It was great footage for the 11 o'clock news. News directors love video of a heroic fireman carrying a young woman out of a burning building. It's great for ratings. A very short skirt exposing stocking tops and shiny white panties are icing on the cake. People love an occasional impromptu view of a smooth thigh and an unintended flash of lingerie. The cameraman certainly did his job well. He couldn't possibly have taken the shot from the other side – the side not looking up my ass! But, when the fireman moved me from his shoulder down to the gurney my wig and cap fell off and of course the camera man just had to catch a good close up of my face as it happened. No makeup, no wig, just my face.

In addition to the 11 o'clock news that night, it would be on the 5, 6 and 7 am, noon and 5, 6, 10 and 11 o'clock pm broadcasts the next day. The fire and the dramatic rescue made the next day's TV news on the other local stations as well. What's with these people who have to photograph everything with their cell phones? If they saw a person clinging to the side of a cliff with a rope, I don't doubt that many of them would rather photograph his fall and post it than grab the rope and help. So, there was plenty of video from the fire and the only news crew on the scene shared their footage with the other stations through some local agreement. The TV crew was coming home from another story just happened onto the fire as the fire trucks arrived.

The story made the front page of the local paper too, as did I in the French maid outfit. A few days later, it hit the Internet and it really caught on when newspapers in England picked it up. I don't know why people in the US have to go to British newspaper websites to get US news, but we do. A lot of news simply doesn't make it into US outlets. This story was exactly the kind of thing the British tabloids love, a scantily clad girl in distress with lots of views up her skirt. The twist at the end just added to the appeal - it wasn't a girl in that cute little French maid dress, it was a guy. Everybody saw it, including my parents and my relatives who just had to call my parents to express how happy they were that I was alright.

I didn't want to go to the emergency room, so they gave me oxygen in the ambulance and when they discovered that I was wearing a corset, they wanted me to remove my clothing ostensibly so I could breathe better. When they found the small lock behind the collar of the dress and offered to cut it, I had to show them the larger lock under my apron bow in the small of my back. That was when the idea of removing the dress and corset ended. If I had removed them, I would have had no other clothes to wear other than perhaps a Tyvek jumpsuit from the ambulance. My street clothes and shoes were three flights up and burning, as were my wallet, money, credit cards, car keys and the key to my apartment about a forty minute drive from there.

At the moment I had only the clothes on my back, so I put the wig and maids cap back on and dealt with it as best as I could. There I was in Nancy's French maid dress with her four inch heals that were a bit too small for me. The corset was just a little bit uncomfortable, but the shoes were agony. They were also the reason I didn't make it down the stairs, falling down much of the three flights of steps as I tried to follow Nancy out of the fire.

When the reporter found out from someone on the ambulance or fire crew that a guy was locked into high heels, a corset and a French maid dress, she just had to have and all the other wicked details. At a time in our history when journalism in the US is dead, somehow for this one story that involved me, there was a resurgence of investigative journalism. Any other time I have dealt with local TV news or had personal knowledge of a covered story in the past, they have gotten about 30% of the information wrong. I had even formulated a theory that a news person who consistently gets 50% or more of their "facts"; wrong gets promoted to the network.

But this was the exception. She got all the facts. I told her I'd rather not or be on TV or have my name mentioned, but that was not an option. She had already gotten all of the details. If you think there is such a thing as medical privacy – you're wrong! Some people simple can't resist talking anonymously. Privacy is a myth.

From the gurney, as I was loaded into the ambulance, I could see my girlfriend Nancy. At least she got out all right, but her apartment was burning, so she had her own problems. What was going on in her mind? Did she realize that my predicament and impending damaged reputation was her doing? The role playing and what she termed "light bondage"; were her ideas. She's the kinky one. Not me, but no one would ever believe that now. Released from the ambulance after refusing to go to hospital, I was still wearing her short French maid dress, apron, petticoat and heals, as I reunited with Nancy. It's a pretty outfit and passersby couldn't resist taking pictures and making comments, some snide, but mostly nice. At this point it didn't matter. There was nowhere to go. We watched the fire from a safe distance, and I explained to her that I was thoroughly screwed as a result of her little games.

She said, "Nobody held a gun to your head. And, as I recall we were both having plenty of fun with my little games, so don't blame me for this fiasco. After all, I didn't start the fire! And, I didn't have to be carried out by a fireman either."; She was right, even if tactless. It wasn't about me. She was losing everything and would have to rebuild all of her financial and tax records. She lost her DVD's, pictures, computer records and everything else. Even her renter's insurance papers were in the fire. We learned that night that we were not good disaster planners.

