Gene or Jean? - Part 2 - French Class.
Chapter 8 - The Project for French Class.
Author’s Note: Some of the dialog that follows would naturally be spoken in the French language, but all of it is presented in English.
I was in the college prep program in high school, and had elected to take French to fulfill my language requirement. By my second year I was beginning to enjoy learning French. Part of that was due to the teacher, Mademoiselle Vert. Roughly translated, her name in English would be “Miss Green.’ Mlle Vert, aside from being very attractive, was a superb teacher, and this made her classes interesting.
My Aunt Lucille by marriage was originally from Quebec and spoke French. Since she and my uncle now lived only a short distance away, I was able to practice my French with her from time to time. In addition to this, she had a collection of what I loosely called French ‘cabaret’ or ‘art’ songs, some of which are hauntingly beautiful. With my Aunt’s help, I acquired recordings of many of these songs, along with scores and lyrics. I really liked Plaisir D’Amour written by Jean Paul Martini in the 18th century and Parlez-Moi D’Amour which was written in 1930 by Jean Lenoir. Among my other talents, I could play the piano and easily sight read most scores. I also had a good singing voice, if maybe a little higher than most of the other boys in the school.
One day, Mlle Vert announced that each student was to do a project as part of the grade. The scope of the projects was quite broad; it just had to be about France or the French language. Naturally all projects were to be presented to the class, and the use of English was forbidden. I knew immediately that I wanted to sing either Plaisir D’Amour or Parlez-Moi D’Amour or both. My Aunt was excited when I told her about the project. “You already know the accompaniment and melody,” My Aunt said, “but, mon cheri, your pronounciation must be perfect. Unfortunately,”she added, “my pronunciation is what is used in Quebec, not Paris.”
I finally decided on Parlez-Moi D’Amour, and submitted an outline of my project to Mlle. Vert. “That sounds wonderful,” she said and then added with a wicked grin on her face, “so are you going to dress up as Lucienne Boyer when you sing it?”
I frowned, “Hardly,” I replied, “a male may sing it.”
“But it would be wonderful if you did it as Lucienne Boyer, since she made it famous,” she said.
It was then that I noticed that Sandy had overheard that conversation. I hoped that she either didn’t understand what was said, or would just ignore it.
I decided to change the subject. “Could we get a piano or keyboard for this room?” I asked.
“I’ll see if we can,” she replied.
Shortly after choosing my project, I happened to mention it to Sandy, and we met at lunch to talk about our projects. Sandy didn’t mention what she had overheard about me dressing like Lucienne Boyer, and I most certainly wasn’t going to.
I asked about her project. Sandy had decided to do a presentation on French fashions.
“Do you have a color printer?” she asked.
“Yeah, why?” I answered.
“Because my printer is only black and white, and I want to print out pictures of fashions, and they will look better if in color,” she replied.
“How about Saturday afternoon?” I asked, “And you can hear my song.”
“That sounds great,” she said with a smile.
* * *
That Saturday I met Sandy at the door, with my sisters hovering around in the background. I had told them of Sandy’s project, and they were interested. As for my project, they couldn’t seem to care, since I was always singing and playing the piano. Sandy asked about the song I was singing and I showed her the score. It had a picture of Lucienne Boyer on the cover. I then played a recording of Lucienne Boyer singing the song. Hearing a female voice, my sisters suddenly became interested.
“So you’re going to sing a girl’s song?” Gloria asked with a snicker.
“It’s not a girl song or a boy song,” I instructed her, “both females and males have recorded it.”
“But are you going to sing it as a girl?” Gloria asked, ignoring what I previously said.
I just gave her a dirty look in response.
However, Sandy picked up on this exchange. “Didn’t Mlle. Vert suggest that you dress up like Lucienne Boyer when you sing it?” she interjected. Now my sisters were as interested in my project as a bunch of vultures looking at a fresh kill. This conversation was quickly getting out of control.
I tried to calm things down. “She said it as a joke,” I asserted.
“But you admit that she suggested it,” said Emma, with a wicked smile on her face.
“She wasn’t serious,” I said.
“How can you be sure?” Emma said, “after all, you do make a pretty girl.”
“As good looking as I am,” chimed in Nancy.
