Sean’s and now it wasn’t tight here anymore. ‘I guess that means I won’t have to wear Janet’s old clothes any more.’ At that thought, a tear rolled down my cheek. ‘What’s that all about? I should be happy.’ But some how, I wasn’t.
“A penny for your thoughts.” Mom’s voice shattered my isolation.
She came over and wiped the tear from my cheek. “What’s this all about?”
My mind raced back over my thoughts. “Nothing,” I lied. ‘I can’t tell her I’ll miss wearing Janet’s old clothes!’
“Nothing? No one sheds tears for nothing. Tears are either ‘of joy’ or from sorrow. Tears of joy are usually accompanied by a smile. You weren’t smiling.” She hugged me close. “Come on. You can tell your old Mom what brought that tear to your eye.”
“How much longer will I have to wear Janet’s old clothes? I mean when Dad’s raise kicks in we’ll be able to afford school clothes and play clothes won’t we?”
“Well, yes we will. Dad’s first check with the raise will come in about two weeks. We will have a few past due bills that will eat that up, but after that, we’ll be able to loosen our belts a little. So I’d say you could expect about a month. You can last that long, can’t you?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Off to bed now, Sean’s already brushing his teeth.”
In the morning, I lay in bed listening to the rain on the window. The bags of Janet’s old clothes were still on the floor next to my closet. I was wearing and honest to goodness silky nightgown. I had put it on as a dare from Sean.
I don’t know why exactly, but I started taking the dresses and skirts out of the bags and hanging them in my closet. Sean woke up as I was folding bras and slips to put in my drawer. He propped himself up on one elbow.
“Putting your clothes away?”
“They’re not your sister’s clothes. If you don’t claim them, they will end up at the Goodwill or someplace.”
“I know. That would be a shame. There is some really nice stuff here.” I paused. “Sean, you like wearing your sister’s old clothes, don’t you?”
“Yeah, but so do you,” he said defiantly.
“Does that make us weird?” I asked, ignoring the tone of his answer.
“I don’t know, I just know that I like it and Mom and Shirley don’t really seem to care. In fact, Mom seems to like it. She hugs me a lot when I wear dresses. Just the other day she was looking at a summer clearance ad in a children’s department in a store and said, ‘I should take you girls down there. They have some really cute dresses dirt-cheap.’”
“Yeah, Shirley and me.”
“Nah, she had to go out of town for this trip. But she promised that when she came back she’d take us.”
“Oh wow.” I looked down. My feelings were a mixture of dread and jealously. I found a tear had escaped my right eye. I couldn’t understand just why I was so sad that money was about to loosen up and I’d no longer have to wear Janet’s old clothes. Somehow, that, combined with Sean’s mother taking him to buy new dresses for him was too much. A tear escaped my left eye and started its journey toward my chin.
“What’s wrong Rick?” Sean asked, “You’re crying.”
“I don’t know… I’m… I just feel all mixed up. I’d never worn girls clothes before my Dad got upset about my reaction to your panties and then, two weeks ago, when you got me into a dress for the first time, I… I don’t know it’s all been too fast. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, or feel. I’ve just gotten used to wearing my sisters clothes and now, Dad got a promotion and I won’t have to. I’m all mixed up. You like it, don’t you?”
“Well yeah, I’ve liked it for a long time. From the very first time I borrowed my sisters nylon robe in the bathroom. I had no idea forgetting my bathrobe would lead to my liking girls clothes, but the feel of that robe caressing me as I walked back to my room was enough to make me want to explore more. And then when I discovered all her old clothes in the garage, I just had to try them on.
“Then Mom caught me. When I couldn’t give it up, she told me I could just wear them all the time, if I liked them so much. That’s when I started wearing her pants too.”
“But is it right? I mean we’re boys! Is it right for to us like wearing girls clothes?”
“I don’t know if it’s right or not. I kind of figured that my mother wouldn’t like it, but when she found out, she just asked me a bunch of questions. I think she tried to see if I really wanted to wear them, but she never said it was wrong. If it was wrong don’t you think she’d have told me to stop?”
“And what about your Dad? He’s the one who said you should wear them.”
“Yeah, but that was a punishment. He didn’t mean for me to like it.”
“He told you to wear Janet’s pants, blouses, underwear and shoes. He didn’t say you should wear her dresses, yet when he saw you in a dress he acted as if it was nothing.”
Just then there was a banging on the door. “Hey, wake up you sleepyheads.” Janet shouted through the door.
“We’re up,” I called back.
“Do you need any help getting dressed?”
“No. We can do it. If we get stuck, we can help each other,” Sean called out.
“OK, hurry up, mom said she’s holding breakfast until you two get there.”
We started getting dressed. I had just put on a slip and Sean was pulling a dress over his head, when I turned to him. “You’re right. My dad didn’t say I should wear dresses and he did act as if it was nothing. He had to have known when he came in and already made reservations for dinner. He knew he was going to take us out to dinner wearing dresses! … … … I wonder what’s up with that?”
I decided I’d have to talk to someone about that.
Sean and I spent the rest of the week in dresses or skirts except when we were out in the back yard playing. As a matter of fact, we were wearing dresses when his mom came home.
“Shawna, mom’s here,” called Shirley.
We came scampering down the stairs wearing sundresses. Sean ran up to his mother and threw himself into a hug. She picked him up and snuggled him tight. Putting him down. “Well, don’t you look sweet. Where’d you get that dress?”
“I borrowed it from Rikki,” he told her.
“From Rikki?” she asked, looking at me.
