Mike still remembers the comical advice Tony gave him that night, “man up!” Well, he had. If the name on the gate pass said Minnie, the name Tony knew him by, or if his hair was still long and feminine the way he wore it in high school, Tony would remember the pleasant sissy maid who had brought him coffee and snacks hundreds of times. But he had grown up and the cute little French maid outfits were long gone. He is now a young man in a business suit checking in at the gate and being passed through as the company's newest prospective engineer.
Six years had passed. That was long enough for four years in engineering school, including summers, and another two years for a master's degree. He could have gotten a PhD but that would have greatly limits job prospects and would have just been so many more nonproductive years. There's only so much demand for PhD's and the higher salaries they demand prices them out of much of the job market. Academia is where they end up and that wasn't his thing. Everyone said he was a good teacher, but he didn't want to scavenge for grant money or play university politics. Practical application was what he wanted. He wanted to be a problem solver.
He would reintroduce himself to Tony in time and enquire about his wife and children but right now he had to report for a plant visit and he intended to accept their job offer. He was looking forward to seeing Mrs. Trueheart and Greg Butler again. Although he only worked for her two and a half years, they were the most formative years of his life and she was in many ways a surrogate mother to him. He could only imagine what his life would be like if he had that kind of parent raising him from infancy, one who had expectations and made demands of him.
They had great expectations of him now. The scholarship Dr. Lee had given him didn't requiring him to return to the company and work for them. It was a gift. He was unencumbered. Having been liberated from financial concerns by Dr. Lee and having learned good study habits thanks to Greg and Mrs. Trueheart, he ended up at the top of his undergraduate class and got a teaching assistantship that paid for graduate school with a stipend and tuition waivers.
He had several job offers, and while this one didn't offer the highest pay, he was coming home. Thomas Wolfe said “You can't go home again.” and he wanted to prove him wrong. While once he would have been embarrassed that the best decision of his life, the decision to answer a questionable personal ad for a job as a “male maid”, was made out of ignorance, he now appreciated the irony and valued it as a life lesson - you can never have perfect knowledge.
He cringes at the thought of what might have been. When he naively applied for that job, he could have been dragged down a rabbit hole of exploitation, instead he ended up here with these good people. Good people – who just happen to make killer robots (and other robots too).
As he was flagged through the gate and headed up the driveway, he thought about the first time he saw this place. Some people say, “I'd rather be lucky than smart”. Mike knows the real odds favor the smart. He has, however, been both since that day Mr. Butler utterly destroyed his plan to drop out of high school and run away from home.
It wasn't easy. He barely survived the second semester of his sophomore year when rather that dropping out of school, he was transferred to a college prep school and the weight of the world fell on his shoulders. When he first met Greg Butler, Greg said “I'm here representing my boss. I'm a production engineer and I don't normally do recruiting, so I want to do this right. I'm going to take my time doing this interview. Are you in a hurry?” Fortunately, Mike was not in a hurry and he knew Greg had interviewed others that day for the same job.
When Greg asked him why he answered an ad for job as a “male maid” Mike admitted that he liked to dress as a girl, he thought he could do house work well and he needed a job and a place to live. He told Greg that he had to get away from his family and school because he couldn't stand either of them any longer. His sixteenth birthday was coming up and he could legally drop out and work. He had to get away no matter what. That gave them plenty to talk about. During the course of few hours Greg gave Mike some personality and IQ tests and talked at length about Mike's life and hopes. Greg was not a fan of sissy maids, but that was not his call to make. He could see that Mike would fill the bill as far as appearance goes, but he was concerned with his work ethic.
Greg looked at the tests and obviously had been shown which key questions to look at. He made a split second decision that Mike was his choice but he wasn't yet completely certain. That's when, thinking about how he could improve this kid's life while getting him out of the school and home he hates, he promised to help Mike with school work if he would transfer to a different school and make a commitment to stay in school. He warned Mike that it would be hard at first, because he has a lot to catch up with but his hard work would pay off. He then asked Mike if he would put his faith in him and having talked for several hours Mike said he would.
In that case, Greg said he would put his faith in Mike too and put his reputation at work on the line for him. Mike, all these years later appreciated the leadership skills demonstrated by Greg that day, and how Greg's ability to gain a boy's trust had saved his life. It was the first time anyone relied on him to actually be true to his word, and he worked hard learning things he should have learned year earlier, to justify the trust Greg had put in a sixteen year old stranger whom everyone else had branded as a loser. Greg too was true to his word, putting in long hours on his own time after work helping Mike with his homework.
