Girly Jobs

Life in a production company, like Toboggan to Nowhere Productions, was far from glamorous. Mostly they produced crappy adds or videos for local businesses. However, the rise of reality shows introduced the possibility of striking it rich with the right idea. One night, while eating take-out in front of her television, Colleen Kowalchuk found herself on Discovery Channel watching Mike Rowe catch leeches, when she got an idea. The next Monday she was presenting it to her boss, Winston.


Girly Jobs



by Arcie Emm

A different type of story for me. An attempt to write a story in the real world, which leads me to question my ability to write a story in the real world.

 
“So Colleen, what do you think?”

“Ehhh...I didn’t see anybody Winston and I could agree upon.”

“Who cares what Winston thinks? This is your baby, who do you want?”

“My initial thoughts were to find your basic every day guy type. Not too macho, not too wussy. Not too tall, not too short. You know, Mr. Average.” Colleen Kowalchuk answered, as she looked through the pictures of the men who they had auditioned during the afternoon.

Seated beside her, Duncan Finch said, “How about that one, he fits the description perfectly.”

Looking at the picture her assistant held, Colleen sighed. “Yep, exactly how I thought our host should look. But damn it, that money grubber Winston is right. We are going to be pushing the boundaries enough, so this show likely will only have a place on late night cable. And to have a chance in that market our show is going to have to be more titillating than I planned.”

“Well none of these guys exude titillating.”

“You got that right Duncan. In fact I doubt some average looking joe is going to cut it. We may have to go in another direction.”

“Like an actual transvestite?”

“Possibly, though that really goes against the purpose of the show. I want to capture someone experiencing the shock of being treated like a woman for the first time. It would be so much better if whoever we get is a virgin at dressing.”

“But you want a guy we can turn into a foxy babe?”

Grimacing at the truth of Duncan’s statement, Colleen said, “Basically, though I am not sure that is possible.”

“So our casting call was all wrong?”

“Looks like it.”

Thirty minutes later the two of them had finished brainstorming ideas, outlining who they want to host the reality show they were developing for Toboggan to Nowhere Productions. Reading his notes, Duncan shook his head.

“What’s wrong now, Duncan?”

“Well we could have saved the last half hour if we had written, ‘We want a girl.”

“Shit. I don’t know what to say. Why don’t you ask around the office, maybe someone else will have an idea. Meanwhile, I have to call Winston and give him an update.”

Happy to leave that conversation to his boss, Duncan left the casting room and began his mission. One in which he did not gain much traction until he found himself talking to the intern, Kerry. A pretty girl, as was the norm when Winston did the hiring, Duncan had ignored her until this point. However, he finally realized a cute male was most likely to be young, someone in Kerry’s age-group After describing his problem her eyes lit up.

“I know someone, well I don’t really know him. But there’s this guy, in a community college course I’m taking, it’s for doing commercial voice work. Well anyway, this guy, before he introduced himself I thought he was a girl, kind of butchy, but when he said his name and it was a male name.”

“What’s is it?”

“I can’t remember. But he definitely looks girlish, he’s really small, shorter than I am and skinny too. Maybe because he’s oriental, which also gives him real thick, black hair. I bet you could make him look real good.”

“Do you think he would do it?”

“I don’t know, I have never talked to him. I think he said he works with computers, though he speaks kind of soft. Maybe that’s why he is in the course, but he may be interested in hosting of a TV show. I don’t know.”

“When’s your next class?”

“Tomorrow night.”

“Would you be willing to talk to him about coming in to talk to us?”

“Sure!”

****

Finishing work, Mark Lee decided to skip catching the train home, across the river, knowing he would only have a short time before needing to come back downtown for his course. Instead he headed for the Wendy’s, near the college. Finished eating, he crossed to the college and made his way to the classroom. As normal, he was the first arrival for the 6:30 class, which allowed him to pick a seat near the back of the room, from where he watched everyone else arrive.

Yet he did not mind the wait, in spite of low expectations he looked forward to weekly class. He enrolled in response to complaints, passed on by his supervisor, that he spoke too quietly, which was not good for a help desk operator. Jimmy had recommended Toastmasters, but while leafing through the college’s free catalog Mark spotted a course for commercial voice work that struck his fancy. Now four week in, his job performed had improved, which in turn confirmed how much he hated his job.

As his fellow students arrived, he ignored them as he focused on today’s exercise. He had practiced enough to feel confident in his ability to read his assigned commercial in exactly thirty seconds, but that did not stop him from rehearsing the script in his mind.

It paid off, as he aced the assignment. So pumped was he, that the sound of his own voice hardly bothered him when the teacher played the recording and praised his tempo. The class left him excited about the one minute commercial assigned for the next week. Already rehearsing it in his mind, he headed for the front of the building where his best friend and roommate, Darren, was to pick him up.

Walking down the hallway, he heard someone call his name. Turning he saw Kerry, the cute red-head in his class. Surprised, he stopped and waited for her approach.

“Great work on your assignment, Mark. It was like, real professional.”

“Thank’s Kerry. You did well too.”

“Nah, I just blasted through. I was done in 24 seconds. I should have practiced more.”

“I know it helped me.”

“Yah, I could tell. But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about. Do you have some time?”

“Well I have someone picking me up.” Mark said, cursing his luck for finally accepting Darren’s offer of a ride, instead of taking the train home.

“Oh, how ‘bout I walk with you? It shouldn’t take long.”

“Sounds good. What’s up?”

“See I’m interning this semester at a place called Toboggan to Nowhere Productions, which makes TV shows. Well they are developing a new reality series and they need a host, but they’ve been struggling to find one. When they asked me if I knew anyone, I immediately thought of you.”

“Me, why?” Mark asked, confused by the very idea.

“You’re real good with this voice stuff and, well, they want someone with a specific look.”

Mark got a bad feeling where this was heading, still he hoped he was wrong and asked, “Is it because I am Chinese?”

“No it’s because you look...umm...you know...umm.” Kerry trailed off in embarrassment at what she was wanting to say.

An equally embarrassment Mark asked, “Is it because I am not the most masculine looking guy?”

“Yeah, that’s it. We are developing this show where we will dress a guy as a girl and film him experiencing life as a female. However, they need someone that can be believable. That is why I thought of you. I bet you would look super cute.” Then noticing his face, she exclaimed, “Oh my God I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”

Instead of asking her how she expected a guy to react when a pretty girl told him he would look super cute as a female, he mumbled, “I’m kind of used to it.”

And he was, he had been mistaken for a girl more times than he could count. It came from being small, he even had to look up at this pretty girl as she crushed his manhood. That, and his delicate features, made macho a thing for others.

“You are? So you can understand why I thought of you?”

“I guess.” He answered, desperately wanting the conversation to end.

“So are you interested?”

“What?”

“You know, trying out to be the host of the show I was talking about.”

“I don’t think so.”

“It’s really good money.”

“I’ve already got a job.”

“I bet it doesn’t pay as much as this does.”

“I’m happy with my job.” Mark lied.

“Would you think about it?”

Wanting to end the conversation, he said, “Okay, but I can’t see changing my mind.”

“Cool, here I’ve got more information about the show and the job.” She said as she took a folder from her backpack and handed it to him.

“I’ll look at it. Umm, I see my ride. I better go.”

“Okay, think about it pretty please. If you’re interested, call Duncan Finch, his number is in the folder.”

“Sure. Bye, Kerry.”

“Bye, Mark, hopefully see you before next week.”

Hurrying over to Darren’s fifth hand mustang, he yanked open the passenger door, jumped inside and said, “Thanks for the ride, Donks. The train sucks at this time of night.”

“Not a problem, Chink. So who’s the hottie?”

“Nobody.”

“Shot you down, did she?”

“Nah, she was after my body.”

“Yeah right.”

“She was. Of course, she wanted to dress me as girl and film it. But she wanted my body none-the-less.”

“Dude.” Darren sympathized. He knew all about his buddy’s encounters with confused people, even having been mistaken for the boyfriend a couple of times.

“What’s a guy to do?”

“Listen to rock?”

“Sounds like a plan.” So saying, Mark reached over to turn up the CD player, blasting AC/DC even louder than before.

Once home, a condo owned by Darren’s grandparent’s, which they allowed him to use while he was in university, Mark took his frustrations out by killing Super Mutants on their PS3. Meanwhile, Darren picked up the folder his roommate had thrown on the table and began to read, a smile on his face. Reaching the page with the pay rates he whistled.

“Dude, you could make a shit load if you took this job.”

“I don’t want to know.”

“You sure? It pays lots more than the job you hate.”

“I don’t want to know.”

“Okay, okay. Hey, where’s the other controller? I want to play too.”

****

Two days later, Darren returned to the apartment after class to find Mark already at home. “Hey, Chink, why are you home so early?”

“I was fired.”

“What!”

“Well not fired exactly. Instead they decided not to retain me after my six month probation period.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah, it sucks.”

“But you hated the job.”

“True, but it was a paycheck. And it took me three months to get after finishing my diploma. Sure the company said they would pay for me to use a placement agency, but I don’t want to go through a job search again. And I don’t have the dough to last me through another jobless stint.”

“What about EI?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Don’t worry about rent, My Grandparents love you, they’ll ignore it like last time.”

“Fuck, I hate taking advantage of them.”

“Dude, it’s only until you get a job.”

“I know,” Mark answered, sounding depressed. “Maybe, I should just go home. Mom and Dad always say they could use my help with the restaurant.”

“But you hate working in the restaurant even more than that shitty help desk job.”

“Yeah, but I would never get fired from it.”

“How about...” Looking towards the table and not seeing the folder, he looked around and spotted it sitting open on the coffee table. “So, have you been considering the offer from that Kerry chick?”

“I looked at it, but I don’t think so.”

“Why not, the money’s good. And you said you like that voice class you’re taking, this would give you a chance to use what you learned. Yeah, you have to dress as a woman, but think of yourself as an actor dressing up for a movie.”

“You didn’t really read much did you? It’s more than dressing, basically they want someone to go undercover for three or four months.”

“Like a spy?”

“Donks, what are you, five?”

“Fuck you, Chink.”

“So if I took the job I would end up having to pretend to be female 7/24, for months. I can’t disappear like that.”

“Why not, you don’t have a job?”

“Well it would be as embarrassing as hell if someone found out.”

“Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.”

“Donks, it’s like you want me take the job. Do you want me in a dress?”

“Yeah right, you’re my unrequited love.” Darren answered, full of sarcasm. “No it’s just that I know you. If you don’t get a job, you’ll spend all your time on the PS3 or WoW. That means I will want to spend all my time on the PS3 or WoW, which in turn means I won’t study for midterms. Thus resulting in my parents shitting all over me for being a goof-off.”

“Maybe it would be better if I went home.”

