Wrestling with Discontent

Synopsis:

Judy is the stereotypical wife; she wants to change her husband Pat “just a little” here and there. Her first step is to challenge him to a wrestling match, but things don’t go as she had planned. Undaunted, she continues down a path that twists and turns away from her objective to make him a better man.

Story:

Wrestling With Discontent
By Angela Rasch

(“The Wrestling Contest” was posted on Storysite by Suejrz. She did a great job writing it. When I posted a comment, I suggested another way it could have been written. She graciously has allowed me to tell the story from another point of view.)

This story has been updated and reposted on Big Closet.

Pat and I had rented a secluded northern Minnesota cabin for the second week in June. I hoped our vacation would be a second honeymoon. My aunt had left me a sizable amount of money, so we could afford to take our summers off after a busy year teaching. I had made extensive plans for a week-long physical program to shift Pat toward cardio-vascular fitness. I loved my husband, but he was becoming a real wuss.

“Do we have to, Judy?” His plea came within a whisker of a nasal whine. I had told him that we could put off the unpacking until after we went on an eight-mile hike. The brochure from the rental agency had indicated several paths that meandered through rough terrain. Pat had spotted a bug of some kind in the kitchen and vowed to clean the entire cabin.

“We’re going to get our exercise,” I said. “You haven’t touched a weight in years. You’re starting to look puny.” We had met in college and had dated through graduate school. With our degrees, his in English Education and mine in Sports Medicine Education, we had become teachers in a Minneapolis suburb school district.

“Puny? I can still take you,” he bragged. He flexed his bicep, hardly making a bulge on the top of his arm. He beamed his patented Ain’t-I-a-Lovable-Little-Guy grin. He was. We both weighed less than 120 pounds and were about the same height. However, seven years of teaching gym classes and lifting four times a week had given my 120 pounds a decided strength edge. The book he had been reading while I drove the entire four hours to the cabin had been a piece of chick lit fluff. Sometimes I wondered about him.

“Are you kidding me?” I asked. I could easily kick his butt. There was no way I wanted to waste our vacation time cleaning an already spic and span cabin. I also didn’t want to go off by myself to exercise. Pat and I needed time together to try to rekindle the spark that we once had. I wanted to take Pat hiking, running, swimming, and climbing. Unless I pushed him, Pat could be counted on to have his nose in his book - - or trying a new recipe. He never changed without me prodding him.

“Judy, once I’m done making this place livable, we need to get our things in and get situated before it gets dark. Those darn mosquitoes will eat us alive if we’re outside after dark.” He wouldn’t even think of sleeping in a tent. He was Mr. Inside while I longed to be Mrs. Great Outdoors.

When we had loaded my Jeep Cherokee, Pat had been unable to lift our one large piece of luggage. I had to put it in the Jeep for him. “I suppose you want me to bring in the suitcase?”

“Would you?” Again the nasally whine. I hadn’t noticed his neediness before we got married. It wasn’t like he didn’t do his share. Well, actually — that was exactly it. He didn’t do his share -- he did mine. I did his share. I shoveled the walks. I cut the grass. I cleaned the gutters. He washed the dishes, and did most of the cooking. “I’ll open the windows to air out the stale odor, and do a little more cleaning while you bring it in.” He would disinfect the cabin to within an inch of its life.

After he gave me the okay and I brought the bag in, he started to unpack. “Pat, I can help you with that.”

He looked at me and smirked. “You would just make a mess of things. You would toss everything in drawers and we would have wrinkled clothes for our entire vacation.”

I'm here to have a good time. Wrinkles are the farthest thing from my mind.

“Honey, why don’t you go down to the dock and catch us some fish? I’ll get us nice and comfy here in the cabin. I’ll fry what you catch, once you clean them. I’ll cook some fresh asparagus. Doesn’t that sound yummy?”

Going on a hike sounds "yummy", but that obviously isn't going to happen on my schedule.

Pat had been raised in a house full of women. He was the youngest child with seven older sisters. His father died when he was four. Without a man in the house while he was a boy, Pat’s vocabulary was often more feminine than mine. When we were dating, he had contrasted with the four-letter mouths on the other boys. After seven years, the dainty words he chose were like fingernails on a chalkboard.

I had even thought about divorce, but still loved him. I'm going to use this week to start the process of making a man out of him. Nothing my father did pleased my mother. She was always nitpicking and finding fault with him. Because of watching her, I had seldom criticized Pat. This week is going to be different. Our marriage depends on it.

“Judy, before you go fishing could you open this window for me?”

He had been straining for about thirty seconds. When I tried, it slid open with ridiculous ease. “Like I said, Pat, you’re puny.”

“I must have loosened it,” he blushed. It had been at least two years since I had quit thinking his blushing was cute.

I saw my first opportunity to wake him up. “Pat, you need to work out, you need to get some muscle tone. The boys in my seventh grade class could’ve opened that window.”

“I’m okay. I can do anything I really want to do. And, like I said, I can still handle you.” He turned his back to me and picked up a dust rag.

Where's he going to find dust in an already immaculate cabin? And -- who cares? “Step outside.” I growled. My fists were clinched trying to fight off my frustration. I was mad. Mad at me for having married him. Mad at the world.

“What?” He was totally absorbed by his fastidious sterilizing.

“Step outside and I’ll show you who the man is in this family.” My voice was out of control. The tone I used should have been followed by me biting off a big chunk of tobacco and spitting on the floor.

“Are you nuts? I’m not going to fight you.” He laughed and took the vacuum cleaner from the closet. That sucked.

“Come on,” I said. “I’m not going to hurt you. We’ll wrestle. The first one to pin the other gets to decide what we’re going to do for the first three days.” I was sure I would win. It would be fair. I would decide the first three days and then he could decide what we would do the rest of the week. That way I would have a few days to rouse his masculine side. I was beginning to form an idea. I would shame him into masculinity. “Maybe I’ll make you be my maid.”

He put down the vacuum and looked at me with fresh interest. Then he shrugged. “Don’t be ridiculous, Judy. Go on down to the lake and catch us some fish.” He grinned again. Darn. He still was cute. For a moment I thought about throwing him over my shoulder and wrinkling our sheets.

Instead I put my thumbs in my armpits and flapped my elbows up and down. “Bwaaaaack, buck, buck, buck.” I chicken-walked around the cabin’s small living room.

“Do you really want to wrestle?” He asked. I nodded. “Okay. Let me change out of my good clothes.”

“Let’s go right now!” I grabbed him by the hand and pulled him out the screen door. Once we were on the front lawn he got into sort of a wrestling stance. We circled each other, smiling - but serious. For the first minute or so neither of us could throw the other person to the ground. Finally I reached for a cross-ankle pick that I taught during the wrestling block of our physical education classes. The next thing he knew I had him on his back with his shoulders pinned to the ground. I was giggling. Our struggle had been fun. I ground my pelvis into his groin, aching to make love.

He wasn’t looking at me. I followed the line of his eyesight to his elbow. His white Oxford shirt had ripped. There was a teardrop in the corner of his eye! “Darn it, Judy. This was one of my best shirts. Why did you have to be so rough?” My sphincter puckered as I gritted my teeth.

I rolled off and stared at the white clouds dotting an otherwise azure sky. I had to teach him a lesson by making a demand of him so outrageous that he would have to stand up to me. Maybe he would like telling me off? Maybe he would get a little iron in his spine?

“Pat?” He had removed his shirt and was sitting in the rocker on the porch examining the hole in its sleeve.

“It’s okay,” Pat said. “I brought along an emergency sewing kit. I think I can mend it so I can at least wear it up here.” He sighed. “Darn it Judy. You really need to learn to control yourself.”

Damn him! He sounded and looked like my grandma, rocking in that chair. Who cared about his stupid shirt? I didn’t want to control myself. I wanted sex; maybe even rough sex. Damn him! If he didn’t want to be the man, I would show him. “I won and I get to decide what we’re going to do for the first three days. You won’t need that shirt.”

Pat looked up at me. “Sure I will, Judy. If we’re going to go hiking and rock climbing I’ll need every bit of clothing I brought. We packed light.”

“I’m going rock climbing, but you’re not.” He looked relieved. RELIEVED.

“Thank goodness. I’m not at ease with heights. Will you be okay by yourself?”

“I can handle it.”

“It’s a good thing I brought a lot of books,” he said. They all had pink and yellow on their covers.

“You won’t have time for them. You’re going to be too busy being my maid.”

“Your maid? Oh, I get it. I’ll have to do all the cooking and cleaning. I can do that. Heck, I do most of it anyhow.” He got out of his chair and started for the house, no doubt to find his damned dust rag.

