After discovering that his school friend Peter is a petticoated boy, John has been invited
to Peter's birthday party. Of course John would rather avoid the party since his petticoated
friend will have to wear a party dress for the occasion, but John's mother suggests that
he shows his friend some support by not only attending his birthday party,
but by wearing a party dress too. [read part one here]
to Peter's birthday party. Of course John would rather avoid the party since his petticoated
friend will have to wear a party dress for the occasion, but John's mother suggests that
he shows his friend some support by not only attending his birthday party,
but by wearing a party dress too. [read part one here]
John is dressed and ready to go to the party, but with all the worry surrounding his outfit, choosing Peter a birthday present, let alone a birthday card has completely slipped his mind. Fortunately his mother has thought of that and has a card ready and waiting for him to sign, plus and ready wrapped birthday present. “What is it?” John asked. “Oh Mum he won't want that!” he exclaims when he's told that he'll be giving his friend a Disney Princess colouring book. He signs the card and seals the envelope, hoping his friend won't be too offended with such a girlie gift and card. John's mother asks if he's ready to go and with his handbag, gift and card in hand, he is. Now he has to take the giant leap from the front door to the car, which he finds panic inducing to say the least. The little solace the front seat offers is just enough to calm his nerves, but when his mother tells him to sit in the back, he begins to protest. “Petticoated boys don't sit in the front, they sit in the back.” she tells him. “Now do as you're told and get in the back.” she insists. In a clear strop, Peter gets out of the front passenger door and into the back of the car. When he arrives at Peter's house, his doubly annoyed to discover that his mother has activated the child locks so he has to wait for her to let him out. It's a nervous wait after ringing the doorbell as the wind whips around his legs and up his dress. John had half expected it to be just he and Peter in attendance, but there's three more petticoated boys there; one of whom he recognises from school. Everyone compliments his dress and John tries his very best to appear grateful... he returns the compliment to Peter who's wearing the prissy pink dress he'd seen displayed on the mannequin in his room. Sheepishly, John hands over the birthday card and gift and mumbles “My Mum chose them.”
Peter opens the card first and appears grateful, then unwraps the gift. He thanks John and says he likes colouring books, before showing John the other gifts he's received. Alongside a plastic jewellery set consisting of a tiara, clip on earrings, necklace and bracelet, a new outfit for his Barbie doll, a Hello Kitty stationery set and a Tinker Bell bedside lamp, the princess colouring book maybe isn't the worst gift he's received from his guests. Peter's mother gives John a fizzy drink in a pink spill proof beaker before asking where he got his 'lovely' dress from. “Er... Mum took me to Brighton.” John replied, before being prompted to correct himself. “Mummy took me to Brighton.”
“How lovely!” Peter's mother gushes. “I hope your knickers are just as pretty.” she says. John reluctantly nods before being persuaded to lift his short dress to reveal them. “Oh they are nice!” she states. “Peter's got some just like them!” she says, adding that the embroidered name is of course Peter and not John.
Whilst the boys are under the supervision of several adults, they're occasionally left alone where they speak more freely. The boy who John vaguely recognises from school introduces himself before telling him not to mention anything about this to anyone at school. “No one needs to know that we're petticoated and if they do... it'll only get worse.” Paul tells him.
John promises to keep quiet and claims that he's only wearing a dress for Peter's party. “I'm not normally petticoated.” he adds.
“You might think that but...chances are you've only just started.” Paul suggests. The others tend to agree, then an adult walks in and Paul instantly changes the conversation to “...I really wanted to wear my yellow dress but Mummy bought me this one especially.” He holds out the skirt of his minty green frock to reveal the cup cake pattern printed on it. John plays along and says it's really nice, before asking what the yellow one's like. Paul describes it as “...nice and short like yours, with white daisies all over it.”
“Right boys... are you all having a nice time?” one of the adults asks. The boys all nod and say they are. “Jolly good, who's ready for something to eat?” she asks. John follows suit with the other boys and feigns excitement. They take their seats around the table and Peter's mother enters pushing a hostess trolley. A pink paper plate is placed in front of each of them with a couple of sandwiches, some potato salad, a stuffed vol-au-vent, a sausage roll, some cheese & pineapple sticks and a small pile of potato crisps. “Now eat it all up boys... then you can have some cake!”
They're left alone once more and Nigel states how he hates vol-au-vants, before sinking his teeth in to it. “Why are you eating it then?” John asked. He's advised to eat everything regardless of whether he likes it or not before being informed that any sort of disobedience is likely to result in a public outing. “What's that?” John ignorantly asked.
“Could be anything... a trip to the park, shopping, McDonalds.” he's told. “Anywhere you're likely to be seen by people who know you.” Nigel adds. With this information, John makes sure he eat everything on his plate, not that he particularly disliked any of the food in front of him.
The princess party plates are cleared, the lights dim and Peter is presented with his birthday cake. He blows out the candles, makes a wish and the lights are turned back on. His cake is predictably girlie, being a pink princess castle with five turrets. Peter poses for several photographs with his cake. Then, much to John's dismay, they all pose for a group photo before the cake is cut. They're given a turret each which is a pink inverted ice cream cone filled with marshmallow and jelly, then they're each given a slice of cake. Thankfully they're not expected to eat the whole thing!
After eating, Peter's mother asks if they're ready to pay some party games. John had been dreading this potentiality, and for good reason! They play pass the parcel, an awful variation of pin the tail on the donkey called pin the pony tail on the princess, musical chairs and finally musical statues. The games are obviously rigged as each of Peter's four guests win a prize; John's being a Cinderella stationery set in a pink plastic case. Nigel won a book full of press-out paper dolls. Andrew won a plastic jewellery set and Paul won a blister pack of hair clips, hair slides and headbands. They all pretended they liked their prizes in front of the adults, but once alone, their disdain for all things girlie became apparent. “Mum's gonna make me wear every one of these!” Paul groans as he stares disdainfully at his pack of hair accessories, every item is pink, glittery and very very girlie. In comparison, John's sissy stationary set doesn't seem so bad
After a couple of hours, Nigel's father came to collect him, although they didn't leave straight away. Nigel stands sheepish, silent and shy as his father chats with the other grown-ups, making sure he's behaved himself and played nicely with the other boys. Not long afterwards Paul's mother arrived, closely followed by John's mother. It was just like when he arrived with all the adults complimenting the boy's dresses as well as Peter's 'lovely' birthday presents. Finally John and his mother left and she asked if he'd had a nice time. “Well... apart from the fact it was girl's party, it was OK I guess.” John replied. His mother told him that it wasn't a girl's party, but a petticoated boy's party. “Am I going to wear dresses all the time now?” he asked.
“Not all the time.” his mother replied. “But now we know how nice you look, it'd be a shame to never wear one again.” she said. John didn't reply. “Peter's birthday dress looked lovely didn't it?”
“I guess.” he groaned. At least his dress came more or less down to his knees, unlike John's which is so short he worried he'd flash his knickers every time he moved. Andrew's dress was of a similar length to John's and he often did.
When they arrived home, the very first thing John wanted to do was to get out of the dress, but his mother said he may as well keep it on until bedtime. “Oh please Mum... I hate it!!” he whined.
“You've asked once and I've answered. Please don't be disobedient John.” she calmly requested. John grumbled something negative that included the words 'stupid' and 'dress'. He mother gave him a stern look and said, “John... I don't want to tell you a third time.”
“OK. Sorry.” he mumbled, before being prompted to reply properly. “Sorry Mummy.” he said. She asked if she could have a look at the prize he'd won, that being the girlie stationery set consisting of a pen, pencil, pencil sharpener, eraser, ruler and a little set square and compass, all neatly arranged in a pink plastic case with a picture of Cinderella on the front. His mother said it was lovely and that it'll be ideal for doing his homework. “I've already got pens and stuff.” John dryly replied.
“Yes but not nice ones like this.” his mother said, before claiming that it would be a shame not to use it.
John sat himself in the sitting room and his mother began faffing with his hair. “What are you doing?” he whined
“I'm trying to sort your hair slides out.” his mother replied. “There, that's much better.” she said.
“Mum?” he asked after a few uncomfortable minutes. She gave him a look, probably for not saying 'mummy'. John continued. “Why do I have to call you Mummy all of a sudden?” he asked.
