Caught In Slips - Part 3

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Caught In Slips Pt 3
by Christie Myr

I’d like to wish everyone a safe and prosperous New Year. I'd also like to thank Emily 63 for advising me about various places and institutions within Australia mentioned throughout this chapter.

The year end long holiday break wasn’t as much fun for me this time because it also meant that my older brother Greg was now finished high school and would shortly be leaving home to attend university. Yes I know that we fought at times, but brothers no matter how many arguments and scraps they have are “duty” bound to look out for one another. Greg had been doing that for me for so long now, but at least I could say I was looking after him now, because he’d be living in the small 2 bedroom unit I’d purchased a year ago, as would my sister if she went to University too.

The first two years in Tamworth had been really good. Year 9 was beginning to look so too when first day of term started and the timetables were read out. My initial fear off ending up in Ms Carmody’s English class and being “volunteered” to perform in her class play vanished when the teachers name for 9A English was read out. Mr Hughes was newly posted to Farrer Ag and didn’t know me except as just another of his year 9 class English students, amid all the other classes that he taught which, was fine by me.

Although finding out that I wouldn’t have to face Ms. Carmody for English, I still had problems enough to cope with. My “gynecomastia” had started getting worse over the three months leading up to the end of year break just finished. To compound the problem, whether it was my body beginning its growth spurt (which I felt was long overdue) that caused it, but by the end of April in year 9 and much to my horror (and worry) my chest was now clearly large enough for both him, his nurse to advise me and my parents after my latest Saturday appointment that I now had a chest/bust equivalent to an “A” cup on a natural woman

The compression bandages along with wearing loose uniform tops to school I wore were now only “just” able to (and struggling to do so) hide my body's predicament, although the brutal heat in late summer and early autumn kept me constantly uncomfortable wearing inappropriate clothing for the outback’s heat. To aid me in trying to cope with the heat (at my parent’s request) Dr Roberts had written a detailed medical exemption letter request to my school principal Mr Mobs that allowed me to be officially exempted from participating in school P.E (physical education) or sports.

During my now fortnightly medical appointments, Dr Roberts always used the term “man boobs” or sometimes just “moobs” when discussing my medical problem with me and my parents (he knew I hated him using the term “budding breasts”). But he was still hopeful (he claimed) that my breast growth might begin to start to slow down shortly, although he wouldn’t exactly say when that would happen because my blood tests showed nothing now but oestrogen in my body. I was thinking that might have been why I was always finding it difficult to find pants that would fit when mum took me shopping for clothes. That was because my stomach and bum proportioning made finding trousers that were small enough to stay up on me meant they were always too tight around the bottom. This invariably led to the shop assistants always selecting larger sizes to mum which she then have to take in the around seat of each new pair.

Of course mum my sister understood my "gynecomastia" condition’s latest development, because on the weekends I’d always take the compression bandage off (unless I had to go out somewhere) to relieve the uncomfortableness around my chest area and walked around the house in a T-shirt where it was impossible to hide the slight bounce of my “moobs” under the T-shirt’s fabric, or if my nipples suddenly hardened and stood out under the T-Shirt I was wearing. While it was obvious whenever that happened, they (or dad and Greg) never said anything about it, I guess so as not to make me feel embarrassed or ashamed.

As a matter of fact, my sister privately gave me some advice on how to relieve the itching around my nipples that I now experienced most days and once even helped me gently apply the medicated cream I’d been prescribed for my nipples, all the while telling me quite unashamedly about how uncomfortable it had felt for her when breasts had started growing just after she turned 12. It didn’t stop me from feeling embarrassed, but I appreciated that Sue was trying her best to make me feel less embarrassed about my problem. If only she didn’t mention the word breasts or nipples so casually as if we were sisters instead of brother and sister.

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The reason for our moving to Tamworth in the first place was because of dad’s job and he was now finding it extremely demanding both for himself and mum who was involved in trying to be his p.a. as well as looking after the family and home too. Sue and I helped out by cleaning up around the house and with Sue helping mum in the kitchen to try and help ease the burden on both her and dad.

