He had moved and registered late for his new school...
The result of being an Advanced Art class...
He took on a project in designing a new outfit…
The instructions that he didn’t hear lead to a problem…
Forgive me if I don’t pay attention to everything as I have the attention deficit problem, ADHD. I’m Andrew and we moved here just before school started. I did not get to registration as scheduled and my selections of classes were a bit limited. Since it was to be only for this semester, things should be fine. Since I’m only a sophomore Advanced Arts Applications wasn’t recommended but I insisted on taking it anyway. Somehow that selection put me in home economics, here called Family Life. I did not listen closely but for some reason, both classes require me to take them for the two semesters.
That upset me until I get to each class and girls were predominantly present in both. Junior and Senior girls are in Advance Arts Applications and Freshmyn chicks are in my Family Life: Home Economics class. I really like watching and visiting with girls. It makes class time go so much quicker.
Mr. Murphy, the art teacher did suggest I transfer out of 'HIS' class. Except for one male student taking an individualized program, I’m the lone guy in this class.
Andrea Miller, Andrew’s Family Life teacher welcomes Andrew wholeheartedly as she loves having a diversity of students in her class. Her other Family life class has three boys so this is not unusual for her.
It is the second week of classes when Mr. Murphy gives us a design project that runs through both semesters. He talks about some kind of art show at the end of the year and all that we are to do for that. I’m distracted for most of his talk. And since it has to do with the second semester, I’m fine. I figure I will hear about it time and again.
We will have other art projects throughout the year like drawing, sculpting, watercolor painting, painting with oils or acrylics, weaving, pottery, and ceramics, etc. All of it is to be part of that Art Spectacular in the spring. But the next two weeks and then some as an ongoing project we will design and make a dress, suit or outfit for a special occasion. Thus we are to be studying fabrics, materials, and figure costs as well as designing our outfits.
Well, I am not one to wear suits and women’s fashions provide a larger selection of fabrics, colors, and fashion possibilities so I’m leaning that way. I look at a few of the other students and I contemplate what would look good on my various classmates. I am surprised as I sketch five of them relatively quick, seeing two in backless gowns. Four of the five I picture in long gowns and the petite Jennifer in a shorter evening dress.
Terra, a senior, is the first to take notice of my work; “Is that how you see us?” She points and asks so the others can hear, “I take this drawing to be Linda; would this be Jennifer and is this one how you would see me for the prom?” Mr. Murphy is working on his own project, not paying attention to us. But the other girls come over to take notice. Jennifer compliments my drawing skills as well as my eye for details. If my spirit needed lifting, well my ego had just been stroked big time.
Linda asks, “Now where’s the drawing of you and your outfit?”
I say to her, “Guys clothes are boring; I’d rather do a gown for prom or some special ball or something like that.”
Linda smiles, “Okay, let me give you some particulars for your girl wearing this gown of yours. Then you can start there. Let’s see, I think she’s 5’ 6”, slender and probably would wear a size six dress. She’s just developing as a young teen girl so her bra should be a modest B cup at best. She’s a pretty brunette with long hair, hazel eyes and has a cute dimple on her left cheek. I think she should wear a long gown as she’d be going to her first prom. But it will take someone asking her. You can put a button down slit on the side since we don’t know what her legs look like.”
Mr. Murphy looks up and says, “Okay now everyone back working on their sketches. Remember all the things in the way of color, materials, contrasting texture and choice of fabrics.” It took me the two weeks as I decide to draw three sketches of different outfits hoping the girls would help me to select one.
I went to Caroline Druthers who owns a women’s store in town; telling her of my project and need to learn about women’s fashion.
Carole says, “Andy, how about if I hired you as a stock boy for the school year and then I can give you some time and help as your project gets further and further along. Oh and by the way how old will your model be?”
I said, “She would have to be younger like a sophomore and freshman girl because, Linda said, she could only go if someone asked her.” I described what she would look like thinking it might make a difference.
That night I asked my parents’ permission to take the job Carole had offered. “Well, you gave up your paper route before we moved thinking you are too big for that. I think the job is in order. But Ms. Druthers will need to give some allowance for you to attend some school events. I require you to continue in the chorus and other school activities.”
My step-dad said, “We do some of her work, so please be a good worker. I don’t want to lose my customer if you’d be irresponsible.” My step-dad helped to remodel her store when she expanded two years ago. He has since been hired by her for projects at her home and improvements at the store.
