Choices Chapter 2

A story about a family with two boys aged 10 and 13, in which choice is a delusion and gender, an illusion. In Chapter 1, Maggie used her sexual wiles to "persuade" her husband Laird to let her transform Blair, his effeminate younger son, into the daughter she craves.

Part 2, Chapter 2 Pierre’s Choice

“Boys, let’s get you ‘with it’ and in the zone. Let’s get your ears pierced — like male rock stars.” Maggie and the boys had been ambling down the mall’s central promenade supposedly on their way to the Sears store, when she spotted a stand selling budget jewelry — of the sort that kids wore — and offering free ear piercing. “Kirk, you go first. Both ears, please,” she said to the sales girl; “these boys want to impress their classmates with their courage and coolness.”

Blair looked like someone had just pulled down his pants in public. Yet his hands flew upward, as he instinctively protected his ears.

As for brother Kirk, while he had told Maggie that he’d prefer to have only one ear, the left, pierced, so that there would be no questions at school about his virility, he appreciated that the family’s grand plan for Blair depended on Kirk’s establishing that the youngster could give in to his feminine urges without fear of mockery — within the household at least. Indeed, it had taken only few minutes whispering together in the kitchen for Maggie to persuade Kirk to flirt with the feminine during their Mall visit.

As the piercing gun punched a gold stud into his ear, Kirk winced. Blair winced in empathy, then said: “It looks like it hurts. I don’t …”

Maggie cut him off: “Don’t be a baby. It’s only a pin prick. See — Kirk is already admiring himself in the mirror. He’s not in pain.” She then pushed Blair toward the gun-slinging girl at the counter. “This one next. He doesn’t want to look exactly like his brother, so let’s … hmm … start him off with this.” She pointed to a heart-shaped zirconium crystal with a post made from white gold.

“I’m not sure it’s entirely appropriate …” — The salesgirl didn’t get to complete her thought because Kirk had interrupted: “Blair, it’s perfect for you. A diamond stud is the sort of thing that James Bond would wear. You’ll look like an international man of mystery.” When Blair still hesitated, Kirk turned to Maggie: “You said I could have more than one set of studs; well, I want both of us guys to have a crystal pair — and also one of those and this one here.” He was pointing to a hoop and a heart-shaped amethyst earring.

If his macho brother was willing to wear a jewel on his ear, then Blair decided that he could too. But which one? Kirk bullied him into starting with the amethyst, which meant that he’d have little choice but to wear it for several weeks while his ear healed. Blair had to admit that he fancied the way the amethyst glittered under the fluorescent light. The two boys both got hoop earrings, but where Kirk’s were small in diameter, and scarcely large enough to hang below his earlobe, Blair’s would hang down almost to his shoulders, giving him a girlish look. He whined about the difference in size, but noticeably brightened when Maggie told him that the hoops made him look like a pirate.

Blair burbled: “Yes, pirate is in my blood. I’ll look just like Captain Jack Sparrow. Mommy, let’s look for more pirate gear, okay?

“Sure, honey, but first you both need a haircut.”

Kirk was pleased at the news — he liked his hair to be as closely shaved to his head as permissible — but Blair, as usual, fretted that his parents were plotting to clip his magnificent flowing locks. “Stop whining, Blair, you’ll still look like a rock star when the stylist is through with you. We’ll cut almost nothing off, but I do want a more versatile cut, one that gives us more options for ‘your look’. You love me to brush your hair, right?” Blair eagerly nodded. “Well, it will be more fun for both of us if, for example, your hair still looked good with bangs, or curled, or tied into the sort of ponytail that pirates have.”

As there wasn’t a barber shop in the Mall, the boys had little objection to their first visit to a unisex hair salon. Kirk’s buzz cut took only a few minutes, after which he browsed through the salon’s hoard of teen magazines (Maggie noticed several tell-tale pauses at lingerie photos), as Pierre, the salon’s owner, followed Maggie’s instructions to feminize Blair’s hairstyle.