“Shit don’t think like that. Sure I don’t want the ‘rents to think I am a goof-off, but that doesn’t meant I don’t like goofing-off. And who would I do that with if you headed home to Little Town Bumfuck.”

“So you think I should give them a call?”

“You may as well, hell they may no longer have the position available. And you likely not pretty enough for the job anyways.”

“Really? Reverse psychology?”

“Did it work?”

“Maybe.”

“You going to call?”

“Yeah, where the fuck’s the phone?”

Trying to find the phone, Darren complained, “We really need to clean this sty.”

“Yeah!”

****

Next morning Mark prepared for an audition. It being his first audition he decided to treat it like a job interview, which based upon his past experience doomed him to certain failure. Before phoning the production company he would have seen this as a good thing, since he wanted the job a bit less than toe fungus; however, being left on hold for thirty minutes before and then speaking to a disinterested Duncan Finch kindled his competitive spirit. So even though he recognized the idiocy of someone thinking he couldn’t do something he did not wish to do, Mark wanted to prove the man wrong. Still he was not hopeful, expecting to turn into the babbling fool who usually took his spot at interviews.

Of course he recognized the need to make a good first impression, which briefly led to Darren’s idea that Mark should dress as a woman. However, this was followed by the realization neither knew what it involved and the decision Mark should wear his suit.

Now dressed, he looked into the mirror and tried to figure out why people mistook him for a girl. He could somewhat understand why, on a quick glance or from a distance, a person could be confused, but why when they got closer did people never recognize their mistake? Whatever the reason, maybe it would finally work in his favour. That is, if he truly wanted the job, which was open to serious debate.

With the loan of Darren’s car he headed for the West end of the city, midday traffic allowing him to arrive early at the four story multi-purpose building. Checking the building’s directory, he took the stairs to the third floor, where he found the production company and was directed to a waiting room where five other men waited.

Sitting in the silence of the room, Mark pretended not to look at the other candidates, who in turn, pretended not to look at him. However, he stopped and stared at his feet when he imagined Darren teasing him for checking out other dudes. Yet he had seen enough to reluctantly realize only one of the five, a skinny blonde, was any competition from an appearance stand point. The other four, while not exactly guys’ guys, were definitely more rugged than the two of them.

Yet when he saw each carried a portfolio, he realized he had no idea what he was doing. Nor were his nerves helped when each was called into the next room before him.

When his turn came he introduced himself to Colleen Kowalchuk, the show’s developer, and Duncan Finch, her assistant. Trying to get a read on them, he was sure he saw a flicker of interest cross the woman’s face as she asked him to take a seat and asked to see his photos.

“I’m sorry, I do not have any photos with me?”

“You don’t?”

“I think I can explain, Colleen.” Duncan answered. “Mr. Lee is a friend of Kerry Sanderson, the intern. After our last round of auditions I was talking to her and she recommended Mr. Lee. Talking to him yesterday, he mentioned he had never been to an audition, but based upon Kerry’s recommendation, I asked him to come in today.”

“Yes, I can see why. Mr. Lee, do you mind if I call you Mark?”

“Please do.”

“Thank you, Mark. Did Kerry explain what we were looking for in a candidate?”

“Yes, Ms. Kowalchuk. I also read through the information pack she gave me. From what I gathered, you’re looking for a candidate to pose as a woman while you film him experiencing life on the other side of the gender divide.”

Smiling at the stuttered synopsis included in the folder, Colleen realized for any other role she would have already written him off as a candidate. However, for this project, where appearance was so important, he really seemed too much of a little cutie to dismiss. “Basically. We plan to have our host work in jobs that are considered women’s jobs, filming both his and others reactions to him.”

“Like Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe on Discovery Channel?”

Though she had come up with her idea while watching that show, Colleen wished people would stop making the connection. “Well not exactly, Dirty Jobs plays up laughter more than we plan. Nor do we want our host engaging the camera directly. Instead we plan to observe what happens, conduct some interviews, then fill in the narration to match footage.”

“Sounds interesting.”

“So we hope. However, we want our host to look as close to female as possible. Do you have experience dressing, Mark?”

Knowing this was not the time to be insulted by such a question, Mark answered, “No, Ms. Kowalchuk, though people have mistaken me for female a number of times.”

“Not even on Halloween?”

“No, Ms. Kowalchuk.”

“You say that you have been mistaken for female?”

“Fairly regularly to be honest. I think it’s because of my size.”

“How tall are you?”

“Not quite 5’3”. I take after my parents.”

“Weight?”

“About 135lbs.” Mark exaggerated.

“I see. One more question about your appearance, it appears your face has had some work done on it?”

“Yeah, probably another cause for mistaken identities. When I was twelve, I had an accident on a dirt bike and smashed my face, which required cosmetic surgery to fix. However, I had messed up the cartilage of my nose fairly bad and the plastic surgeon who fixed my nose, chin and cheek had only worked on women. The result made me look more girlish than I like, but it would have been worse without surgery.”

“Well it would help with the hosting job if we choose you. May I ask how you feel when you are mistaken for a woman?”

“Well I have kind of gotten used to it. Sure it’s embarrassing, specially when I am around new people, but most of my friends are used to it and nobody bugs me about it anymore.”

“So it doesn’t bother you.”

“It does, but when I look in the mirror I just see me. And when I think of me I know I am a guy. I’m not sure why people don’t see that.”

“If you get the job, we will completely disguise your maleness. We are shooting for pretty girl. Would you be able to handle that?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Well that is honest enough. However, you would need to be sure before you proceed, since the job calls for you to be female 7/24 for a minimum of three months.”

“All the time? Why?” Mark asked, surprised despite the information in the folder implying this to be the case.

“Well some of the changes we plan to make will make it difficult to switch back and forth.”

“Changes? What type of changes?”

“Don’t worry, nothing permanent. Just cosmetic things like hair, eye-brows, and fingernails. And since we aren’t a hundred million dollar movie, we can’t be changing your appearance every day. Besides we want our host to experience and talk about the culture shock of being a woman.”

“When I was seven, my family moved from Hong Kong to small town Canada, I doubt it will be a bigger culture shock than that.”

“Ok enough about appearance for now, based on that criteria you are a candidate for the job. However, I would like to run some camera shots and script tests. Would you be able to do that today?”

“Yes, Ma'am.”

“Excellent, Duncan could you handle that?”

“Sure thing, come with me, Mark.”

****

Later that afternoon Colleen, Duncan, Allan Grant, and Janice Wilson reviewed the tests and stills taken of Mark and Arthur Dickson, the blonde haired man from the waiting room, who were the only two candidates considered from the day. However, neither had tested very well, both had been nervous and it had shown.

“Dickson’s tests were better, he did not stumble as much as Lee.” Duncan stated.

Colleen agreed, “True, but he has experience. All Mark has done is that course, while Arthur has been in a number of plays. Honestly, I would have expected more separation between the two.”

“Well they both stood out appearance wise, if they can’t talk that well on camera we could use a narrator.”

“That will boost our budget. Still maybe with practice, one of them could handle it. What do you two think?”

Allan, the company’s head costumer, who had been with the production company since started, spoke first. “I’ll be blunt, I want the China Doll. He’s so petite that we won’t have to worry about major curves. Plus I think we can pull off the super femmy look you want with him.”

“How about you Janice.” Colleen asked the second woman, who looked after the makeup for the production company.

“I could do something with either, both are young and have good complexions. Neither has overly masculine features, specially the Lee kid. I think we could do a more believable job with him than Dickson. Still I would like to spend some time on the computer with their images before I make my final recommendation.”

“Duncan?”

“I’m okay with either, though it may be a good idea if we just continue looking.”

“We don’t have the time, Winston is breathing down my neck. Personally I lean towards Mark, since I think he would be prettier and better at taking instructions than Arthur. I say we bring him in next week to give him some practice in front of the camera, see if he can do better. It will also give Allan and Janice a chance to check him out in person, let them figure out if the real thing and the pictures match.”

Meanwhile, across town, Mark was telling Darren about the audition. “I don’t know, Donks, I can’t read people worth crap. They seemed interested in me after the interview, but when I did a test, I sucked.”

“Doh, what did they say?”

“Nothing much. They thanked me for coming in and said they would get back to me. And you know what that means?”

“It could mean that they will get back to you.”

“Nah, I’m fairly sure I blew it. Though I can’t honestly say I am overly upset.”

“Why not?”

“Donks, I don’t want to be the butt of jokes.”

“Nah man, I talked to some people...”

“What?”

“Dude, calm down. Sure everybody got a laugh out of it, but they know the hassle you get for your looks and think you should take the opportunity to make something out of it. And they’re curious to see how you will turn out.”

“Damn it, Donks. It would have been embarrassing enough without everybody knowing.”

“It’s better if everybody knows. If they found out by accident, hell or if they found out by seeing the show, it would be worse. This way, if you act like it’s no big deal, they would look stupid trying to make it so.”

“Do you really believe that?”

“Sure. And fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. ‘Sides I talked to Doug and Glenn MacDougal, they said they would back you and kick anybody’s ass who says anything.”

Mark smiled at the glory of small-town politics. Everything depended upon getting the right people on your side. One such group were the MacDougals, a large extended family in the town where his parents had settled and who helped them start their restaurant. More importantly Doug and Glenn had that wiry strength and enough craziness to ensure they were feared. Long time friends with him and Darren, Mark was glad to have the on his side, if needed.

“I will have to thank them when next I see them. But for now, I don’t want to talk about it anymore. So how’s ‘bout defending Earth from giant invading bugs?”

“Sounds like a plan. Start the game while I hit the can.”

Ignoring the order he head to the kitchen for a coke, where he heard the phone ring. Answering, he said, “Hello?”

“Hello is this Mark Lee?”

“It is”

“Hi, Mark, this is Duncan Finch from Toboggan to Nowhere Productions.”

“Oh hi, Mr. Finch. What can I do for you?”

“Well first off I would like to thank you for coming in today, Colleen was quite impressed. So much so that she would like to see you again on Monday, would that be possible?”

“Monday?”

“Yep, we would like to run a few more tests. Though this time we will give you time to prepare, do you have an email to which I could send some scripts?”

“Umm...yeah.”

“What is it?” After giving receiving the address from Mark, Duncan confirmed, “Would 10:00 am be good for you?”

“Yes, that will work.”

“Also, I’m guessing you don’t have an agent or belong to ACTRA, I will also include a listing of local agents and information about ACTRA.”

“What is ACTRA?”

“Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, you will need to belong if you get the contract. And since you’re the front runner, if you do well on the tests on Monday we will likely offer you the job.”

“Really?”

“Yep, still interested?”

