What is going on?
You may ask…
my mother works for herself and for no other reason than trying to impress one of her clients,
she claimed that she had a Personal Assistant to help manage her diary,
keep her topped up with coffee and so on.
It was one of those innocent white lies
This was until this particular client wanted a face-to-face meeting to discuss a new contract.
The client insisted that Mum’s PA also attended the meeting.
The fact that her PA didn’t exist was a big problem,
It was my grand idea that Mum simply gets someone to pretend to be her PA.
The last thing I expected was that it would be me!
I’ve had less than a week to ‘get into character’,
which has mostly involved getting used to wearing heels,
learning what a PA actually does
and learning as much as possible about her consultancy business.
I’d tried on numerous items of clothing from mum’s wardrobe until she found an outfit that fit me properly.
Most of her skirts and tailored dresses were too baggy around my hips,
and many if her blouses and jackets were too narrow on my shoulders.
After an entire afternoon of trying this and that,
Mum finally found me something suitable;
a black body-con skirt,
a white sleeveless blouse,
and a black fitted jacket with its shoulder pads removed.
Then on this very morning,
Mum took me to a salon where I had a (near) full body wax,
my hair trimmed and styled,
my eyebrows shaped and my ears pierced…
then she took me to a lingerie store and bought me some underwear.
I think I’m still in shock.
My earlobes are throbbing.
My ‘tackle’ feels like it’s being squashed out of existence in the vice-like grip of my control knickers.
I’ve got chicken fillets in my bra and have barely any body hair.
I can even feel the light dusting of powder on my face,
the mascara on my eyelashes and the lipstick on my lips.
I don’t think I could feel more feminine as I gently touched my hairless thigh and cautiously felt my earlobe and its new adornment.
“Simon! I told you to leave it.” my mother said.
“Sorry,” I said as I whipped my hand away from my earlobe.
I fumbled with my fingers as I stood nervously in my underwear,
wondering if my mother would see sense and call the whole thing off or…
“Right… you need your skirt and blouse on, maybe a necklace too,” she said, passing me the blouse.
“Do you want tights?” she asked as her eyes dropped down to my legs.
“They look nice enough as they are so you don’t need any tights,” she said as I buttoned myself into the white collared blouse.
I was happy enough to skip a pair of tights,
so I donned the black pencil skirt that Mum’s long outgrown yet fits me perfectly.
“Blouse in or out?” I asked.
“Well tuck it in and see how it looks,” Mum said.
I did as asked, fastened the zip, and looked down at myself.
“Perfect.” Mum grinned.
“These knickers are so tight I can’t even feel them,” I said as I ran my hands over my hips.
I knew I was exaggerating a bit as I can feel them and they feel flat.
I slipped my feet into the only item of my outfit that feels familiar;
a pair of Mum’s court shoes that fit me like a glove…
or a shoe, even.
Mum said I was a natural in heels and I agree with her,
although I’d much rather wear flat shoes…
boy’s flat shoes to be specific.
I spent much of the afternoon in the role of Mum’s PA;
tending the printer,
sorting invoices and making coffee…
plenty of coffee.
Oh, and answering the phone.
“Good afternoon you’re speaking to Janice. How can I help?” I say each time in my soft ‘female’ voice.
I guess I’d have been happier if is they all said
‘you’re not called Janice…
you’re a bloke!’
but not a single one did.
At least that would have given us a good reason for me not to go through with this ever so important meeting.
As three P M approached I became increasingly nervous.
I told her that I was getting cold feet
however she just grinned and offered me a pair of tights.
“Simon you’re doing perfectly.
You look the part, you act the part, you speak the part…”
she paused and inhaled.
“…you even smell like a woman.” she told me.
“Can’t you just tell them I couldn’t make it?” I suggested.
“Tell them I’m sick or a family matter’s come up….
“After all we’ve done?” Mum said.
“Anyway, I’m sure they’d smell a rat if my PA didn’t attend.”
The meeting was at four P M in some really posh restaurant.
I topped up my lippy and dropped the lipstick into ‘my’ handbag, before taking my first step outside.
And a very nervous step it was.
“Now remember what I said about getting in and out of a car.” Mum said as I opened the passenger door.
“Very good.” she grinned.
I fastened my seat belt as she reversed out of the drive.