A kind, decent man, Pierre had at first refused to make Blair look feminine. He suspected that the boy was being punished by being made to look like a “sissy”. While such a thing was inconceivable in his native France where males grew quickly into giant, insensitive brutes, he had read that “the British” (of whom Maggie Maguire might easily be one) liked to petticoat “bad little boys” as an occasional relief from beating them with a cane.

While a delicate boy like Blair might well prefer having his head curled to having his bottom thrashed, Pierre wanted to have nothing to do with the jeux interdits, the forbidden games that “the Anglo-Saxons” played on their children. “These games learn the infants,” Pierre believed, “to be the Marquis de Sade when they make the so-called English love, while we, the French, we utilize the tongue both to make l’amour and to speak the most beautiful language in the world. Enfin, the Anglo-Saxons are tongue-tied, so to speak, because they have the habit to tie their lover in some ropes before they make the sexy spanking.”

Fortunately for Maggie, while she didn’t speak la belle langue, she had an Irish gift of the gab (having once been held by her big toes as she was suspended headfirst from a castle turret to kiss the Blarney Stone) and so she decided to use four tried-and-true Scots-Irish methods to win Pierre’s cooperation. Each of them had proven remarkably successful during the millennia during which the world’s Celts had fought for their place in the Rain.

First, however, Maggie’s suggested that Pierre join her in a rear closet in order to move beyond the children’s hearing and gaze. Once ensconced, Maggie started with an Irish poem (presented in a singsong manner) for she agreed with Seamus Heaney who wrote, “I can't think of a case where poems changed the world, but what they do is they change people's understanding of what's going on in the world.” In other words, Maggie sought to change Pierre’s mind by speaking intelligently to his emotions — for such was the Celtic way. Modifying its words ever so slightly, Maggie recited an Irish poem originally about a dear mother:

God made a wonderful daughter,
A daughter who looks like a boy
He made her smile of the sunshine,
And He molded her heart of pure joy;
In her eyes He placed bright shining stars,
In her cheeks the fair roses you see;
God made a male-looking daughter,
And He gave that dear daughter to me.

“You may think my daughter the devil’s work because she was born with a boy’s genitals,” Maggie next said, “but you must not forget the words of the hymn by Cecil Alexander; they might easily have been written about a boy such as Blair”:

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

Pierre, stunned by the Celtic logic of Maggie’s poem and hymn, had to admit that he did have an obligation to do his utmost to help Blair look like a girl — provided, that is, that Blair actually was Maggie’s daughter-born and not a normal boy suborned. Maggie made one last resort to Irish poetry; its third line urged Pierre to take a chance on Blair’s actually being a transsexual as she claimed. However, she should have looked ahead to the fourth line. Even as she uttered it, Maggie wondered how a Frenchman might react to it:

May the light always find you on a dreary day.
When you need to be home, may you find your way.
May you always have courage to take a chance
And never find frogs in your underpants.

Pierre, in fact, deemed the allusion to “frogs” gratuitously insulting to a son of French Republic because he didn’t believe that the poem was meant to be taken literally. After all, how could real frogs might end up in anyone’s underpants? It wasn’t at all logical. “Can it be,” he asked Maggie,

That the poem is allegorical, and that it counsels the Irish woman not to have sex with the Frenchmen? But why is this counsel given, may I ask? Is it because a troubled child like Blair is always the sad result? Is the poem wanting to say that cognac and whiskey they cannot mix, even though they each pretend themselves to be the eau de vie, the water of life? In any case, I am desolated to tell to you, Madame Maguire, that your Celtic logic eludes me. Pfui, I deliver the Scottish verdict on your case: It is ‘not proven’. I am not convinced by these poems that I must consider Blair to be a young girl when I go to cut his hairs.

