Anthony couldn’t believe his good fortune. He had been invited to a party! What’s more mum had agreed to him going! And there were girls going too!
True it wasn’t going to be a big party. Edward would be there and so would Sean. Another boy, Ryan who was just sixteen and the oldest of the party-goers, would be in charge. Ryan's sister Angela was one of the three girls invited. To ensure things didn’t get out of control there would be grown-ups on hand, but as long as the children behaved themselves the grown-ups would remain in another part of the house in which the party was to be held.
Even at the outset, and unsuspected by Anthony, there was unrest among the boys and girls. It goes without saying that everyone thought they should have more freedom and Ryan thought of himself at sixteen far too worldly-wise and sophisticated to be attending a party with ‘young kids’, as he called them disparagingly. He would far rather be spending his time doing other things, but his mum insisted he help out.
As the big day approached Anthony pleaded with his mum to be allowed to wear longs. “But, mummy I’m fourteen now… all the other boys will be in longs… please can I wear some longs to the party?”
Mum wasn’t going to have any of this nonsense: “I’m not going to all the trouble and expense of buying you a pair of long trousers just for you to wear to the party…”
“Oh, but mum…” Anthony persisted.
His mum’s response was final: “If you carry on like this, Anthony, you won’t have a bedtime extension and you won’t be going to any parties…”
“Yes, mummy…” Anthony was crestfallen, but mum had spoken. Wisely Anthony kept his mouth shut, but he was tempted to ask exactly to what other parties had he been invited? He knew the answer; none, so it was very important to keep on the right side of mum to ensure he would be allowed to attend this one. When the day of the party finally arrived, and with a sense of resignation, Anthony went upstairs to his bedroom to see what his mum had put out for him to wear to the party.
His heart skipped a beat when he saw what had been laid out on his bed. He had been prepared for a disappointment, but not this! Not his Lederhosen! And not just any old pair of Lederhosen, but Anthony’s special junior, boy’s size Lederhosen. Anthony had last squeezed into them about 6 months ago, but as he was going through one of his growth spurts he had got noticeably taller since then. He picked up the tiny suede shorts. The thin leather felt soft in his fingers. Anthony toyed with the leather laces that held the outside seam of the legs of the shorts together and wondered whether he’d be able to loosen them a bit. Then he picked up the white frilly shirt with its brightly embroidered stitching. White ankle socks and plain black Mary-Janes completed the ensemble and it occurred to Anthony that it might possibly be a fancy-dress party. He hoped it was, otherwise he’d be a laughing-stock and no mistake!
From his underwear drawer he selected the briefest of his brief white school regulation underpants in the hope they were small enough and wouldn’t show when he was wearing the microscopic Lederhosen and luckily for Anthony they didn’t, but they were so brief, so tight and so small that it felt to him like he was being given a permanent ‘wedgie’ by one of his cousins.
Anthony put on the fancy shirt and school tie his mum had laid out. It felt a bit odd wearing his school tie to the party, but Anthony was all too aware that an out of place school tie would be of the least concern when the other boys and girls saw his Lederhosen outfit. Once again Anthony prayed the party would be fancy dress.
Before putting on the little leather shorts, Anthony decided to put on the white ankle socks and his shinny black Mary-Janes. He knew it would be a lot easier to put them on first, rather than leave it until he was wearing the tight Lederhosen. He stood and looked at himself in his bedroom mirror. The shirt didn’t have much in the way of tails and only reached just below the waistband of his little schoolboy underpants. Anthony brushed his hand over the short ‘cow-lick’ fringe that stood up from his forehead. Mum had insisted on an appointment with the barber’s chair for a ‘nice trim to tidy you up for the party’, as she put it and Anthony had duly sat patiently in the barber’s chair as he submitted to yet another humiliatingly short schoolboy short-back-and-sides. The cow-lick fringe he’d been left with was barely ½ inch long and left Anthony’s forehead completely bare and free of the more usual schoolboy long, floppy fringe favoured by boys of his age.