Sandy gave me a questioning look. “Just ignore them,” I told her, “we’ve got to work on our projects.” Finally, my sisters went away.
Chapter 9 - Preparations.
I found out from Mlle. Vert that she could not get a piano or keyboard for her classroom. “Don’t worry,” I said, “I’ll record the piano track to a CD and we can use a CD player for my project. I’ll still be live for the vocals.”
I began to work on my vocal range. Because I had not been doing a lot of singing, my range had shrunk. Only a lot of practice would do the trick. I decided to transpose the score to my highest tesseratura possible. This turned out to be a high tenor, or maybe a low alto. I liked a husky sound for my voice on this song.
Getting the correct vocal range was a minor problem compared with getting the pronunciation correct. This involved working with my aunt and listening to recordings time and time again.
Finally I had the music and pronunciation down pat. Only the presentation was still up in the air. My preference was to sing it as a man. I could wear black slacks, a black long sleeved turtleneck top, a black vest, left open and a black beret. I already had the slacks. I hoped to find a vest at the thrift store. I would have to buy the turtleneck, but I could use it when I dressed as a girl, same with the beret.
On the other hand, there was the image I had conjured up when listening to Lucienne Boyer’s recording. In my mind I could imagine it being late at night and being in a cellar nightclub in Paris, dark and smoky, where a beautiful chanteuse would come out from behind a curtain and sing one of these songs. I could imagine it was 1930 with Lucienne Boyer singing Parlez-Moi D’Amour.
Then there was hard reality. Unfortunately my presentation would take place in a high school classroom, with florescent lights, and obviously no tobacco smoke in the air. Furthermore, there was no beautiful chanteuse. I would be the one doing the singing, and I was no Lucienne Boyer.
I related all of this to Mlle. Vert, and told her I would prefer to sing it as a man. The alternative just seemed to be too difficult. My image of 1930 Paris didn’t comport with reality. “That is a beautiful image you created, mon cheri,” she said. “You know, I can get some room dividers to create a back stage area. We can turn off the lights and move the chairs so the light from the windows would shine on our pretend stage. You could start your CD of the accompaniment, and step out from behind the room dividers, and sing.”
“I guess that would be the best that we can do,” I said, “we’ll just not mention that we are pretending it’s 1930, and not mention Lucienne Boyer. I’m sure that none of the other students have ever heard the song before, let alone have heard Mlle. Boyer sing.”
“I don’t know,” Mlle. Vert said, “there was a movie some years ago where a boy was transported back in time to the 1930's in Paris, and Parlez-Moi D’Amour was part of the sound track.”
“I remember seeing the movie,” I said, “that’s probably where I got my image. However, I checked out the soundtrack and the song was an instrumental. No vocals.”
“Anyway,” I added with a cynical smile, “I presume that my grade on the project will greatly depend on how well I pronounce the lyrics, and not on the quality of my voice, or what I wear.” Mlle. Vert just smiled.
Mlle. Vert wasn’t going to let my image of 1930's Paris go. “When I was a little girl, my Grandmother had a recording of the song, sung by Lucienne Boyer, and I listened to it time and time again, and fell in love with it. I too had an image to go along with the song, and that image included Lucienne Boyer.”
“How is your voice?” she then asked.
“I’ve exercised my voice and I can sing high tenor and maybe even alto in addition to baritone,” I answered.
“Then maybe you can sound like a beautiful chanteuse?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered, “anyway I have recordings of the song sung by a man, so I could do it as a male.”
“Yes, but I am captivated with the image you created, and I see it being sung by a woman,” she said.
“But I’m not a woman,” I replied.
“Your voice range is not too far off,” she said.
She then looked carefully at me, and finally said, “You probably could make a reasonable looking woman. Have you ever dressed in women’s clothes?”
I really didn’t want to truthfully answer this question, but I remember my Father’s advice, ‘When in doubt always tell the truth.’
Finally I admitted that I had.
“And how did you look?”
“I don’t know for sure, Okay, I guess,” I answered.
“Do you have any pictures?”
“No, but my parents might.”
I paused for a few seconds, and then asked, “I can’t very well wear a dress to school, so where could I change?” By asking this I had just moved singing as a girl from the improbable into the possible.