Greg was the first person to take the mystery out of school for Mike. School had always been just a random jumble of facts and figures thrown at him by teachers. He could remember and regurgitate enough of them to be a slightly below average student, but he didn't retain most of it because there was no context. He was never told why he needed to know all those facts and figures and that was the one piece of information that would have put things in context for him. For that reason, whenever he taught a class as a grad student, the first thing Mike did was tell the students why they needed to know the material he was teaching.
So, much of his education was wasted because he didn't know how to organize information. Greg taught him that. He showed Mike how geography and history fit together, one dictating the other, and how science and technology fit together and how technology and philosophy drives history so all those things fit into a common framework. Art, literature, economics, they all fit in to specific times and places within that same framework. He told him that school was just a system, like everything else and once you understand how any system works, you can use it to your advantage. From then on that's exactly what Mike did.
He taught Mike how to study. After he understood that and after he got caught up on all the remedial subjects, school was easy and fun. He discovered that math is easy and fun because it's a system that is completely consistent. He discovered that some girls are easy too, but they aren't necessarily consistent. Oh my! - Where did that come from?
That came from the girl's school he and the other maids attended and it came from Mrs. Trueheart putting the fear of God into him when she slapped that thing with a padlock lock down on her desk. To this day he has never told a living soul about it. He blushes just thinking about her saying; “Mess with the girls at school and you will be wearing this!” She told him it was a device to keep boys in line, but he now wonders if that was all a bluff. Was it was some fake thing she had cobbled together? Her “Don't mess with the girls” comment was all well and good, but nobody told the girls at school not to mess with the sissy maids.
He smiles at the thought of Marguerite Dunleavy and Francine Berkley, two seniors who decided to “cure him of his sissy ways” his junior year. They didn't know he was straight and he saw no reason to dissuade them from their misconception or to deter their good intentions.
Halloween is a big event at the school each year with students donning a costume instead of their usual school uniforms and there's a big school wide afternoon party in the auditorium. It was always the most fun day of the school year. Because there had been much curiosity from the other students about their sissy maid's work uniforms, the two maids attending the school that year got permission from Mrs. Trueheart to wear their work uniforms as Halloween costumes.
They were classic French maid uniforms of shinny black satin accented with white trim over full short petticoats with a thick cotton pinafore. These were work uniforms after all and spills do happen. The pinafores were buttoned at the neck and tied at the waist with the obligatory big bow in the small of the back with the ends hanging down. The uniforms are very pretty and quite modest for French maid uniforms with the hem about five inches above the knee, but the full petticoat made them look so feminine and graceful that when the two of them walked into class in their four inch heels the girls couldn't believe they were boys. The uniforms were topped off with cute little satin and lace caps.
Some girl's Halloween costumes are easy to make. Anything that accentuates a feminine figure and long legs looks good. So, a gray leotard with a white front plus mouse ears and a thin tail is a cute mouse and the same thing with cat ears and a thick tail is a cute gray cat. Variations on that theme are seemingly endless.
The French Maid uniforms are far more complex but are forgiving of the boy's shape, or lack of shape. Although Mrs. Trueheart always demanded a cinched waist and small falsies in their bras to give the uniforms some additional shape, the petticoat and skirt made up for their lack of hips. Pantyhose and four inch heels are part of the uniforms too and the other students were surprised at how adept the maids were in the heels. They had only been seen in the flats that go with their school uniforms.
During the party Marguerite Dunleavy managed to pull Minnie away from the rest of the students and enticed him to go with her to the nurse's office, the only place in school with a bed. She reached behind a locker and pulled out a hidden door key unlocking the office door. She was in a very alluring costume and he was flattered by the attention from a senior, especially a very pretty one like Marguerite whom he had noticed many times at school. She must have noticed him noticing her.
After replacing the key, they entered the office and she closed and locked the door behind them. She grabbed and kissed him saying that she had a lesbian fantasy but she didn't want to do it with another girl, so he was just what she wanted. She said, “I'm going to have my way with you, sissy.” Her story was totally implausible but he didn't care. He couldn't believe his luck.
With mixed feelings he was weighing the possibility of this new experience that he had long wished for, against potentially catastrophic consequences if they were caught. He told her that if they were caught, she would only get yelled at by her parents, but he would be expelled from school, lose his job, and lose his home. In reply she called him a queer and said if he dressed like a girl he should be treated like a girl and she was “going to get that dress off and fuck your brains out.” The image that put in his mind made the risk totally worth it.