It was time for Anthony to pull on his Lederhosen. Anthony hated all the buttons and the front flap instead of a fly. Even more he hated the braces that attached to the back and front of the little leather shorts. Anthony first of all loosened the buckles on the braces at the front. They were positioned just above a thicker, oval-shaped cross-piece which was decorated with the image of a stag hand-tooled into the leather. Anthony made sure the braces were crossed before they were buttoned at the back of the shorts. He loosened the leather laces on each leg and then stepped into the tiny leather shorts. They were even smaller and tighter than he thought and it was a real struggle to get them on. Eventually, with much twisting and pulling, Anthony got the Lederhosen on, but when he looked at himself in the mirror he was shocked to see himself. He looked like a ten year old, squeezed as he was into the costume. It was humiliating. His long smooth legs, bare from the little white ankle-socks, seemed to go on forever, until they finally reached the severely short legs of the Lederhosen. Even then the humiliation wasn’t over as the leather shorts were now far too small for Anthony, so small in fact that the split sides didn’t quite meet and Anthony’s bare skin could been seen clearly exposed almost to his hips. Try as he might, Anthony just couldn’t get the leather laces to close the gap in the thin leather Lederhosen legs.
Anthony sighed. It was the best he could do. He felt dreadfully nervous now. Anthony told himself it must be a fancy-dress party, but that didn’t stop him from thinking that his mum might have been mistaken. What if it wasn’t a fancy-dress party? The thought made Anthony feel sick. With a look of desperation in his eyes Anthony stared at his reflection in the bedroom mirror and at the humiliating costume he was wearing. The thought that his mum might have been wrong was simply too horrifying for him to contemplate. The all too familiar feeling of butterflies in his tummy returned. The dread of humiliation made his legs feel all wobbly. Gosh his boy’s micro-Lederhosen were so tight!
“Anthony!” his mum called up to him from downstairs, “Anthony, hurry up… you don’t want to be late for the party!”
Anthony went downstairs and stood in front of his mum for inspection.
“Stand up straight…” He was. “Hands at your sides…” They were and Anthony could feel his wrists and palms of his open hands on the bare flesh of his legs below the all too brief shorts.
“These braces are far too loose for a start…”
“Oh, please, mum…!” Anthony knew that if the braces were any shorter his bottom would be likely to be split in half.
“Stop making such a fuss, Anthony. Don’t you want to look nice and smart for the party?”
With that admonishment mum loosened the buckles and shortened the braces not by just one hole, but by two holes on each side! The tiny Lederhosen were pulled up even further as Anthony found himself being hoisted up onto tip toes as mum yanked sharply on the braces before doing up the buckles once more.
Anthony hadn’t thought it possible the Lederhosen could be made any more humiliating, but mum had succeeded and as he felt around the hem of the tiny leather shorts with his fingertips, to his horror he could feel the bare lower curves of his smooth bottom quite exposed. As he groped his own bottom he was mortified to realise how little the shorts now covered and there was simply nothing he could do! It was so unfair!
Mum wasn’t quite finished with the inspection. She wasn’t satisfied with Anthony’s tie and to his surprise undid it and took it right off. It was replaced with a dark green bow tie that featured antler motifs.
“There we are… that’s much nicer,” his mum said as she straightened the bow tie, “When I saw it in the shop I knew it would set off your lovely Lederhosen costume. It matches the stag on the cross-piece. Everyone will be so envious of your costume Anthony…”
Mum seemed totally oblivious to the somewhat tight fit (to say the least!) of her fourteen year old son’s Lederhosen. Anthony squirmed as he continued to try and feel just how revealing the tiny leather shorts were now that his mum had shortened the braces.
“Err, mum…” he said, “Um… are you sure it’s a fancy dress party?”
“What do you mean, Anthony? I don’t think anyone’s said anything about fancy dress,” was mum’s rather startling reply.