“Because 'Mummy' is a more appropriate term for petticoated boys.” she replied.
“So I am petticoated then?” he reluctantly asked. “Like Peter and Paul and Andrew and Nigel?”
His mother nodded and smiled before saying, “I think it's for the best.”
“But why?” he moaned.
“Because you look so sweet.” his mother grinned. “If I'd known just how sweet I'd have started years ago.” she added as her son's face dropped. “Oh there's no need to look so glum John. You can't deny that you look very pretty.”
“But only girls are supposed to look pretty... not boys.” he replied before telling her that he doesn't look 'pretty' but does look 'stupid'.
His mother's reply reminded him of Peter's mother when he visited him for the first time. “There's no reason why boys can't have nice things too.” she said. “And you do look pretty... what's stupid is the fact that you can't admit it.”
John's beginning to get the feeling that no matter what he says, his mother won't budge on this issue. An hour later she announced that it was bedtime. Normally John would ask to stay up a bit longer but under the circumstances, he went straight to his room. Mum followed and he told her that he could get undressed myself. “I'd like to see you try.” she replied. Although the tight straps around his chest were ever present, he'd forgotten what their purpose was... until he tried and failed to lift the dress off that is. “Turn around.” his mother said once he admitted defeat. She began faffing up the back of his dress in order to release its retaining straps. “There you are.” she said.
He pulled the dress over his head and his mother took it from him. She grinned as she looked him up and down before telling him that she couldn't decide if his knickers look nicest from the front or from the back. “They look horrible from both sides.” he moaned as his mother put the dress on a hanger. He coyly removed his lacy vest and frilly knickers before fiddling with the suspender straps. His mother showed him how the clips work and soon he was free of every item of girlie clothing he'd endured. John's mother bid him a goodnight before leaving him alone and taking the dress and underwear with her, thank God... he fully expected her to put it in his wardrobe. John got into bed, then a moment later got out and checked inside his wardrobe. He was certain there was that navy blue dress in there, but there's no sign of it now. After a moment of confusion, he resigned himself to the fact that either his mother has moved it, or he simply imagined it. He slid beneath the duvet and hoped that when he wakes up, this will have all been a dream... a very vivid dream.
The next morning, John peels his eyelids apart knowing full well that yesterday's events were entirely real. He wasn't even granted a brief moment of ignorance before remembering. His mother mentions nothing about it over breakfast so neither does John, although he is tempted to ask her about the navy blue sailor dress... did she buy it or did he imagine it? After breakfast, his mother told him to have a wash and brush his teeth. He does as he's told before getting ready for school, but on opening his drawer he finds it empty... completely empty. There's not even all those pairs of knickers inside. “Mu-um!” he hollers from the landing. His mother replies with 'who?' in a stern tone. “Mummy.” he says.
“Yes dear.” she replies as she appears at the foot of the stairs. He tells her that he's no underpants and that the drawer is empty, adding that he'd checked the others. “You've still got your spare knickers in your handbag haven't you.” she reminded him.
“I can't wear those at school!” John insisted. “But!” he moaned when his mother said that he could.
“No one's going to see them unless you want them to.” his mother told him, adding that she wouldn't blame him if he did since they're so very pretty. When he entered the kitchen wearing his school uniform, his mother checked that he hadn't decided to 'go commando' instead. “That wasn't so hard was it?” she grinned.
John stuck out his lip and insisted he wouldn't when his mother told him he'd get used to them. “Does that mean I have to wear them all the time?” he asked as he realised it probably did.
His mother told him that if he's good and compliant, then she'll let him wear his old underpants on PE days. “But if you persist with this whining John, you'll wear your knickers every day... and that includes PE days.” she told him. John grimaced and grumbled something negative. “If you don't believe me, then try me.” his mother threatened.
Being silky and close fitting, he spent every moment at school that day knowing full well that he wore the prissiest pair of knickers he's ever seen beneath his school pants; and having his name embroidered on the front, there's no denying they're his. He sees Paul in the corridor and they vaguely acknowledge each other, but don't speak. Paul is a couple of years above John and to look at him, no one would suspect he's a petticoatee. He also sees Peter at lunchtime and glumly tells him, “I think my Mum's starting to do what yours does.”
“Soz.” Peter replied. “I guess she wouldn’t' have even heard if it until my mum came round.”
“Nah she had.” John informed him. “It's not your fault.”
The next day John was granted a pair of his old underpants for the day, but the moment he arrived home his mother insisted that he put some clean knickers on. He had a little whine but his mother reminded him about the 'no whining' rule. She gives him a pair of knickers with green lacy trim but apart from that, they're identical as the others with ruffled lace covering the bum and a big frilly love heart with his name embroidered in large ornate letters on the front. “Why don't you just put them in my drawer if I have to wear them every day?”
“Well that would be easier wouldn't it?” his mother replied. “But as things stand, I'm not sure if I can trust you not to ruin them to avoid wearing them.” she told him. “And the same goes for your dresses.” she added before informing him that all his 'nice' clothes will be kept somewhere safe until she can trust him with them. The fact she used the plural 'dresses' confirmed to John that he hadn't imagined the navy blue sailor dress. He knew he hadn't but in its absence, there was a slim outside chance that he had. It wasn't an ideal situation to be in, but since his mother let him wear his own clothes over his knickers, it could have been worse.
On Saturday and as usual, John accompanied his mother to town to help her with the shopping. Doing the rounds of all the charity shops wasn't unusual either, but now his mother is browsing the girl's clothes as well as everything else... it is unusual. Especially when she purchases a dress! Thankfully she doesn't make him try it on or even imply it's for him, although John is sure it is. When they get home, his mother tells him to hang it in his wardrobe. “Don't I have to wear it?” he asked.
“Not unless you want to.” his mother replied. Of course he doesn't, so he simply hangs it in his wardrobe and tries to forget about it.
On Sunday he wakes up to see the navy blue sailor dress hanging on the front of his wardrobe. “I knew this was going to happen.” he moans to himself as he realised that the only reason it's there is because he's going to wear it today. “Still... it's better than my others.”
In comparison to the dress he wore for Peter's party, this one is far more preferable. It's relatively plain and being knee length it's not stupidly short either. Beneath it though, he wears a girlie vest, his thick plain stockings and his suspender belt, plus a pair of knickers with his name emblazoned in the centre if their big frilly heart. On his feet he wears a pair of deck shoes which he's had for ages. Mum says they're perfect for the dress, but adds “...although a nice pair of Mary Jane's would be nicer.”
“What are they?” John asked. “I think I prefer these.” he adds after his mother describes the Mary Jane style.
“I bet you prefer that dress to your other one too.” his mother says.
“Well... I'm not going to say that I like it... but I do prefer it I suppose.” John diplomatically replied. He'd prefer it even more if he didn't have to wear such frilly underwear beneath it... even normal girl's knickers would be better than the frilly monstrosities he's wearing. “You're not going to make me going outside are you?” he asked.
“Not unless you want to go out.” his mother replied as she peered out of the window towards the overcast day. She turned to her son and said, “I figured that since it's bit gloomy, today would be a nice day to stay in and...” She tailed off and looked him up and down. He knew what she meant.
Apart from having to wear a dress for the entire day, it was a normal Sunday. John doesn't like his sailor dress in the least, but in comparison to the dresses he saw in Peter's room and those they all wore for his party, he knows that it could be much worse than this. He watched TV, read his magazines, tidied his room and put his laundry away. He did notice that his clean laundry contains no underwear but knew better than to question it. “I wonder when I'm going to have to wear that?” he asked himself as he hung his school shirts away. He knows he's got three dresses, but only one is in his wardrobe and that's the one from the charity shop. It's a sort of brown tartan with strands of red, green and blue in the weave. It also has a white collar and short white sleeves which make it look really daggy. It's the sort of frock that plain Jane's and geeky girls might wear for a disco.
Throughout the following week, John was given a clean pair of knickers each morning by his mother, unless of course he had PE. This meant that on Tuesday and Thursday, he could dress completely as a boy for school. A couple more girlie items appeared in his wardrobe too, but he wasn't told to wear them. Alongside the daggy tartan frock hangs a cream blouse with a lace trimmed yoke and a dusty pink button-down skirt. He also finds a few new T shirts as well as a pair of turquoise cropped pants in the drawers and he's in two minds whether or not to mention them to his mother. On Friday afternoon however, he feels that he can't put it off any longer. “I was beginning to wonder how long it'd take you to notice.” his mother replied.