“We could get more room dividers, and make a sort of backstage changing area.” she suggested.
“I’d need help changing,” I said.
“Who are you thinking about?”
“Sandy,” I answered.
“Think about it, and we’ll talk about it later,” she concluded.
That night at supper I mentioned what Mlle. Vert and I had discussed. As expected, this caught the full attention of my sisters. “After supper, why don’t we check out the Internet?” Emma suggested.
Emma’s search resulted in several possibilities. One that my sisters liked was made of black polyester, with an A-line gathered skirt that flared out a bit. The bodice was tight fitting and made of lace, with a solid under part which went up to the bust. The lace top covered the solid part and had a vee neckline. It had lace 3/4 sleeves.
Included in the description were the sizes. Unfortunately my waist was too big and my hips and bust too small. When I pointed this out to my sisters, Emma suggested a corset. I wasn’t too sure about this.
We showed the picture to my Mother. “Do you have a dress like this?” Nancy asked.
“I don’t but why don’t we check with your Aunt?” suggested my Mother.
I didn’t like the way things were going. While I really liked wearing a dress in private, wearing it in front of the whole class was more than I wanted to do. “Look,” I said, “men have sung this song, so this whole idea of me trying to be a woman is not necessary.”
“It should be okay if you tell everyone it’s just a costume,” said Emma.
“I could do that, but most of my fellow students would ignore the costume part and only remember that I wore a dress,” I observed, “and give me all sorts of grief about it.”
Then I remembered about Mlle. Vert’s question about pictures. “Mlle. Vert asked if I had ever dressed in women’s clothes, and when I admitted that I had, she asked if I had any pictures, which I do not. Did you save any of the pictures?” I asked my Dad.
“I did.” he said, “Let me look at what I have and I will select a suitable one, if there is one that is suitable. Obviously one with you wearing a nightgown is not suitable.”
Mother was getting into the spirit of things. “Why don’t we check with your Aunt, and if she has something suitable, you could always get dressed, and your Father could take a picture.” She gave me an appraising look, and said, “Emma might be right, you might need a corset.”
At the mention of a corset, I gave my Mother a frown.
Later that week Mother and I visited my Aunt. She went to the back of her closet. Hanging in a garment bag was a black cocktail dress, with a knee length flared skirt, similar to the one we had seen on the internet. Also in the garment bag was a black corset. “You want to see if you can get into this?” she asked.
“I guess so, what’s the harm in trying.”
“Okay, ” she said, “Strip down and put on these panties.” She handed me a pair of black panties. In preparation, I had brought a black bra and my home made breast forms. I went to the bathroom and put on the panties and my bra, with the breast forms. When I returned, my Aunt gave me a knowing smile, and said, “It seems that you have worn women’s clothes before.” I just nodded my head.
Mother wrapped the corset around me. It had bra cups built in, so I took off my bra. The corset had garter straps, and fastened in front. In back were the laces. Mother fastened it, and began to pull on the laces. “Try this, and we’ll see how far we have to pull it.” With that she lowered the dress down on me, and tried the zipper. Of course it wouldn’t zip.
“I think another two inches should do it,” she said, and began to pull really hard on the laces. I complained about not being able to breath, and how uncomfortable it was. None of my complaints deterred my mother from the two inches. At last she was finished, and this time the dress was able to be zipped up.
“This corset is designed to enhance your cleavage. Put your forms in the cups, and let’s see what we have.” True to its design, it gave me a hint of cleavage. “I don’t think that I have any black hose, so you’ll have to get some. You might want to think about getting real breast forms.”
The next day my Mother and I went shopping. I put on the corset and my Mother laced it up. I then I put on my half slip, which was white, and my kilt. On top, I wore a camisole and a sheer sleeveless blouse, leaving the top buttons unbuttoned.
“You’ll need black underwear and a black slip,” Mother commented.
Suitably attired, my Mother and I went shopping. The black slip and hose were no problem. Then we went into a shop that had all sorts of under things.
A clerk approached us. “May I help you?” she asked.
“Yes, my son needs some breast forms. He has to wear a costume where he is a woman.”
“Oh, I see,” she said, “and is this your son?”
“Yes,” Mother replied.