Nancy had always backed up her computer on a thumb drive. That's fine for a hard drive crash, but not for a fire because it was in the apartment with the computer. All of her possessions including her car keys, and other keys of immediate importance to me, were in the apartment as well. Also, her prized possession, an expensive sewing machine and all the attachments and paraphernalia that went with it were gone as well. Sewing and kinky flirtations were her two great escapes from life's little aggravations. She was extremely good at both and had managed to combine her two pastimes into some truly enjoyable times for us. She has a good job, but doesn't love it as much as she loves her hobbies.

As we watched the fire with the other tenants hoping it might be extinguished, we came to the realization that nothing would be recovered from the inferno. The building and its contents were a total loss. The news crew took a few more shots of us from a distance and tried to interview us on camera. I really didn't want to be on TV and explained that I wasn't even a tenant there but just a guest. But, I was the one in the video carried out by the hero fireman so that's all that mattered. If it's not on video, it's not news! If it is good video, they'll use it.

My car was a block away, but was useless without my keys. I had an extra apartment key hidden in the under carriage of the car, but no car key. "Why hadn't I added a car key as well?"; I asked myself. Everyone else asked that too - after the fact. I had long planned to do so, but like so much else, I just never got around to it. We couldn't take a taxi because neither of us had any money, credit cards or even ID's, and the cost would be astronomical. If we could get a ride to my place, we would have a place to clean up; sleep, and even Nancy would have a change of clothes for tomorrow because she kept some over there too. In my toolbox I even had bolt cutters that could handle Nancy's padlock. Nancy could stay at my apartment while she got things settled and found a new place, or just stay there. Thank goodness it was the weekend.

Nancy is very mechanically inclined. Most people who sew are. After all, sewing is like many other trades; you cut material to a specific shape, and fasten the pieces together to get yet another shape using the unique properties the specific material you work with. Wood, sheet metal, steel or fabric, it doesn't really matter. Only the cutting and fastening methods vary.

When she bought the pattern for the French maid dress, she saw the futility of the little lock rings on the back of the collar. It could be easily circumvented by simply ripping fabric or the zipper, but she put that feature on the dress anyhow. Always the innovator, she simply had to devise a better locking method as a sort of self imposed challenge. She likes a little bondage now and then so the idea of being locked in, or locking someone else in, appealed to her. She devised an apron with a piece of wire rope invisibly sewn into the ribbon at the top that ties into the big bow behind the back. But, the wire rope exits the ribbon with two loops to be locked together around the corseted waist and covered by the satin bow. Removing the dress or even cutting the corset strings would leave the same size waist as the corset created and outfit, even if torn up, would remain on until it was properly unlocked. Isn't it wonderful how some of us can apply our creativity to things that improve society and make the world a better place?

Getting back to the matter of a ride to my apartment, we'd have to pick up the cars tomorrow - Saturday. After I find my extra car key, a friend could drive us back to get my car and I would drive Nancy to the dealer to get duplicate keys, the bank, the DMV and then to her car. My state issued CC permit has my picture and my driver's license number on it, so it can serve as my driver's license until we got to the DMV.

Unexpectedly the young woman from the TV station, hearing of our plight, offered us a ride. She introduced herself, which she hadn't done before, perhaps assuming everyone knows her name, and said to just call her Hota. I introduced myself, even though she already knew my name, and I then introduced Nancy. Hota said her car was at the TV station. She suggested that after I retrieved my key, we could ride with her crew to the station and if we would wait about half an hour for her to get off work, she would drive us to my apartment. Problem solved! The one block walk to my car and back would take only a few minutes while they put their equipment away in their van. Getting down on the ground in the skimpy dress to retrieve the key gave Nancy a much needed good laugh and of course afforded her the opportunity for more ribbing on the subject of wearing short skirts and high heels in public. She said that I'd better get used to it with my impending fame.

In light of her kind offer, I must admit I had misjudged Hota. I considered her pushy and intrusive and I had developed a mild dislike for her. But, I guess that's her job. She turned out to be quite nice. The time at the station allowed Nancy to use a paperclip to pick the little locks in the shoes that I had been wearing for the last seven hours. My feet were swollen and it's a wonder I didn't have broken ankles. If she hadn't been able to pick the locks, I was going to just break them and tear them off. I just couldn't stand them any longer. I would go home bare foot and even then, I could barely walk.