Early in that first term of year 9, dad informed the family at the evening dinner table that his company Linchcombe’s, plan for establishing a new and efficient piggery abattoirs they'd initially planned to do (and had been an important strategy in his company’s long term plans of breaking into that side of the industry here), had now been decided upon to be postponed indefinitely, which meant that the family might no longer be needed to stay in Australia, because although dad had now consolidated eight farms covering a wide area surrounding Tamworth, senior management had discussed with him about the company selling the northern NSW operations to a competitor and re consolidating the Australian operations back to its core pastoral strategy of beef and grains.

Dad then explained that we may still end up staying in Australia because two of the company’s overseers elsewhere in Australia were starting to suffer health problems and he’d been asked by the head office in London if he might consider relocating to take over one of the operations, possibly as early as the middle of this year if health situations deteriorated unexpectedly, but certainly by the end of the year. If dad agreed to head office’s request, this would mean the family wouldn’t need to move back to England, but could be relocating instead to either a cattle station property in the Northern Territory or else to a small town called Uranquinty near Wagga Wagga in the Riverina district of southern New South Wales.

Every one of us (including my brother now down in Sydney) wanted the position in NSW to be offered to dad until at least the family had grown up and moved away, although by the end of this year my sister would no longer be at high school and hopefully would be attending the same University Greg was attending. But depending on Head Office’s final decision it could mean big problems for me, because next year would see me in year 10, which was as an important educational year in Australia as it was in England. Obviously dad had made all of these facts known to his London management and now had no choice but to wait for a decision from them. The indecision over our domestic future wasn’t helping the family unit synergy I might add.

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By the end of June in year 9, my latest doctor’s visit saw him confirm my body had seen another short "growth spurt" over the past several months, that now saw me “rocketing” to an almost “towering” 5’2” and my body weigh a “humungous” 91 pounds. That now made me only 6 (or so) inches shorter than my sister and mother were, and just about 13 inches shorter than my brother and father. I no longer harboured hopes of being as tall as dad or Greg, but I still hoped to at least end up taller than mum or my sister!

June was also a time of the school year I now dreaded the most, because it was then when I always now seemed to always be “drafted” involuntarily for "D.W." But perhaps everything may have been starting to take a turn for the better and my luck surely changing when my English teacher Mr Hughes, didn’t choose me for any of the acting roles in 9A’s play for the school’s Drama Week which had me feeling completely over the moon at his decision.

That feeling of elation lasted until exactly 11.28am fourth period the following day, when Mr Hughes while explaining the outline of this year’s play, proudly informed the class that his fellow colleague Ms Carmody had several months earlier, asked if he’d agree not to cast Michael Brooks in 9A’s play, because “she” wanted him for an important role in her year 12’s Shakespearean offering “Romeo and Juliet” which he told me (along with the class) he was more than happy to comply with, adding that I must have been an exceptional actor because she’d told him how much she’d been impressed by my performances in previous Drama Week performances.

As “soon” as Mr Hughes mentioned the play’s title, I wished the ground under me could have opened up and swallowed me, because loud raucous laughter told me that almost everyone in the class had an idea as to why Ms Carmody had asked for me. Mr Hughes might have already known (or guessed) too because he was actually grinning broadly as he told me to report to Ms Carmody in the school hall at lunchtime.……….I was soon to discover that everything I’d ever heard of about Ms Carmody’s enthusiasm for Shakespeare would to turn out to be true.

When I entered the hall to report to Ms Carmody, there were fifteen or so senior students standing around in groups of threes and fours talking to one another and they seemed to turn as one and stop talking when I walked in and was met by an excited Ms Carmody loudly welcoming me by name. That way I was introduced to everyone else there without any formal introductions and names, which as a result of saw everyone proceeding to welcome me from their huddles with a group “hi Michael”.

For the next 30 minutes, I sat silently as Ms Carmody explained to the group (although it was only for my benefit you’ll soon realise) about how in William Shakespeare’s time, only men were allowed to perform in plays. Looking at me (as well as several other boys) as she emphasised how even the “female” roles were played by men or small children, said she had very high hopes that this year’s play might go down in school folk-law since she had the same acting ensemble from last year’s year 11 play along with a talented(?) year 9 student. She further confidently predicted that by the time the play was performed to the public, she was positive (looking directly at me) that the performance of Grant John as Romeo and my performance as Juliet (O.M.G! why bloody me for cheesus sake!)) would make the pair of us as well known throughout Tamworth as Slim Dusty (a deceased but still famous Australian country and western singer).