The poems having escaped the Frenchman’s logic, Maggie, still huddled with Pierre in the closet, extracted the second stratagem from her Celtic bag of tricks: This time she related a Scottish folktale. It concerned the Silkies, shape-shfiting sea fairies who usually took the form of a bright-eyed seal. They often came, however, onto dry land as beautiful damsels to dance to the light of the full moon. To keep a Silkie for a wife, Scottish men had to steal their sealskin, but the Silkie, always longing for the sea, would look far and wide for her skin in order to return to the sea as a seal again.

Pierre, his psychic vision occluded by Gallic rationalism, at first didn’t grasp the point of the tale: namely, that Blair was a shape-shifting fairy whose long-time pelt — or hair — had to be removed so that he might be a girl for the rest of his life. “Certainly,” Maggie admonished Pierre, “we don’t want Blair to remain a seal, now do we?”

Yet Pierre, hobbled by his Cartesian rationalism, still had trouble grasping what is, to a mystical Celt, the most obvious of points — that Blair, his hair the luxuriant color of the mythical Golden Seal (star of the namesake 1983 movie) was without doubt a Silkie, for did not the child insist that his pelt be stroked and brushed by Maggie for hours at a time? And did not Blair have a supernatural ability to swim underwater for long periods of time? And did he not wear fairy earrings? And then the clincher — “And is it not highly significant,” Maggie said, “that tomorrow will see a full moon. That’s when the Silkie is transformed into a human female. So don’t you see, it’s your duty to help Blair shed his male pelt and thus to look like the girl he is deep down. Isn’t that obvious to you?”

Alas, nothing was obvious to Pierre. He simply could not grasp the mystical, Maggie concluded with deep sympathy for his woeful condition. “No wonder,” Maggie thought, “that he does a job where everything is so matter-of-fact and clear cut. After all, hairstyling is more like accounting or bookkeeping than like a true art, such as computer-aided animation.”

Unable to reach the French man’s soul, Maggie had to resort to the third Celtic artifice, this time targeting his hyper-rational Gallic mind. She pulled a pint of “Tá¡ sé Cailá­n”, an Irish whiskey, out of her purse and poured him several ounces of the wet nectar. With the Irish now in him, Pierre was better able to see the mystical necessity of Blair’s having “his hairs” shaped to reflect the child’s “cailá­n” soul (the whiskey’s name roughly translating as “He is a girl”). And yet Pierre still had doubts whether Blair was indeed a Silkie. The child did not, for example, have a Silkie’s tell-tale webbed fingers. (The sneakers made it impossible to check for webbed feet.)

While Maggie knew from experience that the third element in the Celtic bag of tricks almost always worked — that the whiskey would eventually dissolve Pierre’s reservations about feminizing Blair’s haircut — she dared not refill the stylist’s highball glass, for fear that he would, if he became as inebriated as an Irish playwright, leave Blair looking like a shorn lamb.

Maggie, accordingly, resorted to her last and most effective stratagem in her bag of Celtic tricks. It had worked for the Irish princess Isolde (or Iseult) with the Cornish knight Tristan and for many a Scottish or Irish lass who had wielded it since those legendary times. After all, how could a heterosexual Frenchman, as Maggie had known Pierre to be since their first exchanged glance, turn down an opportunity to experience a langue (a word meaning both tongue and language in his stunted lexicon) even more wondrous than his?

Easily persuaded that he was the seducer, Pierre was soon having passionate, adulterous sex (it certainly was not love) with Maggie, who closed her eyes and thought of … removing Blair’s sealskin. After two steamy minutes, the two of them emerged from the closet, both attempting to be the soul of discretion, and largely succeeding, save for the contented smile on Pierre’s face and smudges of red lipstick around his zipper. An expert at lovemaking, Pierre had even found twenty seconds, a second glass of whiskey in hand, to make it clear to Maggie that he now saw the world her way, the Celtic way: “Yes, there must be are lucky stars above Blair, and the wings of the butterfly have kissed the sun, for I now see clearly enough that Blair is most definitely a silken transsexual. Maggie, you must bring your daughter to this salon more often.”

