Scott Harris was so embarrassed to be given the pink sailor suit to wear at the forthcoming wedding of Penelope, the daughter of a close friend of Scottie’s Aunty Violet. He thought he might ask (though when it came down to it, ‘beg’ would be a better word) the groom if he could wear something else when he performed his duties as the couple’s ring-bearer. Even the hideous sailor-suit he’d been bought from Miss Fairchild’s Emporium would be less humiliating than the ring-bearer outfit, Scottie thought.
Scottie was sure he’d meet the groom at the wedding rehearsal and he thought this would be his best opportunity to persuade the groom of the utter shame he, Scottie, would be forced to endure if he was seen in public wearing the all too brief pink sailor-suit outfit. A man, Scottie reasoned, would be sure to understand.
On the day of the rehearsal Emily called for Scottie only to find him dressed in a pair of shiny green football shorts and yellow T-shirt. Scottie had nothing on his feet, not even a pair of socks or sandals.
“What’s this, Scottie?” Emily said when she saw him, “You know it’s Penelope’s wedding rehearsal today, don’t you? You didn’t seriously think you could go dressed like that did you?”
Scottie mumbled something about it only being a stupid rehearsal and why couldn’t he wear his football kit if he wanted to?
“Scott Harris… may I remind you that we are going to be visiting a church… a house of God,” Emily said in a voice that didn’t require a genius to recognise how annoyed she was with Scottie, “I will not allow you set foot in a church dressed like that… take those clothes off this instant!”
Foolishly Scottie started to argue: “Don’t want to go anyway… why should I… stupid wedding…”
“What’s all this about?” mum asked as she entered the room, “I thought I told you to get changed, Scottie…”
“But… but… I don’t want to wear that stupid pink outfit… it’s sissy… shan’t… anyway, I’m going to speak to… to...”
“Who are you going to speak to, Scottie?” Emily asked.
“The man Penelope’s going to marry… that’s who…” Scottie replied, “He won’t make me wear that sissy outfit…”
Emily and Scottie’s mother looked at each other. They each knew what the other was thinking… Scottie was in need of a lesson. Scottie saw the exchange of glances and immediately started to backpedal as fast as he could, but it was too late…
“Fetch the discipline strap for me please, Emily,” mum said in the calm, matter-of-fact voice that Scottie found so chilling.
“No, mum… please… I didn’t mean it…” Scottie said as he started to plead for forgiveness.
“Then what did you mean, Scottie?”
“I mean… it’s not fair making me dress up in that sissy outfit… I don’t see why…” Scottie searched for the right words and tried his best to sound helpful before Emily returned with the horrid little leather strap. “Please mum, can’t I wear the sailor suit you bought for me from Miss Fairchild’s?”
“I don’t know why you’re making such a fuss about your outfit, Scottie,” his mum answered, “You should be proud to have been asked to be the ring-bearer at Penelope’s wedding. Penelope and her mother have spend a lot of time planning the wedding… and I’m sure it’s involved considerable expense. It’s unfortunate Simon was taken ill, but you should…”
At that moment Emily returned with the discipline strap and Scottie found himself over mummy’s knee.
“Emily would you be so kind as to pull down Scottie’s shorts… in fact you might as well take them right off while I push his shirt up out of the way.”
Mum laid the strap over Scottie’s bare bottom as she continued to explain to him how much effort had gone into planning the wedding and how Scottie had a key rôle to play and that he would be wearing his pink sailor suit outfit on the big day… or on any other occasion when he was told to wear it.
As Emily watched the strap fell on Scottie’s bottom and on the backs of his thighs. Scottie tried to control himself but it wasn’t long before the tears flowed.
“Now get up and stop making such a fuss… Now go and stand facing the wall Scottie, while Emily and I decide what you can wear to the rehearsal,” mum said. Emily had already decided what Scottie would wear, however… and it wasn’t to be his school uniform.
Snivelling and with singing legs and bottom, Scottie did as he was told, but not before performing his improvised ‘spanking dance’. Mum and Emily smiled as they watched Scottie jumping about, before he realised what a spectacle he was making of himself. Red-faced Scottie went and stood faced the wall. Still snivelling he put his hands on his head.
