It all started in the seventies. It may not be completely fair, but I blame Richard M. Nixon for it. Well why not? We blamed him for everything else, so why not for my crossdressing?
It all started in the seventies. It may not be completely fair, but I blame Richard M. Nixon for it. Well why not? We blamed him for everything else, so why not for my crossdressing?
It was the spring of '71 and I had just graduated with a financial degree. I was young and hopeful and sure I would soon be a member of some prestigious firm and living the high life. Fancy suits, attractive women, sleek, powerful cars and weekends at the yacht club or golfing with the elite. I suppose a 22 year old could be forgiven for such fantasies, I had grown up believing that hard work and a good education would bring you the good life. So what happened when I got that coveted degree? Nixon declared price controls, everybody stopped hiring and the economy continued to tank.
After the high of graduation I kept my apartment when my roommates left, thinking I would soon have a job and could afford it by myself. I had grown to like Buffalo NY, and I don't want to hear any cracks about snowstorms and such. I loved the area I lived in, there were plenty of things to see and do and Niagara Falls was only a short ride away. I couldn't think of a better place to settle down.
But interviews were few, my school loans were now due and the rent was past due. I had been gradually lowering my sights in submitting applications and if Burger King had been around back then I just might have been happy to ask "Do you want fries with that?" When the call came from the bank inquiring if I was still seeking employment it was a cause for celebration, if you call buying a cup of coffee at the diner a celebration. I had been living on instant to save money for some time.
I sprang for a haircut, put on my best suit and took the bus to the interview. Hope once again a part of my life; I was going to be able to use my hard won degree after all!. I found my way up to the proper office and sat in a nondescript institutional chair until my name was called. The man behind the desk (this was before women sat behind desks at banks, remember) questioned me and it didn't take long to realize the interview was not for an executive's position but for that of a bank teller.
A bank teller? You have to be the right age to remember when bank tellers were exclusively women. My grandfather would remember when only men were intelligent enough to be able to count money for a bank. By the time I grew up the industry had realized you could pay women a whole lot less to count money than you had to pay a man, why with a man's supervision they might even do it right! Women's lib was something I had encountered at college, but I didn't really think much about it. It was just the way it was, the way my professors had told me so and the that was the way it looked whenever I stood in line at the bank.
Perhaps the early manifestations of women's lib had something to do with the lack women willing to be paid diddly squat while handling tens of thousands of dollars each day, but here I was being offered a woman's job. I wanted to be incensed, I wanted to tell this man that I was a college graduate and such a position was below my dignity. I wanted to, but I also wanted to have a place to live and food to eat. Back then the term 'homelessness' had not gained currency, but it was a very real fear when the money was running out.
So I took the job. The pay wasn't what I had been expecting, but back then it was enough to live decently once I negotiated a reasonable school loan payment. The next morning I put on my suit and took the bus to the branch bank where I would be working. At that time and place there was a rigid dress code for people who worked in the banking industry. Men always wore dark suits and conservative ties, women always wore white blouses and black skirts. If the institution was particularly liberal maybe the women could wear black slacks. The word 'paternalistic' comes to mind; it was a time when your employer could control your life and was expected to do so.
The work wasn't hard, it took a little while to learn their system and master their paperwork, and I mean real paper with pencils and pens; computers were pretty much science fiction at that level of business. I had been amazed to see a battery powered calculator in the electronics store recently. It cost half a week's salary and didn't even have a 'Cancel Entry' button. The adding machines were huge, mechanical behemoths that clattered and clacked when you pulled this big handle and the venerable IBM Selectric typewriter was still a bit of a novelty. Telephones were big, black clunky things with round dials that went 'Whirrr'. You could get Touch Tone in some places, but Ma Bell actually charged you extra for it. Cell phones? Surely you jest! In other words, it was the Stone Ages.
It was the people part of the job that was difficult. It was a very small branch, they didn't even have an assistant manager. I was the only male behind the teller line, outnumbered 6 to 1 by women (most tellers were part timers, only 2 of us were full time). I was feeling ashamed to be doing a woman's job and my coworkers were not sure how to treat me. Was I a management spy? A wimp? I now realize that I must have put a very big crimp in the lunchroom conversation for a while, having a man present changed things considerably.
It took a couple of weeks before I felt comfortable there. The fact that I was brown bagging it actually helped since I obviously was not one of the male elite. The Manager NEVER ate in the lunchroom, that was for the employees. He had lunch at one of the numerous nearby restaurants and he wasn't limited to a half hour in rotation, either.
I usually ended up paired with Susan and either Linda or Dorothy, depending on the day and who was working. I just listened at first, I really didn't know what to say. As they got used to me they relaxed and I learned far more than I wanted to know about hairdressers, motherhood and boyfriends. It was lucky I had a three year old niece, so I could at least contribute a story or two about how cute she was.
I took a good bit of kidding as we got to know each other, my suit and tie being a favorite topic. The girls had a healthy disrespect for the paternalistic power structure of the bank and I came to agree heartily with them as I experienced it. It was my first real job, I had yet to learn about office politics, coping with insane policies from on high and crazy people in general.
To my complete surprise I found out that the women disliked their "Bank Uniform" as much as I was coming to dislike to wearing a suit all the time. I gradually came to realize that the white-blouse-and-black-skirt dictum had become a shorthand way of railing against the blatant sexism of the bank; my suit simply reminded me that I was not part of the elite but expected to dress as if I was. The pay was adequate if you didn't have a family to support, but respect was non-existent. At the same time we handled a great deal of cash each day and were expected to keep our customers happy while accounting for every single penny.
Then there was Mr. Baldino, the bank manager, invariably called Old Baldy when he couldn't hear. He was from the old school: rotund, avuncular and with an ever-present cigar. (Smoking bans? Hah!) His opinion of me bordered on open contempt, I'm sure he thought I was homosexual because no real man would stoop so low as to take a job as a teller. It was my great good fortune that I seldom had to deal with him directly, policy came through Susan, the head teller.
One memorable day Old Baldy came over to the line and asked me for some forms. "Ellie - I need form 123xyz." He snapped. I gave him the forms almost before I realized that he had unconsciously (I think) shortened Elliot to the feminine form of my name. The others hadn't missed it, and from that day foreword I was Ellie. Oddly enough, this cemented my relationship with my co-workers. I had become an "Honorary Woman", one of the group by rite of passage and this pleased me very much. I realized I had abandoned my shame at being a man in a woman's job - my sex had nothing to do with my performance.
Being 'one of the girls' was quite an education. In college there had been some pretty raunchy conversations, which always made me a bit nervous since I had never gotten past what was called 'heavy petting' in those days. The conversations in the lunchroom were far more explicit than anything in college, but there was a completely different tone. Instead of boasting of their conquests, my girlfriends at the bank shared their intimate times with each other. I distinctly remember the conversation after Barbara's first anniversary.
"So where did you go?"
"The Inn of 10,000 delights. Of course with Sammy it made 10,001"
"Sammy only delighted you once? I would have thought he could manage at least a second time on your anniversary.
"Well if you're going to count each time it would be hmmm.... 10,000 and six or seven. If you count how many times I came then that's something else. Have you ever made love in a Japanese Tea House?"
"I take it you did."
"We did. It was beautiful, it's built right over this little stream and has glass in the floors so you can watch the water. Sammy took me right there and we left puddles on the glass."
"I hope you cleaned them up."
"Of course, we aren't philistines. Sammy cleaned them up right after he licked me clean."
"I want to borrow Sammy for my anniversary. My George just falls asleep after he comes and I practically have to sit on his face to get him to lick me. He has a different opinion of me sucking him off, however."
"You need to do some consciousness raising next time you do some do some cock raising. My Sammy always makes sure I get off before he comes in. The seats in the gazebo by the lake were just the perfect height for Sammy when he was kneeling. You wouldn't believe how exciting it is to make love out where you might get caught! I think he was inspired by the big statue of a stallion up there."
"Sounds like you didn't need much inspiration. You going to put in for maternity leave about six months from now?"
"Don't I wish, but I'm on the pill. Sammy has always been a gentleman, he used a rubber the first time he came into me even after I told him I was safe. It took forever to convince him it was OK to leave it off."
"Sounds like he took it to heart over the weekend."
"Honey, it wasn't my heart he was aiming for. I practically had to wear a pad to keep his cum from dripping out of me."
I think that partly they were wondering how I would take the conversation, but I think it shows the trust these women had in me that they would include me. I deliberately didn't identify who said what, because I was an active participant. It was at times like this I felt very much 'one of the girls'.
I gradually became an advocate for women's lib. I found myself in the same boat as many women as, day after day, I grew to chafe at the paternalistic attitude of the manager, the Suits from the main office and some of our customers. There were even those that treated me with an additional dose of contempt for being a man in a woman's position. I had to agree there was something wrong with the way we, as a society, treated people, both on and off the job.
So it seemed somewhat hypocritical on my part as, wet behind the ears and very unsure of myself, I grew very horny watching my coworkers. I was still a virgin, not too unusual for those days, and had broken up with my last girlfriend quite some time ago. Nothing had clicked since then. Now I found myself in the exclusive company of woman for my entire working day, and 5 of them young and certainly worth looking at. The standards of the job dictated they were always carefully made up and showed a considerable amount of slapely bare leg.
Then there those white blouses. Most of the older women wore a more opaque fabric and tended to wear some undergarment that blurred the outlines of their brassieres, but the younger women seemed to be in a conspiracy to keep me salivating all day long. Those thin, white shells showed the outlines of their bras so clearly I wanted to cry. Several of them were quite well endowed and I was endlessly fascinated by their breasts as they moved around the workspace.
I tried not to stare too openly, but it was hard. Eventually I found myself drawn to the back view, captivated by the great variety of styles in brassieres. Watching their backs was safe, I didn't have to worry about insulting them. I studied the elegant, sweeping curve of the bra band as it caressed their bodies, some practically straight across, others gracefully arching, balanced by the straps that flowed over their shoulders.
For some reason the material on the back of those white blouses always provided a clearer view of the bra than the front. I could see details of the fabric, even the stitching that were not obvious from the front. Sadly, bank policy precluded excessive ornamentation on the cups, mustn't offend the customers by drawing undue attention to the breasts, you know. Add to this that the job was often boring; in the banking business there are often long stretches of time where there are no customers, so I had ample time for my bra watching.
Susan was the first one to wear a front closing bra to work. She was one of those impossibly tall and slim women who seem to float over the ground rather than walk. She seemed to be as old as my grandmother (She was really all of 50, but it seemed to be a lot older to me at the time) , but her every movement was exquisitely graceful, her long arms and fine hands always moving in time with her speech. She wore her graying hair long and had the figure of a woman in her twenties. I wondered what she wore when she wasn't working at the bank, I was willing to bet it wasn't some shapeless housedress. In any case, she was certainly worth looking at and she didn't wear one of those almost opaque blouses, either.
I instantly noticed the lack of clasps, the uninterrupted line of the band as crossed her slim back. I wanted to examine the hooks that had to be on the front, but the deep valley of her breasts made them invisible under her blouse. I don't know why this so fascinated me, why I had such an overwhelming urge to see the front of her bra, but I wanted to know with a passion. That unbroken line haunted my dreams that night, and visions of her shapely breasts filled my slumber I was tremendously disappointed when she wore a normal bra the next day.
On Friday she wore a front closing bra once again. Not the same one, there were subtle differences; the band was a bit thicker and the straps were sewn closer to the middle, changing the angle at which they sloped to her shoulders. Once again I was unable to see any detail on the front, her modesty protected by fabric and her substantial cleavage. I hate it when my curiosity is stifled.
So that's how I came to visit the intimates department of the Adam, Meldrum & Anderson Company, downtown Buffalo's major department store. I had been working long enough I had some money in my pocket and frankly, I had nothing else worth doing with my time just then. I had some half formed idea of sneaking a peek at one of the mannequins to see how the hooks were put together. I had seen mannequins from afar attired only in bras and panties, now I wanted to have a closer look.
By the time I rode the elevator to the 3rd floor of AM&As I was regretting my impulsive decision. How could I go and wander around the lady's wear department as if I belonged there when I clearly didn't? Maybe the manager was right and I was a homosexual, why else would I meekly accept being called Ellie? I was acutely aware that I had never gotten a girl in my bed and that must mean something. Now I here was playing Peeping Tom in the lingerie department.
