Pen Pals - Part 1


Synopsis: It is estimated that twenty five percent of the girls on any given forum are actually guys posing as girls. One study put that number higher. Pat Goodman was one of them, Steve Carter another. What Pat and Steve are about to discover is that the girls they have been talking to are not nearly as sweet and innocent as they imagine.

Pen Pals

By Mary Beth Sanford



Pin Pals - Part 1

Pat saw the car recognizing it immediately. That car belonged to Ms. Furbish and Ms. Furbish did not visit casually. Pat felt his stomach twist slightly.

"Come in honey and sit down," mom said after he walked into the living room. Ms. Furbish was sitting opposite mom looking stern. It did not look good, Pat mused. Pat also had a hint of what was happening but decided to play dumb.

"Hi Ms. Furbish," Pat said trying to sound innocent and ignorant over her being there.

"Pat," Ms. Furbish said nodding cordially although clearly not as warmly as intended.

"So what is going on," Pat asked sharing his attention between his mother and Ms. Furbish.

"What is going on is this pen pal you have been writing to," Pat's mother noted as she spread her hands over a pile of printed emails.

"Pen pal," Pat asked.

"Yes, pen pal. Your pen pal and, as it happens, she has written Ms. Furbish requesting your address. A highly unusual request given the rules and even more unusual since Ms. Furbish could not find any school records on Patty," Pat's mother noted.

"I'm not sure I understand," Pat said still attempting to appear ignorant.

"I'm sure you do, but that's OK if you don't. Anyway, seems you two have become good friends. Such good friends that this girl was wondering if she could have your address to invite you to a birthday party. Her birthday party," Pat's mother said.

"Mom, I don't understand what is going on here," Pat said.

"Then sit there quietly and I'll try and explain this better," Pat's mother noted with a smile that sent a chill down Pat's back as she added, "Fortunately, Ms. Furbish was kind enough to stop by and discuss it with me."

His pen pal Pat's mother said. Pat knew he had been busted, but he also knew he could not admit to it. One chance, however slight, was all he needed as he said, "my pen pal? What pen pal? Mom, honestly, I am not following you."

"You are not following me? OK, let me see if I can make this clearer for you. Let's see, what name do you use? OK, here it is. Perhaps if I call you Patricia you can follow this a little easier, or do you prefer Patty as you've noted in your letter," Pat's mother asked.

Pat sat there trying to look as if he did not know what his mother was talking about still. A bluff he knew and he also knew it wasn't going to work. Pat knew it was now only a matter of him admitting what his mother already knew or make this worse.

"Seems to me, after reading this, that calling you Pat or Patrick is not going to suit you. I guess your pen pal Susan likes Patty since she started her last email, that one to Ms. Furbish, with the name Patty Cake. So, are you following any of this now," Pat's mother asked.

"Oh, right? Patty. Now I remember. Mom, I can explain that!" Pat said. It was obvious his mom had it all since it was also obvious Ms. Furbish had given it to her. Now all Pat had to do, could do, was try and explain it. Only he wasn't sure how he was going to explain it.

"Explain what? Honey, really, there is no need for an explanation. Sweetheart, I have read your emails to Susan! Everything that I might have had questions over are in those emails. All of the explanations I might need are already there," Pat's mother noted smiling.

"No, I mean I can explain why I wrote those the way I did," Pat said.

"Honey, there is no need. Really, that is not why you are sitting here at the moment, so relax a little," Pat's mother said. Again, it was that smile, that tone causing his sudden goose bumps.

"I don't understand," Pat said and at that moment he really didn't understand. His mother should be furious and rightfully so perhaps, but she was not showing it. She did have even a touch of anger in her voice, not nearly what Pat might have expected given the circumstances.

"OK, let me see? Oh, and please, if at any time you think I am wrong, feel free to interrupt me. Anyway, according to Ms. Furbish, it seems that you decided to correspond with a twelve year old girl named Susan Parker. Am I right about that," Pat's mother asked.

"Mom," Pat said.

"Right or wrong," Pat's mother asked using a tone that suggested he simply answer the question posed.