On the ride home, Hota was curious about why I was in the outfit in the first place. I was suspicious, and asked if her offer to drive us was to get additional information for her story and she said "No."; So, after agreeing that this was for her curiosity only and strictly off the record, we spoke freely. Well, Nancy spoke freely. I'm a bit more reserved. Nancy told her that we were just having fun when the fire burst through the wall forcing us to run with nothing but our lives. Nancy had made the outfit and gone over to surprise me by putting it on and cleaning my apartment for me. We both had fun with it so she did it a few more times, and then all of a sudden, she proclaimed that I had to return the favor, which I did. I told Hota, "If Nancy wanted to see me in a maid outfit cleaning her apartment, why should I mind? She has seen me naked many times, so once you've been there, anything else is downright modest, and to me, less embarrassment than I feel when I'm naked! If you love someone, shouldn't you do anything in your power to please them? The only problem is the fire drove something that should be private into public view."; She chuckled at my modesty.

Trying to change the subject, I said, "Did you ever break a dirty dish and then, looking for the silver lining, say; well at least I hadn't cleaned it yet?"; "Well, at least we hadn't cleaned Nancy's apartment before it burned up."; Hota was completely uninterested in my comment but I could sense that she was intrigued by the idea of the woman telling her boyfriend to clean her apartment in a French maid outfit. She was, however, very subtle in her approach. I noticed it, but Nancy did not.

Hota said, "Well, that explains the uniform, but not the locks and corset. Nancy pointed out that the corset was needed for me to fit into her costume and that she wanted to make a corset anyhow and I was her guinea pig. "It fits him perfectly."; She had offered to make a maid dress for me, but I had said "No thanks";. "Regardless";, Nancy said, "a corset would have been needed even for a costume made for him, because if you are going to wear feminine apparel, you should have a feminine shape."; "I guess that explains the fake boobs then."; Hota said with an air of approval. "But, it doesn't explain the locks.";

At this point I suggested that the reporter in her was showing through and sometimes Too Much Information can be a bad thing. They were talking about me as though I wasn't even there and I already had enough embarrassment for one night. And, I didn't say it, but thanks to her reporting I'm in for much more embarrassment this week. I said, "Can't we just change the subject?"; But, that was like pouring gasoline on a fire. Instead of changing the subject it just seemed to instigate them to talk even more. Except, Nancy was the one doing all the talking, and she was talking about me and sex. I couldn't tell her to shut up. Actually, I just had told her to shut up and it didn't work. Isn't that what "change the subject"; means?

Hota was a complete stranger. Yeah, we had seen her on TV a few times but that doesn't make her trustworthy. Hota really did want to know about the locks, which I explained above and Nancy just explained them as – fun and games, assuming that Hota knew what she meant. "Haven't you ever been tied up in bed by your boyfriend with a ball gag in your mouth?"; She asked Hota. And, with that I could see signs of discomfort creep onto Hota's face. She was probably wondering what kind of people she had let into her car and if she was safe. She was used to getting information about others, but not comfortable with sharing her own information. We managed to pry a "no"; out of her, and then Nancy asked if she wanted to try it. That really made her uncomfortable! I could see from her expression that she was really embarrassed and a bit fearful. She was probably intrigued, but she would never admit it. And, with a complete lack of empathy Nancy then asked; "Haven't you ever wanted to tie up your boyfriend with a gag in his mouth, have your way with him, and drive him nuts?";

A disingenuous denial from Hota followed; "Normal people don't do that!"; We were, after all, strangers and her preferences or desires were none of our business, but Nancy was offended by the implication that she is not normal. (She isn't!) She then concluded that Hota was a prude and was about to go in for the kill. I started to wish there was a ball gag in Nancy's mouth at that moment. This was a side of her I had never seen before. Was she in shock from the fire and our narrow escape? Or, was I just now discovering that Nancy simply talks too much? I knew she could have a bit of a mean streak on occasion, but not like this. It had really come out tonight with her "gun to the head"; comment and her desire to humiliate Hota, who was after all doing us a big favor and driving far out of her way.

It was obvious to me that they probably had a lot more in common than either realized, but they just had a different sense of decorum. Hota was, after all, was a public figure and vulnerable to any publicity. Fortunately, we had arrived home before the conversation could progress, or should I say digress any further. She dropped us off at my place. I apologized for not offering to pay for the gas, we thanked her and called it a night.

A few friends and co-workers called me Saturday morning to express concern and offer help. One drove us to pick up my car. We spent Saturday and Sunday getting Nancy settled into my apartment and she had clothes shopping to do. Is it even worth trying to explain something like this to people at work? Do you have a choice? By Monday, everyone in my office, and probably everyone in the entire office building, had seen the story on TV and knew it was me, even if they didn't know me by name. My supervisor said nothing, but his boss probably said something to him.

I can't just go away, change my name, hide in a hole somewhere and get a different job. I have a career, a good one. I'm a professional in a field that requires a specific master's degree to even start a job and then additional years of professional development. While it's a small field, it's large enough that we don't all know each other, but small enough that we do know all of the other companies. If you need to find out something about someone in my field, you can undoubtedly find someone in your company who knows someone in their company. It's like the "Six Degrees of Separation";, but with maybe three degrees instead.

