My sister and I are twins. We're fraternal twins, not identical twins, but the number of people who ask if we are identical is beyond belief! The fact that we don't look identical should be a clue but no, people have to ask. Being twins, our birthday celebrations have always been a joint affair. Last year I suggested we go paint-balling and Sally thought it was a great idea. I invited two of my friends and she invited two of hers and all six of us donned the camouflage and took up arms before taking part in battles, skirmishes, campaigns and missions. The photograph was taken before the first battle. It didn't take long for our outfits to be covered in numerous splats of red, yellow, green and blue paint. We all had a great time and talked about it for weeks afterwards.
row: Jordan, Mark, Peter (me).|
Front row: Kirsten, Sally (my sister), Mollie.
This year, I suggested we have another paint-ball party, but Sally wasn't keen for two reasons. One; doing the same thing again is boring and unimaginative. Two; it's her turn to think of something. Fair enough, I thought. Although she didn't have any firm ideas beyond going to the cinema or maybe the bowling alley. Sally finally decided that she wanted a 'traditional' party at home with a few friends, a birthday buffet and plenty of party games. I thought it sounded boring and unimaginative (and a little bit childish) but it's her turn to choose so... whatever!
“...and this year it's Sally's turn to choose.”
“But what Peter?”
I gulped and looked at the dress. “You are kidding aren't you?” I grinned knowingly. I knew she was kidding. She has to be... surely?
“No Peter... Sally wants a party with a pink theme and she's always been a girlie girl so she wants all the guests to wear pretty pink dresses.” my mother stated. “Have you thought about who to invite?”
“Well... I was gonna ask Jordan and Mark again but...” I gulped. “You are having me on... surely you don't seriously expect me to wear a dress? It is my birthday too you know!”
“I know it is, but as you know, it's Sally turn to choose how to celebrate.” my mother reiterated. “Now I understand if you don't want to invite any of your friends, but that is up to you.” she said. “But let me know sooner rather than later because if not, Sally can invite four friends instead of two.”
“Tell her she can invite five... coz I'm not coming.”
“Oh don't be like that Peter. Sally did what you wanted last year.”
“Yeah but that was fun.”
“This'll be fun.” my mother claimed. “She's put a lot of effort into planning the party games.”
Sally had mentioned her ideas which included pass-the-parcel, musical statues, pin the tail on the donkey, blindman's buff. “It sounds like a kids party.” I grumbled. “We'll be fourteen.” I stated. “And I’m definitely not wearing a dress!”
“Well... I've bought it now.” Mum replied. “It wasn't cheep and I went all the way to Penton to buy it...”
“Well if you'd asked me first.”
“Sally told you what she had in mind weeks ago and you said 'fine'.”
“She told she wanted a normal party at home with a buffet and games.” I retorted. On reflection, maybe she did say something like 'and we'll all wear nice dresses', but I didn't think for a second that that included me! I looked into my mother's eyes. Into her face. Into her soul even. “You're not kidding are you?” She slowly yet surely shook her head. “Oh god.” I groaned.
“Sally's set her heart on it.” Mum said. She turned her gaze to the dress. “Why don't you try it for size? See how it feels? It might not seem so bad once you've got it on.”
“I'm sure it'll seem ten times worse when I'm wearing it.” I replied as I imagined doing just that.
“Well at least try the shoes on.” Mum suggested. “If they're too small I'll have to take them back.”
I cast my reluctant eye over the shoes. “You could've got flat ones.” I groaned as I picked one up for a closer inspection.
“I could... but I didn't.” my mother replied. “Here...” she said, reaching out her hand. “...you take your shoes off and I’ll undo the buckles.”
I passed her the shoe with a trembling hand and untied my laces and slipped of my shoes. Mum handed me one the new shoes and I hesitated before pulling it onto my foot. “It's a bit tight.”
“Take your socks off.” Mum suggested. “How's that?” she asked a moment later.
“Apart from being absolutely vile...” I said. “...it fits.” Mum passed me the other one. “Do I have to?” I whined.
“Yes.” she replied. I slipped it on. “Fasten the buckles.” she insisted.
I fiddled with them and finally got one fastened. The second buckle was just as fiddly, but I fastened it and stood up. “These feel weird.” I said.
“They look nice.” my mother replied before suggesting I walk around a bit. “Comfy?”
“No.” I said. Mum asked what was wrong with them. “Well, the heel for a start... and not wearing socks, and the fact they're pink with bows on.” I replied.
“You'll be wearing socks on Saturday.” Mum replied. “...or tights.” she added.
“I'm not gonna wear tights.” I moaned.
“Socks then.” Mum shrugged. “You might find it easier if you don't look at your feet.” she suggested as I slowly paced up and down the kitchen. “Head up, shoulders back... imagine the heel is an extension of your leg.” she advised.
“I'm gonna feel like a right prannock trying to walk in these.” I moaned.
“Well you've got a few days to get used to them.” she said. “Do you want to try the dress on?”
“No!” I yelped as she removed it from the chair over which it'd been slung, held it up and admired it. “I can't believe you bought me that and expect me to wear it.”
“Would you have rather chose your own?”
I briefly imagine shopping for a dress. “No.” I groaned. “But if I had I wouldn't have chosen a Lolita dress.”
Mum made a comment about my fashion knowledge and I pointed out that the Lolita style isn't exactly fashionable. “Anyway, this isn't a Lolita dress.” she claimed. “It's a Brolita dress... specially made for boys.” she informed me as a smug grin swept her face.
“There's no way that was made for a boy!” I stated. Mum explained that it's been 'cut' for a flat chest and informed me that girl's dresses are designed to accommodate a bust. “It's still a dress though.”
“It is... and your sister's set her heart on everyone wearing dresses so please ...don't let her down.” Mum said in a tone that suggested she meant it. I gulped and nodded, but made it clear that I wasn't at all happy. “Now... if you don't want to try it on, can I at least hold it against you to check the length?” she asked as she approached with the dreaded dress on its hanger. I did nothing as she held the dress against me apart from look down at it and gulp. Mum asked me to hold it so she could step back and have a proper look. The folds of light pink fabric obscure my feet so I kick out my foot. The dress, I guess is about knee length, maybe a little shorter. Mum tells me to hold it a little higher, so the hanger is level with my shoulders. I raise it and look down again. I hold its skirt against me and guess that it's hem is about six inches above the knee. I begin to wonder what its like to wear such a garment. It seems highly impractical. It's no wonder most girls and women opt for pants, trousers or shorts these days. I imagine it swishing this way and that. Having to crouch rather than bend and sitting with my knees together. “Are you going to stand there all day or...” my mother says, dragging me from my thoughts.
“Oh er... I er...” I could feel myself begin to blush. “...was waiting for to you check the length.”
“It's fine.” Mum replied as I handed it to her. “I was hoping it'd be just above the knee.” she added before cocking her head and saying, “You'll have to shave your legs.”
“What?!” I exclaimed. “No!” I stated.
