Art Project – 17 Holidays Mean More than Football

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Art Project – 17
Holidays Mean More than Football

By Jessica C

Andrew’s problems with attention-deficit caught up with him…
Designing a prom gown instead of a tuxedo,
Turned Andrew’s problem into an opportunity…
Andrew is set on being himself or Andrea as s/he chooses…

Jennifer had called me, and she told me she needed to talk to me, before I made any date with Matt Scott. The problem is I already agreed to go watch the state semi-championship game, before she called. I try calling her back but her phone goes to messages which is full. I call again and tell her phone, “This is not fair. You have me wondering but I can’t reach you.” I’m hanging up when it sounds like she might be answering. I call her back and I’m getting a busy signal as if she’s calling me.

I call the school about football tickets and Dr. Valerie, the Principal answers. But I am already asking, “Are there still student tickets for Friday’s football game?”

She says, “Is this Hillside’s own Andrea Stephens?” I ask how she recognized my voice so fast. She says, “I’ve heard you enough, I guess. Plus now and then I’ve heard your voice at Carol’s or on advertisements.”

“I am glad you’re home and yes to your question about the tickets. They’re twelve dollars, but I’ll need to make a complimentary student I.D. card. It is needed along with the ticket if they ask for proof of you being a student.” She says with a joyful tone in her voice, “You need to come in and get the ticket and the I.D. card for which I need to take a picture. So get here soon please. I will be looking forward to seeing you.”

I put on a plaid wrap around skirt with an oversize pin and a pink long-sleeve top created to go with the skirt. I think it is common and simple; Mom asks, “Who are you dressing up to impress?”

“Mom, I am simply going to the school to pick up a football ticket. I also need to have my picture taken for a temporary student I.D.”

Mom says, “You could take an on-line class from Carrie Druthers for their Fashion-Design class.”

“I like that idea!”

I am soon to the school and its nine minutes before classes. “Hi Mrs. Mueller, is Principal Hayes here?”

“She’s stepped out for a minute, but said I could take your picture for a student ID and get that made up. Are you going to take any classes back here or is this completely complimentary?”

I say, “I would like to sign up for Carrie Druthers on-line class, Fashion-Design.”

She lightly laughs, “Won’t that come a little late for the likes of you?”

“Carrie’s actually the one who first helped me to understand women’s fashions and design my first gown. I had no idea of what I was to do. She and Ms. Miller were lifesavers.”

The Principal comes back as I’m posing for my picture. Mrs. Mueller delightfully announces, “She’s even registered for our online fashion-design class. She says Ms Druthers is the first one to teach her about designing clothes.”

Dr. Hayes says, “I guess that makes sense.”

“Andrea was that why you went to work with her last year? If so, you were a quick learner.” We talk and Dr. Hayes says, “Would it be okay if we acknowledge you’re taking one of our online classes?”

I ask, “Would you be willing to wait until I am in fact taking the class? You can already say I’ve taken sewing lessons from Ms Andrea Miller. You can also say I took art and design from Mr. Murphy, if he doesn’t mind.”

Mrs. Mueller the secretary says, “But I thought you didn’t get along with him?”

“I wouldn’t mention that but it is true that I learned from him. I’d rather the hurts not be remembered and pointed out.”


“Ms. Hayes would it be okay to say hello to students in the hallway or go see Ms Miller in her classroom?”

She says, “Yes, but you need Ms. Miller’s permission to be in her classroom.” The class bell had just rung so it is easy enough to see other students in the hallway. The bigger problem is to see the ones I know and can remember their names and faces.

There is Jayne, who I knew from last year and she was already very nice, but it is like she began blossoming since I last remembered her. She gives me a hug and then turns around. “I hope you are living back here next summer so we can be good friends. Did you notice I’m not plain Jane anymore?”

“You weren’t plain before, but like me you have blossomed more.” She could not help but touch my top to feel my breasts.

She asked, “Is that really you?”