Despite wanting to say no, Mark answered in the affirmative. After saying good bye, he hung up and turned to see a questioning Darren standing in the living room. Looking sheepishly at his friend, he said, “Well I may need Doug and Glenn’s backing, after all.”

“You know, I think it’s time for you to give your folks a call.”

“I think you’re right.”

****

Three Wednesdays later, the bus trip to the production company had become the norm. With his parent’s surprised, though humoured, blessings, he had gone in the Monday after his first audition well prepared, did well, and received an offer. Within days he had begun preparing for the still unnamed show.

Most of that had involved filming the before picture, showing what Mark was like as a guy. This phase of the project had even put some dollars into the pockets of his friends, particularly Darren, who had been interviewed to learn more about what made his best friend tick. But they had not totally ignored the after picture. Mark spent part of each day with a voice coach who was more pleased than he with the ease they softened the tone and raised the pitch of his voice. Yet that had been better than the second daily lesson with Sheree, the fitness crazy deportment coach, whose exercise and diet program had him under 118 pounds.

Today things would change. Time to begin full immersion in the world of sugar and spice. And though he had been kept mostly in the dark about what would happen, he had been told it was not to be a gradual transition. When he left the office this evening, it was to be as a female, the role which he would continue to play until they had shot enough material for ten half hour episodes.

Scary.

Greeting people as he went, Mark headed for Duncan’s cubicle, who soon had him sitting in front of a camera, as Colleen, acting as the voice off camera, conducted a final interview before the metamorphosis.

“So, Mark, ready for immersion?”

“Not at all. I am nervous as hell.”

“I bet.”

“I’m going to look like a freak.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that if I was you. I have seen the mock-ups and nobody is going to see you as anything other than a pretty girl.”

“That doesn’t make me feel any better, Colleen. Not a thing that most guys like to hear.”

“I can imagine. But think of it as an adventure. You will get to walk in the shoes of the opposite sex.”

“High heeled shoes?”

“Most definitely. Fashionable pumps, pretty sandles, sexy boots, a veritable harvest of women’s footwear will adorn your feet during your journey.”

“A journey where I will spend most of my time falling on my face?”

“Not if what Sheree says is true. And your lessons will continue.”

“Charm school?”

“Well that is one way of looking at it.” Colleen laughed.

“The rain in Spain falls mainly on the Snakes on the Plane?” Mark recited in his soon to be expected voice.

“Funny boy. You should hold onto your humour, I know your friends have.”

“What?”

“Well we got together with a number of them and they helped us decide on all types of aspects concerning your new look and persona.”

“Shit.”

“What’s wrong Mark, don’t you trust your friends?”

“Not on your life. I doubt they missed a single stereotype.”

“Not many, no. But would you have been different?”

“Well...”

“Be honest.”

“Probably not.”

“That’s okay, this show is going to be all about those stereotypes.”

Suddenly suspicious, Mark asked, “You’re not planning to punish me as the surrogate male, are you?”

“Not at all, Mark. It’s not about punishment, it’s about understanding. Sure you will be expected to live those stereotypes, but we will all try to make it fun.”

“You’ll be laughing with, not at me?”

“Yes, exactly. Think of it just like that and it won’t be painful at all.”

“Says you.”

“Well we will try at least.”

“Okay, I guess I signed up for it, so I can’t back down now. My next question is what did my bonehead friends think up?”

“Well they gave you a name.”

“Crap, don’t tell me, I bet it’s Marci. Those shitheads know how much I hate that name.”

“They said it was your nickname.”

“They lied, my nickname is Chink. They aren’t politically correct, either.”

“Apparently not. So do you want to go by another name if you think Marci is too whatever?”

“I always thought it was too girly, which looking the way I do, always seemed a nastier taunt than Chink. But I guess with this project, girly is the goal, so Marci works.”

“Anything else you want to know about the new you before you become Marci?”

“Knowing my friends, I can likely guess. I hope I’m not going to end up with huge knockers.”

“No, besides one of your friends argued it would not look right.”

“Who would...wait, was it Spiff?”

“Who?”

“Garnet Williams.”

“Why do you call him Spiff?”

“Umm...well, let’s just say you don’t want to know. Guy stuff. Immature guy stuff.”

“Yes it was him.”

“Shit, did he perv out on everybody with his observations about the Asian girls downtown at the university’s ESL facilities? Babbling about how feminine and gorgeous they are?”

“He did seem to have some rather specific opinions.”

“How about me, do I have veto rights?”

“Not a chance, everything we have planned is covered in that contract your Uncle the Shark negotiated for you. But don’t worry, nothing is permanent.”

“Except the psychological blow to my fragile ego.”

“Exactly, that’s what will make the show watchable.”

“Okay, lets go turn me into Mrs. Frankenstein.”

“Not a chance Marci. I saw the mock-ups, your going to be a doll. And Gus is going to catch every moment of the transformation.”

“Oh goodie, it will be so much easier if it is filmed.”

“That’s the spirit, Mark.” Gus the camera-man laughed.

“Then let us head to my doom. Which is to be found where?”

“Gus knows the way.”

“Okay Gus, where to?”

“Time to put you into Sarah and Julia’s hands.”

They were a couple of Janice’s employees to whom Mark had been introduced. Also at that time he learned Janice did not work directly for the production company. Instead she owned a spa on the second floor of the office building and contracted with the production company to provide makeup services. Taking the stairs that provided easy access between the two businesses they were met by Sarah, in her light blue smock.

Smiling in welcome, she asked, “Ready for your big day, Mark?”

“Scared witless.”

“Don’t worry, sweetie, we will try to make this as painless as possible. But it will be a long day so we better get started. Follow me.”

“What is going to take so long?”

“You’ll see, Mark, being beautiful isn`t easy.”

“That’s what scares me. And by the way, you may as well call me Marci, supposedly that will be my new name. I might as well start getting used to it.”

“Marci it is. We are going to start with a full body wax, so why don’t you pop into this room and change into the robe waiting inside. Then come outside and the show can begin.”

Sarah stopped Gus from following Mark into the small change room where he wondered if he could sneak out unseen and run away. A burgeoning plan cut short when Sarah yelled for him to hurry. Cursing Jimmy for firing him from the help desk job, he undressed. That accomplished, he begin his penance in pink as he slipped into a terry cloth robe, belted it around his waist, and slid his feet into the pink flip flops before he left this last sanctuary.

Seeing the camera on him, he did a sheepish pose and asked, “So how much is this going to hurt.”

“It varies, but I am sure you can handle it. It won’t hurt as much as smashing yourself up in a bike accident.”

“I would hope not.”

“It helps that you don’t have much body hair. Plus I promise to be as gentle, but it would help if you relaxed.”

“I’ll try, but it’s going to be hard with Gus filming everything.”

“Actually, do you really need to film the entire affair? It’s going to take awhile and I am sure there are some parts that Marci would prefer not to show.”

“Sorry, Sarah, Colleen ordered me to film everything. Pretend I’m not here, I’ll stay out of the way.”

“Is that okay, Marci?”

“I was the idiot who signed up for it.”

“Let’s get started, take off your robe, hop onto the table, and lay face down.”

Blushing at being naked in front of two strangers, he moved as quick as possible, while hoping neither laughed at his slender form, or even worse, his rather small genitalia, Following directions he felt relief at the other’s professionalism. His relief proved short lived, for the waxing deviated far from fun, particularly after he learned all his body hair had to go. Still a desire to act tough in front of the camera combined with Sarah’s care and lotions allowed him to survive. In fact he did not even flinch as she turned his brows into two, thin arches. While Sarah performed final clean up with tweezers, they were joined by Julia.

Complimenting Sarah on the job, she said, “Hiya, Mark, I see you have lost some weight.”

“Call me Marci. And yeah, they have me on a fitness plan and I lost close to twenty pounds.”

“It’ll make our job easier. So, ready to become a girl?”

“I though we had already started.”

“That was just prep, the real body work is about to begin. And we owe it all to modern technology.”

“Am I getting a new bumper?”

Laughing, Julia answered, “That’s one way of looking at it, though I think the end result will surprise you. We placed an order with a special effects company who created some rather spectacular prosthetics to match your skin tone. Want to see them?”

Still embarrassed at being naked, Mark accepted the two pinkish silicon blobs from Julia. Surprised by their size and weight, he said, “I don’t know, I may be semi-colour blind, but there is no way these match my skin.”

“Marci, Marci, yee of little faith. Those just provide the foundation, more will be needed to create realistic cleavage.”

“Cleavage?” Mark gulped.

“Most definitely Marci, what good would this experience be if you were unable to learn the power of cleavage over men.”

“Oh I already know about it. I have fallen victim to it a time or two myself.”

“Then take this as an opportunity to learn how to defend yourself against them. After packing a pair of 34Bs for a number of months, I am sure you will be become immune to their sway.”

“I hope not!”

“Boys, aren’t you just the simplest creatures. However, the breasts are only the start, we also have....Taadaa!”

With that she pulled another form from the box, one that Mark had no problem in identifying. Something that immediately put him on the defensive. “No way. I’m not wearing that. No way, that’s going too far. I’ll just wear one of those gaffs like I read about on the internet.”

“Nope, Colleen thinks that will be cheating. And she spent a lot on this.”

“But...”

“No buts, it’s in your contract. Besides this will allow you to wear pants, rather than being forced into skirts all the time.”

“Why does everybody think they can use reverse psychology on me?”

“Does it usually work?”

“No it doesn’t.” Mark sighed as he admitted, “Well maybe.”

“So are you going to let us fit you with these girly bits?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Not if you want to get paid.”

“Okay then.”

“That’s the spirit, Marci. Now I recommend this would be a good time for you to take a bathroom break. When you come back we can proceed.”

After a quick pit stop, the two woman went to work attaching the prosthetics. Sarah created realistic looking breasts with the forms, some foam, and layers of latex. That should have been the most bizarre experience in his life. However, it paled in comparison to what Julia was doing between his legs. most depressing that the second time a woman touched his happy guy, it proved to be even less of a sexual act than the first, which had occurred when Sarah removed all boyish humour from the idea of a Brazilian. Rather than getting a rise out of him, he actually shrunk, which made it even easier for her to hide his member with the latex camouflage after pushing his testes into their sockets.

Mortified, he kept his eyes closed until Julia told him they were done and helped him sit. Ignoring the bouncing weights on his chest, Mark instead focussed on the vacancy between his legs. Feeling both annoyed and relieved it did not feel more uncomfortable, he found himself almost hyper-ventilating as he chanted, “Oh my God. Oh my God...”

“Wow that looks fairly good.” Julia stated.

“Oh my God. Oh my God...”

“It sure does.” Sarah agreed.

“Oh my God. Oh my God...”

“Marci, are you ok?” Julia asked.

“No I’m not.”