Mum talked me through what I should say and shouldn’t say.
“Where possible, just redirect any awkward questions to me…
and don’t but in,
don’t argue and don’t answer back…
I’m your boss,
not your mother.” she said.
“And if you need the toilet,
make sure you take your handbag,
and make sure you use the ladies, and…”
make sure I sit down.” I interjected.
“I’ll just make sure I don’t need the toilet.”
I can’t describe how I felt when I finally met Mum’s clients.
Being scared did not come close to it.
We got off to a bad start when they were certain that my name was Janine and not Janice,
then Mum made a real boo-boo when we ordered the food and called me Janine.
I was asked about my previous experience and felt it would be safer to claim that this was my first post as a PA.
I’d supposedly worked for Mum for two years,
spent a year at secretarial school after I’d completed my A levels,
but that would put my age at twenty-one and not twenty-three as we’d claimed.
Mum and I bumbled our way through Janine or Janice’s back story,
filling in the gaps on the fly.
I suspected that they weren’t really buying it,
and as the meal and the meeting came to a close, my suspicions were proved correct.
It was pointed out in plain English that neither my mother nor I seem to know if my name’s Janine or Janice.
Gaping holes and contradictions in my story were also pointed out.
“I don’t know who you are,
but what I do know is that you’re not who you claim to be.” the prestigious client said to me.
She turned to my mother and asked what was going on and Mum reluctantly confessed.
To make things worse,
the client was sipping her wine when my mother informed her that the supposed twenty-three-year-old personal assistant is in fact her sixteen-year-old son,
causing her to splurt through her wine in a most unladylike manner.
“What!” the client exclaimed as she wiped the splats of red wine from her face and blouse with a napkin.
“She’s not even female?!”
I didn’t know what to do or say.
Heads turned towards us from the surrounding tables.
The beans are spilled and that cat is well and truly out of the bag.
I just shrugged and smiled.
I felt relieved that the farce is almost over but also disappointed that it had gone so very wrong.
The client verbally ended all dealings with Mum and left.
Mum had to pick up the bill.
She paid and we left with our tails between our legs and egg on our faces.
“Sorry, Mum,” I said once we were outside.
“Oh it’s not your fault Love…
it was a stupid idea and you certainly told me enough times.” Mum replied.
We walked to the car and Mum let out a string of expletives.
“beep beep beep” she spat as she ripped a parking ticket off the windscreen.
She got to the driver’s side and unlocked the passenger door.
“Well there’s not much point staying in character now Simon.” she said as I got in the car ‘lady’ style.
“This skirt’s so tight I can’t do it any other way.” I said as I fastened my seatbelt.
Mum apologized and said she should have listened to me and intermittently cursed herself for most of the drive home.
She stopped at an off-license for a bottle of wine.
“Drinking isn’t going to help.” I said when I noticed several bottles in the bag
“No… but after losing one of my biggest clients,
it’s going to make me feel better,” she replied.
just get another big client or a few small ones,” I said.
“And don’t tell them you’ve got a personal assistant when you haven’t.”
“I know I know,” Mum said.
We got home and Mum offered me a ‘spritzer’. “
You deserve a drink after all you’ve been through.” she said as she filled a glass with three-quarters soda and one-quarter wine.
She poured herself a glass but with opposite proportions,
took a sizeable glug, then lit a cigarette.
what are you doing?” I asked.
Mum never smokes inside the house.
Her expression suggested that she didn’t really care
but then she relaxed,
opened the back door, and stepped outside.
“Do you want one,” she asked, pointing an erect cigarette in my direction.
I gulped and shook my head.
“Well, you can if you want and I already know you smoke,” she said.
I joined her outside and reluctantly accepted the cigarette.
Smoking in front of one’s mother never feels comfortable
but I guess she needs company and comradeship.
“Thanks,” I said as she ignited her lighter.
I took a drag,
removed it, and exhaled.
Then my hand froze when I spotted the lipstick imprint around its filter.
“I’d forgotten about that,” I said.
“You were very convincing,” Mum said.
“The look on her face when I told her the truth was priceless…
she really didn’t see that coming.”
“I just wanted to floor to open up when she blurted ‘she’s not even female,”
I said before taking another drag.
it could have been worse.”
“Could it?” Mum asked.
at least she didn’t say ‘that’s not a woman’ the moment she clapped eyes on me.” I replied.
