It is Saturday morning and mom wants us to go to her parents, my grandparents, for a long weekend. I want to stay home and play baseball with my friends. “Mom, why can’t I stay home and play with my friends? There are no boys, I know near grandma's.”
My mother says, “Because they would like to see you, Dennis. I got you all dressed up because Grandma wants to take a new picture of the you and your sister. We’re on a tight schedule, if we’re to be there by noon. Eat your breakfast and don’t get messed up.”
Mom has been racing around since before Sally and I got up. Our suitcases are packed for a long weekend with no school on Monday. I’ve stayed over my buddy Jeff Hart’s before. Mrs. Hart has even told my mom she can leave me with them on short notice. All I need to do is to time this right and it should work. I knew mom was watching me closely as I ate, but she needed to take care of herself.
Mom calls out from her room, “Okay I’m ready and packed. Wash up and go to the bathroom.” With that I’m out the door and down to the creek that skirts our back yard. I stomp in the creek and, accidentally on purpose, slip on a rock into muddy water.
“Dennis get up here; you better not have gotten yourself messed up.”
Innocently as I can, I say, “Sorry Mom, I accidentally fell.”
“Dennis Henry Trout, how could you? Why couldn’t you cooperate and be sweet and nice like your sister?”
I yelled back, “Because I’m a boy and I don’t like being sweet and nice! Hold your breath if you think I’m going to change! I know you need to get going, maybe I should stay with the Hart’s?”
“Eu, you stink young man: now quickly slip out of those clothes, shower and get cleaned up. I’ll decide what to do by the time you get out. Make sure you wash your hair. Even if you stay at the Hart’s I want you presentable.”
“Yes!” I’m quickly in the shower doing an abbreviated victory dance.
Sally sarcastically says, “Mom, you can’t let him get away with that. He’s become a spoiled little brat.”
Mom’s quickly in and out of Dennis’ room with his small suitcase. “Sally, I want you to pack his suitcase, with some of your old spring dresses. They should be at the back of your closet, and also pack some panties, socks, and undershirts with lace and bows.”
Sally is quickly made happy and takes my suitcase to pack it anew.
Mom soon is in the bathroom to grab my dirty underwear and goes into Sally’s room to find what she needs for today. She hands two pair of tights to Sally. “Please pack these.”
Sally smiles, “Mother even I don’t like wearing tights.”
Mother says, “If he complains about what I want him to wear, we’ll treat him to the tights. I hope you will be more helpful if that happens.”
I'm out of the shower and see my dirty clothes are gone, but nothing's left in their place. I would have quickly run to my room, except I hear mother in the hallway. I yelled out, “Mom I need some clothes or I’m going to be running to my room bare naked.”
She says, “If you’re all dried off wrap a towel around yourself and I’ll help you with your clothes.”
“Mom, I’m a big boy, I don’t need your help.”
“Do as I say, unless you want things to be worse for you?” ‘If I’m getting to go to Jeff’s I don’t want her to change her mind.' I soon have the towel wrapped around me and open the door. Mom is treating me as a little kid holding a pair of underpants for me to step into. I do so, not to cause trouble, but I should have looked. “Now raise up your arms,” she asks? I do so closing my eyes.
The feeling of the undershirt falling down over my head felt a bit different, it has straps not sleeves falling down onto my shoulders. I didn't think I had any of those undershirts left.
Mom says, “Might as well keep your eyes closed, here comes your top.” It feels nice, but why is Mom buttoning it up in the back? I open my eyes and realize I allowed my mother to put a dress on me. “Since boys can’t be good and nice, you’ll need to be a good girl this weekend.”
I angrily bark, “Mom, you can do this!”
“Watch your tone young lady or things will get worse,” Mom says. There’s that look in her eyes, but it is already as bad as it can get. I try to grab and tear-off the dress, but mom catches my hands and slaps them hard once. “Okay, sit on this stool and I’ll fix your face and hair.”
I realize, Mom is thinking ahead of me. Her eyes get across to me, how serious she is. I force myself to calm down as I sit on the stool; Mom even sweeps the skirt of the dress underneath me. “This will actually help you.”
With a sigh I ask, “How will doing my face and hair help me?”