Gus who had been just as shocked as Mark, finally murmured, “I can’t believe it.”

“Not you too.”

“Well damn it, Marci, I never thought everything would look so real.”

“Oh my God. Oh my God...”

“Calm down, say something clever for the camera.”

“What?”

“We have more than enough freaked out footage, let’s see some of the vaunted sarcasm of youth.”

“Huh?”

“Just say something semi-intelligent.”

Closing his eyes, Mark worked to regain control of his breathing, while trying to think of something to say. The idea helped him calm down and so he sang, “I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world. Wrapped in plastic...”

Waiting for him to continue, Sarah finally finished, “It’s fantastic.”

“I was going to say craptastic.”

“Hopefully not too craptastic, Marci. You’ll be wearing those prosthetics most of the time, though every Monday we’ll set you free until Tuesday morning.”

“Won’t it be hot?”

“We were promised it would be okay.”

“Damn it!”

“Language my dear, it’s not lady like to swear.”

“Bleh.”

“Or to utter.”

“Gah, okay. What’s next?”

“Lunch.”

“I don’t think I’m hungry.”

“Well you have to get something in your stomach, we still have a lot of work to do.”

“Okay.”

“But first.”

Seeing the two wispy pieces of pink silk Julia held, Mark once more found himself chanting, “Oh my God. Oh my God...”

“Geeze, calm down, Marci. They don’t bite, put them on.“ Julia commanded, then after watching him pull the panties on, said, “Wow, you can’t tell you’re not natural. Turn around for a moment. You know, when they took your measurements a couple of weeks back, everybody was quite happy with your tush. Now after your weight loss, it looks even better. I can’t wait to see what heels do for it and your legs. Need help with your bra?”

Mark, blushing at her words, gratefully accepted Julia‘s offer of assistance. Then once more in the almost normal robe and flip flops they went next door, for a lunch of wraps and fruit.

Hungrier than he had believed, Mark ate his share after a joking warning to keep his legs closed so his panties did not show. A joke that caused him to concentrate on keeping his legs together. It proved the first time he felt happy with his lack of size, recognizing that, even with the prosthesis, anyone better endowed would surely have felt a lot more uncomfortable. Yet his thighs tired as he held the unnatural pose So sneaking a glance at Sarah, he momentarily admired her legs, before seeing she sat with legs crossed at the thighs. Experimenting with the decidedly feminine pose, he found locking his legs in place, as it did, provided some relief. Pleased with his success, he took another bite from his wrap.

At this point he noticed the other three watching him fidget with amused expressions. Gus even had camera trained on Mark. However, deciding not to feel embarrassed about being comfortable, he asked what came next.

Julia answered. “Well I am going to be giving you hair extensions.”

“Long?”

“Just about to that nice tushy.”

“Crap, how long will that take?”

“With the thickness of you hair, it could easily take close to five hours.”

Shocked, Mark exclaimed, “Really? That long?”

“Yep, think of how sore my fingers will be by the end.”

“Then we should go with shorter hair.”

“Good try, but the orders are for long hair, with bangs. Besides the length does not impact the effort much.”

Sarah said, “We’ll also be giving you some of our customer favourites. First a facial, which I’m sure you will enjoy more than the waxing. Then a pedicure and manicure.”

After finishing her meal, Julia asked, “Everybody done? Good, take a bathroom break and we’ll meet back at the room in ten minutes? Marci, remember you should wipe, front to back, after going.”

Blushing, Mark nodded his head in understanding before heading for the same toilet he had used earlier. After washing he found Gus waiting, who greeted him with a laugh before saying, “I see Julia missed a lesson.”

“Huh?”

“You’re back too quick. Women take ages in the bathroom.”

“Very funny, but I am not there yet.”

“True, it’s likely an advanced lesson.”

“Yeah, likely. So you bored yet, it must not be that exciting to be filming my...umm...I guess transition?”

“Nah, I’m used to it, you wouldn’t believe how many hours of filming we need for a half hour show.”

“I guess I’ll learn over the next while.”

“Probably, Marci.”

“So why you, who did you annoy to get this punishment detail?”

“Actually it’s not punishment, it’s a reward. Colleen has enough trust in me to get the needed shots and capture your reactions by myself. Other shoots will actually require a crew complete with a director. How about you, holding up okay?”

“I guess. Though I feel like I am on a quick slide down into the unknown.”

“That is a good way to define the land of women, as far as I am concerned.”

“So what are you two talking about?” Sarah asked as her and Julia joined the two of them.

Gus was quicker on the uptake than Mark and responded for both. “Telling dirty joke, talking about sports, cars and chicks. Guy stuff.”

“In that case, it is a good thing we arrived to rescue our pretty Marci before you moved onto farting and belching.”

“How did you know my master plan?”

Joking complete, they began the next phase of the transformation. A long boring phase, only partially rescued by listening to his iPod while his head grew heavier. Gus even set his camera on a tripod and spent most of the time reading a book, while Julia and Sarah worked away, beautifying Mark.

The first break found Mark’s fingers sporting glistening, gel extensions. Finished in a French manicure, he knew he would find the half inch tips dead sexy on any woman, but they looked daunting from his current angle. Still complaining did no good, as he was informed she had already gone shorter than the one inch recommended by his idiot friends.

From that point, knowing how little control he had in this situation, Mark did not complain, accepting he may learn things guys really did not need to know. Things like, how cute his small feet looked with pretty pink toenails. Or how painstakingly slow it is to glue on individual eyelashes and the weirdness of blinking when they were complete. Yet his favourite lesson turned out to be how nice it was to be pampered, despite the results of that pampering.

However, even the pampering grew old. And by the time Julia finished with the glorious head of shiny, black hair, all four were beginning to drag. Even Mark, who had spent most of the day either laying down or reclining, found himself tired. Emotionally drained at having his appearance herified.

Though tired, Mark could not help but wonder what the final result looked like. With his hair was finished he actually felt excited to see the finished product. So he asked, “Julia, is there anything more?”

“Just about done, Marci. We just have the piercings to do, then we are finished.”

“My ears?” He calmly asked, having expected this to occur at some point.

“Colleen also specified your navel and tongue.”

“My tongue.” Nicked exclaimed in surprise, not even seeing the tacit approval this complaint offered for the navel piercing.

“Yep, Colleen was very specific about that. She said you found them fascinating.”

Another blush when he realized Colleen, who was quite attractive and had such a piercing, had spied his none-to-subtle focus on her mouth when she talked. He could not help himself, finding it so damned sexy, triggering something primal in him. And he knew it impacted a number of his friends in the same way, for during drunken chats he had heard multiple admissions about what sprung to mind when they saw a girl with a tongue piercing. Mark did not want to be the cause of such thoughts.

“Isn’t that kind of permanent? I was told nothing permanent would be done.”

“It will close once you remove the stud.”

“I don’t want a stud.”

“Honest it doesn’t hurt much.”

“Aren’t they hard on teeth. And unsafe.”

“Not if you treat them right. Look, Marci, it’s not any worse than anything else you’ve had done to you today. Colleen really wants it and I really want to head home for the night. Please?”

“Please, Marci.” Sarah echoed.

“You sure it’ll be safe?”

“Yes, though we will have Iris perform the piercings. She’s the expert, really good at it.”

“But I really don’t want one.” Mark whined.

“Well in this matter your opinion weighs less than Colleen’s.”

Knowing he should continue the fight, he could not work up the nerve. He found Colleen, in spite of her appearance, rather scary, so he reluctantly agreed.

“Excellent, let me make sure that Iris is available.”

His silent pleas of ‘please don’t be available, please don’t be available’ proving ineffective, they walked to another room where they found Iris. Unlike Sarah or Julia, the piercer was not the most sociable person, but that did not stop her from being good at her job; therefore, in a short time he sported new piercings. In each ear were rose quartz studs. This stone, which he learned was an alternate to the garnet he thought was his birthstone, also centred the silver flower at the lower end of his belly ring, topped by a pink ball. Finishing him off was a surgical steel barbell through his tongue.

After instructions on the proper care and feeding of his new holes, Julia and Iris headed home, while Sarah and Gus led him to a room with a full length mirror. What he saw was, well himself. Sure himself with pretty hair whose bangs caressed thin, arched brows framed a face looking younger and cuter than normal, but still him. Admittedly, his body, when he opened his robe with feminine hands, was definitely that of a woman. Still was a person not defined by his eyes, and when he looked past his long lashes, did he not see his eyes?

“So, Marci, what do you think?” Sarah asked.

“Umm...I don’t know. I kind of expected to look a lot different.” Mark responded, imagining his tongue was already swelling and affecting his speech.

Incredulously Sarah asked, “You don’t think you look a lot different?”

“In ways I guess. But I mostly see myself.”

“You mean you always see yourself as super-cute girl?”

“Very funny, Sarah. No I don’t. And I don’t see it now.”

“Wow, it is surprising I didn’t notice you were a blonde. Tell her, Gus.”

“Sarah’s right, Marci. You look really good. Hell, you even pout cutely.”

“I’m not pouting.” Mark pouted, annoyed his opinion was being ignored and at how casually Sarah referred to him as a her. “And I just think you’re seeing what you want to see.”

Smiling slyly at this accusation, Sarah said, “Well that’s true for someone, but that someone is not Gus or I. Maybe if you get dressed, you’ll see what we see.”

“Is it time for my first dress?”

“Not today Marci, today you get to stay casual.”

Casual turned out to be the ubiquitous workout suit. First he was given a white, spaghetti strap shirt, cropped so it did not rub against his new navel piercing. Then he stepped into a pair of boot tights coloured space and mid orchid. Though to him space appeared purple and the three, mid orchid stripes appeared pink, though he did not disagree with the term tights. Flaring at the bottom, they hugged his thighs and bum above the knee, showing curves where there should be curves, and flatness where it should be flat. While pulling on a ankle socks and thin soled runners, with three pink stripes, he wondered if his judgment was impaired. However, by the time he pulled on the matching jacket, left unzipped because of the piercing, he had regained his sense of self. Still unwilling to admit that a girl looked back at him from the mirror.

Finally in consternation, Sarah said, “Well if you won’t believe us. Let’s go and see what Colleen and Duncan think, their view will be unbiased.”

“But they need to make it work.”

“You’re impossible, Marci. Still when they see the final product. I bet you they’ll agree with Gus and I.”

“No way am I betting on what they think.”

“What’s the matter?” Sarah teased, “Not so sure of yourself now?”

“Not at all, I know I’m right.”

“Very well, lets see what the boss has to say with no strings attached.”

Returning to the now empty offices of the production company, they heard three voices coming from the break room. Two sounded like Colleen and Duncan; however, that third voice, Kerry’s, caused Mark to grow nervous and slow down. He still had the hots for her and did not want her to see emasculated. Yet slowed does not mean stopped, so he followed Sarah and Gus into the room and brought all conversation to a end.