“Do I have to wear them?” he asked.
“What do you think?”
“Well... I guess so... otherwise they wouldn't be there.” John replied. His mother told him that the main reason they're in his wardrobe is so he can get used to having the things that all petticoated boys have. “Does that mean I'll always have girl's clothes I my room?” he asked.
“Well, not always.” his mother assured. “But for the time being.” she added before informing him that they're not really girl's clothes. “...they're your clothes.”
“Oh.” John replied. “So... do I 'have' to wear them?” he asked again since he still hasn't had a straight answer. His mother tells him that she didn't buy them just to look at and suggests that he might like to try something on. “Which one though?” he mumbles. John's mother says that it's entirely up to him, so he saunters to his room and has a think. The cropped pants are by far the least girlie, but their colour is just weird. The three T shirts also aren't as girlie as the blouse, but since one has a Minnie Mouse design, the other has a She-Ra: Princess of Power print and the third has a glittery butterfly motif... they're all clearly girl's T shirts.
“I had a feeling you'd wear those.” his mother smiles as he returns wearing the blue She-Ra T shirt and the turquoise pedal pushers.
“Why do they call them pedal pushers?” he asked, “And why do they fasten at the side?”
“So they look nicer from the front.” his mother said. John also pointed out that they've haven't got any pockets and his mother said he doesn't need any. “Everything you need can go in your handbag.” she says. “As for calling them pedal pushers...”
“Oh.” John replied after leaning about the style's cycling heritage. “I wasn't sure if I had to wear some tights with them.” he said.
“Stockings.” his mother corrects. “I think they look nicer without.” she added before asking what he thought.
John looked down at himself and although he wasn't keen on the blue-green pants or the fact that the T shirt has the word 'princess' on it, he said they're 'OK'. “I've never heard of She-Ra though.”
His mother grinned and told him that she isn't on TV any more. “It's probably older than you is that T shirt.” she said, before telling him that She-Ra was a cartoon heroine with super powers. “A bit like Wonder Woman... if you've heard of her.”
“Everyone's heard of Wonder Woman.” John retorted.
“Glad to hear it.” his mother smiled. “Wonder Woman was my favourite when I was a girl.” she dreamily added. “And Supergirl too... but the film was awful!”
“I liked that.” John replied, although he was about seven years old when he watched it.
John wore his pedal-pushers and She-Ra T shirt all evening, then on Saturday morning his mother laid out the cream blouse and dusty pink skirt. Since he'd already dressed in his casual boy clothes, John asked “Do I have to wear that today?”
“I thought it would be nice to finally see how it looks on.” his mother replied, adding that he could try it after they've done the shopping. As usual, they trawled through the charity shops before hitting the food shops to get their groceries. In the market hall, his mother had a good long look at the tights and socks stall and chose him a few packs of 'nice' socks. Noticing she'd selected a pack of girl's 'school' socks, Peter discreetly asked if he'll have to wear them for school and hoped he wouldn't. “Not if you're good.” she replied. “But you could if you wanted to.” she added.
“Why would I want to do that?” John asked. “If I wore those everyone would know.”
“That I'm...” he paused to ensure he didn't say it too loudly. “...petticoated.”
“I wouldn't be surprised if lots of boys at school are just like you.” his mother suggested.
“Well we know that Peter and his friend Paul both are.” she stated.
“Yeah but they don't want anyone else to know either.” he replied. His mother suggested that boys are 'funny'. “Why?” John asked in a whiny tone.
“Because when a girl gets something nice to wear, she can't wait to show it off or tell every one...” his mother said, “...but when a boy gets something nice they want to keep it secret.”
“That's because some things are too nice.” John replied. “And boys aren't supposed to look too nice.”
“Some boys are.”
“Boys like me!” he grumbled. John hoped this would sound more defiant than it did, but his voice lacked conviction so it came out more like a question. He could have kicked himself when his mother replied in the affirmative.
John hadn't forgotten about the outfit waiting for him when they arrived home with several bags of shopping each. He offered to help his mother put it all away, but his mother suggested that he goes and changes first. She passed him the pack of white 'school' socks and said. “Try a pair of these too.”
The first item he donned was the cream blouse. He got into a bit of a grump as he struggled with its reversed buttons but eventually fastened them all. The button-through skirt was easier, although he did unfasten all eight buttons before realising that only the top few would have been enough. Its hem landed a few inches above his knee and although pink, it's dusty hue means it's not what he'd call a 'girlie' pink. He perched on the edge of his bed and pulled the socks up his legs. They're the style that the uncool, daggy or mummy's girls wear at school, having that vile pelerine knit. He visualised how some of these girls always have at least one of them twisted whilst others are forever straightening them and making sure the tops are even. He pulled on his trainers before reluctantly returning to the kitchen and the first thing his mother said was, “I think your deck shoes would have looked better than trainers.”
John suggested changing them but his mother said that it doesn't really matter. “Why mention it then?” he asked.
“No reason, I just thought your deck shoes would look nicer.” she smiled. “Turn around, let's have a proper look.” she asked. John turned and his mother commented, “I see you've got your socks nice and straight.”
“Some of the girls at school always have them wonky.” he said as he looked down at them. He looked up at his mother and saw a beaming smile sweep her face. “What?” he asked.
“Nothing.” she replied. “It's just nice that you know how to wear them properly.”
“It's not rocket science.” John dryly replied. “Why is she so chuffed that I managed to pull my socks up?” he thought as he began putting away what little is left of the shopping.
Over supper, John's mother tells him that he does look nice in his blouse. John complains that it's too lacy before asking if he'll have to wear the brown tartan dress tomorrow. “Well it would be nice if you did.” his mother replies, adding that he hasn't worn it yet.
“But that means I'll have spent the whole weekend dressed as a girl.” he comments.
His mother reminds him that he did wear boy clothes when they went shopping, and points out that he's not dressed as a girl, but as a petticoated boy. “It's not so bad wearing nice clothes now you're getting used to them is it?”
“It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to wear frilly knickers with my name on.” he replied. “Why can't I wear normal knickers like normal girls wear?”
“Because you're not a girl... but I know what you mean, your knickers are very fussy.”
The next day as his mother is helping him fasten his stockings, John suggests that maybe normal tights would be easier than these. “I know but normal tights would scrunch up all the frills on your knickers.”
“Not if I had normal knickers.” he instinctively retorted, before realising what he'd requested. John felt himself begin to blush as his mother held the brown tartan dress open. He stepped in and put his hands through its sleeves, before turning around so his mother could fasten him in. John looked down and wondered if he'd ever get used to seeing himself clad in such girlie clothing. “Which shoes shall I wear?” he asked.
“Well... your deck shoes I suppose.” his mother replied, before telling him that he'd need some 'proper' shoes before long. John knew what she meant so didn't bother enquiring as he pushed his stockinged feet into a pair of white deck shoes. “There... that looks nice enough.” His mother said once her son was fully dressed. “Not bad for a charity shop find eh?” she added.
“At least it's not really prissy.” John mumbled. Just as the previous Sunday, today was a normal lazy day spent in front of the TV, flicking through books and magazines and doing the odd chore such as tidying his room and putting his laundry away.
His mother did the bulk of the housework (as usual) and prepared the Sunday roast. She put a stack of dinner plates, place mats and cutlery on the kitchen table and asked John if he'd lay it. “Four plates?” he asked, noticing there's four of everything instead of two.
“Yes.” his mother replied. “Granny and Granddad are coming for lunch.”
“What!?” John gasped. “Today?”
“Well we wouldn't be laying that table for four if they were coming tomorrow.” his mother grinned as John's face dropped. “Now don't worry... they both know that you're being petticoated.” she told him. “And Granny's looking forward to seeing how nice you look.”
“Yeah and Granddad's going to think I'm a sissy.” John sulked.
His mother insisted that his grandfather would think no such thing. “It's a shame he can't see how nice you look too.” she added, since his Granddad (her father) has been blind for the last six years.