“Or does that make it worse?” I wondered as I looked down at myself;
black patent court shoes,
bare hairless legs,
and a figure-hugging black skirt that lands just above the knee.
“You can change if you want,” Mum said.
“Yeah… in a bit,” I said.
I took another toke on my cigarette and looked out across the back garden as I slowly exhaled.
The wind was slight and a flock of seagulls effortlessly hung over the estuary.
“It’s a nice evening,” I said.
“It is,” Mum said.
“Shall we sit out for a bit?” she suggested.
“It’d be a shame to waste it indoors.”
“Yeah OK,” I said after glancing up at the neighbor’s windows.
They can’t really see the patio so I’ve nothing to worry about.
Mum gave me her pack of fags and the lighter and I sat on one of the garden chairs.
Mum soon joined me.
I said as she placed my ‘spritzer’ in front of me and sat herself down.
was my name supposed to be Janice or Janine?” I asked.
Mum growled a little.
“I’ve no idea,” she said.
She groaned then sighed before inhaling deeply on her cigarette.
“Not that it really matters.” she smiled.
“Maybe something like ‘Simone’ would have been a better choice of name,” I suggested.
but I’d told her I had a PA called Janine or Janice months and months ago.” Mum replied.
“A better choice would have been not to tell porkies in the first place…
but hindsight always comes too late,” she said, looking at me and smiling, before apologizing again.
“Let’s not dwell on it,” I said, taking a final drag of my cigarette before stubbing it out.
“What’s done is done,” I added.
“Yeah.” Mum agreed, clearly disheartened.
We sat and chatted about everything but today’s events as the evening sun cast its rays over us.
I’m due to start a college course in September
I informed my mother that I plan on doing it part-time over two years instead of full-time in one year.
She thinks I should do the full-time course but,
“I’ve just left school and I think I’d rather just have a couple of years where it’s not full-on,” I explained.
“Well, I suppose…
in a few years you’ll have to work full time just to make ends meet.” Mum said.
“Don’t you think you should study something a little more vocational than Art & Design though?”
“I like art,” I replied.
“I know I probably won’t become some rich or famous artist or designer but…
I fancy doing something I enjoy whilst I can.” I told her.
“Anyway, there are loads of web design jobs going…
after A&D I might do a programming course or something.”
“The world is your oyster.” Mum smiled.
She sipped her drink. I sipped mine.
She lit another cigarette and placed the packet and lighter between us.
“Help yourself,” she said.
“Thanks,” I replied but didn’t take one.
Mum talked more optimistically about moving her business forwards after losing her biggest client.
It wasn’t going to break the bank as she has plenty of other paying clients,
but she needs to pull her finger out and get the ball rolling.
Mum has a habit of saying things that don’t really say anything.
She could sell ice to the Eskimos if she put her mind to it,
and talk the hind legs off a donkey.
She asked if I wanted a top up and I handed her my almost empty glass.
Mum returned a moment later and I asked if I could have another cigarette.
“Help yourself.” she said.
“Do you smoke much?” she asked.
She advised me to stop before I’m twenty,
I’ll be hooked for life.
It’s good advice I guess,
but not as good as don’t smoke.
The conversation soon returned to the disastrous meeting.
“Well, today’s certainly been an experience.”
“You can say that again,” I said as I swiped a stray bit of ash from my forearm.
“Do you reckon it’ll grow back?” I asked as my fingers lingered on its smooth surface.
“Course it will,” Mum said.
“It always grows back.” she added.
We sat in silence for a while.
The light breeze has almost completely dropped,
just like the sun.
A swirling hoard of starlings morphed with seemingly impossible precision over the estuary and held our attention for a while.
Then Mum said,
“You must think I’m an awful mother…” she said after a few moments of quiet contemplation.
“…making you pose as a twenty-something secretary just to cover my back.”
“Er… personal assistant if you don’t mind,” I said, before grinning.
“Yes.” Mum laughed. “You were a good one too…
it’s been nice having you in the home office these last few days,” she added.
“It’s been quite interesting finding out what you actually do,” I replied.
I took a final drag of my cigarette before stubbing it out,
then I sipped my spritzer.
“And it’s been ‘interesting’ finding out what women go through;
make-up.” I said.