As she spoke the door opened and in came Francine Berkley, her best friend closing and locking the door behind her. He wondered if every student in the school except him knew about this secret key. At least being in the Nurse's office he had ready access to birth control although Francine probably already had that covered. He would soon discover that she was no novice when it comes to boys and sex.
Now with the two girls determined efforts he remembered Mrs. Trueheart's admonishment, “If even one of the girls reports that you were giving them trouble, you will regret it.”, so he decided that those instructions applied here, and he should give them no trouble at all. So, to the satisfaction of all involved, nature was allowed to take its course.
With two sets of hands feeling up the sissy maid, things were happening at a dizzying pace. Marguerite's hand was sliding up Minnie's thigh and she commented on how smooth and soft the pantyhose were. And, before Minnie could react to the hand sliding up the skirt, Francine had the pinafore off and dropped to the floor, the dress unzipped and one hand feeling up Minnie's bra. Soon, her other was under the panties and grabbing his butt.
At this point Minnie completely submitted and Francine had the dress off while Marguerite struggled with the Pantyhose. They proved to be as much of a hindrance to her as pantyhose were to many boys in their day, but obstacles exist to be overcome and Marguerite was one determined young lady. All three costumes ended up in a pile on the floor.
Minnie, or I should say Mike, lost his virginity that Halloween. Marguerite too, and she was totally satisfied that she had saved him from a life of sin.
If things had ended there it would have been all well and good, but when Marguerite finished debauching her chosen sissy maid, Francine who was far more worldly than Marguerite ever imagined, was able to reinvigorate Mike with a little trick involving her tongue. She took charge of the situation and while the two of them were having their special moment, Marguerite couldn't resist putting on the pretty French maid uniform and returning to the party. It seems her friends in the senior class knew that meant - “Mission Accomplished”.
Happily, Marguerite did not keep the maid uniform. After having her fun with it at the party, including brazenly taunting the headmistress by looking her square in the eye and giving her a big smile as she walked past, she returned to the Nurse's office to put her costume back on and return the uniform to its exhausted owner. But, by the time she finally returned the uniform, Mike was terrified by the prospect of having to walk home in Marguerite's very skimpy costume and explain the loss of his maid's uniform to Mrs. Trueheart. Now, years later in his car with the mansion coming into sight, Mike could only chuckle as he imagined the response that “walk of shame” might have elicited.
By some miracle, there was no fallout, and no questions were ever asked of him by the powers that be. For the rest of the year he and Marguerite would see each other in the hallways and smile. Sometimes they would eat lunch together. They actually became close, but they never managed to have a repeat performance of Halloween. After graduation she vanished, off to college out of state never to be seen or heard from again. Now she's was just a fond memory.
He pulled up in front of the mansion and parked his car in a space marked “Visitors”. His first stop upon entering the building would be Dr. Lee's office. He had written Dr. Lee a thank you letter for the scholarship each year keeping him abreast of his progress. He didn't know the new secretary who has some forms for him to sign and she then showed him into see Dr. Lee. He, in turn called Mary Evans and Greg and the four of them went on a tour of the facility.
There had been some changes, some new products and new faces, but he knew most of the people and still knew his way around. After the tour, Dr. Lee asked if a confidentiality contract, had been signed so he could join them for lunch in the dining room. He had signed it.
He had served thousands of meals in that beautiful dining room on that fine antique china and he had polished that silverware dozens of times, but he had never before eaten or even sat at that table. How strange it was. With Dr. Lee at the head of the table as usual, Mary was now seated near him as was Greg. The pecking order had obviously evolved in the last six years. Mike was seated at the far end with the junior scientists and engineers whom he did not know.
Dr. Lee started out by introducing Mike as a new graduate engineer whom he hoped would be joining the firm. He instructed the people at the far end of the table to introduce themselves and make him feel welcome. Those around him introduced themselves and told him which departments they were in. He knew each department head and what they did but didn't want to name drop so he simply shook hands and said, “Pleased to meet you”.
As they spoke the soup and salad courses were being carried out by the maids. One of the new engineers leaned over to him and said, “You won't believe what you are about to see. The old man is a bit eccentric. Just wait till you see the servers in their little French maid outfits. It's quite a show.” Just then the maids came over with trays of food. The uniforms hadn't changed, nor had the service. It was excellent. But, one of the other engineers seated near him said, “They used to have cross dressers as maids but one of them screwed half the girls at the school they send them to, so they switched back to girls. Can you imagine how degrading it would be for a guy to have to dress like that? Or, worse yet, for some perv to actually want to dress like that?”
