I was glad that I had the week off work for Easter. It was why my wife had chosen this week for my forfeit, but I knew full well that she would have insisted I go to work, and then checked up on me. For the whole week I would experience the pain of femininity on pain of pain. Believe me when I say that the pain of being a woman for one week can in no way compare to what my wife is capable of.
On waking on day three I knew that my ordeal wasn't over when my wife demanded sex. I've never seen sex as a punishment, but really! However, who am I to argue?
Getting ready as a man is as follows: get up, shower, shave, deodorise, dress, eat as much as you like, go to work, or whatever happens next.
Getting ready as a woman is vastly more complicated than that.
Shaving has to be done in the shower, as there is an awful lot more to shave. I had assumed, naively, that having had my insides pulled out through the pores of my skin using hot wax and lollipop sticks, that I would not need to shave ever again. What it doesn't tell you on the box is that waxing does not have one hundred percent coverage. Once the swelling has gone down, more hairs become visible. These have to be removed. This takes an eternity. After showering, which apparently takes all the moisture out of skin - something I've never previously noticed - moisture has to be put back in.
Although deodorising was not a problem, dressing was. As I noted on day two; women have more clothes. Whereas men's fashion gets no more complicated than a button or zip, womenswear should make women swear. Hooks, buttons, bows, laces, things that slide, zips in inaccessible locations and elastic that cuts off circulation. Just what is wrong with Velcro? My wife allowed me to look at a cereal box for breakfast before insisting I applied make up.
When she had stopped laughing, I had to take it off and start again. I jabbed myself in the eye with a mascara stick.
"We're having a dinner party tonight," she told me. "So we will need to get food. The longer you take, the busier the supermarket will get."
After three attempts and the loss of vision in my left eye, we were ready to go.
Like yesterday, she made me drive. This meant more torture for my ankles. I got the wig stuck in the car door, I twisted my ankle getting out of the car and then faced the torture that was the supermarket.
I expected to get a lot more stares in the supermarket than I did. Perhaps they stared behind my back. I certainly imagined the whispered conversations as we collected food for the evening.
"You walk like a man," my wife said.
"There's a reason for that," I replied, as I was tortured by all the food I couldn't eat.
I was starving, and the bra was digging into my sternum as though it had been designed with a spike. On top of that, it was constricting my breathing. Hunger and a lack of oxygen occasionally made me light headed. Picking up items with nails longer than my fingers was like performing keyhole surgery on a duck. Every step was agony, ever action had to be deliberate, I could hardly see out of my left eye and I was sure that everybody was pointing and laughing. After surreptitiously doubling back, I realised that nobody gave a toss. This surprised me. My paranoia eased, I was left with shooting pains up my calves, and synthetic hair jabbing at my eyeballs.
The checkout operator had to have noticed I was an overally tall badly made-up transvestite. My paranoia returned and I was sure that she exchanged a knowing nod with my wife.
"We didn't get chillies," said my wife as we returned home in the car.
Chillies had got me in this mess, and if I never ate another one, it would be too soon. "Never mind, eh?"
She put Red Hot Chili Peppers on the car stereo, and giggled all the way home.
If pushing a trolley was hard, taking shopping from the boot of a hatchback and carrying them down the slight slope to our front door was an obstacle course designed by the Krypton Factor during their sadist phase.
With guests coming, I did the housework while my wife watched television. I felt this a little unfair as I do my share of housework. My wife's stock answer was to ask whether I was able to cope with the pain. Female readers will probably laugh at the idea of somebody vacuuming in heels as only those with the balance of a tightrope walker would attempt it. And only somebody with the dexterity of a pickpocket would attempt to clean a bathroom with shellac nails. You can't wear gloves, and this means moisturising. I have come to the conclusion that moisturising is responsible for the lack of moisture. It's like heroin. You have a bit, and then you need more; and more. Before you know it, your skin turns to paper if you're more than ten yards from a bottle of night repair.
I cooked lamb for dinner. My wife still had not told me whom she had invited. Nor had she told me if she'd told them what my forfeit was.
At eight, I found the answer to both. Fortunately, she had invited her friends. I was finally allowed to eat. The main topic of conversation was me. All four of her friends thought it was hilarious, and they all decided that every man should be forced to spend a week walking in his wife's shoes, or the next size up if they don't fit.
"How are you finding it?" one of my wife's friends asked.
"Harder than I thought," I replied, honestly. She gave a smug smile, a knowing look and poured me another glass of wine.
Not having work the following day meant drunkenness was a good state to aim for.
"We should have a girly night out," another of my wife's friends suggested.
"How about Thursday?" was my wife's reply, looking straight at me.
I returned it with a withering, but by now slightly bleary look.
"Great!" was her friend's reply. "It's a date."
A stilt walker in a land of cattle grids would have found it easier to clear up the dinner party detritus. I managed, but my lower back felt like I was wearing a belt of lava, the tights had been exchanged for ones with razor wire built in. The G-string had neatly sawn me up the middle and the wig band was making a permanent dent in my hairline. My real hair itched like I had head-lice and I still hadn't taken the make-up off.
I collapsed into bed and my wife demanded sex. I honestly didn't think I could, but I found the energy from somewhere.