Anthony’s face fell. His mouth opened and closed as if to speak, but he was so horrified by his mum’s unexpected answer that he was struck dumb.
“No, I don’t think it’s a fancy dress party, darling. Whatever made you think that?”
“I… I… just thought… Oh please, mum, can’t I wear something else?”
“Oh don’t be silly, Anthony, I thought you liked your Lederhosen outfit. I’m sure everyone will be thrilled to see you wearing it… You haven’t worn it for such a long time. I thought the party would be an ideal opportunity to…”
Anthony was almost in tears as he realised the full horror of his situation. Here he was a fourteen year old boy about to go to a party with his cousins and friends; boys and girls, his first party that he knew wouldn’t be a ‘children’s party’, a party for young people, a party without grown-ups… and here he was dressed in the most humiliating costume imaginable. He knew he’d be a laughing-stock.
“Please, mum… please can I wear something else…?” he mumbled, barely able to stop himself from crying.
“Oh, don’t be so silly Anthony… just you wait and see… everyone will be so pleased to see you in your Lederhosen… I’m sure all the boys will be really envious… besides there’s no time to change now… If you wanted to wear something else, you should have said so…”
It was all so unfair. Anthony felt he’d been tricked into wearing the humiliating costume. It was alright for his mum to say he should have said something… but what could he have said? He knew from experience that in the matter of clothes it was useless to argue with his mother. His boy’s Lederhosen had been laid out for him to wear to the party, so with deep reluctance that’s what he’s put on, assuming the only reason for such a choice of costume must be that it was to be a fancy-dress party.
Anthony was distracted from his thoughts by his mum’s voice: “Now stand still while I put this on…”
Anthony’s eyes nearly popped out of his head.
“I bought it with the tie… Come here and let’s put it on. It’s called an Alpine Hat… isn’t it nice?”
Anthony gawped at the dark-green felt hat. It was ridiculous. In one side of the hat was a jaunty red feather. Anthony knew he’d look completely stupid. As if it wasn’t bad enough wearing his eye-wateringly brief Lederhosen, now he had the indignity of a preposterous Alpine hat to wear to the party as well!
“Aw, mum… Please… do I have to wear that as well?” Anthony whined.
“Why, of course… I bought it especially for you. When your Aunty Gladys saw it in the shop, she said it was just what you needed to go with your Lederhosen costume. It was Aunty Gladys who reminded me that she hadn’t seen you wearing your Lederhosen in such a long time and I thought it would be such a nice idea to wear it to the party and then you’d have your lovely new Alpine hat to show off to everyone as well!”
Anthony saw it all. It was his Aunty Gladys who was behind his latest humiliation and he would bet that his cousins had a hand in it too. Yes, Anthony could well imagine Sean or Edward sidling up to Aunty Gladys and reminding her about his Lederhosen and wouldn’t it be such a good idea for him to wear it to the party? Having said that, Anthony thought his mum didn’t need much encouragement from her sister to find new and ever more exquisite ways of humiliating her fourteen year old son.
“… and I want you to thank your Aunty Gladys properly for finding your Alpine hat,” his mum continued, “Sometimes I think you can be so ungrateful, Anthony. Why, I’d quite forgotten about your Lederhosen outfit until your Aunty Gladys reminded me about it… so you’ve two reasons to thank her; for reminding me about your lovely little Lederhosen costume and for suggesting your nice new Alpine hat.”
Anthony ran his hands over the backs of his bare legs and along the seams of the tiny leather shorts. “But mum…” he whined once more, “It’s not fair…”
But mum was having none of it: “What’s not fair, Anthony? Honestly,” she continued before her son had time to say anything, “honestly I just don’t know what to do with you… You’ve been invited to a nice party with your cousins and their friends and all you can do is moan and whinge… what’s up with you, Anthony? Don’t you like you lovely Lederhosen costume?”