“It’s not going to be that easy, Pat.” He stopped and turned toward me. “You’re going to wear my shorts and blouse.” I didn’t have a lot of women’s cabin clothing. I bought my outdoor clothing at Cabela’s. The only girly things I had were a pair of shorts and a blouse that Pat had helped me pick out. He had insisted that I get the frilliest things in the store. I hated them, but I had packed them for the trip planning to wear them to get his sexual engine revved.

“You’re kidding,” he said.

“No. I’m not. You made a bet and now you have to pay.”

“What if someone sees me?” He had that deer-caught-in-the-headlights look.

“Don’t worry. No ones going to see you. We picked this cabin to be alone.”

“Okay, I guess you're right. If that’s what you want I’ll do it — for you.”

No, it wasn’t what I wanted. What I wanted was for him to get so angered his rage turned him into the Incredible Hulk. Five minutes later he had put on the pink sleeveless blouse and the pair of white shorts. They were actually too tight for me, but fit him quite nicely. He had spent a few minutes in front of a mirror in the bathroom obviously admiring how he looked before coming out to show me.

He smiled and pranced over to me. “Is my man ever going to catch us some dinner?” I hadn’t meant for him to become a sissy. But he had. I couldn’t wait to get out of the house. I grabbed my pole - not his, as I had lusted to a short while ago - and went down to the dock.

Two hours later we had a tasty dinner of pan-fried northern pike cooked with fresh vegetables we had brought with us. Before Pat would let me come in the house he made me wash the fish smell off my hands, twice.

Once we were done eating, he waved me away from the table to the overstuffed chair in the living room. He pulled off my boots and gave me a copy of an ancient National Geographic from the cabin’s dated library. Taking my face lightly into his two hands he brushed my lips with a kiss. He then eased off my socks and massaged my feet! He was trying so hard to please me, but everything he was doing was making me want to up-chuck all that fried northern.

Once I was sitting with my lovingly tended feet resting on an ottoman, Pat went out to the kitchen to clean away the dinner dishes. He hummed audibly as he worked. I had created Snow White! I couldn’t handle it.

“Best two out of three,” I said.

“What was that Honey-bunch?”

“Let’s wrestle again. Winner-take-all. If you win, you can forget about the next few days as a maid and we’ll do whatever you want the entire vacation. If I win, you’ll be my maid for the whole week.”

“That’s okay, Judy. I can live with being a loser.”

Sure HE could, but I had to get rid of Mary-freaking-Poppins. “Do I have to call you a chicken again?”

“Okay,” he said, “I can see you really want to wrestle. At least let me change this time.”

“Yes, please do.” The quicker he was out of my clothes the better.

In five minutes we were out on the front lawn. Pat had put on a shirt and slacks. The sun was down behind the trees, but it would be another hour before it was totally dark. A light breeze was moving the tops of the jack pines.

Pat put up a much better fight. Maybe I had misjudged him. Twice he actually threw me to the ground, but I was able to scramble to my feet before he could pin me. The smile on my face as we both were breathing hard was genuine. I was looking for an opportunity to take a dive and let him win. There was hope for us. I was getting hot!

“Owww!” Pat sat down and rubbed his right ankle. “I twisted it tripping on a tree root. We’ll have to quit. I can’t go on.” His whiny “damsel in distress” voice was back.

“There’s no ‘quit’ in wrestling,” I said. “If you quit, you forfeit.”

“Then I forfeit. You make such a big deal over everything. I don’t mind being your maid. I’ll do it for the week and you won’t hear me complain.” He got up and walked to the cabin. Walked! There was just the slightest trace of a limp. What a wuss! I saw red and it wasn’t from the sunset.

“It’s not going to be easy Little Missy,” I said.

“Little Missy?” Pat laughed. “Who are you, John Wayne?”

“You lost and I get to tell you what to do for the entire week.” He nodded. “You’re going to be my maid.” He nodded again. “You’re going to be my extremely feminine maid.” He looked at me as if he had expected the worst and was ready to accept his punishment. I went to the bedroom and opened my drawer removing a bra and panty that Pat had earlier carefully folded. “Don’t just stand there - - strip. You can put these on under your blouse and shorts.” There had to be a limit to the humble pie he was willing to munch. At some point he would dig down and find his manhood. I was lost somewhere between wanting to embarrass him and hoping he would tell me to go to hell.

“Ah, come on Judy. A joke’s a joke but don’t get carried away. You don’t really expect me to wear these, do you?”

“Listen Missy, you lost fair and square so don’t get smart with me. If you had won, I’m sure you would feel differently -- but we don’t have to worry about that now -- do we? Do as you’re told and change into my things. It’s too bad I didn’t pack any dresses.”

Much to my surprise he laughed. “Whatever. I can take whatever you can dish out.”

He removed his clothes and picked up the pair of panties and slipped them on. I approached him holding the bra. Things were careening out of control. After he placed his arms through the straps, I hooked it in place, and then made slight adjustment to the straps. I “dished out” socks into the empty cups. He then slipped on the shorts and the blouse. To complete his outfit he slipped on a pair of my summer sandals and went back to humming in the kitchen. Everything was so not real.

I tried to read about the plight of the caribou, not the coffee shops, the reindeer-like animals. All I could really think of was how I was married to a guy who would let me ... . Arrgh! When he finished with the dishes he whipped up some brownies and brought me one on a plate with a glass of milk. I looked at him with wonder.

“Would you rather have pretzels and a beer?” Neither of us drank beer. He was just being silly. I hate silly men.

I had taken the time before dinner to set up a campfire by the lake. It had been my plan to snuggle by the flames with Pat. I wanted to look at the stars until something came up -- in his pants. When we sat in on the Adirondack swing by the fire, he again surprised me by crawling under my arm so that I was holding him. He had purchased an aloe mosquito spray that had a feminine aroma. It was nice, but what was so wrong with good old Deep Woods Off. The stars did their thing and Pat suggested that we go into bed. My plan was to lie back and let him ravish me.

“You can wear my pajamas,” Pat said, once we were in the cabin bedroom. He tossed his flannel pajamas to me. “If I’m going to be wearing your nightie, you’ll need something. He grabbed my yellow baby doll nightie and went into the bathroom to brush his teeth. When he came out he was wearing it. I hadn’t moved. Not knowing what else to do, I changed into his pajamas and got under the covers with him. The sight of him in my nightie had killed my passion and he had even put on more of that sweet mosquito spray.

He snuggled in close to me, but I begged off with a headache. He didn’t argue and - much to my immense relief - he didn’t whine.

The next morning he was out of bed before me. A loon had been calling from the lake for the last thirty minutes. I was fully awake, but kept my eyes closed. I couldn’t stand the idea of him wanting to make love dressed as he was. He was making breakfast in my nightie! He soon had a breakfast of coffee, toast, juice, and eggs on the table and was looking happy as that loon. “Judy, while you’re out on the lake, or wherever you’re going this morning, do you mind if I use some of your things?”

I nodded in dismay, stumbling out the cabin door wondering just what I had done. When I came back ninety minutes later from a five-mile walk I found out.

Pat had used my make up case and applied some foundation, blush, and lipstick to his face. He had the same female clothes I had made him wear the night before. He was wearing my floppy hat which hid his hair, giving the impression he was all girl. He didn’t look half bad for a maid. He looked awful for a husband.

I had decided during my walk to tell him how repulsed I was seeing him in my nightie. I was going to tell him we would finish our vacation as man and woman. Me - Jane. Him - Tarzan. The vision in front of me ended all that. Why had he used my make-up? What the hell was wrong with him? What the hell was wrong with me? Any idiot could have married more of a man. I decided to raise the stakes.

“You look marvelous,” I lied. “Thanks for being such a good sport.” I struggled to maintain my composure.

“It’s nothing. I’m actually having fun.” That was obvious. But, would it be so much fun if other people were around?

I got out my digital camera. “Let me take a few pictures so you can see how good you look. I’ll delete them before we go home.” I took about a dozen pictures of him as he fluttered around the cabin with his detestable dust rag. He posed in ways I’m sure he thought were sexy. Together, we laughed at the pictures. My knuckles were white holding the camera.

“Pat,” I said. “I had a lovely walk. Why don’t you take one, then you can make lunch for us.”

“I can’t go for a walk looking like this.” There was hope. He was aware he was making a fool out of himself.

“If you follow the trail toward Bald Point, no one will see you.” Nothing would have made me happier at that moment than if he would suddenly decide our little game was sick.

“I suppose that’s right,” he said. “I would like to stretch my legs a little. It’s about a mile round-trip. That won’t be too far for me in these sandals. I should be back in twenty minutes or so.” His teeth, made to look even whiter by my red lipstick, sparkled in a dazzling smile.

When he got back I was sitting on the front step with our packed bag. “I’ve decided what I really want to do for the rest of the week is go back home.”

“Home? Why? You love it up here. This vacation was your idea.”

“Yes, and now I want to go home.” He squinted at my face. Gawd! He looked disgusting in my lipstick. I could never use it again without thinking of how he looked at that moment. I would have to throw it away.