“If you act right, people might not see a boy in a dress,” she says. “You've kept your hair long to act tough. Now it can give you a different look, the softer appearance of my younger daughter. I’m tired of you misbehaving. Right now, I don’t care if you make a fuss and look foolish, but if you should I have more in store.”
I ask, “Where are we going to stop so I can change before we get to Grandma’s?”
Mother brushes out my hair and uses bobby pins and two hair decorations to change its appearance. She doesn’t use much makeup but it does soften my appearance. She applies a lite coat of pink lipstick and the slightest amount of blush to my cheeks. She’s not answering any of my questions.
Standing behind mother Sally speaks, “Mom’s right you could pass for a pretty girl if you act right. My money is against you doing that.” Mom asks Sally, “Is everything in the car so we can leave?” “Yes, Mom.”
Mother has a pair of my sneakers next to her, but she has me wearing a pair of white frilly socks and Sally’s old white dress shoes with a strap across the top of my feet. Mother has me sit in the back of the car and she puts my sneakers on the floor. She warns me, “Don’t be foolish and put those on until I say.”
I ask, “When will that be?” Another question not answered.
We’ve been riding along for half an hour with at least two hours to go, when Mom and Sally begin singing. I sing along with the songs I know. My mother says, “Denise, you have a nice voice, but your voice should be a little softer.”
I'm sitting quietly, and Mom says, “You need to be singing.”
I say, “But I don’t want to sing as a girl.”
Sally puts in her two cents, “But that is part of cooperating with Mom, isn’t it Mom?”
I raise my voice with attitude, “Shut your mouth Sally, I don’t need your help! I don’t need to sing, do I Mother?”
Mother tells me, “Up until the ‘shut your mouth’, no. However, you need to learn to be a good girl. So sing along on the songs you know.” I sang one song and stop there, until Sally points out that I know the next few songs. It does help in passing the time; I'm glad that only they could hear me.
Carol King’s Tapestry CD is traditionally played when we’re traveling and today is no exception. Today, however mother says “Denise, I want you to sing lead in the next song.” I moan, “”Mother?” I knew it wasn’t an option, instead I question her calling me Denise.
She stops the CD and says, “Dressed like that do you want me calling you Dennis. I could rename you and call you Bertha?”
I wanted to challenge her but thought better. Mother starts the CD and Natural Woman plays as I sing along with no argument. I look down and can see my legs and knees, so I try pulling down the hem. Mom looks at me in the rear-view mirror, “Do not stretch your pretty dress out of shape. I don’t want to have to buy another one.” Instinctively I smoothed out the skirt and continued singing.
“Mom, if it embarrasses Dad, we can turn around and go home tomorrow morning… You were right Dennis needs to learn… I can’t take a picture now to show you. I’m using the car phone. I didn’t go overboard, she just looks like a cute twelve year old girl.”
A half hour later they finish talking as we arrive at our grandparents. Grandpa's looking from the window and Grandma comes out to greet us. Grandma asks as I get out of the car. “Very nice young lady, now please turn around and let me see my new granddaughter. I think your cousin Heather will be very happy to see you?”
I hurriedly get my suitcase and get to the room I stay in. Grandma has changed the bed putting on a girly comforter. There's even a small stuffed kitten and Raggedy Anne doll on the pillow. I quickly open suitcase and I’m greatly disappointed. None, none of my clothes are there. I don’t waste any time checking the girl clothes. I lift the suitcase, dumping it, all the clothes onto the floor.
Granddad came into the room. “I understand your frustration, but it seems to me you have already gone too far. Your mother does not respond well to your acting like that. She never did and she won’t change because of your temper tantrum. You would do well to pick those clothes up and get neat about it.”
Instead, I fold my hands, turn around and sit hard on the bed, bouncing up. Mother comes into the room carrying three dresses to hang up in the closet. “Being defiant just solidified you being a girl the full weekend.”
I pout as Granddad has trouble holding his calm expression. I furiously say, “That is what you already had planned. The suitcase only has girl clothes.”
Mom says, “You already saw your sneakers and there is another bag with a change of clothes in the back of the car. Now it will stay there.”