As Maggie and Pierre emerged from the closet, both children asked what had detained them. At first at a loss for words, Maggie eventually explained that she and Pierre had been leafing through his catalogues to pick the ideal haircut for Blair. Though the younger child definitely “bought” the story, Maggie was less certain of Kirk, who signaled that her makeup needed attention. Just before she headed off to find a lady’s powder room, Pierre whispered in her ear (with a flicker of tongue),

Do not inquiet yourself, Maggie, I will do precisely as you have asked: I will give Blair the beautiful girls’ hairstyle, but one that, quand máªme, can be combed each morning before school to give him the appearance of the little boy until you and your daughter have decided that she is ready to go to a new school as a young girl. Maggie, you have reason when you say that the little Blair must have a haircut that permits him to live as both the boy and the girl for many weeks. I will cherish each time that Blair comes to the salon with you to make his style ever more beautiful.

Since Pierre’s was a full-service salon, while its owner worked on Blair’s hair, his assistant Suzanne manicured the boy’s nails, which she declared to be in remarkably fine condition for a preteen. When Blair complained that Kirk’s nails weren’t getting similar attention, Suzanne, at Maggie’s request, asked to see Kirk’s; however, she declared, “It’s pointless to work on Kirk’s nails as long as he gnaws them down to the cuticle. Please regard this, Madame, the skin is torn and bleeding around several of his nails. The boy is a nervous wreck, it appears.”

The two women agreed on some foul-tasting, clear nail varnish to deter Kirk’s nibbles. Although Kirk objected, he had his nails painted ahead of Blair’s. Sullenly Kirk agreed that, as no one could guess from their color that he was “doing his nails”, he would continue varnishing them until he’d mastered his bad habit.

After this concession, Blair easily bought Maggie’s assurances that most teen boys used polish to protect their nails from painful breakage and hungry teeth. When Maggie reminded Blair of the emo boys he’d seen with jet black or brightly colored nails, he finally agreed it “was no big deal” for him to wear a subtle shade of pink to make his nails look healthier. Maggie promised him that no one would suspect that he was using nail polish. This promise was kept.

Pierre was proud of his accomplishment: “Enfin! The hairs they are well coiffed! Is not Blair’s new hairstyle truly remarkable, if not incroyable? Am I not the veritable master of the haircutting?” In fact, Pierre had done little to warrant his self-congratulation, for almost any hairstylist could have given Blair the chin-length bob and bangs (straight down to his eyebrows) that the boy now sported. Pierre had merely copied a style that Dakota Fanning had worn at age eleven.

Handed a mirror so that he could “admire” his new hair-do, Bair yelped in panic: “I look like a girl! No, it’s worse than that, much worse than that. I still look like a boy, but I also look like I’m trying to look like a girl! How can I show my face in public? Mommy, please ask the man to make my hair look the way it was!” He started to cry.

Pierre looked shocked. Had he chosen the wrong hairstyle? No, certainly not! The bangs and bob were perfect for a boy, as they softened his features. They made him look totally mignon … trá¨s cute indeed. Even so, Blair had a right to be upset, for the boy and his mother apparently expected too much from a simple change in hairstyle. It would take more than a hair bob to eliminate all doubt about Blair’s gender. So Pierre turned to Suzanne for help: “Finish the job, my little cabbage, turn this one into Cinderella with your artistry.”

Meanwhile Maggie was reassuring Blair: “Don’t worry, sweetie, that’s just one of the looks you can have with this haircut. In a few moments, Pierre will show how you to comb your hair so that you look just like your hero, Justin Bieber. He has bangs too. Isn’t that right, sweetie? Now, let Suzanne — she’s the one who did your nails — touch up your face. When she’s done, I assure you that you won’t look like a boy trying to pass himself off as a girl.”