"Yes," Pat said.

"And you began that correspondence using the name Patricia or Patty, right," Pat's mother asked.

"Right," Pat said feeling his face warming.

"And you did this after hacking into the schools email system to create an account that allowed you to pose yourself as a girl to this girl? Right or wrong," Pat's mother asked.

"Right," Pat said.

"Knowing full well that you were breaking several school rules and perhaps potentially violating one or two laws besides," Pat's mother asked.

"Mom, I didn't break any laws, honest," Pat said.

"Right or wrong," Pat's mother asked.

"Right," Pat said dropping his eyes against his mother's steady gaze.

"And once you began corresponding with Susan you actually began posing as that girl Patty," Pat's mother asked and added, "you were actually a girl when you were talking to that other girl, right?"

"Yes, but..." Pat said although his mother held her hand up when Pat started to explain.

"You were a girl named Patricia, right or wrong," Pat's mother asked.

"Right," Pat said almost in a whisper.

"So after you decided to become a girl you created an account and began corresponding with this girl Susan as a girl, correct," Pat's mother asked.

"I didn't decide to become a girl mom," Pat said.

"Excuse me? OK, again, correct me if I am wrong, but you told this girl that you were a girl named Patricia, right," Pat's mother asked and added, "so you became this girl Patricia before you began writing to her, correct? I mean you developed a nice little profile so you had to be a girl to do that, right?"

"OK, yes... right," Pat said feeling frustrated over the questions. He was defeated and suddenly very embarrassed.

"So before you actually began writing this girl you clearly had already decided to become a girl first. Isn't that also correct," Pat's mother asked.

"I said yes," Pat said. Pat knew his mother was twisting this whole thing a lot but there wasn't much he could do about it. He was now digging the hole even deeper and by himself.

"Now then, why you want to be a girl is going to make a very interesting topic for you and I, but at the moment it's not as important as you actually being Patricia. So, I am going to set that other discussion aside for now," Pat's mother said pausing.

"I'm not sure I understand," Pat said. He was trying to figure out where his mother was going with this.

"You do understand, but I am willing to take my time with this, for your sake. Right now, it is only necessary for me to know that you are a girl named Patty when you communicated with that girl Susan. So let me again make sure I'm clear on this... You are Patty to Susan right," Pat's mother asked.

"Yes! Mom, how many times must I admit that," Pat said.

"Just making sure I understand this," Pat's mother said.

"Fine," Pat answered in frustration.

"So, you became Patty, and as Patty, you began sending emails back and forth with Susan, and you and Susan have been talking about all sorts of girl stuff? Is that also correct," Pat's mother asked.

"Yes," Pat said.

"Pretty remarkable when I consider that. Honey, to be perfectly honest with you, I had no idea you knew so much on what it takes to be a girl. Actually that too is something I very much would like to discuss as well, but again, I'm going to set that aside for now," Pat's mother said and again she paused.

"OK," Pat said not sure where this was going, although he was glad she didn't want to press too deeply. He was also sure that his mother was walking him to some sort of conclusion and that made him nervous.

"So, you, as Patty, and Susan have become very good friends, and I suppose, under the circumstances, this girl truly needed a friend. In point of fact, you have become such good friends with Susan that she desperately wants you at her 13th birthday party on Saturday," Pat's mother said.

"Mom, I didn't expect that to happen," Pat said feeling terrible all of a sudden.

"I'm sure of that honey, but the thing is it did happen. It did happen and the other thing is, Susan is hoping you can be there," Pat's mother noted.

"I'm sorry," Pat said.

I know precious. The other thing is and I have considered this carefully, and to be perfectly honest with you, I don't see any reason why Patty can not be there. In point of fact, and with Ms. Furbish's permission, I went ahead and sent Susan's mother your RSVP," Pat's mother said and added, "so Patty, you definitely have my permission to go."

"I don't understand," Pat said trying to figure out what his mother was attempting to do here.

"Honey, there is really nothing to understand. Susan, your best friend, is having a birthday party. She has invited you and you are going," Pat's mother said and added, "as Patty obviously."