The bell dinged and the door opened onto a fairyland of white lace and smooth fabrics. The rainbow of colors we take for granted in our underwear had not yet become common, but white was good enough for me. I was immediately lost, not sure where to go among all these arcane and forbidden garments. I spotted a mannequin wearing a bra and stumbled in that direction.
It was just an ordinary bra, if such a pedestrian word could be applied to the marvelous garments that so attracted me. Fading into the distance behind me were racks of bras hanging one over another. Only my nervousness in invading foreign territory kept me from rushing down the rows and fingering them to see what they felt like. I hadn't felt like this since I stood in front of the penny candy counter as a small child.
"Can I help you?"
I started. My tongue was tied and I couldn't think of what to say for a very long moment. The saleswoman was about my age, a blond with a pleasant smile who seemed unfazed to find a man in her territory.
"Uh, I'm looking for a bra for my... girlfriend." I finished lamely. I had almost said wife in order to establish my legitimacy in this feminine bastion, but without a ring on my hand that would have been a transparent lie.
"Is this for a special occasion?"
"Yes... Sure." My God, what had I gotten into?
"Do you know her size?"
Size? She didn't exist, let alone have a size. I had to say something or this woman would realize I was a pervert who just wanted to ogle the bras.
"Uh 32." That was the number on the tag nearest me, what was I going to say?
"And do you know her cup size?"
"Cup size?" This was too much!
She smiled at me, she must have heard this kind of thing before. "Don't worry, Sir, you're not the first man who wanted something special for his lady who didn't know her size. I'm sure we'll find something she'll like."
Sir? I was too young to be called sir. I was working in a woman's jab and called Ellie, not sir, but I started to feel a little better.
"Bras come with different cup sizes because women have different size breasts, as I'm sure you have noticed." She winked at me! "This mannequin has a C cup, and the one over there is an A cup. The letters go up with bust size, A, B C D, then for some reason nobody's figured out they go to DD then DDD, which is as large as we carry here."
I couldn't believe I was standing here in public discussing breast sizes with a woman I had just met moments before. "There's some leeway in the sizes, so you don't have to be perfect. I'm sure you've noticed how well endowed your lady is." She winked again.
In desperation I pictured Susan and decided she must be a C cup, so that's what I used, but my ordeal wasn't over.
"Now, do you have any style in mind? You said this was for a special occasion. Perhaps something a bit daring and lacy?"
"Um, she wanted one that fastens in the front." Well, that's why I had come here in the first place, wasn't it?
"Of course! It's about time the men who design clothes took pity on us poor women. How would you like to have to fasten those hooks when you can't see them and can barely reach them?"
Good Grief! Was I supposed to answer that question? I guess I wasn't because she blithely continued talking as she led me to a rack of boxes. Again I was disappointed, all I really had wanted was to look at the bra to satisfy my curiosity, but I certainly wasn't going to be opening boxes and pawing them in public. "We just started selling these recently. I'm sure your lady will appreciate the convenience. Lets see... Here we are - a 32C. Since this is a special occasion this one has some very nice lace on the cups."
Millie (at least that's what her name tag read) handed me the box, on which a young woman was fastening (or unfastening if your mind runs that way) the last snap on the front of her bra.
"Shall I ring it up for you or would you like to get something else for her, perhaps a blouse to wear with it?"
Buy it? I had never even considered buying it, I was just window shopping! But how could I cheat this enthusiastic and personable woman of the sale she was so obviously trying to make? I didn't want her to know I was just trying to look at a bra because I was curious. I trailed in her wake a she took me to another set of racks.
"Does you lady like flowers? We just received these new prints and they're proving very popular. Then we have some pastel stripes over here."
"I think a simple white blouse would be best." Bank uniform, of course. What else did I know about women's clothes?
"Certainly, Sir." On to another rack. I think this might do - just a touch of lace to compliment the bra. I hope your lady appreciates your kindness, she's going to look very fashionable when she receives her present!"
Suddenly I was twelve years old again, standing on a corner at the County Fair. I had a ten dollar bill in my pocket for the rides, but the pichman's patter had caught my ear. Before he was through I had given up my ten dollar bill and gotten a cheap box of men's cologne in return, something completely useless. For just a few minutes I had been under his spell as he wove a net of words that snagged me and hauled me in. I had not intended to part with my money but before he was through I had given him every cent I had. It was a very disappointing day at the fair.
Now, here I was again. This personable saleswoman was not trying to rip me off like the con man at the fair, in fact she was trying to be helpful so my imaginary lady would be pleased with me. Nonetheless, I parted with a substantial sum I had not intended to spend for something that was completely useless to me. I left the store with bag in hand and boarded the bus, certain that every soul on the vehicle knew just what was in that bag in my lap and trying not to feel like a complete fool. Arriving home I threw the bag into the closet in disgust and took a long, hot shower before reading myself into a stupor. How could I have been such a fool?
Monday morning I put on my suit and headed for work. If I didn't keep on spending money on useless things I might be able to afford a car one of these days. The week dragged on, Susan wore only her regular bras on Monday and Tuesday, so there wasn't even that to keep my mind occupied. Wednesday dawned hot and humid, by 10:00 AM (remember banker's hours? That's when we started the day back then.) I was sweltering in my suit and tie. I was surreptitiously trying to wipe the sweat off me in the lunchroom before being seen by the customers when Jackie came in.
"You look like you've been running a race, Ellie."
"Yeah. With the heat out there I think even the tortoise could beat me in a race today."
"Too bad. It's days like this I'm glad we women can wear a short sleeved blouse and not have to roast in a wool suit. Not that you don't look handsome in your suit, but whoever says women go to ridiculous lengths for fashion seems to have forgotten men's suits. I bet you'd like to be wearing a nice, lightweight blouse like mine just about now. Wouldn't that frost Old Baldy now, but he won't even let you take your jacket off."
The manager was a stickler for "proper attire" in his employees. She turned to leave and I saw she was wearing a new front closing bra. Damn! Were these women trying to make me go mad? It didn't help that Susan, who started this whole mess, was wearing her front closer that day as well. I managed to keep my mind on business until 2:30, which was closing time on Wednesday. The bank followed the quaint old custom of closing early on Wednesdays. No one there could remember why, but that's the way it had always been done so that's the way we did it now.
So, the picture of the dashing young executive, I left the bank. The picture faded a bit as I took off my tie, then unraveled completely as the heat and humidity struck. I slogged home on the bus, climbed the stairs and opened my door. I was soaked through and gladly threw off my coat. I was ready to pitch it in a corner but the realization that I only had so many suits made me hang it up properly. Once again I saw the bag sitting on the closet floor, but I wanted to shower so it was easy to ignore once again.
I felt much cooler and more relaxed after sluicing the sweat off my body. This time I stood naked in front of the closet, trying to decide what would keep me the coolest. That damned bag was still there in the closet. I picked it up and emptied it out on the bed, tossed aside the catalog and other advertising and picked up the blouse. Giving in to the curiosity that had nagged me since I bought the things, I unbuttoned it and tried it on, but it was too small. Wasn't that the topper? All that money and it wouldn't fit me, so much for all that indecision and soul searching.
I opened the box with the bra and examined the clasps on the front. The same as the ones on the back of a bra, only more of them - so much for the great mystery I had concocted in my mind. I repacked the bra, still in the silly little plastic bag it came in and decided it would be foolish to keep it. I could take them back and get my money back. It was something to do with my afternoon off, so why not. I put the things back in the bag and picked up the catalog.
It was just like I remembered them from the time I was about 13 years old, when women in bras and panties were scandalous and cool to look at, at least before we discovered Jack's dad's stash of Playboys. The thrill was gone, however, I preferred the real thing, even if all I could do was look at her back and admire her bra straps. Pretty lame stuff, I had to admit. I was about to throw it out when I spotted the size chart.
"How to find your size" - measure your chest size below the bust, add 2" (Why make it so complicated? Why not just use the actual size?) For cup size measure the widest point of the breasts, subtract the chest measurement and follow the chart.
Well, why not?
I didn't have a tape measure, that's why. I tried to roll a stick ruler around my body but it kept slipping. Using my keen brain I finally found a belt and marked where it overlapped and then measured the belt with the ruler. 40 inches, which another size chart told me was a women's large blouse. No wonder the size small didn't come close to fitting. Going whole hog I consulted a third chart and found my skirt size. I wrote down the sizes, picked up the bag, made sure I had the receipt and went shopping.
This time I didn't have that sinking feeling as the elevator opened, I was on slightly familiar territory. I actually felt relieved when I spotted Millie. She recognized me immediately and turned on her smile.
"Hello again. I take it you guessed wrong on the sizes?" She eyed my bag. "Not to worry, it happens all the time. Good thing you bought one of the boxed bras, we're not supposed to take back lingerie if it has been worn, but if the package is sealed you're in luck."
I handed her the bag and pulled out the list of sizes. She quickly exchanged the items. "I see you have a skirt size listed here, can I show you what we have?"
Well, why not go the whole way, even if I had a hard time admitting I wanted to . "Yes. She works in a bank so I need a plain black skirt. Dress code, you know."
"How boring! I'm glad I work in a place that encourages us to be fashionable. Well, at least you can't go wrong and pick something she doesn't like with a plain black skirt. Here, this is her size." She handed it to me and I placed it on the counter. "You know what. I bet she would appreciate a pair of pretty panties to wear under this boring old skirt. Her boss wouldn't know, but at least she would feel a little sexier if she was wearing something more interesting. I'm sure you would appreciate them, too." There was that wink again!
She had done it again. I now owned two pairs of panties, one red and one green, shiny smooth and edged in lace. She wasn't done yet. Even as I picked up my bags she smiled and said "Maybe you can both come next time and you can find something a little more exciting for after work. We have some dynamite minis and a new line of tops to go with them. I'm sure you would both appreciate them!"
I left before she sold me anything else.
This time when I got home I didn't hide the bag in the closet, instead I spilled the contents out on the bed and immediately opened the box with the bra in it. It looked much the same, but was obviously bigger than the first one. I opened the bag and unfolded it. It was strangely light in my hands, its texture unlike anything I had ever handled before. I tugged on it and it stretched, then snapped back into place. I sat down on the bed and removed my shoes, then stripped until I was naked. I picked up the bra and tried to put it on, but it tangled and caught on my head as I tried to put my arms through the straps.
Feeling like a prime fool I removed it and looked at it again. I finally noticed the straps had adjustments and they were fully pulled in, leaving no room for my arms. I played around a bit and figured how to slide the straps until they were fully extended and tried again. I put my hands into the straps and raised my arms, doing a little shimmy to try and get it to slide down. This time the band slipped behind my head and it settled into place. Awkwardly grasping the loose ends I pulled them in front of my chest and tried to hook them together,
After a few frustrated tries I realized I had it on inside out, so I wiggled and contorted until I had it off and turned it around. Once again I slid the bra down my arms and settled it into place. This time when I pulled the loose ends together it snapped easily. The rush I felt when it was in place was amazing, unlike anything I had experienced. The bra encircling my body felt absolutely right, as if It was the last piece that made a puzzle had fallen in place. I moved to the bathroom mirror and looked at myself, but the empty cups spoiled the illusion.
What to do? I stuffed a handful of washcloths into the bra and it was better, but it was visibly lumpy. There had to be a better way, but right then I couldn't think of it. I became aware of an odd feeling on my left shoulder and realized the strap was twisted. I inserted a finger under it and snapped it into place. In the mirror I watched myself perform this exclusively feminine gesture as if I had done so all my life. Incredible!
Now I was in a hurry to put on the rest of my new clothes. I had a hard time deciding on the red or green panties, but finally drew the green ones over my legs. I was a bit worried my masculine equipment wouldn't fit in to panties designed for a woman, but they felt comfortable around me as they settled into place. I immediately noticed how the fabric clung slightly to my buns, providing a delicious reminder that I was not wearing my ordinary cotton briefs. I quickly donned the blouse and skirt and returned to the mirror.
Now I knew why women preferred full length mirrors. I could only see a small part of my newly clothed body at a time in the small bathroom mirror. I tried to back up, but the room was too small. The side view showed my lumpy breasts and I couldn't turn far enough to see what the back of my blouse looked like, but it looked enough like a woman's figure to send thrills through my body.