Once more Anthony didn’t have any time to reply and had barely opened his mouth before his mum went on: “You’re the most ungrateful little boy I know. I’ve let you wear one of your favourite outfits… I’m sure Edward and Sean don’t make as much fuss as you do, Anthony…”
Anthony’s ears burnt. He couldn’t believe what he just heard his mum say. Favourite outfit! Good heavens! Anthony thought, it was one of his most humiliating outfits and that was saying something! If he had his way he’d have thrown it out long ago. It was true he had thought his mum had forgotten about it, but he should have known otherwise. Now, courtesy of his loving Aunt Gladys, he had a stupid Alpine hat to wear as well! Anthony was dreading the party and his inevitable humiliation.
Mum continued with her tirade: “… If it wasn’t for the fact that Sean and Edward are expecting you, Anthony, I’d have a mind not to let you go to the party…”
Anthony could see his mum was becoming exasperated and that never boded well. He hung his head in shame and simply said: “I’m sorry, mum… I didn’t mean…”
He knew there was no getting out of it. He’d have to go dressed as he was, a fourteen year old boy with his gangly long legs all bare, wearing Mary Janes and ankle socks together with eye-wateringly short leather shorts that were so very short they didn’t even cover his smooth boy’s bottom properly. And as if that wasn’t enough he was wearing a colourfully embroidered shirt with the whole, utterly humiliating ensemble set off by his new Alpine hat. Anthony swore he had never felt quite as miserable as he did at that moment.
The journey to his cousin’s house, where the party was being held, was undertaken by Anthony in silence. Anthony knew better than to do any more complaining. He felt the clammy and uncomfortable faux-leather seat-covering sticking to the backs of his bare thighs as his mother drove the car. Anthony twisted in the seat in a futile attempt to get comfortable, but only succeeded in making matters worse for himself as the tiny leather shorts were pushed up further, cutting even more deeply into his crotch. This made him twist and wriggle some more and as he did so his bare legs rubbed uncomfortably on the car seat and made a squeaking noise that sounded somewhere between a frightened mouse and a muffled fart.
“Do try and keep still, Anthony,” his mum admonished, “For heaven’s sake it’s not much to ask… All you do is fidget, fidget, fidget… I hope you’re going to behave yourself at this party, Anthony… I don’t want a repeat of your recent behaviour… put your nice hat straight… and stop wriggling about…”
The dreaded moment arrived and Anthony having extracted himself from the sticky car-seat, found himself standing by his mother’s side in front of his Aunty Gladys’ house.
“Ring the door-bell Anthony,” his mum said, but before Anthony could do so the door was pulled open.
Sean did a double-take and stood open-mouthed at the sight of his older cousin’s costume. For about five long seconds he gazed at the tight-fitting and very brief Lederhosen. Sean’s eyes moved up and down taking in every shameful detail of Anthony’s party outfit. Sean’s eyes were wide open; he couldn’t believe how ridiculous his cousin looked. With difficulty he stifled his understandable desire to laugh out loud. It was quite clear to Anthony that Sean was savouring his exquisite humiliation. Sean, Anthony saw with envy, was wearing the very latest clothes which included expense-looking jeans along with a pair of bright, garish almost, trainers which were clearly so brand new they had never been worn outside. Anthony looked down at this own footwear; to his degrading, sissy Mary Janes and he wanted to run.
Sean held the door open as a girl’s voice was heard to call out asking who it was at the door. Anthony recognised the voice as that of Angela, Ryan’s younger sister who, at fifteen was a year older than Anthony. Nevertheless, Anthony had a bit of a crush on the older girl and was even more embarrassed (and red-faced!) at the prospect of meeting her dressed in his Lederhosen. He hesitated on the door-step as Sean bade him and his mother to enter the house.
“Go on in, Anthony, there’s no need to be shy,” his mum said as she took his hand and led him over the threshold. Sean couldn’t help himself and sniggered when he saw how Anthony was being escorted into the house.