His grandparents arrived within the hour and his grandmother did indeed gush over how nice the boy looks in a dress. “Some ribbons in his hair wouldn't go amiss.” she said.
“What's it like?” his grandfather asked, before John's outfit was described in great detail... right down to the tiny little love heart pattern on his stockings. “Well that doesn't sound too bad.” his Granddad said, before asking the boy to lead him to his place at the table. With his grandfather's hand rested on his shoulder, John guided him to the kitchen and pulled out a chair for him. “Thank you.” his Granddad said as he sat. “So... how are you getting on with this petticoating malarkey?”
“I'd rather I didn't have to do it.” John replied. “It's weird having to wear girl's clothes.”
“Oh I'm sure it is.” his grandfather replied. “When I was about your age some of my friends were petticoated by their mothers...”
“Oh yes.” the old man said, clutching his white stick. “They all said it was very strange to begin with too.” he added. “But they soon got used to it, as did the rest of us.”
“You were petticoated too?!”
“No no no.” his grandfather chuckled, “We got used to seeing them in their dresses and bonnets... after a few months it just seemed normal, like they'd always worn them.”
“I don't think I'll ever get used to it.” John mumbled. “And at least I can dress like a boy at school.”
“Well you're one of the lucky ones.” his grandfather said. “In my day, petticoated boys wore their dresses all day, everyday.”
“I suppose I am.” John figured. After a moment he said, “I still don't know why she's doing it.” he paused. “What's the point of making a boy dress like a girl?” he asked. His grandfather asked if he'd been getting in to trouble or if he'd been playing truant from school, been accused of bullying, refusing to help around the house or tidy up after himself. “No.” John replied, claiming that he's generally quite good.
“Well in that case it's to make sure you stay that way.” his grandfather replied. “Good boys can end up on the wrong side of the tracks occasionally... but not a petticoated one.” he explained. “You may not realise it now but it's for your own good.”
“That's what Mum says.”
“And she's right.”
“What are you two talking about?” John's mother asked as she entered the kitchen, followed by his grandmother.
“Oh nothing... just chatting.” John's Granddad replied. “What have you to been up to?”
Granny chirped up and said she's been having a look at John's new dresses. “Your party dress is delightful!” she gushed. “And I can't wait to she you in your sailor dress.” she added before claiming that that style was very popular when she was young. “We wore them with a straw hat.” she added.
“Ooh that'd be nice.” his mother said as she prepared to serve the Sunday roast. They chatted as they ate and thankfully for John, not just about him. “It's not like you to eat everything.” John's mother said when the main meal was finished. He normally leaves his leeks and sprouts but not wanting to risk an 'outing', he felt it best to just eat everything regardless if whether it meets his approval or not. “Would you mind clearing the plates ready for pudding?” his mother asked.
His mother smiled as for once, he didn't need prompting to address her properly. “They're ever so polite aren't they.” his grandmother said.
“Yes they are.” his mother agreed. “They're almost perfect.” she added.
After the meal, John and his grandmother settled in the sitting room whilst his mother took Granddad for a walk around the garden. Before his eye sight failed, Granddad was a very keen gardener and although he can't see it, he likes nothing more than being led around the garden as his daughter describes all the flora and fauna to him. Meanwhile, John is blushing profusely after his grandmother said, “Your mother tells me you've got some very pretty knickers on.”
“Er... yes.” John gulped.
“May I see?”
“Er...” John says as he stands and slowly lifts his dress.
“Oh my they are pretty... and your name's on them too!” his grandmother gushes. “Do you wear them every day?” she asked.
John frowned and nodded. “Unless I've got PE at school, then I can wear underpants.” he informed her. “I'd rather wear normal knickers.” he added.
“I'm sure you would. Knickers are so much nicer than underpants.”
“I didn't mean...” John began just as his mother and grandfather entered.
“What are you two talking about?” his mother enquired.
“John was just showing me his knickers.” Granny replied. “They're ever so pretty.”
“They are.” his mother proudly replied.
“Wouldn't a pair of tights be more convenient than stockings?” Granny suggested. “They seem ever so old fashioned.”
“I think John would prefer tights.” his mother replied. “But I prefer stockings, especially with such fussy knickers... tights would just scrunch all the frills up.”
“He was just saying he'd prefer normal knickers.” Granny added.
John wanted this line of conversation to end sooner rather than later, and thanks to his granddad's interjection about the garden, it did. After an hour or two, John's grandparents left. He helped his mother with the washing up and told her what his grandfather had said about the petticoated boys he used to know. “It was quite common in those days.” his mother said. “And unlike you, they all wore their dresses for school too...”
“I know.... Granddad told me.” John replied.
“...and for church on a Sunday.” his mother added.
“I'm glad I don't have to go to church on a Sunday.”
His mother smiled down on him. “But it's nice that you're wearing a Sunday dress.”
At school on Monday, John discreetly tells Peter about having to wear a dress in front of his grandparents. “I wouldn't mind but... they all think it's normal!” he says. “The only people that don't think it's normal are me, you, Paul and...”
“Yeah in know. Grown ups are like that.” Peter replies. “Try telling anyone here and see what they think.” he sarcastically suggests, before warning John to be careful about what he says at school. “Anyone could be listening.” he states.
“I know... but not here.” John claimed, since they're in the middle of the school playing field with no one in earshot. “My granddad said that he knew some boys like us when he was young.” John said, adding that they had to wear dresses for school too. “He said we're lucky that we don't.”
“Andrew and Nigel do.” Peter claimed as john's face adopted a look of horror. “But they go to a petticoating school so all the boys dress like girls.”
“Oh... that doesn't sound too bad.” John supposed. “I thought you meant at a school like this.”
“Nah... my Mum wanted to but the headmistress wouldn't allow it.”
“Crikey!” John exclaimed. “It's bad enough just having to wear my knickers at school... let alone the whole kit and caboodle.” he said.
After a moment's silence, John asked where Andrew and Nigel go to school. “Oh it's miles away... near Covenworth.” he said. “They get the bus there and it takes about an hour.”
“Yikes!” I retorted, imagining then having to use public transport. “Oh, that's OK.” I said when told that they're collected by a school bus.
“Mum wants to send me there.” Peter tells John, “...but she can't afford it. Thank God!” he adds.
“Hey... do you want to come round to my house after school one day?” John asks.
Peter says he'll have to ask his Mum first, but would like to. “Any excuse for a few more hours not having to wear a dress.”
“Yeah... thankfully my Mum doesn't make me wear them all the time... just on the weekend really.”
When John gets home from school, he tells his mother that he's invited Peter around one afternoon, “If that's OK?” he adds.
“Of course it is.” his mother replied, before asking if he's wanting to show off all his new things.
“No!” John insisted. “Just to hang out... you know.” he shrugged.
His mother suggested Wednesday would be ideal, and unbeknown to John, she telephones Peter's mother to check it's OK with her. “Yes that's fine.” Peter's mother replied. “In fact he's just asked himself but wasn't sure when... I'll come and collect him at about 'five' shall I?”
Tuesday is one of two days each week when John doesn't have to wear his knickers for school, thanks to having PE. But with all his underwear hidden somewhere in his mother's room, John has to ask for a pair of knickers when he gets home from school. “Can have a pair of knickers please Mummy.” is something he'll never get used to saying. He doesn't know what's worse, having to ask for a pair of knickers or having to say 'Mummy'. But today it's different as his mother tells him that there's some in his drawer. He goes to his room expecting to find his usual frilly 'heart' knickers with his name embroidered on the front, but is surprised to find a small pile of normal knickers instead. There's lots of different colours, mostly pastel shades, and all have a bit of lace around the hems and little bow stitched on the waistband. “Thanks Mum!” John says when he returns to the ground floor. “I mean... Mummy.” he adds. She tells him he's welcome and asks which pair he's wearing. “I just grabbed the top pair.” he replied before lifting his school shirt to show her. “Spotty green ones.” he said.
“Nice.” his mother replied. “Is Peter looking forward to coming round tomorrow?”
“Yeah I think so.” John replied. “His Mum said it's OK.”