“Come into the back room, and take off your blouse and camisole,” the clerk requested, which when I did, she noticed the corset. “You came prepared. What size are you looking for?” she asked.
“B cup,” my Mother answered.
“We have quite a few gentlemen customers. Let me show you the forms that most of them like,” and with that she took a box of breast forms off from a shelf. “These can be glued on, and the join line concealed with makeup. They come with instructions, and I can provide you with the correct adhesive and removal solution.” With that, she slipped a pair of forms into the cups of the corset. “These look like a good fit,” she commented.
My Mother grimaced at the price, but bought them along with the adhesive and remover.
Once back home, it was time to try everything on. My sisters insisted on helping, even though their help was not needed. I took off all of my clothes, except for the corset and panties. I then carefully put on the stockings. “Put the suspender straps under your panties,” my Mother suggested, “It makes it much easier when you have to use the toilet.” When this was done, Mother cinched the corset a bit tighter, despite my complaints. I put on the black full slip and a pair of shoes. Then it was time to put on the dress. To my amazement, it fit and could be zipped up.
“Let me do her hair,” Nancy insisted.
“I’ll do her makeup,” Emma said.
Mother joined in and applied some makeup to my chest to give me a hint of cleavage. I went to the mirror to see the final result, and was pleased with what I saw. I looked like a young lady about to go out for the evening to a night club.
“Okay, picture time,” Father announced. When this was done, Father went to the computer and printed out one copy each of two different photographs. “Just for your information, I have erased all of the photos from my camera and the computer, so don’t even try to find them.” He put the two photographs in an envelope and handed them to me. “For Mlle. Vert,” he explained.
When this was done, he announced, “I am not at all happy with this, and I hope that your Mlle. Vert doesn’t like them and this whole idea is abandoned.” He paused for a second, and then said, “However, after seeing the photographs, I’ll bet she loves them.”
Before the start of school the next morning I pulled Sandy aside and showed her the phonograph and briefly explained what was going on. “Wow, is this you? You’re gorgeous!”
I told her that I would give her a more detailed explanation after school.
After French class was over, I gave Mlle. Vert the photographs. “Oh, these are wonderful. You just have to wear this dress when you sing the song.”
Over the next few days, Sandy and I practiced getting me dressed, my hair done, and makeup applied. We decided that I would wear the corset, breast forms, hose and panties under my school clothes, and I would wear a bulky flannel shirt to cover everything up, since otherwise the corset and breast forms gave me an unmistakable feminine figure.
Chapter 10 - The Performance - Chanson Francaise.
Mlle. Vert’s classroom was not being used during the period before my presentation, and Sandy and I were able to arrange the room dividers to provide a secure dressing area. The desks had already been moved to face the impromptu stage. Mlle. Vert gave Sandy and me notes to give to the teachers of our classes immediately prior to my presentation, asking that we be excused from those classes. Sandy and I had a whole period to get ready.
Just before French class was to begin, Mlle. Vert arrived into the classroom, accompanied by Mr. Freund, the Principal; Ms. Morris, the Chorus Director; and Mr. Hanes, the Head of the Drama Department. Mlle. Vert told me that she had invited them to my presentation. “The chorus is planning to sing some works in French, and they wanted to hear your pronunciation and see your stage presence.” she explained.
When the class was assembled, she announced that everyone was to imagine that they were in a night club in Paris in the 1930's, and with that the overhead lights were turned off.
I started the CD player and slunk out of the backstage area. The class went up for grabs when they saw me, with a greeting of catcalls and whistles. I had anticipated that this might happen and had recorded some introductory music before the start of the song. Everyone quieted down, and the actual song began. I flashed everyone a big smile and began to sing, using a slightly husky voice, the following lyrics:
Redites-moi ces mots suprêmes :
Je vous aime...
Which roughly translated into English are:
Speak to me of love
And say what I'm longing to hear
Tender words of love
I had brought a single rose, which was in a narrow vase on the so called stage. I picked it up, and moved forward, toward the principal.
With a sexy look on my face, I brushed the Principal’s cheek with the rose when singing, in French, naturally, ‘Tender words of love.’ The Principal’s cheeks turned as red as the rose, and everyone applauded. I then moved around the room, singing to each one of the boys, individually. The boys smiled; the girls gave me dirty looks.
