Here's something that happened to me many, many years ago. I think I would have been about seven or eight years old at the time.
It was the summer holidays and my parents were off visiting family in England. My two sisters and I were left in the care of our grandma.
I remember it being a very hot day and when she suggested that we drove to the beach for a swim, we all agreed without a moment's hesitation. Although the beach was an hour and a half drive away, it was a perfect day for boogie boarding, or at least swimming if the waves weren't large enough.
Ten minutes later we were all in the car on our way. She had packed us each a plastic bag containing our swimwear and a towel, along with the boogie boards, a bottle of soda, plastic cups, and some lunch for all of us.
After a very long and hot drive, we finally arrived. As expected, there were a lot of people there. We walked over to the public changing rooms which were covered in graffiti and handed us each our bags.
We entered our specified rooms. Once inside, I was startled to find a girl's turquoise one-piece bathing suit in the place of mine. She had clearly provided me with the wrong bag.
I went back outside expecting one of them to be there to exchange bags. After five minutes, they all emerged. I was surprised to find my sisters had come out wearing theirs. Evidently the bathing suit I had wasn't theirs.
I recall her raising an eyebrow when I told her that it wasn't mine. Taking the bag, she took it out and like me, she was also surprised.
My older sister, April, shouted out “That's mine”. It turned out to be that it was her previous one that she had outgrown. My grandma suggested that we take a look in the car in case mine was in there but I was sure that everyone knew, herself included, that a big mistake had been made.
Sure enough, after five minutes of searching, it didn't turn up. I knew it wouldn't. Although she was sorry, she wasn't willing to drive all the way back for it.
Both my sisters joked that I should wear it. Noticing how disappointed I was, even my grandma suggested I should wear it, possibly without the straps to make it more suitable. I was quick to point out that it had a skirt around its waist line.
Eventually, my sisters disappeared into the ocean as they grew tired of teasing me about it. I was stuck with my grandma, lying on the beach, watching my sisters and everyone else around enjoying the day to its fullest potential.
Needless to say, I was quite mad with my grandma. I suggested that I could go swimming in the clothes that I was wearing but as she hadn't packed a spare, she wasn't going to let me.
After roughly thirty minutes, I couldn't take it much longer. Watching my sisters riding the waves while I was sitting here roasting hot and miserable. I tried to pass the time by walking up and down the beach but I grew sweaty quickly.
My grandma gave me some money to buy an ice cream from a local vendor but that began to melt within seconds of leaving its freezer leaving my hand all sticky.
“All right, I'll wear it!”
My grandma hated to see us in low spirits and she had been pestering me every fifteen minutes to get out there and enjoy myself. I'm not sure if it was my reaction or my response to her question that took her by surprise, but she handed me the bag, smiled and said; “Good. I'm sure you won't even notice that you're wearing it after a while.”
I slowly walked over to the changing room pondering that. Would I consider that to be a good thing or a bad thing? She did have a good point before as well which was the main reason why I was doing this. While in the water and at the distance that my sisters where, nobody would be able to tell that I was a boy.
When I reached the changing rooms, I suddenly realized I wasn't sure which one I should use. I would be entering as a boy but hopefully come out looking like a girl.
As I wasn't sure if the girls one was occupied, I entered the boys. At least I could leave if someone was in there. Thankfully it was empty, but for how much longer, I couldn't know.
I put down the bag and quickly began to get undressed. When it came to the bathing suit, it took me a second to realize how to put it on. Never worn a girl's one before, or any other girls' clothing for that matter, it was something I never thought about before.
I stepped in to it, one leg at a time, carefully positioning them so they would come through their respective holes and pulled it up. Once it reached my waist, I pulled it up further and with slight difficulty, placed my arms through the openings and adjusted each strap to rest comfortably on the top of each shoulder.
It fitted like a glove, like nothing I had ever worn before. Every inch of it pressed against my skin but I didn't find it tight, in fact it seemed to be a perfect fit. It was an unusual feeling as if it were a second skin, leaving me feeling naked as well as clothed.
With that, it also provided me with a layer of embarrassment as well. Needless to say, it made me feel like a girl, and to amplify it further, here I was standing within the boys' changing room.
Although I had to admit it was much cooler than what I was previously wearing, I immediately wanted to get out of it. Fast. I was suddenly overcome with the sense that someone was about to enter. As it would have taken too long to change, I hastily placed my clothes into my bag and with it, sprinted to the door.
I ran all the way back to my grandma as well. I was glad that I hadn't taken her advice about not using the straps as at the pace I was going, it was sure to have fallen right off me. Out of the two options, I felt it was better to attempt to look like a girl while wearing it, rather than to clearly be a boy wearing a girl's bathing suit, although I wasn't sure how well I passed for one.