“Shapewear,” Mum added, glancing at my mid-region.
“How are they anyway?”
“OK.” I replied,
visualizing them beneath my high-waisted skirt.
“I mean, they’re still tight but… I’ve kinda got used to them.”
“Well, you have had them on since lunchtime.” Mum smiled.
She gulped and said she was proud of me,
before raising her glass.
We clinked and stared towards the golden horizon,
each of us presumably spending a moment to reflect on the day’s events.
The starlings mesmerized us as they danced a whirling dervish in the dusky orange sky.
We sat in relative silence as the sun slowly sunk below the bungalow roofs.
We made small talk and enjoyed the evening air and each other’s company, even sharing ‘twos’ on cigarettes.
Up until today, Mum’s always been a ‘mum’,
but all of a sudden we’re ‘hanging’ like friends ‘hang’.
The orange glow ebbs into shades of lilac, purple, and deep dark blue.
“The stars are coming out,” Mum noted.
“It’s still warm.”
“I was about to ask if you’re warm enough.”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I smiled.
“What time is it?” I asked.
Mum checked her phone. “Almost nine.”
“Maybe I should put something else on,” I said as I uncrossed my legs,
sat myself up, and re-inserted my foot into the shoe that had been dangling from my toes.
I smoothed my skirt over my lap and straightened my blouse.
“Is there any point at this hour?” Mum asked.
“Probably not but…
I’ve already dropped ash on your skirt twice.” I said.
“I’m worried I’ll burn it.”
“You won’t if you’re careful,” Mum said.
“And just below the ash off instead of wiping it.” she suggested.
I needed the loo so went indoors anyway.
Mum hollered something about handbags as I tottered through the kitchen to the downstairs loo
. On the way back I grabbed both handbags from the kitchen table before going outside.
“I wasn’t sure if you said yours or mine so I brought both,” I said, passing Mum hers.
“I said both,” Mum replied as she took her handbag from me.
“Since you’re not getting changed…” she said as she delved into her bag,
“…you need to re-apply,” she said as she routed out her lipstick.
“And so do I,” she added before swiftly painting her lips
. I sat down and coyly opened my handbag.
I removed the lipstick and the small vanity mirror and carefully painted mine before looking at my mother for approval.
“It’s hard to believe you’ve never done this before.”
“It’s hard to believe I’m doing it now,” I replied as I replaced the lid.
“It’s quite nice in a way,” I added as I dropped the lippy back into the handbag and clipped it shut.
“I’m glad you said that.” mum replied.
“I’d have felt doubly guilty if you’d hated it.”
“You don’t have to feel guilty,” I said. Mum said she did and said why.
“It was my idea that you get someone to pretend to be your PA.” I reminded her.
“I just wasn’t expecting it’d be me.”
“I’m glad it was.” Mum grinned.
“Really?” I said as I picked up my glass.
“Didn’t we just make a complete mess of that meeting?”
Mum said as she picked up her wine and took a sip.
“Don’t take this the wrong way but,
it feels like we’re having a mother and daughter bonding experience.”
“Not a mother and son one then?” I bashfully replied.
“Well, yeah, of course,” Mum said.
“I was thinking about…” she blushed.
“…it sounds silly now.”
“Go on,” I said.
little things like…” she paused. “
…your first bra…” she grinned.
“…and getting your ears pierced… stuff like that.”
I raised my finger to my earlobe.
“I’d forgotten about those too.” I said.
I placed my hand on my left chest and added,
“But not this.” Mum grinned and I smiled coyly back.
I looked at the back of my hand, my outstretched fingers, and my pale pink nails. “Or these.”
“Would you do it again?” Mum asked.
I closed my hand and looked at her.
The question is ambiguous.
“Not pose as my imaginary PA…” Mum added,
“…but dress up?”
I guess it depends.” I replied.
I kicked out my leg and looked at the shoe and my hairless shin.
“I can’t deny that it feels nice but…
I guess it’s the sort of ‘nice’ that only women should enjoy.”
“I think nice feels nice regardless of your gender ” Mum replied.
“I don’t think women are somehow pre-programmed to like satin and lace and nice frocks, and shoes of course…
it’s only because we get to try them that we realize how nice it is.” she explained.
“It seems a bit unfair that boys don’t even get to try them…
well, mostly,” she said, smiling sweetly at me.
