There was a sense of relief when I woke on day seven of my forfeit. My wife had decided I should feel the pains that a woman feels throughout a rather intense week. Having been through the pain of shopping, make-up, dressing, working, getting ready, dieting, going to the loo, undressing, walking, sitting, standing, lying, sleeping, meeting people, and many more, I felt that there was no more pain, physical or emotional. I was looking forward to my final day.
Naturally, my wife started with a demand for sex. Either she really fancied me in a red lacy Basque, or asking for sex when not in the mood was one of those trials she had set up for me. However, there has never been a case of a man not being in the mood for sex, so the latter explanation was a non-starter for her. Even coming out of a vasectomy clinic a man is in the mood.
I showered, moisturised, dressed and applied make-up. I managed not to jab myself in the eye with the mascara brush for the first time. I was so surprised I instead stuck the lipstick up my nose when it slipped from my upper lip.
Breakfast was the other half of the grapefruit from the previous day. I told my wife that I felt that there was no more pain to go through, and what did she want to do today.
"I have saved the best pains until last," she told me.
From the fruit basket she withdrew a grapefruit that I hadn't yet eaten.
"Stick this up your arse," she said, handing it to me.
"What?" My eyes widened at the mere thought of it. "You're kidding right?"
"Nope. Stick it up your arse," she said.
"Shall I ring the ambulance now," I replied. "I don't think I'd be in any fit state afterwards. Plus, what will I have for breakfast tomorrow?"
"If you're going to feel what childbirth feels like, you'll need to stick it up your arse," she told me. "I'm reliably informed it's the closest a man can come to feeling the pain of childbirth."
"You're reliably informed unreliably," I said. "It won't fit. Even if I was the bitch of every man in Wormwood Scrubs, that wouldn't fit.."
My eyes had watered at the mere thought of the insertion, and not just from the citric acid sourness. She relented, but got me to stand up, at which point she pushed the grapefruit hard into my stomach. Twice.
"What was that for?" I asked.
"Period pains," she told me. "Imagine having that constantly for two days."
"I'm not really going to be able to feel these particular pains, am I?" I asked.
"No," she said, almost sadly. "No matter what I do, you're not going to be able to feel what it's like to give birth, get period pains once a month, breast swelling, boyfriend rejection or worrying that you're going to look unattractive when you're old."
We sat in silence for a while.
"We might as well end early," she said. "I'll give you your clothes back."
Tempting as it was, I shook my head. "I've got the rest of the day. I'm seeing this through."
We did our weekly shop. I think that she was secretly pleased that I'd not abandoned the forfeit early, even when given the chance. In the shop I saw my wife with a butternut squash, eyeing it and my arse. I shook my head at her. She put it back. I was so accustomed to walking and pushing a trolley that nobody really cared when they saw us together. Close up, I wouldn't pass for a woman even if the range of women included chimpanzees. But, people don't get that close. I got called 'miss' by the checkout operator, which actually pleased me. I still caught my dress in the car door, my hair in the seat belt and found driving difficult, but overall, I considered myself a success.
I went through the things I had learned that week.
- If a woman takes an hour to do something, it is because that something takes an hour; even if it takes a man twenty minutes.
- Women do more than go to the toilet when they go to the toilet. They get mostly undressed, for a start.
- The more expensive an item of clothing is, the more uncomfortable it is, and the more difficult it will be to put on.
- Handbags are called black holes, not because they are a secretive dangerous place, but because they weigh enough to strip plasma from a star.
- Drunk men determine the gender of other people in the pub by hair length, shoe height and skirt shortness. Other facets, such as genetics, genitalia and availability are optional.
- Make-up is harder than it looks.
- Long nails should be reclassified as offensive weapons and only allowed if you're over eighteen.
- A relaxing spa day is anything but, and would be less painful if Mike Tyson ran a relaxing spar day.
- High heeled shoes are pretty… pretty painful. All the time. I don't think my toes will ever be right.
- Hair scrunchies should be issued on the National Health.
- My legs look ace in heels and a short skirt.
- Everybody is so concerned with what they are doing themselves, as long as you don't call attention to yourself, you could walk through a shopping centre dressed as a caveman, and nobody would notice.
- Personal trainers at gyms would train a small pebble as long as it could stay on the treadmill.
- The human body has more muscles than I ever knew. All of them can, and will, hurt.
- Women are not bad at parking, they are brilliant at it. Anybody who thinks otherwise should get a pair of heels, and have a go.
- Clothes shopping is more art than science.
- Taking false nails off hurts more than putting them on.
G-Strings can be painful; however, I think I'm going to carry on wearing mine. And if it's cold, I'll probably put a pair of tights on as well. I'm not going to miss the bras. Or the hair. Or the skirts. I'm definitely not going to miss mascara.
I have a new found respect for my wife. She handles all the trials and tribulations of being female from waking up to falling asleep. I told her so. We had agreed to no pictures, no remnant of the whole week. This was my stipulation, but for some unbeknown reason to me, I was passing a mirror, with a mobile phone, and I did take a picture. Whether anybody will ever see this, is another matter. Some things are best put into the little box marked "history" and left there. If I ever get the urge for a sex change, I can use this photo to change my mind. Knowing my luck, however, somebody from work will have taken a photo and be adding it to Facebook any day now. I wonder what my mum would say, as it turns out I look a lot like her.
This week has not been fun. I will not go as far as saying it has been anywhere near fun. It's been in a completely different solar system to fun. It has been interesting. And painful, Very, very painful. I'm glad I am able to go back to eating what I like, spending five minutes in the shower and a minute in the loo.
I told my wife both of these things as well.
"I'm glad you said that," she told me. "I've just had a text off my friends. They enjoyed last night so much, they want to do it again one Thursday. What do you think? I think it will be fun. Although, you are going to have to get a different dress, because I'm definitely having that red and black number of yours."
What did I think? I think I've checked one more thing off my list of being feminine by bursting into sudden and unexpected tears.