On Wednesday, John and Peter walked back to Peter's house after school. Peter was looking forward to having a couple of extra hours wearing his school uniform as normally, he has to put a dress on as soon as he gets home from school. John's mother has no such rule, but when they arrive, John's mother tells her son that she's put his sailor dress out, and tells him to go and change. “Oh but Mu-um!” John whines. “OK.” he says when she give him one of those looks.
“I'll bet you're more obedient at home aren't you Peter?” she says as John goes to his room. She asks Peter about school and once again tells him how nice he looked on his birthday, then after five or ten minutes, she says “I'll just pop upstairs, he's probably waiting for me to do his zip.”
A moment later, John's mother returns and tells peter that he can go up to John's room. He finds a very sheepish John sat on his bed wearing his navy blue sailor dress and a pair of white pelerine knee socks. “It's not fair that I have to wear this when I’ve got a friend round.” John sulked.
“I don't mind.” Peter said. “I won't say owt.” he added.
“Yeah I know.” John gulped.
Peter cast his eyes around the books shelves and walls. “At least your room isn't all girlie like mine is.” he said.
“Yeah but she's taken away all my model tanks and fighter planes, and Escape from Colditz.” John replied. He suggested a game of Connect 4 or maybe Jenga, and they spent an hour or so playing both. John's mother interrupted them with a pile of laundry, on top of which is several pairs of John's embroidered 'heart' knickers. He quickly stuffs then in his drawer and feels himself blush as he does so. “I guess you're used to having stuff like that.” John asked.
“Yeah.” Peter groaned. “I've got one pair of underpants which I can wear on PE days and that's it.”
“Don't you have any boy's clothes?” John asked, “Apart from your school uniform.” he added.
“Yeah I've got jeans and jumpers and trainers that aren't girlie.” Peter replied. “Mum lets me wear those if I go out with my mates.” he tells John. John is a little surprised to hear this as he assumed he was petticoated all of the time. “Only at home.” Peter replied. “I do go places other than school you know.” he informed him; places such as town, the cinema, the nearby woods, fishing on the canal, ten pin bowling, visiting friends and family, the list goes on...
At 5pm sharp, John's mother shouts up to them as Peter's mother has arrived. John feels completely out of place as they descend the stairs wearing his dress whilst Peter's dressed as a boy. Peter's mother tells John how pretty he looks and John politely says thank you. “You've got one a bit like that haven't you Peter.”
“Yes.” Peter replied, glancing at his friend. “Only mine's pink.”
“Oh that sounds nice.” John's mother said. “You haven't got a pink dress yet have you?” she says to her son. He shakes his head and gulps, dreading the prospect of having one. But the way his mother said 'yet' means that it's only a matter of time.
Peter and his mother left and John had a little whine about having to wear his dress. “I'm sure Peter doesn't mind.” his mother replied, before suggesting that he apologise for moaning, “Unless you want to wear your knickers for school tomorrow.”
Knowing that he's got PE tomorrow, which means having to change in front of the other boys, John said “Sorry Mummy.”
“Well I hope you mean it.” his mother replied. “I'm sure Peter doesn't whine and complain all the time. I'm sure he's a good boy and does as he's told.” she supposed.
John apologised again and hoped that was enough to ensure he wouldn't have to wear his knickers for school on a PE day. Although he did start thinking of ways he could get himself excused from PE should that happen; a leg injury maybe, ear-ache or asthma... that always works. But then again, that probably only works for the kids who actually have asthma. Thankfully he was allowed to wear his underpants at school the next day, but he did spend the evening wearing a his dusty pink skirt and cream lacy blouse.
Over the next few weeks, the regularity that John wore his boy clothes at home decreased considerably. His mother kept putting new charity shop finds in his drawers and wardrobe and to make space for them, his boy clothes were gradually removed. She even bought him a few pairs of tights and even girl's shoes including a pair of girl's trainers with sparkly purple trim, some jelly sandals and a pair of black ballet style shoes that seemingly all the girls wear for school. John wanted to protest but he knew that would only result in the last of his boy clothes (and footwear) being removed altogether. As things stand, he can still leave the house dressed as a boy and he's wise enough not to jeopardise that.
One lunchtime at school, John spots Peter and Paul chatting and saunters over. “We're thinking of going fishing on Saturday afternoon if you fancy?” Paul said.
“Er... maybe.” John replied. “But I haven't got a rod or owt.” he added. Paul said he's got a spare which he can use, and encourages him to join them. “I'll have to ask my mum.” John says.
John's mother checks with Peter's mother before allowing him to go fishing. She also checks if he should wear one of his dresses, since she's almost as new to this petticoating malarkey as her son is. “Oh no... not for fishing.” Peter's mother replied. “We let them be boys often enough.”
John has a great time on the canal bank with his friends. Paul seems to know all sorts of things such as the names of the birds, tree species and the types of fish they manage to catch. They chat and laugh and joke. They discuss their teachers and classmates and the lessons they either like or loathe. They talk about TV shows; current and old and all sort of other things. There's only one subject that's out of bounds and that's anything to do with petticoating. The reason, according to Paul is that that they spend enough time being petticoated and don't want to spend the little time they're not either thinking or talking about it.
When John arrives home, his mother asks him if he's had a nice time and John begins to tell her all about it. She stops him short and says, “Why don't you go and put something nice on, then you can tell me all about it.”
He reluctantly leaves and returns wearing the outfit he found laid on his bed. “Why is there a new poster on my wall?” he asked.
“Because I put it there.” his mother tells him. “Do you like it?”
“Not really.” he replied. “I don't like ballet.”
“You enjoyed Billy Elliot.” she reminded him before her eyes slowly dropped from his head to his feet. She wonders why boy's don't normally wear scoop necked T shirts as it looks delightful on her son, especially with it's white bow print on a pale blue fabric. A pair of short baby pink denim shorts with polka-dot turn-ups make a nice transition to his patterned cream tights, and on his feet a pair of black ballet shoes. “Do you prefer tights to stockings?” she asked.
“They're a lot easier.” he replied.
“They are aren’t they.” his mother smiled. “Now... why don't you tell me all about your day out.”
He tells her that he's learned how to tie a fishing hook, bait the line and cast off, as well as learned the names of some of the birds and trees. He admits that they only caught minnows but a bloke down the bank caught an eel which they had a good look at. He also tells her that the one rule they have is they don't talk about petticoating.
“Well I suppose it's nice to have a break from the routine.” his mother smiled.
John spent an hour or so in his room until supper was ready. He flicked through his books and magazines, but couldn't help but glance at the new poster on his wall. It hangs in place of his World War II Bombers poster, and couldn't be any more different. It features a ballerina wearing a pink leotard and tutu, white tights and pink shoes standing on tip-toe with her arms outstretched, and the word Ballet in big ornate pink lettering across the top. “A girl might like that but I don't.” he said to himself. He returns to flicking through his SportStar comic annual and wonders how long before it's replaced with a Barbie annual or something similar. He sits up on his bed and stretches his feet out in front of him and wonders if he'd like these clothes if he was a girl. He visualises his other outfits and says to himself, “At least they're better than my dresses... or that blouse Mum likes.”
At school, John glumly told Peter that his mother had removed his WWII Bombers poster and replaced it with one of ballerina. Peter said that such things were inevitable and said he was surprised at how 'boyish' John's room was the last time he visited. “When I started my mum had my room decorated within a week... it was awful!” he exclaimed.
“It is pretty bad.” John added as he visualised Peter's very girlie bedroom.
“It's better now, believe me!” Peter said. He glanced around to make sure no one else was in listening distance, before describing his first girlie bedroom; all pink with Hello Kitty wallpaper, curtains, bedding and a deep fluffy Hello Kitty rug. He described the toys and accessories that filled it; the girlie bedside lamp, the toy crib and a shelf full of dolls, the flower fairy mobile where his model aircraft used to hang, the pink plastic fairy castle on his chest of drawers... the list went on.
“Blimey! Just having that Tinker Bell mural doesn't seem so bad.” John said. “I hope my Mum doesn't do anything like that to my room.” he adds.
“Well don't be surprised if she does.” Peter replied. “Just because you're twelve doesn't mean they won't treat you like a five or six year old.”
“I hope not.” John gulped. If it's just clothes then it's not so bad, but if he ends up having to play with dolls and stuff like that, it'll be unbearable.