What I hadn't expected, if I had expected anything from this insane escapade, was the sexual stimulation. After a few minutes I realized I was hard and my penis was straining against my panties in reaction to the clothing. I tried to ignore it, but eventually I lay on the bed and relieved myself. It was one of the most intense orgasms I had ever felt and I lay half asleep on the bed afterward for some time. When I revived the first thing I was aware of was the swell of my washcloth filled breasts when I opened my eyes and a wave of well being washed over me almost as intense as my orgasm..
I glanced at the clock and discovered it was just past eight, the day had passed in what seemed like mere minutes. I arose and cleaned myself off, changing into my red panties and rinsing the green ones. It was a good thing the saleswoman had talked me into two pairs after all. I made my supper and watched some TV, nothing special but acutely aware of my 'bank uniform'. When Johnny Carson came on I knew I had to get some sleep, but I just couldn't take off the bra. My pajamas were a bit tight over my fake breasts, but they fit well enough. I slept well, but each time I aroused a bit from slumber I was aware of the bra around me, and it's comforting presence lulled me back to sleep.
The next morning I reluctantly removed my bra and put on my suit. The day was a complete drag, every time I saw Susan wearing her front closing bra it reminded me of yesterday's adventure. When I finally made it home I immediately exchanged my male bank uniform for the female version and once again spent the night dressed up. The next morning I started to unhook my bra and it dawned on me that underneath my suit it would be completely invisible.
Feeling like an explorer setting out on a monumental adventure I locked the door to the apartment and walked down the street to the bus stop still wearing my bra. This time the sight of my bra clad coworkers reminded me that I was wearing a bra of my own. It was obvious that no one noticed, just as I had expected, but I was deliciously aware of the warmth and tightness around my chest all during that day. Screw you, Old Baldy, Ellie's wearing a bra just like the other girls! Hell, I had been invited to Billy Jean's baby shower and was the only guy there, but nobody cared. I had a good time, too.
Arriving home that afternoon, I was about to change into my preferred uniform when my nose informed me that after wearing my bra for three days running it was in need of washing. For that matter the rest of my clothes were piling up, so I put on my shorts and T-shirt and filled the washers in the basement, getting a little thrill when I tossed in the bra and panties with my regular clothes.
I plunked a handful of quarters into the slots and went upstairs. Friday night and nothing to do, not even the clothes I wanted to wear. Well, it was payday, why not expand my wardrobe? Wishing I had a car I boarded the bus and went downtown. I was disappointed that Mille was not there that evening, but with the confidence of the amateur I selected several new bras, even feeling proud of myself for realizing that if I purchased A cups for work there would be less empty cup to hide under my shirt. To my surprise I found that bras also came in black, so I splurged on one of those as well. I left the store with a supply of underwear sufficient for two weeks between washings, and when the saleswoman gave me a very funny look I didn't even care. I began to realize how lucky it was that I had met Millie on my first outing.
My purchases clutched in my lap I rode the bus homeward. The sun was setting and it was getting dark, and as I sat in the half light of the bus I suddenly realized just what I had been doing. I had just purchased enough women's underwear so I could wear them from now on. Instead of being exciting it now struck me as perverted. What had made me do such a thing. I cowered in my bus seat and my body shook with shame. I actually started crying, which convinced me all the more that I must have become a homosexual because no real man could have done what I had just done. I wanted to throw those shameful garments out the window of the bus, to disavow the life of perversion I seemed to have descended to. How could I face my parents or my friends knowing I was such a disgraceful creature?
I wallowed in my shame as the city streets passed by, until I heard my stop called by the driver. I walked the two blocks home, threw my clothes into the dryer and locked myself into the apartment. The walk had cleared my head and I was starting to realize things weren't as bad as they had seemed a few minutes ago. I didn't have the words, or the concepts, needed to cope with what was happening to me. I was still confused, but my emotions were returning to normal.
When I was in my early teens I had been faced with the normal curiosity about girls and sex and such. My parents were, frankly, so hung up about sex that it was a wonder they had any children. The subject was taboo in our family, but I wanted to know all about it, and what I had heard in the locker room just didn't make sense. My teacher that year had inculcated in me and the rest of my class one overriding dictum: If you want to know something the place to start is the library.
So I went to the school library, proudly pulled open the card catalog (proud because I knew how to use it, that is) and looked for the word 'SEX'. Naturally I didn't find it, you could imagine what the parents of that era would do if the word had been openly used at school. I was disappointed, trying 'baby', 'procreation' (I knew that one from Sunday School, as in Be Fruitful and Multiply) and 'intercourse'. Still nothing, but I was determined. I eventually made it to the county library and with some surreptitious searching I located a book that I could understand. Naturally I didn't check it out, I was too embarrassed, but I hid in the back of the stacks and read avidly. By the end of the day I knew what I wanted, or at least I thought I did, and I became the locker room authority on sex for the next little while.
So the next morning I hopefully approached the card catalog and immediately realized I had a problem. What was I trying to look up? I didn't even know if there was a word for it, and Men Wearing Women's Clothing wasn't the kind of thing you'd find in the card catalog. Well, you had to be crazy to want to do this sort of thing, so why not start with the Psychology section? Because I couldn't find anything there, that's why. Medicine? They had one book by a Magnus Hirschfeld that might have something, but the damn thing was written in German and was older than I was. Human Behavior? Fashion? Not one blessed word about anything connected to me wanting to wear women's clothes.
OK, then there was no choice but to look up 'homosexual'. I didn't want to, but what else was there? Looking back from where I am today it seems downright silly to keep typing 'homosexual' out in full when 'gay' is so much easier to write, but at the time that simple shorthand wasn't around, or at least I hadn't heard of it. In any case, I had plenty of material to choose from, so much I had a problem trying to narrow it down. With the comfortable knowledge that the Librarian wouldn't publicly denounce me as a sexual deviate, I checked out several books.
Having acquired the new word, "Transvestite", from the card for the German text I at least had a place to start. Over the next few days I read about homosexuality and thankfully realized I wasn't a homosexual. I was simply not interested in other men sexually. Women excited me, and so did their clothes. These days my fear seems almost silly, but in 1972 being gay was still a crime in much of America. As I read more on the subject I grew increasingly skeptical, there seemed to be little to back up the idea that homosexuality was a mental disease, and the so called experts varied wildly in their opinions.
Those that considered it a mental illness seemed to go overboard on the florid rhetoric, not basing their opinions on anything but "I told you and I'm the expert". I had yet to become aware of the nascent Gay Rights movement, but when it became public I found myself supporting them in their quest for justice. Even if I wasn't a homosexual, I could certainly sympathize with their isolation and frustration.
Once I had discovered what a bra felt like it was as if a light had been turned on - I threw out my male underwear and never looked back. I still didn't understand why I felt so good wearing them, but from that day forward I always wore a bra and panties under my suit. Once a bra and panties became my usual attire it wasn't much of a step to pantyhose. The first time I shaved my legs was awkward and difficult, but within a few weeks it had become a normal part of my bath time ritual. Millie, who now called me Elliot instead of 'Sir', helped me find some black tights that I could wear during the day as long as I was careful not to stretch my legs out where anyone else could see them, and I changed to shears when I put on my other uniform. I liked the look of my legs in my newly purchased full length mirror, but still wished I didn't have such lumpy breasts.
The job market still sucked so I remained a lowly teller, but both to spite Old Baldy and to enhance my image in the mirror as Ellie I let my hair start to grow again. The bank had an absolute rule that men must be clean shaven, but oddly enough they didn't have a policy on the length of men's hair, so I made sure my hair was always neat and well brushed as it continued to grow. When it got long enough to gather into a pony tail I treated myself to several pretty hair ornaments to wear at home. Too bad I couldn't wear them at the office, but I think Old Baldy would have flipped.
But the winds of change were blowing. Two forces converged to change my life radically: Women's Lib became a more potent force outside the campus and the government changed the banking regulations. An unlikely combination, to be sure, but highly potent.
The change in regulations had big banks gobbling up small banks to produce humongous banking chains. It seemed like the sign on the corner bank changed every few months as the big fish ate the small fish. One day, after I had been at the bank well over a year, Old Baldy called a meeting and informed us we were now a branch of a well known New York City bank. For us lowly types it was a good thing, at least those of us who were lucky enough to work at a branch that wasn't closed. The pay improved a bit and the benefits were better, but Old Baldy soon discovered the new owners had a different way of doing business. He fought for a while, but within a couple of months he retired rather than change his ways.
She came in just before closing time on the day of Old Baldy's retirement party. Knowing that free food and drinks awaited us we were eager to close, but naturally one last customer had to breeze in. She wore a simple black dress, but it's hem stopped several inches higher than the dress code would have allowed us tellers. It may have been black, but the bright red scarf around her neck, gold hoop earrings (obviously pierced ears) and jangling bracelets on her arm showed the woman had great taste. She moved with style and projected an aura of confidence and grace even across the bank lobby.
Old Baldy began the usual father-knows-best patter he used with women. We were all watching casually but when his face started to turn red we knew something was up. He picked up his phone and spoke forcefully to whoever was on the other end, then slammed down the receiver. By now we were all watching intently while trying to look like we were working. The woman sat there and didn't look disturbed as he concluded his conversation.
Old Baldy arose and strode to the door and, inserting his key, he locked it. This was very unusual, such menial tasks were normally left to us tellers. I had the feeling of a lab rat when the cover of the cage is snapped in place: trapped and no way to get out.
"Ladies, may I have your attention." Not a request although phrased that way. I had long since become accustomed to being included as one of the ladies. "It appears that Miss Veraz here has been appointed as the manager of this branch upon my retirement."
"That's Ms., if you please, but call me Deborah."
He nearly expired on the spot. Obviously the main office hadn't made her identity known to him before she showed up.
"Well people", she continued, "What say you finish up so we can get to know each other and wish Mr. Baldino a happy retirement?" Turning to him she said "Maybe we can go over the paperwork and you can show me where things are while they cash out."
Old Baldy didn't look too pleased at the way she took over from him, but in another 20 minutes he would be history.
The retirement party was more fun than anyone expected. The contrast between Deborah and Old Baldy was striking, She found time to talk to each of us for at least a few minutes, and she seemed genuinely interested in us. Her request for dark beer took the bartender by surprise, that wasn't so common back then, especially for a woman. She drank the first swallow with obvious relish and then toasted Old Baldy.
"Ladies and Gentlemen: A toast to a gentleman of the old school! May he thrive in retirement as our bank thrives without him!" Now just how did she mean that? No matter, we drank anyway. The beer was free, or in my case the wine. I never did have much of a taste for beer and in the occasional after work outing with my co-workers I had developed a taste for white wine. Good old Ellie was just one of the girls, you know.
With both my new and old bosses, not to mention assorted Suits from the main office present I limited myself to only two glasses of wine. I wasn't going to make a fool of myself in such company if I could help it. Toward the end of the party I found myself alone with my thoughts when the rest of my table went to "powder their noses". After a while I became aware that I was no longer alone.
"Hi." It was Deborah. "I've been hearing the others call you 'Ellie' I hope that's not one of those atrocious nicknames some people get saddled with."
"It started with a slip of the tongue one day when Old... Mr. Baldino was in a hurry, but I don't really mind it. My mother named me Elliot but behind the counter I'm just one of the girls."
"And of course Old Baldy didn't bother to ask if it bothered you. Don't look so shocked, you tellers aren't the only ones who call him that, and you're not the only one in the world stuck with a nickname you could do without. Do me a favor, when you guys come up with one for me, let me know what it is. I'm kind of curious if it will be any better than the others I've been stuck with."
"I don't know. I suspect that being our first woman manager it might be something unfortunate."
"Worse than 'The Old Bitch'? I got that one when I became an assistant manager last year. I resented it at first because I'm not that old."
"So what about the other part?"
"I can be a bitch at times, but only with people that deserve it. I think you can appreciate how difficult it is to do a job traditionally reserved for the other sex, can't you Ellie?"
"Well, it's not that bad. It's not the job I wanted when I graduated but with the job market the way it is I'm not complaining. Actually it can be kind of fun being 'one of the girls'."