Blair stopped sniveling long enough for Suzanne to shape his eyebrows and to apply concealer, blush, eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow (purple to compliment his green eyes and amethyst earrings), and a clear lip gloss (so that the dark red lips bestowed by Nature shone more brightly). Suzanne went easy on the applications, for Blair was still a preteen, and girls of that age shouldn’t try to look too mature. Each step of the way Suzanne gave Blair a quick primer on the use and application of makeup, while assuring him that his mother would be able to help him to perfect his skills.

Blair wasn’t stupid. He knew that the makeup would make him look even more like a girl, but he had become curious whether Pierre and Suzanne could totally hide his boyishness. As he wasn’t going to leave the salon with his hair bobbed, it didn’t much matter if there was some makeup to remove as well. Besides, both Kirk and Maggie were watching his transformation closely, and both were telling him, over and over again, that he had never looked more handsome (Maggie) or beautiful (Kirk). Kirk, boldly lying, said he wanted a makeover like Blair’s himself — only next time.

It was the moment of truth: mirror in hand, Blair saw that no one would now suspect from his head and shoulders that he was a boy. But what was he to say when Maggie squeezed his hand, saying, “I told you, sweetie, that Pierre and Suzanne could make you look like the prettiest girl in the entire Pacific Northwest; of course, they had a lot to work with because you’ve always been too beautiful to be a boy.”

“You like the way I look? You actually want me to look like a girl?”

Maggie hugged him close to her while she whispered in his ear, “Blair, sweetie, just for today. Can you do it for me, sweetie? Just for today. You know how much it means to me — and to Kirk and your dad. You’re so beautiful; you’re so much like the daughter I’ve always dreamt about. You can’t deny me this one chance to see what you’d look like a girl. Please, sweetie, just this once, for me.”

Blair looked over toward Kirk — “But what about him? Won’t he tease me? What’s to stop him from telling everyone we meet that his brother is a sissy dressed like a girl?”

“Because he’s promised me that he won’t. In fact, Kirk, appreciating how much I want you to be my little girl until tomorrow morning, has told me that he is willing to run interference for you.”

“Interference for me? What does he mean by that?”

Maggie replied:

It means, sweetie, that Kirk is willing to walk with us right into a girls’ clothing store, looking very much like the boy he is, to ask to try on “some threads”. The sales staff will be in such a tizzy over a boy’s request to use the change room that they’ll scarcely notice you and me as we find suitable girls’ clothes for you to wear while you’re doing me this little favor. Afterwards, with you wearing some of your new clothes — perhaps a halter top and low-slung jeans, the three of us — me Maggie, her son and her daughter — will go to Applebee’s restaurant and then to a movie. We’ll let you pick the flick. If you don’t fill yourself up with movie popcorn, we can finish our visit to the Mall with ice cream sundaes. If you like, we’ll bring home a pizza for the family dinner. How’s that menu strike you?

Blair had to admit that it sounded pretty good. He did ask, however, whether he could have jujubes as well.

Maggie’s voice quavered:

Of course, Blair, anything you want. The idea is for you to have such an excellent day being my daughter that you may even ask to do it again. I promise you that no one will be staring oddly or quizzically at you. No one will be sniggering about your “sissy” walk. Instead, they’ll all be smiling at you because you’ll be the prettiest girl in the Mall. What do you say? Will you make me the happiest mom in the entire world by being my little girl today?

Maggie then began to cry, her shoulders quaking with true, unaffected emotion.

“But what will dad say?” It was the best defense left to Blair. Surely his dad wouldn’t approve of his going around looking like a girl? Guys should stick together on something as fundamental as a boy’s gender, even if Kirk didn’t seem to care.

“Darling Blair, your dad already knows that I’m asking you to be our daughter for a day. He knows how much it means to me. He thinks it’s a great idea. He really does. He’s the one who suggested we celebrate with pizza and cokes tonight.”

