Another Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Another Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
By Angela Rasch

A response to the recent writers’ challenge.

***

Laurel was away for the week at her mother’s. I found myself on a lazy Friday afternoon looking forward to a weekend to myself, a rarity in the two years we had been married. Laurel didn’t leave me alone too often, but I would finally have time to put my feet up and relax.

I decided to look for a novel I’d been too busy to even buy and started my search in a small, used bookstore two suburbs away from where we lived. Thirty minutes later I was happily armed with a recycled grocery bag containing my book, which I had bought for 70% below the cover price. A sign in a storefront window of that same small strip mall caught my eye.

French Manicures: 50% Off to New Customers

The idea of a manicure appealed to that part of me that had been locked away deep inside -- years ago -- where no one ever went.

Men get manicures! And it’s 50% off. I thought, trying to find the courage to go into Carla’s Nail Shop.

As if by magic its door flew open in my face and a beaming soccer mom exited. Her scornful grin carried the warning my brain had been trying to get through to me. What the Hell are you doing entering a nail shop? Before I could properly react, an erotic, unmistakably feminine scent hit me in the face and snared me as my feet moved involuntarily forward.

“Can I help you?” A soothing voice came at me from one of the kindest faces I’d ever seen. She seemed to be about fifteen years older than me…not motherly, but maybe a favorite younger aunt or older sister. “Is there something I can do for you?”

I glanced around the small shop and quickly determined that we were alone together. “Do you do. . . . Can men have their nails done here?”

She smiled after taking a long moment to apparently appraise me. “I have several clients like you. Are you interested in a manicure or a pedicure?”

Pedicure? I hadn’t really considered. “A manicure. I saw your sign; and I’ve never been in here before, so I qualify for the discount — don’t I?”

Her smile faded. “I’m not sure you want. . . .”

There’s nothing I hate worse than when a store runs a bait and switch. It appeared I had been lured into her shop by the promise of a 50% reduction only to discover that she was going to try to sell me something else. “Look. . .I want the manicure offered on your sign -- the one for 50% off. Okay?”

Her smile came back and her face softened. “Absolutely,” she said. “The customer is always right.” She led me to a chair facing a workbench where she could sit across from me and directed me to sit. “It’s fifteen minutes to closing. You’re the last customer I’ll be taking today, so why don’t I arrange things a bit more privately?”

I grinned at her and readily agreed to follow her head. I guess my nervousness shows. I’m not really all that confident about having a manicure, but if I don’t like it I’ll just change the oil in my car tomorrow, and then my nails will be chipped and accented by black sludge.

She walked to the window and closed a curtain that ran the length of the storefront, including the door, which she locked from the inside.

“Men are some of my best customers,” she said warmly. “Without my special customers I wouldn’t be profitable.”

I don’t know about being special. I’m a pretty ordinary guy. Maybe she expects a big tip. Fifteen percent is my limit!

She sat in her chair and studied my hands for a minute. “Not too big and nicely shaped. You could be quite exquisite.”

Exquisite? I peered into a face that hinted of the Far East and wondered if English was her second language.

“Let’s start by making sure I don’t ruin your outfit,” she said. “Go into the dressing room and take off all of your clothes. That way we won’t have any accidents. Slip into the gown hanging on the back of the door.”

Gown? I rose and walked timidly toward the door she had indicated.

She busied herself pouring liquid into a bowl. “Hurry,” she said, impatiently. “I’d like to finish before six and these things take some time.”

The “dressing room” was barely a closet -- with a bench and several hooks on the wall. I stripped quickly and found what seemed to be a smock, not unlike something they would make you wear at a doctor’s office, except this one was pink.

“Just put it on and I’ll help you with the strings,” she called from the other side of the door. “Be sure to take off everything, including your shoes, socks, and underwear. I don’t want to have to pay for anything that gets spotted by my solvents.”

Dressed only in the smock, which came to mid-calf and felt much softer than anything I’d ever worn at my doctor’s, I swung open the door while holding things together in back for dear life.

“Men!” She giggled. “Little girls learn how to tie things behind their backs at the age of five.” She turned me around and tied what felt like large bows in the three sets of strings on the smock. “It looks lovely on you,” she sighed as she fluffed my hair. “You have such curly locks.”

I blushed and shook my head. Despite not wanting it to -- it felt good hearing her compliments. Lovely? How long has she been speaking English?

“I assume you want the complete special?”

I stared at her blankly.