I didn't see anyone doing so but it felt like everyone was staring and pointing at me while whispering among themselves. I didn't dare look around to see if that was really the case and continued running straight ahead.
Running in a girl's bathing suit was another strange sensation. Since my limbs were free, this allowed me to move much faster, and every time I took a leap, I could feel it stretching across my entire torso. With the cool wind rushing past my bare legs and arms, it was pleasantly stimulating.
When I reached my grandma to return the bag and pick up the other boogie board, she surveyed me, smiled, and said; “Very pretty.” Without looking at her, blushing, I quickly turned and darted towards the water.
How was I meant to respond to that!? Although I'm sure that she said it in support, it had actually infuriated me. Boys weren't meant to be pretty and I wanted to tell her that, however in my current state, arguing it wouldn't have been in my favour.
Even though I knew my sisters would tease me, I headed towards them. If I swam in another location, they would have eventually seen that I was missing and found me sooner or later.
After spending so much time in the blazing sun, the water was refreshing cool. As I got in further, I had to admit that I was impressed by the bathing suit's material as it didn't seem to adsorb much water. Although I'm not sure, I believe it was primary nylon since it had a silky smooth feel to it.
As I swam over towards my sisters, I found that I had much less resistance in the water. Perhaps it was due to the material as well, but like running, since my limbs were free, I felt that I could swim a lot faster than I usually would.
For a brief moment, I actually considered a girl's bathing suit to be better designed then a boy's one.
My sisters had seen me coming and as expected, they broke into laughter when they saw me. They teased me by calling me a girl and came up with a feminine version of my name to which they referred to me by.
However, I didn't let them have the satisfaction of knowing that it was getting to me because, in truth, it wasn't. Now that I was out in the water, I was enjoying myself which allowed me to block out their feeble taunts.
After ten minutes, they must have realized this as their mocking and laughter had now died down. The wind had picked up and some massive waves were being produced. We had countless races riding the waves, as well as general fun just swimming.
I hadn't realized it until I saw her flagging us done from the beach, but my grandma was right; I didn't even notice that I was wearing it for the past hour. I called over to my sisters that we needed to leave as it was probably time for lunch.
We rode one last wave back to the shore. As I walked out of the water, my bathing suit began to cling to me, so I adjusted it by pulling at the right places to get it to fit right. My sisters, walking behind me, laughed at this to which I ignored.
To prevent drawing any attention to myself, I chose to walk through the crowd this time, carefully trying to casually position the boogie board over my front. Glancing around, nobody seemed to have noticed that I was actually a boy for which I was thankful for.
The three of us reached the public picnic tables where our grandma had set up our lunch. “How's the water?” she asked to which we all replied with positive answers. After we all had a number of chicken sandwiches and a drink, she broke the silence when she casually said to me; “Looks like you've gotten use to your bathing suit.” which caused my sisters to giggle.
I wished that she hadn't mentioned it and for a moment I thought about protesting. However, when looking at myself from their point of view, it would have been no secret that I had in fact gotten used to it. For the last hour, I had been wearing it, enjoying myself.
In the end, I just nodded hoping that my lack of response would be a sign that I didn't want to carry on this conversation. She clearly hadn't made this connection since her next question was; “How are you finding it? It looks like it fits you well.”
Truth be told, it did. Very well in fact. Although I didn't want them to think that this was a comfortable experience for me, as it was a skin-tight garment, if I gave a false answer, it was ensured that they would see right through it.
As soon as my last word left my mouth, I gravely wished that I could have taken it back. Somehow it was delivered without any of the sarcasm that I had intended. It came out sounding like I actually liked it, or not minding it at the very least.
Although I was avoiding their glaring, it seemed like my reply had some reaction on them as it took my grandma several seconds to respond to me as if she was at a loss for words.
“You like it? Tell us, how does it compare to a boy's one?”
She had completely misunderstood me and for a second, I wanted to scream at them to clearly state that I wasn't enjoying this at all! However, after a moment I actually realized that that wasn't entirely truthful. As I had always been a bad liar, I figured that it would be better if I stayed honest, carefully choosing my words.
“It's not bad, but it's very different. I seem to be able to move better in it though.”
Once again she took a moment to respond. “Really? I guess that makes sense since your legs are free. Come to think of it, leotards are designed the same way.”
“What's a leotard?” I asked. The word sounded foreign to me.
“It's a uniform for ballet and gymnastics. It looks like a girl's bathing suit, but it's for both girls and boys.”
Was she having me on? It sounded absurd. “What boy would do either of those things?” I blurted out.
“Your father.” she immediately responded. “If you like it, we'll have to buy you one. I think you'll be good at them.” There wasn't a hint of it in her voice but it felt to me that this had come across mockingly. My sisters got another giggle out of this as well.