I smiled back and considered her words.
“One more drink and one more fag then we’ll go in?” she suggested.
“OK,” I replied.
“Are you still warm enough?” she asked as she grabbed our empty glasses.
“Do you want some tights?”
I gauged the chill on my legs.
“Nah I’m OK,” I replied.
“Can I put my jacket on though?” I asked.
“Of course. I’ll fetch it.”
Mum went in and came straight back with the fitted black jacket I’d worn for the meeting.
“Thanks,” I said as I took it from her.
I stood up and put it on, then looked down at myself.
I know it sounds silly but I felt really grown up.
I should have been thinking ‘yikes I’m wearing women’s clothes but I didn’t,
not much anyway.
Mum appeared with a glass in each hand.
“You look like you’re preparing to go for an interview.” she grinned, passing me my spritzer.
I took it, bashfully smiled, and sat
. “So, Miss Jones…
what interests you about the role you’ve applied for?” Mum said in her official voice.
I played along.
“Meeting people, facing new challenges and…”
I couldn’t think, so gave up trying.
“The dress code?” my mother suggested as she cast her eyes over my fitted black pencil skirt,
slender hairless calves and high-heeled court shoes.
I just grinned and took a sip of my wine.
I say wine,
it’s a spritzer and a weak one at that.
“I was lying about meeting people,” I said.
“I don’t think I’d live it down if any of my friends knew about this.”
“Well, they needn’t know,” Mum replied.
She picked up her fags and lit one.
you could work for me…
part time.” she suggested.
“I’d pay you…
and if you are going to go to college part-time…” she rambled.
“Would there be a dress code?” I cautiously asked.
My hand slid over my skirted lap and my mother’s eyes followed it.
“Only if you want one,” she replied.
“Don’t you need some new clients before you start taking on staff?” I asked.
“We have just lost one remembers.”
“You see that’s why I think you’d be good,” Mum said.
“You think of the practicalities.
Plus you can answer the phone,
do the filing,
scan and print…
and you tell me when I’m embarking on some stupid endeavor like pretending I’ve got a personal assistant.”
“But you didn’t listen.” I smugly stated.
“Well next time, I will,” she said.
She sipped her wine, smiled at me, and said that it’s at least something to think about.
“You did say you might get a little shop job or something when you start college,” she added.
“A little office job might be right up your street.”
“Or just down the stairs if it is here.” I grinned.
We soon finished our glasses and went indoors.
Mum made us a cup of tea and I slumped on the armchair in the sitting room.
I removed my heels and stretched my toes into the deep carpet.
“You finally took them off then.” mum said when she entered.
“I’m finally indoors.” I smiled,
wiggling my toes and arching my feet.
“You did well to keep them on as long as you did,” Mum said as she sat.
“Most women kick them off at every opportunity.”
“Well, I did take my heels out and give my toes a wiggle every now and then,” I said.
“I noticed. Anyone would think you’d been wearing them for years.”
I looked at the high-heeled court shoes I’d worn all day.
“I guess they do look harder to walk in than they actually are,” I said.
“And I quite liked being a bit taller,” I added.
“Ah, so that’s why you kept them on,” Mum replied.
I smiled and said I kept them on because we’ve been outside all evening.
“You should have said…
you could have worn these instead,” she said, kicking out a pair of her flats from beneath the coffee table.
“Ah, it’s OK,” I said. “I guess I felt ‘in character’ with my heels,” I explained as I looked at the flat black ballerina-style pumps.
“But I guess I’d have felt the same in those,” I added as I noticed the little bow on the front and the shimmering satin fabric.
“Try them if you want.” mum said,
shoving them closer to me with a stockinged foot.
I slid my feet into them and stood up.
“These are comfy,” I said.
“That’s why everyone wears them,” Mum replied.
“And they fit in a handbag.”
“Ah!” I said, “So they wear heels to the office and these when they get there?” Mum nodded.
“And there was me thinking they wear heels all day long.”
“Well, some do…
if they can stand them all day long…
“I think I prefer these now,” I said as I admired the dainty little black slippers on my feet.
“You’ll have to get some.” mum said.
“Although I’ll warn you…
it’s a slippery slope…
once you start buying shoes you’ll never stop.”
I kept the little black shoes on whilst we watched TV.