Anthony’s mum was still holding her son’s hand when Angela came out of the front room where the party was being held. She too was surprised to see Anthony’s exquisitely humiliating party costume, but suppressed her natural desire to burst out laughing. Instead she managed to instinctively add to Anthony’s already toe-curling shame by taking hold of his other hand and leading him toward the door of the front-room.
“I’m afraid Anthony’s rather shy,” his mum said by way of explanation as she let go of her son’s hand.
“Don’t worry,” Angela replied, “I’ll look after Anthony and he’ll have a lovely time…”
“That’s nice of you, but don’t let him get too over-excited… We’ll be upstairs if you need us…”
Anthony was lead inexorably towards the room in which the party was being held. He could hear the voices of the other boys and girls who were already enjoying themselves. He felt like a little boy… a frightened little boy on his first day at school… being lead by an older pupil who appeared to know everything and everyone, which the little boy did not. He felt dreadful and as Sean closed the front door, Anthony felt himself trapped, as if about to undergo the most awful humiliation of his young life… which indeed he was!
Angela made sure that everyone in the room was aware of Anthony’s arrival. In the split second of silence that followed Angela’s announcement which drew everyone’s attention to the profusely blushing boy, Anthony saw and realised that he was even more out of place than he imagined. While he was most assuredly the only boy in the room wearing thigh-baring short-shorts, he also saw that his mum had made him dress in the most laughable, ridiculous costume imaginable.
Then the hoots of laughter started and the wolf-whistles and cat-calls which soon followed made Anthony’s ears burn with embarrassment. One of the girls, thirteen year old Suzy, asked whether Anthony was going to sing them all a song as it was obvious that he was dressed just like one of the boys from the Sound of Music. This was priceless. Even Angela hadn’t thought of that connection, yet it was so obvious!
The noise continued and could be heard upstairs.
“Anthony seems to be a very popular young boy,” Virginia Horne, Suzy’s mother, observed.
“Oh I do hope this doesn’t all go to his head,” Anthony’s mum replied, “You know how troublesome he can be if he gets too excited Gladys…”
“You don’t need to remind me, Hetty…” Aunt Gladys replied then added, “… but Anthony’s Lederhosen costume appears to have been quite a hit…”
“Lederhosen…?” Mrs Horne asked, looking quite astonished that any boy would willingly dress up in such a costume. “Why, did Anthony think it was a fancy-dress party?”
“I don’t think so…but you know how some boys do like to show off… and I must say he does look so sweet in his tiny leather shorts,” Hetty replied and added to her sister, “Thank you so much for reminding me about Anthony’s Lederhosen, Gladys. I’d quite forgotten about it. It really is such a shame Anthony’s not worn it for such a long time and I know he used to love wearing it when he was younger…”
In saying this Anthony’s mum was being somewhat economical with the truth. The fact was that Anthony had very little say in the matter of what he was allowed to wear. His short-trousered school uniform dominated his wardrobe of course, so any change from these clothes which were worn most days, whether or not he was actually attending school, was usually felt by Anthony to be better than nothing. And it was fair to say his Lederhosen, at first, had seemed a great deal better than some of his mum’s choices of frankly juvenile and demeaning ‘play-clothes’. Anthony had thought the stag motif on the cross-brace looked pretty cool, but as he was only eleven at the time his enthusiasm for the costume might have been a little premature. Once he realised the full extent of the embarrassment the tight and very brief little leather shorts were capable of, his eagerness to wear them became somewhat muted. By the time he was thirteen, the last time he had worn his Lederhosen, Anthony was positively dreading his public exposure and the ridicule which attended his wearing of such a humiliating costume.
Downstairs at the party Anthony found himself the centre of attention. Suzy demanded Anthony sing them all a song and soon everyone was calling out encouragement. It was Edward who came up with the idea for Anthony to stand on a chair so that everyone could see. Then Sean whispered into his older brother’s ear and it was decided that two chairs would be better and so Anthony found himself being hoisted up onto the chairs and forced to stand with a foot on each chair.