Everyone was then handed out numerous stapled sheets of paper containing information pertaining to what the cast would need to know to perform each character in the play, as well as a breakdown of each character’s profile and the names of famous actors who had performed the role along with the script for the abbreviated and slightly amended acts we’d be performing and so forth. Towards the end of her dissertation, I learned I’d be expected to attend rehearsals after school Monday Tuesday and Thursday or to notify her (with a justifiable excuse only) the day before, as to why I couldn’t attend a rehearsal. If anyone was absent sick from school, a fellow (schoolmate) actor would be responsible for informing Ms Carmody of that student’s absence.

She finished by announcing (and I think taking her first breath since starting to speak) that rehearsals would start the following Monday after school, but that the actors she’d already selected for the female roles shown in the notes we were holding, were to meet in the hall after school this afternoon. The bell rung for the end of lunch (thank god) before she stated that she hoped we were all as excited as she was about this year’s play and she was hoping to make it the best ever seen at Farrer Agricultural before walking off to get ready to teach her next class after lunch.

Walking outside the hall entrance alone, I stopped and took a deep breath saying to myself “OH………CRAP!”

For the rest of the school day I didn’t say a word or hear a thing any of the teachers spoke about in any of my three classes. My mind was too busy with thoughts racing around it, most of them cursing my bad luck, my life, Ms. Carmody or William “bloody” Shakespeare in no particular order. But what I was “especially” cursing about the most was what would happen to me when everyone else started finding out about my role as “Juliet”. There’d be the obvious “Yoo-hoo Juliet dear……..” or “Julie darling…….” and THAT would probably be just to begin with. Then, (although I didn’t even want to think about it) I “knew” I’d end up being bullied in the playground once news spread about my role in the play. Last but not least, I’d have to tell my family about my latest acting role at dinner tonight, although I didn’t expect to get too much teasing at home about it since my brother had moved away.

When the final bell rang, I slowly trooped to the school hall to face the music. I walked into an empty hall but soon found myself being informally welcomed by three other students who were to play female roles in the play as they came in. Ms Carmody sailed in shortly after as if she were a stately 17th century Galleon in a strong breeze, saying it was time to get started. For the next fifty minutes Ms Carmody explained what she was requiring from each student in their female role and would have continued on until dark, except school rules stated (sport’s afternoons exempt”) that NO student was allowed on school grounds after 4pm unless in the company of a teacher, or with verbal or written permission from the Principal or Deputy Principal.

As she finished discussing her ideas with each student assigned to a particular female role, that person was allowed to leave. Her enthusiasm was contagious as everyone (except yours truly) spoke animatedly about suggesting ideas along with listening to hers and anyone else’s among the small group there. Although I’d never had to do this in either play I’d been in before at Farrer Ag, I had to admit I was impressed by the enthusiasm she'd quickly instilled in each student there. I was also surprised to hear each senior student address her by her first name abbreviation “Trisha” and that she’d use the student’s first name when talking to them and thought her clever to do this, as it apparently was creating a bond of comradery between each student (actor) and Ms Carmody (director).

Finally there was only me and Ms. Carmody left remaining in the hall. She smiled broadly to me and told me that during closed rehearsals I could call her Trisha and she’d called me Mike or would I prefer Michael, (Michael she was tersely informed) but that outside of school, or in the school precinct and in hearing of other students I was expected to show her the respect she was entitled to and address her as Ms. Carmody, or I’d be sent to the principal’s office for disciplining without hesitation. Somewhat still in awe (and shock) of her saw me immediately agreeing to do so. With that out of the way she told me that when she had first seen (and heard) me act, she’d been amazed at how easily (and well) I played the role of a woman.

Then with that still huge smile she told me that speaking now with me this close up, she had no idea how soft and blemish free my face was and that my voice didn’t sound very masculine either! She then added that because I seemed to be sailing so close to the wind on the school rules about hair length as well, that with my hair undone and styled, I could very likely pass as a girl in the role if people weren’t any the wiser, and excusing herself proceeded to stand up and reach over to take a hold of my hair and undo the hair tie, while then placing her hand at the back of my head and moving my hair about, as she looked at how it might appear in different ways.