“Okay,” he said, “You’re the boss. Just give me a minute and I’ll be right with you.” He reached for the suitcase.

“There’s nothing in there for you,” I said.

“Judy, I can’t ride home like this. I’ll be your maid back home if you want, but I can’t do it dressed and looking like this.” He laughed nervously. He was putting his precious little foot down, but not with any real authority. He reached for the bag again.

“I burned your clothes.” His head turned toward the beach where the fire was blazing; then back at me with his mouth open. I nodded.

“Judy — are you out of your mind? I’ll wash this make-up off and we’ll go to the first store we find. You’ll go in and get me something suitable to wear.”

“What you have on is ‘suitable’ and I forbid you to wash your face.”

“We’ll see about that.” He pushed by me into the cabin, throwing a question over his shoulder. “Damn it Judy ... what’s up with you?”

“Would you like to teach this fall?” He froze and turned toward me. “Do you remember what they did to that transgendered guy who was the librarian at Coon Rapids High?” Someone had sued the school district when they allowed the transgendered man to use the women’s faculty bathroom. Things had gotten ugly.

“Give me that camera!” He moved toward me with fury in his eyes.

“Try and get it.” That was just what I wanted. He was finally going to put me in my place. If all went well I would be screaming in sexual delight in a few minutes. Come on, Pat. Make me behave. Spank me for being bad.

“If you show those pictures to the district, I’ll tell them about our game and we’ll both get fired.”

“I don’t care. You know I’m not that happy teaching. I’ve been thinking about going into business. You’ll wear those clothes until I tell you that you can change or face the consequences.”

He had his hands up and looked menacing. I had all I could do to keep from smiling at the success of my scheme. Then he stopped five feet way from me and then he began to whine. His face changed from a look of determination to one on the verge of tears. “You’re too smart. I’ll bet you already e-mailed those pictures to your AOL account.”

Never before had he sounded so whinny. I hadn’t e-mailed the pictures anywhere. His shoulders slumped and then he started for the Jeep. He got in the passenger side and sulked. I finished shutting down the cabin and made good on my promise to leave. Nothing was said during the entire two-hour ride home. He slumped down so no one could get a good look at him. He didn’t even read his dumb books. At least he had the decency to be embarrassed. What was I going to do? I had the entire trip home to think about it.

When we arrived at our house it was mid-afternoon on a weekday. No one was around so I had Pat empty the car in his blouse and shorts. Had someone seen him we both would have been mortified. He glared at me but meekly unpacked our bag, sorted the soiled laundry, and prepared dinner. By the end of the evening, I was exhausted both physically and emotionally. After he had cleaned the kitchen, without humming, I finally broke the silence. He hadn’t tried to change his outfit and I hadn’t offered him the opportunity. His make-up had faded, but he hadn’t tried to remove it.

I went to the bathroom and poured a bubble bath, then made a few preparations before going back to the living room. “Patti, you did very well for your first day.”

“Patti?” He whispered. He could see what was coming.

“I’m really going to enjoy the rest of the summer,” I said. “Have eggs and toast ready for my breakfast at nine. I have some errands to run after I read the morning paper. You’ll start on the laundry and the ironing. I should be back by noon and then we can finalize our new arrangement. I think you should sleep in the guestroom tonight since you’ll need to get up early. I left some lingerie, clothes, and make-up for you in the main bathroom. I expect you to be dressed properly and carefully made up for breakfast. There is a bath prepared for you. I want you to take a bubble bath and use the lotions I set out daily, to soften your skin. I put a nightie on your bed. Good night.”

If he wanted to redeem himself, he could have done something. In all likelihood all that would happen if I showed the pictures around the school would be a little embarrassment. He could easily explain them away as fooling around for a costume party. He had to know that. He seemed so pathetic. He was hopeless. Why hadn’t I seen that before?

There had to be a level of humiliation where he would stand up to me. Pat becoming a man was the only way out of this mess for us. I didn’t want to crush his spirit by letting him off the hook. He was too nice for that. I tossed and turned all night after he finished his bath and went off to bed. I was wishing he would stomp down the hall and forcefully convince me of his rightful place in our marriage. He didn’t. All night long I planned what to do in the morning to push him to his boiling point.

When I got up the next day I found him dressed in the clothing I had laid out. He was wearing another bra and panty set and a different blouse. Instead of pants, I had laid out a knee-length skirt which he was dutifully wearing. He had managed to apply some basic make-up to his face and had padded downstairs in his bare feet to prepare the breakfast I had ordered the previous night.

I had a quick bite to eat and then rushed out the door. I reminded him to do his household chores and told him that I would be home in the early afternoon. I half expected he would get out of those clothes and leave. Even though neither of us had any close family, he could find some place where he could be a man. Maybe we needed some time apart.

Several hours later I returned. While I was gone, he had done a load of clothes and cleaned the kitchen. He seemed willing to go along with whatever I told him to do. We would see about that.

“Don’t just stand there, Patti. Go out to the car and bring in the shopping bags. Bring them upstairs to your room.” It was broad daylight, but our street was empty. We were the only couple on our street that was home during the day. He did as I said without question, making several surreptitious trips. When he was done I dumped the shopping bags on the bed. His face turned red. In a few more moments he would explode.

“This bed is unmade,” I said, “and I’ll bet mine is too. That will not happen again - will it?” Red-faced, he shook his head. “I expect my maid to make the beds every day along with all her other chores. I expect her to clean the house, cook the meals, wash and iron our clothes, and whatever else needs to be done. And I expect her to look the part as well. I brought you some things today that will help you look much more professional. But first, undress and go shower. I want you to shave your legs and underarms, too. I can’t stand all that hair on my girly maid.”

“Don’t you think you’re getting carried away with this little game of yours? I’m still your husband and I’m not really your maid.” Finally, he was frowning.

I couldn’t make it too easy for him. “Don’t you dare try to get out of our bet. You know the consequences. I could e-mail those pictures to a few of your buddies this afternoon. Do as you’re told and go shower and shave. No maid I know walks around with hairy legs. There’s a pink nylon robe behind the door you can use.”

Again, he caved in.

Twenty minutes later he returned with his legs and underarms completely clean. I glanced at his legs and smiled smugly -- despite my disappointment. He looked femme; which was killing me inside. However, I had to continue the game until he turned on me. I took him back into the bathroom and shaved those areas he couldn’t reach. “That looks so much better. Wait until you see how nice your legs look when you’re wearing your new pantyhose. I hope you really like your new things since you’ll be wearing them all summer. Here, slip on these panties and then take off your robe.” I had decided to force him to act modestly.

Once the panties were in place, I held up a matching black lace bra for him to wear. I placed breast forms in its cups. I had bought them for a B-cup; no way did I want him bigger than me. I then handed him a pair of sheer, off-black pantyhose. “Now be careful with those. They’ll run easily. Sit down on the bed and roll up one of the legs. Then place your toes in it. That’s right, pull it up a ways. Okay, stop right there and do the other leg. Now stand up and pull up each side over your thigh until they’re up to your waist. Not bad for your first time, Patti. Not bad at all. And I was right. Your legs do look great.”

I handed him a pair of black pumps with two-inch heels. They were one of several pairs I had bought for him. I wore a size four and he wore a men’s seven.

I was seething. The shopping trip had left me feeling nauseous. Even though the salespeople probably thought I was buying everything for me, I knew I wasn’t. Everything was for my husband!

He stood there dressed in women’s underwear. I couldn’t dwell on the situation. I quickly had him in a short, black, satin skirt, a white blouse, and a white apron. On my insistence he stepped into the pumps completing his maid’s uniform. I corrected the flaws in his make-up. After I placed a shoulder length wig on his head and brushed it out, I stood back and looked him over. My heart broke. I was married to a woman.

“Voila, the maid has arrived. I honestly don’t think anyone would know that you’re not a woman. It will be so nice having you take care of everything in the house and all the time looking so sweet and feminine. Who could ask for more?”

I could. That was for sure.

“Why, Judy? Why are you doing this to me?”

“Why Patti, you were having so much fun at the lake. I’m just helping you have more fun.”

“This is crazy. It’s not right.”

“Are you denying you were having fun waiting on me at the cabin?”

“No — I love waiting on you, but not like this. What’s wrong, Judy?” His whine was at a high pitch.

“What’s wrong is - you don’t know how to pay off a bet. Now get to work. I don’t want to hear another word or you know the consequences.”

Much to my chagrin he started his job as maid immediately by putting away his new clothes. He still hadn’t reached a level of indignation where he would lash out.

The next few weeks were miserable. Patti worked from dawn to dusk. He prepared every meal and brought me breakfast in bed. Lunch was served on the patio. I wasn’t sure whether or not our neighbors could tell Patti was Pat. There would be shame all around if they did. Dinners were in the dining room, by candlelight. I suppose he thought that made it romantic — it didn’t. Nothing is romantic when you eat alone.