She blinked in surprise. "I just wish I could be 'one of the boys' as easily. There are darn few men in this business that will admit a woman can do the job as well as they can. I'll try to keep that in mind in working with you."
"Thank you, Deborah." It was an effort to use her first name, but that's what she wanted. "I have no doubt that you're about twice as talented as any other candidates if the people upstairs gave you Old Baldy's job. And that isn't brownnosing, it has to be true or you wouldn't be here."
"Well, you'll find out, but I happen to think it's true. Her hand covered mine briefly, a very pleasant sensation. "I suppose you've had it up to here being a teller. I doubt Old Baldy showed much respect for the women in his employ. Or the men."
"I don't think it's that simple. It's not so much disrespect for us as women, but he thinks of the world in 'Us and Them' terms. He's the upper class and has it made, the lower classes are there to work for him and if women are mostly in the lower classes it doesn't strike him as unusual. I noticed that attitude was prevalent with my professors at school, but it didn't mean much until I took this job. I'm sure Old Baldy thinks he treats us gallantly and is a gentleman at all times. Perhaps he's right - if you look at it on his terms."
"Very perceptive, I think you may be right. In any case, I think you'll notice some changes now that I'm at the office. By the way, did you realize that you included yourself with the other women? I think you must be a very unusual young man to be so empathetic."
"Well, I told you I was just one of the girls! Seriously, I have come to appreciate the way women are mistreated by so many men. I see it in the customers all the time. It's funny. Some of them avoid me because I'm a man in a woman's job and others avoid the women if I'm visible because they think a man can do a better job. I can't tell you how many times a customer has turned to me when one of the women tells them something they don't like. They assume because I'm a man I can override her and make them happy."
"Just wait until the first time I turn down someone for a loan. You can bet they'll blame it on me because I'm a woman. You develop a shell after a while, but it still bothers me."
Our conversation was interrupted just then as the ladies came back. I couldn't notice any more powder on their noses than when they left, but who was I to say? Deborah stayed at our table for some time and the conversation was lively and interesting, she had a way of drawing people out of their self-imposed limits and connecting with them.
Monday morning, the first day with our new manager. In her honor I had decided to wear my newest bra under my suit, a sexy, lacy thing with matching panties. By this time I had gone long past the bank uniform and was acquiring a nice little wardrobe. I spent most of my evenings dressed up and much of my weekend. At first I had spent just about all my time dressed up, but after a while I found there were other things in life and resumed a slightly more balanced existence. Shortly after we opened Deborah called me into her office and asked for some help.
"I hate to start off the week with a sexist stereotype, but I would appreciate it if you could dispose of some magazines Old Baldy left behind." She pointed to a pile of Playboys on her desk. "I suppose he thought it would shock me or something if he left them behind." She picked up the top one and flipped it open, letting the centerfold drop down. "Hmmm. Not bad, I bet with the right airbrush I could look like that." She turned it so I could see.
I didn't know what to say. Hell, I was completely flummoxed. I had never before had a woman look at naked pictures in my presence, and here was my new boss showing me a Playboy! My reaction must have been plain.
"I'm sorry, Ellie, I didn't intend to embarrass you. It just seems so like the Old Boys to think I would get upset about this. I was rather hoping for a secret bottle of whiskey in the drawer so we could all finish it off at lunch, but he must have kept his booze. If you want to keep them feel free, otherwise chuck 'em in the trash bin for me, will you?"
I ended up putting them in a box to take home. I hadn't really looked at a Playboy since college. I enjoyed reading them (and looking), but not enough to spend my own money. What a way to start the week!
The next surprise came at lunchtime. Susan and I had settled down and were unwrapping our sandwiches when Deborah came in. She greeted us cheerfully, sat down and opened her own brown bag. "I hope you don't mind if I join you for lunch."
We accepted, what else could we do? Life was sure going to be different with Deborah around. It took all of five minutes to feel comfortable with her there and it wasn't long before both Susan and I looked foreword to lunch for more than a break from work. With Deborah there the conversation was stimulating and very enjoyable. It didn't take long for me to stop bringing the paper to work to read at lunch.
That night at home I took time to dress up and settled down to watch TV, which was disgusting. I had to laugh at myself as I settled down to read my stash of playboys wearing a long brown skirt and printed blouse. Would you believe I actually pictured some of those pretty, naked girls wearing a sexy bra? I spent a long time laughing at myself that evening.
Once again my life was changed by something completely unexpected. Buried in one of those magazines was a little mention of something called Tri-Ess. Fantastic! Other men who liked to wear women's clothes. I wasted no time in writing to the address and waited a few weeks, anxiously checking my mailbox each day. When the answer came I was torn between opening the package immediately or changing into a suitable costume for reading it.
I swallowed my impatience and dressed up. Settling down in the living room chair I carefully smoothed my skirt and tore open the bulky envelope. In it was a form letter thanking me for my interest and a copy of a magazine for transvestites. I eagerly read it from cover to cover, and was so excited I didn't know what to do. I filled in the membership form and ordered a book by Virginia Prince, but what had so excited me was an offer for a kit to make breast forms. I had no real idea such things existed until I read that magazine. Now I had the answer to my lumpy, washcloth filled bras.
The wait seemed like ages, although it was only a few days. This time there was no conflict, I put on my prettiest bra, slid the stockings over my legs and fastened them to the garters and put on my panties. No outer clothes yet, my new breasts would come first! The package contained two oddly shaped clear plastic bags, a bottle of liquid and instructions. I felt like a kid with a chemistry set, but I filled the bags and in a few minutes the liquid thickened and felt like what I imagined a real breast would feel like. I excitedly slipped them into my bra cups and behold: smooth lines, no lumps and bumps.
And the feeling - these forms had weight to them, I could feel them tugging the straps of my bra! I had tits that bounced, that shook and wiggled when I moved! When I put on my dress the outline was far more like a real woman's. I relaxed in the chair to read my new book, but the weight of my breasts kept distracting me for some time. Eventually I grew used to them as I read about Virginia Prince. Such amazing adventures, and from the pictures it was impossible to tell this was a man.
Oddly enough, in all the time I had been dressing up, I had never felt inclined to try makeup or wigs or anything to complete the illusion. I was satisfied with how the clothes felt, how good they made me feel. Could I do as well as Virginia? I didn't think so, I knew nothing about makeup and had no one to teach me. Besides, I knew I could never leave the house dressed up. It was unthinkable, so of course I started to think about it.
Tri-Ess was my passport to a whole new world. I wrote to people in the list, subscribed to other magazines I found there. I was giddy from finding there were others like me. Not that I had doubted it before, I didn't have the ego to think I was completely unique in the world, but I hadn't a clue about how to find anyone else. I was disappointed there wasn't a chapter near me, but for now I was happy just to make connections among my sisters. Just using that word gave me a thrill.
Meanwhile at the bank things were continuing to change. Partly from the new owners advertising and partly from the efforts of Deborah we were getting busier. She had been there a few months when she came into the lunchroom with a very smug look on her face.
"I just got a letter from the home office and guess what? The penguin look is now officially out!"
"Huh?" I replied.
"Not for you, silly. No more black and white for the women. It says here 'women associates are encouraged to wear fashionable attire as long as it is consistent with good taste and a businesslike atmosphere'. I called 'em up and confirmed that slacks are officially deemed to be in 'good taste'. You look disappointed, Ellie."
"I'm a sexist pig. I like looking at legs."
"You never had to wear a skirt and blow half your paycheck on nylons."
If only she knew!
"That's great, Deb." Susan cheered. "Don't worry Ellie, I'll wear a skirt once in a while just for you. My husband won't mind."
"Neither will I"
Well, Ellie, there's a surprise for you as well. The new advertising campaign is going to tout the casual atmosphere of the bank, which is why the penguin dress code is gone. You have just become a 'shirtsleeve banker', a casual yet authoritative guy who doesn't need to wear the suit coat to intimidate the customers. Go on! Take off your coat and let's see how you fit the image!" she bantered.
Oh my God, what was I going to do? I knew damn well that my bra would be immediately visible through the thin white shirt I wore.
"I'll wait until tomorrow so we can all adopt the new look at once." I demurred. It didn't work.
"What's the matter, afraid to strip in front of two good looking broads?" Her voice grew bawdy. "Hell, we women have been doing it in front of men for years. Hey Susan - shall we stuff a dollar under his tie if he takes off his coat?"
Susan started to hum "The Stripper".
"Please, I can't right now. I don't want to shock you ladies,"
"It's nothing I ain't seen before. I'm a married woman with three boys, Ellie!" was Susan's response.
"Well, I'm not married but you aren't going to shock me either."
What was I going to do? "I don't think I could pass the 'consistent with good taste' part of your letter, Deb."
"Give me a break, Ellie! Just take off the damn coat, already."
Suddenly I made my decision. I had come to like these two women a great deal and I just had to hope they would understand. "On your heads be it, then. Just remember you asked me to do this!" I took off the suit coat and deliberately and slowly spun around. When I could again see their faces they were both struggling for composure. "Whenever you call me 'just one of the girls' it meant more than you knew."
"You're wearing a bra!" exclaimed Susan.
"And panties and tights. I'm a crossdresser, ladies. I had no intention of letting you know but you forced my hand. If I'm still employed I'll go into the bathroom and remove my bra so I can be a shirtsleeve banker."
"Good grief Ellie, why would you want to wear a bra?
"Because it feels good. Because it makes wearing this damn suit more bearable. Maybe because I'm out of my mind. I'm not sure I can give you a good answer, Susan."
"I don't think the home office thought of this when they designed the advertising campaign. Why did I ever want to become a bank manager?". Deborah was shaking her head.
"Because you're very good at it." I replied. "I'm sorry Deb, I didn't mean for anyone to know about this. Naturally I'll be presentable for the customers as of tomorrow."
"I suppose a bra on a man does go past the 'businesslike atmosphere' they were trying to institute. I don't suppose you have a nice dress you can wear tomorrow?"
"I have several nice dresses, but I'm not going to be wearing them outside my apartment any time soon."
"You do?" Susan asked. "I just can't believe it!"
"Sometimes I can't believe it myself. It did kind of sneak up on me, but for better or worse it's part of my life."
"That's what I get for trying to make a joke. Deb responded. "Well Ellie, no one needs to know about this except us, do they Susan?"
"Thank you. Thank you both!"
"What you choose to wear is your business as far as I'm concerned. I do suppose the bra has to go because the customers can see it, but otherwise I don't care. Put you coat back on and enjoy the rest of the day. I'll try not to giggle too hard when I look at you."
"You're a peach, Deb."
"No, I'm a sucker, but I think you're sweet, Ellie.
"Ellie?" Deb asked. It was several days after the incident in the lunchroom but nothing further had been said. I still felt unclothed without my suit coat, despite how much more comfortable it was without it. "Can you cover for me a while, I need to run over to the Post Office."
"I guess so. What do I do?"
"Just sit at my desk and look beautiful, just like I do."
"I think I can handle that."
"If anyone comes in just turn 'em upside down and shake all the money out of their pockets, but be nice about it. She left with a smile.
So I sat at her desk and tried to look like a banker, shirtsleeves and all. I wondered if the hunk on the bank's TV ads had ever worn a bra and if he missed wearing it as much as I did. Funny how the officers in all those ads were big, strapping, middle aged males with a touch of gray in their hair, even if there were several female managers, not to mention many younger men, working for the bank. Some images die harder than others, I guess. I was able to open a savings account while Deb was gone, so I guess I had done my part to increase the bank's fortunes. It felt weird to go up to Barb and hand her the paperwork from the wrong side of the teller line.
Oddly enough, I missed my suit coat for more than concealing my bras. I found myself wearing my topcoat more often, without the suit coat the chilly fall weather went right through my white shirt. They may have allowed the women to wear colors, but men had inherited the penguin look with their white shirts and dark suit pants. I toyed with getting a top hat and tails as a joke, but they were too expensive for a one time laugh.
Then a notice appeared on the bulletin board. As part of the casual banking atmosphere that we were trying to promote, associates were encouraged to wear costumes for Halloween. So call it trite, berate me for using an ancient and hoary cliché, but you know damn well what costume I wanted to wear. I tried to ignore it, but that was not going to happen. The day the notice went up, Deb and Susan cornered me at lunch.
