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Hypnotized Into Wearing Dresses

by Alana

 

Part 3

 

Sunday afternoon, wearing his gold silk dress and spike heels, he sat in his easy chair and read the paper.

Gloria, on her way out the door, said, "Carla, I'm going shopping for some new dresses. Why don't you come with me? It'll be a perfect girl's day."

"No, thanks."

"Alright, fine, I'll pick up a few new dresses for you, then. I swear, for a woman you don't like to shop very much, do you? I think I've probably bought you every dress you own."

"Gloria, don't buy me any more dresses, please. I have enough."

"Nonsense. A woman who loves wearing cute dresses as much as you do can never have enough. Oh, I just bought a new package of these. Do you need one?"

She rummaged around in her purse, and pulled out a tampon.

She handed it to him, and he didn't take it from her. He just stared at it.

"Well, I'll just leave it with you. I'm sure you'll be needing it sooner or later."

She dropped it on his lap, and it landed right in the middle of two little folds in his skirt. When she left, he threw it away.

She was gone for several hours, and he fell asleep in the chair. When she came back in and put her packages down, she woke him up.

"Wait 'til you see the dress I bought you. It's so frilly and feminine; you are so gonna love it, Carla!"

She opened the box and showed him the dress. Another floral dress, in draped chiffon. A white background, with violets and roses in shades of blue and red. It had fluttery cap sleeves, and it came with a sash.

"Gloria, how many floral chiffon dresses does one man need?"

Gloria sighed.

"Not this again. Are you still going on with that nonsense? You're really being silly, sitting there in that pretty gold silk dress and saying, 'Hey, I'm a man!' Look, Carla, I realize you're only kidding around, but don't go saying that to other people, whatever you do. They might think you're serious. And if you're going to pretend to be a man, shouldn't you at least be wearing pants? I know you don't like wearing pants, I know how much you love slipping into a cute dress every day, but it looks so silly to see you sitting there in that beautiful golden dress and high heels, and your pretty legs in pantyhose, saying you're a man. Who do you think you're going to fool into thinking you're a man if you always wear a dress every day? You don't make a very convincing man in a gold silk dress. Although, Carla, I can think of one way that you might---just might---be able to convince me that you're a man. And if you hike up your lovely dress, I think I can show you what it is."

He ignored her. A few hours later they went to bed.

Monday morning, he wondered why a dress wasn't hanging up and waiting for him when he came out of the shower in his soaking wet blue dress.

"I told you, Carla, you're a grown woman, you should pick out your own dress."

He came out of the bathroom and followed her into the bedroom, dripping water. They both stood before his closet full of lovely, colorful dresses.

"Just choose, Gloria. I'm sure you'll choose wisely."

"Alright, Carla, if you force me to choose, I choose this one."

She pulled out his pretty short pink dress with the puff sleeves and the full ruffled skirt that floated out over sewn-in petticoats. The dress he had refused to wear ever again.

"Alright, fine, I'll choose," he said. He grabbed a dress at random. It was the dress that Gloria had shown Gladys, the very short sexy dress that looked like a frilly silk blouse and a black leather skirt. The white silk top had long sleeves, white lace at the collar and cuffs, and ruffles and lace right down the center, right between where his breasts would be if he had breasts and not just falsies in his bra. It had a back zipper that went all the way down the back of the white silk top and even a few inches down into the back of the leather skirt.

"Oh, good choice, Carla. You are going to look so sexy. You know, the skirt is real leather."

Gloria agreed to pick out his lingerie one last time, but she made it clear he would be choosing everything himself from now on. He wound up wearing tan colored pantyhose and spike heels with his dress. When Gloria helped him into his dress, he thought it was uncomfortable, but that he'd get used to it as the day wore on.

"Anyway," he thought, "if I'm picking out my own dresses from now on, I'm never wearing another pink dress, that's for damn sure."

Gloria refused to put on his make-up for him any more. She made him do it, but she watched, correcting him occasionally.

His secretary Abigail laughed at him in the morning when she saw his latest dress. Carl scowled and hurried past her as fast as he could in that tight skirt.

"Wait a minute, sir, you promised to let me get a good look at you."

She stood up and examined his dress from all angles while he waited impatiently.

"You know," she said, "that tight skirt looks a little impractical and the top is a little too frilly, but apart from that your dress is actually quite fashionable and business-like."

"Didn't I tell you, no compliments? Are you through?"

"Yes, sir."

His dress turned out to be a nightmare to wear. His skirt came to just below his knees, and it was so tight he could only take tiny steps. It was terribly uncomfortable, pinching him at the waist so that he could barely breathe. When he walked it looked as though his ankles were tied together. His thighs almost rubbed against each other, nylon against nylon. If only his skirt was shorter he'd be able to walk a little bit more freely. When he went to the bathroom and tried to lift up his skirt, it wouldn't budge. He had to unbuckle his belt and lift his whole dress up, so that his belt was almost under his armpits.

On his way back from the bathroom, a woman stopped him in the hallway.

"Hi, Carl. Oh, look at you! What a sexy skirt! I've don't think I've ever seen you in a blouse and skirt, before. Oh wait, that's all one piece, isn't it? You're wearing a dress; I thought it was a skirt and blouse. What a tight skirt. Looks like it's hard to walk in. I suppose that's part of the hypnosis, that you have to wear the tightest skirts you can find."

"Excuse me," he said. As she walked away, he took a look at her gray dress.

"What couldn't I wear a dress like that?" he thought. "Shapeless, dull, comfortable, no bright colors, no frills. Buttons up the front. I'll bet they wouldn't even laugh at me in a dress like that. Instead I have to let my wife buy my dresses, and every day she either dresses me like a little girl or a hooker."

He got through most of the day without being laughed at much, but then he went to the soda machine by himself, with a handful of change from his purse. His secretary was somewhere else in the building. He should've asked her to go for him, but he was thirsty and he didn't want to wait. He was embarrassed when he saw how money people there were in the hallway, but he made up his mind to go ahead anyway.

He wasn't paying attention, and he tripped when one of his heels got caught on a snag in the carpet, and three dimes rolled under a table. He bent down to try to get them.

Damn it! He couldn't even bend over in this damn dress! And now people were starting to notice him. The table was too heavy to move. He tried reaching his leg under the table and getting the change that way, but his thighs were just about locked together in his tight skirt, and everything he tried just made him look more and more ridiculous. People were starting to laugh. A few men and women stopped to enjoy the show. None of them offered to help. More and more of them were laughing.

Finally, one of the men decided that the show had gone on long enough, and he reached under the table and got the dimes and handed them to Carl, laughing as he did so. Carl thanked him.

"No problem, honey," he said. Carl turned to go, and the man gave him a big slap on the rear end that he felt right through his leather skirt. Everyone laughed. It almost knocked him over, but he didn't react, other than pausing for a second and walking away.

A woman came up to him in the hallway and said, "Don't worry, these guys would laugh at any of us women if we were in the same situation. But I doubt any of us would be wearing that dress to work."

When Gloria picked him up and drove him home, he threw down his purse once they got inside, and said, "I can't wait to get out of this dress! Unzip me, will you please?"

Gloria folded her arms and looked at him.

"Would this be the dress you picked out yourself this morning, Carla? The one you couldn't wait to wear because it was so sexy?"

"Please just unzip me."

"I don't think so. Maybe this'll teach you to choose your dresses more carefully from now on."

"Gloria, please, my skirt in pinching me in the waist. I can hardly breathe, it's so tight."

"Well," she said, putting her hand on his shoulder over his brastrap. "There is one way I could help you change your dress. I will unzip your dress for one thing only. And I think you know what it is."

So, Carl went into his study, to recuperate from the day. He tried reaching his zipper himself, but try as he might he could only just barely brush his fingers against the top. He was a prisoner in his uncomfortable dress until tomorrow morning. His wife taunted him and called him a woman day and night, and there was nothing he could do about it because he depended on her for everything. But at least he could deny her what she wanted, and win some sort of a small victory. At least he could outlast her.

As Gloria was getting dinner ready, she heard a knock at the front door. She opened it, and there was Johnny.

Johnny was the ten-year-old nephew of Mary and Leon, up the street. He visited his aunt and uncle whenever his parents went on vacation. His parents didn't seem to mind pulling him out of school whenever they felt like it. Mary and Leon were always busy, and there were no other kids in the neighborhood, other than some toddlers, so when he came to visit he would show up to do things with Carl. He idolized Carl. He was encouraged to call them Aunt Gloria and Uncle Carl when he visited them, even though he wasn't related to them at all.

"Hi, Aunt Gloria. Is Uncle Carl home?"

She grinned. Oh, this had some possibilities. Deny her sex, would he? Make her have to be the slut, would he? She was going to love this.

"Yes, Johnny, she's home. I think she's in her study. Why don't we go surprise her?"

Johnny didn't think anything of the unusual pronouns. Gloria took Johnny to the study, signaled him to be quiet, then knocked on the door.

"What?"

"Carla---somebody's here to see you."

"Who?"

"Come on out and see," she said. He opened the door.

