It shouldn’t really be surprising that I was dreaming about Lee Ann Taylor. She and I had been eyeing each other for weeks, ever since my relationship with Vicky Gordon fell apart. There was no question but that we would look good together. I’m just an inch shy of six feet tall and she fit nicely under my chin. We were both slender – of course, she was only slender in the proper places; no true girl watcher could complain about her curves – and her light skin and hair made an attractive contrast with my own darker complexion. I knew that there was some long-distance boyfriend involved, but her friend Chandra something-or-other had assured me that he was about to be history. I figured that I had a very good chance of making Lee Ann my girlfriend in time for House Parties this fall and, well, the things she had said to me before midterm break would have given any guy fantasies. Besides, she had apparently been with this soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend for nearly three years, which I found rather impressive. My longest relationship so far was the six months with Vicky, and I was still unsure how we had just managed to fall out of love with each other. Lee Ann seemed like a pretty good bet for something longer term.
I would have loved to indulge in the fantasy a bit longer. It was the first day of my break, after all, and I had earned the right to sleep in, but my little sister Tina apparently had other ideas. At least I was pretty sure I had heard her say, “Don’t forget that you promised to drive me to choir practice this morning, Marshall.” I definitely did not remember making any such promise, but I had been tired when I came home last night, so anything was possible.
At any rate, the first thing I saw when I forced open one sleepy eye was the dress hanging on the closet door. Finding clothes hanging there was hardly unusual; I tend to hang my clothes outside my closet the night before so that I can get dressed in the morning without waking up enough to make decisions. It saves time and, on at least one occasion, embarrassment. But a dress?
My first thought was that I wasn’t actually alone in the bed. It was a hopeful thought, considering that I had now been celibate for almost a month, but it didn’t make sense – I wasn’t dating anyone at the moment and I wasn’t the kind of guy to bring home a girl I hadn’t been dating, and in any event I wouldn’t have a girlfriend in my bed in front of my parents. That meant that the dress must be for me, which meant that it wasn’t real – I was obviously still dreaming. If I had been able to focus on the rest of my bedroom, I might have learned more, but it was pretty hard to look anywhere but at that dress.
The most logical conclusion, of course, was that I had somehow woken up as Lee Ann herself. It wasn’t exactly obvious to me why I would have dreamed of being her, rather than being with her, but who was I to argue? I looked down for confirmation, and sure enough, I was dressed in feminine nightclothes. Now, I don’t know – yet – what Lee Ann wears to bed, but Vicky had favored a T-shirt and panties, while another of my ex-girlfriends had tended to sweatpants. None of them had worn a nightgown of the type I had dreamed up, which actually looked more like something Mom or Tina would have worn. For that matter, the dress itself was a lot more modest than I’d ever seen Lee Ann wear.
Dreams, I’m told, are supposed to be attempts by your subconscious to work out things that are bothering you, and my inability to sustain a long-term relationship would have had to be on top of my list. Since Lee Ann had been successful at this, presumably I was going to try a day in her shoes, to see how. But somehow I was going to do it in my own home and my sister’s clothes. Ah well, dreams don’t really have to make sense now, do they?
Speaking of shoes, I could see a pair of high-heeled ones sitting below the dress. I could tell where they must have come from. In the movie Switch, Steve Brooks gets reincarnated as a woman, and has incredible problems trying to wear high-heeled shoes. I think I’d seen the same gag used in other such situations, so naturally I had to dream of wearing them myself in this case. I don’t know how often Lee Ann wore heels; her feet had never been the first place I had looked at, or the second, for that matter. At any rate, the logic of my dream meant that I was going to have to wear them for a while.
Dressing wasn’t all that bad. I’d seen how my girlfriends had put on their bras, for example, and it was more logic than dexterity – fasten in front, spin the thing around and cup yourself in. A piece of cake. The dress was actually tougher, since I had to figure out how to zip it up in the back after I had put it on. I tried the zip-in-front trick, but once it was zipped, it was too tight to spin, so I had to unzip it and try again. In the end, I resorted to a brute-force approach. My arms were suddenly much more limber than they had any right to be, and I could actually reach the zipper pretty much all the way up, either from below or above. In real life, I would never have been able to get my hands to the middle of my back.