"So are you going to let us see the other Ellie for Halloween?" Susan asked as soon as she sat down.
"I'm about as real as I get right now."
"You know what I mean."
"Yeah. Look Susan, that Ellie has never left the apartment. She's a nice fantasy but she's not real."
"Are you sure about that, Ellie?" Deb asked. "I don't want to pry into your personal life, but there must be a reason you do what you do."
"My, the euphemisms are getting thick around here." I waved my hands theatrically. "You both know I like wearing women's clothes, but you are the only two people in this town who know that. Can you imagine what would happen if someone downtown found out about it?"
"Why would they find out? Besides, if I gave you permission to wear your dress to work what could they do?"
"Get apoplectic or homophobic and fire us both."
"Not a chance! Fire their token female manager? What would that do to their ad campaign?"
"Such a cynic.
"Damn straight. As are you, my friend. You are quite clearly interested only in women."
"You know I like to wear woman's clothes. Are you certain I'm straight?"
"Yes, if you're watching closely. You have never been anything less than a gentleman to any of us here, but there's no doubt you appreciate us in a sexual way."
"Sure I'm not just drooling over your underwear?"
"Just don't leave any wet spots where the customers can see them." She grinned. "I'm not talking as the boss here, Ellie, but I've been curious how you would look as a woman ever since you let us see you were wearing a bra that day. I appreciate how much trust you had in us to do that, and we just want to let you know it's OK with us if you want to be a lady for Halloween."
"Would we have brought it up if were weren't, Ellie?" Susan responded. Do you have anything you could wear?"
"Lord, I've got a whole closet full of stuff, but that's not the problem."
"So what is?"
"Other than being scared out of my mind? Or I've never tried to use any makeup, I don't know anything abut doing my hair other than letting it hang down like it does naturally, and I haven't a clue how to behave like a woman. Other than that there's no problem."
"Me think she he protests too much, don't you Susan?"
"Ellie, if we can't help you look like the woman of your dreams for one lousy day I'll wear your suit for a week to make up for it." Susan replied forcefully."
"It wouldn't fit, I'm bigger than you."
"So I'll cut off the sleeves and pants legs then."
"Ruining my suit is supposed to punish you for your failure?"
"Stop thinking like a man! Do you want to do it or not?"
"Yeah, I want to do it. You'll really help me?"
"Yeah, we'll really help you." Deb responded, but it sounded a lot like my voice.
"How did you do that?"
"Years of training and hard work. My brother and I could do all the voices on the Saturday Morning comics between us. You have two weeks to learn to talk enough like a woman to make it through the day."
"You want every customer in the place to run screaming out the door yelling 'It's a man in a dress'?"
I thought you were supposed to make people scream on Halloween."
"You're thinking like a man again. Stop thinking, will you?"
"Duh." I screwed up my face and let my tongue hang out.
"Now eat your lunch," Deb commanded. "before the boss has to stare at the time clock. Are you ready to start tonight?"
"Tonight? What do you have in mind?"
"How about a trip to the cosmetics counter in the AM&A's, a good dinner with two fabulous women, then we get to go through your closets and invade your privacy without mercy." replied Susan.
"And don't cut your nails for the next two weeks." added Deb. "They ought to be long enough by then for a real manicure. Too bad it's getting too late in the season to wear sandals, you'd look cute with your toes painted."
"They already are. Metallic blue before you ask."
"Nice. This is going to be fun, isn't it Deb!"
Yeah - but for who, I thought.
The early 70s were a time of transition. Malls were just starting to fill the landscape, and I lived not far from the Boulevard Mall, one of the earliest, but the big department stores in the downtown areas were still thriving. Especially for those of us who traveled by bus, the most convenient place for shopping was still downtown and the selection of women's essentials was far more extensive than found in the malls of the time. At the risk of being nostalgic, I miss the glamorous and often outrageous displays of the old time department store.
We ate at another feature of a bygone age, the restaurant on the top floor of the department store, then rode the elevator down to the sales floors. Somehow the cosmetic aisle at the local CVS of today just can't hold a candle to the vast array of cosmetics and the personal service that was once the norm.
By this time I had grown accustomed to shopping for my clothes in the lady's wear department. In fact I was a familiar face, with both sides of the transaction maintaining the fiction I was buying for my girlfriend. You have to remember this was a time long before crossdressers populated the talk shows and Hollywood made movies about us. Almost all of us werw deeply closeted, yet we had to buy our clothes somewhere. The internet was not even a dream and you had to be in a major city like New York to find a store like Lee's that catered to CDs.
Sure there were catalogs, but they were inconvenient, slow and what you got often didn't quite seem to match the picture on the page. If there wasn't a knowing woman in you life, you learned to go into a store and buy your own clothes, face to face with the salespeople. That is if you were lucky enough to be able to fit into a lady's size XL or smaller, Plus Size was still years in the future as well.
Even though it was never spoken aloud, savvy retailers knew a certain percentage of their women's fashions were worn by men, and a sale was a sale. Certainly there were some moralists that treated you poorly, but the vast majority of salespeople worked on commission and the commission was the same no matter if the blouse was for me or my girlfriend. I am completely certain that, by this time, Millie knew I was shopping for myself; the little things added up over time. That everything I bought fit my body was an obvious clue. She would casually measure a garment against my body at times, and her phrasing changed from 'that will look great on your lady' to 'that will look great'. Millie had become my fashion consultant, she had subtly taught me what would flatter a woman of my age and size and had steered me away from some of the things I would have chosen on my own. Thanks to her I no longer indulged in mini skirts, a garment that only emphasized my masculinity when I wore them.
I had never approached the cosmetics counter before, as I said I hadn't really considered trying makeup until now. I had a reprise of that nervousness I felt the first time I entered the lady's wear department, but it didn't last long. Deb and Susan explained the Halloween plot to the woman at the counter and they soon had me undergoing a complete color analysis. I listened to the learned discussion of what potions would be most suitable for my needs and what look the conspirators should strive with passivity. I simply zoned out while they made their decisions, it was a nice feeling to have them fussing over me.
"I thought that was you, Elliot!"
Huh? I opened my eyes and found Millie smiling at me. "I hope you don't mind me patronizing another department, Millie." I answered.
"Not as long as you don't forget me. Be sure you treat Elliott right, Carol, he's one of my best customers."
"Not to worry honey, he's getting the deluxe service tonight. Come Halloween he's going to be stunning."
"Of course. You be sure to let me help you pick out a costume that will do justice to Carol's cosmetics."
That's up to my warders here." I gestured to Deb and Susan. "I seem to have been stripped of my free will until after the holidays."
Not only could she wink like a pro, but her raised eyebrow rivaled Mr. Spok's.
"Meet my coworkers Deb and Susan. They seem to have decided that since I am the only male at the bank that I have to become 'One of the Girls' for Halloween."
"I can see you're fighting them all the way!" Millie's voice was laced with sarcasm.
I pointed to the floor. "See the skid marks where they dragged me by the heels despite my screams of anguish?"
"Perhaps I should phone Security."
"I could use all the security I can get right now."
"I think your friends have the situation well in hand, and of course Carol and I would never reveal any personal information about our customers. You're perfectly safe with us."
"I knew that Millie. My friends are helping me do something I really want to do, I'm just a little nervous."
"Then I want to help, too. You're a pretty cool guy, Elliott."
"Call me Ellie then, all my friends do."
I got another of those winks in reply.
Vulnerability. Not a topic most men want to discuss, or most women either. We like the comfort of our little, self contained worlds. I had been in my apartment long enough to make it my own space, reflecting my tastes and wishes. When you invite someone new into your living room you always have this little, nagging question in your mind: will they like the way I have the place done? It's a small example of vulnerability — letting someone else see the outer ring of your private life.
The bedroom is a step more personal. I had never had occasion to let anyone else into mine. I had added a number of feminine touches, a rather delicate and ornate bedroom suite, pink curtains with ruffles, lace on the pillowcases and such. Nothing to scream 'CROSSDRESSER' to an outsider, but certainly not your usual male bachelor's hideaway. I was pleased with myself for taking the time to make the bed this morning — something I neglected as often as not. Oops, yesterday's bra was right on top of the clothes hamper. Well, they knew about that so why worry?
It's another level of vulnerability altogether when you fling open your bedroom closet to another person, especially when that closet has more dresses than suits in it. It was hard enough trusting these two people with my crossdressing as an abstract thing in the lunchroom; now there would be no detail unknown to them concerning my taste in clothing and jewelry. I was feeling very vulnerable.
They must have sensed my mood because, as I set down my bag of cosmetics Deb broke the silence.
"I like your place, Ellie. Not what I was expecting from a bachelor pad."
I think you know I'm not your average bachelor."
"No, you're not, and I think you're a better person for it. I could use a cup of tea, it's gotten a bit chilly outside."
A very good idea, the simple task of brewing tea was just what I needed to get myself together. We squeezed in around my kitchen table and drank companionably together.
"Ellie?", Susan asked, "Are you all right with this? It's been fun teasing you, but you seem awfully quiet."
"It's not that easy to put into words, Susan. It's just that I've hidden this… No, let me be clear. I've hidden the fact that I love to wear women's clothes from everyone I know for as long as I've been doing it. I really don't think there's anything really sinful or wrong about it, but hiding it has become a habit that I don't even think about any more. It's a very private thing, something for me alone."
"On the other hand, that day in the lunchroom - I can't tell you how good it felt to share with someone I trust, and I've grown to trust both of you a great deal. When I first started at the bank I felt very much out of place, I was very aware I was the only male there and it bothered me a whole lot. It was the way you treated me that made all the difference, and I know the rest of the girls followed your example. Somehow I knew without thinking about it that I could let you see that I was wearing a bra and it would be OK. And that goes for you too, Deb."
"Oh my," blinked Susan. "You're going to make me cry."
"Thank you, Ellie." Deb said softly. "I'm not sure what I've done to deserve such trust, but it means a great deal to me. You are a very special young man, I think."
"Who sometimes wants to be a young woman. I don't think I realized how lonely I've been until just now. You're the first company I've had since my roommate left when we graduated. I've never been much of a socializer, but I have to wonder if I've been using my crossdressing to build a wall between me and the world. These days I'd rather stay home so I can dress up."
"I think I know what you mean, I felt much like that when I lost my breast. Cancer." she responded to my amazed expression. "The left one is a fake. My husband left me, he couldn't handle it and for years I considered myself a freak. I hid myself away and built my own wall against the world. I was sure everyone was staring at my missing breast Not quite the same as you, but there comes a point where the loneliness gets to be unbearable."
"I never realized." It was all that I could say.
"You weren't meant to. I don't exactly advertise my missing tit, Ellie. In a strange way that's what made me so interested in you. I finally took my doctor's advice and got a breast form so at least I wouldn't be lopsided. It took a couple of visits, and on the second one I nearly freaked out because there was a man in the waiting room with me. I was still thinking of myself as half a woman, and to find a man in the place where I was getting my breast replaced was excruciating."
"It must have been pretty obvious, because when I went in for the fitting the woman who owned the place did her best to calm me down and explained about transvestites and transsexuals. I was totally ignorant about the subject, I had never even considered that a man might want to have breasts. He was gone by the time I left, but for a long time I thought of him whenever I put in my breast form."
"I haven't thought of him in years, eventually I had the money for surgery and I don't need a form any more, but you brought back a lot of memories when I saw you wearing your bra. So now you know why I suggested you be a woman for Halloween. I didn't suspect a thing before then, but I have to say I like you a great deal, Ellie. I'm not sure why Susan's playing along, but I'm curious about what makes you do it."
"My goodness," Susan sighed. "After all that it almost seems silly to say I thought it would be a good joke. I was surprised at your bra, Ellie, but I know at least one of my own sons experimented with my underwear when they were teenagers. Kids who can't remember which cupboard the dishes go in shouldn't mess with mom's undies and think I won't notice! I'm proud of the way all of them grew up and it doesn't seem like it hurt them in any way. I don't suppose you should be any different."
"I'm not quite sure what to say." I finally said. "I hadn't expected anything like this, but this has been one of the best days of my life. You don't know how wonderful it is to be able to talk with friends who won't think I'm crazy. Do you really think I could look good enough to get away with it? What do we do next?