She let go of my hair before sitting back down and casually told me that she still wasn’t sure whether I’d have to wear a wig or not for the role, but she was going to speak to the principal about requesting if I could have a temporary dispensation to allow me to let my hair grow slightly longer to see how I might look with hair long enough to style for the role of Juliet (oh double crap, why did I have to be so stupid and ignore dad’s request to cut my hair!) She also said that if I listened to her directions about how to perform Juliet and I performed Juliet anything like she believed I was capable of doing, then “that” alone would make the others in the cast lift their acting performances, especially the other three boys playing women and make everyone strive to reach new performing heights.

Then with an excited tone in her voice Ms Carmody said if I turned out as good a Juliet in rehearsals as she thought I could be, she’d arrange to obtain a specially made dress for me to wear for the role from one of her theatrical contacts (triple “crap!”). After quickly looking at her watch, Trisha said it was 4 o’clock and I could go home now and tell my family all about my role, then she walked off out of the hall in the same manner that she’d entered it, while I left thinking how badly I was going to be bullied once all of this was found out around school.

That evening during desert I told my parents and Sue about my impending role as Juliet. Aside from Sue’s stifled giggle and dad’s loud sigh of exasperation (or whatever) generally they all took the news quite well. It was mum who wanted to know more, as she excitedly exclaimed how much she enjoyed reading the play when she’d been in high school and without missing a beat asked me if I was still putting moisturiser on my skin, which I told I did (about once a week I silently said to myself).

What I’d just told my mother wasn’t exactly true, because it was more like once every blue moon nowadays and even THEN, only if mum was nearby and handing me the bottle, which then left me with little choice but to do it. So from that evening onwards, mum rigidly enforced me moisturising each night, by actually watching me put it on before getting ready for bed and often reminding me how lucky I was to have such a wise mother while “again and for the ten thousandth time” saying how most of the men and women she saw at the shopping centre had ruined facial complexions that looked like old work boots.

Sure enough after a few days to let the news filter around school, every day there saw me being roughly pushed into walls or doors by bigger students (which almost everyone was) along with others asking sarcastically if Julie was free to go to the movies (sometimes it wasn’t the movies mentioned but more lewd places). When I received a “clean” swirly** at lunchtime that Friday and walked into 6th period Maths in soaked clothing and totally dishevelled, I knew things were officially “entirely out of control”. My mathematics’ teacher furiously ordered me to the deputy principal’s office along with a hastily scrawled note stating how I had turned up for his class in such a disgraceful state.

When a gruff voice told me to enter, the deputy principal (Mr Barraclough) looked sternly at me without saying a word before I silently handed him the note from my teacher. After reading it he asked me how I’d gotten into this condition, so I meekly told him I’d received a swirly. On being asked why, (just for a moment could there have been just the hint of a smile on his face that just as quickly vanished) I told him what I thought the reason was for the swirly which saw him sigh loudly, before telling me that I wasn’t going to be caned and wasn’t guilty of anything except being too small to defend myself and too dumb to know any better and try to avoid such situations from happening. When he asked me who’d done it to me, he already knew I wouldn’t say who had, so instead of admonishing me any further, he gave me a pass to go home and told me to report back to his office on Monday at 8.30am “sharp”.

The following Monday exactly at 8.30 am I was standing outside his office door and after knocking and announcing my name, was told to wait as he opened his door and instruct me to follow him before leading me into the principal’s office directly across the hallway opposite his own office.

** SWIRLY: A practice favoured in many English schools (so I used writer’s liberty and included it here but don’t know if it’s done in schools here) where the victim going to the lavatory, is dragged inside a cubicle, then forcibly lifted up and turned upside down by two or more students where his head is then positioned inside the bowl and the toilet flushed, sometimes several times. This is the most common type of swirly and known as “clean”. If the victim is particularly disliked the toilet bowl may have unflushed urine and excrement or something worse in it. When done this way it is known as a “dirty” swirly.

I apologise for having had to break up what would have been chapter 3 into 2 chapters (now 3 and 4). But the original chapter 3 was over 19 pages (almost 12,000 words) long and would have taken far too long and been much too hard for me to upload to the site using HTML. (isn’t there an easier way than HTML?) So instead I chopped and changed Romeo’s chapter a bit (to keep the momentum going about the story) before I reopen the garage and find my time very limited again. C.M.

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