“Yeah, Janet gave him a bunch of her old stuff.”
“Well, pack your stuff up and we’ll get you out of their hair.”
I went up and helped Sean pack up. When we were all finished, he started to take the dress off.
“You can wear it home if you like. I’ll get it the next time I come over,” I told him.
“Thanks. I’d like that,” he smiled.
The next month was just routine summer fare, that is if you can call Sean flaunting the girl’s clothes thing and sometimes baiting me into joining him. His mom took us out all dressed up in our best dresses, to dinner or a movie a few times. Janet helped me dress up and we left home with me dressed that way. She even took us, Janet and Shirley included, to the beach one day, Shawna and Rikki donned cute little girls swim suits and splashed into the wave’s. All this time, no one, not mom, not Janet and not even dad acted as if I shouldn’t be doing it.
Finally, mom and dad got everything caught up and there was only two weeks of summer left.
“Good news kids,” mom announced one day. “Dad says we can all go shopping and get new clothes.”
So, for the first time since this whole thing started, I dressed in my boy clothes. But before we left, I went up and put a pair of panties on under my boxers. I just didn’t like the feel of the boxers any more.
I was envious of mom and Janet as they went through the racks and bought dresses, skirts and blouses. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we ran into Shawna, Shirley and their mom in the girls department. Shawna was trying on dresses. Shirley and her mom already had some bags of things they had bought for themselves.
“Isn’t it cool?” Shawna asked. “Mom’s buying me play clothes of my own.”
I nearly cried.
At home, I plunked myself in front of the TV and stared at it, not comprehending what was on. Mom brought me lunch and told me to eat up. We still had an afternoon of shopping to do.
That seemed strange to me. I had already gotten more new school clothes then ever before and my old clothes would be good to play in. She and Janet had also gotten lots of new things. What else is there to buy? And… why didn’t we just grab a burger and finish shopping before we came home?
About an hour went by and Janet came in and said, “Come on upstairs, mom wants me to get you ready to shopping.” With that, she grabbed my hand and hauled me up to my bedroom.
‘Get me ready to go shopping? How much more ready do I have to be?’
“What do I have to do to get ready?” I asked.
“You have to change clothes and get your hair brushed.”
“Well, I might need my hair brushed, but these clothes were good enough to shop in this morning. Besides, what more do I need to get? I’ve already got more school clothes then ever before.”
“You do indeed need to get you hair brushed. But as for those clothes… I don’t think you want to be dressed like that when we buy you your own play clothes.”
“Yes… Play clothes… You know, like Shawna got?”
Just then we were in my room. There on the bed was my favorite dress and accompanying lingerie.
“Now get dressed and meet me in the bathroom so I can fix your hair.”
With disbelief, I peeled out of my clothes and put on the dress. ‘Does this mean I’m getting new dresses?’ When I was fully dressed I found Janet in the bathroom. She wet down my, now, longish hair and put it up in hot rollers and began blow drying it. She had only done this one other time, when we were getting ready to go out to dinner with the Erikson’s.
We trouped downstairs to find mom waiting in the hall. I was still not believing what was going on as we pulled into the mall. We did a whirlwind tour of three stores, one of them specializing in girls clothes. I got some really cool dresses and other clothes. There were shorts and some weird kind of pants that had legs that were so wide and loose they kind of flowed into each other and looked like a skirt. Mom called them “Coo Lots.” Oh, and let’s not forget the silky underwear and nightwear. I bought a whole girls wardrobe.
At home, mom came up the to my room to help me put my new stuff away. She was in the process of lecturing me about taking good care of my new clothes because “… your Dad has been very generous with the amount of money we were allowed to spend on them.”
“Mom,” I asked, “what about dad?”
“What about him?”
“How… why… I mean, he’s OK with this?”
“Of course he is. He’s the one who determined just how much we could spend.”
“Well, he knows our budget and you needed some clothes of your own. He had to wear hand-me-downs and he wanted you to have new.”
“No, I mean, why… why girls clothes? I can kinda see the punishment, sorta, but not even that really. Most dads would come unglued about their sons wearing dresses and going out dressed that way. But dad… he just acted like it was the most normal thing in the world.”
“Well, yes, you’re right, most dads would ‘come unglued’, but not your dad. You see Rikki, you and Sean are not the first boys your dad has known who liked to dress up.”
“You don’t mean he…”
“No,” she laughed, “not him.”
“His best friend in grade school.”
“So like did he hang out with him when he was all dressed up?”
“No, quite the contrary. When he found out, he made a big scene and called him some bad names and broke off the friendship.”
“Then why is he so understanding about Sean and why did he insist that I be nice to him… to the point of making me dress up too and then not even blink when he saw me in a dress?”
“To know the answer to that I’ll have to jump ahead in my story to your dad’s sophomore year when Barry, your dad’s ex-best friend, dressed up one last time and committed suicide. He left a note. It read: “I can’t stop, my parents hate me and not even my best friend, Dave, can stand me. I can’t go on.” Your dad found him and the note in the tree house he built with Barry years before. Barry hung himself with the rope ladder.”
I sat down on my bed. I couldn’t believe that someone would actually kill themselves over something like that.
“So you see dear, your dad feels responsible for Barry’s death. He didn’t want you to risk that with Sean and now he’d rather have you get a sex change operation, grow up and marry some guy and be alive rather then end up like Barry.”
‘Well, that’s it. I can dress up anytime I like… sex change? … marry some guy? … I don’t think so…
‘But… … nah!’
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