"You can certainly look good enough for Halloween. More than that we'll have to see." She looked at her watch. "It's getting late. We need to take a quick look at your wardrobe and then I'm going home before Harry calls the cops and the hospitals looking for me." Susan's replied.
I needn't have worried, Millie had done me right and the comments on my wardrobe were favorable. I had a hard time sleeping that night, I was just too excited. Tuesday there were a lot of knowing grins and little glances passed between us and Wednesday took forever to pass, even if it was our short day. At 2:00 the three of us piled into Deb's car and went to my apartment. What a luxury to get home in ten minutes instead of 35 (If I was lucky) on the bus!
Deb handed me a bottle of cleanser and I was instructed to shave and clean my face thoroughly. At the time I didn't realize just how lucky I was to be blonde and lightly bearded, I could skip shaving for a day without anybody noticing. I complied and emerged from the bathroom in my bathrobe, smelling like a flower garden.
I felt like a piece of canvas. Deb painted and patted and fussed over me like an artist while Susan betrayed an aptitude for sailing - it felt like she had attached my hair to a winch hauling up the sails. Without a mirror I couldn't see what they were doing, but and my nose began to itch abominably."
"Don't even think of it!" exclaimed Deb as I tried to scratch my nose. Lesson number one. When you're wearing makeup you never, ever touch your face!"
"No I am not. Get used to it, honey. If you aspire to be a painted woman you have to leave the paint on."
"If you say so."
"I say so. Now close your eyes." I felt something cool and damp spread across my eyelid." No blinking, keep 'em closed until I tell you. I think you're going to have very pretty eyes, Ellie."
"You have lovely, thick hair, you know. I just wish I had a daughter so I could have brushed her hair like this. I guess I'll just have to wait for my granddaughter to grow up."
"I think you're done, Ellie. Have you picked out an outfit for your debut?"
"Yes. I've been thinking about it for quite awhile."
"Then go put it on, but don't look in the mirror yet. We want to see your reaction when you do."
"OK, just try not to scream too loud, will you?"
"Don't worry about the sound effects, just get dressed."
I had decided that since the 'Bank Uniform' had started all this, it would be appropriate to wear it for my first time in front of anyone else. I put on my front closing bra with a practiced motion and settled it into place. I filled it with my little plastic bags of chemical jelly and buttoned the simple white blouse over it. I quickly rolled my pantyhose up my hairless legs, slipped on a pair of black high heels and stepped into my skirt. A little smoothing and I was set Opening the bedroom door I called "I'm ready."
They came an and gave me a top to bottom inspection. "Well, I'll be darned" remarked Deb.
Take a look at yourself, Ellie. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised."
I walked across to the mirror. The reflection was remarkably feminine. My hair was in a high, neat bun, giving me a spinsterish look in the simple black and white outfit. My eyes were rather pretty, I just wish I could see what they looked like when I blinked them. Maybe I should get Millie to teach me her wink. My jaw was a bit too square, but overall I was very pleased.
"Dear God in Heaven!" Deb's tone was not pleased. "He still walks like a man, doesn't he Susan?"
"I'm afraid you're right, Deb."
So much for my feminine illusions, or should I say my lack of illusion. I began to realize that while it wasn't terribly hard to learn how to dress like a woman, it was much more complex to actually behave like a woman. The week and a half to Halloween suddenly seemed far too short.
I spent the afternoon walking up and down the living room and hallway of my apartment while Deb and Susan offered their advice. When I got tired of that they showed me how to remove my makeup, a squishy, gooey process that left mounds of soggy tissue saturated with cold cream in my wastebasket. These women did this every single day of their lives because their job required them to be 'properly' made up? Yucch!
So under their tutelage I tried to make myself up. The results were spotty, and I mean that literally. I couldn't get the stuff blended properly and looked like I had the mange or something. More cold cream and tissues, wash, try again. Better, but not very good. By this time my stomach informed me it was ready for dinner, so I offered to cook for my guests.
That was fun. Being able to cook while talking to my friends was a pleasure, as was doing it dressed up. Not that the critique of my moment and mannerisms didn't continue, but being able to go through the familiar rituals of preparing dinner gave me the confidence to adopt their suggestions. It was a simple meal, some chicken stretched with pasta and tomato sauce, vegetables from the freezer and a salad, but the meal seemed festive out of all proportion.
The conversation covered a great deal of ground, Susan's children and grandchildren, Deb's brush with theater in college, my yearning for a car, the stupidity of the people who ran the bank, the kind of things friends say when they are having a good time. I tried to modulate my voice and make it sound more in character with my appearance, but this was all very new and I lost it pretty often.
The conversation continued as they washed and dried the dishes while I put them away, a very companionable evening. They left with instructions to practice my makeup every evening when I got home and a suggestion to try dancing in front of the mirror to help me learn to move. Susan mysteriously warned me to keep my Saturday free because she had an idea that she couldn't tell me about quite yet. Suddenly I was alone once again, it took a long time to relax enough for sleep that night.
Thursday I stocked up on tissues and cold cream and tried to master the art of makeup. No matter how I tried it just didn't look the same as when Deb and Susan had done it. Friday was a little better, but I was smearing myself with cold cream when the phone rang and I almost didn't answer it.
"Hi, Ellie!" It was Susan. "Feel brave enough to venture outside the apartment tomorrow?"
"I'm not really sure I'm ready for that yet, Susan."
"You have to start somewhere, you know. You're invited on an outing with my family, who are taking our Halloween project as confirmation I'm crazy. You'll do just fine, Ellie."
"You haven't seen what my face looks like after I do my own makeup or you wouldn't say that."
"Oh piffle! I'll come over early and help. Just wear something casual and warm - and no high heels, we'll be doing a good bit of walking in the country."
Once again it was hard to sleep, I was just too excited. I was up at six and showered, shaved and hair washed by seven. I decided on a bulky, rust colored sweater and an ankle length tweed skirt, which I thought qualified as a perfect outfit for a walk in the country. It felt funny to wear sneakers and socks with a skirt, but pantyhose seemed too dressy for a country walk. I brushed my hair until it shone and did my nails in a dark red that complimented my sweater, then valiantly applied foundation to my face. Nothing to do after that except wait for Susan to make me presentable in public.
The buzzer buzzed and I let her in. I don't know why I was so surprised to see someone with her, she had told me this would be a family outing, but I was acutely embarrassed to have her husband see me as I was. Harold was smiling, as I suppose anyone would at my current appearance, but it was a friendly smile.
"Ellie, meet my husband Harry. Harry, this is Ellie, and remember she's a work in progress, so no smart remarks. Come Halloween the disguise will be so perfect no one will know it's even a disguise."
"Pleased to meet you, Ellie. I hope you survive being the vict… subject of one of my wife's projects. That row of tombstones on the front lawn isn't just a Halloween decoration." He must have practiced ducking, her swat missed by a good six inches.
"Behave yourself, Harold. Let's get Ellie finished up so we won't be late. You know what the kids are like if they get bored."
"I told you it was a family outing, we're going down to the Ashford Hollow to visit the sculpture park, and then to Pumpkinville for pumpkins with our youngest boy's family. He's the one I think pilfered my underwear when he was a teenager, so it ought to be interesting when he meets you."
"Don't you 'Susan' me, Harry. Maybe he and Ellie will have something to talk about. Anyway, you'll love the kids, Ellie. Sherry is three and Jason is only six months. I'll bet you that Sherry is as cute as that niece you keep boasting about."
"You'd loose, I'm hopelessly biased."
"So am I. Sit down, Harry, while I go make Ellie beautiful."
"You got any books to read Ellie? Something with two or three volumes. I know how long it takes Sue to do her makeup."
"Just watch the cartoons, they're more your speed. Come on, Ellie"
It didn't take long to make me presentable. Would maskeup ever get that easy for me? In any case, Harry's "Not bad at all" as I emerged made me feel very pleased. When I left the apartment I was once again nervous. I tried to remember to walk slowly, sway my hips a bit, not touch my face, hold on to my purse and — suffice it to say I couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time, let alone keep all the things I should do differently in my head. Who would have thought a half block walk to the car would have been such an ordeal?
I still shudder when I look back on that journey, but not because it was my first time out dressed. Remember this was 1973, and child seats were still rare. We all piled into a van with Susan's son Vince and his wife Dawn. Baby Jason rode in Dawn's lap and Sherry bounced around between 'Gama' and 'Papa', and eventually me, as she wished. Years later I was broadsided while driving a similar van, I hate to think what would have happened to that adorable child if we were hit that day.
At the time, the only thing on my mind was what Vince and Dawn were thinking of me. I didn't talk much, being unsure of my voice, but fortunately the van was loud enough that conversation wasn't all that easy. I could see Vince glance through the rear view mirror every once in a while when I wasn't playing peek-a-boo with Sherry. We soon left the city behind and made our way south on Route 219. It was a beautiful drive on a beautiful fall day. For once the peak fall colors weren't obscured by rain and we pointed out especially bright trees to each other until finally we were finally overwhelmed by the beauty.
Ashford Hollow is a very small town, and there was one dinky sign pointing out the sculpture park. It's one of those hidden treasures that folks just love to show to the uninitiated. The road went from asphalt, to gravel, and finally to dirt. I sighted a broad, open field with tall, thin human figures lining the road, fanciful chess pieces twenty or thirty feet high. While Vince and Dawn extracted the stroller and the load of stuff required by a baby, Sherry had a death grip on her grandfather's hand and was dragging him away crying "Animals Papa, see the animals!"
The advance guard had disappeared into the woods across the road by the time we had Jason in his stroller and the baby's necessities distributed among the adults. Jumping across the roadside ditch we walked through the mown field to the edge of the woods. Completely unsuspecting, I entered the woods and my life was changed forever.
The woods were soft yellow with highlights of red and orange, sunlight shimmered in slanting rays among the trees, providing a golden glow. The path was soft under my feet, the quiet of the woods almost like a chapel. Following a twisting path I became intensely aware of how I was dressed, the swish of my skirt against bare legs, the softness of my sweater, the fall of my hair behind me, the pressure of my bra and the weight of the bags filling it. At that moment I think I came as close to femininity as I have ever come. Many years have passed since then, I have refined my appearance, perfected my mannerisms, undergone electrolysis and can move between the world of male and female at will, but it was that moment that set it all in motion, that perfect moment of perfect peace and pleasure that enlightens your life for all time.
Moments like that don't last, mine was cut short by the joyous cry of a child. Her impossibly high pitched squeal of glee cut through the woods and we hurried foreword. Perched atop a gleaming, welded metal stegosaurus, Sherry was urging her steed to greater speed while her Papa jogged in place beside her. She shortly decided she had won the race and we were off to the next animal. Snakes, crabs, giraffes, elephants — giant metal animals of all kinds populated the woods. We threw leaves, took pictures, and explored until we reached the open field. Sherry headed straight for the pond, where we fed the ducks, then worked our way up the hill back to the road.
The woods on the other side was filled with abstractionist work, much made from industrial scrap left from laser cutting huge slabs of metal. Sherry considered them less fun than the animals, but they were much easier to climb. I thought the tour was over but was it turned out this was just the lower part of the park.
Back into the van and over the roads to the upper park. Back then you could usually find a plate of brownies or other goodies for the park's visitors next to the donation can. We filled the can and filled ourselves, then started up the hill. If the woods in the lower park had shown me the ultimate joy in femininity, the upper park showed me it is not without it's drawbacks. The hill in front of us was much closer to a mountain than a molehill.
Halfway up, pushing a baby carriage, lugging diaper bags and multiple changes of clothes, not to mention herding a rapidly tiring three year old, I realized that I might be dressed as a woman but I was sweating like a horse. The day had warmed up, my soft and comfortable sweater was getting very warm. I had yet to learn about dressing in layers, so there was no way I could take it off. Those plastic bags that filled my bra and nestled against my chest stuck and unstuck with each uphill step, and I soon felt a very annoying trickle right between them. By the time we reached the playhouse we were all very happy to stop.
The tired toddler disappeared, replaced by an excited little girl who had to climb up right NOW! By this time I had been elevated to Aunt Ellie, so I followed her inside the structure and up to the second level. The playhouse was made of welded metal rods and bore a resemblance to a sombrero. I stuck with my charge until we climbed the last ladder, then waved furiously to those still on the ground. At least there was a nice breeze up there, by the time Sherry had finished with the place I was almost cool again.