“I think that you two should do them as well.” she said turning to them, putting a halt to their laughter. “When I was your age, all girls did one or the other. I did ballet. Not only did I learn to dance but it kept me extremely fit.”
“Alice, my friend, does gymnastics. She enjoys it so I wouldn't mind trying it.” Faye, my younger sister, replied.
“Well, I'm sure your parents won't mind you picking it up. How about you, April?” she asked.
“Yeah, I would like to try it too.”
“In that case, I'll take you leotard shopping. They come in a range of designs. You'll have fun choosing one.”
At this point, I had no idea if she was serious about a leotard for me or not but I didn't want to stick around to find out. With my lunch finished, I promptly got up, brushed myself off, and swiftly headed back to the water.
On the way, I thought about it, my own leotard. I didn't like the idea of owning something that looked so girlish, but if she was willing to buy me one then what was the harm? I mean this bathing suit I was wearing wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and to be honest, it was surprisingly comfortable as well as efficient.
One thing that was for certain though, I wouldn't be going to be attending any classes. Even if the boys did wear these, I wouldn't be seen wearing one. I was suddenly aware of what a hypocrite I was and became self-conscious about what I was wearing so I sprinted the remaining way. Again, the cool wind rushing pass my limbs was an amazing feeling on that hot day.
I halted. Someone behind me had shouted my name and I was sure that it was directed in my direction. It was a girl's voice but I knew it wasn't from my sisters or my grandma. Just as I was about to turn to look towards her, I stopped as I realized that this was the biggest mistake that I could make.
Quickly bending down, I feigned as if I had stepped in something sharp. I lifted up my right leg and made a gesture as if I removed something from my heel. It felt like a feeble attempt. Not only that I couldn't lie, I discovered that I couldn't act either.
I resumed my dash towards the beach and remained with my back to it for roughly five minutes. At that time, my sisters arrived and I couldn't help but peek back. I couldn't see anyone I recognized although it was difficult at the distance I was at, but nobody seemed to be looking at me either.
Without being specific, I asked my sisters if they had recognized anyone. Neither did. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. I hated to think of what would happen if my classmates had found out about this. They would never look at me the same way again and I was sure that my friends wouldn't want to be my friends much longer.
I tried to think back to that voice and match it to a face but no matter how hard I tried, I found it to be futile. As the next hour went by, this began to claw at me. I wasn't satisfied with that and I needed to know the identity of this mystery girl.
This time it was Faye who noticed our grandma flagging us down to state that it was time to go. As it was possible that this girl was still here, I began to swim over to one side so I wasn't walking through the crowd. I couldn't believe how careless I was the last time.
Walking out of the water, I tried to be as casual as possible to prevent drawing any attention to myself. I looked around but like before, I didn't see anyone that I knew. I was optimistic that this mystery girl had already left as it was much cooler and the sky was beginning to get dark.
When I reached our grandma, my sisters asked me why I had gone a longer way back. I didn't want to tell them that someone noticed me. I had the feeling if they knew how embarrassing this was for me, they were sure to exploit it and my grandma would have probably given me a lecture about how you shouldn't be ashamed of yourself.
She handed us our towels which we used to dry ourselves off. We found that the changing rooms were locked at this hour so we drove back wearing our bathing suits sitting on the towels.
Perhaps everyone was tired but there were barely any words spoken on the way back unlike the drive there. My sisters and I shared a number of yawns. Once we finally did get back, it was almost seven o'clock. It wasn't a time I would have considered to be late, but it seemed that our day of exercise had taken a toll on us and my grandma suggested that we should get changed straight into our pyjamas.
I drowsily stepped out of the car and walked towards my room. Just like when I had put it on, I had a bit of difficultly getting the bathing suit off. Unlike boys' swimming trunks, I couldn't simply pull it down as it surrounded every inch of my torso.
Using my free arm, I held up one of my straps and pulled my arm through it. I did the same on my other side. With the straps no longer restricting it, I pulled it down to slide out of it. As it was still damp, clinging to me, pulling it off kind of felt like removing a layer of skin but it didn't hurt, in fact it was another admirable sensation.
This being a first for me, I wondered if my sisters, doing the exact same thing in their rooms, could appreciate the feeling as well as I could.
I picked it up from around my ankles and I held it up to me. Being damp, it was a fair bit heavier than when I had put it on. Staring at it, it was then when I realized that I had been wearing this, and only this, for almost an entire day, in a public place, as if I were a girl.
This was something that should had filled me with shame but actually I felt something quite different. I couldn't put my feelings together to understand why but I what I was feeling was actually pride.
As it slid through my fingers into my laundry basket, I was overcome with a feeling of loss. I didn't know how it would happen but I honestly wished that it wasn't the last time that I would get the opportunity to wear it.
I got dressed into my plain and dull pyjamas and joined my sisters downstairs for dinner.