Mum and Emily discussed Emily’s choice of clothes. Frustratingly for Scottie they were just out of earshot and besides he was still too preoccupied with his sore legs and bottom to notice anything else. Emily disappeared and returned a few minutes later carrying Scottie’s change of clothes. Scottie was called to turn round and face them. Emily was holding up what Scottie would be wearing to attend the rehearsal.
“Oh… please Emily… NO!! Mum… please don’t let Emily make me wear… that…” Scottie said, his eyes still wet with tears.
“Your Aunty Violet will be at the rehearsal,” mum explained, “She’ll be thrilled to see you wearing your Continental suit… It’s been such a long time since you wore it last. She was asking me just the other day why she hadn’t seen you wearing it recently, so I agree with Emily and it would be nice surprise for Aunty Violet…” Scottie opened his mouth to presumably to protest, but mum cut him short, “I don’t want to hear another word from you Scottie. You don’t want Aunty Violet to think you’re ungrateful, do you? She went to a lot of trouble to get you such a lovely continental suit… and what with all your complaining about your ring-bearer’s outfit, I’m beginning to think I brought nothing less than a spoiled little boy into the world…”
Mrs Harris turned away from Scottie as she drew a hankie from her sleeve.
“Now see what you’ve done!” Emily remonstrated, “Apologise to mummy this instant!”
In spite of everything Scottie hated to upset his mother. He just wished he’d been better behaved at school and not been put back. If he’d not been put back he might still have his mother’s trust and not need Emily who bossed him about so much and got him put back into short trousers. And if he hadn’t been put back into short trousers, Aunty Violet might not have bought him the hideous continental suit.
Scottie apologised and told his mother he was very sorry.
“Now are you going to wear your nice continental suit for Auntie Violet?” his mother asked.
“Yes, mummy…” Scottie replied.
“... and no more silly fuss?”
And so Scottie was helped into the ludicrously, not to say indecently short continental suit short trousers. It was fortunate, or unfortunate depending upon which way you look at it, that Scottie was at that age when he grew upwards but not outwards. That is to say that although Scottie’s height had increased noticeably since he’d last worn his continental suit, other of his measurements, importantly his waist, had not, so the little shorts whilst revealing even more of the lower half of his bottom, fitted him without difficulty.
As usual Scottie spent the first few minutes picking at the hem of the little shorts as he waited for Emily and his mother to get themselves ready. He’d just managed, with a lot of wriggling, to pull the short trousers down about half an inch when he heard Emily call out to his mother:
“I’ve found them, Mrs Harris! Shall I help Scottie to put them on…?” she asked.
“Yes, you’d better had… Scottie has grown, so he’ll no doubt be needing them now,” His mother replied.
Scottie bit his lower lip as he continued to struggle with the tiny continental suit short trousers and was just beginning to feel a sense of achievement in having managed to cover nearly a full inch of his thighs and lower bottom cheeks when Emily burst into the room brandishing a pair of braces.
“Look what I’ve found, Scottie!” she announced, waving the straps in the air, “It’s been such a long time since you wore Aunty Violet’s continental suit, that you’ll need braces to help keep up your short trousers… look they’ve slipped down already.”
“Please, Emily… I don’t need braces… honestly,” Scottie was well aware of the trouble he’d be in if he told Emily what he’d been up to. He was sure pulling at his short trousers and trying to cover his legs would be frowned upon and besides the backs of his thighs were still sore from his earlier encounter with mummy’s strap.
“Don’t be silly, Scottie… I can see from here how your short trousers have slipped,” Emily persisted, “It won’t take a minute…”
Already Emily had the straps over Scottie’s shoulders and in double-quick time they were fastened to the continental shorts. Emily positioned herself in front of Scottie and prepared to tighten the straps. First of all though she gripped the waistband of the shorts and tugged them back up, in an instant undoing all of Scottie’s fiddling. Next she adjusted the straps and Scottie felt as if he was being sliced in half. The tiny shorts dug into his crotch and his reflex action caused him to jerk up onto tiptoes.