For the first time that day, Gus’ camera did not point at Mark. Instead it captured the stunned reactions of the threesome in its lens. Watching them, Mark glanced towards Sarah, who stared back triumphantly.

Kerry broke the silence, when she shouted, “I knew it. Look at you.”

This unlocked the voices of the other two, with Duncan uttering an amazed, “fuck me,” while Colleen exclaimed, “Wow, Marci, you look even better than we hoped.”

“Marci still thinks she looks like a boy.” Sarah responded.

Colleen’s eyes opened even wider, as she looked at him and said, “How can you think that, look at you.”

“It’s not that, I just think I look like me.”

“Maybe if you were your own sister.”

“Okay, okay. I’ll believe you all. I look like a girl. Happy?”

“Ecstatic, Marci. Absolutely ecstatic. This is going to work sooooo good.”

“Well I guess it will make it easier for me if people don’t see me as a guy.”

“Definitely. I can’t wait to see the surprise when people find out.”

“I hope it’s surprise, not anger.”

“Don’t worry we will look after you.” Then surprising them all, Colleen raised her hands in triumph and squealed happily.

“So now what? Can I head home?”

“No we have something else in mind for you.”

“But I’m really tired, Colleen. I don’t think I can handle anything more today.”

“Well we are done for today, but you aren’t going to head back to your place.”

“Huh, I’m not sure I’m following.”

“We sub-leased a fully furnished apartment a couple blocks away, where you will stay during filming.”

Mark’s first thought was to complain about this additional imposition on his life, but realized how unexcited he was about Darren seeing him like this. He also knew he could do without the long daily bus rides, particularly as Marci. He said, “Actually that sounds good.”

“Fair warning, Marci, we placed some cameras in the place to capture footage for the show.”

“Crap I thought I signed up for Dirty Jobs, not Big Brother.”

Gritting her teeth, Colleen answered, “You didn’t sign up for Dirty Jobs. Nor is it as bad as Big Brother, we don’t have the entire place wired, just the common area. You will have your privacy in the bathroom or bedroom, though I ask that you don’t hide away all the time.”

“Why film at all?”

“Well we want to see if you go back to acting like a guy when alone.”

“Bleh!”

“Yes, like that.”

“Okay, I will try not to hide out in the man-cave of my bedroom. Is there anything else? I really want to go chew on some ice.”

“Some more good news. We also rented you a car.”

“Don’t tell me it’s a powder blue Volkswagen Beetle. It is, isn’t it? Those bastards.”

Colleen and Duncan just laughed, while the other three looked on in confusion. Finally Kerry asked, “What’s wrong, I saw it and it’s really cute?”

Still laughing, Colleen answered, “Marci’s Neanderthal friends think you can’t find a girlier car than a powder blue Volkswagen Beetle.”

“Boys are stupid.” Then blushing, Kerry bungled an apology to Mark. “I don’t mean you, Marci, but you’re not like most boys.”

Knowing the futility at getting upset by this, Mark closed his eyes to regain his sense of self. Then asked one more time, “Anything else?”

“Your voice.”

“What?”

“Time for you to switch to that sexy purr you and Paul created.”

“It’s not a sexy purr.” Mark answered in his not quite a sexy purr.

“And you need this,” Duncan said, holding out a pink duffel bag for Mark to take. “It contains some things to tide you over for tonight. Tomorrow Allan will fit you for your wardrobe, so be here by 9:00 AM. Also, here’s your purse, for now it only holds keys, a wallet and a cell phone, so enjoy it while it’s light. That’s about it for tonight.”

“Umm...where’s my place?”

“That’s where I come in.” Kerry answered. “We’re going to be neighbors. Plus I’ve been tasked with helping you out during off hours.”

“You’re my babysitter?” Mark asked, not sure how he liked that. Sure he was happy to spend time with her, but also worried she already had lost track of his gender.

“Think of me as your mentor.”

“Okay, mentor, lead on?”

With duffel bag over one shoulder and holding the purse like a bag of dog doo in the other hand, Mark followed Kerry out of the building. With the nearly empty parking lot he easily spotted his new wheels, proving everything he expected it to be. Yet deep down he felt some pride at having his own car, specially a new one unlike Darren’s piece of junk. Thus he admired the vehicle until Kerry reminded him the keys were in his purse and that he should unlock the doors.

Opening the surprisingly non-pink, black leather purse he saw such restraint had not been shown for his wallet or cell phone. However, spotting the Blackberry Pearl made him realize he needed to make a call. “Just a moment, Kerry. I need to call Darren, my roommate, and let him know about my new living arrangements.”

“No need, Marci. Duncan phoned him earlier today. Also, umm, Colleen was hoping you would hold off talking to him for the next few days, until you’re done with all your changes. She wants to film his reaction to how you look and act when we’re done Marcifying you.”

“We’re not going to embarrass him, at least no more than he deserves, are we? He’s my best friend.”

“Don’t worry, he volunteered.”

“Okay, it’s not like anybody can every protect Donks from himself.”

Digging further into the...his purse, he found an angel key chain with a Volkswagen key fob. Opening the hatch back, he tossed the duffel bag inside, then climbed into driver’s side white leather seat. Leather usually meant power seats, so reaching for the control he moved the seat most of the way forward and adjusted the height. After that he reached to adjust the mirror, stopping for a moment when he thought how much the hand looked like a females. Pulling his eyes away from long finger nails, he finished adjusting the mirror. He had to play around with the seat belt, finding the first setting resulted in the shoulder strap rubbing uncomfortably against his neck as it snaked its way between his breasts. Finally he was comfortable.

“Which way to the new place.”

“Actually, Marci, we have to stop at the grocery store first.”

Suddenly nervous, he asked, “We do?”

“Yep, the apartment isn’t stocked with anything, so we need to grab a bit of food, including some ice cream. I had a friend who had her tongue pierced and she lived on ice cream for like four days. Plus we have to pick up some things from the pharmacy section to look after all your new piercings. So put these on and lets go.”

These turned out to be a pair of large-framed sunglasses, with DG on the legs. Sighing, Mark put them on. Putting the car in reverse, he soon had his new car pulling out of the parking lot. Pleased the car seemed fairly zippy, he turned onto the street and headed for the StupidStore he knew to be a short distance to the West. With the setting sun, he was pleased that despite fashion first sensibility, the glasses did serve a more practical purpose. Arriving at the store’s parking lot, he took a spot well away from anybody, so his new car did not get dinged. Then he realized that he was expected to go inside and froze.

“I can’t do this Kerry.”

He did not need to explain himself, as Kerry looked at him with understanding. With reassurance in her voice she said, “Honest Marci, we’re not lying to you. You look amazing, nobody will guess you’re not who you appear.”

“But I don’t share your confidence, Kerry. I don’t want to be embarrassed.”

“I thought you were doing okay with this, you haven’t been embarrassed yet.”

“Well all of you know what’s up. It’s easier. With others, who aren’t in the know, the potential for bad seems to be worse.”

“I can’t promise anything bad won’t happen, Marci, but I don’t think it will. And if we run into an asshole, all we have to do is tell him the truth. Besides, why let a stranger’s opinion bother you?”

“It’s not their opinions that scare me.”

“I’ll protect you, Marci. I have a black-belt in karate.”

“You do?”

“Well not really, but I can scream really loud and I have a can of mace in my purse. You should get one as well, though maybe you can convince them you’re a black-belt, ‘cause you’re Chinese.”

“Nice stereotyping.” Mark laughed, surprised to hear the comment from Kerry. His buddies, yes. The pretty girl in the passenger seat, not so much.

“Say’s the chick wearing Paris Hilton’s sunglasses.”

“Did you just call me a chick and compare me to Paris Hilton?”

“Sure did cutie-pie, want to make something of it?”

He just had to laugh at her words and grin. “Okay, I’ll give it a try, but please stick close.”

“Don’t worry Marci, I will.”

“Your supposed to say something like I`ll stick to you like snot on a door-knob or stick on a skunk.”

“Bah, if we were two boys in some skuzzy old car, maybe. Luckily we’re two cute girls in our pretty, blue car.”

“Hey don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.”

“Ditto.”

“Okay, point taken. Let’s just get this done, I’m really beginning to look forward to some ice cream.”

“I bet. Don’t forget your purse.”

It turned out to be rather anti-climatic. Even though, once inside, Kerry had to take off his sunglasses, setting them on top of his head with the legs threaded into his hair, nobody noticed anything out of the ordinary. He hardly thought anybody looked at him. Something he mentioned to Kerry, who giggled in response, before telling him, “Marci, guys were checking you out constantly. In fact I thought one guy was going to drop his basket when you bent over to get the ice cream.”

“No way! Who?”

“The big buff guy in the frozen food section.”

“Umm...”

“You don’t have any idea who I am talking about, do you? He was with the brunette in the short skirted suit.”

“Oh her!”

“Yes her, no wonder you did not see him, you were too busy checking out his girl-friend.”

“Umm...I was wondering how I would look wearing.”

“Were you, then I will tell Allan you want one just like it.”

“Excellent, Kerry, I’ll look real professional.”

“It appears someone is trying to distract the conversation away from her admirers.”

“Maybe he was actually mad at me for staring at his girlfriend.”

“Now I’m no expert on guys Marci, but do jealous boyfriends smile happily when staring at the ass of whoever checks out their girlfriend?”

“He wasn’t smiling, was he?”

“He sure was.”

“God how oblivious could he have been?”

“Asks she who did not notice the drooling attention.”

Desperate to end the conversation, Mark switched topics to ask the directions to the apartment building. Though Kerry never barely stopped talking about the finer qualities of Marci’s new boyfriend, she guided them to an older, though well maintained, three story apartment building. Dropping Kerry of on the second floor, Mark went to the top floor and found his apartment. Inside, the first thing he noticed was a camera mounted in the ceiling of the combination entrance way, living room. Waving in its direction, he removed his shoes and leaving his duffel bag beside the door, took the grocery bags into the small connected kitchen, then he explored. An exploration over almost before it began, with his identification of which doors opened closets and which opened into the small bathroom and bedroom. Despite his expectations, it was not at all feminine, instead it barely had the personality of a Holiday Inn’s room.

That out of the way, he put his food purchases away before finding a bowl, spoon and dishing himself out a big batch of ice cream. Carrying it to the less than uncomfortable couch, he turned on the TV, found TSN and tried to forget his day, while soothing his swollen tongue. Finished, and remembering Iris’ dire warnings, he moved to the bathroom with the items he and Kerry had bought to look after his new piercings. Overcoming the awkwardness of his new nails he followed the detailed set of written instructions. Even when done at the sink, he took a glass full of a saline solution, returned to the couch, with the intention of giving his navel a saline soaking. Laying on his back, watching highlights of the night’s games, Mark wondered if Kerry was going to show.