The two of them faced each other, both surprised beyond words. Carl's mouth was a big O covered in lipstick, and Johnny looked even more surprised. Johnny looked at the man he idolized, took him in from bottom to top, looked at his black spike heels, his legs in tan-colored pantyhose, his leather skirt, his frilly silk top, and his face made up in lipstick, mascara, foundation, eye shadow, and blush.

Carl slammed the door shut.

Johnny didn't know what to say to Aunt Gloria for a moment.

"Why is he dressed like that?" asked Johnny.

"Well, I'll let her tell you that herself. Why don't you come on over after dinner? And by the way, I think you should call her Aunt Carla, now."

Carl and Gloria had their dinner a half hour later, Carl being very careful not to spill anything on the ruffles and lace on his dress. They sat in silence after dinner. Carl was wondering how he'd ever be able to fall asleep in his uncomfortable silk and leather dress.

But it wasn't his dress that upset him the most. He couldn't believe Johnny saw him in woman's clothes.

Johnny was a good kid. A tough kid. He was a solidly built kid who would make a good linebacker or even a pass receiver one day, in high school or college. The kid idolized him, and if Carl could've ordered up a son for himself he couldn't pick a better kid than Johnny, a kid that he could teach to be tough and strong. Teach him to be a man.

And now here was Carl in his dress with the frilly white silk top and tight leather skirt. He hoped Johnny would never come back to the house.

There was a knock on the door. It's not too difficult to tell the difference between a child's knock and an adult's knock. Gloria got up to answer the door.

"Don't let him in here! Send him away. I don't want him to see me in a dress again. I can't face him like this."

"Why not? He's ten years old, Carla. I think he knows that women wear dresses by now."

Carl looked away as Johnny came into the room. Gloria sat back down at the table, and Johnny stood in front of Carl. Finally, Carl turned and looked at him.

"Hi, Aunt Carla," said Johnny. Carl turned and glared at Gloria. She giggled.

"Your Aunt Gloria told you to call me that, didn't she?"

"Yes."

"Well, she was just kidding. I want you to call me Uncle Carl, like always."

"OK. My uncle says you've got something funny in the head. That's why you dress like this."

Carl sighed.

"Sort of. It's like I have kind of a disease that makes me wear these clothes. I'm not wearing a dress because I want to. I hate wearing dresses. I'm wearing a dress only because I have to."

Johnny looked Uncle Carl over, from head to toe.

"You wear nylons, don't you, Uncle Carl?"

Carl sighed and even moaned a little.

"Yes."

"And you're wearing a bra?"

"Yes."

"And girl's shoes?"

"What's the use of asking that? You can see what I'm wearing."

"Can I touch those?" he asked, pointing.

"No!"

"Oh, come on Carla, let the boy touch your breasts," said Gloria. "What's the harm?"

"You can't touch me there, Johnny."

"Can I see what you look like when you take off your dress?"

"No. Look, Johnny, I know you're at the age when you're curious about what women wear under their dresses. But you have to remember that I'm not a woman."

"Oh, Carla, don't lie to the boy!" said Gloria.

"Be quiet. Johnny, it's wrong for a boy to wear a dress, and it's wrong for a man to dress this way. I only wear a dress because I have to. I don't want you to ever even think about wearing a dress, Johnny."

"OK. Can we go to the park and throw around the football?"

"No, I don't think so. You shouldn't have anything to do with me when I'm dressed like a woman, Johnny. If a boy in your neighborhood went around in a dress, you'd beat him up, wouldn't you?"

"Sure."

"And if he was too big to beat up, you stay away from him, right? You wouldn't want to be seen with him, right?"

"I guess."

"Well, it's the same thing with me. We can't throw around the football, and you shouldn't hang around here. We can't do anything together. I'm sorry."

The look of disappointment on the kid's face was heartbreaking. He looked like he was going to cry.

"Don't cry, Johnny. Boys don't cry."

"I won't. I guess I should go now."

"Yeah, you should."

"Bye," he said, and left.

Gloria said, "Well, that was probably for the best. A boy like that should probably be spending his time around men, anyway. Carla, you know, I wish I could've known you back when you were a little girl. Do you have any pictures of yourself back when you were in pigtails and playing with Barbie dolls? I'd love to see them sometime. You wear such cute dresses now, you must've been a real little angel back then."

"Be quiet, Gloria."

The next morning, after getting very little sleep in his tight dress, Carl finally got to take it off. He chose a white chiffon dress with lace accents.

"Oh, cute dress, Carla! Good choice! You really do love lace, don't you? I've said it before and I'll say it again, you are the most feminine woman I've ever known."

Big deal, so it had lace. The important thing was, it had a full circle skirt, so Carl would be able to walk in it just as fast as he wanted to.

It had a pink satin sash, so Gloria could be counted upon to sing, "Girls in white dresses with pink satin sashes," as she helped him into his dress.

Gloria drove him to work, with him hiding under a blanket as usual. Gloria said she couldn't understand why he didn't want any of the other women on the road to see his pretty dress. It started to rain while they were driving, and Carl was glad he didn't have to go out to the car in the rain, in his white chiffon dress.

He got to work and endured the usual laughter and close scrutiny from his secretary. He worked the whole morning, but then he got the afternoon off. There was a bomb scare, and a possible gas leak. Everyone was dismissed for the day, most of them carrying loads of papers that they could work on at home. Carl didn't bother bringing any work home. He barely had enough work at the office. He called Gloria, and she drove him home.

As he sat resting in his easy chair, Gloria went to the door and told him she was going grocery shopping. She was wearing her jeans and sneakers and a blouse.

"Listen, Carla, promise me you won't do anything to get your pretty white chiffon dress dirty. Or torn. I don't want you wearing chiffon when you do yard work. It's muddy out there. Yesterday the dry cleaners had a terrible time with your pink chiffon dress."

"Fine."

"Promise me, Carla."

"I promise you I won't do anything to get my white dress dirty. Or torn."

"Good girl. Say, Carla, now that you have the afternoon off, don't you think you'd be more comfortable if you slipped out of your dress and your high heels, and put on some jeans and comfy shoes, like me?"

"Not this again," he thought.

"Look, I know you don't like wearing pants because they're not feminine, but you don't have to be completely feminine all the time. Come on, wouldn't you like to wear a nice comfortable pair of jeans like me? You can still wear your pantyhose underneath, if it makes you feel better."

He said nothing, just stared at her. She came closer to his chair and stood looking down at him.

"I swear, Carla, it's like you think you're completely unable to wear pants, or something. You know, I don't mean to nag you about wearing pants, but sometimes when I see you in a cute dress and nylons and high heels, and I can't get you to change into something more comfortable, like jeans, I feel like you're judging me for wearing pants. Like you think I'm not a complete woman, just because I sometimes wear pants. You don't think that, do you? Because I would never think that about you. If you wore pants it would never make me think you weren't a complete woman. As far as I'm concerned, you don't have to wear that pretty white chiffon dress and those high heels and pantyhose to be completely feminine. I would always think of you as the most feminine woman I know, even if you wore jeans, because you have an inner glow of femininity about you that would shine through no matter what you wore. Like I said before, it's not as though someone might mistake you for a man if you put on some jeans. No one could ever possibly think you're a man; there's not a thing about you that's even the slightest bit manly. So why not slip out of that pretty dress and put on some comfortable jeans? It wouldn't be agony for you to put on a pair of pants just because you're a woman, would it? At least take off your high heels and wear some sneakers, like me. Wouldn't you like to? Wouldn't you just love to be able to wear something comfortable, like me?"

Still he said nothing, just waiting for her to finish.

"Yeah, I guess you'd look ridiculous wearing sneakers with your lacy chiffon dress. And I know you wouldn't want to look ridiculous. But you know," she said, leaning over and touching his knee, her hand sliding farther up his leg, under his skirt, "I can think of another reason to slip out of that pretty dress. Or at least lift your skirt a little. Haven't you ever wondered what it's like to make love to a woman? Haven't you ever been a little bi-curious? I know I have. I'd love to kiss a pretty girl like you."

He grabbed her hand and yanked it out from under his skirt. She made an exasperated sound.

"Fine!" she said, heading for the door. "I'm getting groceries. Remember your promise."

And she was gone.

Integrity was important to Carl. He never broke a promise. So, being as he couldn't do any yard work, and he wasn't about to go anywhere in his pretty dress, he was pretty much stuck at home, reading the paper.

There was a knock at the door. He opened it, and there was Johnny, carrying a football. Carl sighed.

"Johnny, what did I tell you yesterday?"

"But Uncle Carl, there's no one else to play with! Can't we throw the football around a little?"

"No."

"Can't I come in?"

"Aren't you embarrassed to be seen with me?"

"No."

"Well, you should be," he said. But he let Johnny come in, anyway.

"So, can we throw the football around?"

"Johnny, look at me. I'm wearing a dress! I can't play football when I'm wearing a dress!"

"Sure you can. Please?"

And there was the heartbreaking look from Johnny, again. Carl looked at Johnny. Then he looked down at his dress. Then he knelt down to speak to Johnny. He tried to get down on one knee, but his slip made that impractical, so he had to get down on both knees.