I might have said ‘no’ if I understood what I was getting into extra expectations being placed on me. Some of my new friends were also stock workers in other stores, unpacking boxes, stacking cans and things on a shelf.
Working at the women’s clothing store ends up being different. I need to be more particular and keep myself neat and clean. I usually work with Claire; unpacking clothes, learning how to fold this, hang that, all the while making sure wrinkles are out, collars are correct and dresses, skirts and more are smoothed out. I have to put things out on display making sure there are good selections of sizes, colors, and styles.
I’m usually to restock delicates after the store was closed or when there were few customers. I needed to be sure I treat everything respectfully, especially the customers. The first week Mrs. Robbins holds up a bra and later a skirt in front of me, asking my opinion or to judge what would look good. I became uncomfortable.
‘Carrie’, as the owner asked me to call her, said, “You’re not to take it personally or be embarrassed when the customer thinks of you as one of the girls. The customer was doing her best to make sure she got what she wanted. She’s used to working with teenage girls here.” Needless to say for a teen boy, it was strange having a bra held up in front of oneself.
Claire and Carrie helped me learn the difference between satin, silk, and cotton from wool, good synthetics fabrics, and cheap polyester materials. I’m not considered a salesperson, but I needed to know what the store had and to explain things when I was asked.
Once with a skirt, I got left holding it up as the woman searched for the right blouse to go with it. Some young boys were in with their mom. It led to some teasing from them and others.
I wanted to quit in week three when I was being teased at school because I work in a girl’s store. My Uncle George told me, “Speak up and tell the other guys you’d rather work helping pretty girls and women instead of piling tomatoes or putting up toilet paper. Don't take their crap.”
I really appreciated what Uncle George said as part of me didn’t mind working there. In fact, I actually enjoy it. It had helped me with other things like since I had less time to do my homework; I use my time better. My bedroom used to be really sloppy. Now use to folding and hanging clothes at the store; I treat my clothes better at home. I didn’t notice such things as much as Mom did.
Working at the store I’m getting a better idea of what I’m designing as far as the gown and I make improvements in the design and with details. It felt like I was designing the gown for Cinderella or Snow White, except it’s for a 21st-century girl.
Terra and Linda are amused by my progress. Terra asks, “Will your gown have a slip or petticoats underneath?” Linda thought the heels I’ve drawn look too high, “I don’t think your girl will enjoy wearing anything over a 3-inch heel.” We talk and I wrote, ‘Her shoes should be three-inch heels.’
They like the idea that two of my gown drawings have layers, such as a clinging vest or a sheer mesh cape for the top. One skirt used petticoats to give the gown breath and a flowing bounce to it. I now understood using a sheer slip under the other dress. It sent chills of excitement, thinking of a girl wearing the eloquent gown. It all seemed to flow together with such as the skirt and soft sleeves reflected graceful movement. The top of the gown would show the fine curves of a female body, accentuating the joyful energy of prom night.
Terra took time showing me how darts could be used to give it that look. “They could bring in your sides and sculpt to feminize your figure. They'd give one the feel of being corseted, yet reasonably comfortable. You’d do well to be dieting, as not to put any more strain on the fabric than needed.”
She said itin a way that teased like the gown was for me.
I tell her, “I will have someone pretty wearing it; I just have not figure out who yet.”
Terra says, “You know, it is to be you unless Mr. Murphy has given you special permission to do otherwise. He said that at the beginning. That it's be something we need to wear ourselves.”
‘Um, I guess that was part of what I didn’t hear.’
“There’s no way he can expect me to wear a prom or evening gown. I hope he doesn’t think I’m going to invest this much time and money on something I would wear for a crossover day?”
Terra talked to me quietly, “You know you should double check and make sure Mr. Murphy would approve you doing this.”
I saw Terra’s design and it was more elaborate than mine. “I haven’t seen you or any of the others taking drawings to get approved by him?”
Terra smiled, “We're all designing a dress or gown we can wear to the prom. If you'd wait too long you will be between a rock and a hard place. What if you needed to start over?"
“That’s my point,” I say, “It is just over a week to the holiday break. If I make it until then he’ll have no recourse but to approve it. Even if you were right, I’m new to the school and there have to be allowances for students with attention deficit like me.” I’m very pleased with my reasoning.
Terra walks away, “Just remember, I told you so. It is a beautiful gown you've designed, just don’t go putting it into a formal pattern or ordering material.”