“If you can keep a secret... some yes. Maybe we could get together sometime during the holidays.”

I get to Ms. Miller’s home economics room and it is mostly this year’s sophomores. I knock and Ms Miller says, “Hello, why are you knocking? I thought I had already given you a standing invitation to come any time you’re in town.”

I say, “Cause Principal Hayes says I should. And I don’t want to interfere with your class.”

Ms Miller says to the class, “I mostly had Andrew as my student last year. Is there someone in class who doesn’t know who Andrea is?”

A girl, I don’t recognize raises her hand, Ms. Miller calls upon her, “Tell Andrea your name, I’m sure she would like to know you.”

She says, “My name is Adrienne Thoms. I kinda know who Andrea is, but who’s Andrew? I heard his name but I don’t know why people bring up his name with your name. Is he your brother?”

Ms. Miller pauses not sure if she should say anything or not. I speak up, “I’m Andrea Stephens but I was Andrew when I woke up this morning. But I decided to visit the school as Andrea. Now does that help you?” I could see Adrienne’s eyes widen and then look puzzled.

She looks at me and then says, “You mean that they’re both you?” I shake my head affirming her statement. Like many others, she says, “I don’t see any way you’re Andrew.”

“I take that as a compliment.”

Two students ask Ms. Miller, “Can we use part of the class asking you and Andrea some questions?

Andrea Miller looks to me, “Would you mind sitting up here and answering a few questions?” She turns to the students, “If there is anyone who needs to finish a project before thanksgiving break. You can start working on your project, just listen in.”

I’m surprised of twenty students only three go to work on projects. One girl asks, “This is like the chicken or the egg. Which came first, were you a girl before you started to design your gown?”

I say, “It’s a good question and the best I can say. I had no idea how much I would enjoy being Andrea. I tried hard not to model or wear my prom gown. Even when Terra asked me to the prom and encouraged me to wear my gown for the art show. I wasn’t sure.” I am gazing into space, remembering the time. “I was wearing my gown, ready to walk out of the runway. That was when I first saw me as Andrea. Next.”

One girl blurts out “Do you like boys?” Another girl says out loud, “Is it true that Matt Scott asked you out?”

I say, “Neither of you waited to ask, so I won’t answer.”

Thea asks, “You do your makeup and hair well. One, how hard was that to learn, and two, how did you find your own look?”

“I am guessing by your asking about ‘my look’, you know I think girls or any person should try to be themselves and not just copy what they think looks good. Can I use you as an example?”

She says yes. I ask, “Thea could you please stand? I think your present look is very good. If you’re going to a party, I think you would do well with a casual look. If you’re dressing up, I can think of several outfits with shorter skirts that would fit that idea... If a boy asks you to the prom. I could see you in a long slender dress. I think you would do well to use color in your gown and makeup to emphasize joy and life.”

She asks, “Thanks, I like those ideas. Could you show me at the store later what you think looks good on me?”

“I’ll will plan to be there at 3:30 if you want me.”

Someone asks, “Ms Miller, what was it like to teach Andrew? What was the hardest thing for her to learn?”

She says, “As your use of names and pronouns seem interchangeable with Andrea Stephens. When she began, the kinds of fabrics and how to use them were hard for Andrew to remember and comprehend. I think by learning things here and working at the store helped Andrew to learn things and how to apply them. It was enjoyable for his mother, Carrie Druthers and me to see as Andrew learned things. That Andrea grew more and more as part of Andrew. Andrea was already pretty visible sometime in early February. She possibly didn’t realize it until the Hillside Arts Festival approached, in particular at the Fashion Show.”

Jayne asks, “Didn’t she, I mean his mom get upset when she thought her son might be changing to be Andrea?”

“If she was, it might have been visible at home; it wasn't known by me. The only concern I heard was if Andrew might be hurt by others. I think having Principal Hayes helped a lot there. There were others with identity concerns, gender or sexual, who were in fact helped by how the school responded with Andrea. With Andrea gaining some notoriety; how we treat students came under a brighter light and more important to the school overall.”