"Look. Johnny, I promised Aunt Gloria I wouldn't get my white dress dirty. So if I'm going to throw around the football, I have to change my dress. That means you have to help me."

"OK."

Carl grabbed a chair from the dining room and took it with him to the bedroom. He turned on the light and told Johnny to get up on the chair. It didn't escape Carl's notice that Johnny was unfortunately about to get what he asked for. He was going to see Carl without his dress.

"OK," said Carl, "Unzip me."

Carl moved the hair of his long-haired wig to one side so Johnny could get at his zipper, and then turned his back to the kid. Johnny didn't know what to do.

"The zipper. Up at the top of my dress. See it? Zip it down."

The kid zipped down Carl's dress, then he jumped off the chair. Carl untied the sash. He pulled his dress off over his shoulders, took his arms out of the sleeves, wriggled out of his dress while pulling it down his body over his white satin slip, let his dress fall to the ground, and stepped out of it.

The boy looked up at Carl in his white satin slip, a look of wonder in his eyes.

"Could I see your bra?" Johnny asked. Carl got down on his knees again to talk to the kid. His slip was caught under his knees, so he pulled it back a bit.

"Look, Johnny, it's only normal and natural for you to be curious about what women are wearing under their clothes, but this isn't the way for you to find out about it. You have to remember that I'm not a woman. I know it may be difficult to remember that when you see me wearing one of my dresses, or when you see me now in my slip and pantyhose and high heels, but you have to remember, I only wear these things because I have to. Only women should wear dresses and high heels and pantyhose. I shouldn't be wearing them, and I wish I didn't have to wear these things, but I do. Someday I'll be cured and I won't have to wear a dress any more, and believe me, I'm looking forward to that day, because I hate wearing dresses, and I hate putting on a bra every morning and wearing nylons and walking around in these stupid high heels, but for now----AHHHHH!"

He got up off his knees and ran to the closet, holding his stomach. The closet door wasn't even open. Why had he been so stupid? He was too used to Gloria helping him. He slid the closet door open and grabbed a hanger with a dress on it. He yanked down the zipper, hoping that it wouldn't get caught. He should've had a dress out and ready and waiting for him. He took out the hanger and threw it on the floor, and tried to step into his dress, and one heel got caught on the zipper opening as the pain continued to increase. He freed his heel, got both feet into his dress, and yanked it up his body, pulling his slip up with it. He got both arms into the sleeves. Finally, the pain started to go away.

He breathed heavily. At last, the pain was gone. He was all right, for the moment. He straightened up.

"Are you OK?"

"Yeah. Sorry you had to see that. That's just something that happens to me when I'm not wearing a dress. That's why I have to dress this way. Come on, up on the chair, Johnny."

Johnny climbed on top of the chair. Carl presented his back to the boy, and Johnny didn't need to be told what to do, this time.

"Good boy," said Carl, when Johnny had zipped up his dress. He pulled up his skirt and tugged and smoothed down his slip, which was bunched up under his dress. There was a little static electricity making his slip cling to his legs, so he fluffed out his slip and then smoothed it down, then tugged down his skirt and smoothed it as well. He looked at his dress in the mirror. Another chiffon dress, this time a sheath, with a satin lining. Long sheer sleeves with satin cuffs. A fabric covered belt. Great, pink again. It had a large tulip design on the bodice, in a paler shade of pink. And here he'd told himself he was definitely not going to wear any more pink dresses. At least it didn't have lace. He thought about changing, but finally just fastened the belt and buttoned the cuffs, and tugged down his skirt and his slip one last time.

"OK," he said, "Let's play football."

They went out into the back yard and stood at opposite ends. The ground was still wet, and Carl was going to have to pretty much stand on tip-toe all the time he was out in the yard in his heels. They didn't normally throw the ball right at each other, but made the other person run to catch it. And as Carl tried to run for the ball, he realized immediately that he should've worn another dress. The dress he was wearing was a mistake. His tight skirt and high heels prevented him from running fast enough to get to the ball in time.

"Johnny, you're going to have to throw the ball directly to me, OK? Directly to me."

So Johnny did his best to throw the ball directly to Carl, but still Carl sometimes had trouble catching it, which pissed him off, because normally he never missed a pass. Unfortunately, his sleeves were a little too short to allow him to reach up and grab the ball. His sleeves were fine when his arms were at his side, but when he reached up he could feel them tugging. Finally, in frustration, he jumped up and reached for a ball as high as he could, and he could feel one sleeve rip at his underarm. But he caught the ball.

He lifted one arm and examined the rip before tossing the ball back. Great. Gloria would be pissed off at that. Brand new dress. He hadn't even worn it to work, yet. But he tossed the ball to Johnny, and it wasn't too long before Carl had ripped his other sleeve.

Over three weeks in heels, and still Carl wasn't very good at keeping his balance. If the pass was just a few steps away from him, he'd take two steps and lose his balance in his heels. Pass incomplete. And sometimes he jumped for a pass, and felt his skirt riding up, and reflexively put his hand down to hold it in place. Pass incomplete.

Carl kept making Johnny run for the ball, but Johnny kept throwing it directly at Carl. Johnny didn't think that was fair. He wanted to make Carl run for the ball once. So he threw it to the left of Carl, far behind him. When Carl saw the throw, he decided, "I don't care if I am wearing a dress, I'm going to catch that one if it kills me. I want to see the kid idolize me again, even for a moment."

So he ran. He ran so fast and hard that he felt his tight skirt rip a little. He jumped and reached for the ball with both arms extended. He caught it in both hands. And then he landed right into the mud.

"What---are---you---doing?!"

He stood up with the ball in his hands. Gloria stormed out to her husband.

"Carla! You promised!"

"I took my white dress off."

"And you put on another chiffon dress? Didn't I say I didn't want you doing yard work in chiffon?"

"I wasn't doing yard work. We were throwing the ball around."

By this time, Johnny had joined them. She turned to Johnny.

"Johnny, if you want to throw a football around again, please ask a man. Don't ask your Aunt Carla. She's too girly for this kind of thing. She only likes wearing pretty dresses, and she hates wearing pants. As you can see, her dresses are great for showing off her legs and her figure, but a chiffon dress is really not the sort of thing to play football in. The only way she should really throw the football around with you is in a pair of pants, and she doesn't think wearing pants is very feminine, so she never wears them. So please don't ask your Aunt Carla to throw around the football. OK?"

"OK," he said, uncertainly.

"Johnny, why don't you run on home?" said Carl

"No, Johnny, stay. You should hear this. And as for you, Carla, I realize that Johnny probably asked you to play catch and you couldn't bring yourself to say no, but really, Carla, in a chiffon dress? And high heels? Look at your dress! Ripped at the hem! And the sleeves! Mud all over it! It's ruined! Runs in your nylons! Look, Carla, I know how much you love wearing a dress and how much you hate wearing pants, and that's fine, you're a woman, you can wear whatever you want, but really, if you can't bring yourself to wear pants, why don't you leave the football to the men?"

"Johnny, go on home," said Carl.

 

"No, stay Johnny. Carla, honestly now, don't you think you're a little too girly to be throwing around a football? There's nothing wrong with being girly, in fact I admire the fact that you like wearing frilly dresses and looking pretty, but why in the world should a lovely feminine woman like you try to throw around a football? Why are you trying to act like a man? Not that there's any danger anyone would ever take you for a man, standing there in your chiffon dress and high heels."

"Gloria, please. Johnny, you should go."

 

"Stay right where you are, Johnny. Carla, listen to me, a woman like you has no business throwing around a football. It'd be different if you were the type of woman who occasionally wears a sweater and jeans, but you know you never wear jeans! I'll bet the very thought of wearing jeans is enough to make you physically ill. You're the type of woman who can't stand to go to work in anything but a dress. You're the type of woman who loves wearing high heels so much that you wear 'em all day at work, and don't even bother to take 'em off when you come home. You're the type of woman who can't go out of the house without wearing lipstick and mascara and eye shadow. That's the type of woman you are, and you know it, so why are you trying to be something you're not?"

"Gloria---"

 

"I don't understand why wearing a lovely chiffon dress and being pretty and feminine and ladylike isn't enough for you; why do you feel you have to act like a man and go outside and try to throw around a football? I can't understand it, I see you in these beautiful frilly dresses every day, but here I come home to find you doing this! I swear, it's like you really do think you're a man, or something."

"I am a man, damn it!"

"Oh, not this again. Carla, it was cute the first few times you said it, but now it's just getting annoying. Why in the world would you think you're a man? What man gets up in the morning and puts on a bra and a girdle and pantyhose and high heels to go to work? Are there any men going to work in pink chiffon dresses? Of course not. Carla, the next time you have this strange idea that you're a man, just look down at yourself. Look at your pretty dress. Look at your high heels. Feel your brastrap. Reach down and feel the pantyhose on your legs. Then look at yourself in the mirror, and tell yourself that you're a woman who should not be outside throwing around a football! And stop all this nonsense about calling yourself a man!"

"Gloria, stop it I'm not a woman."

"Yes you are!" Before he could stop her, she reached up and snapped his brastrap. He yelped in pain, and she said, "Feel that? That's your bra. You're wearing a bra and a girdle, you wear dresses and pantyhose and high heels, and you don't have a penis! At least not one that I've seen, not for a long time, anyway. In what way are you not a woman?"