“The French manicure is usually $20,” she explained. “Included in my special is a pedicure, so the combination is half price.”

I shook my head. “I don’t think I want a pedicure.”

“Then you won’t be buying my special and the price for your manicure will be $20.” Her face became cold once again.

Not one to be fooled by a slick salesperson I decided to put my foot down — figuratively. “I’ll have the special.”

Her grin reappeared. She directed me to take off my wedding band, and then placed my fingertips in a solution.

“What’s her name?” She asked.

“Her?” Who’s she talking about?

She pointed toward the circle of white where my ring had been on my otherwise tanned hand.

Laurel! My stomach lurched. “Can I trust you?” I gasped. “If I let you manicure my nails can I be sure I can remove every trace as soon as I want?”

“Of course.” She laughed. “You wife must be a real horror-show.”

“Oh no. Laurel is great. I mean, she has a temper, but only when it’s warranted. Sometimes I’m not as good a husband as she deserves; and she isn’t shy about helping me get better. But we love each other, and that’s what counts.”

“Uh huh.”

“Really.”

“How long have you known that you should have been born a woman?”

I jumped out of my seat -- nearly knocking over the tray of bottles, cotton balls, and liquid she had assembled. “What?”

“You don’t have to put on an act,” she said quietly, looking up at me. “For goodness sakes. I have a very good friend who is a sweetie -- like you. Just about everything about you screams ‘woman.’ And now, you’ve taken a big risk by coming in here and having your nails done when you know your wife would hate it. But you just can’t stand not being able to be feminine — can you?”

Tears formed in my eyes as my life flashed before me. Memories of a childhood filled with pain. Wishes. Denials. Fights. Taunts. Warnings. Sobs. Derisive laughs directed my way. Infinite care taken to lock away my dreams and my natural tendencies.

“Are there really things about me that scream ‘woman’?” I asked shyly, struggling to regain my self-control.

She bit her lip and nodded. “This is your first manicure, isn’t it?”

“Uh huh.”

“And you don’t know a French manicure from a Swiss Alp, do you?”

“No.” I hung my head.

“Oh, Honey,” she gushed. “Now you sit down. I probably know more about you than you do.”

I sat, not knowing what to say.

She reached for my hands across the small table and put my fingertips back in a bowl. “Do you have a name?”

“Roger.”

“Well, Roger. I didn’t mean your boy name. I mean the name you really would love to have. . .if you hadn’t been born in the wrong body.”

I closed my eyes. It’s possible she knows quite a bit about me. I loved Nancy Drew books and had dreamed about being her — until I found out that certain people used the name Nancy to make fun of people. . .like me. “Nancy,” I whispered and then cringed.

“Nancy is a lovely name. I have a cousin whose name is Nancy; and she and I are BFFs.”

She chattered as she worked on my hands. I had morphed into her BFF Nancy, a young woman having her nails done, like she did every other week at her BFF Carla’s nail salon.

“You’ll love how your hands will look. . .just for a few hours. I’ll change them back later tonight; and nobody will know the difference. Won’t that be fun?”

My body shuddered with pleasure while thinking how nice it would be to look down at my hands — a woman’s hands, for an entire night.

“Tell me more about Laurel?” She asked, as she filed my nails and prepared them for whatever she was going to do.

“She’s beautiful,” I gushed. “She’s my only friend,” I admitted.

Carla nodded knowingly and urged me to go on.

“I have a nice family, but a family must know its place — and Laurel and I have pretty much cut off most of my ties with Mom and Dad and my brother.”

“That sounds about right,” she said, but didn’t explain herself. “What’s your job like? Do you like it?”

I blushed. “I have to be pretty flexible in my work to accommodate Laurel’s career. She’s much more successful than I am.” I grinned. “I only work to make money, so I can give Laurel things she deserves. She’s so hard to impress.”

“Doesn’t she appreciate you?”

“Of course she appreciates me!” I had blurted that out much louder than what I should have. “You’re getting the wrong idea. Laurel’s my all-time defender. She looks out for me, making sure I’m doing the right thing.”

Carla made a clucking noise with her tongue. “I’m thinking ‘Cutie Pink,’” she said with some certainty. “With your dark skin and hazel eyes, it’s the perfect things for a girls’ night out -- or a hot date.”

I think a clear polish would be safer. I shook my head. “I’m not going out and my wife is out of town, so I won’t be going on any hot date.”

“You’re not married,” she scolded me. “Nancy, you really have to lighten up and go with the flow.”