“It'll grow back in no time.” Mum assured. I tried to visualise the dress with a pair of hairy legs emerging from its folds. I recalled my earlier protest against the idea of wearing tights instead of socks and retracted it. “Well... they'll be thin so...” she shrugged.
“So what?” I gulped.
“The hairs would still show through.” she replied.
I suggested thicker tights. “...like Sally wears for school. I know for a fact that she opts for tights when she can't be bothered to shave her legs.”
“True... but I've already bought some.” Mum replied as she removed them from one of her bags and showed me the pack.
“You said I could wear socks.”
“You can if you want. You said you'd prefer tights.”
“But...” I looked at them again and gulped. “...they're lacy.”
“I know.” Mum smiled. “So are the socks I bought you.”
She showed me those too and my bottom lip instinctively stuck out. “They're like Sally's!” I moaned. My sister is a real girlie girl. So much so she gets teased at school by her classmates.
“They are.” mum smiled. “I could have just given you a pair of hers to wear but I figured it'd be nicer to have your own.” she smiled. “I also thought it'd be nice to have a choice, which is why I bought both.”
“Great.” I groaned. “Any more surprises?” I asked. My tone was deliberately think with apathy.
“A few.” Mum smiled as she put the tights and socks back in the bag.
“Do I really have to shave my legs?” I asked. “Isn't there some cream I can use?”
“I was going to suggest cream.” Mum replied. “Lets see how bad they are.” she requested.
I pulled up my trouser leg to reveal half of my calf, covered in a fuzzy mess of dark brown hair. Mum told me that regardless of whether is use a razor or depilation cream, I do need to tackle my leg hair, otherwise I'd look ridiculous. “I'll look ridiculous either way.” I replied as I cast my eyes nervously over the dress I'll be wearing.
“You'll look cute.” Mum grinned.
“Same thing.” I grumbled.
The dress soon began its residency in my wardrobe. The shoes stayed on my feet since I need to get used to wearing them. If I have to wear heels I’d rather not walk like an amateur drag queen for the duration. When my sister arrived home, she bounded up to my room insisting on seeing 'it'. “Wow this is fantastic.” she said as she held my dress against herself and twirled with it. God! She couldn't be any more girlie of she tried, I thought. “Do you like it?” she asked.
“It's horrendous.” I replied.
“Have you worn it?” she asked. I shook my head. “Why not?” she quizzed. “Or are you saving it for Saturday?”
“Something like that.” I dryly retorted. “I'm avoiding it 'til Saturday.” I added. “You could have asked me if I wanted to wear a dress.”
“I did.” she claimed as she hung it back on the rail. “Sort of.”
“Yeah... sort of!” I retorted before reiterating the conversation we'd had a couple of weeks ago. “When you said and we'll all wear party dresses, I though you meant you and your friends.”
Sally shook her head. “No, I meant all of us.” she replied. “I was surprised that you agreed.”
“Well I didn't.”
“Didn't.” she said. “Anyway it's too late now. Mum's bought your dress.”
“And shoes.” I said as my head dropped to my feet. She was flabbergasted that I was actually wearing them. I lifted the legs of my jeans to give her a proper look. “Wow... they'll go perfectly with your dress.”
“You can say that again.” I groaned. “They're just as horrendous.”
“Why are you wearing them then?”
“Because I don't want to look like more of an idiot... I need to be able to walk properly in 'em.”
“True.” she replied. “Any way you won't look like an idiot... you'll look cute.”
“I'll look like a girl.” I whined. Mum said it's a proper boy's dress but regardless it's still a dress.
“Well in that case there's nothing wrong with a boy wearing it... and it's only for the day.” she shrugged.
“Yeah I guess.”
“It's gonna be ace! I can't wait 'til Saturday.” she exclaimed. “I've never had a proper girl's birthday party before!”
Sally left me alone. I slumped on my bed and kicked out my feet. “It's gonna be so weird.” I muttered as I imagined wearing the full ensemble. Sally's got a point I guess. We've always had joint birthday parties and whilst she's often worn a party dress for the occasion, she's never had a proper girls party... but she soon will have, and so will I.
A while later I sauntered downstairs to grab a snack and watch some TV. “Still got your new shoes on I see.” Mum said.
“I'm still trying to get used to them.”
“Good for you.”
“When will I have to shave my legs?” I asked.
“Friday evening or Saturday morning would be best.” Mum replied.
I decided to say nothing about my immanent birthday to my two best friends; Jordan and Mark. If they ask, I'll just say we're only having a family meal this year... and if they get wind of my sister's party, I'll play it down and claim that's 'her' birthday party, not mine (we are all in the same year at the same school, so it's likely). Hopefully they'll presume I'll not be attending it... and hopefully I'll be able to talk Sally and her friends not to say anything afterwards. Sally's already agreed not to mention my party outfit beforehand, it's just a case of getting the girls she's inviting to keep it secret and thus preserve my credibility at school.
Sally and I seldom walked home from school together. She tends to stick with her friends and I tend to stick with mine. We get along just fine but we're about as far as you can get from identical twins... she's a girl and I’m a boy for a start. She listens to pop music whilst I prefer a rockier sound. I enjoy action films, she loves romantic comedies. I'm a normal boy and she's an old fashioned girlie girl which in this day and age, can be quite an embarrassment. Today however, I loiter by the school gates and wait for her. I spot her exiting the school building with friend Mollie. They stand out because they're two of the few girls who still wear skirts for school. “You waiting for me Pete?” Sally asked as she approached. Mollie smiled and greeted me too. I suspected Sally had told her about my party outfit, but wasn't going to ask one way or the other. The three of us walked together for a while until Mollie headed in her own direction. The moment she was out of earshot, I asked Sally if she'd told her. “No... course not!” she insisted.
“You sure?” I asked. “Because the way she grinned at me... I suspected she knew something.” Sally assured me that her lips were sealed and informed me that I'm their 'big surprise'. “So... who else have you invited?” I asked.
“Mollie and Kirsten and Sarah Clarke...”
“I don't know her.” I interjected. Sally described Sarah but I was none the wiser, before explaining that she's not a 'girlie' girl and would be borrowing one of Sally's prissy dresses for the party. “I kinda wish I was borrowing one of yours too.”
“That was the idea.” she informed me. “Then Mum noticed the boy's section in the back of one of my catalogues and figured you'd rather wear a boy's dress than a girl's one.” she explained.
“It seems like a lot of expense for just a few hours though.” I stated. “Those pink shoes alone must cost twenty or thirty quid.”
“Well my shoes wouldn't fit you... so you at least need your own.” she said before asking how I was getting on with them.
I described them as 'weird' before adding that they're 'OK'. “It was weird when I finally took them off... I felt about two inches shorter.”
“Well you would have been.” she smiled. “I was impressed that you kept them on for so long.”
“It was only a few hours... and I do need the practice if I'm going to carry it off.”
“Oooh it's great that you're making the effort.” she said. “Are you looking forward to it?”