The next time the petticoatees spend some time together, they go ten-pin bowling one Saturday afternoon. It's a big bowling alley with 20 proper lanes plus 5 shorter 'kiddie' lanes with no gutters and colourful kiddie themes; princess lane, space lane, wild west lane, fairy lane and the magical kingdom lane. They've all been bowling before but none of them are seasoned bowlers. After a few rounds, Peter, Nigel and Andrew go to get their burgers, curly fries and drinks. Paul and John remain to reserve their lane and make small talk. Spotting a poster in the wall, John mentions that this would be a great place for a party (noticing a poster advertising 'bowling parties'). “Not for the likes of us.” Paul told him. “My 12th birthday party was here and it was horrible.” he says.
“Why?” John ignorantly asked.
“Because I had to wear a dress and had to use the kiddie lanes.” Paul replied. “...and all my cousins came.”
“Are they petticoated too?”
“I wish!” Paul replied before saying it was just him. “It wouldn't have been so bad if they were.” he frowned and explained that it was a 'punishment party' because he'd cut up all his girl clothes and wrecked his girlie bedroom. “So Mum dressed me up like a four year old in a really short dress with really frilly knickers and...” he gulped.
“And?” John asked.
Paul looked John in the eye and told him that he's only saying this because he doesn't want anyone else to be subject to the same humiliation. “You'd better not say anything to anyone.” he warned. John promised. Paul hung his head before confessing to having to wear a nappy too. “...and Mum made sure that all the others knew about it.” he told him as he cast his mind back to the most humiliating day of his life and his worst birthday ever. He wore a baby pink dress with candy pink love hearts tumbling all over it, white knee socks with a row of candy pink love hearts running up the sides, pink girlie shoes with bows on the toes, and a big pink bow in his short boyish hair. The dress was so short it barely covered his frilly pink knickers and every time he picked up a bowling ball and hurled it down the lane, everyone could see them and it didn't take long for them to notice how unusually bulbous they appeared. Then when one of his cousins started telling the others that he could smell wee, his mother made a real show of the fact that Paul must have wet his nappy and therefore needed 'a nice clean one'. To this day, his cousins take great pleasure in reminding him about that day and always ask if he still wears nappies. “The only time I wore one was that day... well... since I was a baby anyway.” Paul reluctantly recalled. “It was far worse than any dress.”
“I bet it was.” John gulped. “I hope my Mum doesn't do anything like that to me.”
“She won't unless you give her a good reason.” Paul replied. “Like ripping up your dresses or wrecking your bedroom.”
“Does it get any easier as you get older?” John asked. Since Paul is fifteen years old, he's had a lot more experience than John has.
“Not really.” Paul glumly told him. “But you do get used to it... kind of.” he claimed, glancing down at himself. Even when dressed as a boy he habitually sits like a girl, with his knees and ankles together. “At least we get to be normal boys often enough.” he optimistically added.
“Yeah I suppose.” John replied. “Thanks for the warning.” he said as he noticed the others returning with the fast food and fizzy pop. “Do they know?” he asked. “About your party?”
“Yeah but don't say owt... we're not supposed to talk about this stuff remember.” Paul replied.
After bolting down their burgers and fries, slurping their drinks and having a very childish (yet amusing) burping contest, they played a few more rounds and forgot all about being petticoated boys... for a while anyway. Eventually the ten-round group ticket expired and they left the bowling alley. John's mother was waiting in the car and he put himself on the back seat. She asked if he'd had a nice afternoon and asked after his friends, before telling him that she'd had a nice afternoon, shopping in town. “I bought you some lovely new outfits, which I’m sure you'll like.” she told him.
John was certain that he wouldn't. “What're they like?” he asked, in spite of the fact he wasn't interested in the least. He glanced nervously at a number of paper 'boutique' bags beside him on the back seat.
“You'll have to wait and see.” he mother said. “So no peeking.”
“Are they dresses?” he murmured.
“You'll have to wait and see.” his mother repeated, grinning at him via the rear view mirror.
When they arrive home, John immediately asks if he has to get changed. “Of course.” his mother replied. “There's some clothes on your bed.” she said.
John doesn't really know why he bothers asking because the answer is always the same and there's always an outfit laid out on his bed waiting. Today it's his turquoise pedal pushers and a mint green kitten T shirt, so it could have been worse. As he's changing, his mother taps on the door and walks in, bringing the boutique carrier bags with her. “I'll show you these before I put them away.” she said. “I thought they'd be nice for summer.” she said as she laid out the items on his bed; one with a butterfly print and thin shoulder straps, one with a cherry pattern and wide lacy straps, one is a pair of dungaree shorts with a novelty bib and one has blue shorts joined onto a yellow sleeveless blouse. “Isn't this bunny sweet?” she grinned, pointing out the dungarees and the face embroidered on their bib.
“Oh yes!” his mother realised. “Well spotted.” she grinned. “This is my favourite though.” she said as she dug her hand into one of the bags and pulled out a fifth outfit.
John gulped and bit his lip. His mother holds a pair of blue gingham shorts that are connected to a white blouse with gingham braces and a horizontal gingham band connecting them. The blouse has short puffed sleeves, a lace trimmed round collar and on closer inspection, John notices that the braces and the legs of the shorts are all trimmed with frilly white lace. His mother shows him the back where the braces cross one another, and a long zip runs all the way up from the shorts to the split frilly collar. He's got dresses with a similar fastening which his mother has to fasten and undo for him, but at least they're dresses. “How am I supposed to go to the toilet in those?” he blurted.
“You'll have to ask me to unzip you.” his mother replied. She laid the prissy lederhosen outfit alongside the others and they both stared at the display. “Have you chosen a favourite?” she asked after a moment.
John gulped. “Er... not yet.” he said. “Are they all shorts?” he asked.
“They're called play-suits.” she corrected. “I thought they'd be nice for the beach.”
“A deserted one maybe.” John replied as he visualised having to wear any one of them on a busy Brighton or Bridport beach.
“Typical boy... only wants to be pretty where no one can see him.” his mother grinned. John didn't reply, he just blushed as his mother began folding them up in to a single bundle. “Aren't you going to say thank you?” she asked.
“Oh er... thank you Mummy.” John coyly replied. His mother said he was welcome before picking the clothes up and opening his door. “Mummy?” he asked, halting her exit. “Why do you keep them in your room?” he asked. His wardrobe and drawers are home to plenty of girl's clothes, but they're all those from the charity shops and Primark... all the expensive or important things such as his party dress, sailor dress, frilly heart knickers and nice shoes are kept in his mother's room.
“Well these are for the holidays.” she replied. “And your expensive dresses are too nice to keep in here.” she said. “I don't fully trust that you won't damage them and I doubt you'd enjoy the consequences if you did.”
John's mind instantly flashed back to what Paul had told him about his 12th birthday party. “Would I have to wear a nappy?” he gulped.
“So you've heard about that?” she asked. John nodded but remained silent. “And do you believe it?” she asked. John looked at her, gulped and nodded. “Good.” she said. “Maybe you are ready to have all of your nice new things around you.” she suggested before leaving. John watched the door close before looking around his room; from his new ballerina poster to the few remaining boy things such as his Ben-10 lampshade. He gulps as he realises that probably sooner rather than later, it's going to be replaced with a Barbie lampshade or worse, a Disney Princess one! “It wouldn't be so bad if it was just dresses.” he thinks to himself as he imagines having a full on girl's room.
As the days and weeks pass, nothing drastic changes in John's world. He's given up asking if he has to get changed every time he returns home and now goes straight to his room and dons whatever is waiting for him. It's not too long before he finds one of the new play-suits waiting, but thankfully its not the sissified lederhosen or the bunny dungarees. It's the blue shorts and yellow sleeveless blouse which fastens with a sparse row big yellow buttons up the back. His mother helps him with the buttons, tells him how nice it looks and says, “...you don't have to worry about flashing your knickers when you're playing.”
“I guess that's why they call it a play suit?” John rhetorically asked.
“That's right.” his mother smiled as she looked him up and down. “And it's a bit more boyish than your dresses don't you think?”
John dropped his head a focused on the three rows of scalloped trim and the yellow satin belt tied in a floppy bow. “Not really.” he replied. To be honest, John didn't mind wearing his new play-suits, especially when he realised that there was enough room in the legs which meant he didn't need his mother to unbutton it every time he needed the bathroom. The blue gingham lederhosen wasn't quite so convenient though.