There was very little conversation between us. I told him what to do and he asked me questions about how things were to be done. Pat was like that. He would retreat into himself when he had a problem to solve. He wasn’t surly; more like a subordinate who was into his role as maid. Patti ate only after he had served me and cleaned away the dishes. In between meal preparation, he was busy with the other housework; dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen, making the beds, and doing the laundry. After weeks of working in the house in heels and skirts his movements had become so feminine I was beginning to think there might be no turning back.

His attitude was sickening. Instead of being repulsed by what I was putting him through, he thrived on it. Every day his smile grew broader. Our house has never been so spotless. He searched for ways to improve on our orderliness. He repapered every shelf and waxed every floor every three days. He cleaned all the windows, inside and out, teetering up and down our ladder in heels. When all of that wasn’t enough he took up needlework.

By looking at me you would have though I was enjoying my days to the maximum. I lounged by the pool or went out with my girlfriends. In between all his chores, I tried to enrage him by forcing him to learn feminine posture, hair care (his own hair was long enough to style), make-up techniques, and the other tricks of the female trade. Whenever my anger at him for not rebelling became too much, I would threaten to have my friends over so they could see how domesticated and feminine he had become. I prayed he would suddenly prove my fears to be wrong. I never lost sight of my goal of making him into a man, but it seemed like I was pushing him in exactly the wrong direction. I didn’t want to believe what I was seeing.

Pat was actually becoming Patti.

He never seemed too flustered. He constantly hummed a happy tune. Some days he even sang Broadway show tunes as he pushed around his vacuum.

I forced him to grow out his nails and paint them a vivid red. Instead of being upset, he found joy in keeping them perfectly manicured. When I suggested that his shape would be more natural if he wore padding around his hips and glued the breast forms to his chest, he cheerfully complied.

He continued to try new, wonderful recipes. Everything he made was tasty. Some of the dishes were things I knew he hated, like liver. He made them for me and served them with the table set as attractively as possible. Everything he was doing was done for me. How could I not love him for his positive attitude? It wasn’t entirely his fault we were going down this twisted path.

Late one morning, I asked him to pick out one of my dresses to wear. In addition, he was to select the appropriate shoes and hosiery to go with the dress. He selected one of my most feminine sun dresses. It would go with his beige pumps. Of course, his make-up was applied perfectly. When he was fully dressed, I commented on how nice he look.

He walked over to the full-length mirror and studied himself. “I do look pretty good. I’m glad you helped me lose a few pounds. And, this dress is so flattering.”

Okay buster, try this on for size and see if it’s still flattering. “Patti, in that dress you’ll do very well on your first day out in public.”

“Public? What do you mean?” He spun from the mirror to face me.

“You’re going shopping with me. It’s about time we got you out of the house so you can handle a few more chores, like grocery shopping and taking things to the cleaners. I would rather you had more of your own things so you don’t have to wear mine. We’re going to the mall.”

“I can’t go there dressed like this,” he said.

I pretended to be shocked. “For heavens sake, why not? You look lovely.” He was going to refuse. I would escalate his refusal into a fight. We would be back to sanity in no time.

“I would be way overdressed,” he said. “Do you want me to be the only one there in a dress?”

I choked the first time I tried to talk. Finally, I was able to string together a sentence. “I’ve worn that dress to the mall.”

“You have?” He was actually criticizing my fashion sense.

“I wear that dress to school and have stopped at the mall on my way home. No one has ever acted as if I was over-dressed.”

“I guess I’ve got a lot to learn.” Omigawd! He didn’t even blink at the idea of going to the mall dressed as a woman. I had never seen him so confident. I had expected him to shrink into a ball. Then blow up at me. “I was wondering if you were going to make me spend all summer under house arrest.”

My mind went numb. I handed him a purse then found myself in the car driving toward one of the local malls. Patti was chirping like a little bird, pleased to be out of her cage. Fifteen minutes later the car was parked and we were heading towards the entrance. I searched his face for signs of fear. Rather than cringing and begging me to take him home, he seemed to become more animated with each step.

He had to be playing me. Deep down he must have been humiliated. I would catch him at his little game. He couldn’t be ready for everything I had in store for him. I shopped with a passion. In one store I selected three dresses, two skirts and a several tops for him. “Let’s see how these look on you.”

“And where am I going to try them on?” He asked.

“Where else? In the ladies’ dressing room, of course.”

He touched my arm and giggled, “I know that - you silly. But, where is it?”

I waved my hand in the general direction of the changing rooms.

He stared at me for a few seconds. “Judy, are you feeling okay. You look faint.”

I assured him I was fine. He twirled around and disappeared into the dressing room.

I felt like an idiot. He wasn’t trying to make me mad, he was merely being himself. It was like blaming the rain for being wet. When he came back I gave him a big smile, “That dress was made for you.” It was. He looked sweet in it.

“Do you think so? It doesn’t make me look too heavy, does it?” He was serious. I gave in to Patti’s good mode and laughed.

“Honey, if that’s what ‘heavy’ looks like, I’m changing my diet to gain fifteen pounds.”

We settled on a few choices then stopped at other stores for some lingerie, accessories and a few pairs of high heels. He was amazing in his ability to shop for what would look good on him - - and me. Finally, we were done. Since it was getting late, I suggested we stop for a bite to eat in one of the trendy places in the mall. He was more than ready to eat in a restaurant. I felt a pang of guilt for having made him cook all our meals.

After a light dinner, we paid our bill and were heading towards the ladies’ room when we heard someone calling out to me. I turned toward the voice and immediately recognized the face. “Brandon is that you?” Brandon Rizzo had taken me to our Senior Prom. We had been quite an item. We drifted apart when we went to separate colleges and hadn’t seen one another in years.

“I didn’t think you would recognize me, it has been ten years.” His voice was made for radio; so masculine. “What a surprise seeing you. You look great. You haven’t changed at all.”

“You haven’t either.” His cobalt black hair had gotten curlier. His eyes were as blue as they were when I dreamt of him.

“Judy, this is a friend of mine from work, Mike Harris. Mike, this is a high school classmate of mine, Judy Platt.”

“Nice to meet you. But my name is now Johns,” Oh gosh! Pat! What do I say? Poor Pat. I hadn’t wanted to do this to him. “Uhmmm. This is my cousin, Patti.” Pat looked at me than extended hand to Mike along with a warm smile. Pat jumped right in with small talk. I hadn’t realized how feminine his voice had become. Neither Mike nor Brandon seemed to notice anything out of the ordinary.

Brandon asked if we had time to join them for a drink. I looked to Pat and he shook his head. I had been watching him out of the corner of my eye. He didn’t seem too uncomfortable.

“Sure,” I said, “we would love to. Give us a minute to freshen up.”

As soon as we reached the ladies’ room, Pat asked me if I was crazy. “I can’t go back there and have a drink with those men.”

“Sure you can.” I calmly stated. “You seem to be doing just fine flirting with Mike” Pat blushed. I wanted to hit him. Maybe being treated like a woman by men would wake him up. “Tend to your lips and come along. We don’t want to keep the men waiting.”

Patti pulled his lipstick out of his purse and looked in the mirror. He stopped and closed his eyes. For a second I thought he might faint. When he opened his eyes he looked in the mirror and found mine. “I can do this,” he said. His face softened. The lines around his eyes relaxed. He shrugged his shoulders in resignation and puckered his lips. My anger had passed, for the moment.

A few moments later all four of us were sitting at a booth sipping our drinks. I sat on the side with Brandon. He and I dominated the conversation. We had so much catching up to do and a lot of recalling of good times we had enjoyed together. Brandon had always been handsome. Several times during our conversation I found reasons to touch his arms. I couldn’t get over how solidly he was built. We had been good together in the backseat of his father’s car. I pressed my knees together thinking about how good we would have been as adults in a real bed.

Patti had remained fairly quiet. He was mimicking my actions, touching Mike from time to time. He sputtered when I told Brandon that I was currently separated from my husband. “Actually,” I explained, “since the separation, Patti and I are rooming together. Patti is such a big help around the house with the cooking and cleaning. She’s just so domestic. We have such fun shopping and hanging out.” Patti smiled. We actually were having fun as girlfriends. “But the best part of it is that we can share our clothes, since we’re the same size. I could never borrow a blouse or a pair of pantyhose from my husband.”

Brandon laughed. “He wouldn’t be much of a husband if he was wearing women’s clothing.” I didn’t want to laugh or even look at Pat. I didn’t want to embarrass him.

But then I heard Patti say, “I couldn’t possibly imagine anyone as manly as you in a dress.” Pat was actually making eyes at Mike. She teasingly poked him in the ribs with her finger then touched his hair pushing a lock into place. I hadn’t taught her that! Was she having another game with me?

