Fiction by Jenny Dean
© 2012 All rights reserved
Life was beautiful! I had everything a child could want. Not only that, my birthday was coming up and that meant a party and lots of presents. Of course I’d wear a new dress and one of my many pretty petticoats - silk, satin and lace only, for this little girl. This was my life and I loved it. I was my mother’s little princess and I didn’t have to share with anyone!
That would change, though, and I would have trouble accepting it. My little universe, with me at the center, would be altered. It would seem like the end of the world - my world anyway.
It was also one of the most interesting and challenging times of my life. I never dreamed my mother would adopt another child. But she did - a boy, a very pretty boy! It all started in the spring of 1959...
My name is Amanda Ruth McDougal - Mandy to my mom and friends. I was eleven years old, well almost eleven, when it all began. I was convinced that I was the most beautiful little girl in the whole world, with my auburn hair, hazel eyes and sweet smile. That’s what everyone said and I believed it. My mom did, too, and I often saw her adoring look in my mirror as she took the brush from Rosa, my nanny, and brushed my hair herself. She was a wonderful mother - and one of the wealthiest women in Texas.
Our family was Texas royalty, according to her. Gas, oil, cattle and land were the source of our good fortune, dating back to the days of the large cattle herds on the open range, then later to the development of oil fields, starting with the famous gusher at Spindle Top in Beaumont.
Amy Lynn McDougal, my mother, never tired of talking about past glories and famous ancestors. Ms. Amy, as the hired help called her, had been a childless widow of thirty when she adopted me. Her husband, Charles Albert McDougal III, died in an oilfield accident. She had been awaiting news of my arrival from their attorney when she received the tragic news of his death. She never got over loosing her beloved “Chuck”, and never remarried.
All of the legal paperwork had been completed and I was supposed to be picked up at the hospital almost immediately after my birth. Only my adoptive parents' signatures were needed. His death caused a delay in the adoption process - but not much of a delay, really. A team of top-notch lawyers and a judge who was a family friend made it happen when I was ten days old. I was treated like a princess from the day I was brought home. The judge’s wife is my Godmother.
Our roots were in West Texas, but our home, the one where we spent most of our time, was in an affluent community called River Oaks, in Houston. The house we lived in was built on ten acres of land, which allowed privacy when we wanted it and room to entertain Texas style, when desired. Mom had a private box at the Houston Grand Opera, the Ballet, and theTheater. She was also chairperson of some local charities, which she personally supported with generous donations. But, of course, her main joy in life was her darling little Mandy. Because of that I was forgiven my frequent naughty behavior.
Life was beautiful and I loved every minute of it. The only sour note was Mom telling friends, “It just isn’t fair to Mandy to be raised alone.” I didn’t want any brothers or sisters. I loved being the queen bee. I tried to ignore her ominous message.
Some of my fondest memories are of Saturday mornings, when I’d hear my her say to my nanny, “Rosa, help Mandy pick out something pretty to wear and see if you can do something with her hair, please. Also call Jeffery and ask him to bring the Lincoln around to the front in about an hour.” She would then turn to me with a smile on her face and say, “Mandy, we’re going shopping.” I would ask, “Shopping for what Mother?” She always answered, “ Oh, this and that,” followed by a big grin from her and a giggle from me. It was a little ritual we both enjoyed - "this and that,” indeed.
It often started at Neiman Marcus, a luxury apparel store and then spread to other shops and stores downtown. It usually ended with lunch and a movie, or a just a late lunch at the country club if we got carried away shopping. Wherever it was, it was a mother-daughter delight!
Wear something pretty, did she say? Everything I had was pretty! I had two large walk-in closets in my room. One was full of pretty dresses and skirts, along with dozens of pairs of shoes on shoe racks, and the other was filled with beautiful petticoats of all colors to go with the dresses. They were all on individual hangers and looked like a frilly flower garden when the lights were switched on.
I loved petticoats, loved to feel them brush against my legs, and to hear the swishing, crinkly sound they made as I walked.
I also liked to show them off, and had a naughty little habit of flashing them - and my panties! I had an array of silk and lace panties in colors that could be mixed or matched with the petticoats.
Showing off of my petticoats and undies started when I was about six, after learning how to stand on my head and do cartwheels. Little Mandy wasn’t shy at all. Nor was she very lady-like. Mom took great pains to explain to me that ladies just didn’t do that.
I was more subtle by age eleven. Mom enrolled me in ballet class, which gave the perfect excuse to flash by demonstrating pirouettes, and other ballet moves, while dressed in my own clothes, of course. Frequently, female friends of my mom would ask me to “do some ballet.”
They thought it was so cute, as I “innocently” twirled and scooped up my petticoats, usually giving a brief glimpse of my panties, and then let them cascade down as they watched - so did their husbands and sons. My dresses, petticoats and panties were so much prettier than a tutu anyway! Everything they saw was choreographed and shown by a saucy, sassy little girl. I was also a blooming exhibitionist, but, so what? I was Mandy McDougal.
I’m sure Mom prayed for that phase to pass quickly. I don’t think she ever learned of my playing doctor and other naughty games with my cousins and playmates of both sexes in secret!
The local charities received a windfall of beautiful used children’s clothing every year, donated by the McDougal estate and written off on taxes. There must have been many happy little girls all over Houston wearing my discarded and very expensive dresses, and underwear. I was living life like Alice in wonderland, when it all came tumbling down, at least in my spoiled little mind.
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