from Frankie

Dear Auntie Helga,

I had written to you about seven years ago and you had published my story on (I'm appending that letter with this one). Over the years, I've been blessed to have a few sporting gal pals who took delight in dressing me up in girly items. Today, I want to tell you about the most fun session I've had.

Two years ago (when I was 24), my cousin and I conspired to let her deck me up as a girl. For the sake of brevity, I'll omit the series of events that led us to this tomfoolery. So that day, I wasn't aware until noon that my cell phone's battery had died. I plugged it for charging and after an hour, got a call from my sis. She was mad at me because she had been calling me since morning. Her folks had gone out of the town and she had the entire house to herself. Perfect situation to make good on our dress-up pact.

She tried my number again about 1 pm, and I was at her place within an hour. All perked up, she enthusiastically showed me her well-stocked makeup kit and the clothes she had selected for me. She was mad at me because her folks had left at 8 am and she had been calling me since then, as she wanted to dress up me in all her fine stuff.

While I was a good sport about this dress-up on phone and emails, I got nervous when it actually came to walking the talk. I asked her if she was serious about this. She realised I might back off, and I saw happiness vanishing from her face. After getting her excited about this, I felt it'd be awful to let her down. So with some awkwardness, I said let's do it.

And there, she excitedly pulled out a red, satin nighty she had bought for me. Yes, she had bought it for me. Noodle straps, a rose on the bust, deep back, calf-length... She held it out for me and asked me to wear it. Well, I went to the bathroom, changed into it, came out, feeling nervous. And then began her laughter riot. And the series of compliments. "Whoa! Boy! You have a sexy back!" "These straps look so good on your lovely shoulders!" She was on a roll, commenting, teasing. She smoothened the nighty for me and had me striking poses, as I was still trying to look comfortable. After soaking in the sight of her dear brother in a sensuous nighty, she got me trying other stuff. A tube top-cum-skirt. Yes, that! Made fun of me for not having the 'assets' to carry off the tube top. I felt silly and funny!

By this time, my nervousness was vanishing fast, all thanks to her laughter and teasing, which made me so comfortable. So I thought I should take lead now and asked her for her skinny jeans. My bums were fat then, so her jeans fit me perfectly. Like a dream. As if it was stitched for me, I felt sexy upon wearing it, and she felt awestruck at how girly I looked in them. She was drooling upon my legs. I looked that sexy! To complete the look, she gave me a pink top with broad shoulders. Thanks to its feminine cut, it made my torso too look feminine!

By this time, I was fully in the mood to raise the bar. So I told her, "No good girl wears top with nothing underneath it." I was hinting at her to give me a bra, but she, feeling shy, gave me a slip instead. As I was tucking the slip's straps under the top's sleeves, she stopped me and pulled out the straps, saying: "Straps should show with this top."

How I loved that moment! My sis giving me girly tips, treating me like a girl. She thought I should wear her bellies too, to complete the look. It was like a dream come true. As she and I are similar size (she's slightly plump), her clothes fit me as if they were mine. She had a laughter riot, calling me her girlfriend, sister, complimenting, envying my 'figure'. A little ramp-walk and a laughter riot followed. She dared me to take a stroll on the terrace, and I boldly did so, even standing on the balcony, least bothered that anyone could see me. For, I looked like a sexy girl with boy-cut hair.

For me, it felt different wearing those stuff. Until that day, I'd have thought jeans are jeans, be it men's or women's. Now I knew better. Women's jeans fit differently. Hell, the top too. It felt funny. It fit differently, its cut was such that it gave illusion of curves. And then to wear a slip underneath and to be told that the straps had to be seen. I was thoroughly enjoying the experience and was learning a lot about girly stuff. And curiosity was beginning to build about experiences the next outfit/look would entail.

As the gala time continued, she brought me the next attire: an intricate anarkali suit. It was decided that makeup would be applied on me after I put it on. She asked me to be careful as I began to wear those delicate satin leggings. And boy, I didn't know slipping into that top (called kurta) could be that tricky. She helped me get into it and then did the zipper at the back. I was beginning to wonder, how do women do all this by themselves! Ah, so there I was in a regal anarkali suit. Skin-fit leggings and a lovely flaring top with delicate full-length net sleeves. My sis smoothed the long top and both of us were in awe over how nicely it fit.

By this time, whenever I'd put on an outfit, she'd slap my butt, feel 'my' curves and give me compliment, how my figure looked so womanly waist-down. I could sense it that she wanted to say "Bro, a bra is all you need for that complete look." So while she stopped short of saying it, I took her bra that was kept on the clothesline for drying and said I'm wearing it. It was sooo much fun! I slipped my arms into the straps, but just couldn't do the hooks. She had to do the hooks for me. My face had turned red, as I felt a li'l shy, wearing those delicate satin leggings and a black bra. She snapped the straps and teased me, saying how sexy the bra straps looked on my fair back. I was just blushing and trying not to show it, but it did show, which added to her mischievous teasing.