She turned to Johnny.

"Johnny, only women wear dresses, right?"

"Right," he said uncertainly.

"And your Aunt Carla is wearing a dress, so obviously your Aunt Carla is a woman, right? So the next time she starts in with that nonsense about being a man, will you please remind her that she's wearing a dress, and tell her that she's a woman!"

"OK, that's enough," said Carl. "Come on, Johnny."

He took Johnny by the shoulder and escorted him to the driveway and said to him, "Look, Johnny, you know your Aunt Gloria is just kidding, right? I'm a man, right? Aren't I? Just because I wear a dress doesn't mean I'm not a man. Right?"

"Sure."

"Good boy. Now run on home."

The very confused boy ran off. Carl came back to Gloria and said, "Why did you have to humiliate me in front of the boy?"

"Why should it be humiliating, pointing out that you're a woman? If you said I was a woman I wouldn't be humiliated, and I'm nowhere near as feminine as you."

"Look, Gloria, let's just go inside and calm down. I'll take a shower, I'll change back into my white dress, and we'll have something to eat."

Gloria went inside with Carl, but she was still mad about his dress. Once they were inside he asked Gloria to unzip him.

"Excuse me?" said Gloria, "Aren't you the woman who keeps saying 'I'm a man, I'm a man'? Well, men don't wear dresses. Only women wear dresses, so if you're a man like you claim, then you couldn't possibly be standing here asking me to unzip your dress, could you? Because if you were a man you wouldn't be wearing a dress. If only there were some way for you to prove you're a man---"

"Gloria, please just unzip me."

"No, Carla. You picked out that dress, you had the great idea to play football in it, so you can just wear it until tomorrow."

So Carl tried to clean up his dress as best he could. At least he didn't need her help changing his filthy pantyhose.

Gloria remained angry at him all evening, but she finally relented before they went to bed, and helped him take a shower and change back to his frilly white chiffon dress, because she didn't want that dirt all over her bedsheets.

Wednesday morning of his fourth week in dresses, Carl wore his belted short-sleeved yellow silk dress with a pleated skirt, which he thought he would have no trouble walking in. He wore it with matching yellow pumps.

In the morning, as he was sitting at his desk with his skirt draped over his legs, he noticed that the dress he was wearing had the loosest, fullest skirt of any of his dresses. His long skirt drooped in between his legs. He got up off his chair and thought he might try something.

With a nervous look towards the door, afraid Abigail might come in at any moment, he lifted his skirt and reached beneath it to grab his dress by the back hem. He pulled the back of his skirt up between his legs as high as it would go, and tucked it into his belt. He tugged down the yellow silk fabric of his skirt to cover the top of his legs a little.

It was a little bit like wearing pants! More like wearing a diaper, but it gave him the secure feeling of being able to sit or walk any way he pleased without having to worry about his lingerie showing. It felt so much like wearing pants, or at least shorts, that he was a little worried that those painful stomach cramps might start again, but they didn't seem to be bothering him.

He walked around the office, trying to walk as much like a normal man as he could, despite the fact that he was wearing high heels. He tried to pretend he was wearing pants, even though he knew that his hairless legs in pantyhose didn't feel anything like the secure feeling of wearing a nice pair of jeans. He knew that his legs were so exposed he might as well have been a showgirl, in fact they were even more exposed than if he was wearing the shortest dress he owned, but he tried to ignore it. He sat down in his chair and, for the first time in many weeks, crossed his legs like a man crosses his legs, with one ankle atop the knee.

He got up again and paced around the office. He pretended he was going over to watch some football with his friends. He couldn't even remember what that was like! An absurd monologue kept going through his head: "Hello there, fellows. I decided to put on some pants and come on over and watch the game with you. Hey, you're all wearing pants, too! It's great to be able to wear pants, isn't it? Aren't we lucky we aren't women, and no one can ever make us wear dresses and those uncomfortable high heels? Can you imagine what it'd be like if we had to spend all day worrying about our slips showing, or worrying about getting runs in our pantyhose, or breaking a brastrap? Wouldn't that be terrible? Yeah, we're so lucky to be men. We can sit any way we want to, because we wear pants, and we can stand or walk or run upstairs or run downstairs without having to be the least little bit careful, because we don't have to wear high heels. We don't have to wear uncomfortable bras or girdles---"

Abigail came in with some documents, and caught him in the middle of this strange pantomime. Embarrassed, he turned to look at her, and saw that she was staring at his skirt tucked into his belt.

"I was just pretending---"

"I know, sir," she said, handed him the documents, and headed back out. He started pulling his skirt out of his belt.

"You don't have to stop on my account, sir."

"No, forget it," he said, sounding miserable. "I'm wrinkling my dress."

Gloria picked him up in the evening. When they got home, the phone was ringing.

"That's for you," said Gloria. "He's been calling all day."

"Who has?"

"Pick up the phone and find out."

Carl picked it up and said, "Hello?"

"Stay the hell away from my kid, you faggot!"

Carl recognized the voice, of course.

"I'm not a faggot. I'm married."

"I don't care what you are. Were you or were you not flouncing around in front of my son in ladies' underwear?"

"I wasn't flouncing."

"Did you have on a slip and a bra and pantyhose and high heels in front of my son?"

"Yes."

"Then stay away from Johnny or I'll call the police!" said Johnny's father, and hung up.

 

Carl had a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. Another relationship lost because he was wearing a dress. He hung up and called Mary and Leon's house. Leon answered.

"Could I talk to Johnny?" asked Carl.

"I don't think that would be a good idea."

"I just want to say goodbye."

There was a pause while Leon considered.

"OK. But I'll be listening in."

Johnny came to the phone, and said, "Hello?"

"This is Uncle Carl."

"Are you wearing a dress?"

"Yeah. I'm afraid so. Johnny, I just talked to your father. He doesn't want me to see you any more, and I think that's a good idea. So please don't come over again."

"I'm sorry I told him about---you know."

"That's OK. You did the right thing. Listen, Johnny, I meant what I said, before. It's wrong for a man to wear a dress, and it's wrong for a boy to do it, too. I only wear dresses because I have to. Just because I'm wearing a dress doesn't mean you should ever wear one. Dresses are only for women. Understand?"

"Uncle Carl, I don't want to wear a dress."

"Good."

"Does Aunt Gloria still think you're a woman?'

"She doesn't really think that. That's just something she says. She's kidding around."

"Oh. OK."

"Bye, Johnny.

"Goodbye, Uncle Carl."

When Carl hung up the phone he noticed for the first time that the table was laid out with the good silverware. There were wine glasses and candles, just like on their anniversary. Carl asked what the occasion was.

"A little romantic dinner," she said.

"So she's trying to seduce me, now," thought Carl. "Hopefully that means she's through calling me a woman. Or is this another lesbian thing?"

"Get into the bedroom and change your dress, Carla. I laid out your black satin dress and the black pumps. Oh, and your black lace slip. Hurry."

Without him asking her to, she unzipped him.

He couldn't think of any compelling reason not to put on another dress, so he went into the bedroom and changed. He came out in his low-cut tight fitting black satin sheath with long sleeves, along with his black patent leather pumps. His dress had a very sexy lustrous metallic sheen to it. It had a short skirt and it had just a little bit of spandex for a tight fit.

She zipped him up and said, "You look stunning. That has got to be the sexiest dress you own. One more thing."

She spritzed him with his perfume, the bottle he got on his anniversary. Carl coughed a little and waved a hand in front of his face.

"You're beautiful," said Gloria. "I wish we had time for you to change into some sexier pantyhose, but he'll be here any minute."

"Who?"

There was a knock at the door. Gloria answered it, and Jim walked into the room.

"Hi," said Jim. "I don't really know what this is about, but Melissa said I'm having dinner over here tonight."

"Have a seat, Jim," said Gloria. Jim sat at the table. Gloria told her husband to sit down too, and since Carl wanted to eat, he sat down at the table. The meal was all prepared. The wine was poured.

"Forgive me for taking the liberty," said Gloria, lighting the candles. "I felt so bad about interrupting that little kiss between you two, I decided to make up for it with a nice romantic dinner. I'm going to get you two together if it's the last thing I do. Listen, I'll be eating out with Melissa, and I'll be back late. And I mean REALLY late," she said, smiling and winking.

On her way out, she dimmed the lights and turned on the music.

Carl stared at Jim, then shook his head in wonder. He got up, tugging down his short dress, and switched off the music. Then he turned up the lights so they could see what they were doing. Jim just sat and watched him, and hoped Carl wouldn't notice that he was checking out Carl's legs again in his short, tight dress. Carl moistened his finger and thumb, and snuffed out the candles. Then he sat down.

"Sorry about this," said Carl.

"That's OK."

"This is just something she does. She likes to pretend I'm really a woman. I'm sorry she had to involve you in this."

"It looks like a good meal, anyway."

"I'm sorry I went a little crazy when I was in your house, before. Any man would, if he'd been through what I've been through. I was mad at Gloria, and I was blaming you for it. I shouldn't have done that."