She giggled at her own joke. I had no choice but to laugh along with her. “Oh Patti,” I said, “You’re too much. That would be hilarious -- seeing someone like my Brandon in a dress. Especially with those hairy legs of his.”

I hadn’t meant to say “my Brandon.” Or, had I? Brandon’s interest seemed immediately heightened. We had another round of drinks. Patti and I stayed with wine. Brandon wouldn’t let us go until we all agreed to have dinner with them the next evening.

As soon as we were walking in the parking lot, Pat turned to me. “I don’t believe you! Telling Mike you’re separated from your husband and then agreeing that we would all have dinner tomorrow night. Haven’t you forgotten that you’re my wife?” Maybe I had finally gotten to him.

“Patti. Shush! Someone will hear you. Not too many people would take us for a married couple. There aren’t that many husbands and wives who go shopping together wearing summer dresses, pantyhose, and heels. Besides, you’re not my husband any more. You’re my maid. Patti, it wasn’t my intent to embarrass you by introducing you that way. But if you insist we’ll march right back in there and call the whole thing off.” With that, I turned and started back towards the entrance.

“Judy,” she called after me, “No. Please no. We can’t get out of the date without telling them the real reason. I just spent an hour with them being as feminine as I could. In a way it was fun. I would like to experience being on a date; just for the fun of it.” His feminine voice blended nicely with his natural whine. There was nothing irritating about it. His suggestion was jarring, but I wanted to see Brandon one more time. Where was the harm in that?

“They really do think you’re my beautiful cousin.” I was sure Pat would come to his senses later in the evening. Going out with another man was just too much even for him. There would be no problem canceling the dates. I would call Brandon and tell him Pat and I had resolved our differences, which would be true if Pat would just show some determination. In a way I hoped Pat wouldn’t. I wanted to see more of Brandon. I wanted to feel his arms around me.

“Judy,” Patti sang out to me from my bedroom, once we were home. “Would it be okay if I borrowed some of your perfume?” When I got to my room Patti was looking through my bottles of perfume holding them up to his nose.

“Why would you want to do that?”

“If I’m going to do this,” he said, “I want to do it right. Don’t you always wear perfume when you go out to dinner?”

“Uh huh.” I could barely whisper. Pat was almost gone. I had one last shot at keeping my marriage. He couldn’t possibly actually kiss anther man. I would dress Pat to excite, and put him in a position where Mike would attempt to kiss him. That would put an end to Patti’s masquerade. In three weeks, we had to teach school. Mr. and Mrs. Johns would be going back to their classes -- and genders. “You know Patti. You’re right. We’ll do this right. Tomorrow we’ll spend the morning shopping for dresses and the afternoon getting ready.”

“Sounds great,” Patti said, as she trotted off to her bedroom. I spent another sleepless night thinking about how to set Pat up for a rude awakening. I also thought quite a bit about Brandon. Whenever Brandon came into my thoughts I couldn’t help but squirm. I almost went down the hall to seek some sexual release, but resisted when I thought of the new nightie Patti had bought that afternoon.

The next day I was nervous with anticipation. Although I had been with Brandon the previous day, it had been a casual, chance meeting. Tonight would be a lot different. Tonight would be a dinner date with my old lover.

Patti was a fashion maven shopping for our dresses. Both of the choices were actually hers. They were neutral, summery colors with spaghetti straps. With our new strappy three-inch pumps, we would each look like the picture of femininity. Patti ironed our dresses while I took my bath and begin getting ready for our big night. While she was soaking, I worried about what I was getting into. I had readily agreed to Patti’s choices, but my dress was several inches shorter than what I had ever worn. I wanted to entice Mike to Patti, but my dress would be drawing Brandon to me. Would I be able to say no to Brandon?

Several times during the day I had brought up Brandon. Although Patti was willing and eager to talk about Brandon, she never mentioned Mike. It was obvious she didn’t think of Mike as a date. That was a comforting thought.

“Judy,” Patti called out. I went into the bathroom and sat on the edge of her bath. “My dress is so short and revealing. I really don’t think I can go through with this.” Her forehead was etched. “I just can’t go out on a date with Mike wearing that outfit. I’ll never be able to act womanly all night.” Practically in tears she begged me one last time. “Please, just let me stay home tonight. Please! I’ll try even harder to be the best maid you ever saw.” Had she insisted I would have let her off the hook. Begging wasn’t good enough.

“Patti, you know I can’t do that. First of all — you’ll look stunning in your dress and so will I. Secondly, both guys will be here and they’re expecting two girls, not one. If you don’t go, it will ruin everything. Some days around the house I even forget that you weren’t born a woman. Mike’s going to think you’re sexy.” Patti’s lips parted in a small gasp. She evidently hadn’t thought of herself in that way. “You have nothing to worry about. I have to start getting ready and I suggest you do the same. Our nails need polish. We don’t have any more time to waste on your nonsense.”

She nodded and climbed out of the scented bath. Water ran down her chest over her faux breasts down to her shriveled manhood. “Yes, Judy. You’re right. I’ll quit being silly -- for you.” I turned so that he wouldn’t see my face. A small tear rolled down my cheek. He was so darned nice. I had to push him toward the threat of a kiss -- that would change him back into my Prince Charming.

Patti sat down at his dressing table and applied his make-up. He took extra pains with his hair, making sure every strand was perfectly situated before spraying it lightly to hold it in place. We had purchased naughty, thong panties and matching bras for the occasion. Patti and I had giggled; daring each other to buy them. We each opened a new pair of sheer tan pantyhose and slipped them up our smooth legs. Standing there in his lingerie with his short but quite feminine hair carefully brushed and make-up done, he looked like any other women dressing for a night out on the town.

He gingerly stepped into his dress, pulled it up, and zipped up the back as if he had been doing that all his life. Slipping on his pumps he stood back to look at his image in the mirror; demure, soft, and womanly. He sprayed a mist of perfume in the air and moved into it. Where had he learned that?

Although the image was feminine he still had to deal with his inner, masculine feelings. He was what he was. His legs might have been sheathed in nylons, his feet encased in high heels, and his body wrapped in a pretty summer dress, but inside he was still a man. He would have to keep all those male traits hidden unless he wanted his secret exposed.

He gave himself one final glance in the mirror, checking his hair and make-up. Grabbing his purse, he went downstairs. I followed watching his natural grace. “Wow, you look really sexy in that dress. It fits you perfectly. I see you did your nails, too. You even gave yourself a pedicure. You look very nice, very sweet and feminine. Perfect.”

He looked at me. I expected him to say something in a feminine gush. Instead his lip quivered. “You’re beautiful, Judy. You’re as pretty as the day we were married.” His eyes were misting. He reached to hug me but I backed away.

“We’ll wrinkle our dresses.” The truth was I was as overcome as Patti. She sensed what was coming even more than I did. “Thank you.” I whispered and air-kissed her with an arms-length hug.

Our conversation was cut short by the doorbell. I felt a twinge in my stomach as Patti, ever the maid, went to answer the door and greet our two male companions. “Hi guys. You’re right on time.” She called out to me. “Brandon and Mike are here. It’s time to go.”
She seemed more eager than I felt, until I saw Brandon. He and Mike looked wonderful in their suits and ties. They both had brought flowers. Mine were daisies. Brandon had remembered. All of a sudden I was as nervous as Patti should have been. She looked perfectly composed, chattering with Mike as she arranged each of our bouquets in cut glass vases. Her polished nails flashed as her delicate hands caressed the flowers. She couldn’t seem to touch or sniff them enough.

Brandon and I talked in the front seat about our high school days. Once we arrived and parked, Mike took Patti’s hand and helped her extract herself from the confines of the backseat. The demure smile she gave him was absolutely amazing. When had she been practicing?

Dinner was wonderful. Brandon and Mike had a million really funny stories about their work and their softball team. They played sports year round. In addition to softball, they played lacrosse and basketball on organized teams. When they weren’t playing sports they were camping, fishing, and hunting. Patti managed to keep up her end of the conversation by asking sweet, naive questions. She really didn’t know anything about sports and other male activities.

After dinner we went into the lounge. I asked Patti to go to the ladies’ room with me. She grabbed her purse and joined me without any hesitation. It was time for me to play my ace. As soon as we were in the ladies’ room I glared at Patti. “Are you purposely trying to wreck my evening?”

“No.” Patti looked at me in amazement. “Why are you saying that?”

“Why? I’m so worried about you two that I’m ignoring Brandon. I told you that I wanted to have fun tonight and you’re ruining it. You need to try to be more attractive. You said you wanted to see what a date was like with a man. So far you haven’t given it much of a chance. I want you talking with him, dancing with him, and just to make sure you feel like a woman — I want you kissing him. That’s the only way you’ll ever really know.”