Not long after that thought he heard a knock at the door. Not wanting to get up before the soak was complete, he yelled that the door was open. In walked Kerry, wearing a white t-shirt and green shorts, who upon seeing him with a glass held to his stomach started giggling.

“Laugh if you must, but there’s no way I am going to let anything get infected. If they do, it will be much harder to make them disappear.”

Kerry said, “Sorry Marci, I did the same thing, I just found it funny for some reason, though I am really glad you took your piercer’s warning to heart. Speaking of warnings, you shouldn’t leave your door unlocked.”

“Oh yeah, good idea.”

“Who were the big scorers tonight, I’m in a hockey pool at work and all the guys are surprised how good I’m doing. Finally a benefit of having three brothers who watch to much hockey.”

“Sorry I wasn’t paying much attention, I was basically just laying here vegging out. But the next loop should start in five minutes or so.”

“Stressful day?”

“Yeah kind of. Though actually less than I expected, more weird than anything. Half the things they did, I didn’t even realize were possible.”

“Yeah, Ms. Kowalchuk told me some of the things she was having them do, she really went all out.”

“Don’t I know it. What did she sound like when she was telling you, I’m a bit worried she has a hidden agenda.”

“What, like try and embarrass you or something? I’m not sure, but I don’t think so. She seems real excited about this project. She was telling Duncan and I, while we waited, that she has all types of things lined up and she was sure everything was going to be a success.”

“What type of things?”

“Well she didn’t really say what, but I don’t think she will do anything malicious to screw up her own project.”

Hoping Kerry was right, the two turned back to TV, for the next replay of highlights. As with any night when the Leafs played, the reporting lasted long enough so that during the Wilson interview Mark decided the saline bath was done. Carefully sitting and removing the glass, he used some hand disinfectant and began drying around the piercing with a couple of cotton balls.

“That’s adorable.”

“Huh?”

“Your belly button ring.”

“Don’t you think it’s a bit over the top?”

“Way over. But that’s what they`re shooting for, still you have to admit it’s cute. Kind of like mine. See.”

With that, Kerry lifted her shirt to show a tight stomach and a silver, heart shaped belly button ring with blue gems dangling from it. Staring at her show Mark was reminded of what was trapped below and caused stuttered, “very cute.” Averting his eyes, he stood to put stuff away, before returning to sit cross-legged on the couch.

Seeing her look of surprise, Mark explained, “With my height, I find lots of chairs uncomfortable. I can either rest my feet on the ground, or against the seat-back. So I sit like this.”

“I guess I just don’t expect a guy to be that flexible.”

“Like my size, blame it on my parents. They were both professional dancers before we moved to Canada from Hong Kong, three years before China took over.”

Excitedly Kerry said, “Traditional Chinese dancing? I’ve seen some of it on TV and Youtube, it’s beautiful.”

“Yeah, even now my Mom stays in shape by practicing. Dad’s more into assimilation and doesn’t dance much.”

“How about you?”

“Before coming to Canada, it was just part of my life. After arriving I kept it up for awhile, but found myself drawn to sports like hockey and finally quit.” He answered, not telling her about the big blow out with his Mom, when he was fifteen and quit. The argument was not a happy memory for anybody involved.

“So you were seduced by the hockey muse of small town Alberta?”

“I guess you could say that. Couldn’t skate well at first, but my flexibility from dancing allowed me to play goal. After all I was the only guy my age who could do the splits.”

“You can do the splits, show me.” Kerry demanded.

Always ready to jump through a hoop for a pretty girl, Mark quickly ended up on the ground sinking into a sideways split. Halfway down he began to worry what would be the impact of his fake vagina and what it hid; however, it offered no hindrance.

“Wow, it looks like I have found a yoga partner, I’ve been thinking about starting.”

“Umm...maybe.” He said, returning to the couch.

“So did you look in the duffel bag?”

“Haven’t looked yet.”

“Marci, you haven’t looked? Aren’t you burning with curiosity?”

“Honestly Kerry, my curiosity has been burned out for the day.”

“Where is it, oh there.” Getting the bag and opening it on the coffee table, she pulled out a bundle of clothing, wrinkled her nose, and stated, “Boring.”

“Hey those are my clothes. Is my wallet there?”

Reaching into the back pocket of the jeans she pulled out the black, leather wallet, and tossed it to him, saying, “You need to transfer things to your new wallet. Ah-hah, here it is.”

Looking towards her he saw her lift out a La Senza bag with a grin on her face. “Even though you aren’t going to be fitted for clothing until tomorrow, Ms. Kowalchuk and I agreed you would need something for tonight. Therefore, she had me pick up something for you to sleep in. I hope you like it.”

With that she pulled a short nightgown from the bag and brandished it in the air. “It’s a cheetah print babydoll. My last boyfriend bought me a similar one for my birthday, though he didn’t get to see me in it before I dumped his horny ass. But based upon how rapturous he was about it, I guess guys like them.”

“Kerry, cheetahs aren’t pink.”

“Apparently La Senza ones are.”

“Very funny. But why’s it see through?”

“Chiffon."

“It’s really short. Where’s the bottom.”

“These.”

“I can’t wear that.”

“But, Marci, I picked it out special for you.” Kerry answered with a sad look appearing on her face.

“Nice try, Kerry, you’re not fooling me with that look.”

“Worth a try. So if you won’t sleep in this, what will you sleep in.”

“In my underwear.”

“You can’t sleep in your underthings or they will be icky for tomorrow. Plus aren’t you ready to get out of the bra? I bet the straps are driving you nuts.”

They were, so he tried another tact. “I’ll sleep in the nude.”

“Well if you’re that kind of girl, I don’t know if I can be your friend.”

“Keeeerryyyy.”

“Just put it on, Marci. I have to show you a few more things tonight, then I’m going to head for bed.”

“Maybe if you show me your’s, I’ll show you mine.” Mark said, trying and failing miserably at doing the Grucho Marx eyebrow thing, unequipped as he had become.

“Marci, aren’t you a naughty girl?”

“Only a naughty girl would wear a little wisp of nothing like that to bed.”

“Touche. Okay then, you wear yours and I will model mine for you, but...”

“What’s with pretty girls and their buts?”

“I’m not the one who was waving mine at hunky guys in grocery store. But back to my deal. You’ll have to take a rain check, come to my place some other time and I’ll show you.”

“It’s a deal, pass them over and I will go change.”

“You should hang up your boy`s clothes. And fold what you have on so they look good tomorrow.”

Heading to the bedroom, with the offered night wear and his clothes, Mark felt he had done a fairly good job at negotiating. He had known from the start he would end up wearing the flimsy little thing and had worried his male brain had taken it too far when he spouted out his offer. Luckily for him she had taken it goodnaturedly. Even better, she had agreed. Though maybe he better let her out of the deal, he did not want to think he was a creep like her ex-boyfriend.

Deciding that would be the best thing to do, he hung up his Mark clothes, before removing his Marci outfit. Putting on the babydoll, he moved over to the mirror, attached to the dresser, and checked out what the cheetah print did such a good job of not hiding.

Genetically mandated to do so, his gaze went directly to his new breasts. He found himself fairly impressed with their shape, knowing they would make a shirt or sweater worthy of a second look. However, he doubted he could pull of a cleavage producing top. Despite what Julia said, it was just too obvious where the latex ended and his skin began. The skin tones were close, but not exact, it would be totally obvious to anybody who looked.

The rest of his body, well he had to admit it passed inspection better. His legs actually looked good and his hips and butt did have a bit of shape. Rather boyish, but knew that wasn’t unusual for even natural girls.

Before he could explore more, Kerry shouted for him to hurry. Moving towards the door, he found himself mentally singing Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini when he realized how afraid he was to leave the bedroom. However, recognizing this was likely the first of many skimpy outfit and with his audience small, he decided to rip off the bandage. His nerves aflutter, he moved quickly into the common area, standing rather primly in place, with his hands clasped behind him, hiding the one part truly his.

Watching him stand there, cute as could be, Kerry smiled. Twirling her finger and him a couple of times, he finally caught on and turned in place. “Come on Marci, move your hands. You don’t need to protect yourself from a spanking.”

Turning his back to her, flipped the hem of the babydoll upward to flash his bottom, protected only by the string of his thong, at her. Just as quickly, he spun back around to face her with a questioning look.

Clapping for his performance, Kerry said, “Excellent Marci, you look amazing. However, there is one recommendation I would make.”

“What’s that.”

“Well if you are going to prance around in your nightclothes, you may want to wear a robe. After all, you’re being filmed.”

Shocked at having forgotten the camera, Mark’s glance darted to it, before looking back at Kerry who held a matching robe. Hurrying over to her, he snatched it from her hands and scrambled into it, tying it tightly at his waist. And even though barely longer than the babydoll, he felt better.

“You’re a bully, Miss Kerry Sanderson.”

Laughing, she sputtered, “Your face, it was hilarious.”

Watching her laugh, he could not stay mad. “You really got me good.”

“You’re not mad are you, Marci?”

“Nah. However, I was thinking of letting you of your modeling promise, not anymore.”

“Crap. Well it was worth it, I guess. Yeah definitely, it was worth it.”

Her joke out of the way, Kerry taught him some new things. By the time she headed home he had a new routine for bedtime preparation, one that took significantly longer than his norm. Brushes, combs, barrettes and braids combined to prepare his hair for sleeping. While all types of cleansers, creams, and moisturizers were used on the skin of his face, arms, legs and feet. It seemed a daunting nightly task, when combined with Kerry’s orders for the morning.

Alone, he found himself unready to go to sleep. His tongue was bothering him, making the tiny throbs from his ears and navel less noticeable. So he took some Tylenol and had another bowl of ice cream, which led to another mouth cleaning. Then he returned to the front of the idiot box, flipping between channels, finding nothing on but feeling too lazy to go to bed. Well after midnight he finally forced himself to move to the bedroom and climb into bed, where he failed miserably at falling asleep. Everything felt different, the bed, the pillows, his head, and his very body. Tossing and turning found no comfortable position, nor did he feel closer to sleep. He felt wide awake, and he did not have any of his regular distractions. In particular, reaching between his legs to find his plastic, Barbie bits confirmed his main sleep distraction, masturbation, was definitely out.

Finally giving up, Mark put on his robe and dragging a pillow and comforter with him, headed once more for the couch. With the TV on and wrapped in the comforter, he at some point fell asleep. The next thing he remembered was waking up needing to use the bathroom. Despite his waking to unusual circumstances, he fuzzily recognized his situation and did not get waylaid by surprise. Instead, with his business done, he turned off the TV and took some more Tylenol, before taking the bedding back into the bedroom, only to be awakened much too early by the annoying beeping of the alarm clock.