"You did get me a little scared."

"Listen, you don't have to stay here if you don't want to."

"No, I might as well stay and eat."

"How do you know I'm not gonna go nuts, again?"

"I trust you."

"Listen, could we just eat and not say anything? This is already embarrassing enough."

"Sure. Just---silent. Sure."

They started eating in silence. Jim picked up his wine glass, took a drink from it, then set it down. When Carl did the same, there was a big lipstick smear on his glass.

Jim looked at the lipstick smear. Carl looked at the lipstick smear.

But they didn't say anything.

Jim finished first, excused himself, and left. When Carl finished he took the dishes off the table and put them in the sink. He wasn't about to wash them for Gloria. When he was done clearing the dinner dishes, he went back to the table and sat down. He was still sitting there when Gloria came back in.

"How'd it go?" she asked with a smile. "Did you get lucky?"

"No."

"Oh, that's too bad. I thought it was about time somebody got lucky in this house."

"Gloria, why did you have to involve Jim in this? He's never done anything to you. Why did you have to embarrass him like that?"

Gloria sat down at the table and said, "Carla, I know relationships are hard, but you can't just give up on him. I know how attracted you are to him. I could see that when I walked in on you two, before. I'm not giving up, and you shouldn't either. I'm going to see you walking down the aisle in your white wedding gown yet. I know he's married, but he wouldn't be the first guy to leave his wife for someone better. Someone with a little something extra. And you are definitely a woman with a little something extra. Let's just see if we can figure out what went wrong, shall we? Did you ask him to dance? Did you ask him to sit with you on the couch?"

Carl just stared at her.

"Carla, you have to be a little forward sometimes. You can't just expect the man to do everything. Maybe you were a little too forward, before, when you were trying to kiss him. Maybe you scared him off."

She stood up and looked at Carl.

"Or maybe it's your dress. It's sexy, but maybe it's a little too sexy. Maybe we should've gone with something a little bit more demure. Maybe one of your pretty floral chiffon dresses, with a nice flower in your hair. I tell you, it's so hard to figure men out, sometimes. If only we had some insight into the male mind. Do you know any men we could ask?"

"Gloria, knock it off. I don't want to play any more. I'm not a woman. I'm a man, and stop calling me Carla."

Gloria looked concerned.

"Look, Carla, I know you kid around a lot, saying you're a man, but you are just kidding, aren't you? You don't actually think you're a man, do you? Look at me, Carla. You're really starting to worry me. Listen, just think for a moment about what you do in the morning. Do you put on a pair of pants and go to work? No, you put on panties and pantyhose and a bra and a girdle and a slip and high heels. And then what do you put on, Carla? You put on a dress, Carla. A dress. And why do you put on all these things? Because that's what a woman wears, and that's what you are, Carla. You're a woman."

 

As usual, Carl just stared at her and waited for her to finish.

 

"You're the most feminine woman I know, so why in the world do you keep saying you're a man? Men wear pants, and you hate wearing pants. Men don't wear dresses, and you love slipping into a pretty dress. You do realize that you're wearing a dress right now, don't you? You don't look down at what you're wearing and think you've got on pants, do you?"

Carl glanced down at his black satin dress, and said nothing.

"Carla, what did I tell you to do when you have this strange idea that you're a man? Look down at yourself. Look at your dress. Look at your high heels. Feel your brastrap. Reach down and feel the pantyhose on your legs. I don't understand why that's not enough to make it clear to you that you're a woman! Carla, I'll tell you what, if you're a man, please just explain to me why you always wear a dress and pantyhose and high heels. Why are you wearing a dress right now? If you can explain that to me, maybe we can go from there. Go ahead, Carla. Explain it to me."

Carl got up from the chair, tugged down his dress and said, "You're not going to get what you want, Gloria, so why don't you just give up. I'm going to bed."

That night when he fell asleep, he had a dream. He dreamed that his alarm clock was waking him up. He looked at the time and panicked. The alarm had been set at least an hour too late for him to get up and change his dress and his lingerie, and take off his make-up and put on fresh make-up, and all the other things he had to do.

He reached out to shut off the alarm, and that's when he really started to panic. He didn't feel that familiar tug of his brastrap. He threw aside the covers and looked at himself. He was wearing his blue pajamas. He jumped out of bed, and he wasn't the slightest bit off-balance. No high heels!

"Gloria! Gloria! What did you do?"

Gloria was just waking up. "What?" she asked.

He went to the closet and threw open the door, and there were all of his suits. He kept pushing them aside, looking for his dresses and getting more and more frantic. Then he ran to his lingerie drawer, hoping he could buy some time by putting on one of his bras. Nothing but jockey shorts. He raced back to the closet. Gloria was out of bed by this time, standing next to him.

"What did you do with my dresses! Where are my dresses?"

"What are you talking about?" asked Gloria.

"Gloria, no more kidding around! I'm not wearing a dress! I've got to put on a dress, and a slip! Are you trying to kill me? What did you do with my dresses? Where are my bras? Where's my high heels? I'm not even wearing pantyhose, Gloria! I've got to put on one of my dresses, right now!"

"Your dresses?"

He put his hands to his abdomen, waiting for the familiar pain. And it didn't come. And he waited some more. And it still didn't come. And he waited still more. The pain wasn't there.

He looked at his wife.

"Gloria, is it over? Is it really over? I don't have to wear a dress any more? I can be a normal man?"

"Carl, what are you going on about?"

"I don't have to wear a dress! It's finally over! I don't have to put on a dress every day! No more wearing pantyhose! No more walking everywhere in high heels! I don't have to put on a bra, or a girdle, or even a slip! No more busted brastraps, no more runs in my nylons! This is wonderful!"

He hugged his wife, and lifted her into the air.

"I'm a normal man! I'm a normal man, again!"

He looked at his wife's uncomprehending stare.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you, Gloria."

"Look, Carl, why don't you just take a shower, and I'll get us some breakfast, OK?"

"Perfect! Wonderful!"

Gloria left the room. Then she came back in, only a few seconds later.

"Carl, I don't know what you're saying or what any of this is about, but I just want to make one thing absolutely clear. MY dresses are off limits! Got it?"

Carl laughed, for the first time in weeks.

"Got it," he said. "Listen, Gloria, I think I was just having a bad dream. It rattled me a little. Sorry for scaring you."

"That's OK."

"Gloria, are you angry with me about anything? Is there anything I've done to upset you?"

"No, honey."

"Anything you'd like me to buy for you? Anything I can do for you?"

"No, I'm fine."

"Gloria, I'd just like to say that I don't think practical jokes are very funny. I think they're really cruel, even on April Fool's day. I've never pulled a practical joke on you, and I hope you'd never pull one on me."

"Carl," she said, "If you were really serious about what you said before, there is one thing I'd like."

"Name it."

"Can't we move out of this little one-bedroom crackerbox and into a decent place?"

"You've got it! A palace!"

He hugged his wife again, and kissed her.

"And maybe this afternoon, I could sneak away from work for a few hours?" he said. "I could come back here for a little afternoon delight?"

She sighed. "Carl, we've been over this before. I'm just not as sexual as you. We were together last night, and it was great, but I can't do it every night. We agreed, three nights a week is plenty."

"Oh, OK, sure," said Carl, "I can be patient. Three nights a week is plenty. I just wanted you to know that I'm ready to go, whenever you are."

"When are you not ready to go?"

He laughed, and hugged his wife again. She left to make breakfast. Carl took off his blue pajamas and looked at his body. No red marks from his bra or girdle. He still couldn't believe it!

He started looking for his blue dress so he could take a shower, and then laughed again. A blue dress! What does a man need with a blue dress?

He took his shower, and when he got out and dried himself, he looked at his razor.

"Well, that's one thing that hasn't changed," he thought, and started to shave his face. When he finished, he went out of the bathroom and into the bedroom, where he saw Gloria putting on her dress.

"Carl, uh---"

"What? What did you call me?"

"I called you Carl."

"Oh, of course. Of course you did. What it it?"

"Would you zip me up?" she asked, presenting her back to him.

"Would I zip YOU up? Would I zip YOU up? I would be so, so happy to zip you up."

"You are amazingly not grumpy today," she said as he zipped up her dress.

"I'm a changed man. Honey, I haven't done this in a long time, but I'd like to go outside and take a run before breakfast."

"Fine with me, but you might've thought of that before you took your shower."

"Sorry. I wasn't thinking."

"That's OK. Carl, could you tell me a little about your dream?"

"I'd really rather not, honey. It was terrible. It was a horrible dream."

"OK, honey, that's fine. Forget I asked."

She headed back to the kitchen. He looked in the closet and got out his tennis shoes, then went to his chest of drawers and pulled out some socks and some jockey shorts and a sweatshirt. He put on the jockey shorts and the sweatshirt, and then the socks.

He looked at himself in the mirror. He still couldn't believe it! He looked at his hairy legs. He actually felt his legs. No pantyhose. Of course not, he could see that he wasn't wearing pantyhose. Yet he still wanted to feel his legs to make sure, because he could still scarcely believe it! He touched his shoulder. No brastrap. He even wiped at his mouth to make sure he wasn't wearing lipstick. Of course he wasn't. He jumped up and down a few times. No high heels. He wiggled his toes. How wonderful to be able to wiggle your toes whenever you wanted to!