“Are you sure?” Patti had a quizzical look on her face. She reached to touch my arm, but I pulled it away. Pat was going to have to tough this one out on his own.

“Of course, I’m sure.” I couldn’t look him in the eyes. Instead I took out my make-up and touched up my face. I hoped against hope that this would be the end of it. I was attracted to Brandon, but I was in love with Pat.

“Okay,” Patti said. She joined me at the mirror and smiled at me as she lined her lips. There was that soft face again. Her dangly earrings sparkled and matched her green eyes. I had pierced them for her weeks ago. Tonight was the first time she had worn anything but drainage studs.

“Brandon likes you a lot.” She smiled at me. “It’s okay. I understand. I’ll do my thing and you do yours.” She winked at me and snapped her purse shut.

“Maybe you should freshen your scent?” I almost started crying as I looked at my husband taking on a part of his life that wouldn’t involve me. Had it been inevitable that we would come to this moment?

“Do you think?” She opened her purse again and gave herself a light spray. “Ok Judy, let’s go. You can count on me.” As Patti walked away from me toward Mike, I watched the sway of her dress and the clicking of her heels. Mike didn’t stand a chance.

I smiled at Brandon as I slid next to him at the table. My conversation became more animated than before as I was suddenly in competition with Patti to see who could get the most attention from her man.

The lounge had a small band that was playing a slow song. Patti told Mike it was one of her favorites. He took the cue and asked her to dance. Patti waited until he pulled her chair out before rising. He held her hand as they made their way to the dance floor. Patti had never danced as a woman before. Her hand met his and he slipped his other hand around her waist. She first placed her other hand on his shoulder, but then worked it around so she could play with the small curls on the back of Mike’s head. Patti had always been a fantastic dancer. I watched as she closed her eyes and followed his lead. Surprisingly, she looked totally relaxed; so relaxed that she rested her head on his shoulder as they swayed in time to the soft music. When the song ended, Patti whispered something in Mike’s ear. She then gazed into his eyes.

Deep down inside me I said goodbye.

He gently kissed her. Her foot came off the ground as she leaned in to a return kiss. I looked away.

At that moment, Brandon said to me, “They look pretty good together.” I nodded, somewhat disoriented. “We were once pretty good together.” I looked in his eyes. Did he mean pretty good dance partners? Pretty good in a relationship? Or, pretty good lovers? “Do you want to dance, Judy? I love just having the chance to say your name again — Judy. I’ve missed you — Judy.” I melted.

I found myself floating in his arms on the dance floor. Every so often I caught Patti’s eye or she caught mine. We gave each other nods of encouragement. Love was in the air; everywhere. She was laughing and hanging on Mike with obvious delight. I forgot about Patti and savored the warmth and strength of Brandon’s body. We were kissing. All the passion of our teenage romance came back. I could feel that he had grown over the years.

As we made our way back to the table, I wondered if Patti and I had made the right choices during our summer. Each decision had distanced me from Pat. Perhaps it would have been better if I had left things well enough alone. Pat and I had carved out a good life. Looking at Patti, now leaning into Mike’s embrace, I could see a glimmer of a hope that we could have something even better in the future.

On the way home Patti couldn’t stop giggling. Mike was funny; one joke after another. Brandon kept looking at me out of the corner of his eyes as he drove. “I hate to take my eyes off you to drive,” he said. I slid closer to him and touched his leg. After we parked in front of our house, Mike and Patti got out and walked to the front door. Brandon put his arm around me. “Let’s stay in the car a moment so they can have some privacy to say goodnight.”

There was a full moon. I could see Patti and Mike over Brandon’s shoulder as he hugged me. They were locked in a passionate, goodnight kiss. Brandon’s lips found mine and I closed me eyes.

The night ended with those kisses.

There was so much to talk about. So much for Patti and I to say to each other, but we each were lost in our own thoughts. The conversation that we needed to have with each other seemed superfluous.

“You don’t have to be the maid anymore, Patti,” I said. “If you want to sleep with me you can.”

“That would be nice, Judy,” she said. “I get lonely sometimes.”

“So do I.”

Patti went to her room and changed into a nightie. I did the same. Sex was out of the question. Patti and I were like two girlfriends having a sleepover. Talking about our dates also was out of the question. Patti went to sleep first. She looked beautiful even with night crá¨me on her face.

Sleep was difficult for me. I had a lot to mull over: my dating adventure, my kisses, Patti’s dating adventure and her kisses, and everything. I awoke the next morning to the smell of fresh coffee. Patti was up.

“I thought I told you your days as a maid were over?”

“I know, but I love doing things for you.”

“We need to talk, Patti.”

“I know.” She stared into her cup of coffee, circling the rim of her cup with her finger.

“Do you want to teach this fall?” I asked.

“Not really.” Her answer was no surprise. She sighed. Parts of her future were evident and parts were murky. What had we done? We had stayed away from most of our friends all summer. What would they say when they finally met Patti? “I like being a housewife. Too bad there isn’t more money in teaching. You could teach and I could run the house for us.”

She was serious. But, how would the neighborhood treat her, when they found out?

“Patti,” I said. “I don’t know how to say this ... .”

“I know. You’re interested in Brandon.” Her face turned red and she looked away. When she looked back toward me, tears were running from both her eyes. I was crying too.

Nothing more was said that morning of any importance. We pitched in together to clean the house. Each of us was alone with our need to think things through. After a small lunch we went for a long walk in the Loring Park area. Two women walking, holding hands, and loving each other was a common sight in Loring Park.

“I want you to see Brandon,” Patti said. She spoke so softly I could barely hear her.

“No,” I said. “I love you.”

“I love you, too. But, I realize now who you are, who I am, and who we are together.”

We hugged as the tears flowed. Tears can be healing. Patti kissed me on the cheek. “I will always love you,” she said. “I want you to have it all.”

“You too, Patti.” We cried again.

The following Monday we both resigned our jobs. We had about one hundred thousand dollars from my inheritance and what we had saved. We were comfortable, but couldn’t wait too long before finding new careers. I searched the want ads for entry level positions in business. Patti was much less decisive.

“It’s not that I don’t want to work. It’s just that I love working around the house so much,” Patti said. “I know it has to come to an end soon, but I have no idea what I want to do for work.”

Brandon called two days after our dinner date. Our romance picked up where we had left off years ago. Mike had been sent to Japan to engineer a project but had called Patti several times telling her he couldn’t wait to see her when he got back to town.

The fifth time Brandon and I were together, in just a week, he put me in a tough position. We were at my favorite restaurant; a place where Patti and I had gone on special occasions. Patti had suggested to me that Brandon and I go there.

“What are we doing, Judy?” Brandon asked.

“We’re having a scrumptious lunch,” I said, “after which I’ll have to go home and run five miles to pay for this sin.”

He didn’t laugh. He was pushing on the end of his fork lifting the handle off the table. I silently waited for him to speak.

“Judy,” Brandon said, “I don’t think I can go on like this.” I knew he would want to bring sex into our relationship and was curious to see what he would say to broach the subject. “I want to be with you.” I knew it. I touched his hand, wishing we were in less public surroundings so I could off rip his clothes. I was ready to move beyond the platonic kissing.

“Judy, what does ‘separated’ mean?”

“It means I’m not quite divorced.”

“I’m not the kind of guy that can have sex with another man’s wife.”

Well, that was blunt, I thought.

Brandon peered into my eyes; I gazed back at him, wishing and praying that he had more answers than I did. “As long as you’re still in a relationship with another man it won’t work between us.”

“Another man ... ?”

“Pat.”

“Pat’s not another man,” I said. I wrestled with my obligation to protect Patti’s privacy. In my mind I called out to her, asking her what I should do. Before Brandon had picked me up, Patti had helped me get dressed. She was glowing. Mike has sent her more flowers. Our house looked like a florist shop. Each card was more loving than the last. Mike would be back from Japan in two weeks. Patti made no effort to hide how she felt about Mike. She encouraged me to explore my relationship with Brandon. She had told me that she would always wear her wedding ring, but no longer considered us a couple. “Pat’s not at all opposed to a divorce. We just haven’t gotten it done.”

“Why? If you no longer love each other, why haven’t you filed. It’s a simple procedure. Is there some conflict over a property settlement? You don’t have to worry about that. I’m fairly wealthy now.”

“No, it’s not about money.” Omigosh, I still loved Patti. How could I ever explain that to Brandon? Patti and I weren’t man and wife, but I still loved her. Patti wanted me to move on. I wanted to move on. But, I still loved Patti. “I still love Pat.”

“I was afraid of that,” Brandon said. “Judy — I just can’t be around you, if I can’t love you completely.” His face was contorted with pain. He looked ready to leave.

“You can be with me -- you can, Brandon. Pat has told me that I’m free to love you.” Brandon’s face was filled with doubt.

“Is he a Mormon? I can’t be a part of something like that.”