What Terra didn’t realize, she had just given me a great idea. I’ll do what she’s telling me not to. That will definitely put me over the point of no return and force Mr. Murphy to approve it.
The days leading up to the holiday break, I was especially quiet and well-mannered in art class. Twice Mr. Murphy checked my design and complimented me, “You seem to know what you’re doing. The gown you’ve designed is very pretty. Once you have a pattern made up you should obtain the use of a sewing mannequin. Miss Miller in your Family Life class should be able to help you line one up.”
Two days before break and our last art class Terra talked to Mr. Murphy alone. “Mr. Murphy, aren’t you going to say anything to stop Andrew from following through with his project?”
Mr. Murphy scratched his head, “I’m not sure what you want me to do. He must have someone who is willing to take him to the prom. I’ve already talked to one of our counselors. Mrs. Haller checked with the school he came from. All they are willing to say was he’s a free spirit. Seemingly his folks encouraged him and his siblings to think outside the box. If he’s willing to do this, you and the others in the class have a bigger influence on him, not me. I don't want you to make fun of him. He will probably need your help.”
Tera says, “You mean, you expect him to follow through and think he’s making this for himself?” Tera learned Mr. Murphy and Andy were both stubborn. Andrew’s expected Mr. Murphy to give him an exemption.
She said, "Mr. Murphy, he expects you to give him an exception in his case? I don’t think he's like you expect. You should explain things again and make sure he understands.” Terra walked very nothing was going to change.
Linda asked, “I wonder, was it possible that Andrew saw himself as a girl and creating a problem would give him an excuse to dress up as a girl?”
Terra didn’t hear Linda and said to the other girls, “My sister says the second semester in Advanced Art gets busier. It would be very hard to do this project from scratch with everything else Mr. Murphy will have us doing for the art fair. Modeling our fashion project will take considerable time practicing to do it well for the show.”
Mr. Murphy hears Terra’s commenting about what her sister has said. “She’s been through it, and she understands,” Murphy says. He walks over to Linda where he looks at her progress and asks how her project was going. The remaining class time Mr. Murphy kept busy helping others and did not make it to Andy’s station.
Even with all the holiday selling and shopping going on, Andy got engrossed with the new items coming in for spring at Carole’s Women's Shoppe. It includes what he’s able to see the fabrics, colors, and new styles for spring. He quickly incorporated some of it into his gown. Well, not his gown but you get the idea.
Andy shared the design he chose with Teacher Miller of Family Life - Home Economics, along with swatches of various fabrics to be used in making the dress. “Drew, you really impress me; even having the material for the lining as well as the slip. Did your mother or someone help you in laying out and making a pattern?” Ms. Miller calls him Drew because she has two girls going by Andie, as well as two named Andrea including herself in her classes.
He fibbed, “Ms. Miller, my Mom kind of looked over my shoulder and helped to direct me. Carrie Druthers has helped me learn a lot while working at her store. But I did it all by myself even when I didn’t want to.”
She grins, “So your mother understands your assignment and is comfortable with all what you’re planning?”
“Yes, Ms. Miller; she’s surprised that I’m doing it and even more surprised how I’ve gotten into enjoying the project.”
Even though it is a busy time at the store, Carrie Druthers took me after school on Monday to a fabrics store. Carrie checked my figures of how much I need of what materials. I told her I was afraid if I went with my mother I'd be getting the fabrics and colors suiting an old woman her age.
Terra was there selecting fabrics for her gown as well. It was no accident as I was hoping to get her opinion about the colors and fabrics I chose. I had chosen an ivory satin for the basic shell and pink and lavender that would make up the layers. Carrie and Terra both compliment my choices. Carrie asks Terra, “Was it true that he drew three sketches of dresses for you and two other students. Someone said he had to be copying them from someplace to be so good.”
Terra responded, “I made a copy of the drawing he made of me, and I am sure he drew them all in class. He even had our hair, facial features, and general complexion down. It was all his doing, but they’re five of us girls in the class, not three.”
Carrie asks, “Do you each have personal portfolios of your work, he should have copies of all his work together?” Carrie was going to ask about whom Andrew was designing the dress for but an assistant at the fabrics store was already there to cut fabric for of Drew’s order. He even got material for an optional belt. It was to be made from the sheer pink fabric laid over a lavender strap and delicately sewn together.