We saw the giant Amazon women, the junkyard creatures guarding the maze, and much more. We picnicked at the top of the hill, enjoying the view of the autumn hills that surrounded us. I could hardly wait for my sister to visit so I could show my niece this place. I marveled at how, in the space of a few short hours I felt perfectly natural in my new persona. I was no longer concentrating on how I walked or spoke, but enjoying the company. I doubt I was anywhere near perfect, but we were not alone in the park and I didn't notice anyone who stared at me or thought I was unusual enough to raise a fuss.
When lunch was done, baby Jason was sound asleep in Vince's lap. I volunteered to stay and keep them company while the rest escorted Sherry. Maybe it was too soon to call it women's intuition, but I had the feeling that Vince wanted to talk to me.
"She's a gorgeous child, Vince." I said as Sherry, riding on her Papa's shoulders, disappeared over the hilltop. "Thank you for letting me come with you today, and thank you for being so nice to me."
"Mom's kind of hard to refuse, isn't she?"
"Now that you mention it…" We had a good laugh. "She's been awfully good to me since I started at the bank. It was hard sometimes being the only man in the place."
"Judging by appearances, she took care of that, didn't she?"
"I have to admit it's been a little intense since she and Deb picked out my costume for Halloween."
"Not too surprising, she came up with some dandies when I was a kid. One year I was a green crayon. A tube of cardboard around me and green food coloring in my hair. The stuff rubbed off on everything and everybody."
"You've just convinced me to let Deb do the honors when they dye my hair next weekend."
"Nope. If you see me again I'm going to be a strawberry blonde. Do you think I'd look good with an afro?"
"You must be even crazier than mom! Isn't cutting your hair a little too permanent for a Halloween costume?
Let's just say that they suggested I dress up as one of the girls, but they had reason to know I would want to do it."
"I wondered about that. You're pretty convincing. I think I would need more than a couple of days to be even half as accomplished You're pretty good at it, you know."
"Thanks. I've been working my tail off, but it's been a lot of fun. There's something very satisfying to fooling people about something this basic. It's quite a kick."
"Yeah, I know. I did a woman's role in a college play, but it was a burlesque. We played it for laughs, but I enjoyed it a lot. When I was a kid…" He petered out, so I tried my version of the Spok eyebrow.
"Vince, I don't intend to stop dressing up after Halloween's over. After today I don't think that's going to be possible, I like it too much. Your mother convinced me to go outside dressed up, but I've been doing this for a long time now. If know your mother I suspect she had more than one reason for inviting me along today. If there's anything you want to ask, go ahead and ask it."
"I never could hide anything from her. I bet she figured out I was the one who tried on her clothes when we were kids, she kind of hinted at it after that play." I nodded but didn't say anything. "Was that the way you started?" he asked.
"No, actually it was a particular bra your mother wore that got me going. Don't tell her, but she's the sexiest old lady I've ever seen."
"And she knows it. Not many people picture her as a doting grandmother, I can tell you. Anyway, she was right that I'd be interested in you, because panties and stockings fascinated me when I was a kid. Forbidden fruit, I suppose. Once I did that play it was never the same again. Dawn wears the panties in the family these days, the kick I got is pretty much gone."
"I don't know if I should hope it's the same for me or not. I don't think I've been so high in all my life than I've been today. Maybe that will change, but for now I don't want to stop. Did you ever run into anyone else who had the same interests?"
"Not unless you count some of the theater majors, but they had very different interests, if you know what I mean. I didn't want to get into that scene."
"You don't have to, you know. Most of us crossdressers aren't homosexual, at least not from what I've read. If you want me to, I'd loan you some of my books."
"No…" he hesitated slightly. "Like I said, there's no kick any more. I think I'm happy the way things are and I don't want to unbury any bodies. Thanks for the offer though, Ellie. You can tell Mom she hasn't got anything to worry about when she asks."
"I don't think she's worried, Vince. There's no need for her to know anything you don't want her to, I'm not the FBI prying into your background."
"Fat chance of that. J. Edgar would spin in his grave if one of his agents wore a dress." (Little did we know at the time…) "Is Ellie your real name?"
"Elliott, but I like being called Ellie."
Just then Jason started fussing. He screwed up his face and began to wiggle and I watched as Vince went through the baby-checking routine. Diapers, pins, too hot, too cold, hungry? Hungry, as it turned out. He passed the boy to me and started to dig in the diaper bag. I hadn't held a baby since my niece was little, but it was a whole new experience doing so when I was dressed as a woman. I propped him on my shoulder and patted his back, feeling the pressure on my breasts.
Breasts. I couldn't help the errant thought of 'What would it be like if they were real?'. Jason had worked up to a pretty good fuss by the time Vince handed me the bottle, but he quieted instantly when it hit his lips. The picnic table was awkward for feeding the baby, so I reversed myself and propped my back on the table so I could support him properly.
Talk about a timeless sensation. I forgot Vince and my world became little Jason. He sucked contentedly and snuggled down into my lap. When he slowed down I pulled the nipple loose long enough to let the air bubble back in, then got it back before he could object. He slowed down as the bottle emptied, so I covered my shoulder with a diaper and burped the baby. The little bugger even cooperated, letting out a belch worthy of a 300 pound linebacker. When the rest of the family returned, they found me bouncing Jason on my knee and making stupid noises while Vince made funny faces. However, our entertainment value dropped to zero as soon as he saw Dawn. My lap felt very empty.
Sherry was out cold by the time we reached the bottom of the hill. We paused to use the restrooms, and I even remembered I should be using the lady's room in time. Fortunately they were single stalls.
Sherry napped on the trip to Pumpkinville, and was raring to go when we arrived. We went on a hayride, watched her play in the pumpkin house and all the other displays and ate cider and donuts. I found that my bosom was covered with powdered sugar and self consciously brushed myself off. Sherry was in her glory as she climbed a huge pile of pumpkins and eventually we loaded several into the van, including one to grace my apartment window.
On Sunday, putting on my makeup over and over proved to be boring. After my adventure on Saturday, I had a bad case of cabin fever alone in the apartment. With all my work at learning, my makeup I was running low, so I decided that Ellie was brave enough to buy her own makeup. I finally selected a pale green blouse and white skirt, since the weather had warmed considerably since yesterday. I was glad to be able to wear pantyhose again, while yesterday's sneakers and socks had been practical, it wasn't quite the same as pantyhose. I tried to do my hair in a bun, but I wasn't good enough to do it right, so I left it down.
In my excitement at going out on my own I forgot that the busses run every 2 hours on Sundays, so I found myself with 45 minutes to kill at the bus stop. Too short to make the walk back home worthwhile, but about 35 minutes too long for my sanity. After 10 minutes or so I began to feel like I was on display to the entire world. People passing by seemed to take entirely too much interest in me. Was it because I was hypersensitive or was it because there was something that rang false about me? To this day I don't really know. It got worse when a lanky kid sat down on the bench with me. Thank God he didn't want to start a conversation!
Several times I almost gave up and went home, but each time I talked myself out of it. When I finally spotted the bus, relief washed over me. When the buss door opened I suddenly panicked. Elliot rides this bus every single day, the driver was sure to read me! I stumbled and almost fell flat on my face, but I was saved by a grip on my arm. The kid was stronger than he looked. I found my voice and thanked him, he just smiled and said "no problem", then drifted to the back of the bus. I stayed up front, despite being afraid that everyone getting on would figure out I was a man, because I didn't want to have to talk to him. Somehow the confidence I had among friends yesterday evaporated when I was alone.
I felt better in the familiar territory of AM&As, where I replenished my makeup supplies. I was tempted to do some shopping but I wasn't ready to face Millie quite yet. Well, if I couldn't look at dresses there was always jewelry, I really didn't have a watch that went with my new personality. I scanned the cases until I found something simple but nice, then asked the woman behind the counter if I could try it on. She seemed perfectly matter of fact when I asked and handed me the watch.
"We have some lovely gold accessories that would complement your new watch, you know. Would you like to see them?"
Well, why not? Lifting my arms to attach the necklace was an interesting experience, making me very conscious of my bra. She handed me the earrings and said "Here, try these on.", but they were for pierced ears.
"Do you have any clip-ons? I asked.
"I'm sorry, but not in this style. We don't have much call for them any more. We do offer ear piercing, you know. It would give you so much more choice in styles."
That planted the seed, and she watered it carefully as I continued browsing. I'd like to tell you that common sense prevailed, but I chose the most inconspicuous pair of starters they had. Once the holes healed I would try on my new bangles, but for now I hoped my hair would hide the evidence. Why was it that every time I came into this store I advanced farther down the path of crossdressing? I hadn't a clue how I was going to explain them when I morphed back into Elliott, but as Ellie I was thrilled. These days no one blinks at a guy with pierced ears, but back then it was a highly unusual. Perhaps I was just ahead of my time.
By the time I paid the bill I was beginning to realize I had a problem. With the long wait for the bus and the time it took to get my ears pierced, I became aware that my bladder was getting uncomfortably full. I knew where the restrooms were, but the closer I got the more uncertain I became. Could I do it? I had just about decided to try when several women passed by me as I dithered and entered the women's room.
I couldn't do it. Looking at my watch I saw I could get the bus back home if I hurried, so I tried to hurry gracefully to the bus stop. I didn't see the tail end of the bus in the distance, so I thought made it in time, but there wasn't a bus coming toward me, either. I sat on the bench (carefully) and composed myself, trying not to shift any more than absolutely necessary. The bus came and I boarded, and every single jounce and bump threatened to cause me great embarrassment. A eternity later I got off at my stop and walked the three blocks home, which took at least two eternities. The stairs occupied a third eternity and it took forever to unlock the door.
I have never felt such blessed relief in my life.
The next week was the slowest in my life. Work was an unbearable distraction from making my illusory women a reality. By the time Saturday rolled around I was able to do my makeup with confidence in less than 20 minutes. So what if I had been obliged to lug several bags of gloppy tissues to the trash, the practice had paid off.
I picked out the most casual outfit I could from my closet, a cotton blouse and skirt, once again sneakers and socks. Since I really liked to dress up when I dressed up, it wasn't too easy to go casual, but I managed. The weather had turned cool, but fortunately my raincoat was gender-neutral. Slinging my purse over my shoulder I trekked to the bus stop and rode across town to Deb's house.
She had offered to pick me up, but I refused. Frankly, I liked the adventure of riding the bus as a woman. Once I had overcome my initial fear, I had gone out on several errands over the last week as much for adventure as necessity. In an amazingly short time I had developed the character of Ellie the woman and felt comfortable with it — at least outside a public bathroom. I did attract some attention, but as far as I could tell it was no more than any real woman had to endure.
Deb greeted me with a hug. "I don't believe it! Susan told me, but I didn't believe her."
"I try my best, Deb."
"So you do. Come in and sit down. Let me take your coat."
I had learned that women seldom come directly to the point. I was here to have Deb dye and style my hair, but there was no hurry. We socialized a bit first. I filled her in on last weekend in more detail, she talked about her square dance group, just the little things friends share. Eventually she asked "Are you ready?" and I said I was.
So we pulled a chair over tot he kitchen sink and I got the treatment. The thing I remember most was the stink. What makes a permanent wave permanent is sulfur compounds, and they smell. Boy do they smell, especially when they're on the top of your head. I still can't really tell you exactly what she did because there wasn't a mirror. I know my hair was combed and rolled and twisted and otherwise assaulted, foul liquids were sprayed on it and I sat for far too long waiting for one thing or another.
Eventually the stopwatch went off and Deb soaked me in yet another potion, then poured pitchers of water over my head, rinsing whatever she put into my hair down the drain. These days the EPA would probably have a fit, but what did we know back then? Then a vigorous toweling and hot air from a big gun while she combed. I was sure my makeup must be melting off my face.
Deb looked at me like an artist surveying her work. "You trust me to cut your hair?"
"Why? Do I need it?"
"Because with the curls I think bangs would look better. You looked alright with your hair straight, but I think this would be better."
"Then go ahead. Just remember that I have to impersonate a man on Tuesday."