“OUCH!! That hurt…” Scottie protested, “Please Emily… it’s too tight.”
“Oh, don’t be such a baby,” Emily remonstrated, “We can’t have you looking untidy… there, that’s much better!”
Scottie could feel the continental short trousers pinching him and ran his fingertips around the raised hem. It felt a lot higher than a few moments ago. Then, to his abject horror, he found that by standing straight with his arms at his sides, the hem of his little shorts was now actually higher than his wrists!
There was no escape from this exposure, since the continental suit came with a short ‘bum-freezer’ style jacket which drew even more attention to just how ludicrously short Scottie’s continental suit trousers were.
Emily gave Scottie one final inspection before announcing that as it was such a nice day there was plenty of time for them both to walk the church in time for the rehearsal. Mummy, he was told, would take the car and meet them at the church.
“But why can’t we go with mummy in the car?” Scottie asked.
“There’s plenty of time and the exercise will do you good,” Emily replied, “Now come along and stop dithering…”
It was just over a mile to the church and every step of the way Scottie felt the tight little shorts cutting into him and rubbing his upper thighs. As if this wasn’t bad enough Scottie was also acutely conscious how everyone they passed would look at his continental suit and most would do a double-take when they saw the shortness of his short trousers. When Scottie saw a group of girls walking towards him he would have run away if Emily had not insisted on holding his hand the entire time. The girls did no more than giggle and point at Scottie’s bare legs, but it was quite enough to make him want to go back home and hide in his bedroom until the whole wedding thing was over. Scottie couldn’t understand why anyone in their right mind would want to get married anyway. It seemed to him to be a barmy idea. Women and girls were bossy enough to begin with without being married to them.
In due course they arrived at the church. Scottie had hatched a plan to get the groom on his own to try and explain how humiliating his little pink sailor-suit outfit was. He wanted, if at all possible, to get him on his side in the hope he would veto the ring-bearer’s costume and get it replaced for something that made Scottie look less like a sissy.
Scottie looked around. The first thing he noticed was that everyone; the bride, bridesmaids, bride’s mother and sundry other ladies whose rôles he was unsure of, were all dressed casually. Some of the younger girls were wearing denims, while the older ladies wore long skirts or dresses. It didn’t take more than a few seconds for Scottie to realise he was the only person present who was dressed so smartly and briefly.
Scottie spotted a couple of boys lounging about near the entrance the church. They had their hands in their pockets as they waited. The boys seemed to be about his age and their hands were stuffed into the pockets of their trousers... long trousers! Scottie was mortified. What were they doing here? Scottie tried to hide behind a gravestone but Emily told him not to disappear. The boys saw him and came racing over before Scottie could do anything.
It turned out the boys were twins and the younger brothers of Marcus, the bridegroom. Their names were Alan and Adrian and they were nearly fifteen, almost a year younger than Scottie.
“So you’re Scott Harris, the ring-bearer…” Alan said when the boys had introduced themselves to each other.
“There wasn’t any need to dress up for the rehearsal you know,” Adrian added.
“Blimey! These shorts aren’t half short y’know… did Penny’s mum make you put them on?” Alan said as he walked around Scottie to examine the tiny shorts, “Did you know you can see your bum?”
Adrian joined his brother: “Cor… they really are short… Wow, Penny’s mum must have measured you up all wrong…”
Scottie was forced to admit to the twins that his continental suit was not the outfit Mrs Bloom had got for him to wear for his rôle as ring-bearer: “I’ve got to wear a… a sailor-suit…” he blurted out after being pestered by Alan and Adrian. To Scottie’s surprise the boys didn’t laugh…
“Wow! That’s really cool,” Adrian said, “Marcus is a midshipman, y’know… He told us he’d be wearing his full dress uniform…”
“All in white, just like the bride…” Alan chipped in as he rolled his eyes upwards.