That discussion ended and I went to see what Michele Keaton was doing for her project. I had noticed before she had her hand up to ask a question.


Michele, I am sorry we didn’t get to your question. Your brother Jeff was a good friend to me last year. Is he going to college like he wanted?” I look at her sewing project; it is a patch work coat, a jeans coat. It is beautiful but not in the classic sense. It is mostly of blue jeans though there are four pieces of white and another four pieces from maroon jeans. She is now sewing a fleece lining to the inside.

She asks my opinion, and I quickly tell her it is beautiful as I thought. “You thought something else, I would appreciate knowing what that was?”

I tell her, “I first thought of trying to attach the lining with a zipper so it would be more comfortable in warm weather. But I think you’re doing it this way is actually the better way to do it.”

Michele smiles, “I thought the same, but I also thought I won’t like it as much if I wear it year around.” We talk and she asks if I thought it was commercially sell-able. I tell her my thought that it would be a better sell from a cottage industry where each coat was personally done and looked a little different. When she told me she had designed the coat pattern herself. I suggested she license it before sharing it any further. “Michele, I would be willing to buy the rights to it from you. But you should never sell the rights fully away. And as you develop spin-offs like a shorter version, vests or it unlined, license each.”


With the changing of classes, Jennifer was seeking me out and finally caught up to me. “Andrea, I’ve been trying to catch up to you. You hadn’t returned my call; I lost connection with you and. Well you know as you were trying to get me I tried calling you too, but you stopped.”

I ask, “So what’s this about Matt that I need to talk to you first? He and I had talked and I got a ticket for Friday’s game.”

She takes me away from others, before she’ll talk. “I’m not real certain, but I think he plans to do something to you to show others something…? I think he feels a need to prove something because he had danced with you when you were here last. Someone spread a rumor that you two kissed and that he’s gay.”

I say, “What do you mean that he has something to prove? You don’t suggest he would try to do something to me, do you?”

Jennifer says, “That’s it; I’m not sure of much or how reliable it is. But I felt like I needed to say something. I don’t really know Matt. He seems like a nice guy and I don’t want to screw anything up for you or come between you.”

I say, “He’s not my boyfriend and I’m not even sure why or how I like him.”

Jennifer, “Well as you’re a boy, I’m sure you know what he’s thinking?” I’m thinking, “What, not really?”

I am now looking passed Jennifer as Matt has come to the Home Ec. room. Ms. Miller looks to me and I’m sure she has given him permission to come into the class and talk with me. Jennifer asks, “Why are you blushing?”

“I’m not!” I know, I am but I’m uncomfortable acknowledging that I like a guy as Andrea. Jennifer turned her head to see Matt and turns back giggling at me. She says, “It looks like I should leave you two alone.”

I say, “You do no such thing!” She leaves us alone despite my plea.

He comes to me, “I hear you picked up a football ticket. They say, Principal Hayes is happy about something, but I doubt it is quite the same as myself. I hope I don’t embarrass you. There are other girls here that I like but somehow I like having you to cheer for me.”

He says, “My Mom says, I should consider that others might think I’m gay. She’s said, I could also be causing problems for you and your image?”

Xpress and JC have both done their homework on this subject; seemingly vast majority following my clothing line are either not interested in me personally or they’re expecting people to take interest in Andrea even more than they expect the same about Andrew.

I now know, I won’t grow to look manly; and while my budding breasts aren’t big, they are sensitive and cause my emotions to fluctuate. They are more sensitive, than I would have thought. And though Matt is a grade ahead of me, he’s probably two years older.

I say, “If you’re worried about the impressions others have? I should probably be going to the game with Jenn, or maybe Ms. Miller might allow me to be down near the cheerleaders like before.”