"Mom, Susan thinks I am a twelve year old girl like she is. If I went to that party Susan would be expecting a twelve year old girl," Pat said.

"Of course she would. Honey, I've read those emails. Most of them at least. Trust me when I say I understand that. As dense as I can be sometime, I am not that dense. Susan is expecting Patty Cake, and Patty Cake is going to be there," Pat's mother said.

Mom, Patty is an imaginary girl," Pat said in a growing panic, adding quickly, "remember, I made her up. She doesn't exist."

"I know honey, and I want to discuss that but first, I'd like to know why you chose to communicate with a twelve year old girl as a twelve year old girl," Pat's mother asked.

"These pen pal programs are kind of boring. So when Ms. Furbish asked us to correspond with the kids on the list, I just thought it would be... you know, kind of interesting to pick a girl rather than a boy," Pat said adding quickly, in the hope of making that more clear, "you know, I guess it was more challenging is all."

"I can see where a seventeen year old boy might find it challenging to be a twelve year old girl," Pat's mother said.

Pat, hearing it put that way blushed. It all sounded so silly suddenly.

"But you did it, and all of that information that you seem to have? How did that come about. How did you gather so much information to make you so credible as a young girl," Pat's mother asked.

"Magazines. You know, teen, pre-teen magazines. I got most of those from the library," Pat said, adding, "those girl magazines have information on clothes, singing groups, makeup, perfume and that sort of stuff so I used what I got out of those."

"Very clever! Very clever indeed," Pat's mother said.

"Mom, the thing is I wanted to stop but after a while, I mean once I found out that Susan was doing home schooling and was in a wheel chair, I was sort of stuck. I felt bad, then even worse when Susan began writing to me as one of her best friends. I sort of trapped myself into this not knowing how to get myself out of it without hurting her," Pat said.

"That is always a problem when you are trying to fool someone. Especially someone so vulnerable and so easily hurt. It gets more complicated as it goes along and, like you are now, you get stuck," Pat's mother said and added, "and here we are with you stuck and Susan's party is Saturday."

"I really am sorry if that helps," Pat said.

"It does help," Pat's mother said.

"So do I call her or what," Pat asked testing the water.

"No need. Like I said, I've already talked with Susan's mother. You can apologize to her at the party," Pat's mother said.

"It is going to be a girl's birthday party. Twelve year old girls. She might not appreciate me being there considering what I've done to her," Pat said.

I think she's going to love hearing this from you. Besides, it's a moot point. You're going," Pat's mother said.

"Mom, we have absolutely nothing in common," Pat said and added, "she's going to hate me once she finds out."

"Nothing in common. Now who is being silly honey," Pat's mother said as she added, "sweet heart, you have been writing to this girl for weeks now, I've read those emails. Precious, you have all sorts of things in common. You even have your dolls and some of them are the same as Susan's.

"But I've been pretending," Pat said wondering if his mom was as thick as she appeared at the moment. Obviously he had no dolls and therefore none of them like Susan's.

"But that's what I mean! You simply keep on pretending. The thing is, when you get to the party, and introduce yourself as Patty Cake, you can explain all of this to Susan. I'm almost positive that when she realizes how hard you've tried being that person, she's going to easily forgive you," Pat's mother said.

As bad as apologizing in person might be, Pat realized that was exactly what his mother was expecting. It was that part about pretending that was not very clear as he asked, "so if I'm going to apologize to Susan on Saturday, why would I have to continue pretending?"

"Honey, Susan is expecting Patty to be there, Patty Cake actually," Pat's mother said.

Pat sat there for a moment trying to figure out what it was his mother was really saying, while deep down, based on the conversation so far, he began to fear what she might mean. It was also clear on Ms. Furbish's face, as that smile finally broke free, that Pat's fears might be real.

"You are kidding right," Pat asked.

"Not really," Pat's mother answered.

"Mom, you really can't be serious," Pat said and just to be sure he added, "there is no way you can expect me to go as that imaginary girl Patty Cake."