“Er… where is Marcus?” Scottie asked, “I thought he’d be here…”
“Marcus is still at sea,” Alan replied,” Won’t be here until the big day… He’ll be really chuffed when he sees the ring-bearer wearing a sailor-suit...”
“... but it’s pink… and, um… small,” Scottie said, deciding to bite the bullet and with a face growing ever redder, explained why he was hoping the meet with the boys’ brother.
“Wonder why it’s pink?” Alan pondered.
“You’ll look a right sissy,” Adrian observed.
“Yes… I know…” Scottie confirmed.
“I’m not sure what to suggest… you wouldn’t get me into a pink sailor-suit… not for all the tea in China… how about you Alan?” Adrian said firmly.
“Me neither… but as I say, Marcus is still at sea, so we can’t ask him… looks like you’ll have to just grin and bare it, Scottie,” Alan said.
Yes, thought Scottie, I’ll be ‘baring it’ all right.
“Cutting it a bit fine for Marcus to get here in time, if you ask me,” Adrian said and it became clear to Scottie how literally like a double act the two boys were.
“ Of course he’ll get here in plenty of time,” Alan countered, “The other junior officers on his ship will make sure of that!” Then Alan explained to Scottie what their rôles were at their older brother’s wedding, “For the rehearsal I’m standing in for Marcus and Adrian’s going to be best man,” he explained, “We’ll both be best men on the day… so you’d better be on your toes… Gosh! Who’s the old dragon, Scott… I think she’s after you...”
“Oh there you are Scottie,” Aunty Violet said as she bore down on her nephew, “How nice to see you wearing your continental suit again… I thought you might have outgrown it by now and would have needed it to be sent away for alterations, but I can see it still fits you perfectly… a real continental boy!”
“Thank you, Aunty Violet,” Scottie replied sheepishly, rather embarrassed in front of the twins who had now been told Scottie’s super-short continental shorts were not a mistake by Penelope’s mum… they had been bought for him by his aunt, moreover an aunt who thought his indecently short short trousers were a perfect fit! If only Scottie had given the matter a bit of thought, he might possibly have had his continental suit sent away for alterations.
“I see you’re wearing braces now… very grown-up!” Aunty Violet teased her nephew, “Let me have a look…”
“Oh please, aunty… no don’t pull them,” Scottie said urgently as Aunty Violet prepared to shorten the braces, “Please, aunty! They’re really tight already… OUCH!”
Needless to say Adrian and Alan were highly amused at seeing Scottie having his braces adjusted, but they were both bright enough not to let Aunty Violet see their smirks. The boys could not believe Scottie’s continental shorts could rise any higher, but Aunty Violet was a strong woman and not used to being defeated by something as basic as a pair of boy’s braces. With each jerk of Scottie’s braces, Aunty Violet succeeded exposing to the world more of Scottie’s bare flesh than one would have ever thought possible. The extra discomfort this caused Scottie became close to intolerable. Suddenly thought of changing into the ring-bearer’s pink sailor-suit for the rehearsal became almost appealing.
Whether it was appealing or not, Scottie was spared the pink sailor-suit at the rehearsal. Nevertheless, he was still the smartest and most briefly dressed person to attend. His new friends, Alan and Adrian, insisted on seeing Scottie dressed in his ring-bearer’s outfit at the earliest opportunity. This was achieved by the boys blatantly sucking up to Penelope’s mum to make sure they had sight of it before their older brother.
So although no one changed into their outfits, Scottie still had to endure what seemed like hours practicing walking up and down the nave of the cold and drafty church. He was made to hold one of the church hassocks at his arm’s length as he did so. The hassock was used to give Scottie something to carry as the cushion wouldn’t be ready until the wedding. Unfortunately for Scottie the hassock was heavy and each time his arms sagged, usually with a few feet of the altar, Mrs Bloom would call a halt to proceedings and remonstrate with him.
By the fifth attempt even Alan and Adrian were telling Scottie what a wimp he was for not being able to hold up a piddling little cushion in front of him. And all the while Scottie’s bare legs were feeling the chill inside the church as his unforgiving braces held his little continental shorts higher than they’d ever been held before.
