Scene: A charity clothing shop somewhere in London. The phone rings…
Phyllis: Good morning! Poorly Paws charity shop. How can I help you?
Me: Is that Phyllis?
Phyllis: Yes, that’s right. This is Phyllis. To whom am I speaking?
Me. Phyllis, it’s Lee.
Me. It’s Lee
Phyllis: I don’t think I know a Lee.
Me: Yes you do. It’s Lee… the man who comes in every week to buy ladies’ clothing.
Phyllis: The man who comes in every week to buy ladies’ clothing?
Me: Yes. You know… the cross-dresser.
Phyllis: Oh, it’s Tinkerbell! Why didn’t you say?
Me: You call me Tinkerbell?
Phyllis: Yes, ever since you bought that frilly green rar-ra skirt.
Me: Look, Phyllis, I need your help. Do you remember that black 1920s dress I bought last week? Well I am stuck in it. I’ve got it half on – half off and I just can’t budge it either way. I’ve been like this for the last hour. I just don’t know what to do.
Phyllis: How can you be stuck in a dress? That’s ridiculous!
Me: Well I wanted a slinky dress. I managed to slip it on but it doesn’t have a zip. I’ve got it up over my head but now my arms are stuck and I can’t move. What should I do?
Phyllis: Well, I’ll ask Edith. She’s just in the back room. Edith! Its Tinkerbell on the phone. He’s stuck half in and half out of a dress. Hang on a minute, Lee, Edith is just coming.
Me: I’m not going anywhere.
Edith: Hello love. How are you?
Me: I’m stuck. In my dress. What should I do?
Edith: You sound a long way away.
Me: Well, I’m speaking from inside my dress.
Edith: Have you tried the zip?
Me: It doesn’t have a zip!
Edith: Have you tried pulling it?
Me: I’ve tried pulling it. I’ve tried tearing it. Believe me, I’ve tried everything. I am completely stuck.
Edith: You poor thing. Hang on a minute, I’ve got a customer here. She says have you tried shimmying?
Me: Yes, I’ve tried shimmying.
Edith: Well don’t worry. We’ll get you out of it. If you got it on I’m sure you can get it off. Phyllis says have you got any goose fat?
Me: No. I do not have any goose fat. Look, you ladies must have been in a situation like this before. You must have some tips.
Edith: Wait, let me just put you on speaker phone. Does anyone have any tips for getting out of a dress. Lee is stuck in that 1920s slinky black dress that was in the window and can’t get it off. Or on again.
Customer 1: Does it have any fringes?
Me: Fringes? No, it doesn’t. Why?
Customer 1: I like fringes.
Customer 2. Is it stretchy?
Me: No! If it was stretchy, I’d have pulled it off!
Edith: Oh dear, we don’t seem to be much help. Phyllis, put the kettle on. A cup of tea always helps. Do you want a cup of tea?
Me: Edith, Im stuck in a dress. In my room.
Edith: I wasn’t asking you, dear. I was asking this nice lady here. We are just trying to help, you know.
Me: I’m sorry, Edith. I’m just starting to panic a little.
Edith: Don’t you worry. We’ll get you out of there.
Phyllis: I remember during the war, when my friend Eva got stuck in a pipe on a bomb site. We greased her up with goose fat and she popped out like a pea from a pod.
Me: That’s very helpful!
Edith: Who wants sugar?
Phyllis: Wait a minute. Here comes Dave the postman. Let’s ask him.
Me: No! No!
Edith: Dave, we are dealing with a crisis. Lee is stuck half in and half out of this dress. Completely stuck. Can you help?
Dave: Alright, mate? How are you doing?
Me: I’m stuck in an item of ladies clothing but apart from that I am fine, thank you, Dave.
Dave: I see. It’s not something I have much experience of. Is it stretchy?
Edith: Look, a lady here is a Red Cross volunteer. She says that in a situation like this you shouldn’t waste time. She says you should call the Fire Brigade.
Me: No! On no account must you call the Fire Brigade! Do you think you could come and help?
Edith: This is a bit unusual. I suppose Phyllis could come around. How could you end up like this?
Me: I’m so sorry. I just wanted to look slinky.
Edith: Don’t worry. These things happen.
Dave. Not to me!
Me: It’s number 16 Primula Gardens. The key’s under the big stone.
Edith: OK, Phyllis will be there in ten minutes. Don’t worry! Now, we’re all going to have that cup of tea.. you sit tight..
Ten minutes late…
Phyllis: Edith? I’m here with Tinkerbell. He has got himself in a spot of bother. The dress is completely stuck.
Edith: We need a detailed description.
Phyllis: Well, it’s long and tight fitting. Its got a beautiful pattern of sequins down the front and back and a frill of black taffeta petals along the hem. Its very Marlene Dietrich.
Edith: Not the dress, Phyllis! The situation.
Phyllis. Sorry. Ok, so Lee is standing in front of me. The dress is pulled up inside out over his head but it is stuck on his shoulders and his arms can’t move. I would say it’s a size 12… whereas Tinkerbell is a size 16.
Edith: Oh Lee! What we’re you thinking? Is there anything else?
Phyllis. He’s wearing red stiletto heels, size 8, a black lacy thong, size 12, and a black bra, not too padded.
Edith: You’re off speaker phone now, so I’ll just relay that to everybody. It’s a Marlene Dietrich dress, two sizes too small for him, Phyllis says, and he’s wearing red stilettos and a lacy bra and thong.
Dave. Blimey, mate!
Customer 1: What colour are the bra and panties?
Customer 1: That’s nice – it’s good to be all matching!
Me: Look, Ladies and Dave, can we please focus! I’m starting to lose the feeling in my arms.
Red Cross lady: Phyllis, can you see any scissors there?
Me: Finally! The first practical suggestion!
Edith and Customer 1. You can’t cut the dress! It’s a Marlene Dietrich number!
Me: It’s mine. I bought it. Cut the dress!
Phyllis: Ok. Cutting now.
Me: And don’t cut the thong!
Phyllis: The scissors are a bit blunt but it’s working. There you go. Tinkerbell’s free!
Me: Oh my goodness! That’s such a relief. Thank you so much for this. I don’t know what would have happened without your help. I thought I was going to be stuck in there forever.
Edith: You’re very welcome, Tinkerbell, I mean Lee.
Me: Poorly Paws gives excellent customer service!
Edith: So, Lee dear, sort out your sizing, will you. Perhaps you’d better come in for a proper fitting.
Postscript. So that’s how I made my Great Escape. I learnt my lesson. Every cloud has a silver lining, though, and now on my weekly visits to Poorly Paws, I have expert eyes cast over everything I try on. When I’ve given Edith and Phyllis a twirl, they always say “now let’s see you get out of that!”
And when I’m trying on at home? I now have three golden rules: 1) Stick to my sizing. 2) Always go for stretchy fabric and… 3) keep my phone on voice dial!