“I'm looking forward to it all being over.” I replied. “And when it is over, word'll get round that I wore a dress and it'll haunt me for the rest of my life.” I claimed. “So no... I’m dreading it.”
“It'll be fine.” she insisted. I wasn't convinced. I asked who else she'd invited. “Melanie.” she replied.
“Cousin Melanie?” I asked. She nodded. “Ohhh... that means the whole family will find out too.”
“It's just a dress Peter... loads of boys dress as girls for Halloween and stuff.”
“Yeah I guess.” I conceded. We always dress up for Halloween but I've never once considered dressing as girl. A zombie, vampire, mummy and Frankenstein's monster; yes... a girl; no... well not until now. I expect the dress will still be in my wardrobe come autumn. “You know when you shave your legs?” I asked.
“How long does it take for them to start growing back?”
“A couple of days.” she replied. “If leave them a week they either need shaving or I wear thick tights.”
“So just a week then?”
“Yeah... a week tops. In the summer I’ll shave every two or three days... in the winter not quite so often.”
“Cool.” I replied. She asked why I was asking and I sheepishly told her that Mum said I have to shave my legs for the party. “...or use some cream.”
“You really are making the effort aren't you!” she exclaimed.
I replied saying that I have to. I stopped and pulled up my trouser leg. “Can you imagine these sticking out of a pink dress?” I asked as I ran my fingers over my bushy leg hair.
She giggled and said “No.” before informing that it might take a bit more than a week for them to grow back to that extent.
“Well I'll just have to avoid shorts until they do.” I figured. It's not a bad plan since we can wear shorts or tracksuit pants for PE, and I can opt out of swimming if I want. The fact that our cousin Melanie had been invited popped back into my head. “Does Mel know that it's a pink party?” I asked.
“Yep.” Sally replied.
“Does she even own a dress?” I asked. In our mother's youth, Melanie would have been called a tom-boy, but in this day and age, she's a typical girl who generally shuns things like dresses, make-up, long hair and jewellery. Sally informed me that like Sarah, Melanie will also be borrowing one of her dresses. “She can borrow mine if she wants.” I suggested. Sally chuckled.
Friday evening comes around all to quickly. Although I shave my chin semi-regularly, I'm reluctant to shave my legs for fear of cutting myself. Mum gave me a tube of Veet and instructed me how to use it. She warned that the tingly sensation is normal and advised me to leave it on for a good ten minutes for best results. I took it and myself into the bathroom and stripped down to my underpants. Judging by the amount of hair there is to remove, I could be here for some time. It took far far longer than I’d expected. About ninety minutes later I sheepishly emerged wearing my bathrobe. Mum asked me if I'd showered and moisturised afterwards like she'd advised. “Yeah.” I replied. She smiled and asked how they felt. “Er... quite nice I guess.” I confessed.
“Let me feel.” she asked. I put my foot on the chair arm and she ran her fingers over my knee and down my shin. “Very nice... did you go all the way up?”
I gulped and nodded. “I'm not sure if I was supposed to but... I did my arms too.” I said as I showed her my forearm.
“Oh. You didn't have to go that far.” Mum replied. I explained that I was in two minds but it made sense under the circumstances. “That explains why it took you so long.” she smiled.
“Yeah.” I coyly replied. I rolled my sleeve down and headed toward the door. Mum asked where I was going. “To put my shoes on.”
I returned a moment later wearing my pink heeled shoes along with my pyjama bottoms and bathrobe. “Don't your toes get clammy without socks?” Mum asked.
“A bit.” I replied. Mum suggested I put some socks on. “Nah... it'd have to be those frilly ones and I'd rather have clammy toes.” I said. “I'll wear those tights tomorrow I think.”
“I was hoping you would.” Mum smiled. We watched TV for a while before Sally's absence dawned on me. “Still deciding what to wear I expect.” Mum replied before suggesting that I go up and help her decide.
In spite of my total lack of interest regarding my sister's party outfit, I sauntered upstairs, trying my best to work with my heels with each and every step. I knocked on Sally's door and she opened it. “Oh! Hi Pete. I thought you were Mum.”
“Nah. Just me.” she invited me inside. “Blimey!” I said as I gorped at a selection of dresses that lay strewn across her bed.
I turn towards her wardrobe and my jaw drops. “How do you get those...” I pointed to the numerous frocks on her duvet. “...in there?” I asked, turning to her wardrobe.
“With great difficulty.” she replied. I'm not surprised. “I might have to start putting some in your wardrobe.” she suggested.
“It's bad enough having one dress in there.” I retorted. “No wonder you can't decide what to wear.”
“I know.. and deciding for Kirsten, Sarah and cousin Mel... it's no easy task.”
I cast my eyes over the frocks on her bed. “Well... there's four pink ones. And it's a pink theme so...”
“I know but Sarah doesn't want to wear pink and Melanie doesn't want to wear a dress at all... maybe I could get her into a blue one but...”
“What about those really girlie shorts... them frilly dungaree things”
Sally rummaged in her wardrobe and dragged an item out. “These?”
“If I was given a choice between those or a dress... I think I’d go for the dress.”
“Yeah... I love the look of them but I didn't like wearing them very much.” Sally commented.
“Sally... there's nothing boyish about those.”
“Apart from the fact they are for boys.” she retorted. “Look...” she showed me the label, “...Kawaii-Boi... it's a Japanese boy's brand.”
“Hmm... it's quite worrying that they're actually making this sort of stuff for boys.” I said. “Especially when most girls don't even wear stiff like this any more.”
“I think it's a bit weird but it sort of makes sense.”
“In what way?”
“Well... if the girls aren't buying, sell it to the boys.” she replied. “Maybe in ten, twenty years time boys and men will be wearing the skirts and dresses?”
“I can't see it somehow.”
“Me neither but... you never know. My sociology teacher said that girls and boys are gender neutral these days and the pendulum could swing the other way before long.” she explained. I've had similar lectures and discussions in sociology class but I, along with most believe the 'pendulum' has stopped swinging and the future is one that's more gender neutral than the past. But maybe the metaphorical pendulum is still swaying a little? I am after all preparing to wear my first dress. I cast my eyes over the collection on her bed and ask which she's going to wear. “I don't know!” she whined. “I think I might be able to shoehorn Kirsten into the lilac one, and put Melanie in that blue one...”
“Or those.” I interrupted, grinning and pointing at the pink dungaree shorts.
Sally smiled and raised her eyebrows. “...and Sarah's wearing pink whether she likes it or not.”
“I don't know!” she giddily exclaimed. “I've got too many to choose from!”
“I guess I’m lucky having just the one.” I dryly stated. “I'd best leave you to it.”
“You can stay if you want... you could model them for me... help me make my mind up.”
I glanced at the dreadful dungarees. “Er... no thanks. I'm only gonna wear one dress and that's hanging in my wardrobe.” I replied before opening her door.
“Got your shoes on I see.”
