Kev Harrison is a teenager looking for a boyfriend and friends who will accept his cross-dressing. Only thing is, he lives in a small village near Salisbury, England, and it’s the nineties.
Tony Collins is Kev’s best friend, a Goth with a passion for fashion and anything to do with the Human League. He stands as the voice of reason while Kev muddles his way through coming out, career choices, and dating…in heels.
Adventures in Dating…in Heels
Liam Livings © 2018
All Rights Reserved
I first realised I wasn’t quite like other boys when I was seven. By then, I was old enough to know what I liked and what I didn’t like and, more importantly, confident and talkative enough to do something about it.
One afternoon, when Dad was at work and Mum was making cakes in the kitchen, I found a pile of Mum’s large dresses in the living room, waiting to be ironed. I knew they were hers as I’d seen her bustling about the house in them, just before Dad came home from work. At four o’clock every day, after I’d been home from school a while, Mum would disappear upstairs dressed as Mrs. Mop and reappear at quarter to five in one of her long flowing dresses, full makeup, and heels, her hair brushed out from spending a day under a head scarf.
Mum was really into the Mamas and the Papas, and during the summer holidays while Dad was at work, and once the house was straight and she’d “done through” as she called it, we’d dance to her twelve-inch records in the living room. She would come in from hanging out the washing in the back garden and say, “A good day for drying. If they’re done in time and I’m all done through, we can have a little dance with my records.”
One afternoon while Mum was upstairs making herself look nice for Dad, I grabbed one of her dresses and climbed into it, ready for our dance.
Mum walked into the living room as I held the Mamas and the Papas album, wearing her size-twenty dress covered in bright-pink daisies, a wide grin filling my face.
She took the record off me. “What you doing in my dress, love?”
“I like the flowers and I want to see what it feels like when I dance around in it, like you do.” Perfectly reasonable as far as I was concerned.
“They’re for me, not for you, love.” She put the record on and turned to me, her hands on her hips. “Take it off and we can have a dance together.”
But I didn’t want to take it off. I wanted to keep it on with my whole being. As I swayed from side to side, brushing the dress between my hands as I swung my arms around, I felt so right I couldn’t understand why I had to take it off.
“I’ll be careful. I won’t make it dirty.” Dirty was the worst thing in that house as far as Mum was concerned, and I knew I wouldn’t do that to the dress.
As the music filled the room, Mum knelt in front of me. “One dance. But it’s our little secret. Don’t tell Daddy, all right?” She made a zipping motion with her hand across her lips.
I nodded emphatically and started to dance with her to the music. It was the one that made me dance the most on the whole album, it was “One Way Ticket.” It all felt perfect: the swishing sound of the dress as it moved around me, the feeling of the gap between my bare legs, and how different it was from wearing trousers.
As I danced, I caught a glimpse of myself, stood in my mum’s frock, smiling as I jumped about.
The song finished, and Mum lifted the needle on the record player and told me to take off the dress.
There was a bit of a disagreement as I begged for one more song, held up my He-Man figure and said, “I want to dance for him.”
“You like He-Man, do you, love?”
I nodded and Mum kept looking at her watch. In the end, she unzipped the dress behind my back and lifted me out of it. As the dress lay on the ground, pooled around my feet, the back door clicked, signalling Dad’s return from work. Mum scooped up the dress and folded it quickly into the ironing pile in the living room, then greeted Dad, in his grey suit carrying a black briefcase, with a hug and a kiss.
“What’s for dinner?” Dad asked over Mum’s shoulder, staring at me.
I was still moving a bit to the song continuing to play in my head.
“What’s he dancing about for? Why’s he not got any clothes on? Hasn’t he got something useful to do, like lay the table?”
Mum pulled back from the hug and told me to throw on some clothes, and then asked me to lay the table as dinner would be five minutes. Raising her eyebrows towards me, she said, “Fish fingers, peas, and chips. Your favourite.”
I ran upstairs to dress, nipping in ahead of Dad. Once we had both changed, we made our way downstairs again. Mum beamed at my dad, who was now wearing a shapeless grey tracksuit he’d bought from a catalogue when Mum had complained his old tracksuit had too many holes to be darned anymore.
We continued with our little secret most evenings. Sometimes, I would watch Mum putting on her makeup from their bed and I’d ask what each item was for as she applied them.
“Can I have a go?” I asked once got the courage.
She turned, half her lips bright red, the lipstick in her hand. “Not on you. You can do it on me if you want.” She handed it to me. As I applied it to her lips, I had to force my whole body not to put a bit on my own.
“How does it come off?” I asked innocently.
She showed me the makeup remover in the jar on her dressing table and the cotton wool in the drawer.
Now I knew everything I needed to know.
When Mum was hanging out the washing or deeply involved in dinner preparation, I would take some of Mum’s makeup into the bathroom and make up my whole face and then stare at myself in the mirror, amazed at how I no longer looked like me. Afterwards, I’d dutifully remove it all with the bottle and cotton wool just as Mum had done.
That Christmas, Mum opened her present from Dad: a pair of shiny black high-heeled shoes. The toes went to a sharp point and the heel was longer than my index finger. She tried them on, parading around the room and twirling her feet at every turn.
I looked at the Meccano tractor set I’d just opened and my heart sank. Why didn’t I have a little sister so I could play Barbie dolls with her as I was growing up? I’d seen these dolls in their bright-pink boxes and blonde hair next to the muddy-grey Action Man in the toy shop. When I’d asked for one of those, Dad had said not to be so silly. I wanted an Action Man, didn’t I?
Now, Dad said, “Shall we build the tractor?”
Desperate for something to have in common with Dad, I nodded, opened the box, and cleared a space on the living room carpet. Soon the tractor was built, with its red shiny three-inch wheels, bent tube of a body, and frame around the seat where my old Action Man could sit—if I could have found him. I’d just handed Dad bits and pieces, watching him build it. It was the most we’d talked to each other in years.
After everyone went to bed that night, I sneaked into the living room, pushed my tractor aside, put on Mum’s shiny black high heels, and walked around the kitchen, enjoying every quiet tap they made on the floor. After I’d had my fill, I put them back where they’d been left and went to bed.
Meet the Author
Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socialising with friends. He has a sweet tooth for food and entertainment: loving to escape from real life with a romantic book; enjoying a good cry at a sad, funny and camp film; and listening to musical cheesy pop from the eighties to now. He tirelessly watches an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing ‘research’.
Published since 2013 by a variety of British and American presses, his gay romance and gay fiction focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle. He’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and the Chartered Institute of Marketing. With a masters in creative writing from Kingston University, he teaches writing workshops with his partner in sarcasm and humour, Virginia Heath as http://www.realpeoplewritebooks.com and has also ghost written a client’s 5 Star reviewed autobiography.