"Right. I haven't forgotten."
I tried not to wince as my hair hit the floor, but I had to trust deb. She plied a curling iron and at last announced "Are you ready to see the new you?"
"Chicken." Come into the bedroom and look."
What else could I do, I had to look sometime. What I saw was amazing, Soft, pink curls surrounded my head and cascaded down my shoulders. With the bulk of my hair my face was much different, the masculine lines much less noticeable. I wasn't a beauty, not by any means, but a nice looking kid that would be very much at home behind a teller line. At the time I didn't appreciate it, but I did look quite a bit younger that way, something I wouldn't mind being able to duplicate in the here-and-now.
I was overcome with a warm and glowing feeling. "This was as close as I was ever going to get to being a woman" was the thought that crossed my mind. It never even occurred to me to worry about why I was doing this, what other people would think or how this would affect the rest of my life. For now I was satisfied — no I was ecstatic — with the woman I appeared to be.
"Well, say something!" Deb demanded. I had forgotten her in my narcissism.
"Yeah, wow! Some Halloween costume, Ellie."
"You know it's more than that"
"I know. I'm not sure I understand, but once I saw you wearing that bra I knew it was nothing casual. I wonder how that poor man at the clinic ever made out, if he was happy when he got his breast forms. I can't help but wonder if he wanted real breasts as much as I wanted to have my breast back. It's one thing to look whole to other people, but I knew part of me was gone and I wanted to be whole again."
"Was it enough?"
"Almost." Her voice was wistful. "Almost. You can hardly see the scars, and it feels almost the same, but I still know it's silicone and not really me."
"Deb?" I wanted her full attention. "This whole thing happened when I developed an obsession with bras. Up until then I was just a guy like anyone else, or at least I think I was. The first time I tried on a bra it was a sexual experience. Maybe it's a guy thing, but for quite a while I thought of it in those terms - a way to excite myself, nothing more." She nodded but kept silent.
"After a while it wasn't enough, something was missing. I thought it was the clothes, so I bought more clothes and it still wasn't enough. Oddly enough, when I had to stop wearing a bra to work things seemed a little better, but I couldn't figure out why. When you and Susan taught me makeup I hoped that would be it, but it wasn't . Then I thought it was going out in public, or getting my ears pierced, but after a few hours last Saturday I realized it had become normal to be wearing a skirt in public but it wasn't enough."
"Victor and I kind of skirted around the subject, but it didn't jell quite then. Now I think I know the answer, at least the answer that works for me. I've just realized that I no longer need to prove myself to anyone, either as a man or a woman. Susan's family accepted me as a friend and made me feel loved. You just confided something so intensely personal to me that I have no choice to believe you trust me completely."
"Maybe it was easier because you see me as a woman at the moment, but that really isn't all that important. For me, wearing the clothes and trying to truly understand what it is to be a woman was a way of breaking out of the assumptions that I have unconsciously held all my life, assumptions that have affected everything I do and lead me nowhere."
"The assumption I had be independent, in control, autonomous — that's the root of the problem. I knew I was lonely, but I couldn't figure out why. I think it's because I was ashamed of not being what I thought I should be that kept me from reaching out. For me, learning to think more like a woman is what made me able to accept the love and friendship that people have been offering me and I couldn't take. Susan's family accepted me, even loved me, without any reservations. That's never happened before, and you've shown me that same love and trust. The real me is the one on the inside, I just have to believe I'm worthy of love and then I can give love back. I love trying to be more like a woman, but I think knowing myself is the best part to come out of this whole thing."
Deb was weeping softly, as was I. "You told me your husband left you when you lost your breast. I can't imagine how hard that would be, I've never been close to someone like that. Deb, whether you have a breast or not is no more important than what clothes I'm wearing. You've shown me what's inside your soul, let me be a part of your life, and that's what really counts. It's hard to open up, I fought it for as long as I can remember. You are a beautiful woman who has helped me become a better person. Let yourself go and believe you are as good as I know you are."
We were both crying freely, holding each other close and sobbing. There was absolutely nothing sexual in the situation, just two people who had made a deep connection and were finding the love and support that had been missing from their lives for so long. Some endless time later I realized my makeup had to be a complete shambles, because so much of it was on Deb's face. We talked at length, sitting on her bed, until we both were exhausted and hunger drove us to her kitchen.
The problem was the residual smell of the permanent drove us away, neither one of us wanted to eat with the sulfurous remnants of that session. "So, let's go out to eat, then." she proposed.
"Looking like this? I'm a mess! It's going to be bad enough to ride home on the bus with my blouse smeared with mascara and foundation, I couldn't go to a restaurant."
"Jeez! You've been a woman for a lousy week and all you can think of is how you look!" Her tone made it clear she was thoroughly amused. "Have you ever been square dancing?"
She could sure jump subjects in a hurry. "Never."
"Then now's the time to learn. I think you could fit into one of my older outfits , I kind of let myself go after the divorce. We can fix you up and have dinner before the dance."
"Now who was the one telling me to believe in myself just a few minutes ago?"
"That was some idiot overcome by emotion. Don't know the lady."
"Nonsense! After all that emotion there's nothing like some physical activity to burn off the residue. Go get washed up while look in the attic for the clothes. This is going to be fun!"
She showed me where things were and I proceeded to fill her bathroom basket with gooey tissues. I never had a second thought about removing my blouse to wash my face thoroughly. After a little while Deb returned with her arms fill of petticoats and skirts and blouses. I followed her to the bedroom where she sorted things out on the bed.
"I don't want you to be embarrassed, but there's something I want to give you. I don't need them any more, so I want you to have them." She handed me a small, plush covered case. Well — open it up!" she urged.
I did. Inside were two surprisingly (at least to me) lifelike breast forms, they even had nipples.
"Please, I want you to have them, Ellie. The left one helped me through some very hard times, the other one's brand new — you have to buy them in sets even if you only need one. Please — try them on. I hope they can help you as much as they helped me."
I removed the bags of gel from my bra without the slightest hesitation and inserted the forms. They were considerably larger and heavier than their predecessors, and I automatically adjusted my bra straps. In the mirror my newly tinted hair curled almost to my suddenly enhanced cleavage.
"I think a larger bustline suits you better, Ellie. Nice to have the choice of size, isn't it?"
"Thank you, Deb. I don't know what to say."
"You've said it. Now, let's see if this blouse will fit."
It was a little tight, but that's the way it was supposed to be. I was soon swathed in voluminous petticoats and a gaily checked skirt. With complete serenity Deb dressed herself while I watched, there was simply no need for me to leave the room.
Dinner was good, and despite zigging when I should have been zagging for most of the evening I enjoyed the dancing. By the time Deb dropped me off at home I was thoroughly ready for bed.
"Keep the clothes, Ellie. They'll be perfect for Monday at the bank. You're going to knock them dead!"
Monday saw me up early, nervous and excited. I was ready long before I had to leave, but that was a good thing. I settled the cute little cowboy hat I had found yesterday on my head and locked the door. I curtseyed to the bus driver when he smiled at me and entered the bank with a great deal of anticipation. I knocked at the glass doors in the front and Sarah, one of the part timers, came over. She was dressed all in black and had a cute little stubby tail hanging from her rear end and pointy ears emerging from her dark hair.
"We open at 10:AM, ma'am." She shouted.
"I know. Look a little closer, Sarah. Remember we're supposed to come in costume?" I shouted back in my own voice.
She stared for a good five seconds, then the light dawned.
"Oh… My God!"
I could see Deb struggling to keep a straight face in the background. Sarah's cry brought Susan and Barb running, so I had as grand an entrance as I could have hoped for. We were damn lucky to open on time because everyone was admiring my "costume". Once the customers arrived things settled down, and the morning was almost anticlimactic. After all the rush and effort, I was simply content to be Ellie, just one of the girls behind the counter.
To top it off, I don't think a single customer read me, even my regulars. The square dance getup helped, all those petticoats disguised my less than slender waist. Then there's a pretty set routine at the bank; another woman standing there and pushing buttons and handing out money is nothing to be noticed. I counted money to my customers in a quiet voice, kept conversation to a minimum and smiled a lot. At 11:30 Deb came over.
"You have the desk, Ellie, Susan and I are going to lunch together."
They were gone before I could say anything, but I knew the two of them must have been planning this all morning. Did I mention the manager's desk was now by the front window? Deb had decided that shirtsleeve bankers don't hide in their offices.
Well, what the hell? I'd been working up to this for some time, Deb and Susan obviously thought I could do it. We might be friends outside the place, but Deb would never do anything to endanger the bank or it's business. I made it through several customers, all routine stuff like opening accounts or unscrewing checkbooks without any problem. I was beginning to think I had it nailed when Millie came in and sat down at the desk.
"Hi, Ellie. I was kind of hoping you'd be wearing one of the dresses I sold you."
"Well, I was going to wear the blue number but I needed something to go with this here hat, ma'am. I tipped my hat to her. I'll be wearing the dress tomorrow if you want to stop by again."
"I love your hair, where did you find the wig?"
"Nothin' under this cute little hat but me, ma'am." It was a lot easier to do a woman's voice when you drawl.
"Y'all might be plumb right, ma'am." That was too much, we both broke up.
"I think that can be arranged quite easily, Ma'am." I said a in a slightly louder tone. "Would you please step into the office where we have some privacy.." Mine, not hers!
"How did you figure out where I work?"
"Remember when you got your credit card? You had to tell us where you worked. After you left the cosmetics counter I got all the details from Carol. I just had to see what you looked like."
"I suppose you figured out I wasn't shopping for my girlfriend pretty quick."
"I wondered that first time, I knew when you brought the stuff back and bought things to fit you."
"Thank you for being so kind to me. You really taught me how to dress with style."
"That's my job. You aren't my only regular with a taste for nice clothes. Before you ask, I've never tried to talk to any of my customers outside the store before. I hope I haven't been too forward."
"Not at all, I'm flattered. In fact, the girls plan to go out for a few drinks after work. If you're available, would you like to join us?"
"I'm off today. Are you sure it will be OK?"
"Why not, it's just us girls."
That was the start of it, Millie and Ellie started hit it off and we went out together more often than not on weekends. I did wear the blue dress to work the next day and other than a few raised eyebrows no one made a big deal of it. Either Deb or Susan made sure the part timers that weren't there on Halloween heard about my costume. We were a very close group.
I was reflecting on how incredibly lucky I was to have done what I did so easily in an age where it could have easily proved disastrous when the organ cut into my reverie. I realized everyone around me was standing, so I quickly rose with them. Millie gave me a nudge, so I straightened my tie as we left the pew and walked to the front of the church to meet our son and his wife. Our brand new grandson was there too, in a gorgeous crocheted baptismal gown, his tiny feet peeking out of the hem. No, I had nothing to do with the little tyke wearing a dress before he was a month old, but more power to him if he so chooses.
As the minister blessed our grandson I spotted Susan in the back of the church. Her hair is white and she uses a cane these days, but she disdains the fashions most 80 something women wear, and her hats are always a marvel of originality. The dapper old gentleman beside her is named Henry, Harry having passed on. They met when she turned 72 and have been inseparable since. Their wedding was almost as much fun as our own. I just wished Deb could be here, but she had moved to California years ago and we were reduced to Christmas cards and the occasional guilty wish-you-were-here postcard.
By the time Elliot finally found a better paying job I had passed my initial infatuation with being Ellie. Oh I wasn't going to let go of her, but by then I found I was just as happy as Elliot as I was as Ellie. Having Millie in my life helped, we were pretty serious by the time I left the bank. I took a chance and went to the job interview with my strawberry waves intact, in fact they were almost to the small of my back by then. You could get away with things like that in the 70s, I was far from the only longhaired male in the world, even if it was unusual for the financial sector.
Millie got her MPA shortly before the wedding and I eventually went out on my own as a consultant when I was downsized a few years ago. I specialize in financial advice to the GLBT sector, where both Ellie and Elliot have a home. In fact, being Ellie is a major asset at times. The money isn't anywhere as good as with the big firm, but we're hanging in there. If there's one thing I have learned, it's that when you believe in yourself anything can happen.
Author's note: The Inn of 10,000 Delights, Griffis Sculpture Park and Pumpkinville are real. If you are near the Western NY area they are great places to visit.
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