Why had the nightmare rattled him so much? It was just a bad dream, but it seemed so real, and it seemed to go on for such a long time, almost a month.

It was now time to go to the chest of drawers and take out what he'd been looking forward to all morning.

A pair of jeans.

But when he got them out and held them in his hands, he shuddered. He remembered what it was like the last time he tried to put on some pants. But that was all just part of the bad dream.

He grabbed a belt from somewhere, and he sat down on the bed and put his legs into his pants, and pulled them up slowly, slowly towards his waist, terribly afraid of what was going to happen. Then he thought to himself, "Why so slow? Since when does a normal man take so long to put on pants?" So he yanked them up his legs, stood up and pulled them the rest of the way up, then fastened them. Then he zipped them up. Now, there was the proper place for a zipper! He put on his belt, and buckled it.

He sat down again and put on his sneakers, and when got up he actually started heading towards the make-up table! He laughed at himself. That dream had really rattled him.

He said goodbye to Gloria and headed out the door. The first thing he did was go to his front lawn and do a headstand. Just because he could. Then he jogged down the sidewalk, and there in front of him was Gladys. And she was wearing that dress. That green dress. With black high heels.

He jogged right up to her and said, "Hello, Gladys. That's a pretty fancy outfit to be wearing at this hour."

She looked down at her dress.

"You caught me," she said. "I'm having it altered this morning. I thought I'd wear it over to the mall, and bring some sweat pants and a blouse to go home in."

"Gladys, tell me something. Why is it, whenever a woman is wearing a dress and someone compliments it or makes any kind of remark about it, she always has to look down at it? I mean, did you forget you were wearing a dress, or did you forget which dress you were wearing, or what? Why do you do that?"

"And why did I keep doing that?" he thought to himself. "Every time anyone said something about my dress---but that was all part of the dream, and I've got to stop obsessing about it."

Gladys laughed. "I don't know. Just a reflex I guess. I suppose you think it's kind of scatterbrained."

"No, of course not. So, you have to stand on a stepstool while they pin up your hem?"

"Yes."

"And how long does that usually take?"

"Maybe about half an hour. Possibly less. It all depends."

"Isn't it kind of uncomfortable standing in those heels for half an hour without a break?"

She laughed. "Carl, you get used to wearing high heels," she said.

"I never did," he thought.

"Would you mind if I asked you one little personal question?"

"Maybe," said Gladys.

"Between wearing that dress, and wearing stretch pants and a blouse, which do you prefer? Would you rather wear a dress, or pants?"

She laughed again. "Well, I love wearing dresses, Carl. But I wouldn't want to wear them all the time."

"I hear ya."

"What? Carl, why are you so curious about all this?"

"Oh, no, I'm not curious. I'm not curious at all. It's not anything I'll ever have to know about. Good day!"

He jogged away from Gladys and headed to the county square. On the way he saw a heating grate right there in the sidewalk. A grid pattern. Small square holes, but plenty large enough to swallow up the heel of any high heeled pump any man or woman had ever worn.

He instinctively avoided it, but then thought, "Why not?" He ran right over it, and when he got to the end of it he jumped up and down on it three times, then continued running.

He jogged past a dress store, with several female manikins in the window wearing different dresses. And pantyhose. For some reason it was always important for female manikins to wear pantyhose. But over at the end of the window, either because they ran out of female manikins or because the male manikins were cheaper, there was a hapless male manikin decked out in a frilly springtime dress, and pantyhose, and high heels.

Carl saw the crossdressing manikin, and burst into laughter.

"You look ridiculous!" he said to the manikin. "You look completely ridiculous! Cute dress, faggot." The manikin didn't respond. He ran on.

There were a few other people on the street, and Carl instinctively felt acute embarrassment that they were about to see him. But he jogged on, and he smiled and waved at them, and they smiled back. They didn't smirk, they didn't giggle, they didn't gape, they didn't laugh. They just smiled.

And he came to the county courthouse.

"There's some steps," he thought to himself. "I think I'll run up 'em."

So he did. He didn't even have to look at his feet, he didn't have to think about what he was doing. He didn't have to worry that his heel was going to catch on a step as he lifted his foot. He didn't have to stay close to the handrail in case he tripped up. He didn't have to make sure that both the heel and toe of his pumps were securely on the step before putting any weight on his foot. Because he wasn't wearing pumps. Because he's a man.

He got to the top of the steps, and jumped up and down with his fists in the air, Rocky style.

And then he heard the fire alarm going off in the county courthouse.

And that turned into his alarm clock going off.

The first thing he thought when he opened his eyes and looked at the clock was, where had the day gone? The last thing he remembered, he was running up some steps, or something. Then he reached out to turn off the alarm clock, and he felt it. That familiar little tug at his shoulder. His brastrap.

"No!" he said.

Then he noticed that his arm was in a black satin sleeve. He threw aside the covers, and looked at the dress he was wearing, the tight fitting black satin dress he'd worn the night before, for his little romantic dinner.

"No, no, no, no!" he said. He shook his head, and the long hair of the stupid wig he had to wear whipped back and forth.

He got out of bed so fast he nearly lost his balance in his heels. He tugged down his dress a little bit and looked down at himself.

"This isn't fair," he thought. "I had my dignity back. It was only a dream, but I had my dignity again. I was just beginning to enjoy it. There were so many other things I wanted to do. I'd rather go back to the dream than have to live in this nightmare. Damn it, I want my freedom back! I want my dignity! I'm sick of everyone laughing at me and making jokes! I want to be a normal man! I don't want to wear a dress! Why is that so unreasonable? I want to wear men's clothes! I want to wear pants!"

He looked at himself in the full length mirror. It was all back, his dress, his pantyhose, his high heels, his make-up, the wig. He slid his skirt up, just a little bit. Yes, his lacy black slip was there as well. And he didn't even have to check whether he was wearing his bra and girdle. Just trying to breathe confirmed it.

It was all back. It had never left.

He did what he had done in the dream. He looked at himself in the mirror. He still couldn't believe it. He looked at his hairless legs. He actually felt his legs. He was wearing pantyhose. Of course he was, he could see that he was wearing pantyhose. Yet he still wanted to feel his legs to make sure. He touched his shoulder. There was his brastrap. He even wiped at his mouth to see if he was wearing lipstick. Of course he was. But he wasn't going to jump up and down in his high heels. He didn't have to put himself through that to know he was wearing high heels. He could see what he was wearing. Of course he was wearing high heels. What else would he be wearing?

"Carla?" said Gloria.

He turned on her fiercely.

"THE NAME," he said, "IS CARL!"

And went in to take a shower before she could say anything.

He was so rattled by the dream that he forgot to pick out a dress for himself, so that he wound up once again standing before his closet, dripping wet in his blue polyester dress, grabbing any dress he could find. He grabbed one and saw that it was pink. He didn't care any more. Fine. He'd put on a pink dress and go to work.

He didn't notice, but it happened to be his first dress. The first dress he'd ever worn.

Thursday evening of his fourth week in dresses, he was sitting around after dinner wearing his low-cut belted pink chiffon dress, the dress he'd worn on April Fool's day, the dress that had started it all. He was half-heartedly pushing his vegetables around his plate with a fork. He normally liked to eat steak and mashed potatoes for dinner, but having to constantly wear a girdle had turned him into a light eater. He now ate only vegetables, and he'd lost over forty pounds in the past four weeks.

"You know what's the first thing I'm going to do when Dr. Specks releases me from this torture?" he said. "I'm going to take off my dress and everything else I'm wearing, and I'm going to lie naked on the carpet, and I'm going to wiggle my toes and take some wonderful, wonderful deep breaths. I'm going to do that for a long time, and then I'm going to get some jockey shorts, and put them on. Then I'm going to put on a wonderful, comfortable pair of blue jeans, along with a belt. Then I'm going out to the front lawn, and I'm going to stand on my head in front of everyone. And NO ONE will be able to see my underwear when I do it! Then I'm going to put on a shirt, some socks and some nice comfortable tennis shoes, and I'm going to go out in public! I'm going to drive myself to a steak place, and I'm going to have a wonderful meal of steak and mashed potatoes, and if I'm hungry after that I'll have ANOTHER meal of steak and mashed potatoes! Then I'm coming home, and I'm going to take off my clothes and go to sleep completely naked! I'm going to have my best night of sleep in weeks, then I'm going to get up in the morning and take a shower completely naked! Then I'm putting on a suit and tie, I'm going to work and I'm going right into my boss's office, and I'm gonna announce, 'I'm BACK! And I'm a MAN!' Then I'm gonna get my career back on track, and everyone that ever laughed at me or made fun of me at work is gonna pay!"

"Oh, great. Still thinking you're a man? Carla, how old were you when you first started thinking you were a man? Were you thinking this back when you were a little girl?" asked Gloria.

The phone rang. Gloria got up and answered it.

"This is County General," said the voice. "Is this Mrs. Stoner?"