I toyed with the idea of buying some…
imagined myself in the shoe shop and the looks on the assistant’s faces.
Would they encourage or discourage,
Would they be expensive,
I mused. I took a sip of my tea and spent a brief moment looking at the imprint of lipstick on the rim of my cup.
“You’d think they’d have managed to make it so it doesn’t come off… in this day and age,” I commented.
“Yes.” Mum agreed.
“Although I quite like it in a way,” she said.
“It reminds me what shade I’m wearing.”
“Yeah, I suppose” I replied.
“Not that I’ve any idea what shade it is,” I said as I observed the curious pink imprint on the rim of my cup.
“I’d call it fuchsia.” Mum replied,
“But I think it’s actually ‘candy coral’ or something,” she added, before asking if I liked it.
“I don’t know,” I replied.
Mum smiled at me.
She asked me if I had any plans for tomorrow and I told her that I hadn’t.
“Well, if you fancy, you could help me in the office again,” she suggested.
“I’ve got to get my head down and find some new clients sooner rather than later, and having you man the phone would be a great help,” she said.
I chuckled through pursed lips.
“What?” Mum asked.
“Oh nothing,” I said.
‘man’ the phone sounds a bit…
“You don’t have to dress that part if you’d rather not,” Mum replied.
“Your old school pants and shirt would do,” she said.
“That’s only if you want to.”
“OK,” I replied.
“Was you serious about giving me working for you full-time before?”
although it was only part-time…
to fit around your college course.” she reminded me.
“Are you considering it?”
but I’ll sleep on it if that’s OK.” I replied.
Although the white wine spritzers I’d been given were mostly soda water,
the little alcohol I’d drunk had gone to my head a little.
The mere mention if sleep made me feel sleepy,
so I decided to take myself off to bed.
“Any special instruction for getting this off?” I asked, gesturing in the general direction of my face.
“There are some make-up wipes on the bathroom windowsill,” Mum replied.
“Just plenty of those and plenty of soap and water,” she said.
“…and then you’d best moisturize,” she added.
“There’s some E45 cream in the cabinet.”
“It’s a good job I asked.” I smiled.
“See you in the morning.”
“Yeah night Love…
and thanks for today…
you’ve been a real trooper.”
I looked down at myself; a white blouse over a pink bra,
a black skirt over pink and…
“Oh I’d better give you these back,” I said,
realizing that I still had her little black ballet pumps on.
I kicked them off and put them back beneath the coffee table.
“Thanks, Love.” Mum grinned.
I had a long hard look at myself in the bathroom mirror before I began removing the make-up I’d worn for much of the day.
“Make-up’s weird.” I thought as I over analyzed it.
Even I know it’s not ‘heavy’,
but even a touch of eyeliner and eye shadow has a drastic effect.
Using one of the make-up wipes,
I cleaned one eye completely before comparing them.
I grinned as now it just looks completely odd like one eye is bigger or deeper than the other.
I clean the other before removing my lipstick.
Then I lather and rinse a number of times until I’m satisfied that I’m back to my old self again…
I recalled what the lady in the salon told me to do every night,
and soaked a cotton bud in warm water before gently cleaning my earlobes and the ‘sleeper’ earrings that adorn them.
Initially, the idea was that I just take them out and let them heal but…
I can do that in a few days if I don’t like having them.
I went to my room and undressed.
I’d become more than accustomed to wearing a skirt and blouse today,
but I’m certainly not accustomed to wearing only my underwear.
I struggle to remove the bra properly and end up pulling my arms out of the straps,
dropping and twisting it and unfastening it as I would a belt.
Finally, I peeled off the restrictive control knickers.
Like my bra,
they’d left a vivid imprint in my skin,
but it was my skin itself that held my attention.
Apart from a small patch down there,
it’s completely smooth and entirely hairless.
Sliding into bed is an understatement.
I yawned and stretched and relished the fact that I was finally horizontal
I considered Mum’s part-time job offer and was in two minds about it.
One of my reasons for wanting a part-time job when I’m at college is so I could meet people from outside of the student scene.
There’s not much chance of that in my mother’s home office…
although it’s probably a better job than stacking shelves or whatever else I could get.
I drift off to sleep trying to weigh up the pros and cons,
but mostly I’m enjoying my new hair-free body…
it’s so silky and smooth.