At first the chairs were quite close together when he started to sing (well, what choice did the poor humiliated boy have?) ‘Climb Every Mountain’. Anthony didn’t have a particularly musical voice and to everyone’s amusement he would suddenly produce an off-key squeak which would add to his already high level of anguish. Then to his horror, during the second verse, he felt the chairs being moved apart so that he was forced to stretch his legs wide apart to keep his balance. His audience was unmerciful and simply adored Anthony’s wavering, squeaky singing, cheering every ridiculous false note.
By the time he reached the end of his song Anthony’s legs were stretched so far apart that his Lederhosen felt as if they they’d fly apart at any moment. All the boys and girls in the room were laughing and enjoying Anthony’s all too evident distress. Fortunately for Anthony his costume was sturdily made and withstood the treatment it was getting, but at the expense of considerable discomfort, as the tiny leather shorts cut painfully into the tops of his bare legs. As Anthony’s singing finally squeaked and wobbled to a halt he knew he’d never live it down; that he was a complete laughing-stock; and that he never, ever, wanted to go to a party ever again.
Angela stepped forward and helped him down from the chairs.
“That was a lovely song, Anthony,” she said to Anthony’s utter bewilderment and disbelief, “Boys can be so shy when they’re asked to sing or perform, but you really enjoyed singing your song, didn’t you?”
Anthony didn’t know what to say in answer and, as he tried to make his Lederhosen a bit more comfortable, merely mumbled a vague, “Err, I suppose, I… err, dunno really…” which of course Angela took to mean that Anthony positively loved singing in front of everyone.
Angela took Anthony under her wing and as the party got into full swing he soon found himself the centre of attention once more when he was persuaded to dance. Anthony had never had the opportunity to try this before, but Angela told him how easy it was and told him the best thing to do was to close his eyes and just move to the music. Anthony wasn’t so sure, but when he closed his eyes and felt Angela’s hands take his and lift his arms about, he began to enjoy the feeling.
Of course everyone in the room was watching Anthony’s dancing lesson and clapped in time to the music as Angela got Anthony to lift his feet and hop about. Needless to say Anthony presented a quite ludicrous sight as he jumped about and swung his arms, not quite in time to the music. It would be fair to say that Anthony did not possess any natural rhythm anymore than he could hold a tune. When the song finished Anthony opened his eyes and was amazed when everyone in the room cheered.
But all good things must come to an end and at precisely, in the middle of a dance, Anthony’s mum appeared in the doorway. Ryan stopped the music and everyone came to a halt… apart from Anthony that is who was facing away from the door and hadn’t seen what the other party-goers had seen. Anthony, carried away with his new-found ability to ‘dance’, carried on waving his arms about and hopping from one foot to the other, oblivious to the lack of music and oblivious to the presence of his mum in the doorway. All of a sudden he realised that everyone else had stopped dancing and were all looking over his shoulder at something. By the looks on their faces, Anthony saw that it was something serious. He twisted around and suddenly froze stock still in the middle of the room. He was facing his mum. To his abject horror he could see what she held in her hand. It was a pair of his pyjamas.
“Come along Anthony, it’s well past your pyjama-time…” she said ignoring the stunned silence.
Anthony opened and closed his mouth, then blurted out: “No… please, mum…”
“Anthony, you’ve already had half hour’s extension to your pyjama-time as it is,” mum said firmly, “Now I’ve brought along a nice clean pair of your favourite pyjamas… I want you to come along with me and we’ll get you changed… You can come back and play with your friends for a bit longer once you've got your pyjamas on.”
Anthony had never felt so embarrassed in his life… and that was saying something! It was probably just as well he was so focussed on the winceyette pyjamas held in his mum’s hand that he was unaware of the stifled sniggers that came from his fellow party-goers.
“Anthony…” mum said sternly, “I’m waiting…”
Angela stepped forward and took Anthony by the hand: “Come on… better do what mum says…”