Blair groaned. “Just one day?” he asked. Maggie nodded. “And Kirk will draw all the attention away from me at the store?” Kirk nodded. “Okay,” said Blair, “I guess I can do it for you, mommy. I want you to be happy. I don’t want you ever be so sad that you want to leave us.”

Blair and Maggie wept in each other’s arms. As Blair smothered Maggie’s cheek with kisses, Pierre reflected: “In the end we made the right decision for the boy; and the style itself is superb.” He turned to Suzanne: “The makeup is divine, ma chérie, simply divine. If it pleases you, now take the photos of Blair for his dossier with us.”

Blair scowled for the first photo, but he was smiles a-plenty after being tickled in the ribs by Kirk. As Suzanne moved around him with the camera, calling for an arched eyebrow, or fluttering eyelashes, or moistened lips, Blair in all his innocence eventually gave Maggie exactly what she wanted — a portrait suitable for framing of her beautiful daughter, already a bit of a vamp at age ten. Thanks to the digital age, Blair’s first portrait as a girl, mounted in an 8 by 11 inch silver frame, was occupying the center of the fireplace mantel in the family’s finished basement before lights out that evening.

After sending Blair’s photos to the Mall’s camera store and arranging for them to be printed and put in a small album and for Maggie’s favorite to be framed, Pierre turned to his assistant: “Suzanne, it if pleases you, write down the makeup selections you made and ensure that they are found in the starter kit that Madame has requested.”

As Pierre brandished the kit, Blair noticed that it contained a dozen different shades of eye shadow, nail polish and lipstick, as well as enough eyeliner for a face on Mount Rushmore. There was definitely far more makeup, he decided, than he could possibly use in a single day. “What gives?”

When he complained, Maggie explained that there many uses for makeup that didn’t require Blair to look like a girl. “You could use it, for example, to look like Captain Jack Sparrow. He wears eyeliner, doesn’t he?” Seeing that Blair still looked doubtful, that he needed further assurance that she wasn’t plotting to make him into a girl permanently, Maggie gestured to Suzanne: “Both of the boys will need a starter kit so that one can make himself up as a pirate captain, while the other dolls up as his lady captive.”

Suzanne smirked. She knew which role would go to which boy. Kirk, less certain, pouted for the first time that evening. Blair, seeing his brother’s discomfort, beamed with Schadenfreude. Maggie, however, made sure that Kirk would stick with the game plan for a day or two, which required him to pretend that it was no big deal for a boy to use feminine beauty products.

As Maggie handed Kirk his makeup kit, she loudly said for Blair’s benefit: “This is yours, Kirk dear. I am sure that you’ll have many occasions to use it.” However, she added in a whisper, “that is, occasions to use it on your new sister.” She and Kirk exchanged winks.

Blair bleated: “Mom, you said my hair wouldn’t look girly when I go to school. Can you have him show me how to make it look right? Please.” Blair was pointing his finger at Pierre.

Pierre came to Blair’s chair: “So you want encore to have the air of a boy? Well, ma petite, that is a thing accomplished easily.” Pierre then used his hand to muss Blair’s bob, after which the stylist brushed the sides and back of Blair’s head against the grain. Pierre then said: “Enfin, you then comb the bangs up like the spikes many boys like so much in this time and lock the spikes into place with hairspray.”

Maggie had to admit the effect worked: Even if an earthquake hit, no girl would leave the house with her hair looking that disheveled. Blair looked like he’d been startled awake by a poltergeist after hours of tossing and turning, his hair matted and tangled by night chills and fever. Blair, shocked into silence by the apparition in his mirror, nodded numbly when Maggie asked whether Pierre brush his bob and bangs back into place. It took the stylist almost a quarter hour to undo the damage, but he loftily reassured Maggie that she would be able, with enough practice, to help Blair transform the gender of his hairstyle in “thirty or forty minutes.”

It was time to bid the stylist a temporary adieu. Pierre insisted on a kiss from “both the young girls,” causing Blair to giggle.