“Yeah.” I replied. “I'm kind of getting used to them.” I said before leaving. I returned downstairs and described the scene to my mother; dresses all over the bed, wardrobe wide open, shoes all over the floor. Mum was amused by my account. I told her about the pink dungarees which will be used to 'hopefully' get cousin Melanie to wear a dress. “Even I'd rather wear a dress than those.” I stated. “They're gross!”
“Oh I think they're quite sweet.” Mum replied. “Not very practical for a girl though.” she added, before casually informing me that they're actually a male garment.
“Yeah Sally said.” I replied. “Hard to believe eh?”
“It is... but the world is changing.” Mum grew up in a time when girls were mostly girlie by default. She often talks about how things used to be and how much better things are these days. Women were looked down on if they didn't dress up by wearing skirts and heels, make-up, etc. Now they're looked down on when they do dress up because femininity in the modern world is more about being a feminist rather than feminine. Trousers and flats, short hairstyles, minimal and often no make-up is worn in the workplace. My sister however is a throwback from another age and Mum often says that she should dress down more often... especially for school where she wears ribbons and bunches, lace trimmed socks and the old fashioned school skirt. She's more than happy for Sally to be as girlie as she likes in the home, but the lesson is that at school and later, in the workplace, being overtly girlie won't do her any favours. I guess this is possibly why Sally's so keen on having a girl's birthday party... the older she gets, the more she'll have to either grow out of, or suppress her girlie instincts.
In bed that night, my bed feels unusually slinky. It's quite nice being hairless. I wake early and have a long lie in before dressing and heading downstairs. The party isn't until 3.00pm so there's plenty of time. I wear joggers and a T shirt. Sally wears a plain dress over a little T shirt and it's our birthday! (woo hoo, and all that). I get the usual bits and bobs, a new T shirt, a video game and a music CD. Sally gets similar gifts, but our main gift is a digital camera... not one between us but one each! 30MP, 25x Zoom, 3½ ” touch screen, HD video with a built in smart phone, datacorder and satnav. Sally's is metallic pink and mine is silver. We spend all morning taking photos and videos of anything and everything, even the birthday cards we've received. We even took photos of our breakfast!
We did put our new cameras down to help Mum prepare for the party. Mum asked why I wasn't practising wearing my new shoes. “Well... I wore them for about three hours on Tuesday, another two or three hours on Wednesday, same on Thursday and about five hours last night... if I can't walk in them now I never will.” I replied.
“Fair enough... and for the record, you walk as well as any girl in heels.” she complimented. Sally agreed, but that was enough idle chatter. Cake mix needed mixing for the cup cakes, icing needed to be mixed also. I helped Mum stuff volovants whilst Sally made a stack of sandwiches. Then, using a heart-shaped biscuit cutter cut each and every one into the shape of a love heart and arranged them on a pink platter. It was effective yet wasteful but Mum said we'd be having the off cuts for dinner, so not that wasteful. With the cakes, sausage rolls, volovants and pizza slices in the oven, I all of a sudden found myself at a loose end. “What should I do now?” I asked.
Mum checked the time. “Well they'll be in the oven for twenty minutes, which gives me just enough time to do something with your hair.”
I bit my lip. “Like what?” I asked. Whilst my hair isn't long like Sally's, it's not short back and sides either. It's those shoulder length moppish locks with the fringe hanging slightly over the eyes; a style that many boys wear these days.
“Something nice.” Mum replied. “Sally... will you keep an eye on the cupcakes? ...and please don't let them burn!” she said before leading me out of the kitchen. I had one request; whatever she's going to do, please make sure it'll either brush or wash out once the party's over. Mum assured me that it would but wouldn't tell me precisely what she has in mind. She takes me into her room. I loiter shyly as she retrieves one of the big boutique carrier bags that I’d last seen on Tuesday; the day I realised that this year my sister and I would be having a girl's birthday party. Before digging into the bag, she put a white silky dressing gown on the bed and told me I could use her en-suite and wear the gown. “Oh er...” I hesitated before picking it up.
“Just a tick...” she said as I headed for her en-suite bathroom. “...you need these too.” She help up a pair of very pale pink knickers, then a matching bra-like top. I figured I’d be wearing my own undies beneath the dress and couldn't help but protest at the knickers and bra she'd revealed. “They're not knickers Peter... they're just really nice underpants.” she claimed. Similar justification was used for the bra, which is apparently just a little cropped vest. I wasn't convinced. “Have you ever seen knickers like this before?” she asked as she demonstrated how baggy they'd fit. “They're clearly for boys.” she said.
“Clearly.” I dryly said as I took them to the en-suite. I removed my joggers and underpants, pulled them on and looked at myself.
“Yeah... clearly for boys!” I grumbled before removing my T shirt and pulling on the bra... I mean 'little cropped vest'.
The satin knickers and bra-top have loads of lacy trim. They're so very girlie I have to stop myself from giggling at my reflection. But it's not just my underwear... it's me too. With not a single hair covering my legs or arms they look slim and slender and, dare I say it, altogether girlie.
I don the silky dressing gown and return to my mother's room. Thankfully she doesn't ask to see how nice my new underwear looks. Instead, she sits me at her dressing table and begins to run a damp comb through my hair. Then, after separating front from back, she begins to section off the back half and takes to it, bit by bit, with a pair of electric curling tongs. After five or ten minutes, she popped downstairs to check on the cakes. I spent a few moments grimacing at the handful of curls she'd put in. “I knew she was going to do something like this.” I said to myself as I cast my eyes over the items on her dressing table. For a woman who doesn't seem to wear make-up very often, she seems to have an awful lot of it. “Oh that's gonna be next isn't it!” I say to myself as I realise that there's much more to wearing a dress than just wearing a dress. I arrange my silky robe over my lap and enjoy how it feels against my hairless skin. I sneak a quick peak of my curious little knickers, or 'really nice underpants' as Mum claims them to be. They're kinda cute I guess, I think as Mum returns. She continues curling my hair and as a mass of tight ringlets cover the back and sides of my head, Mum asks me what I think. “Sally'll like it.” I gulp.
“Sally will love it!” she assured. “Now I'm going to trim your fringe... just a tiny bit.” she said. In for penny, I figured. My fringe needs the occasional trim anyway, but what I wasn't prepared for was just how wide my fringe would become. She cut it arrow straight from almost ear to ear and combined with the short bouncy ringlets, I already looked more like a girl than a boy. “Now I'm not sure whether to put a simple pink ribbon in it or a big Lolita bow.. what do you think?”
“Errr.... I dunno. I'll let you decide.” I hesitantly replied. “Maybe just a ribbon?”
“I think so.” she said before putting a plastic head band on me and using it to hold my fringe off my face. “This is just whilst I do your make up.” she said.
“How are those cakes getting on?” I asked.
“Sally's got it under control.” Mum confidently replied, before trotting to the landing and hollering, “Sally... are those cakes OK?” Mum returned and began applying moisturiser, powder and all sorts of other stuff to my face. It was fascinating watching my natural skin tone be replaced with an even sheen, then seeing shadows and highlights added to my face. Mum reminisced over days gone by as she applied all the layers. “It's hard to imagine that women had to do this every morning before going to work... even going to the shop they were expected to paint themselves and do their hair.” she said. “Life's a lot easier these days when we only do it for special occasions.” she added.