Towards the end of the song, I moved toward the back of the stage, and at the end of the song, everyone applauded, especially the Principal. Well, maybe not everyone, some of the girls just glared at me. During the applause, I made a curtsey, and went back behind the room dividers.
Mlle. Vert then addressed the class, “I’m pleased that you enjoyed the song. Let’s have a round of applause for the Principal for being a good sport.” During this applause, the Principal stood up and beamed a smile at the class.
Mlle. Vert continued, “Would our chanteuse come back out, along with her, I mean his, wonderful assistant?” and Sandy and I came out for a curtain call.
“I want you to know that Gene played and recorded the accompaniment, in addition to singing. Would you like to hear it again?” They did, and I repeated the song.
“Does our chanteuse have anything else?” she asked.
“I prepared another song, Plaisir D’Amour, by Martini. Would you like to hear it?” They did, and so I performed it.
There was still some time left in the class period, and Mlle. Vert invited the members of the class to quietly discuss the songs and the performance among themselves, “In French,” she announced, “I don’t want to hear a word of English from any of you.”
While this was going on, the Principal and the chorus and drama teachers came up to me, along with Mlle. Vert, who then said, “The French only does not apply to the faculty and administration.”
“Thank you,” the Principal said, “because I took German in school.”
The Chorus Director looked at me and said, “You’re not in the chorus, are you?” and before waiting for an answer, she added, “I can always use a strong female voice like yours,”
“Unfortunately, I’m not female,” I responded.
“You certainly had me fooled,” she replied, “In any event, male or female, I could certainly use your voice, so will you join the chorus?”
“Wait a minute,” the Drama Teacher said, “How about me. She has stage presence, a strong voice, good moves, and I have lots of parts for her.” He paused for a moment, and then continued, “Did I hear you correctly, that you are a boy?”
“I am,” I responded.
“Then why sing as a girl?”
“Mlle. Vert and I listened to Lucienne Boyer’s recording of it. It was her song, and to get the right atmosphere for the song, I sang it as a girl.”
“Who did your costume and makeup?”
“My Mother did the dress, and Sandy did my makeup and hair today,” I answered.
“Even if you’re lured into the chorus,” he said, looking at the Chorus Director, “I really could use both of you backstage doing costumes and makeup. So promise me you will.”
“Okay,” we both replied.
Word spread about my performance, which was a good thing, because I wouldn’t have a chance to change out of the dress until after my last class, which was Health. Interestingly, the health class was studying sex education in general, and on that day, transvestites. Being dressed as I was, a lot of comments in the class appeared to be directed to me.
I was happy when I returned home and was able to take off the makeup and especially that blasted corset. Of course, that didn’t happen right away, because, as you can guess, Mother wanted to take pictures.
The next day, Sandy asked me to take a walk with her. “Gene,” she said, “the way you got dressed and undressed, you’ve done this lots before, haven’t you?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“And you have your own girl clothes.”
“You’ve seen them,” I reminded her
“How often do you dress like a girl?”
“It depends,” I said, “sometimes I dress when I come home from school, and stay dressed until I go to bed.”
“And what do you wear to bed?”
I didn’t answer this question, which probably was as good as admitting that I wore an nightgown.
“Gene, do you like being a girl?”
“Yeah, but I like being with you as a boy more.”
* * *
Author’s note: The English translation of the songs are as follows:
Speak to me of love
And say what I'm longing to hear
Tender words of love
Repeat them again
I implore you speak to me of love
Whisper these words to me, dear
I adore you.
I want to hear,
to hear those words that are so dear
I want to hear you say I love you
By all the little stars above you
Your voice is like a fun caress
It thrills me till I must confess
I long to hear the voice that brings me
Such thrilling love and happiness
The pleasure of love lasts only for a moment,
The pain of love lasts a lifetime.
You’ve left me for the beautiful Sylvia,
And she’s leaving you for another lover.
The pleasure of love lasts only for a moment,
The pain of love lasts a lifetime.
As long as this water will run gently
Towards this brook which borders the meadow,
I will love you, Sylvia told you repeatedly.
The water still runs, but she has changed.
The pleasure of love lasts only for a moment,
The pain of love lasts a lifetime.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.