I smiled as I remembered the rules of the game we were playing. What will it hurt? No one will ever know. “Cutie Pink’ sounds divine,” I vamped raising my voice a half octave.

She smiled knowingly and went back to her trade. “I’ll give you medium extensions. They’ll feel like eagles talons for a while, but they’re really fun. . .and sexy.”

I bit my lip slightly and gave in to the ultra-feminine rush that had been pent-up in my body for years. “You can’t know what. . .”

“Shhh, Nancy,” she cautioned. “Isn’t Brad Pitt enough to put you over the edge, or what?”

I closed my eyes. She’s asking me if fantasizing about Brad Pitt is enough to get me off when I’m. . . . “Johnny Depp,” I whispered suddenly, without really thinking and surprising myself with how deeply I felt about him.

“Oh. . . . I know what you mean. He’s heavenly.” She had taken my enthusiasm and pumped it up to a much higher level.

We chirped about all the Johnny Depp movies we had seen and all the scenes I hadn’t realized, until just then, that had meant so much to me.

Before I knew it my now lengthened fingernails had been covered with layers of Cutie Pink.

“Your toenails have a little discoloring,” she said as she examined them. “It’s probably nothing, but if you would allow me to take a small blood sample I’ll send it in to a friend’s lab; and she’ll let me know for sure, if there’s anything to worry about. There’s no extra charge.”

“Could it be serious?” I questioned. “I’m not wild about needles and. . . .”

“Fungal disorder isn’t something to sneeze at. Here, give me your arm.” She wiped the crease in my arm with alcohol on a cotton ball. “A little poke,” she said, as she pushed a hypodermic needle in and withdrew a vial full of blood. “Hold this.” She had me push down on a cotton ball over the spot she had punctured, and then taped the ball in place with a Band-Aid. “Nothing to it -- you big baby.”

Laurel calls me a baby when. . . . Laurel? I had cute little pink feminine flashes peeking out from the ends of the arms that extended from a smock that now looked much more acceptable on me. I frowned. “Are you sure this polish isn’t permanent?”

“Silly! They don’t even make permanent nail polish. Now give me your feet before you chicken out and miss all the fun.” She grabbed my foot and went to work. In minutes she had me looking quite girlish on that end as well.

If Laurel could see me now. Laurel!

“Nancy, why don’t you enjoy your polish overnight? You can come in tomorrow and I’ll change you then.”

A few hours as Nancy would be nice. “How would I get home? I can put on my shoes and socks. . . .”

“Don’t you dare cover up your beautiful toes,” Carla admonished. “You just need a little help and some Carla magic and you’ll be fine.”

I stared at her, as stupidly as I had earlier in the evening.

“Can you spend a few hundred dollars?” She asked with the tone of a co-conspirator. “I’ll make sure you have a night you won’t ever forget. One night as the Nancy you always wanted to be,” she tempted.

I have a few dollars squirreled away that Laurel doesn’t know about. “What do you have in mind?”

“Do you trust me?” She asked.

So far everything’s been okay; and she does seem like my friend. “Yes, I think so. But Laurel. . . .”

“Omigosh, Nancy. If you’re going to have any fun at all tonight you have to quit talking about your imaginary friend. Tell you what -- our hands are about the same size.”

I looked at hers. She’s right.

Carla opened a drawer and pulled out a pearl and cubic zirconium flower ring. It featured a beautiful setting and slid easily onto my finger.

“When you start to think of you-know-who I want you to rub this ring. The magic of our friendship will help you to stay in the moment and concentrate on the task at hand, which is to think about yourself for an evening.”

Laurel wouldn’t approve. I rubbed the ring and thought of how nice my hand looked wearing such a pretty piece of jewelry.

She touched my arm. “Wouldn’t you like to see what you would look like as a woman. . .just this once?”

“I’m not sure I. . .” I rubbed my new ring.

“Look. . . . I’m not going to take ‘no’ for an answer. A friend of mine owns a transformation service; she turns men into women for a living. She and I have plans to go to a movie tonight, so I know she’s free. I’ll tell you what. I’ll call her and ask her to give you a special price. It’s only a short distance from here.”

“I really shouldn’t. . . .” But, it sounds so intriguing. “Can I trust her?”

“Trust Maggie,” she giggled. “Maggie’s about the most trustworthy person I know. She wouldn’t harm a flea. Don’t worry about a thing. I’ve referred dozens of my special customers to Maggie; and I’ve never once had a complaint.”