“Sally would have liked it.” I knowingly replied.
“Sally would have loved it.” Mum grinned. “How about you? Enjoying yourself?”
“Well...” I chuffed. “...I'm not really doing anything. You're doing all the work.” I said. “It's kind of nice being pampered I suppose.”
“Good.” Mum smiled. “It's nice doing some pampering for a change.” After short while, Mum said “Right, that'll do for now.”
“But... I haven't got any lipstick on yet.” I said.
“You may as well leave that until after lunch... it'd only need reapplying.” she said. “Now you've got to be very careful.. no rubbing your eyes, in fact, no touching your face, or you'll ruin it.”
“OK.” I gulped. “Can I put my dress on yet?”
“If you want.” Mum replied. “But you'll need your stockings on first.”
“I thought I was wearing tights?”
“Same thing really.” she claimed as she dug her hand into the big boutique carrier bag and retrieved the little pack of lacy stockings. I pulled them on and pulled them all the way up to my thighs.
Mum said they look lovely. “Will they stay up on their own?” I asked.
“Not for long.” Mum replied. “Which is why you need this.”
“What's that?” I asked. The curious garment matched my underwear perfectly and it's straps suggested a bra-like garment... but I'm already wearing one of those.
“It's a suspender belt.” she replied. “It goes around your waist and these...” she showed me the little clips, “...clip onto your stocking tops.” She also explained that it needs to go beneath my undies.
She left me alone for a second whilst I fiddled and faffed with the funny little clips. “How you getting on?” she asked when she returned. My dress is in one hand. My shoes in the other. She seemed impressed that I’d clipped all four straps on myself, but it wasn't exactly hard. I wanted to put the dress on but Mum wanted to check that my suspender straps were adjusted properly which meant removing my gown. I felt both dressed and naked as I stood there in my underwear. Mum also adjusted my bra straps to ensure they wouldn't fall down. “Yes, of course... sorry.” she said when I corrected her and said 'cropped vest'.
“Can I put the dress on now?” I asked.
“All in good time.” mum grinned. “There's a blouse first.”
“I mean shirt.” I mum replied as she removed it from the big boutique bag and unfolded it. I gulped.
“Actually, it could do with an iron... you're OK for a few more minutes aren't you?”
“Yeah I'm fine... just getting used to my new underwear.” I sarcastically replied.
Mum grinned. “I must say I was expecting you to be huffing and puffing a bit more.”
“Well it's just a dress... and Sally's never had a proper girl's birthday before so...” I replied. “The hard bits going to be when my mates at school find out about it.”
“I wouldn't worry about that.” Mum said. “They might tease you for a bit but then they'll find something else.” she claimed. “Sally gets teased for being girlie and she is a girl... just take a leaf out of her book and shrug it off.”
“That's the plan.” I said as Mum erected the ironing board.
“It's as a good a plan as any.” she said as I donned the silky gown she'd loaned me. “Chilly?”
“No... just a bit shy.” I replied as I covered my frilly little undies. Mum began ironing the shirt. I put my pink heeled shoes on and as I sat, I was taken by surprise when my suspender straps quickly slid around my hips, as if finding the shortest route between the belt and my stockings. “Is that normal?” I wondered as I fastened the buckles. They were really fiddly on Tuesday. Now they're easy to fasten. I can't say I like the shoes but they do go with the rest of my outfit. I've worn them for a few hours over the last four evenings and they've always looked alien and felt awkward, although less so as I persevered with them. But seeing them now, with their white lacy background, they look like they finally belong.
I wait patiently yet nervously for a few more minutes whilst mum irons the awkward garment. She struggling with the little puffy sleeves. At fourteen, I've not had to do any ironing, but I can see why it's tricky. “Oh that'll do.” Mum declared before passing me the unbuttoned garment.
“Thanks.” I said through a pursed smile.
“I can't tell if you're excited or shitting yourself.”
I was shocked that my mother had used a rude word. It really wasn't like her. But she read my mind perfectly. “A bit of both.” I confessed as I slid out of the gown and slipped my arms through the sleeves of the
shirt (who am I kidding?). “Is this a boy's blouse?” I asked.
“Its buttons fasten the same way as my shirts.” I added. Even in
this day and age, the buttons on women & girl's garments tend
fasten the opposite way.
“Well you didn't think I'd buy you a load of girl's clothes for your birthday did you?” she smiled. She held that smile whilst I buttoned my blouse. Once done, she turned her head and said. “You ready?”
My dress lay in wait on her duvet. Like a python its motionless, as if pretending to sleep... waiting until I'm close enough and it'll strike in an instant and wrap itself around me. The reality is far slower. Mum smiles as she turns it over and unfastens the zip. Then she holds it and I carefully step inside. One foot. Then the next. Mum says nothing but I know what to do. I push my arms through its pinkness, lift it onto my shoulders, then turn and put my back to her. She slowly fastens the zip, arranges my collar and ties the the tapes in a bow at the small of my back. I watch via the dressing table mirror. “How does that feel?” she asks as she turns me to face her.
I'm almost gasping as I try to cling on to these feelings. “Beautiful.” I reply as they slip away. If I've learned one thing today, it's that putting on a dress is a hell of a lot more exciting than putting on a pair of pants. I'm starting to see what Sally sees in all this old fashioned girlie girl stuff. Mum checked her wristwatch. “What time is it?” I asked.
“Quarter to one.”
“Is that all?!” I blurted. The process of styling my hair and applying my make-up seemed to takes ages & ages and thoroughly expected it to be around 2.00pm.
She led me out of her room and hollered through Sally's bedroom door. “Are you ready?”
“Yes.” Sally hollered from the dining room.
“Careful on the stairs on those shoes.” Mum advised as I followed her down. I reminded her that I've had plenty of practice in the shoes. “Yes, of course.” she said.
“It's this I'm not used to.” I said as I ran my hands down my frock. In the dining room my sister was arranging the buffet table wearing an equally pink dress. Hers is closer to knee length than mine and although very different, is equally prissy. More so possibly since hers has a huge white bow on the back. She's put her hair in bunches and wears a pair of pink bow barrettes. It takes her a few seconds to become aware of my presence. She turns, looks and gasps before telling me that I look 'brilliant'. I coyly thank her and play it down. “It's feels OK.” I claim.
She requests a twirl which I decline to perform. “Come on... you can't wear a dress like that and not show it off.”
I shyly turn and she notices what Mum has done to my hair. “Oh my god you've got ringlets!” she gushes. “And look at your tights!” she exclaims. “They're gorgeous! ...and they look vintage.”