****

Mark was not a happy camper as he rolled out of bed. He felt tired, his sleep being short and not particularly restful. His tongue felt like it had swollen to twice its size. And topping it off with a big, sour cherry was the dance of a thousand steps he was expected to perform before a day of getting female wardrobe. Weeee!

Hungry and grumpy he headed into the kitchen to get a Tylenol and the yogurt Kerry had told him to buy, in place of a real breakfast. A wise recommendation, even the yogurt was a struggle.

Nor was his mood enhanced when he realized he was standing around in his kitchen, without his robe, putting on a show for the cameras. However, unlike the previous night with its playful mood, he did not run to get the robe, instead he offered a single fingered salute. He popped back into his bedroom to obtain the necessary props for the next part of his waltz, one best performed by clowns.


Unwrap shower cap...curse nails..dumb nails
Don monstrosity...pull hair...scratch ear
Dash to the bathroom...flick off...cam ra
Clean all piercings...gargle...gargle
Into the shower...Oh God...too hot
Rinse with body gel...flow ry...girl smell
Remember pat dryyyy...then powder for soft and healthy skin..da dah

Finished in the bathroom, and putting on the underthings, which Kerry had shown him how to hand wash, he looked around and saw he had once more forgotten the damn robe. So he wrapped a towel around his torso and scampered quickly through the common area into the bedroom where he donned the shirt and track suit. Somewhat ready he sat on the couch to brush his hair, suck on an ice cube, check out the weather, and wait for Kerry to call.

Answering his cell when it rang, Kerry greeted him with a chirpy, “Hiya, Marci. How’re you doing this morning?”

“Grumpy. Didn’t sleep good. Tongue sore.”

“Oh aren’t you the little Miss Suzy Sunshine. Do you need any help? Did you do everything, I told you to do, this morning?”

“I’m good.”

“Okay, grab your purse and we’ll head out.”

Despite living only a few blocks away from work, they took the car, because he would be hauling stuff home at the end of the day. During the drive Mark grew nervous about the day, not about the clothes, but about how people would look at him. It was going to be different than going to the SuperStore. At the production company, he would not have any anonymity, which made him wonder how people would react to his appearance?

He passed his first test with flying colours. Kerry having left him to hit the Second Cup, he entered the office alone where Allison the receptionist, who was on the phone, held up a finger for him to wait a moment. When she transferred the call, asked, “Can I help you, Miss?”

Then her eyes grew wider as she asked, “Mark?”

“Actually it’s Marci now.”

“Wow, you look good.“

“Thanks, I think. Though I guess we’ve only begun, I’m supposed to head back to the costume area for the next for the next phase of my metamorphosis.”

“Wait, Marci, I’m supposed to buzz Gus when you arrive. I hear he is your shadow?”

“Yep, poor guy.”

“Okay, take a seat and I will call him.”

Picking up a copy of the Sun, he sat in one of the big leather chairs and tried to read. However, he kept being distracted by people passing through the reception area, none seeming to recognize him, though a number of the guys took a second or third look in his direction. He still waited when Kerry arrived, coffee in hand, and asked what he was doing.

“Waiting for Gus.”

“Umm...Marci, he’s standing over there.”

Looking in the direction she pointed, he saw Gus with his camera pointed in Mark’s direction. “Gus, how long have you been here?”

“Just long enough to get a great shot of Peter from accounting checking you out. How are you this morning, Princess?”

“Princess?”

“Well I heard you don’t like being called Marci.”

“And you thought Princess would be better?”

“No, I knew you would hate it. But bad little girls who flip my cameras the bird deserve a comeuppance.”

“No way, when did you do that, Marci?”

“This morning, when I woke. I was out in the kitchen without my robe, just in that nothing you had me wearing. However, I was too grumpy to freak out like I did last night.”

“By the way, good work on that Kerry. Marci’s reaction was perfect and we got some really good shots for the show.”

“Thanks, Gus, it was fun.”

“Wait how do you know everything that happened already? Don’t tell me you have reviewed the film from my apartment already. Don’t you have a home?”

“Nah, that job falls to Dustin. He’s low man on the cameraman totem pole. He arrives at 7:00am and scans through the nightly feeds to see if anything is worth further review. He’s really enthusiastic about the job and hopes you get animed up at some point.”

“Ewww, you mean you’ve got a perv watching Marci’s place?”

“Nah, Dustin’s just a regular guy with too large of dependency upon google.”

“So in other words, Kerry, he’s a perv.” Mark added.

“Why, Princess, how quickly have you abandoned your own kind.”

“Anime?”

“Okay, okay, I guess it is kind of weird. Personally I’ll settle for the good ole, naughty, school girl look.” Gus agreed, doing a much better eye-brow wriggle than Mark’s attempt the previous night.

Rolling his eyes, Mark turned to Kerry with a scornful, “Boys.”

“Tell me about it.” Kerry agreed, before turning to Gus and said, in an easily overheard, stage whisper, “You’ll likely get your wish.”

“Woohoo, then we better hurry back to see Allan and his team. See you later, Kerry.”

“See you, Kerry.”

“Bye, Gus. Good luck, Marci.”

Even with Gus’ presence, nobody seemed to guess Mark’s identity, at least not until they arrived in the costuming workshop where Allan and his assistant, Joanne, were ecstatic with his appearance. In turn, he was less than thrilled with their wardrobe choices, for it quickly became apparent they subscribed to Spiff’s viewpoint. Pants seemed to be a thing of the past, skirts and dresses of all materials, lengths and tightnesses were designated as his daily wear.

It was all rather orderly, when an outfit was chosen, Joanne would package it with necessary accessories, number it and enter a description in a spreadsheet. Mark received a copy of the spreadsheet, which he would cross-reference each morning when texted a messaged number.

This included a bewildering array of shoes. At the time, each high heeled, torture device had seemed the same as all the others, requiring him to use his natural balance groomed in the same way as his flexibility and the learnings from Sheree’s lessons. Nor did he notice the sly looks shared between Allan and Joanne as they chose higher and thinner heels. Not until the evening, when he inspected his closet, did he realize he should have proven more ungainly.

Though if he had, it still may not have made a difference. He learned quite early in the process that, once more, his opinion was not valued. Combined with finding talking difficult with his swollen tongue, he said very little during the morning. Instead he played automated mannequin, while intermittently sucking on ice-cubes. Mark found it more monotonous than getting hair extension, with most of the conversation occurring between Allan and Joanne as they inspected each outfit. Even the novelty of female clothes disappeared quickly, leaving him in a stupor, not unlike the one caused by the yellow line when driving alone at night.

Nor was Allan particularly aware of the comfort of others, it being past 1:00 before he stood, stretched, and said, “Well that should keep you going for the foreseeable future. Though we will see you again when Colleen needs anything special put together.”

“We’re done?” Mark asked.

“Yep, why don’t you get back into the clothes you arrived in. We can finish making adjustment and pack everything for you to take home. By the way, wear that jumper tomorrow.”

By this point in the day, Mark had quit paying attention to what he wore, beyond figuring out how to put them on. Having given up trying to understand why some looks were chosen, while other, seemingly similar, were discarded, he had zoned out. Now, when Allan’s words woke him, he looked into the mirrors to get a better idea of what he was to wear during Marci’s first non-tracksuit exposure to the outside world.

He saw the theme of the morning, kind of preppy and totally-cute. A gray scoop-necked jumper, over a long-sleeved, white turtleneck, which came down almost to his knees, fetchingly showing off gray nyloned legs. Topping it off, or maybe better to say, bottoming it off, were a pair of black Mary Janes with a thick 3” heel. He reluctantly had to admit it was harder to see himself than when he wore his purple tracksuit.

Returned from changing, Joanne and Allan were already hard at work on sewing machines. So he needed to interrupt to ask, “Excuse me, Allan. But you didn’t include anything casual.”

“Those khaki and jean skirts are fairly casual.”

“No, I mean something just for mucking around my apartment in.”

“Oh, you mean like what your wearing?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Don’t worry, you’re getting more than you tried on today. Including casual and nighttime things, it just didn’t seem necessary for you to try them on.”

“Oh, okay. Thank you, Allan and Joanne.”

Leaving the workroom, Mark looked at Gus to ask, “So now what?”

“Hungry?”

“Not really, my tongue’s too sore to think about eating.”

“Well I am. And you should have something. How about we hit the strip-mall across the way? I’ll hit the Subway while you go to the Booster Juice beside it.”

“That would work. After all, a man cannot live on ice cream alone.”

Returning to the office and the empty lunch room, Mark spent time bemoaning the fact that nobody noticed anything strange about him and drank a medium Ripped Berry. Finished, Mark had a new concern since he needed to find a bathroom. Gus recommend he go ask Allison, who said, “The women’s of course. You need to get used to it.”

“I don’t know, Allison. Could you stand guard? Tell people I’m not perving up the place?”

“Well I would, but I can’t leave the front desk. How about I call Kerry to see if she can help.”

“That would be great.”

In a few moments the intern arrived, smiled at Mark and said, “You called, Allison?”

“Yeah, Marci needs to use the bathroom and would like a chaperone, can you help out?”

“Sure, come along, Marci?”

“Thanks, Kerry, sorry to bother you.”

“Don’t worry, I was just relabeling tapes. It’s totally boring, any break is good. So how did it go?”

“It’s done for now.”

“So what’s your new wardrobe look like?”

“I don’t know, I guess kind of preppy. Lots of skirt and dresses.”

“Tell me about them.”

“To be honest, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention. Allan talks alot, and I kind of spaced out.”

“Marciiii.”

“Well it’s true. If you want to see what they picked out for me, you can help me unpack.”

“Sounds good. Hold up, let me pop in to see if anybody is here....Nope, its empty, come on in.”

Mark had just sat when he heard the door open and a woman’s voice say, “Hi, Kerry, what are you doing?”

“Oh hi, Melissa. I’m just standing guard to let anybody know that Mark is using the women’s washroom.”

“Mark? Why isn’t he using the men’s? Is it out of order?”

“Not that I know, it’s just that Marci has experienced some changes.”

Melissa, who was a production assistant on a cooking show, must have seen his shoes and bottoms under the stall’s walls, for he heard her say, “Oh my God, was that Mark with Gus earlier today?”

“Likely.”

“Wow, I didn’t even guess. Hiya, Marci.”

“Umm...hiya, Melissa.” An embarrassed Mark answered.

Finished in the stall he performed his oral hygiene regimen before anybody else came to use the facilities, though Melissa stuck around chatting the entire time. Returned to the front desk, Mark asked Gus about the rest of rest of the day and Kerry returned to her labeling.