Mom’s on her smartphone, “Hello, is this Betty’s Salon? I have a young girl needing her hair done for the weekend and some pictures to be taken for her Grandma. …Would you mind if we wait until 3:00. I just drove three and a half hours and I could use a break. ...Thanks, see you then.”
Mother excuses Granddad, “You young man, have earned a big experience of being a girl for the weekend. If you don’t want to make it a full week you will cooperate.”
I calm down and simply say, “You can’t do that I have school come Tuesday.”
“I can and I don't think you want to test me. I’d willing to stay home and homeschool you for the week. That's if the school would not accept Denise going to school in place of Dennis. We would go on some field trips you might not like. …Now go out there and greet your grandparents properly. I suggest you eat a sandwich quickly, but do so as Denise.”
Grandma sits next to me after serving me a sandwich, “Take small bites dear and tell me how you got yourself in this trouble.” She calmly listens to me as I eat. I would have been done more quickly if it had not been for the girly bites and conversation. Grandmother asks about things I like. We talk about little league; I know it only interests her because I like it.
Finally she asks, “Do you agree that you earned your punishment?” I agreed. “Why did you continue to defy your mother and make it worse? She gets her strong will from me and you should have known better.”
I say, using Denise’s voice as Grandma has already insisted several times. “My Mother knows I’m stubborn, she set up impossible situations.” Grandmother lightly giggles at me. I try saying, “It’s not funny,” but I begin to giggle as well. Mother comes and tells me we need to get going.
We’re ready to back out of the driveway, when Aunt Lois drives in behind us. Cousin Heather hurries out of their SUV, runs to our Pathfinder. Mom tries saying, “Heather, I think it is best you stay here. I need to take Denise for her hair appointment.”
Heather is not to be denied, “But I can help keep her in line and I need to get to know her. Aunt Terri, you will be free to do the shopping you want.”
Mother tells her, “I’m going to need to stay around to make sure Denise doesn’t run away.” Aunt Lois has moved her vehicle and waves for my mother to drive out.
“Aunt Terri, you don't need to worry about her running away. It’s too far to your home. And I don’t think he’d want the police and others searching for him in a dress.” Heather bounces forward, looking around to see me. “You do make a pretty girl, I told my mom you would.”
“I’m not pretty,” I yell at her.
“What makes you say that,” she asks?
“Because I’m a boy that is why!”
Heather giggles, “I wouldn’t say that too loud if I were you. You don’t look like a boy at all. And you’ll want my cooperation so you don’t look like a Mama’s girl.”
Denise says, “It doesn’t make much of a difference.”
Heather asks, “Have you ever been called a Mommy’s boy by others? It’s not much different for a girl, it's derogatory.” We’re now pulling up to a nice place near the shopping center. “Aunt Terri even brought you to the nicest salon. You should have a good experience if your nose isn’t too far up your butt.”
I say, “Mother did you hear what she said? That wasn’t very girl like.”
My mother lightly laughs, “I guess I missed it. I did hear the good advice she gave you. Now act like a good girl. You should enjoy your first trip to a salon.”
Macey comes up to us soon as we walk in, “Hello, Heather it is nice to see you. Are you the one getting ready for pictures with Grandma Morgan?”
“No, this is my cousin Denise and it is her first trip to a beauty salon and having pictures taken with our Grandma.”
Macey looks at me, “Well someone nicely brushed your hair out today and it is nice and clean.” She runs her fingers through my hair, “It can use a good conditioner and some TLC. I’ll show you five styles on my tablet; you can see which are more to your liking. You can look through as many as you’d like.” Heather glances through a lot of them and selects five for me to look at.
Not wanting to make it a long process, I select three and show everyone. Mom and Heather smile saying they all would look pretty on me. Macey agrees saying, “The third one would really look cute if you wouldn’t mind me putting in some highlights.” I rapidly select the second style as my first choice. Macey asks, “Mom is that okay with you?”
Mother says, “It will look very cute for pictures. Though I won’t be surprised if she wants it cut short come Tuesday. I do want her to see how pretty she can be. Having someone nice like you to give her a good salon experience will be precious.”
Macey asks, “Are you a tomboy like your mother is suggesting?” I try answering but stutter and have trouble getting anything out.