Our meals were going untouched. We talked in low tones, not wanting our deepest feelings echoing throughout the restaurant.

“I love Patti,” I said.

“Pat and Patti? I never would have guessed that of you. Wow! I could tell there was something between you and Patti; something beyond mere friendship.” There was no disgust in Brandon’s facial expressions. He had always been tolerant.

“Oh, for heavens sakes, Brandon - - Pat is Patti.”

Brandon had heard me but made no immediate reaction. He drew in a long breath and placed one thumb against another, drumming his fingers together with his eyes closed and his chin on his chest. After what felt like an eternity he opened his eyes and reached across the table for my hand. “Would it be presumptuous of me to think that Pat being Patti is good news for me.”

“Not presumptuous at all.”

He smiled. “Then I only have one more question. You’re not sizing me up for a life in skirts, are you?”

I laughed. He laughed. I gave consideration to forgetting about decorum and proceeding with the clothes ripping. Brandon suggested it was a nice afternoon for me to see his apartment, saving us from indecent exposure. After we consummated our love, I told him the whole story about Pat.

***

Two weeks later I received a call from my sister Anne. Anne and her husband Harold lived in a very exclusive section of Connecticut. Harold owned his own consulting company. He was annoying and snobbish. After talking to Anne I got off the phone and found Patti tanning in our backyard.

“Patti, I was talking to Anne and she told me Maria quit. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time. It seems Harold has a big party scheduled at their house for some of his key clients and they really needed Maria.” Maria had been their maid for years and years. She was more like a sister to Anne. They were about the same age and often jogged together. Both were fitness nuts.

“They’ll never find good help in time,” Patti said. “If it wasn’t for Anne, I would be laughing.”

Patti didn’t care for Harold. Harold loved to pick on Pat. Harold had been an athlete at Yale, playing football and tennis. He did his best to make Pat feel small and insignificant every time he was around him.

“I was thinking it would be nice if we could help them out. You could be Maria’s replacement until she returns. Of course, you would be their butler.”

“I’ve always loved your sister. She’s a wonderful, kind person. I don’t know how she puts up with him.”

“He’s not so bad. Put yourself in his place. He owns that big company. There aren’t even any shareholders to question him. He’s like a god to over four hundred employees.”

“He’s a tin god. I can’t imagine working for him.”

“I can. He’s offered me a job.”

“Really, does he want you to be a maid, too? He’s too much. We have college degrees and he wants us to be his servants.”

Patti stretched and reached for more lotion. I untied the strings of her bikini and did her back. She was wearing a new perfume. Patti had her own style and flair. She was softer and -- more provocative. She loved Victoria’s Secret.

“Actually it’s my dream job. He wants me to establish a workplace gym for his employees. His health insurance costs are going through the roof and so are his workers compensation premiums. He thinks he can make money by helping his people become more fit.”

“Is he serious, or is he just messing with you?”

“Anne would kill him if he did that.” It always amazed me that two such dominant people could get along in a marriage.

“You have to take the job,” Patti said, then asked softly. “What will Brandon say?”

I hated to talk about Brandon in front of Patti. Mike had quit calling. There hadn’t been any floral deliveries for her for about two weeks. She was miserable trying to figure out what had gone wrong. Brandon had insisted that we take Patti along to dinner twice. He kept hinting that she should find another man. He never let on that he knew Patti’s secret. I hadn’t told Patti that he knew. Hopefully, Brandon and I would take that secret to our graves.

“Brandon told me a few weeks ago that the only thing holding him in Minneapolis was me. He said he wished he could live on the East coast. He says that you’re nothing in the business world until you conquer New York.”

“Then you should call your sister back and tell her we’ll come right away. We can find a realtor and sell our house.”

“Are you sure?” I wanted the job, but what about Mike and Patti? Did Patti really want to be a butler for even the few weeks needed to help Anne? Patti nodded several times. “I’ll call Anne and tell her I want the job, but I’ll tell her you’re not going to do the butler thing. She’ll have to find another solution.”

“No ... tell her I’ll do it.”

“You would go back to being a man for Anne?”

“No - - but I will be her maid. I’ve never enjoyed anything as much as taking care of our house. Let’s give it a try.”

“Isn’t that a pretty big step?”

“Not half as big as the step I made yesterday. I met with a psychologist and a doctor. They’ve started me on hormones. I’m committed to a program that will culminate with me having sex re-assignment surgery in a year.”

***

When I talked to Anne she said there was plenty of room for Pat and me in her house until we could get settled. She absolutely insisted that we stay with her. She was overjoyed that Pat could help her. I vouched for Pat’s serving abilities. I couldn’t find the words to explain Patti, so I left that for an in-person discussion.

Patti and I packed enough clothes for a few weeks. We arranged to sell all our furniture with the house. Our realtor knew of a couple looking to buy a furnished home. They had already qualified for a loan for the amount of their generous offer so we set a closing date for four weeks in the future.

We put all of the rest of our possessions in storage and boarded a plane to a new life. Brandon and I had several goodbye trysts, although it would only be a few weeks until his request for transfer to their New York office came through. Patti spent her time trying to get over the hurt of being jilted by Mike. She never cried in front of me, but I often noticed red eyes and knew the cause.

I was sick with fright the next afternoon as I sat next to Patti heading toward Harold and Anne’s house. Harold had sent his company limousine for us. Frank, the driver, was a bit confused at first having been sent for a young couple. Patti was wearing a summer shift dress, beige hose, and beige flats. I was wearing shorts and a summer top. As we neared the exit for Harold and Anne’s house, Patti looked over at me. “Judy - - relax. You’ll do great at the job.” She wasn’t the least bit worried about how Harold and Anne would react to her. She had told me, “Your sister will love me as she always has and Harold will hate my guts. What else is new?”

When we pulled up to their house, Anne rushed out to greet us. We got out of the car and Anne eyed Patti from head to foot. I was so embarrassed for Patti. I shouldn’t have been. Anne gushed. “Pat ... you look amazing. Come in and tell me all about everything.” We all hugged and giggled, relieved and happy to be together.

“It’s Patti now, and I’m your new maid.”

“She’s very good Anne,” I said. “Will Harold have a cat?”

“Harold can have two cats,” Anne said. “If you can help me out I’ll be forever in your debt. There isn’t an available maid on the entire East Coast. And none nearly as pretty as you.” Anne blushed, something she rarely did. “Where should I tell Frank to put your bags? I had thought you two would be staying together, but ... .”

“Did Maria have her own quarters,” Patti asked. I looked at Patti. We had quit sleeping together once Brandon started spending overnights in our house. I had assumed we would go back to sleeping in one bed to keep up appearances and keep Harold from being such an ass.

“Okay ... .” Anne answered, “If you want me to, Patti, I’ll have Frank put your things in what was Maria’s suite.” Patti nodded. “Maria left in a hurry and took her personal things with her.”

“I would like to start right away, Anne,” Patti said.

“Heavens,” Anne said, “you don’t have to do that. Take a bath and a nap … we’ll go out to dinner. You must be exhausted from your travel.”

“Anne, please,” Patti said. “This will only work if we have a professional relationship. I’m your maid. I need to work in your house for a while before your big party in order to have the lay of the land.”

Anne was sensible and could see Patti’s points. We all would be most comfortable if Patti did what the job required from the get go.

“Maria left her clean uniforms in the closet,” Anne said. “I think they’ll fit you nicely. Judy, I figured you would want to stay in the west guest suite by the pool. Is that okay?”

I loved that suite and Brandon would love it too, when he came to visit.

“Patti,” Anne said. “If you’re sure ... ? Oh, what’s wrong with me? You know what you want more than I do. Patti, when you’re ready there’s a typed list of duties on your bedroom dresser. I had prepared them for whomever we hired, before I talked to Judy. If you have any questions, let me know. Dinner should be ready at six. Judy and I will stay out of your way. My little sister and I are going to be busy enough; her with her new job and me with Harold’s stupid party. Everybody needs to man their battle stations.”

“Judy,” Patti said. “I’ll unpack your things and hang them in your closet.” She hurried off to change.

“Harold’s going to have a coronary,” I said.

“Patti’s so cute,” Anne said. “Let’s have a glass of wine and you can tell me all about it.” She took my arm and pulled me to a quiet corner of the house. Within an hour she knew everything, including intimate details about my revived relationship with Brandon.

Patti checked in with Anne as soon as she had changed. Her uniform was very French. The skirt was much shorter than anything Patti had worn before. Maria had been proud of her trim legs. Patti said she would have dinner ready at six and went off to work.

We had finished our second glass of what tasted like expensive wine when Harold came home. Harold’s booming voice assaulted me from the hallway. We exchanged pleasantries while Harold poured himself a stiff drink and downed it in one gulp.

“So where’s my new butler, Pat?”