Matt says, “No, I was just letting you know what my mom told me. I want to get together with you afterwards if we win.” Matt looks around and then gives me a hug and I give him a kiss near his ear.

I ask, “And how would you explain yourself if I step back and walk away from you right now?”

Then I say, “I need to ask, what your intentions are toward me? Part of a rumor got to me that you need to prove or do something in relation to me.”

He cringes, “Someone who didn’t like me at my old school, questioned my manhood. A cheerleader and I made-out when I was there and that jerk told others that I did the girl to prove I like girls. It hurt the girl and resulted in me being kicked out of sports there, when we got into a big fight. I have since learned that guy has sent several letters to people here.”

I step back and Matt’s head goes down. “Does this mean you’re literally backing away from me and us being friends?”

I say, “No, but it does mean, we will take our time and become friends and establish our relationship.”


After school I talk to Jennifer and Sharon, one of the cheerleaders. Sharon says, “It is true that we cheerleaders got one of the letters. I have since talked to Matt’s old girlfriend via a phone call. Laura says, Matt is as dear as he appears. Depending if and where he gets a scholarship; she says she would consider going to school there.”


We’re at the Towne Shoppe, when Thea, Jayne and Michele come walking through the door together. I forgot who wanted me to show what. So I am busy sizing them up hoping I’ll be ready to respond to what they want.

Thea asks, “What would I look good in during the holidays?” I quickly ask if she likes skirts. “Yes, but to get a special skirt for just Christmas time, means I can’t use it at other times.”

“Carrie and I both agree that is not necessarily true. You can get a very attractive red, white or a dark green skirt that could work well with either of the other two colors for Christmas. It could also be worn other times of the year with other combinations. It could become a go to skirt with many possibilities. A bright red skirt and a shimmering green satin blouse would be fantastic on you. I’d stay away from green and red combinations in January. But something in black would go well as the blouse.”

Carrie says from behind me, “A nice red dress with a white or holiday scarf would do well for the holidays but still leave you with a cute red dress.” I add, “That is a basic that should be in every girl’s closet anyway.”

I turn to Thea, “So what do you think would be another good look for you?”

Thea says, “Well I need to wait until my boyfriend comes around. Now it is either how you see me or jeans. He doesn’t like me changing my appearance, but I don’t like wearing the same old things, but what can I do?”

I say, “You don’t need to be overly dramatic about it. But if you are with the same boy as last year; you have this school year and all of the next to stay pleasing him. Or you can nudge him to grow up some. I bet he looks at new or better cars without demanding them to remain the same.”

“He won’t ever change until you pressure him or he gets another girlfriend. If you don’t change in the next year and a half you might find yourself stuck in a rut.”

Thea says, “There’s no way that is going to happen.”

Michele say, “It hasn’t changed in the past year. Why would it change? I think your guy is a hunk, but he’s kind of a Neanderthal when it comes to how he treats you.”

Changing the subject, I ask Carrie to look at Michele’s quilted jeans coat. I have a picture of it and I get Michele explaining her coat to Carrie.

I take it as an opportunity to show Thea other looks that might look good on her. She likes a tan skirt with lining that I have picked out. She says, “I can’t afford skirts like this.”

I say, “This skirt is yours free of charge, but I do ask you to look at the price. It is often the same price as a regular skirt or no more than two dollars. It is still much less expensive than many of the other brand name skirts.”

Back to Michele and Carrie, and as I hoped; they already reached an agreement of Michele selling them through Carrie’s store. I presented Michele with a turban sweater and jeggings. Actually she gets to pick out the ones she wants.”


I am soon out the door as I’m working hard at not sacrificing my time with family and friends. I have called over to The Credo Club for a light bite to eat and a chance to relax. Mom is already happy about the idea. What Mom hopefully doesn’t know is Heidi is flying in and is to meet us at the club. If all goes reasonably well she should be there by 9:00 p.m. easily.