“Denise.” Macey seeks to encourage me, “Let’s give you a good experience here and see what you say when we’re done.” She whispers something to my mother and they seem in agreement. Mother walks away and leaves the store. It's opposite from what she said she’d do.
I’m impressed with the salon chair, it is nicer than a barber’s chair. I’m turned around and my head is lowered into a special sink. She begins to spray my hair with water and massages in some shampoo. I said, “I’ve already done that just this morning.”
She smiles, “It won’t hurt and I really want to condition your hair before we work on styling it. Do you plan to wear that lipstick for your pictures or…”
I say, “My mother chose it but I’m not a fan of it.”
Macey calls over Heather, “Heather would you come and help your cousin by selecting a nice color for today?”
Heather selects and I agree, ‘Princess Rose’. Macey has left in the conditioner for a while and now rinses out my hair. The result is it looks much fuller. Macey and Heather say it’s the body of healthier hair. Macey combs out my hair first cutting some here and there. I say to her, “I didn’t want my hair cut.”
“Denise, I’m only cutting what is needed for the style you chose. It won’t look right if I don’t. Don’t worry I will show you how to brush it out and take care of it when we’re finished. It will be real easy to care for.” She's combs out several areas and is brushing something on them. It stays on ten minutes and she rinses it out. All I know is I’m impatient and want to be done with everything.
She begins wrapping my hair around rollers of different sizes. I’ve been around when Mother does it for Sally and I’ve seen beauticians do it for my mother. I always thought for some reason it looked like a neat experience. Beauticians and the person are always happily talking at this point. I ask, she even allows me to hold the rollers as I hand them to her. I said, “Thanks, my mother always allows Sally to help her, so I wanted the same experience. Am I doing a good job of sitting still for you?”
Macey says, “Are you sure you haven’t done this before. It looks like you know what you’re doing?” I was pretty sure she was just being nice, but it made me happy. Once she’s done putting rollers in, she walks me go over to the hair dryers. Again it's something I've seen but never experienced and decided to try to like it. Heather giggles at my saying, “Yes, I’ll try that.”
Another woman came and starts to work on my toe and fingernails. My feet are sensitive. My mother gets frustrated with my kicking, but today I forced myself to hold still.
I am sure by now someone, if not everyone, knows I’m a boy but no one says anything. Heather is talking to me and at first I can’t understand her under the dryer. She turns her head like someone called her name. Now she is gone, no she’s back, but she has something for Macey. Macey lifts up the dryer and checks my hair. She smiles puts it back down and holds up five fingers. Hopefully that means only five more minutes.
She finally takes me back over to her chair. “How was that experience?”
I forgot about my disposition and say, “It was fun.” She starts to take the rollers out and comb my hair, some areas she used a styling brush. “How do you know whether to use a brush or a comb and which one when?”
Heather tries to answer as many of my questions as Macey. “You learn and remember over time,” says Heather. Macey agrees saying, “The more you do your own hair the better you will learn how to do it for yourself. One of the frustrating things for young girls is when their hair behaves differently.” We talk about the wind and sun, whether the hair has been shampooed or needs to be conditioned properly. She points an area she thought had been a bit oily.
I'm not listening as much as I watching my hair take shape. I begin to notice areas of my hair that are lighter. I asked, “How come some areas seem to reflect more light?”
Macey smiles, “I wondered how long it would take for you to notice. Your mother suggested I put in a few highlights. She said, you would probably put up a fuss if we asked. She said you had been like that all morning.”
I confessed, “I guess, I did give her a hard time. Is that why she left?”
Macey says, “Sometimes when a girl has been acting up, both the Mom and the girl need a time away from each other.” She shows me a pretty pair of earrings. They’re small rings with two pretty red stones or glass.
I said, “They’re pretty but my mother made my sister wait to have her ears pierced.”
Heather excitedly says, “You’re mother is the one who chose them for you.” I like them but I’m already upset about being dressed as a girl. I swing my arms and knock one of the earrings from Macey’s hand.
I knew I had to cooperate now and hoped I'm not in more trouble. Macey wants to finish with my hair first and then do my makeup. Thankfully Mom doesn’t think young girls should use much if any makeup. She is making an exception, supposedly for the pictures.