I've no idea what they are and Mum confirms that my tights are in fact vintage. I don't know why but I pointed out that they're not tights but 'hold-ups'. I wish I hadn't because Mum went on to say that being 'vintage' hold-ups, the hold-up technology is old and primitive and therefore don't hold themselves up very well. Sally said I'd just have to keep an eye on them and hitch them up discreetly, like she does with her over-knee socks. Mum told her that I was wearing a suspender belt and Sally really wanted to see it. With great reluctance, I showed her but revealed as little of my frilly underpants as possible. Sally said she was jealous because she's just wearing tights. I requested that she doesn't ask me to show my stocking tops to the other guests when they arrive. “Your secret's safe with me.” she assured. I could be certain that I could trust her but didn't have much choice. “Why aren't you wearing lipstick?” she asked.
“Er... Mum said I had to put it on after lunch.” I replied. “Something about having to re-apply it.”
“Fair enough.” Sally replied. We soon began tucking in to the off-cuts from the heart shaped sandwiches, washed down with plenty of juice. Then we continued getting the dining room ready. I helped with the décor; blowing up balloons and laying the table, stringing pink princess bunting across the ceiling and putting a pile of gaily wrapped gifts on the sideboard. I asked what they were. “They're for pass-the-parcel... and these are the prizes for the other games.” she added. I couldn't help but enquire further. Musical statues, blind man's buff and a variation of pin the tail on the donkey called pin the ponytail on the princess.
“Oh dear!” I thought. “This is gonna be like a party for seven year olds.”
“That's the plan.” she grinned. “My first ever proper girl's party.” she grinned.
“...and hopefully the last.” I thought. I felt an urge and headed to the hallway. Mum followed and discreetly asked where I was going. “To the toilet.” I replied.
“Thought so.” Mum said, before advising me to sit down instead of standing up to avoid getting any tell-tale splashes on my dress. “And don't forget to check that it's not tucked into the back of your undies when you've finished.” she added. We've all seen it and it's good advice. I finished, flushed, washed my hands, checked the back of my dress in the bathroom mirror and lingered for a moment. It's strange looking like I do.... not horrible like I’d anticipated, just strange.
Sally wanted the balloons putting in the corners of the dining room, so being the taller of the two, I soon found myself climbing a step stool and pushing a drawing pin into the ceiling with three pink balloons attached. I repeated the process in all four corners and on the third corner, something dawned on me. “You can't see up my dress can you?”
“No.” Sally assured. I asked if she was sure. “Of course.” she claimed. “It's not that short.”
“It's a lot shorter than yours.”
“It's the same length as mine.” Sally replied. “Only you're a bit taller than I am.”
“but you definitely can't see?”
“Well I could if I wanted to.” she teased, lowering and twisting herself.
“Stop it.” I yelped as I hopped off the stool. “Oops... almost forgot I had heels on then.”
“You walk better than me in them.”
“No I don't.” I insisted.
We hung the bunting across the room from wall to wall. I say 'we'. I did all the legwork whilst Sally directed me. Mum called her into the kitchen to help with icing the numerous cup-cakes. I continued hanging the bunting and as I did so, I overheard Sally telling Mum how good I look. “I can't believe he's wearing stockings and a suspender belt too!” she gushed, before mentioning getting a quick glimpse of my knickers.
“They're not knickers Sally... they're just really nice underpants.” Mum insisted. It doesn't matter how many time she says it, I don't believe her. There's no two ways about it... I'm wearing knickers! I eavesdrop on my sister questioning my mother's claim and my mother's explanation that she bought most of my outfit at a specialist supplier in Penton which sells Bro-lita fashions and petticoating clothes.
“Petticoating clothes?” Sally quizzed. I'd finished hanging the bunting so was sauntering into the kitchen at this point.
“For naughty boys.” our mother replied. “Boys are sometimes subjected to a punishment called 'petticoating', which means they have to wear pretty dresses for a day, week or longer.”
“That doesn't sound like much of a punishment.” I commented. “I feel quite nice in this... not that I'd admit it to any of my mates.”
“Which I suppose is why it's so effective.” Mum smiled as she passed me a plate with a big cake on it. Not surprisingly it's decorated with baby-pink icing an on the top, in purple icing is a big number 14 and our names; Sally & Peter. I counted the candles as I took it to the dining room. “...twelve, thirteen, fourteen.” I placed it on the table. There's no denying that this is going to be a joint birthday party and not just Sally's.
As the time that Sally's guests were due to arrive approached, I became increasingly nervous. I know that I feel nice but fear that I look ridiculous... and with three girls from my school coming, there's a very strong chance that by Monday, my entire year will know that I wore a dress on my birthday. I've been toying with a variety of excuses such as losing a bet or doing it for a dare, but I guess I’m best just telling the truth: last year I wanted a paint-ball party and this year is my sister's turn to choose. Problem is, I can't see any of my classmates saying “Oh, fair enough. I'd have done the same.” My other worry is that the whole truth might slip out: I didn't want to wear a dress but but when I did, it felt really nice.
Mollie arrives first with her dress in a big bag. She is herded directly to Sally's room to change. The others arrive not long after and are similarly herded directly upstairs. I'm confined to the kitchen and dining room helping Mum prepare the buffet trays. “You've taken to those shoes like a duck to water.” Mum commented as I grab a stack of plates from one of the high cupboards.
“Well I have spent all week practising.” I said as I looked down at my feet. “I quite like being a little bit taller.” I added.
“So you like them then?”
“Hmm... kind of.” I replied. “I'd prefer them if they weren't pink... but I guess they go with my dress.”
“Well that's the idea.” Mum smiled. “Everything matching.” she says before casting me a lingering smile. “Don't tell Sally but I think you look nicer in a dress than she does.”
“No I don't.” I coyly insisted. “It does feel nice though... I can see why Sally likes wearing them.” I added before wondering why the majority of girls don't.
Mum explained what I already knew; women wore dresses, heels and make-up when they were seen as inferior to men and now there's more equality, there's simply no longer a need for women to prettify themselves... in fact it's largely frowned upon which is why my sister gets bullied and teased. “Yeah I know but... maybe if more of them did, they'd realise how nice it is.”
“The same can be said for boys.” Mum replied. “Girl's wearing dresses is largely a thing of the past... maybe it will be the boys who'll be wearing the dresses in the future?” she suggested. I couldn't see it but Mum reminded me that my dress is a boy's dress that came from a shop full of pretty clothes for boys. It's a vision of the future that's too far fetched to imagine... but who knows? On the one hand I can't see many boys willingly wearing a dress... but on the other, that's exactly what I'm doing. All of a sudden, Mum realised that she'd forgot my lipstick. She popped upstairs the fetch it and returned a moment later.
“It the same as my dress.” I said when she revealed the shade.
“it is.” Mum smiled. “Now you've got to remember not to smear it...” she explained as she applied it for me. “...so no rubbing your mouth or you'll ruin it.”
“OK.” I replied. I wanted to see how it looked but... there's no mirror in the kitchen. With all the excitement of getting ready, I'd clean forgotten about my new camera. I grabbed it and asked Mum if she'd take a photograph, just so I could see myself. “Do I look pretty?” I asked.