"Afraid I am very serious, Patty Cake," Pat's mother said and added, "and stop looking at me like that. Honey, didn't I read that you thought being a girl was wonderful or something like that?"

"Mom, I was kidding! That was pretending. Mom, this is impossible! I could never do that! I will not do that," Pat said with a tone making it clear he was not going to budge.

"Honey, I am afraid that you really don't have a choice in this, or very little choice. Truth is Ms. Furbish came here to notify you that you were going to be put on suspension," Pat's mother said.

"Suspension? Ms. Furbish please, no. If you suspend me now I take an incomplete for Ms. Gray's class and I need that class to graduate," Pat said in anguish and added, "I'd miss her finals."

"I have no choice or didn't have. I'm afraid this is in your hands. I'm sure you thought about that before this, young man," Ms. Furbish noted and added, "the rules are pretty clear about our computer systems and participation in our pen pal program.

"It would mean Summer School. Mom, Ms. Furbish, please," Pat said and added almost on the verge of tears, "and no graduation ceremony or senior activities."

"Pat, listen to me. That is what can happen. In fact, that was Ms. Furbish's intent. Fortunately, and you can thank me later, I have convinced her not to suspend you but only under this very specific set of conditions," Pat's mother said.

"You did? Oh, thank heaven," Pat said feeling his panic ease till he thought about those conditions as he added, "conditions?"

"Conditions! We've already discussed them. You either face that suspension or you attend that party, and, I am afraid, you must do so as that girl Patty Cake that you've created," Pat's mother said.

"Ms. Furbish," Pat said turning to the vice principle with a glimmer of hope this was not actually happening and that they were just scaring him.

"Take it or leave it Pat. What you did was unconscionable and frankly easily worth that suspension but, as you mother explained to me, this is definitely better. So much so that I will forgo your suspension and subsequent probation for photographic proof that you did in fact attend that party," Ms. Furbish said.

"Mom," Pat pleaded and added, "It would be impossible. Thank about the embarrassment, the humiliation. What would I say if it got out that I dressed as a little girl for a little girl's birthday party?"

"Sorry honey, you have created this role, and I am afraid you are going to have to see it through to a final conclusion, "Pat's mother said.

"Ms Furbish," Pat said turning to her in one last desperate attempt to get out of this.

"I'm sorry Pat, I agree with your mother and frankly it really is for your own good. Anyway, my decision is final. Come Monday, I will need those pictures on my desk, or your one week suspension begins then," Ms. Furbish said as she stood picking up her set of the emails she pulled from Pat's computer at school.

"Monday then," Pat's mother said taking Ms. Furbish's hand as she too stood.

"Monday then," Ms. Furbish said and added, as she reached the door, "Good evening Pat."

Pat remained silent till the door closed behind Ms. Furbish.

Pat's mother, watching for a moment almost caved in, but took a breath and girded herself as she went to her bedroom to dial Theatrical Rents to confirm Pat's appointment.

Meanwhile, Ms. Furbish walked to her car, slid in, inserted her key into the ignition, and just before starting her car flipped her cell phone open. She dialed from memory the Carter household phone number and on the second ring a woman answered.

"Hello," Rose Carter answered.

"Ms. Carter, Hi, it's Helen Furbish. I just left the Goodman household and I believe Pat's mother is willing to accept the conditions on his behalf. So, as far as I'm concerned, we have one half of this put in place. I am assuming that Steven is still willing to accept those same conditions," Helen asked.

"He is Ms. Furbish. Absolutely, and thank you again for this opportunity to allow my son this chance. I can assure you that when he apologizes to that poor little girl Patty he will do so dressed as Susan," Rose said with conviction.

"Saturday then and it is still scheduled for ten o'clock," Ms. Furbish noted.

"Saturday, ten o'clock. We will be there," Rose added and said, "and thank you again."

Ms. Furbish smiled as she started the car. She was laughing almost to tears when she pulled onto the expressway. It was so poetic, she mused, as she headed West while carefully dialing Ms. Hawk's number.

"Hello," Tracy Hawk answered.