It all took an hour and a half. Mom insists on another stop to get a package of panties. Mom sees me staring at a pretty top and asks, “Do you think you would look good in that?”
I said, “Sally would disagree with me, she’d pick a pair of designer jeans to go with that. I prefer girls wear skirts.” Mom found the blouse in my size and a short skirt that would look attractive with it. She hands them to me saying, “Go try them on and come out and show us. Heather, I want you to choose an outfit and do the same. “
“I can’t mother,” I whisper in her ear about not being able to use the changing room. Heather takes my hand and leads me to one changing room and she goes to the next one. Mom says I look very pretty but that the outfit doesn't look right with socks and the shoes I have on. She takes me over to the shoes and we find a pair of dress sandals that go well with the outfit.
We’re waiting to pay for all we bought when I become nervous because a young man is staring at me. I'm sure he knows I'm not a girl. It became so bad that I begin to cry. The young woman with him spoke up. “I apologize for my boyfriend, but he saw you earlier and said you look like his little sister back home.”
His girlfriend is college age and very beautiful. She came over and knelt a bit in front of me, handing me a tissue. I recognize that she had been at the salon. She’s very beautiful and now she is right in front of me. I’m noticing her hair, makeup and she has several pieces of clothing ready to buy. I’m nervous knowing I'm now looking at her impolitely. I’m not sure what to say. She’s wearing a fragrance, but it seems to be coming from her the top of her blouse. I ask, “What is the fragrance you’re wearing?”
She smiles and blushes as she looks down toward her chest. She reaches into her small purse and brings a small bottle out. “It is actually not for girls your age but if your mother doesn’t mind, show me a wrist.” She uses a wand to put only a drop there and shows me how to use my pinky to apply it.
I say, “Thanks, but what is it called?”
She blushes again, “It’s called Seductive; do you know what that means?” I confess, ‘No’. She says, “Good wait and ask your mother later. You are pretty and you’ll have boys chasing you when you grow up.”
I am now fully embarrassed as the young man says, “My sister’s name is Debbie, what is your name if I can ask?”
I tell him “Denise, but I’m only twelve.” He says, “I think, she’s twelve too, she’s just finishing sixth grade.” That's the same as me.
We've paid for everything and are back to Grandma’s. Aunt Lois and Grandma compliment my hair and take interest in my outfit and sandals. I ask, “Can we take pictures and get things over with?”
Grandma says, “Your mother should get you changed into a fresh dress and wearing your new sandals. We can take one set of pictures now and the rest tomorrow.”
Mother took me to my room, she’s surprised I now want my picture taken. “Mother, I just want to get it done and over with!”
“Well your Grandmother, now sees you as a cheerful young girl wanting her picture taken.” Mom is helping me out of the dress so I don’t mess up my hair. It is then that I notice I’m wearing panties and so I complain.
Mom says, “You’ve been prancing around in those panties all day and even changed outfits once. They must agree with you. I expect they are more comfortable than your underpants. Here, you should put a fresh pair of panties on. We should do more, but Grandma is waiting to see you and everyone else wants to eat.”
The panty feels extra nice, Mom describes the type of panty it is but that is lost on me. There is another dress in the closet, that Mom says it is for tomorrow. Mother has me sit on the edge of the bed. She has the legs of stockings all rolled up and ready to go up my legs. She begins first with one foot and shows me how to pull them up. She is showing me how to work them up my legs. She has me put on the other stocking.
A pink, yellow and blue dress that she puts over my head sings of spring. She checks my makeup, takes out a bobby pin and resets one part of my hair. Mom says, “You do make one very pretty daughter. I like very much how you’re behaving.”
I know I shouldn’t have but I hug my Mother and say, “Thanks. I will deny I said it if you tell others. I don’t even know why I’m saying it. I guess because you could have embarrassed me. Worse, I could have embarrassed you. Mom cried and we needed to wait for her to gain her composure and touch up her eye makeup.
Grandma came in and escorted us out for pictures. Everyone agreed the best picture was of my Grandmother with her three granddaughters, Sally, Heather and Denise…
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