On their way back from the fabric store Carrie said, “Andrew, I was already impressed with the prom dress you designed. I'm now even more impressed with your choice of colors and fabrics. It’s as though you have a gift for design and fashion.”
Drew nervously laughed, “Ms. Druthers, I guess I should say thanks but it’s just an art assignment. I need to thank you though for all your help and coming with me.”
Andy had one art class before the holiday break and two classes in Home Economics. His plan was to work on his ceramic project in art and to lay out his pattern and begin to cut out the material for his gown in Family Life. He wanted to cut enough material so it would be too costly for anyone to say ‘No’ to him from going on. Unfortunately, he would only be half right.
It was the last day before the holiday break when Terra caught up to Andrew. “Andrew, just playing devil’s advocate and you get to design this dress for someone to wear it. Who’s the junior/senior girl to wear it and take you to the prom?”
She could tell by his glazed stare he had not thought that far. “Even if Mr. Murphy wouldn’t require you the designer to wear it. It still needs to be worn to the event for which it is designed. I am sure he will at least expect you to be attending it.”
Drew was to work that night at Carol’s Women’s Towne Shop and it was one of the busier nights of the season. Usually, he could stay busy at the register and stocking, but not tonight. Three freshman girls found an opportunity to shop and flirt with him at the same time. Drew was their target for flirting as he was a captive audience. After all, it was his job to give shoppers his attention and to please them.
Though the girls differed in how they looked, each had the ability to be attractive. They started with picking dresses or outfits in their sizes; none of which were really attractive on them. Bev said, “Andy can you help us?” Andy saw Bev as being quite attractive and seemingly she knew it. She bet correctly, he would help try to get her into something more attractive. “Can you help me/us, find something better for each of us?”
Being in his art class and having talked with Terra and others; Andy was now better in working through his shyness. Between the art class and the months at the store, he had a better eye for color and knew better what to ask.
Bev teased asking, “Do I have the pretty legs you like for a girl? How about my figure, maybe I should wear something loose to hide it?”
Open mouth, insert foot; “You could wear tights or leggings if you’re going to be out for a long time but they’re very pretty,” he said as he blushed. “Regarding loose clothing that’s what is already wrong with the dress you have on. It bunches too much because it’s not the right cut for you. You shouldn’t worry about showing yourself off.”
“Ou,” Eva said, “how about me?”
Andy spoke up, “You’re the same but different. I think you’d do better showing off your legs more. Do you prefer knit, pencil, skater, or full skirts?” Andy showed a pencil skirt that reaches her knees yet opens on the side. He pulls out a knit skirt that’s shorter and shows off the curves she has. It also came across as a bit flirty which was in character with her.
Gwen was an artsy girl, she was quieter than the other two and liked more the classic lines. He took her over to petite dresses, “You're more a classic look; you know quite well your look. You have a keen sense of fashion and your style. The only thing I would suggest differently is to alter your look and try a bold print with two or three colors. See what I’m saying with this print.”
Gwen liked the idea but hesitated. Andy says, “I didn’t choose the best colors for you, I thought you should do that.” Gwen smiled as she shuffles through two racks. The dresses she chose are fantastic for her.
The tease wasn’t over with choosing the right dress or outfit. The three girls sought Andy’s suggestions of tights, leggings or stockings. Nor was the challenge over to embarrass him. Luckily he was interrupted.
Mrs. Betty Hollister, an older lady brought her granddaughter Sharon, seeking a formal gown for a social event to be held in New York City. The biggest problem was tastes and both the grandmother and granddaughter, wanting their way. Sharon a very attractive girl of seventeen that could look more elegant as her grandmother wants. Sharon, however, doesn’t see it nor does she want the staid ways of her grandmother.
Andy says, “Mrs. Hollister either you can wait for Caroline which I would suggest, or you can give me some time alone with Sharon.”
Mrs. Hollister huffed, “How would you ever know what to suggest?” She had spoken loud enough that Carole heard her. Carole said, “Give him a chance or wait and I’ll be there as soon as I can but I already have another customer waiting.”
Carole’s expansion had afforded her store to carry a permanent line of more formal and eloquent lines of dresses and gowns. Andy led Sharon back over to them. He knew Sharon was no more impressed with him then her grandmother. He said, “Sharon if I can help you, you are likely to come away with two dresses you’ll like. One that’s purely your choice and the gown should be one that both of you would love if you choose it. The dress you were leaning towards before was very pretty for around here, but from what Carole and Michele tell me it wouldn’t make it in New York City. You have a chance to step into an unreal world for most girls around here. If you do it, it better be as Sharon who is two steps nearer to picking something more special than you thought of so far."