Kirk left the salon much as he had entered it: True, he now owned a makeup starter kit but it was hidden away in a white plastic bag. Although no one but an eagle-eyed manicurist was likely to notice his lacquered fingernails, he endeavored to hide them by sticking the fingers of his left hand stuck deep into a jeans pocket, and the fingers of his right hand into the plastic folds of the bag he was carrying. Each time they walked around a mirrored window, he’d turn his head from side to side so that his golden studs could catch the light. “I look awesome,” Kirk decided.

Blair, by contrast, tried not to see his reflection in the store windows. He was worried and upset — worried that he still didn’t look enough like a girl to fool everyone (what if someone openly mocked him?) and upset with his hairstyle options. His long, flowing hair had always been his special pride, the one thing that other boys envied. Now he faced a choice between either looking like a boy who had no pride in his appearance, his head resembling a Chia pet … or else looking like a “little girl”, and a precious one at that.

The choice made him angry — angry enough to confront Maggie in the corridor a few feet beyond Pierre’s door: “I don’t like my haircut. I hate it. Mommy, I won’t go to school looking like a girl or a mangy dog. I won’t, I won’t. You can’t make me. I’ll run away and join a circus.”

Surprisingly there were no tears, though Blair shook with emotion. He was too angry to cry.

Maggie kneeled to hug him, “There, there, sweetie, calm yourself. Take a deep breath. You know how much I love you. I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you.” She looked over to Kirk: “Kirk, tell your brother what you really think of Blair’s new haircut.” (“Be positive” her lips silently uttered.)

Kirk did his duty: “Blair, you look a lot better with your hair spiked and messed up than you did before you went to the hair salon. I’ve been telling you, bro, that your long hair made you look like a fag … [Kirk caught Maggie’s disapproving eye] … er, made you look like a sissy. You’ll get hassled a lot less at school if you wear your hair a little wild. The teachers might not like it, but the guys will ease up on you.”

Blair looked doubtful, but his body relaxed a mite.

“What about Blair’s bob?” Maggie prompted.

Kirk went back into service:

A bob, is that what it’s called? Blair, your hair looks awesome right now. Never better. The bangs are really cute and the bob gives you a fuller face. You look less skinny with your hair swept around your face that way. Of course, you shouldn’t wear your hair that way to school, not for a while anyway, because there are a lot of ignorant guys at our school. All they do is play sports and computer games. They’ve never even googled their own names, and they don’t read historical novels and comic books like you do; so they don’t know that knights in the days of dungeons and dragons had haircuts that looked just like your bob. Bob — that’s a guy’s name, right? It’s a dude’s name, nothing sissy about it. Well, from now on your bobbed hair will make you look like a knight of the Round Table. I dub thee Sir Bob.

Blair asked: “Is it true? Does my hair make me look like a medieval knight or page boy?”

Kirk nodded. This was the worst moment for Blair yet, for his brother seemed to be affirming that Blair now looked like a boy wearing girls’ makeup. Instinctively, Blair buried his face under Maggie’s right arm so that no one could see his blush, the cosmetic he has wearing and his reaction to it. He didn’t want anyone to be able to identify him later.

Maggie was reassuring:

Blair, sweetie, don’t fret. Kirk’s right when he says that men and boys used to wear a bob and with the right kind of makeup, I do think yours would make the ideal look for a medieval knight, but times have changed and boys don’t wear bobs and bangs anymore. Only girls do. So I solemnly swear — on a stack of Bibles, if you like — that with that hair-do you don’t look like a boy in the slightest. No one is going to guess your secret or embarrass you while we’re at the Mall.”

“Pinky swear?”

“Pinky swear.” As their pinkies intertwined, she kissed and caressed the back of his hand. Blair’s face shone beatifically; he had never loved his mommy more. She would never do him wrong. Blair hugged Maggie as hard as his little muscles could manage, as though his very existence depended on her loving him too.

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