“Very.” Mum grinned. She placed her hand on my puffed sleeve and thumbed my lace trimmed collar. “When I was little girl I’d have loved to wear a dress like this.”
Mum explained that dresses tended to be plain and functional rather than pretty and prissy. Only brides and bridesmaids and flower girls got the wear really nice frocks. Of course there were 'girlie' girls like Sally and fanatics of the Lolita and kawaii fad, but they were few in number. Like today, most girls and most grown women simply preferred trousers. The tide was turning even then. She also explained that when she was a girl, guests to a birthday party were expected to bring a gift and a greeting card. I'd never heard of a greeting card so mum explained the concept. So long as I've been alive, only parents buy birthday gifts... not friends or cousins or even siblings... and as for the greeting card tradition; “It sounds like an awful waste of paper.” I claimed.
“Which is precisely why we no longer have them.” Mum replied. “We also used to have paper party plates.” she claimed. They used to buy disposable plates to use once and throw away... surely she's winding me up? “Paper cups too.” Mum claimed. “We were a very wasteful society when I was young. It's not like today.” she said. The impromptu history lesson was interesting. Sometimes the past is the strangest place.
Meanwhile, Sally, Mollie, Kirsten, Sarah and Melanie are busy getting ready upstairs. I can hear their muffled shrieks and giggles echoing down the stairwell, and before long, their approaching footsteps. I become increasingly nervous as I hear Sally telling them to stay in the dining room. She pops her head around the kitchen door and beckons me. I glance at my mother who gives me a reassuring smile before looking down at myself and stepping forward. Sally grabs my hand and leads me into the dining room where I'm greeted with an audible gasp... followed by a long silence.
It probably only lasted for a second or two... but it felt like minutes. A deep sense of shame flooded through me as my sister's four guests just looked and looked at me. This is the moment I'd been dreading. The moment of ridicule that will spill into tomorrow and the days after that. I know what I look like and for a fourteen year old boy, it's certainly a sight to behold. With that thought I cast my eyes over their outfits; the pinks, the prints, the bows and frills from head to toe. Not many girls dress 'girlie' these days and Kirsten and Melanie look just as out-of-place as I do. I smirk. Melanie smirks. Mollie chuckles but quickly contains it, then Sarah bursts out laughing and that sets us all off. It becomes infectious and we cant contain ourselves. We laugh so much it hurts.
Sally, Mollie and Sarah each wear prissy pink dresses with big Lolita bows perched on their heads. Their make up is heavy and peachy. Their footwear, like mine, is dainty. Kirsten wears a lilac dress because she really hates pink, although it's got more than its fair share of pink details. Melanie, whom I’ve never seen in a skirt or frock, clearly shied away from the offer of a blue dress and instead wears the little pink dungarees with a pastel blue T-shirt, pastel blue tights and a pair of white baseball shoes with pink ribbons instead of normal laces. It's clear that we all feel just as ridiculous as each other in our prissy girl clothes.
“Oh my god... look at his shoes!” Mollie exclaims. “You're wearing heels!”
“Look at his hair!” Melanie yelped. “He's got ringlets!” she giggled. “You look brilliant!” she claimed.
“You all look brilliant.” Mum said. She handed out some fizzy drinks and put some music on. It's a golden oldie but highly appropriate; Girl's Just Wanna Have Fun. The party started giddy and thanks to Sally's meticulous planning, she kept the momentum going with a well selected play-list of girlie songs and intermittent games. We all got in to character and willingly played along to musical statues, blind man's buff and pin the ponytail on the princess. Sally presented prizes to the winners, all of which wear cheap and girlie; a plastic jewellery set, some crayons and a colouring book, a fluffy pink pencil case, etc.
Things quietened down a little whilst we tucked into the buffet. Mum's cup-cakes went down especially well. I chatted with my cousin Mel and knowingly asked why cousin Simon (her brother) didn't come. She grinned and said “He was too scared of wearing a dress.”
“So were you by the looks of things.” I smiled, before telling her how Sally and I were certain she'd rather wear a dress than the dungaree shorts she opted for. She told me that she's a 'modern' girl and as such, refuses to wear dresses under any circumstances. “I'd rather wear a dress than those.” I said. “You look cute though.” I added, causing her to momentarily grimace.
“So do you.” she smiled. “I love your hair.”
“Really?” I coyly said, bobbing my head and causing my ringlets to bob and bounce around my ears.
“Yeah... its about time boys started making an effort to look pretty for us girls.” she claimed. “If you wasn't my cousin I'd kiss you!”
“Eek!” I thought. “Well... thanks Mel...” I blushed. “...but I doubt I'll be dressing like this again after today.”
“That's a shame... but you never know, Sally might let you borrow it again.”
“Oh it's not my dress Mel.” Sally interjected.
Melanie looked baffled. “Mum bought it for me.” I confessed.
“Then you'll have to wear it again.” Melanie grinned.
“Oh I dunno.” I coyly replied. “What would my mates think?”
“You mean... when they see all the girls flocking around you?” Melanie quizzed.
I bashfully claimed otherwise which prompted the other girls to interject. According to them, the kawaii-boi style is becoming mainstream in Korea and Japan and all the girls love 'em. According to them, the trend is 'all the rage' in Australia and New Zealand. And according to Sarah, it's only a matter of time before they'll be selling dresses for boys in this country.
“They already do.” Sally stated. “Mum went all the way to Penton to buy him a proper boy's dress.”
“Well there you go.” Sarah smugly smiled. “The future's already here.”
“Well... actually...” I smugly retorted. “...it's about fifty miles away, in Penton.” I grinned. They rolled their eyes and sighed at my lame attempt at pedantry. “I can't see it catching on.” I claimed. I looked down at my prissy pink dress, my lacy white tights and pink heeled shoes with the dainty little ribbon on each ankle strap, before casting my gaze to the equally prissy outfits worn by the others. “I mean... it feels nice and I know it looks nice but... I can't see 'most' boys dressing like this.”
Ever the wise one, Mum sauntered in and agreed that it's hard to imagine such a world. She then suggested that it's equally hard to imagine a world in which 'most' women and girls wore dresses, heels, and make-up on a daily basis, especially for young teenagers like us. “It was like that when my mother was a girl.” Mum stated. “Granny always used to say Sally was born fifty years too late.” she smiled. “I wonder what she'd say if she could see you now?” she said to me.
Granny passed away a few years ago and I remember her well. “I don't understand these modern fashions... pants and pixie cuts... in my day girls were girls... you could tell the difference.” she used to rant. I wonder if she'd approve or not?
“Shall we have some cake?” Mum suggested.
Sally had meticulously planned the party and insisted on playing pass-the-parcel first. “Everybody sit in a circle... and leave a space for me.” she instructed. “Mum... you're the DJ.”