I pull off a shimmering midnight blue gown; it is long and full. I quickly sent a text to Terra and Linda hoping one would respond and tell me if I was right. Sharon asks how much it is, as she is very taken with its beauty but is afraid to want it if it costs too much. “The price is your Grandmother and Grandfather’s concern if they want you there.” There’s a dark green one but by late January it would look like an after Christmas thought. There are two others worthy of consideration and I pulled them out and hung them for Sharon to compare.
I tell Sharon, “That pretty red dress you liked earlier? That would be a good choice for you to request for another time during your visit to New York.”
Sharon has it down to two and she asks me, “Give me a reason for this one?”
I asked her, “Try it on and I’ll show you several reasons.” As I lead her to the changing room I ask, “What size shoes do you wear?” I’m pretty sure three-inch heels will be a necessity. I got them and had Claire take them into Sharon in her dressing room.
I got Mrs. Hollister to come back to see Sharon when she comes out of the changing room. Mrs. Elizabeth Hollister comes and asks me if she is trying on the gown she selected. I confess, “She took two gowns with her to try, one is a gown like you suggested. She took another back with her that I think is beautiful as well and should be to Grandma’s liking as well as Sharon’s.” Sharon asked for help with the hook to clasp the top of her gown. Claire was going to help her but the grandmother insisted on helping her granddaughter.
Grandma came back out clasping her hands over her mouth saying, “Sharon said you helped to pick out that gorgeous gown for her. I am surprised to say I think it is better than the one I was insisting on. I am more surprised that a young man was the one who helped us find the right gown for her.”
Sharon came out and was wearing the three-inch heels. I was taken back, for I had known Sharon since third grade before I had moved away. Now I had trouble recognizing her, there in the gown was this young woman in front of us. There was a joy that welled up inside of me. I very much enjoyed being part of her transformation.
Sharon was very glad her grandmother loved it as she did. She was not shy in asking, “Grandmother, I would like to be able to get another nice dress for while we’re in New York City. Cousin Sarah wrote to me that I’m invited out with her sometime before we come back.”
Mrs. Hollister says, “I am surprised Sarah’s taken an interest in you, and I am well pleased. But how am I to explain the extra cost to your Grandfather? You should know better than to ask for two.”
I said to Mrs. Hollister, “You could select a beautiful gown for yourself; one complimenting your granddaughter’s gown. I don’t know how long you’ve been married, but I would think you two are worth more than all three dresses together.”
Carole was now staring at me and I was afraid I stepped too far in expressing myself. Fortunately, Mrs. Hollister spoke up, “I like how you’re thinking young man. However, do you think you can help me select a gown that won’t say ‘old lady’ without me making a fool of myself?”
“I think we have some dresses that would look very classy for a forty-five to fifty-year-old active grandma.” Mrs. Hollister cannot be younger than sixty.
Elizabeth Hollister turns to Carole, “He’s trying to butter me up; what do you think is realistic?”
Carole says, “I’m not sure, but he’s probably suggesting we be positive and realistic. Not to dress you like someone trying to be thirty again, but more closely match the woman we feel inside.”
Mrs. Hollister says, “On a good night, I’d like to think I’m in my thirties.” While they’re talking I pull out two dresses and I’m searching for a third.
Carole tells me, “Andrew, the second gown is very attractive but I don’t think that shade of blue works for her.” I look at the dress and then to Mrs. Hollister and I believe Carole is probably correct. I start to pull out a similar dress that is gold, white and a cheerfully bright yellow dress. I hold it three-quarters of the way out from the rack until Carole nods her head in the affirmative.
Sharon’s evening dress with grandma's approval is red with gold sequins. Carole later tells me “If the gown and dresses do not come back, you pulled off a major coupe for Mrs. Hollister. Her granddaughter may just give her enough courage to stand up to her husband.”
I asked, “Is he that cheap of a rich old man?”
“We don’t go speaking of our customers in those terms… He has come in buying dresses for his wife or getting gift cards. I will not allow negative comments from us go unchecked in this store. You need to be better disciplined, getting a sale is not an excuse for bad behavior…”
To be continued...
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