"Hi Tracy, it's me, Helen, we are all set for Saturday, ten o'clock," Helen said.

"Excellent," Tracy said as she added a good-bye before hanging up.

Tracy began laughing and held the phone for some number of minutes before she could compose herself enough to call the Ice Cream Parlor. A moment later, between snickers she asked to speak with the owner and added, "Hi Abby, it's me, Tracy and it's all set. There will be two at ten o'clock, as we discussed and yes, we will definitely go with the Barbie motif."

Two months ago Tracy discovered, as she routinely searched the school's system for viruses and hackers, that Pat Goodman had hacked into the security database and secured himself a place on the school's forum, in the pen pal section, and in an area strictly for the girls. A few hours after that she discovered Steven Carter had done almost exactly the same thing.

It took a few hours more and some amount of reading to discover that both boys were representing themselves as girls to each other. Patrick as a girl named Patty and Steven as a girl named Susan. What brought a touch of laughter to her even then was discovering that neither boy knew he was talking with another boy.

A day after that discovery Tracy called for a conference. Tracy, along with Pat and Steve's mother, were sitting in Ms. Furbish's office discussing what had happened and what to do about it. The two boys were brilliant and had easily accomplished that hacking task allowing them access to the school's system. It was also incredibly funny that they had both ended up talking to each other.

The school, in this case represented by Ms. Furbish and given the circumstances, had no intention of prosecuting the two boys although they easily could have. What Ms. Furbish wanted, what she would like to see, she told the two moms, was something more along the lines of a meaningful lesson for both boys.

She left that solution up to Tracy and the mothers and some of it came out of the emails that Tracy shared with the moms. Both mothers agreed to Ms. Furbish's conditions and thankfully, promising to cooperate fully, noted that their sons would do whatever it was they had to do. What Tracy suggested, after reading a bit more of those emails, was the solution now fully underway.

Tracy, in her office admired Pat's efforts, even applauding his skills as Pat established access, before developing his own profile so it was common with this girl named Susan. It was going to be a punishment fit for the crime she told Ms. Furbish when she came into her office with the moms already in agreement.

And it all began so innocently between the two boys believing each was talking to a young girl. Both were twelve, and while Susan wore diapers because she was handicapped and in a wheel chair, even that was common between them because Patty wore them for bed wetting, or so she admitted. They began to correspond frequently from then on and each night they would share the joy of being girls.

Ms. Furbish had nearly two months of correspondence between the two imaginary girls before contacting Pat and Steven's mothers. That second parent conference was a hilarious review of the two boys discussions with each other as girls on what they liked, what they did and a whole host of things. Both boys as girls, everyone noted, were very sugar and spice.

"So pink, lavender and almost any pastels are some of your favorites but for party dresses, it says in one of your emails, it has to be a soft pastel yellow. That was my favorite color as well," Pat's mother Carol said as she flipped through the sixty or so pages Tracy had collated and clipped together before the confrontation.

"I don't like dresses, pastels or otherwise," Pat said definitely.

"Of course you do. Wait, I'll find it," Carol said as she flipped through the pages before adding, "OK, here it is and I was right. You love a soft lemon yellow and you really love special occation dresses that are fluffy. Like a lemon chiffon."

"Mom," Pat said sitting there in utter frustration over this turn of events added, "this is impossibly unfair."

"I know honey and I applaud you that concern you have for that girl Susan," Carol said twisting Pat's words to mean sympathy for Susan.

Pat wasn't talking about his deception with Susan, obviously, but of himself and his punishment. The only good news was that Pat's mother had softened some of the blows by telling him that Susan's birthday party was private and that everything Pat was going to have to do for that party would also be private. She didn't tell Pat about the Ice Cream Parlor.

"If you play along with what I've told these people, it's still going to be difficult, granted, but not nearly as bad as the truth," Carol said when she told Pat what was going to happen which would begin with renting him a head to toe outfit for a little girl. Obviously Pat was too big to shop for little girl clothes but in the theater anything is possible and for a company renting props dressing a boy as a little girl is right off the rack.

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