The rehearsal dragged on for far longer than anyone was expecting and by the end even Aunty Violet was close to unilaterally withdrawing her presence. The Big Day was little over a week away and Aunty Violet hadn’t even settled on which hat to wear. She consulted with Mrs Bloom to find out what other ladies would be wearing. This intelligence was important as Aunty Violet had to consider her reputation as the best dressed lady at whatever the event might be that she graced with her presence. Her briefing, yes Aunty Violet treated these events as military operations, also gave her the opportunity to find out a bit more about Penelope’s ‘young man’.
Had Scottie been able to eavesdrop on the conversation between Aunty Violet and the soon-to-be mother-in-law, Mrs Bloom, he might have saved himself from becoming at all hopeful that somehow the groom might put in a good word for him on the subject of the ring-bearer’s outfit.
Marcus was nineteen years old and a midshipman on board HMS Troutbridge, Mrs Bloom explained to Aunty Violet. His ship had been on patrol in tropical waters, but the return to their home port had been delayed by storms in the Bay of Biscay.
“Well I do hope we can expect the young man to be on time for his own wedding,” Aunty Violet said imperiously, “Weddings always demand a lot of time and expense for everyone… it would be most inconsiderate if a junior officer in the Royal Navy could not set an example in promptitude… whatever the weather in the Bay of Biscay…”
“... and what, pray, will our junior officer be wearing?” Aunty Violet asked.
“Marcus is to wear his full dress uniform,” Mrs Bloom replied, “I saw him briefly at a function before he joined his ship. He looked very smart dressed in his crisp, white uniform.” Then Mrs Bloom lent forward conspiratorially and added, “Marcus sent Penelope a photograph of himself and some of his fellow officers. They were all dressed in their tropical uniforms… and Penelope, bless her, made Marcus promise to get married wearing it!”
Aunty Violet looked puzzled and Mrs Bloom had to explain how the officers’ tropical uniform varied in one very crucial aspect, “... short trousers! They wear short trousers when the ship in in tropical latitudes…”
Aunty Violet laughed: “And Penelope has persuaded Midshipman Marcus to wear short trousers to the wedding… her wedding, their wedding!”
“Actually I rather think Penelope told Marcus he would be wearing his tropical shorts…” Mrs Bloom said with a barely suppressed chuckle.
“I’m sure he’ll look very smart walking up the aisle in short trousers and then waiting for his bride to make her entrance and join him at the altar,” Aunty Violet said, “In my opinion short trousers worn by boys and young men such as Marcus are good for self-discipline… gives them some backbone!”
But what neither woman knew, or even suspected, was what happened when Marcus’ fellow junior officers found out he was to wear his short-trousered tropical dress uniform for his wedding. Knowing how orders for dress uniform would change to allow long trousers to be worn once the ship was in home waters, a cabal of junior officers on Troutbridge waited until they could smuggle Marcus’ dress shorts to the on-board tailor for some very special alterations.
It wasn’t until the morning of the day of the wedding that Midshipman Marcus found out what the alterations to his tropical issue dress uniform were. He was horrified to find out what his fellow junior officers had done. Not them personally, he understood, since the tailoring was far too professional. Marcus quickly surmised that his dress uniform had been spirited away to the on-board tailor as they steamed for home and orders given for its alteration.
There was nothing Marcus could do about it as his cunning fellow junior officers had seen to it that his spare tropical uniform was altered as well. One thing was certain though, he could not now be seen wearing his tropical uniform at his wedding to Penelope. The very thought of walking down the aisle dressed in his altered uniform made Marcus feel quite ill.
There was only one thing for it, Marcus concluded, he would have to ring his soon-to-be mother-in-law, explain the situation; that he could not possibly wear his tropical uniform as planned and ask Penelope’s mother if he might not wear his regular dress uniform instead.
His call did not go as planned, nor did it achieve the desired result.