Mike did not hold back. He told them that he thought they were very pretty uniforms and that he was honored to have worn one of those uniforms and worked for Mrs. Trueheart for two and a half years when he got his first job there. He told them that job, this place, Greg Butler and Dr. Lee had saved his life. He then added, “For the record, I did not screw half the girls in the school. It was just two girls, although it was two girls at one time.” He said it with a “devil may care” smile, knowing he had just burned his bridges with his prospective co-workers. There was no conversation at that end of the table for the rest of the meal.
When Mike finally got to see Mrs. Trueheart, she was happy to see him. He asked about the demise of the sissy maids and if he was to blame and she said no. She said things had changed, and the girls were back, but he was not to blame. Obviously, with Tanya, his sister, replacing him that trend was starting but it was decided that the danger of false allegations creeping up decades in the future would be equal regardless of gender and for that reason the sissy maids were not worth the trouble. Girls are simply better at looking like girls. And, these girls were in just as much need of rescue as he was at that age, so their goals haven't changed.
Also, while the school was very accommodating she felt it was too much of an imposition, but there are still exceptions occasionally. She told him that they still occasionally have a sissy maid come through and they are treated just as he was treated but they don't advertise it and they work and blend in with the girls now.
When he finally asked her about that device, she admitted it was a bluff, “I would have been too embarrassed to use that thing, and there is no way I would have touched one of you like that. One of the technicians sent it to me as a gag when using boys was first suggested, saying it might come in handy. Well, I guess it was handy as a bluff. Wasn't it?”
When Mike admitted that it had scared the hell out of him, and that he was too embarrassed to ever even mention it to anyone else, she replied that it clearly didn't scare him enough. “Did you think I didn't know about you and the Halloween party? Headmistress knew everything and kept me informed, but it was determined that some things are best ignored.”
He then explained how he was only following her instruction. “You said “If you give them trouble, you will regret it.” so I didn't give them any trouble.” She laughed. She told him that he is one of their successes and they have great hope for him. After that, he visited with Greg his mentor. And then he went down to Mary's lab.
Mary asked about Mike's sister Tonya and he told her that she was doing well. Mary then said that, although they update it often, they were still using the same basic testing procedure he, as a high school student had devised for them. She had a picture on the wall over her computer of a cute French maid standing next to her looking and pointing at something on a computer screen. “One can't see your face very well because of your hair, but there is a good reflection of your face on the screen that the picture captured perfectly. That picture is an inspiration to the maids every time they see it, and they all know the story.” She said that they really wanted him back.
He told her when he arrived at the gate that morning that he had every intention to take the job. He had planned to get an apartment or house nearby and walk to work, but now he's having doubts. “It's not the money. True, it wasn't the highest offer, or even the second highest offer, but I'm not going to haggle with Dr. Lee about money after all he has done for me and so many others. But after lunch, I'm not certain that I would fit in with my co-workers. It's a small neighborhood and I have a history here. Not everyone is as open minded as you and Greg about a boy who wanted to be a maid and wore dresses to a girl's high school. Perhaps Tom Wolfe was right – perhaps you can't go home again. But if I can't go home, you should know, the people who made this place home will always be in my heart.”
She could see how sad he was at the thought of turning down the job and she was certain he was about to make a big mistake he would regret, perhaps for the rest of his life. She knew she would regret it. They reflected on the uncertainty of life and how every day there are paths that are taken and not taken. He asked “What if I had gone back to the kitchen for another bottle of wine instead of listening to the engineer's conversation the day after the robots killed that doe?”
Mary said “What if! The world is full of what ifs. You shouldn't care what those new engineers think about your past. You'll be their boss in two years. I know them, and I know you. You know I don't speculate about such things. I deal in facts. What they call a history Dr. Lee calls a legacy. If this is home, then fight for it. Minnie had the guts to fight. She worked her ass off to stay here. I told you eight years ago that you could learn a lot here, and that the people here want to help all the maids have brighter futures. You have friends here. Don't blow it. Don't worry about closed minded co-workers and don't worry about the pay. By the way, speaking of pay, did you see the new woman running the personnel office yet? The men say she's not too hard on the eyes and I understand she's single, if you like “older woman”. I've been told she has a history too, but that might just be rumor.”
He thanked Mary for her advice and said she was right. He said he was foolish to have second thoughts and there was no doubt in his mind that he should take the job. She was happy to hear that and insisted on escorting him down to the personnel office to start the paperwork. When they got down there, painted on the door was the new personnel director's name; Marguerite Dunleavy. Her face lit up when she recognized him. He couldn't believe his luck again, and they greeted each other with a kiss. Mary left with a smile on her face, saying to herself, “I guess the rumor is true.”