Gloria looked her husband head to toe, in his pink chiffon dress, nylons, high heels, and make-up. Then she looked down at herself in her sweatshirt and jeans. She felt a little fraudulent making the claim, but she said, "Yes, I'm her."

"You asked to be informed about someone named Dr. Specks? If there was any change in his condition?"

"Yes? Is he OK?"

"I'm afraid he died this afternoon."

"Oh. I see. Thank you."

She hung up the phone.

"What was that?" asked Carl.

She sat down.

"Dr. Specks just died."

Carl stood up suddenly. He shook his head violently.

"You're kidding! NO! Damn it, NO! This can't be happening to me! Does that really mean this is permanent?"

"Is what permanent, Carla?"

He sat down again, and for the first time he tucked his skirt under him properly.

"Can't you at least stop calling me Carla?"

"That's your name, Carla. What else should I call you?"

"Gloria, isn't it bad enough that you did this to me? And now I have to wear dresses and nylons and high heels and lipstick every single hour of every day, for the rest of my life?"

"It's not my fault the man died, Carla."

"Go to hell," he said, and got up again.

"Now, now, that's not very ladylike. You really need to stop being so crude. I can't believe a demure woman like you has got such a mouth on her."

"I'm not a---oh, forget it. Whatever. I'm going for a walk. I can't believe this."

Carl had never set foot outside his own property since he started wearing dresses, other than going to work and that time at Jim's house. He headed off down the sidewalk to look at some of the other houses, and to see some of the men working outside. Men who were lucky enough to not have to wear dresses for the rest of their lives.

A slight breeze was blowing, fluttering his sleeves and his skirt. He could feel his dress billowing about him as he walked. The wind wasn't blowing hard enough that he had to worry about his skirt blowing up, or his slip showing. It was just a gentle breeze.

Herman was working on his car in the driveway. He was an enthusiastic mechanic, but clueless. Herman gunned the engine a few times, and Carl could tell right away what the problem was.

"Carburetor," said Carl, when the engine had died down.

"What?" asked Herman.

"Problem's in your carburetor," said Carl, and then turned and left, because Herman obviously didn't want a guy like him hanging around and giving him advice, a guy who wore pink chiffon dresses.

"Sounds like a two-person job," said Herman. So Carl turned and headed over to the car.

"Sorry I grabbed you like that, before," said Herman. "I thought you were my wife."

"That's OK. Sorry I lost my temper."

"No problem."

"I just found out that this is permanent. I have to wear dresses for the rest of my life."

"Wow. I'm sorry to hear that. Must be quite a shock. How do you feel? Are you OK?"

"I'm still a little numb. It hasn't really hit me, yet."

"I'm really sorry this happened to you, Carl."

"Me, too. So, you believe me? You don't think I wear dresses just because I want to?"

"Of course not. What man would WANT to wear a dress?"

"A lot of people at work seem to think I want to wear dresses. But I'm probably going to lose my job over this."

"Well, there will be other jobs."

"Somehow I doubt it."

"Say, I guess my wife and you are the same dress size. So you can borrow any one of her dresses any time you want. I'm sure she won't mind."

"That won't be necessary. But she's free to borrow any one of my dresses, or anything else she needs. Pantyhose, slip---anything."

"Well, that's nice of you. And that's a very pretty dress you're wearing. You don't mind me saying that, do you?"

"I guess not. I guess I have to get used to that kind of talk. Listen, I know that the guys in the neighborhood are probably not gonna want to have anything to do with me. I understand. I wouldn't want to hang around me, either. I guess I should just hang around the women, now. I wish I had any interest in any of the things they talk about. Babies, chick flicks, fashions."

"You don't have any interest in fashions?"

"No. A dress is a dress, as far as I'm concerned."

"Well, I'm sure I can get the guys to invite you over to watch the game."

"No, don't bother. I don't want to make them uncomfortable. Hey, let's get started on your car. You gun the engine, I'll reach in here and mess with the carburetor."

"I've got some coveralls you can wear over your dress, Carl."

"Herman, if I could wear coveralls over my dress, believe me, I would've done it before now."

They had to remove his carburetor and rebuild it. When Carl got home his dress was ruined. Auto grease was all over it, and all over his pantyhose. Gloria was furious.

"Carla! Look at your dress! It's ruined! I can't get that out!"

"So what? I have other dresses."

"What were you doing?"

"Helping Herman with his car."

"Carla, can't you just leave that kind of stuff to the men? How can you keep ruining dress after dress? Don't you care at all about your pretty clothes?"

"A dress is a dress," he said, and went into the bathroom to take a shower in his blue polyester dress.

The next morning he was all cleaned up and wearing his clingy long-sleeved pink silk dress with a sash of the same material. He got in the front seat next to his wife.

"No back seat any more, Carla?"

"Just drive."

As soon as he got to work he went to the office of his boss, the Vice-President in charge of Civil Litigation. He got right in to see him. He put down his pink purse and sat, tucking his skirt beneath him properly, and crossing his legs, one knee above the other.

"Dr. Specks passed away yesterday," Carl said.

"I heard. I asked the hospital to keep me informed."

"So, I guess that means this is permanent. I have to wear nothing but dresses from now on."

The Vice-President in charge of Civil Litigation sighed.

"Well, then I guess you're fired, Carl. I don't have any choice."

"What am I looking at in the way of severance pay?"

"One month's salary."

"That's it?"

"What did you expect?"

"George, I've been busting my hump trying to make partner for ten years, now. I've been putting in eighty-hour weeks, and I've brought millions of dollars into the firm and never got to share in the proceeds. Just this past month I brought in two out-of-court settlements. I know you handed them off to junior associates, but they didn't know what they were doing. If they hadn't stopped by to ask me questions and laugh at my dresses, those cases would still be going on."

The Vice-President in charge of Civil Litigation threw his hands in the air.

"What do I do, Carl? Word has gotten out about you. We've already lost clients, and we could lose even more. Our clients want to do business with a conservative law firm. How do you think they react when they find out about you? There's already a reporter wants to do a story on you. That would be great, wouldn't it, our name publicly linked with someone like you? I wish I didn't have to lose you, but I've got no choice. If you need money, your best choice is to sue us."

Carl shook his head.

"I couldn't do that. I couldn't come into a courtroom every day dressed like this. It would be a national news story. Everyone would know about me. My family, my parents---I just couldn't. Besides, this is Houston. No jury would ever give me a penny."

The Vice-President in charge of Civil Litigation extended his hand.

"Best of luck to you, Carl," he said, indicating the interview was over. "Stay in your office, today. I'll send by personnel with the paperwork."

Carl stood and shook his hand. He left the office, still in somewhat of a daze.

"Carl!" the Vice-President in charge of Civil Litigation called out. Carl came back in.

"You forgot your purse."

"Oh." Carl bent at the knees, not at the waist, and picked up his purse.

"Sorry about this, Carl. I'm sorry this happened to you. I really feel sorry for you."

"Of course you do," said Carl. "Who in the world wouldn't feel sorry for me? Except a woman."

Carl pushed the button for the elevator, and got on once it arrived. He heard a woman saying "Hold the door!" Carl held it for her, and Debbie came in. She smiled at Carl."

"Well," she said, "at least we're not wearing the same dress, today."

She was wearing a long-sleeved low cut gleaming scarlet silk sheath, with red high heels. Her dress was belted, and it had a peplum.

"I've been waiting for you to stop wearing dresses," she said, "before I come to work wearing my fuchsia dress, again."

"Your 'what' dress?"

"Fuchsia. Remember? Our dress. That day we were both wearing the same dress. Fuchsia. The color."

"Oh, the color. Go ahead and wear your fuchsia dress on Monday, Debbie. I just got fired."

"What?! Why?"

"I think it's pretty obvious, why."

"But they can't do that! We'll get a petition!"

"Don't get any petition together. Whether they can do it or not, they should. I can't meet with clients this way, I can't appear in court, and the company has started to lose business because of me. I should go."

"Carl, that's terrible. I'm sorry. If there's ever anything you need, anything at all, call me. I'm in the book. People like you and me who wear beautiful silk dresses have brought some color into this drab place, and we should stick together."

She put her arms around him, and hugged him. Their high heels faced each other. He put his arms around her waist, and pink silk met scarlet silk as their skirts came into contact.

"You were always very nice to me," said Carl. "You never laughed at me."

The elevator door opened on the first floor, and four guys were waiting. They started hooting and applauding, and one of them said, "Yeah! Hot lesbian action!"

"Shut up!" she said. "Stop making fun of him! He just got fired! Can't you leave him alone for one day?"

They quieted down. Debbie said, in his ear, "Goodbye, Carl. I really do hope you get to stop wearing dresses soon."

He didn't tell her.

Five o'clock came, and Carl got in the front seat next to his wife.

"How'd it go?"

"I got fired."

"Oh, well, I'm sure there will be other jobs, Carla."

He glared at her.

"Gloria, don't you even care that you cost me my job? Couldn't you at least stop calling me Carla?"

"But that's your name. Unless you can convince me you should be called something else."

Carl fumed and seethed all the way home. He was trying to think what he could do, where he could go, who would hire him. He didn't even notice when several teenage girls in another car spotted him, and started pointing and laughing.