Mel and I glanced at each other and rolled our eyes. “Time to get back in to character.” I grinned. We sat in a circle and got giggly as the cheesy music began and the parcel was passed from hand to hand. Not a single one of us would have played this lame game since we were about six year's old, but as the music unexpectedly stopped and each layer came off, the tension built and we all got quite excited. Is this the last layer or isn't it? “Nooo!” Around again. When the gift was finally revealed; it was so cheap and so lame and so very girlie that it was comical. It was obvious that the game was rigged since each of us removed the final layer in one of the six rounds. Sarah proudly wore the plastic tiara she'd won. Melanie wore plastic clip on earrings and a plastic 'princess' necklace. Sally waved a fluffy magic wand whilst Mollie donned pastel pink rings and a plastic pink bracelet. Kirsten won some tacky plastic jewellery too, and I, like Sarah wore a plastic tiara. We all played along and pretended to 'love' our prizes, and we all genuinely enjoyed playing pass-the-parcel! Now that was unexpected. Sally gave Mum her camera and arranged us all in a line; Sally, myself, Melanie, Sarah, Kirsten and Mollie. We slung our arms around each other's shoulders and smiled, grinned and giggled whilst Mum took a few snaps of us wearing our party outfits and tacky pass-the-parcel prizes. I couldn't help but feel more than just a little bit excited.
The carpet was covered in discarded wrapping and the lengths of ribbon that held each in place. Sarah and I volunteered to clear them up and as we did so, she commented on my shoes, or more specifically their 2½'' heel and how well I walk in them. “They're OK once you get used to them.” I replied. “Don't you have any?”
Sarah shook her head. “My mum says things like dresses, make-up and high heels are a symbol of subservience so I'm not allowed any.” she told me. “I'd like some though... I think they look nice.”
“I don't like the look of them much... they go with my dress but...”
“I mean heels in general.” she interrupted. “I could do with being a few inches taller.” she added, being by far the shortest of us.
“Yeah.” I smiled. “It's a bit weird taking them off and all of a sudden being shorter.” I said as we stepped from one sheet of wrapping to the next, picking them up and rolling them up ready for the next time they'll conceal a gift. “It's hard to believe people used to use wrapping sheets once and throw them away.” she commented.
“Mum said that for parties like this, they used to buy disposable everything; plates, cups, knifes, forks, baking sheets, table clothes... even balloons!”
“It's mad how things used to be.” she said as she passed me the rolls of wrapping sheets she'd gathered.
I added them to my bundle. “Thanks.” I smiled. “Do you really think boys will be dressing like this in the future?”
“I dunno.” she shrugged. “Plenty already do in the far east.”
I put the wrapping sheets away whilst Mum lit the candles on our cake. After a chorus of Happy birthday, Sally and I blew the candles out together and hugged each other (we do this every year) whilst receiving three cheers from our guests. “I'm having a great day.” she whispered in my ear. “Thank you!”
“Me too.” I replied under my breath. “Just don't tell my friends!”
We let each other go and rejoined our guests. Mum began cutting the cake and handed the slices out on reusable plastic plates. I gravitated towards Sarah. Maybe it was a tiara thing. I admired her outfit; a pink frock with big white spots and a halter neck. Her legs are clad in patterned white tights and on her feet, a pair of Sally's ballerina style shoes, with bows on the toes. “You should have borrowed a pair of heels.” I suggested. “Sally's got plenty of pairs.”
“I know... I really wanted to but... I got a bit scared.” she replied. “They do look daunting to walk in.”
“They are at first.” I said. “I’m just about getting used to them now.” I replied. I cast my mind back to our previous chat when she mentioned her mother's opinion of dresses and make-up and asked if her mother minded her coming to a 'girlie' party and wearing these supposed symbols of subservience.
“I didn't tell her what kind of party it was.” she replied. “Mum'd go bananas if she knew.” she added. “She'd be impressed with you though.”
“Me.” I bashfully asked. “Why?”
“Because she thinks that what's happened in the far east is natural progression. We've moved from a patriarchy to gender neutrality and now that's run its course, things are swinging the other way.” Sarah replied. “Well... they are in Japan and Korea.” she claimed. She described an article she'd read in a woman's digi-mag and apparently in many Japanese and Korean schools, the boys have to wear a seifuku whether they like it or not and the girls all wear trouser suits.
I wasn't familiar with the word 'seifuku', so Sarah described the all too familiar sailor style uniform. “What do they call it?” I asked. “Say-fuk-ooo?”
“It's more of an 'uh' on the end.” she replied. “Anyway... according to the article, plenty of boys work as chambermaids over there [the far east], and it's common for house-husbands to wear housekeeping dresses.”
“Whether they like it or not?” I presumed.
Sally grouped us altogether to play one more party game. Myself, Melanie and Mollie formed one team and Sally, Sarah and Kirsten formed the other. We played balloon volleyball using the bunting as a net. It wasn't easy but it was lots of fun. The premise was first team to ten points would win but it took so long to score one point, we decided to call it a draw at six-all (it took about half an hour to get that far).
The meticulously planned party came to its inevitable end and the guests went up to Sally's room to change back in to their normal clothes. I helped Mum tidy up and when asked, I bashfully admitted that I’d had a great time. “Better or worse than paint-balling?” she asked.
“Errr.... different.” I replied. “At least with paint-balling I could boast about it afterwards... I don't think I'll be boasting to Mark and Jordan about this... or anyone else.”
“That's understandable.” Mum replied. “But I still think you should have invited them... it seems wrong you not having any guests.” she added. “It was just as much your party as it was Sally's.”
“I know... but if they came then Melanie wouldn't have, and Sarah's nice.” I said.
“I can't believe Mel wore those shorts rather than a dress.” Mum grinned.
“Yeah... she looked cute though, not that she seemed too happy when I said so.” I grinned.
“Words like 'cute' and 'pretty' aren't as complimentary as they used to be... not where girls are concerned anyway.” she said. “Well... girls who aren't your sister.” she smiled.
We cleared the dining table and put the leftovers in plastic tubs and the plates, bowls and beakers in the dishwasher. We lifted the dining table back to its usual position in the centre of the room with the dining chairs around it. I climbed the step-stool to remove the balloons and passed them to Mum who deflated them. We took down the bunting too and before long, everything was back to normal... almost. “Shall I go and get changed?”
“Do you want to?” Mum asked.
I tried to act casual. “Well... I don't mind keeping it on for bit longer.” I said. “I probably wont have an excuse to wear it again.”
Mum chuckled and said I don't need an excuse. “You can wear it as often as you like if you want.”
The sound of footsteps from the staircase drew our attention. Mel, Mollie, Kirsten and Sarah returned to the dining room wearing the casual clothes they'd arrived wearing and Sally still had her party dress on. Mollie and Kirsten were the first to leave. They thanked us for the party, said they'd had lots of fun and expressed their delight that I'd worn a dress and told me that I look 'great'. “Aw thanks... just don't tell anyone at school.” I almost pleaded.
“Oh well... I don't know if I could resist it.” Mollie grinned.
“Me neither.” Kirsten said. “But if I do tell anyone.. I'll tell them that you really really hated it... OK?”
I knew they were teasing and played along. “It has been horrible.” I claimed. “Worst birthday ever!” I grinned.