Changing companies wouldn't help. I'm in no danger of being fired, but getting a job at another company might be harder now and the story would follow me anyhow. Advancement, however, might be limited. Wearing a French maid outfit isn't a typical leadership trait that inspires others. The stereotype of a, dare I say it, "sissy maid"; is submissiveness, not leadership, so promotions are not to be expected after a fiasco like this. And, no, it will never be stated to my face and certainly never be put in writing. I'll just have to try to work my way out of it over time.

Generally the reactions from co-workers fell into four categories; genuine concern and support, gloating and humor at my expense, ignoring it due to embarrassment or disinterest, and those from whom I'd get a curious glance perhaps or a nervous smile.

Those who called me at home fit into the first group. Some hinted for the real story while others believed the worst they could imagine and wouldn't believe that it was quite innocent. They and were fine with it anyhow, and even offered some good natured humor. The expectation that I might lie was actually more off putting to me than the idea that Nancy and I lead some way out lifestyle, because I value their opinions and want their respect. But, such respect is earned or earned back over time.

As for the second group, there is a certain type of person who is basically insecure and tries to build up their egos by tearing others down. They are the ones who gloat at other people's humiliation and make jokes at other people's expense. That's when their true nature shows and at such times, wise people recognize them for what they are. These people love only themselves and respect nothing and nobody. Neither I nor anyone else ever had their respect, so in the grand scheme of things, their opinions are of little value to me.

Truth be told, most people fit in the third group and just don't care, viewing it as none of their business. Many rightly viewed it as an invasion of privacy by the TV news – which it was! Why does privacy exist? It's not to help you. It's to help everyone else! Polite people keep things private because they don't want to dump their burdens onto others. Modern collectivists believe in sharing, especially burdens, while more traditionally minded people believe in self reliance.

I can't blame the people with the curious glances or the nervous smiles. I find interest in other peoples' sex lives to be a bit voyeuristic, but they didn't seek out this information. I can understand their curiosity when it was thrust onto them by the TV news in their own living rooms. On the following Monday maybe those who saw me wondered if I was wearing panties and stockings under my suit. Who could blame them? They knew I was wearing them on Friday night. The only thing to do is let them believe whatever makes them happy until they ask questions and then tell the truth which might over time make it out by word of mouth.

Although Nancy and I had been dating for almost two years and both had even thought about marriage, actually living together proved too much. There are things that you don't notice on a date, or even a long weekend together that become glaring when you live together. I know my sex life will never be as good as it was with Nancy. She is amazing and I was lucky to know her! But, great sex can't overcome differences in basic values when it comes to a relationship that is supposed to last a lifetime. Those basic differences became apparent to both of us. After six weeks together, it was over.

There was a strange twist to this story regarding my career. I've heard people say, "There's no such thing as bad publicity"; and I always regarded that as an incredibly stupid comment. But, there is a possibility that I was helped by the story, because it brought me to the attention of people who previously didn't even know my name and it induced them to look more closely at my work – which they liked. It also showed me who my real friends were and gave me insights about those whom I should keep at a distance.

A few weeks after the breakup, Hota saw me at a restaurant. She actually came over to say hello and ask how I was doing. I was impressed at the courage she exhibited by coming over to me in the restaurant, because she had no way of knowing what kind of reception she would receive from me. Most people would have just waved or more likely not acknowledged me at all. When she asked about Nancy I told her the news. She said she hoped her reporting didn't cause it and I told her that it only accelerated a discovery process that revealed the truth to both of us. If anything, it prevented us from making a tragic mistake, so she should feel no guilt. I thanked her again for the ride and said that she had actually been kind in her report leaving out potentially embarrassing details. I thanked her for that too.

Then, to my surprise she asked me out to dinner. At dinner I told Hota about my theory about TV news people who consistently gets 50% or more of their "facts"; wrong and told her that by my theory, she had no future in TV news. I told her that she would never make it to the network. She chuckled, and said if that's the case she'd just have to find a good man and settle down. Then she asked, "By the way, who got custody of the French maid outfit and corset?"; She was certainly being more open than she had been the night of the fire.

I can't honestly say that I was surprised by her question. I told her that except for a trip to the drycleaner they have been sitting in my closet since the fire. Nancy never took them when she left, perhaps because they brought back bad memories, or she wanted me to have them as a keepsake. "Would you wear it for me some time and clean my apartment?"; she said. I replied, "Absolutely not! We haven't even seen each other naked";. "Well, we can solve that!"; she said.

We have since married and we have a very clean house.

The End
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