Cathy Anne Sylvester's First Encounter

(Posted 2019)

I was a rather shy and timid boy who avoided rough games and was usually ignored by the other boys in our street (when they weren't bullying me or teasing me about my hair). I had long, black curls that my mother only sent me to get cut a few times a year. My aunt, a regular visitor to our house, constantly told me I should have been a girl with hair like that.

I was around twelve years old when a new family moved in near us with three daughters; two of them were around my age and became my best friends. I happily joined in their gentler games, skipping rope and hopscotch outside, dolls and tea sets indoors with the younger sister.

One day, a fancy dress contest was to be held in the parish hall and one them was going to enter as a Spanish dancer in a costume they had from a previous competition. They decided it would be much more fun to dress me up - with my hair they said I'd make a perfect Spanish girl.

Secretly, the idea appealed to me very much but I felt obliged to offer token resistance. I protested strongly all the way into pink panties, black tights and high heeled shoes. Then came a red petticoat which seemed to have endless layers of nylon and lace. Finally the dress, flamenco style in satin with a red bodice, puffy sleeves, a black skirt with three layers of flouncy ruffles and a red flower embellishment at the waist

They wouldn't let me see the result until they had painted my nails, put lipstick on me and a matching flower hair clip in my hair. To finish, they added a gypsy style necklace, bangles and clip on earrings. I hardly had time to admire myself before we set out to walk to the hall.

I was worried we might meet some of my tormentors, but the only boy from my class that I saw was in no position to laugh at anyone, even if he recognised me. He was dressed as a schoolgirl in his sister's blouse and skirt.

The girls met some of their friends in the hall and I now had half a dozen young ladies fussing over me, making small adjustments and offering advice. Their efforts were rewarded when I was announced as winner for the prettiest costume in the girls' section. The prize was a big doll and several outfits for her and as I went up to receive it I seemed to be hugged and kissed by half the girls in town.

Afterwards, there was a small party for the entrants with lemonade and cakes and "Frances" as the girls introduced me, was the centre of attention. I think they actually forgot I was a boy and, in truth, so did I!

I wanted to go to their house and change before going home but they wouldn't hear of it. They couldn't wait to show me to my mother -. Mom cried when she saw me. I'd forgotten her first child was a little girl who died before I was born.

"I'm just so happy to see what your sister would have looked like," she told me.

And my aunt, who spent years telling me 'I should have been a girl'? "I can't believe you'd do something like this," she said. "I never though you were a sissy!"


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