Before he knew it, they were home. He grabbed his purse and got out of the car. Gloria stopped him at the back door, before they entered the house.

"Carla, I want you to know that this is not ridicule. The girls have been working on this for some time now, and they just want to show you that they accept you."

"What are you talking about?"

Gloria opened the door and they walked into the house together.

"Surprise!" came a chorus of shouts. The house was full of women from the neighborhood, all the women who had been there for the fashion show and then some. As usual, all the women were wearing pants. He was the only one in a dress. A big banner was hung across the window: CARLA HONORARY WOMAN. There was a big rectangular cake with white frosting, with the words YOU'RE A WOMAN NOW!! written out in pink.

"Come in, Carla, come in," called Margaret. "Today you are a woman!"

Everyone applauded. Carl was still too stunned to say anything. The ceremony went on.

"As everybody knows, Carla found out yesterday that he's one of us, and that he'll be wearing dresses for the rest of his life, so we thought we'd better get together for this ceremony and make him an honorary woman! But, of course, you don't start out life as a woman. You have to start out in life as a little girl. So, let's take Carl back to the bedroom and get him ready to start his life all over again."

Gladys took him into the bedroom. She showed him the pink little girl's dress he was expected to wear. It was even more frilly and girlish than the short pink dress he'd worn during the fire drill at work.

Whatever. Just wear whatever they wanted him to wear and get it over with. He slipped into the dress.

He came out to applause and laughter. They had a picture of him from when he was a little boy wearing short pants. The picture was blown up to a huge size.

"Now, you see in this picture of Carla that someone's made a huge mistake. Someone actually thought Carla was a boy. They have him wearing pants! And we all know that Carla's way too feminine to ever wear pants. So, Carla, stand right over here and let's get a picture of you. Curtsey for us, Carla."

Carl didn't want to curtsey. But everyone stared at him and they wouldn't proceed until he did. So he curtseyed, they took the picture, and Margaret took a big magic marker and drew a big X right through the picture of Carl as a little boy.

"So, we can get rid of that photo and replace it with the one we just took. Little girl Carla. OK, Carla, go into the bedroom and put on your next dress."

After that it was a Catholic schoolgirl uniform. A photo of Carl was taken, and an old picture of Carl in his Catholic school uniform got a big X right through it. Next was a prom dress, beautifully made. Another picture was taken, and a picture of Carl with his prom date ( not Gloria ) got a big X right though it.

"Why, Carla, this is the first time in a month I've seen you when I couldn't see your legs. What's it like to wear that prom gown, with your pretty legs all covered up? It must be almost like wearing pants. Not that you would remember. OK, next dress."

The next was Carl in a one-piece cheerleader's costume. A picture was taken, and a picture of Carl as a linebacker in college got a big X right through it. Carl was still feeling completely numb, hoping this would all be over with soon. Next was Carl in a one-piece WAC's uniform. A picture was taken, and a picture of Carl in his Marine uniform got a big X right through it.

Finally, the main event. Carl had to put on a beautiful wedding gown. A lovely confection of silk, satin, and organza. Gladys helped him with his veil, and with all the beautiful petticoats that went with the dress. He came out to oohs and ahhs and applause. A picture was taken, with Gloria right beside him. Gloria hadn't bothered to change out of her slacks and sweatshirt. As before, a picture from Carl and Gloria's wedding got a big X right through it.

"And that takes us up to the present, and the pretty pink dress Carla was wearing when he, or I guess now we should say she, came though the door. We won't bother to have Carla change back, because you all know what that dress looks like. Now we have some presents for you, Carla. Hold out your hands."

Carl held out his hands, and was given a package of Midol, some Tampax, a bottle of douche, and a certificate good for a free pap smear. They all laughed and applauded with every present. Someone took the "honorary woman" banner and draped it over Carl.

"Speech! Speech!" someone cried out. Then everyone started calling it. Carl was in a daze. He looked from one face to another.

Finally, he came to life. He threw his presents to the ground, and said, "What the hell is the matter with you women? This was supposed to make me feel better? Making me dress like a little girl? I'm not an honorary woman; I'm a man! It's not my fault I have to wear dresses! You people think you know what it's like just because you're women? You don't know what it's like! You couldn't possibly know what it's like, all the jeering and the humiliation and the laughter! Look at you, you're all wearing pants! I would give anything to be able to wear pants again! I have to wear dresses for the rest of my life, and you all think it's just a big joke! That's it, everyone out! All of you!"

He strode purposefully towards the door, but instead he tripped on his wedding gown and fell to the ground, sprawling with his petticoats over his waist. All the women laughed.

He angrily got to his feet again and went to the door.

"Everyone out, now! I won't be laughed at in my own home."

Gloria stepped forward.

"Carla---"

"Shut up! You did this to me, you bitch!" And he slapped her across the face.

There was a gasp from the women.

"How dare you!" said Gloria. "How dare you, Carla!"

"Shut up! My name isn't Carla! It's Carl! I'm not a woman! Take a look at the cake, Gloria."

He grabbed her by the shoulders and forced her head close to the cake.

"That's wrong, Gloria! The cake is wrong! I'm not a woman! Take a closer look, Gloria! Take a real close look!"

He shoved her face into the cake.

The women watched in stunned silence, their mouths gaping wide open. Gloria lifted her head and wiped the frosting out of her eyes.

He opened the door.

"Everyone out! Right now!"

The women all filed out in a hurry. His wife said not a word, just went into the bathroom to get cleaned up.

He was suddenly very tired. He went over to the couch and collapsed on it. In a matter of minutes he was asleep in his wedding gown.

When he awoke there was a note pinned to his gown:

 

Dear Carl,

Yes, you can be Carl. You can be a man for the length of this letter, even though you don't deserve it.

I've had it, Carl. I'm leaving you. I will not stay with an abusive spouse. If you hit me once, you'll hit me again. I can't believe you did that with the cake. You humiliated me in front of everyone.

How could you treat me this way? I've hemmed your dresses, I've washed your lingerie, I've hooked your bra, I've helped you with your make-up over and over and over, and this is how you repay me. Well, goodbye! You can hem your own dresses from now on.

Gloria.

P.S. I got a call from your father the General. He's coming to visit the day after tomorrow. He wants to find out if some little rumor about his son is true. I wonder what that could be?

So that was it. No job, no wife, and his father was about to see him like this.

He just couldn't face his Dad this way. He just couldn't. He'd been striving for his Dad's approval all his life. And now this!

Moving quickly before he could change his mind, he got a pair of blue jeans and some jockey shorts from his drawer. He left them on the living room floor. Then he quickly gathered up most of the debris from the party, especially the cake and the banner proclaiming him an honorary woman, and put it outside in the trash barrel.

He took his make-up off with baby oil and cotton balls. He made absolutely sure that all of it was off. Then he went into the bedroom and tore off his wig and veil. He took off the jewelry he was wearing and threw it across the room. He noticed that his wife's clothes were gone. Already his body was starting to rebel against the fact that he wasn't putting on new make-up.

"Yeah, that's right!" he said to no one in particular, "I'm not putting on any more make-up! What are you gonna do about it?"

He took a pair of scissors and started cutting his way out of his wedding gown. He didn't have time to mess with all the buttons in the back that Gladys had helped him with. Then he started ripping the gown.

The pain just kept getting worse. He grabbed a towel, put it in his mouth and bit down on it. He wished he'd planned this all a lot better.

"A Marine can stand anything! A Marine can stand anything!" he kept thinking.

Finally he was out of the gown, and he kicked off his heels and got out of his lingerie, all except his longline bra. He crawled into the living room in great pain. He knew it was nothing like the pain that was waiting for him when he became completely naked.

He'd never taken his bra off by himself, before, but he knew how to do it. He'd been watching his wife. He twisted it around to the front, then started undoing the hooks.

It was off. He threw it away and felt blinding pain. He couldn't even see what he was doing. He reached for his jockey shorts, bit down on the towel hard, then pulled them on. He felt around for the jeans. He couldn't find them, and started to panic. Then he found them. He pulled them on. He was shaking and sweating, but somehow he managed to get them zippered and fastened.

And that was as much as he could do. He was prostrate on the floor, going into convulsions, and the pain just kept getting worse. He was crying out in agony, the sort of cries that would've brought his wife in from the next room and made her force Carl into a dress.

Carl expected a tremendous amount of pain, but it never occurred to him that he might not survive. But now, death was beginning to seem like a possibility. His last thoughts before he blacked out were, "Is this really it? Is my own mind going to kill me? Kill me or cure me, then, but this has to be over, one way or the other. If this is really it---if they find me this way---at least, now---now maybe they will believe---that I don't enjoy---wearing---a dress."

His father found him two days later. He knocked on the door of the house. When there was no answer, he called out for Carl, then opened the door a crack.

"Son?" he said. He rushed inside. His son's cold, lifeless body was covered in sweat, and his face was a rictus of fear. He felt his son's neck for a pulse. There was none. Carl had burst a blood vessel.

The General felt like crying, but he held it together. A man doesn't cry.

But he was glad, anyway, to discover that the rumors about his son weren't true.

His son was wearing pants.

  

  

  

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