Once dressed, I had to tackle the shoes. Despite what the movies show, I’ve never actually seen a girl have trouble with high heels. Clearly then, it couldn’t be all that difficult. I had to experiment a bit before figuring out the trick. There are several strategy games and puzzles where the trap is that you have to ignore one of your assets, as any strategy that uses them is guaranteed to be a loser. That principal obviously applied here as well. The little spike at the back of the shoe is clearly way too unstable to support your weight while walking, so you need to pretend it’s just not there. It felt a bit strange walking on my tiptoes high enough to keep the spikes from hitting the ground, but it worked. After just a few practice laps in my room, I was able to walk more or less naturally. It wasn’t as funny as the inept boy-turned-girl awkwardness, but probably a lot more realistic. It wasn’t until I reached for my doorknob that I realized that anything I had believed would work probably would have, that being the way of dream logic. There was a purse hanging from the doorknob, so I grabbed that, too, as it seemed to be part of the package.
I smiled to myself as I made my way to the kitchen, imagining how Mom and Tina would react to Lee Ann joining them for breakfast. Would they think I had brought her home to spend the week? I’d never actually introduced any of my girlfriends to my parents, although Vicky had spent a week while Mom and Dad were on vacation. I’d had enough trouble without adding the complications of familial perusal to my relationships. Was that the point of the dream? That if I had just trusted my girlfriends enough to have them meet my family, it would have helped? Or that if I had trusted my family enough to introduce them to the girls I was dating, that I wouldn’t have felt guilty? Had I been unconsciously sabotaging my own relationships rather than risk an introduction? I was generating lots of questions, but not getting too many answers.
And I didn’t get one from their reactions. They didn’t even notice that I was a girl at all, much less one they didn’t know! Tina waved from across the table without looking up and informed me that we had to leave in fifteen minutes. Mom just kissed me on the cheek and said, “Good morning, Marsh. Thanks for driving your sister.” Then she looked at me, oddly, which made me wonder if she had noticed, after all, but all she said was, “You’re not going out like that, I hope?”
“I’m not planning on seeing anybody,” I told her, “and I’m on break.” But I ran my fingers through my hair to brush it back. It didn’t exactly satisfy her, but she looked as though she didn’t think it worth arguing with me. It was really odd to feel hair as long as Lee Ann’s, and yet have my lack of morning grooming the only thing she’d found worth commenting on. What was I supposed to read into that? And why did I see myself as Lee Ann, while they saw me as myself?
I studied them for clues. Mom’s a bit fairer than I; my olive skin comes from Dad, as does my height. Mom’s about a head shorter than either of us, and Tina is essentially a 15-year-old carbon copy of her. Both were intent on nothing more than breakfast. Neither showed that they had noticed anything amiss. There was probably something meaningful in that, but it wasn’t clear to me what.
Since we had time, I poured myself a bowl of cereal and grabbed the comics. It all seemed perfectly normal – except for the whole, ‘me being a girl and nobody noticing’ bit, of course. Tina was studying sheet music and listening to something, presumably the choral pieces, on her iPod. Mom was bustling about the kitchen, apparently having found something that needed to be cleaned up. With nothing particular to occupy my mind, I suddenly noticed something – or rather, failed to notice something. As a guy, I had always been aware of a presence between my legs, a constant and comforting bulk. It was easy to ignore since it was always there; now, suddenly, it was not. That made perfect sense, of course. I just wondered why magical gender transformation stories never mentioned it. I congratulated my imagination on finding a new wrinkle on what was seemingly a very old story type, or at least one I couldn’t remember having read anywhere.
Finally, Tina was ready to go. As her chauffeur for the day, I followed her to Mom’s car, tiptoeing my way. I was definitely getting better at it, although I could see that there must be more to it. Her own heels didn’t seem to be clearing the ground at all, and it even looked as though she was actually putting her weight on them, impossible as that might sound.
Once in the car, I discovered another problem. There was just no way to control the pedals with these spikes sticking out of my heels. Fortunately, the shoes came off pretty easily, and I applied the gas with a bare foot. It occurred to me, way too late, that girls tended to wear something on their feet – socks or stockings or something similar, although I don’t know if that would have made a difference. The rough pedal was very uncomfortable on bare skin. What was needed was a detachable heel – one that could come off for driving, and be restored for walking and standing. It was clear that I was missing something really obvious.