“He’s seeing to dinner,” Anne said. “Why don’t Judy and you chit-chat about her new job and I’ll go check on how things are coming in the kitchen. Judy, could I see you for just a second in the hall?”

We left Harold mixing himself another drink. Once we were in the hall Anne whispered, “Patti’s got a charming little body. Let’s play a joke on Harold. We’ll tell him the new maid’s name is Yvonne. We’ll also tell him that Pat’s sick in bed. Let’s see how long it takes him to catch on.”

“You check it with Patti,” I said. “If she’s game, so am I.”

When Anne came back she stood behind Harold’s chair and gave me a broad wink. “Harold, dear,” Anne said, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news.” Harold turned in his chair to look at her. “I was able to hire a new maid. Her name is Yvonne and she will be serving us tonight. But -- poor Pat has come down with a headache and won’t be able to join us for dinner.”

“And the bad news is?” Harold asked.

“Harold,” Anne scolded.

We went into the dining room. As Patti served the meal, Harold’s eyes were glued on her body.

“Mmmmmm,” Harold said when Patti left the room to bring in the main course, “my compliments to the employment agency.”

“You approve?” Anne asked.

“She will do nicely,” Harold said, in an obvious understatement of his ardent interest.

“Patti,” Anne called, “Please come out here.” Patti pushed open the door with her backside and turned toward us carrying a large platter of ham.

“Patti?” Harold asked. “I thought you said her name is Yvonne.”

“Had we been calling her Patti,” Anne said, “either Judy or I would have faux pas’ed and called her Pat.”

“Pat?” Harold was clearly confused. For the first time he made eye contact with that part of Patti’s body above her breasts. “Pat! - - - I’ve been the victim of male fraud.”

“Hi, Harold, I’m going to be your maid,” Patti curtsied.

“Holy shit, he’s a transvestite. He’ll be serving at our party.”

Harold raised his glass in a mock toast to Patti. “We will eat, drink, and he’ll be Mary. My God, Pat! What are you doing dressed up like a damn maid?”

“Patti! She prefers to be called Patti now,” Judy stated. “If you can’t act civil Harold, we’ll both leave.”

“Patti?” No longer able to contain himself, Harold broke into a loud guffaw. “This has to be some type of joke. Will someone tell me what the hell is happening?”

“This isn’t a joke. About a month ago, Patti and I made a little bet over a wrestling match. The bet was the loser would serve as a maid for the summer. Patti never expected that I could actually beat her, but I obviously did. One thing led to another and Patti found her true self.”

“You mean you actually beat Pat in wrestling. That’s too much.” Turning towards Patti, Harold continued talking. “Unbelievable. You’re going to be a maid. Christ, you even shaved your damned legs and you’re wearing pantyhose. I bet you’re wearing panties, too. You remind me of a joke. What’s the difference between the Clinton/Lewinsky affair and a transvestite sailor? A transvestite sailor puts a dress on a seaman and Clinton put semen on ... .”

“Harold,” Anne said, “that’s enough! There are things about you that Patti and Judy would find very interesting, as well.”

“Well, I ... .” Harold stammered.

“Maybe they would like a tour of our bedroom.” Harold’s mouth shut as he stared at the floor. “Good. Patti, if Harold gives you any trouble whatsoever you let me know. Any trouble at all.”

“Damn it, Anne,” Harold said. “I was just having a little fun. Pat knows that. Don’t you Pat?”

“Patti.” Patti’s voice was firm.

“Patti it is then,” Harold said.

For the next two weeks Harold kept his mouth shut and Patti settled into the life of a maid. I never saw her when she wasn’t smiling, humming, or singing. She was happy despite the fact that she didn’t hear from Mike again.

The afternoon of the party we met with an attorney and signed the final papers for our divorce. We split our property right down the middle. Once we closed on our house, we each would have about $150,000.

Anne and Harold hired a chef to prepare the meal for their closest friends and business associates. Patti would be responsible for serving dinner to the fourteen guests. She was busier than normal that day preparing the house. I would have helped her but I was already up to my elbows with my new job. Harold was a different person at work. He was considerate and understanding.

By the time the guests started arriving Patti had already been working for almost eight solid hours and still had another five or six hours ahead of her. Brandon had called from the airport and would be attending as my date. Patti was almost as happy to see him as I was.

Patti was busy for the rest of the night. She had to serve appetizers, salad, the main course, and then coffee and choice of dessert. I thought her feet were going to fall off before the night ended. However, she managed to serve everything without a mishap and the night went off without a hitch. She was smiling as if she was having the time of her life -- and her joy was infectious. All of the dinner guests were nice and seemed pleased with her service. Anne and I found a way to be with Patti for a minute in the kitchen. We both gave her a great big hug.

“Patti, you were wonderful,” Anne said. “I can’t tell you how magnificently you did. All my guests complimented me on your wonderful service. Thank you so much. Tomorrow I want you to sleep in and I’ll be your maid.” Patti giggled, but I could tell Anne was serious.

Later that night Brandon proposed. Our sex was fantastic, as always.

The next morning Patti fawned over my ring like a school girl. She told me that Brandon was perfect for me. I knew Patti too well to think she might be faking her excitement for me.

“Patti, if it wouldn’t be too weird for you, I would like you to be my maid of honor.”

“What about Anne?”

“She’s already agreed to be my personal attendant.”

“Then of course, I would love to.”

Brandon and I set a quick date. The next three months passed in a blur. We had to find a reception hall, a band, photographer, florist, centerpieces, gifts and on and on. I had to buy my wedding trousseau, gown, veil, shoes and accessories. Anne and Patti also had to buy gowns plus all the accessories. The three of us shopped endlessly.

After my wedding I would be moving to a new home with Brandon; leaving Patti. Harold and Anne wanted her to stay on with them and continue working there but she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted. As Patti thought over her options, staying with them seemed to make the most sense. She had no place to live and no other job possibilities. Her body wasn’t reacting yet to the hormones, but her doctors said she would soon have breasts, hips, silkier hair, and more translucent skin. Outwardly, she would become even more feminine than she already was.

The wedding day and the few days preceding it were frantic. No one had told Patti that Mike would be Brandon’s best man. When she saw him at the rehearsal dinner, she realized how much she had missed him. Early in the evening he acted cold to her, but as time went on he loosened up and seemed attentive.

The day of the wedding the three of us girls had our hair and make-up done at a local salon. Anne and Patti helped me get dressed in my gown before they finished dressing themselves. Their gowns were pale yellow chiffon with a lace bodice and arms; simple yet very feminine. My gown’s bodice was lace entwined with baby pearls that matched my veil. It was satin with a long, lovely train. Right before she left me to take her place at the altar, Patti kissed me on the cheek and told me I looked beautiful.

After the preacher pronounced Brandon and me “man and wife” we went to Harold’s country club for a reception.

Mike didn’t allow Patti out of his arms for the entire evening.

***

When I got back from my honeymoon, Patti and I went out to brunch. She was wearing an engagement ring.

“Mike is such an angel,” Patti said. “The night of your wedding Mike said that Brandon called Japan, last summer. Brandon told him about me. Mike didn’t know what to think. He apologized a dozen times to me. He told me that he had thought of nothing but me every day since he met me. He told me a thousand times that he loved me. He told me that night that he wanted to marry me.”

I looked at her and she read my face.

“No we haven’t had sex.” Her blush was beautiful, radiant. “I wanted to, but I also wanted to wait until it was right. We’ve been - - intimate. I’m so happy. I’m as happy now as I was when you and I were a couple.”

We held hands. Our love pulsed between us. We would always love each other.

“I’ve taken another job.” Patti said.

“Anne told me she would have to find another maid.”

“One of Harold’s friends tried to hire me the night of his big party. She has four children; all are under eight. I love them to pieces already. Her husband is a psychologist. I told them before they hired me that I’m transitioning. He’s helping me understand more about myself. Nurturing children is what I was born to do, Judy. I’m sure of it.”

“Anne said you resigned under some mysterious circumstances.”

“It was more sordid than mysterious. After you and Brandon left on your honeymoon, there was an incident — late that night after the reception.”

“An incident?” I asked. “Anne didn’t mention anything to me. Is that why you quit being a maid for them?”

Patti nodded and bit her lip before continuing. “Harold was sloppy drunk. He came to my room after I had been sleeping for about an hour. He tried to force himself on me.”

“Omigosh!” Patti wouldn’t have stood a chance against Harold. She’s much smaller and not much of a wrestler, as we had found out. “Did you scream for help?”

“No,” Patti grinned, “I just put him in a submission hold. Judy, I never told you that I have a black belt in Karate. It was something Dad forced me to do as a kid. I tried to forget all about it as an adult because I hated all the aggression. I was good at it. It would take another black belt to put me on my back, if I didn’t want to be there.”

The End

(Thank you to Geoff, Jenny Walker, and Kim West for their editing.)

Notes:

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