I vigorously rubbed my ring.

“Here, Nancy. You put on these flip-flops of mine and cover your smock with this light coat. We’ll go in my car.”

Her cranberry, double-breasted trenchcoat fell to my ankles. No one can possibly see my smock under this. And — I do like the color, although it clashes a bit with my nails.

Three hours later I walked out of Maggie’s place a new woman.

I had thrown three hundred dollars and caution to the wind; and it was definitely worth it. My new dress alone must have cost plenty. It was a black little thing that Carla called a cocktail dress. I called it “barely able to keep me modest,” but it felt and looked simply amazing.

Maggie had worked from my skin out -- even deeper, as she had been brain-washing me into thinking I had been born a girl from the moment I walked in her front door. She started by removing all the hair from my body. At first I balked a bit, but the two of them convinced me I could tell anyone who cared that I had done it to be faster riding my bike. I had rubbed my ring a lot on that one.

They curled and fooled with my hair, after they used something on it to make it platinum blonde. Carla had shown me the dye she would use later to return it to my normal color.

Then they glued prosthetic breast on my chest and dressed me in undergarments that had strategic padding to give me a figure. I was pulled in and pushed out, in just the right places.

They used a basket full of cosmetics to make my face look believable with my new dress.

“Pierced ears are a must,” Carla insisted.

“That’s just too permanent.” No amount of ring rubbing will change that fact.

“Not at all,” she said with her usual patience. “After you see how good you look in dangly earrings you can simply take them out, use a little foundation on your ears to cover the holes for a few days, and they’ll grow shut. Nothing could be more natural.”

I relented, feeling a little foolish for having been so naíve and frightened.

When they finally allowed me to see myself in the mirror I couldn’t believe how wonderful I looked.

“Thank you,” I said quietly. I didn’t know what to add that would fully express how much their efforts meant to me. They had spent hours on me and couldn’t possibly be making any money from their co-venture. They had even loaned me their own jewelry for the night to add authenticity to my look. I would have to return it in the morning when Carla changed me back. “You two are just wonderful. If there is ever anything I can do for you, just name it.”

“Don’t mention it,” Maggie said. “The joy in your eyes is thanks enough.”

Carla sighed. “You’re simply lovely. I just knew the minute you walked into my shop that you would be perfect in your natural state.”

I blushed. “Thanks to both of you.” I’ll never do this again, but I’m extremely glad I did it. I stared in the mirror again trying to sear the image I saw into my brain. “My goodness, I’ve used up your Friday night.” I sighed. “I’ll get my things together and go home. You two might be able to salvage something out of your evening.”

Carla laughed. “I wouldn’t think of allowing you to go without taking you out for a drink.”

“A d-d-drink,” I stammered in horror.

This time it was Maggie who laughed. “Don’t worry. I know of a place where there’s absolutely no chance of you having any sort of a problem. I’ve taken nearly a hundred clients there; and nothing has ever gone wrong.”

“No.” I simply can’t.

“Really, Nancy,” Carla said. “One drink and you will have experienced the whole enchilada. Think of it. You’re pretty good in your heels. Wouldn’t it be fun to hear them clicking as you walk into a bar? Wouldn’t you like to feel the breeze blowing up under your skirt, just once?”

They’re crazy.

“It’s a beautiful evening,” Maggie said. “The bar’s just a few blocks away. We’ll take my car, have one little drink, and be back here in fifteen minutes.”

“What if the police. . . .”

“There’s no law against cross-dressing,” Carla said. “Have I steered you wrong tonight?

“Well, no. . . .”

Carla bit her lip and appeared to be a little hurt. “I wouldn’t do anything to harm you.”

“Ohhhh — I know that. How far is it to this bar?”

Before I knew it they had sprayed me with a perfume called Spring Fever. Carla said it was light, fruity, and floral, to match my personality, which she said reminded her of Halle Berry or Sheryl Crow. We were sitting at a table in a bar with dim lighting. Carla ordered the house white wine for all three of us.

As my eyes got used to the lighting I could see mostly couples with their heads together in private conversations. A few lucky ones were dancing to soft, romantic music coming through speakers on the walls. I wasn’t the only one in the bar who was cross-dressed.

“Hi, Carla,” he said as he approached our table. The two of them were obviously friends.

One drink turned into two; and Joshua led us through a number of amusing topics. Under different circumstances I think he and I could have hit it off as buddies. For some reason I had to consciously stop myself from rubbing my ring. Another glass of wine seemed to help.