Now, we had the dilemma of how to fill the cups of the bra. She had a stress ball, that soft yellow ball. That went into one cup. For another, we had nothing but a cricket ball, which is much like a baseball ball. Hard and weighty. So I had a light ball for one breast and a heavy ball for one breast. Throughout, the heavy 'breast' kept drooping and I'd naturally adjust 'my' bra. This would send her into a fit of laughter. She commended me for being so girly naturally, but reminded that no decent girl keeps tugging at her own bra. I just sat there coyly, following her instructions.

My sis then made me sit on the edge of the bed. It was time for makeup! First was eyeliner. She asked me to close my eyes, and then I felt some liquidy thing on my eyelids. Applying it must be such a craft! She applied mascara, telling me it should be done in zig-zag motion. Another trivia that I learnt. Then came a touch of eyeshadow, of the same colour as my attire. Blusher on cheeks, lip liner, lip colour... I don't even remember what all went on my face. I just remember brushes on my face. Powder, cream, lipstick. And subtle, feminine fragrances. I remember telling myself, that's why girls smell so sweet.

When my partner-in-crime was done painting my face, she got me earrings (I've both ears pierced, rocker guy), a bindi and her heels (which were a size too small, but still fit). And then I was taken to the mirror. I remember looking at myself, feeling funny. And feeling feminine, if I may be honest. My sis had a blast decking me up, and she did a good job at making me look like a girl. I was impressed with her artistry and in awe of that new, striking experience.

I was surprised at how I had to walk and act differently after the transformation. The usual, careless guy-swagger won't do. Thanks to the heels and the dress, I had to take small, careful steps. Sit elegantly. Even rubbing the eye wasn't allowed in case of an itch. For, eye makeup might smudge, my friend warned.

By the time we were done posing, cat-walking and admiring my cousin's dress and makeup skills, it was almost time for her maid to come. Which meant we had run out of time and there was no chance to try saree, the most sensuous traditional Indian garment. This made her upset as she had laid out two sarees for me. One of chiffon, the body-hugging fabric. To make me look and feel sexy (her words). And the other was of some stiff material. For the elegant look. She was disappointed, and mad at me as we had no time for saree only because my stupid phone didn't let her contact me in the morning.

I had such a comical and delightful time that I too regret I missed out on the saree experience. That day was hell of a learning experience for me. Though I've never been critical of women taking time to get ready, now I know why they take time. To get into these delicate, dresses, adjusting it, putting on makeup, applying safety pins, deciding on the right accessories etc takes time. Just like all good things take time. The fabric of the clothes is different. It feels different, soft. Just wearing certain dresses brings out gracefulness in the persona. This experience, which started off with a nervous, unsure me, left me totally in awe of women and their wardrobe.

Now, having learnt, experienced and appreciated how different women's clothing is, I'm actually eager to find out what wearing a saree feels like. When I was having difficulty managing the anarkali suit, my sis teased me how'd I manage a saree. Now I'm curious. Really, if I were a girl and were to wear a saree, how would I manage it? What does it feel like to be in a saree? My sis (and a couple of other gal pals with whom I've shared the story) tells me it's a different ball game altogether and it's a pity I came so close yet was deprived of the experience. They highly recommend that I get that experience! Haha...

My cousin is a mom now, which leaves us with no time of reliving that fun and achieving the final frontier. While I may never have that experience, I gotta admit. Having literally been in women's shoes, I realise what a balancing act one requires to ensure everything stays in place. Now I know that a woman looking immaculate in a saree has put in much time and effort to look that way. I understand pulling off the look is quite a task. Since then, I've become more appreciative of women. And hearing so much about saree, I'm in awe! I'm fervently praying some opportunity comes up and I get to have another dress-up session with her, or some other fun partner-in-crime, and get to try all the feminine stuff I've missed on.

Really, it's great to be a woman. Now I know better why they're called God's best creation.

Much love to you,

Thank you for your letter Frankie. What a wonderful cousin you have to share her femininity with you in such a playful way. Petticoating takes many forms as a read of the thousands of terrific letters here at PDQ will attest, this was a very charming, sensitive and innocent approach. Too bad you were not able to experience the saree, a magnificent garment to be sure, perhaps at some future point you and your cousin can have an opportunity to do so, we'd love to hear about it.

Auntie Helga

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Letter 10