“Well I just chatted with Duncan, sounds like we are back to the spa for the afternoon. Time for a makeover.”

“Like makeup?”

“Probably.”

“Bleh.”

“You signed up for this, Marci.”

“I must have been drunk.”

“I would hope so.”

“I know. I know. Okay, let’s head down.”

Iris was manning the front desk of the spa when the two arrived. Apparently expecting them, she called Sarah over the intercom then put on a pair of disposable gloves to check his piercings. Complementing him for a job well done, she turned him over to Sarah, who led him back to the room where they spent the prior day.

“How are things today?”

“Ok I guess.” Mark answered for both of them, while Gus fiddled with his camera. “We spent the morning fitting me with a new wardrobe.”

“Do tell.”

“I’m the wrong guy to ask. I remember lots of skirts and dresses. Maybe Gus could do a better job of explaining?”

“Don’t look at me, I glazed over listening to Allan.”

“That’s the best you can do? God, you two are such guys.”

“Thank you, I am glad someone finally noticed.”

“But, Marci, it’s our job to make sure nobody notices.” Said a new voice. Turning, Mark saw Janice Wilson enter the room. “I’ll be working with you today; however, first lets check yesterday’s work.”

Having grown rather used to being undressed in front of others, Mark was soon down to his skivvies. On the whole, Janice seemed pleased with the results, but frowned when looking at his chest. Guessing she saw what he had seen that morning, Mark said, “The difference is fairly noticeable.”

“Yes it is. The seam is easily hid with a bit of coverup. But I hoped the colour would be closer. Luckily we have a backup plan, we’re going to give you a spray on tan.”

“You’re going to turn me orange?”

“No, we use much better stuff than what you get out of a can or tube. And we’re just going to golden you up a bit, hopefully a better match.”

“What about the clothes Allan picked out, won’t he be annoyed if my skin colour all of a sudden changes?”

“Don’t worry, it was Allan who called recommending the tan.”

“Booth 3 should be free, Janice. Want me to take Marci there now?”

“Sounds good Sarah. Also, go one tone darker than we talked about earlier.”

“Will do, Janice. Come along, Marci. Gus, you stay here, most of our customers do not like being seen, almost nude, by a man with his camera.”

Forty five minutes later Mark returned with a nice golden tan. Pleased with the correction, Janice had him take a seat while she studied his face, before saying, “You will have mixed feelings to hear that we have a fair amount of work to do. Happy, because your features are not nearly as feminine as everybody says. However, we won’t be able to go with a natural look, instead you will need to be more heavily madeup, which takes longer and will be more for you to learn.”

“Me?”

“Yes you. You didn’t think you had us on call 7/24 did you?”

“I was hoping.”

“Hope all you want, but that would eat Colleen’s budget too quickly. No, you’re going to have to learn how to do it yourself. So after I find a look with which I am happy, Sarah will help you practice.”

That took the rest of the afternoon, most of which involved teaching Mark the secrets to make his eyes smoky and his lips lusher than they were. The result was a somewhat dramatic look that served as the final factor in making Mark disappear completely within Marci. Finally he saw what everyone else saw, a female. A difficult lesson, harder than learning how to duplicate Janice’s chosen look.

The others, catching his mood, did not indulge in the prior day’s joking as he removed his makeup one final time, before he and Kerry along with his new wardrobe headed home. Mark tried to perk up in her presence, but talked little, preferring to let her carry the conversation. Picking up another meal from Booster Juice, the two hauled the suitcases to his apartment, before Kerry went to change out of her work clothes and have some ‘real food’. Meanwhile Mark tidied up in his bedroom in preparation for Kerry’s return to help him unpack.

Guessing correctly that Kerry was more interested in his new things than him, Mark sat cross legged on the bed, finishing his juice, while she did the work and exclaiming happily at what she found. His presence was hardly needed, as was proven when she sent him to the bathroom to look after his stupid tongue piercing.

Mark returned as Kerry laid out, on his dresser, the cosmetics Sarah had packaged up. However, when he invited her to stick around, she begged off, saying she had some things to do that evening. Which suited Mark just fine, he looked forward to the time alone, to think.

His masquerade had become real that afternoon. For the first time he saw through the eyes of so many others to see the girl hidden from his sight. It rather freaked him out, dealing a serious blow to feelings of smug superiority towards those who could make such a mistake. Yet he would have expected the insight to make him feel even worse. True, he was far from thrilled, but he expected to be angrier. Maybe after being mistaken for a girl so many times, he half expected to see it himself.

Now he had.

And though it did not feel right, it actually wasn’t a huge deal. He knew he was the girl in the mirror, yet despite how he looked, his thoughts and feelings had not changed. So while some may wonder if his true self had been given a chance to shine through, he knew he now saw the mask. A mask he realized would be welcome, serving him well during this silliness, but could be discarded when done.

Maybe things were not as dire as he initially thought. Mark could not deny he was passable. Before the makeup, even with nobody having twigged to his real self, he felt more vulnerable to potential ridicule. With the makeup, that fear was significantly less, which probably was a good thing.

He could handle it.

****

Finishing her morning cereal Kerry worried about Mark. She could tell everything was starting to get to him and wondered if she should have stuck around to keep him company. However, she had errands to run and Gus had told her Mark could use some space that evening. Having guessed he would understand another guy better, she had taken his advice after putting away the clothes.

Now she regretted following the advice. So what if he was a guy? It did not mean he was an expert on every male’s psyche, in fact it almost guaranteed he lacked the empathy to understand someone as sweet as Marci. If it had been up to Gus, he likely would have just told Marci to suck it up. Definitely a mistake to follow the cameraman’s advice. She dreaded what state she would find the young man in when she picked him up.

Nervously gathering her things, she was putting on her shoes when there was a knock at her door. Wondering who was there she looked through the peep-hole, then in surprise swung the door open, exclaiming, “Marci!”

“Hiya, Kerry, ready for work?”

“Marci! Look at you.”

Smiling at her statement, Mark twirled slowly in a circle, ending up facing her with arms held in a bad approximation of a model’s pose and asked, “You like?”

“Wow. Oh God, I know you will hate this, but you look so adorable.”

“I would hope so, I spent enough time practicing last night.”

“You practiced? Your makeup?”

“Yeah, I got kind of bored and tried out some of the things Sarah tried to teach me. I think it paid off, I was faster this morning.”

“I can’t believe you practiced, you seemed kind of out of it when I left.”

“Sorry about that, Kerry. I just needed to do some thinking. It was all starting to freak me out, but finally I just said to myself, ‘Suck it up Princess.” After all, it was my choice to get involved and I figure the better I look the easier it will be for me.”

“You look really good.”

“Umm...one question though, does the production company have casual Fridays?”

Realizing how her jeans, t-shirt and sweater made him look over dressed, Kerry admitted, “Yeah, we get to wear jeans on Fridays.”

“Crap, why did Allan tell me to wear this?”

“He doesn’t like casual Fridays. He and a few others don’t dress down, so you won’t be alone. Although I am guessing he didn’t pick your sneakers to go with your outfit.”

Holding up a yellow SuperStore bag, Mark answered, “No, he wants me to wear these. I practiced with them last night, which should provide Dustin with all sort of entertainment. I can handle them okay, but now can guess why women wear runners when commuting.”

“It’s what I always do. You want to walk, the weather is nice and it seems silly to drive four blocks.”

“Yeah, that would be great. I’m used to walking everywhere, The Bug is making me sluggish.”

“You should have come with me to aerobics last night.”

“I don’t think either your classmates or I am ready for that.”

“Nah, it would be okay. It’s not at some fancy gym, so you won’t have to worry about they change room, it’s just a community program. You should come with me tomorrow morning.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“You’re just saying that so I will quit asking, aren’t you?”

“Yeeeeah.”

“How about I try and phone someone today to find out if it’s okay?”

“Well maybe.”

Their walk to the office proved uneventful, though Kerry took great delight in pointing out all the guys who checked Mark out. He in turn kept rolling his eyes at her, but otherwise did not get bent out of shape, accepting they would look since he was cute. He was not even bothered when Allison greeted them with a hearty, “Hiya Girls,” before sending them through to Conference Room D for a planning session. Finding it empty, Mark took the opportunity to switch shoes to show Kerry the results of his practice.

However, his grace disappeared completely when he heard a male voice say, “Nice wiggle.” A spinning stumble left him grasping the edge of the table to maintain his balance.

Colleen also was unimpressed with Duncan, turning to him to say, “Good work. This show has had enough delays already, we don’t need Mark breaking an ankle.“

“Sorry, Colleen. Sorry, Marci.”

“Luckily things are okay, but let’s try to be careful, we all have a lot riding on this project. So everybody grab a seat and we can get this meeting started while I lay out our next three months.”

****

Nearly ten months later, Mark stood in the kitchen, hanging on the open fridge door, wondering why they always let it get so empty. It wasn’t because he was broke, his bank account was still quite healthy. Instead it was due to the innate laziness of the young male. Easier to spend fifteen minutes in the line of a drive-thru than to spend the same amount of time wandering a grocery store. Of course this introduced another problem, it led to times when he was too lazy to go out, which left him into situations where all that was in the fridge was drinks, a tub of margarine, and a chunk of cheese. To bad he didn’t have any crackers.

“Hey, Dude,” Darren shouted, from the living room. “Come see, you’re commercials on again.”

“I’ve seen it.” Mark shouted back, deciding on a Coke Zero and returning to the living room just as the commercial finished.

“Damn it, I keep forgetting Marci’s a babe.”

“Do you keep forgetting it’s me?”

“Why, oh why, I ask, didn’t your parents bring Marci into the world instead of you?”

“Thanks, Donks.”

“Anytime, buddy. Anytime. Hey, where’s my coke?”

“In the fridge.”

“Marci would have brought me one.”

“Fuck you, Donks.”

Laughing, Darren got up and went to the kitchen. Coming back, he took a sip, and said, “Can’t wait until Saturday night. Everybody’s getting together to watch the premier episode.”

“Luckily everybody will be drunk, particularly me, by the time it comes on.”

“We’ll stay sober. We want to seeing your shining moment and understand that since it’s porn it’s going to be after midnight.”

“Damn it, you know it’s not porn.”

“Yeah, I just like how the steam comes out of your ears whenever anybody says it is.”

“Why are we friends again?”

“Because when we were little and you broke the window at the Town Hall, you said we would be blood brothers forever if I kept it secret.”

“Should blood brothers make fun of each other.”

“Yes, Chink, yes they should. So did you hear anything about a second season?”

“They want to see the response, before deciding anything.”

“Which way you hoping?”

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t worry, it’ll likely suck.”

“It won’t su...for fuck’s sake, Donks, quit trying to use reverse psychology on me.”



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