It's half-term when John's mother suggests redecorating his bedroom and reluctantly John says, “You're going to make it really girlie aren't you?”
He gulps as his mother smiles. “Well I wouldn't say 'really girlie'.” she replied, raising his hopes a little, “But now you're starting to enjoy being petticoated...”
“I'm not exactly enjoying this Mum.” he interjects, looking down at his lemon yellow prairie style dress. “I mean... Mummy.” he adds when she gives him one of those looks.
“I know that's not your favourite dress but you do look nice in yellow.” she tells him. John tells her that he looks like a daffodil. His mother grins and says “Yes, you do a bit.”
“Thanks!” he replies with more than a hint of sarcasm.
“You're welcome.” his mother replied as John frowned. She reminds him that just like him, his friends all wear 'nice' clothes and have 'nice' bedrooms too.
“Not all of them.” John claims, before listing a number of non-petticoated friends from both school and the neighbourhood. “I bet they never have to wear a dress.”
“And if they did they'd look just as pretty as you do.” she replied, “...and I notice you didn't list any of the girls you're friends with... They all wear nice dresses.”
“Yeah but they're girls... they're supposed to wear dresses.” John reminded her.
“And petticoated boys are supposed to wear dresses too.” his mother replied as she began to faff with his frilly collar and the yellow satin sash, making sure it all looked as nice as possible.
“I never used to be petticoated.” John sulked.
“I know... and you never used to look anywhere near as nice as you do now.” she said as she looked him in the eye and smiled. John forced a smile back. “Shall we have a think about your new bedroom?” she said, “What colour do you think it should be?”
“I dunno.” John shrugged as he sat himself down. “Pink I suppose.”
His mother told him that would be nice, but said that it doesn't have to be pink. “Green or maybe yellow might be nice too.”
His mother makes more suggestions such as curtains with tiebacks and a nice valance, but getting little feedback from her son, she suggests that it might be easier to come up with some ideas once they've stripped the old wallpaper off. “You can change into some of your old clothes if you like.”
“Boy's clothes?” John asked. Apart from his school uniform, it's been a few weeks since he last dressed as a boy at home (although he does still wear his pyjamas for bed). His mother nodded and offered to unbutton him before letting him go to change. His trusty old jeans and old T shirt feel like a breath of fresh air after the floaty prairie style dress.
“Better?” his mother asks as she enters his bedroom. John smiles and nods. “Good.” she replied, before glancing around his room. “Shall get rid of all this stuff and get started?”
“What?” John gulps. He knew what she meant but he had to ask. His books, comics and magazines were packed into boxes, as were all his other bits and bobs. His bedding was stripped, his curtains came down and the ballerina poster was carefully removed and rolled up. The bed and mattress are tipped on their side and all the furniture is manhandled into the centre of the room. Then, using a bucket of hot soapy water, a big sponge and a couple of scrapers, they began stripping the wallpaper. John would have enjoyed the destruction more if he wasn't so worried about what his trusty old bedroom might become. He's grown up in this room and it's always reflected everything he likes; fast cars, football, fighter planes and computer games. He peels away another big strip of wallpaper and lets it drop onto the carpet, which he notices is getting both wet and messy. “Maybe we should have covered the carpet with something.” he suggests. His mother tells him that that's a good idea, but she's thinking of replacing the carpet anyway. “Where am I going to sleep?” John asks as he realises that this process isn't going to be finished today, or tomorrow for that matter.
“In my room.” his mother replied before telling John that she's bought him a 'ready-bed'. They get the walls more or less stripped that day and after a take-away pizza for supper, John's mother suggests they get his new ready-bed pumped up. “I don't have to go to bed yet do I?” he asked, noticing the early hour.
“No but you may as well get ready for bed.” she says as she routes out the big foot pump from the cupboard under the stairs. “Why don't you have a shower whilst I pump your mattress up?”
“Can I do it?” he asks. For a twelve year old boy, using a foot pump is considered a pleasure, not a chore.
“If you insist.” his Mum replied, before packing him off to the shower. Afterwards, he returns wearing his bathrobe to find the deflated ready-bed on his mother's bedroom floor. It causes his heart to sink. The all-in-one mattress and duvet is adorned with a huge image of Barbie on the cover. The only good thing to say about it is the fact that it's not a princess one. He says nothing untoward about his as he searches for the inlet valve. Instead, he worries about what sort of dreams he might have, sleeping in such a girlie bed. John's mother suggests he puts his jim-jams on and presents him with another surprise.
“Oh can't I wear my own pyjamas?” he asked as she unfolds a lilac pyjama set. Predictably, his mother tells him that they are his own pyjamas. “But... Barbie!” he whined. His mother's reply comes as no surprise when she tells him they match his bed, and he knows he's not going to get out of wearing them. “At least it not a nightie.” he thinks as he pulls on the cropped pyjama pants with the word 'Barbie' peppered all over the lilac fabric. The pyjama top has baseball style ¾ length lilac sleeves and a white torso with a photo print of a Barbie doll wearing an long purple gown and the words 'dream dress' in pink italics. He looks down at himself before looking up at his mother's beaming face. “Aren't I bit old for Barbie?” he asks. “Girl's my age don't wear Barbie stuff.”
“I'm sure some of them do.” his mother replied. “As do plenty of boys.” she claimed.
“Only petticoated ones.” he grumbled as he began pumping up his bed.
“I wasn't sure if you'd prefer a nightie or pyjamas.” his mother said.
John said that he most definitely prefers pyjamas before pleading, “Please don't buy me a nightie.”
“Well I'm still waiting for you to say thank you for your pyjamas.” his mother replied. Timidly, John thanks her. “You're welcome.” his mother says.
It seemed to take ages to fully inflate his bed, but once it was done it was done. He watched an episode of Sherlock Holmes and had a mug of hot chocolate before finally going to bed. In the half-light he could still clearly make out the girlie design on his air-filled camp bed. He began to tremble as he slid himself beneath its pink cover, fearful of the dreams it might bring him. Ever since finding out that his friend Peter was a petticoated boy, his dreams have begun to feature both girls and girl's clothes more and more frequently, and tonight was no different. He awoke the next morning with a head full of images, and although pleasant whilst dreaming it, this must have been the worst dream so far. He dreamt that his mother had put him in a very pretty lilac dress and fastened a big lilac bow to the back of his head. “Why do I have to wear an apron too Mummy?” he asked as she fastened a frilly white pinafore apron around him. His mother said it was to stop his 'pretty new dress' from getting dirty. “But... my apron is far prettier than my dress.” he replied. His mother told him that was all the more reason not to get his 'pinny' dirty either, before telling him to 'run along'. He guiltily recalls the climax of this dream in which he simply turned around and left the house and walked down the street dressed like an extra from Avonlea. It all felt completely normal, even when a skipping rope appeared in his hands. John gulped as he visualised himself, skipping down the street towards the playground, grinning from ear to ear and eager to show off his new dress. He woke up before he got there, but couldn't help but wonder if he'd have got a positive or negative response from his friends and peers. “Yeah I guess.” he grumbled when his mother asked if he'd slept well.
He ate breakfast in his new barbie pyjamas, but went on to spend the whole day dressed as a boy. They finished stripping the walls, then he helped rub down all the woodwork ready for painting. In the afternoon they went to the large out of town B&Q to choose some new wallpaper. John knew that he'd have little say in the matter. If his mother does give him a choice it's going to be something like 'would you prefer Peppa Pig or Snow White', although he could imagine far worse. They returned home and John was uneasily relieved that his mother hadn't chosen the worst design they had to offer. He could have ended up with Cinderella or Barbie, the ghastly Peppa Pig or even flower fairies... but as far as all the girlie wallpaper choices went, Alice in Wonderland isn't so bad. Yes it's a pale pink and littered with images of Alice in her distinctive blue dress and white apron. It has a sparse scattering of other characters from the story, but it's mostly Alice; sitting, walking, skipping, tumbling, sleeping, kneeling and falling. Strangely, his mother chose a light/bright green shade for the woodwork, but John didn't complain.