It is nice to be greeted by Tony at the Club; he sees I’m dressed as Andrea he asks about dancing. “I have two nephews here, Michael and Lorenzo, and if Heidi gets here my son Alberto can be let off from working.” Leah and I both say we will let him know.

The entertainment tonight is elegant yet simple, a violin and piano.

Heidi is here by 8:50 and Mom is joyfully surprised. I am delighted and while Heidi is thankful for my help in getting her home. She prefers me as her brother Andrew. Tony is soon over telling me that Jennifer and Terra had called to see if I was here. I called Terra and suggest they come by at ten. The kitchen was closing down for the night and come ten until closing it would be just the club and bar remaining open.

Our parents and others their age would remain but by and large people would congregate in their own groups, however, they saw them. Michael, Lorenzo and Al came over. Most of my dancing is with Terra. We accept dancing with Mike and Lorenz. This is when I like having older sisters, as Mom trusts me with them and I get to do things I might not otherwise.

I might be traveling around and involved more in business, but I am quite naive as a teenager and especially as Andrea. My sisters and friends like Terra are a security blanket for me. My attraction to Terra is still quite strong. But it has been the challenge of studying and each of us needing to work that has limited our seeing each other.


We’re going to Grandma Hollister’s for Thanksgiving, so I am up early to help my mother. She is showing me how she makes her pies. While pumpkin pie is easy enough, we’re also making a pecan and mincemeat pie. I can’t believe mom is putting a shot and a half of rum into the mince meant. Mom says in the baking of the pie that the rum alcohol is cooked off and only the flavor remains.

How I dress for Thanksgiving is hard to decide as Grandmother wants to see Andrea as her granddaughter. I know Heidi prefers seeing me today as Andrew. Heidi concedes, “If you’re going as Andrea that means you’re helping more with the dinner and the dishes. You’re not sitting down and enjoying the football games with the guys.”

I’m at least planning to wear slacks, until Heidi catches me changing into them. “Oh no, you know Grams likes a family picture and us girls are to wear nice dresses or skirts.” Heidi then says, “Hey! Um, what’s this about you going to the High School game as Andrea? You weren’t a girl most of the school year nor did you graduate as Andrea. Leah and I came back here a year early so we could graduate from here. If anyone should be going as girls it’s us two and you didn’t even ask if we’d go with you.”

I ask, “Well do you two want to take your little sister and go to the game together?” Leah says, “I’ll check with some friends and if they’re going I’m in.”

Heidi says, “I’m pretty sure I’ll have enough friends going. So if Leah goes, I’ll be going. I want to see if Ms. Miller tries to team you up with the cheerleaders.” I stare at my two sisters.

Heidi asks, “Mom, if they win and this boy comes over wanting to kiss our sister, should we let him?”

I say, “What’s this, should we let them? I’m sixteen I can decide for myself.”

Our Mom says, “I thought his Mom was wondering what others would think of him.”

Leah looks at me, “I agree that Andrea’s old enough to decide for herself. She has one business she runs with Mom and now has a Pub that she’s buying into. She should be able to handle a kiss, maybe even more.”

Gram Hollister is glad to see us, greeting us, Mom as well as Dan and his son Jay. She says to Jay, “You will have to work double-time for the Stephens-Johnson household. My son’s two boys should be here. Andrea are you going to spend some time watching the football games? You know a growing share of those who watch are women.”

I do sneak to watch to see some of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. X-Press has two ads to be shown, hoping they’ll help Black Friday and Christmas sales. One of the ads is one of Jan Richards having me come out of a fashion page saying, “You can find something that fits your look on-line or in the store with X-Press Fashions.”

“I did not sign-off on them using the shot of me in a skater dress.” Mom says, “But I did. If you’re wanting them to continue to guess if there’s a boy there. That should have them seeing Andrea as totally girl.”

Leah says, “She wasn’t even wearing any forms. If she would grow a couple of inches and take some lessons. She could make a living as a model.”

To be continued…

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