“Marcus,” Mrs Bloom replied sharply to her soon-to-be son-in-law, “I understood from Penelope that she made it quite clear how you were to dress for the wedding?” Marcus was given no time in which to fully explain what had happened and that he was the victim of a practical joke by his fellow junior officers.
“Yes… b-but… you see…” he stammered.
“That’s just it, Marcus… I see perfectly, but you don’t see it at all,” Mrs Bloom interrupted, “Marcus, let me explain,” she continued as if talking to a child, “you made Penelope a promise, did you not?”
“Yes, Mrs Bloom… Yes, I did… b-but...”
“You made Penelope a promise, as an officer and a gentleman, that you would wear your tropical dress uniform. That is correct, is it not?”
“P-perfectly t-true, Mrs Bloom…”
“And now, for some frivolous reason you wish to renege on your solemn promise to your betrothed… This, if I may be permitted to say so Marcus, is not the way to begin your marriage.”
Poor Marcus could barely speak to croak out his apologies to his soon-to-be mother-in-law. He glanced down at his white dress shorts and grimaced. His fellow officers’ fun had placed Midshipman Marcus in a most embarrassing position. The neatly tailored shorts had the barest minimum length leg and Marcus knew what this meant; instead of the more modest exposure of perhaps a few inches of thigh above the knee, his smooth legs would be bare all the way to the very top. The thought of what would happen to the little white shorts as he knelt down in the church during the marriage service made him feel quite weak.
Mrs Bloom’s voice thundered in his ear: “Are you listening to me?!”
“Y-yes, Mrs B-bloom… Yes…” Marcus replied quickly. This was worse than anything he’d experienced at sea and it took all of his training as an officer to keep his nerve.
“So that we understand each other, Marcus, I want to hear you repeat to me the promise you gave Penelope… the promise that you will be wearing your tropical dress uniform for your marriage to my daughter,” Mrs Bloom intoned.
Marcus gulped and looked again at the tiny white shorts. He cursed his fellow junior officers who of course in their turn would be expecting Marcus, their brother officer, to don the indecently short white shorts and to see the proof of his so doing in the wedding photographs. Marcus knew there was no way he could avoid his impending humiliation.
“Mrs Bloom,” Marcus spoke into the handset, “I promise… I will fulfil my promise to Penelope by wearing my tropical dress uniform…”
“... with short trousers,” Mrs Bloom prompted.
“With short trousers…” Marcus confirmed.
“Excellent… we shall see you very soon waiting at the altar,” Mrs Bloom concluded and put the phone down.
The door to Marcus’s bedroom was flung open by his younger brother Adrian: “Come on! Aren’t you ready yet?”
Alan’s head appeared over his twin brother’s shoulder: “The car will be here soon... Get a move on, Marcus… Blimey!! Are those the shorts you’re wearing?!”
Marcus explained how some of the other junior officers on board his ship had his tropical uniform altered as a practical joke. He added that he’d just spoken to Penelope’s mother…
“... and I bet she’s made sure you going to wear them,” Adrian laughed.
“Does she know how… er, how short the are?” Alan asked.
Marcus shook his head and picked up the tiny white shorts.
“Better get them on Marcus,” Adrian said, “Don’t want you showing us up as we walk down the aisle to wait for your bride.”
Marcus stepped into the shorts and drew them up his smooth legs. They felt even shorter than they’d looked as they lay on the bed and Marcus quickly ran his fingertips around the hem.
“Crikey! They aren’t half short!” Alan exclaimed.
“If you ask me I think they’re even shorter than Scott’s ring-bearer costume…” Adrian said as he inspected his older brother’s white dress uniform shorts.
“It’s alright for you two… you’re both wearing longs!” Marcus snapped as the full horror of his situation sank in, “It’s just not fair… why should I have to wear shorts when you two are wearing longs?”
“Because you promised Penelope you would!” Adrian said as he rolled his eyes upward, “Don’t you remember? Cor… you’re hard work sometimes, Marcus.”
“Yeah… very funny,” Marcus replied and wondered why it was that pulling on a pair of ridiculously short shorts made him feel like a nervous junior boy and the twins, in their longs, seem like his older brothers.