John was looking forward to doing some of the painting, but on his arrival home from a trip to the cinema on Monday afternoon he discovered that his mother had done it all. He'd been to watch Around the World in Eighty Days with Peter, Paul, Andrew and Nigel. It was the first time they'd all been together since the bowling alley and John reluctantly told them that he's having his bedroom decorated. “What like?” Nigel asked.
“Well...” John frowned. “We're not supposed to talk about it.” he said, before briefly mentioning the Alice in Wonderland wallpaper.
“Could be worse.” Nigel shrugged. “I've got Disney Princesses.”
Since their petticoated lives are a taboo subject, the conversation ended there. But John had so many questions that he needed to ask them, and the most burning one is What happens when a petticoated boy goes on holiday? His mother has mentioned a week in a B&B somewhere and did buy him all those play-suits which would be 'nice for the beach'. He could always ask his mother, but fears that he won't like the answer. “Then again...” he thinks, realising that his friends would give him the same answer.
On Tuesday his mother hung the wall paper and John was beginning to get a real feel for how his new bedroom will look, and it didn't feel good. With all the furniture stacked up in the middle of the floor and the old carpet spatted with paint, paste and bits of paper, his mother suggests putting his bed against a different wall, his wardrobe behind the door, his chest over there and his bookshelves opposite his bed, “And maybe we could put a dressing table in the window.” she added.
“I don't want a dressing table!” John blurted. His mother justified this idea by claiming that it's just a desk and would be somewhere that he can sit and do his homework.
“I suppose.” he conceded. “What colour's the carpet going to be?” he asked.
“I'm not sure yet, either pink to match the walls or green to match the woodwork.” his mother replied. “I thought you might prefer that.” his mother smiled after John sided with the green option.
John spent five nights in total sleeping in his Barbie ready-bed on his mother's bedroom floor. The Barbie baseball pyjamas were one of three sets of girl's Pjs his mother had bought him, and on Thursday he woke up wearing the red & white Minnie Mouse set. His mother let him dress as a boy since the carpet fitters are due to fit his new bedroom carpet today. After stacking all his furniture in the landing, they removed his old carpet and fitted a new one. He and his mother had been effectively confined to the lower floor whilst the work went on and his mother was asked upstairs when the new carpet had been laid and the furniture was ready to go back in. John remained downstairs whilst his mother instructed the men what needs to go where, then once the landing was clear, she asked John to come and have a look.
“It's pink.” John moaned.
“Yes.” his mother said.
“It may not be your thing 'sonny' but I’m sure your little sister will love it.” one of the carpet fitters said. “Oh, err... OK.” he added in a most bemused tone when informed that this is John's room.
The carpet fitters left and his mother saw them to the door. John glumly looked around his new bedroom. “So... what do you think?” his mother asked when she returned.
“I don't like it.” John whined. “It's too girlie.” he claimed. “Can we bring my stuff back in?” he asked, hoping his own possessions would detract from the girlie walls and carpet.
“Well we need to have a good sort through all your stuff first.” his mother said. “But why don't you put one of your dresses on? I'm sure you'll feel more at home once you're out of those tatty old boy clothes.”
John didn't really want to change out of his boy clothes, but he knows when a suggestion is really an instruction. His mother chose a lime green dress with short puffed sleeves and a white Peter Pan collar. She told him to wear it with a pair of his knee socks and left him to change whilst she fetched some clean bedding. “That's better.” his mother smiled when she returned to find him wearing the dress. “Now you look like you belong.”
John looked down at his pretty green frock and gulped. He wouldn't like to admit it but he feels likes he belongs too. He helped his mother fit a white sheet to the mattress, then stood back as she effortlessly fitted the duvet cover. “Is that new?” he asked.
“Of course.” his mother replied. “There's no point having a new room without new bedding is there?” she asked as she spread it over the mattress. Like his wallpaper, it's pale pink but instead of being peppered with pictures of Alice and other characters from Wonderland, it's peppered with numerous ballerina silhouettes. Whilst not ideal, it's better than the Barbie ready-bed he's been sleeping in for the last few nights. His mother puts up a new pair of curtains that match his new duvet cover, then she adds a pink girlie lampshade, a girl's bedside lamp and a pink plastic alarm clock, waste paper basket and a laundry basket to the ensemble. Then, much to John's displeasure, they sort through all his stuff and his mother puts pretty much everything he'd like to keep in a box for the charity shop, leaving him with a handful of kids books, a few old toys & games and not much else.
It was weird going to sleep in his new bedroom that night. Part of him felt he was staying at someone else's house, but then he kept unwillingly reminding himself that this is his room, before gulping and closing his eyes again. He had the very same feeling when he awoke the next day; he must be in someone else's house... but he quickly realised that this is his new room. He threw off his pale pink duvet cover and sat himself up before standing up and opening his pink ballerina curtains. He sighed as he cast his eyes over his Alice in Wonderland wallpaper and wondered if it really was the best of the bad bunch of the available girlie wall coverings. He looked down at his pyjamas and wondered what his friends would say if they could see him now... not friends like Peter, Paul, Andrew or Nigel, but his other friends; the ones who don't have a room full of girlie stuff. Today's pyjamas are also cut in the baseball style with cropped pants and sleeves, a scooped neck and contrasting sleeves and torso. But unlike his lilac & white Barbie 'dream dress' set and his red & white Minnie mouse set, today he's wearing his pink & white set featuring the three Disney Princesses; Cinderella, Aurora and Belle printed on the front of the top and the iconic Disney castle peppered all over his pale pink cropped pants.
John's mother takes him into town to deliver the boxes which contain the very last items of his old boy stuff to one of the charity shops before dragging him around all the others. “Why don't you you see if there's any nice books or toys whilst I look at the clothes?” she suggests. John does spot some decent looking books, but at almost thirteen, he's long grown out of toys. His mother joins him when he's browsing the videos and asks if he's seen anything 'nice'. He points out a book about survival and outdoor pursuits, and the Indiana Jones box set he's holding, but his mother isn't taken with them. Instead of buying him things that he wants, he gets things that she wants him to have. He leaves with a Flower Fairies picture book, a Sparkle Girl colouring book and an old Girls Own Adventure Stories book. It doesn't stop there and by the time they arrive home, he's got a good selection of girlie books including stories such as A Little Princess, Mallory Towers, Anne of Green Gables. His mother also bought him an assortment of picture books filled with princesses, fairies, flowers, ponies and kittens, as well as some 'how-to' craft books and a flower press. He puts all these new items on his bookshelf and knows he'll probably never look through any of them.
It's not just books though, as on his top shelf now sits a rag-doll in a ballerina costume, a cuddly winged unicorn with sparkly pink wings and another doll wearing in a floral prairie dress, white apron and bonnet. Possibly worst charity shop find of all is a Disney Princess video box set containing Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Jasmine`s Enchanted Tales, Mulan, Pocahontas, The Princess And The Frog, Disney Princess Enchanted Tales and the Interactive Disney Princess DVD Quiz. And to make this collection doubly poor, when the boxes are arranged in the correct order, their spines create a single image of all eleven princesses. John steps back and perches on the end of his bed and just stares at his bookshelf. Yesterday it was practically empty but now it's half full of girl's books, DVDs and those bog awful cuddly toys on the top shelf. His mother appears in the doorway and says “It's starting to look like a petticoated boy's room should look now isn't it?”
“Yeah I suppose.” John frowned. He looked down at himself, clad in the outfit his mother had laid out for him; the dreaded blue gingham lederhosen with its frilly lace trim and its prissy white blouse. He wears white knee high pop-socks and a pair of pale blue Mary Jane's.
His mother asks him to stand as she's not 'properly' seen him wearing it. “It's very nice.” she tells him and he reluctantly and slowly twirls before suggesting that wearing a play-suit must be a welcome change from wearing a dress.
John gulps and looks down at himself. “I think I prefer my dresses.” he confesses.
“Of course you do... that's just for playing in.” his mother said. She had a final glance around his new girlie bedroom before leaving him alone. John sat on the edge of his girlie bed and cast his mind back to the day he first entered Peter's room. He recalled how utterly appalling it was and the look of utter shame on Peter's face. Now his own bedroom is twice as girlie as Peter's room and John dreads the day that one of his non-petticoated friends decides to call round unannounced.