Carla’s cell phone played Hello Young Lovers from The King and I, and then her face fell as she listened to a voice at the other end. “I’ve got to go. My mother’s been taken to an emergency room.”

“I’ll give you a ride,” Maggie offered, sounding equally concerned.

“Let’s go,” Carla said, getting to her feet. “They said she needs me by her side; she fell and . . . .” She started to cry.

“Go,” Joshua said. “I’ll take care of Nancy.”

“Oh. . . .” Carla wailed. “Nancy, I’ll be at your house tomorrow morning to help you with your hair and things? I feel terrible, but. . . .”

“No. . . . You go,” I stated flatly. “Don’t worry about a thing. You have my address on the check I wrote to you.”

Maggie and Carla hurried out, with Carla looking over her shoulder at me and mouthing, “Tomorrow.”

“I suppose we should go,” I said, even though the waitress arrived just then with another round of drinks.

“Let’s finish these, and then I’ll take you home,” Joshua offered.

“I can take a cab to my car, which is still at Carla’s,” I suggested.

“I wouldn’t think of it. Neither of us should drive; and Carla would kill me if I didn’t come with you in your cab and see you to your door. Any friend of Carla’s deserves better treatment than a ride home alone.”

Within moments Joshua and I were talking easily about an art exhibit that had opened recently, which we both had loved. The drinks kept coming; and he successfully coaxed me onto the dance floor.

The Nancy in me flourished in his arms. After he made it clear to me that Carla and he were like brother and sister I didn’t feel at all uncomfortable when we moved to a booth and his arm encircled me.

His first kiss left me only wanting more. . .and more.

Joshua did go with me in the cab — a ride I won’t ever forget. He then seamlessly found his way into my bed where things proceeded quite naturally. . .several times.

Shortly before sunrise he turned to me. “I have a confession.”

I ran a finger over the muscles on his chest. “Isn’t it me who had the secret tonight?”

He smiled. “A secret I’m learning to love.”

I melted at the word ‘love” and snuggled in close under his arm.

He spoke earnestly. “I’m beginning to see where the two of us might not be able to live without a long future together.”

I smiled deeply and would have purred had I only known how. “I see no problem with that.” There’s no chance of us seeing each other again, but I’ll play the “Nancy” game a while longer.

“We can’t start a life together without a clean slate,” he said. He spoke slowly; without too much shame he explained that I had been set up. Carla had charged him $5,000 to find a “virgin” who had been checked for STDs.

I should have been outraged, but the sex had been marvelous. I clenched my buttocks muscles involuntarily.

He continued. “After you had been in her shop for only a few minutes she had identified your true nature and put her plan in effect. When she called Maggie to set an appointment for your transformation, Maggie knew she should call me. Our meeting in the bar was anything but coincidental. Carla’s emergency phone call had actually been from someone who worked in a lab who had processed the blood sample you’d given; she told her it was clean. I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve dreamt all my life of finding someone like you. Had I realized I would fall in love I. . . .” Tears ran down his face.

I was at a loss for words. I couldn’t believe the situation I had allowed myself to get into, but . . . I couldn’t believe how truly marvelous I felt. Of course, a long-term relationship is out of the question. His infatuation is a mind-blowing compliment, but it can’t possibly work between us. We can have a few more hours of fantasy together, and then it will be over.

I pressed my body into his. “Let’s sleep on it. Things will look different in the morning. We can talk then.”

I woke first and crept from the bed to my bathroom. A quick shower, shave and some of the cosmetics in the drawer created a miraculously pretty vision in my mirror. I found a negligee in the closet which fit perfectly, and then suitably dressed, went to the kitchen. A little bit longer as Nancy won’t hurt anyone.

Joshua came out fifteen minutes later, obviously hungry. . .for me.

There are people who shouldn’t allow anyone to see them until at least five in the afternoon. Joshua was one of those who popped out of bed looking stunning — and ready for more action.

We made it as far as the couch in the living room before I pushed him to a sitting position and fell to my knees in front of him -- burying my face in his lap.

In the light of day, without any alcohol, he still tasted and felt wonderful. I was enjoying a huge mouthful when the front door opened; and I heard the sound of high heels on our wood, living room floor.

Oh God. Carla came over earlier than I had expected.

“Roger, I’m home and. . .aaiiiieeEEEEEE!” Laurel’s suitcase fell to the floor.

That was the beginning of a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

The End



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