Mistress believes in community service. So when she dropped the ad on my desk at home, I knew that I would be a faithful community servant within a short while. The ad read:
Southern Belles Needed
The Ladies' Auxiliary needs volunteers to greet visitors at the Civil War memorial. Ladies need their own costumes and parasols. Please meet in costume at the Civil War memorial park on Friday, March 23 at 4:00 pm.
"You're going to look sweet in a southern belle dress. We better make a hair appointment for Friday. You need to take the afternoon off."
On Wednesday afternoon, Mistress took me to the costume shop. She marched me right in and told the owner "My sissy little husband here needs a southern belle gown. He's going to a masquerade."
The owner was an attractive woman in her forties with long, curly red hair tied back in a ponytail. I am sure she had found costumes for other men in drag, but her smile told me she could see right through me - that I was enjoying this.
"Well, what is your sissy's name?"
"You can call her Missy," said Mistress.
"All right, Missy, please come this way. I think I can find you a sweet southern belle ensemble."
We arrived in front of a rack of dresses that were all elaborate, full-skirted creations of femininity. Looking at me, the owner of the shop said, "Let me guess, a 16?"
Mistress gave me a look that told me I better answer. "Yes, ma'am." I replied softly.
"Well, don't be shy, Sissy Missy. I've got plenty of dresses in 16 for bigger gals like you."
With that, the shop owner ran her hand down the rack and plucked out two gowns, hanging them in front of us. "Which one do you like best?" Once again, her question was directed at me and Mistress gave me another look.
One gown was pink cotton, with lace edging around all the ruffled layers. Its skirt was voluminous, and the top had long sleeves and a scooped neck outlined in lace. The other gown was black with a lighter colored print, and satin edges on all of the ruffles.
"The pink one, I guess," I answered.
"I might have known you were a sissy with good taste," said the owner. "Let's help you into it." My pleading eyes flickered over to Mistress, but I could see that she was going to let me deal with this situation on my own. I followed the owner to the dressing room. "First," she said, "you will need the hoop skirt. Let me go find one while you undress." I began to remove my pants and shirt, revealing the bra and pantyhose that Mistress had made me wear for the occasion. The owner returned outside the curtain, and said, "Here, put this hoop skirt on and then come out here to put the dress on. There's no one in the store right now."
I took the extremely ballooned hoop skirt and stepped into the middle of it, bringing it up around me. Tying the waist, I stepped out of the dressing room.
"Oh, my, I see you have a strapless brassiere on. That's good. I was wondering how you would hold the top of the dress up with no chest. Come here, and let me see how this hoop skirt works." She pulled up the hoopskirt, adjusting it. "I see you have your hose on, too, darlin'. Why you are prepared."
Pulling the dress on, I was shrouded in soft cotton and lace edging. The dress fit well and Mistress was pleased. The shop owner said, "Why I suppose you're going to need a wig. We've got some Scarlett O'Hara wigs around here somewhere."
Mistress told her, "Oh, Missy gets her own hair done at the salon. We'll take her there."
"You are quite the little gal now, aren't you!" said the shop owner as if she was talking to a ten year old girl. "Well, you're all set; it'll be seventy five for the rental through Sunday."
Before I could return to the dressing room to take the dress off, two teenage girls came in the store. The giggling commenced as they noticed it was not a woman in the pink southern belle gown. Mistress was relentless and instead of guiding me to the dressing room, told them: "Girls, can I get your opinion on my husband here? How does he look in his gown? Is it sissy enough?"
They just kept giggling. "Oh, he's cute," one of them said. "What's the occasion?"
"Oh, he likes to dress up in prissy clothes. He doesn't really need an occasion, but he's going to volunteer to greet visitors at the Civil War memorial. He'll be there this Saturday. Tell your friends."
"That's funny," said one of the girls. "We're here to pick up gowns for that, too. We decided to volunteer."
"Well, that's great. His name is Missy and I'm sure he's glad to have met some new friends."
Mistress guided me back to the dressing room, my face burning in humiliation. I could hear the girls giggling and talking as the shop owner began to help them find gowns.
On Friday, I got off work early to begin the transformation to a southern belle. Mistress took me to the salon where she had made an appointment. First, my longer-than-normal hair was curled into sausage curls by a young beautician who kept just gushing about my predicament.
"Oh, I've never done this to a man before. This is fun. You make quite an attractive lady. Do you want ribbons in your hair?" Of course, Mistress liked the ribbon idea, so pink satin ribbons were tied in my sausage curls.
Then, I was moved to another station to get extremely heavy makeup. "Make it theatrical," Mistress told the cosmetologist. "I want Missy to stand out in a crowd."
My lips were painted a dark pink, and pink eye shadow and blush were applied heavily over my pale pancake makeup. Finally, my eyelashes were given what seemed like seventeen coats of mascara.
Back at home, Mistress helped me into my clothes. I was dressed in undergarments that I'm sure were much more appropriate to the modern era-a longline bra with breast forms, pink panties (Mistress said they matched the dress) and white shimmer pantyhose. A pair of high heel sandals with an open back in white were the final touch to the ensemble. With the dress and hoop skirt on, I felt extremely cumbersome and Mistress had to show me how to hike up and gather the hoops to get in the car. Still, I couldn't sit down very well.
At the park, there was quite a crowd as it was summer and tourist season. Most folks on the way in didn't pay much attention to me. I came to area where the volunteers were signing up. The woman in charge didn't notice I was a man until my voice gave me away.
"Well, I guess you look like a southern belle," was about all she said, sort of rolling her eyes. "I think you have a couple of girls waiting that wanted to be in your group. We're walking the grounds in groups of three. A proper civil war era lady would never have walked alone."
With that, the two high school girls appeared from behind, recognizing my pink dress. "We thought we would wait for you. You look gorgeous!" one of them gushed. I looked behind me to see where Mistress was, and she was gone. "Oh, don't worry," said the other girl. "Your wife told us to take care of you. She has some errands to run, so we agreed to take you home after the fashion show."
"Fashion show?" I questioned.
"Yes, didn't you know? There's a fashion show for all the volunteers at 5:00. We're going to show off our gowns to the visitors."
And with that, my southern belle career and my runway model career began.
When Mistress finally picked me up (late, I might add) her words to me were "Sissy Mission Accomplished?"
"Yes," I said.
"Good, then it's time to show you off to mom and the ladies at her card club. You can serve them evening tea on the lawn. I've already arranged it."
Community service never ends.