A Case for Bringing Back Short Trousers
|by Ageless Al|
Copyright on this story text belongs at all times to the original author only, whether stated explicitly in the text or not. The original date of posting to the MMSA was: 19 Feb 2018
England was baking under an uncharacteristic heatwave. It was still the last period before the end of the school week but no one had much energy for lessons. Thirty boys and girls, all either twelve years old or nearly so, sat quietly chatting in one classroom. The worksheets on their desks were mostly ignored. Everyone wore white polo-shirts. Bottle green jumpers were either wrapped around waists or hung over chairs. The girls were in skirts but the boys all wore long, black trousers.
Pssst. Hey, Liz... I’d sure like to get into your skirt!
Ugh! Liz shot up her hand.
Now, Grant, said Mr. Colen.
Do you remember the discussion we all had about inappropriate
I don’t know what you mean, said Grant.
All I’m saying is, I’m secure enough in my masculinity
that I wouldn’t mind having a little air around my legs!
Hmm, yes. I’m sure you all saw that silly fluff piece on the news about boys wearing skirts to
school. But I will remind you all that school policy states that boys wear trousers. The uniform rules
are listed in your homework diaries if you need to review them. In fact, you can all open your diary up
to this week’s page now. Your homework is to finish this sheet at home, along with the next one I’m about
to hand out. The due date is next Friday.
As the class let out a groan, Grant leaned over to whisper to the boy next to him.
I bet you’d
wear a skirt, Neil. The way your hair is growing, you’re already starting to look like a girl!
At least I’d pull off the look, said Neil. He flicked a strand away from his eyes.
I am overdue a cut.
You should ask for a number four all over, said Grant.
That’s what I’ve got. You don’t
have to comb or dry it. And it’s got to be cooler in this heat.
The last bell of the day mercifully rang, signalling their freedom for the weekend. Neil and Grant left the classroom together, only to be separated within the hoard of students flowing through the school gates. Neil made straight for home. He kicked off his school shoes as soon as he was through the door. His hand moved to the clasp of his trousers. They had dropped to the ground before he was half-way to the kitchen. He poured a glass of water, which helped a bit in refreshing him. Neil was still uncomfortably drenched in sweat so he stripped off the polo-shirt too.
A little while later, Neil’s mum found him in the lounge, watching TV in just his boxers. She had her hands on her hips.
Why is your school uniform all over the hallway? she asked.
Hot, grunted Neil.
You could at least put your clothes in the wash, she said.
If you can make it upstairs,
you could even find something lighter to wear. Or be a nudist in your own bedroom. Don’t you have any
homework to do?
It’s Friday, Mum!
OK. But don’t forget that I’m signing your homework diary on Sunday evening. It had
better be in good shape then! And at some point during the weekend, I want you to visit your grandpa.
He’s asked if you can help him get some stuff down from the attic. Neil grunted in acknowledgement.
He wants to take another crack at sorting through his mother’s old stuff. Now there’s a woman I’d like
to speak to again. I don’t know how she managed to cope raising four boys on her own!
She sent Grandpa off to boarding school, supplied Neil.
Yes. Well, since your Hogwarts letter never showed up, I suppose you’ll have to get used to the
idea of being a member of this household!
Neil took the hint. He picked up his clothes and brought them upstairs to the washing basket. He left his school bag unopened in a corner of his bedroom, though. He wasn’t in the mood for homework. Continually putting it off had admittedly already caused him a lot of trouble during his first year of Secondary School. But a sweltering Friday evening wasn’t the time to improve his study habits.
Neil woke up before nine for the first Saturday in a while. It was already shaping up to be another hot day. He headed to the kitchen and wolfed down a bowl of cereal, while his mum gave him a disapproving look. Neil didn’t see the problem. He normally ate breakfast in his pyjamas but that had been his birthday suit the previous night. This morning, he’d taken the time to put on a fresh pair of boxer shorts before he went downstairs.
Neil decided it might be a good idea to stay out of his mum’s hair for a while. Her homework threat was already forgotten but he was always happy to visit his grandpa’s house. He got dressed in some baggy cargo shorts and a light, yellow t-shirt. Then he slipped on his trainers and headed out. It was a fifteen-minute walk and the sunlight was already harsh in the early morning. On the bright side, his outfit at least had some decent airflow and the sky was a pure blue.
His grandpa beamed when Neil arrived. The old man was already up and ready so they headed straight to the attic.
I’m glad I’ve got a grandson willing to help me out, said his grandpa as they walked upstairs.
When we sold your Great-Grandma’s old house, your dad and a few other relatives brought her belongings
here and put it all in the attic. Now I can’t get them down by myself and you’re the only strong, young
man I know in the area.
That praise gave Neil a warm glow. There a folded step ladder against a wall on the landing. His grandpa set it up and Neil climbed up first. He flipped the attic door over and made his way in, stepping carefully on the wooden beams. He was glad he hadn’t taken off his shoes since he wasn’t wearing socks. There were a lot of boxes piled around. Neil crept forward through the dark attic, trying to make out any writing on the boxes, until his eyes were drawn to a desk.
At Neil’s school, there were tables that had decent space for two students. If you wanted, you could place them next to each other to accommodate a group of four or six people. There was a school desk on its side in Grandpa’s attic but this was an older model. It was made of wood and was only designed to seat one person. Neil lifted the top. It flipped like the attic door to reveal an empty space where you could keep your books.
We can bring that desk down first, said Grandpa. His head had emerged at the entrance to the
It should fetch a good price, so long as nothing’s wrong with it.
There’s no ink pot, commented Neil.
I think it was made around the time I was at school, said Grandpa.
Only a few classrooms
had the old desks with pots by then. We used fountain pens for handwriting practice and one old-fashioned
master. The rest of the time, we used ball pens. Ink pots weren’t necessary so the desks were designed
Neil had used ball pens at Junior School. He’d gained the suspicion that they were outdated. He was glad for the biros he used at Secondary School but was curious what it would be like to write with ink. This wouldn’t be the day he learnt about that.
Grandpa climbed up, sent Neil down the ladder and then lowered the desk down to him. Neil had to get a good grip on it before Grandpa let go. Even then, he was a bit off-balance before he was able to set it down on the floor. Grandpa then lowered a matching chair, which was easier to deal with. Next, they brought the two pieces of furniture down to the study. Grandpa wanted both of them to hold the desk as they brought it down the stairs. Once they were at the bottom, Neil was allowed to go back up and bring the chair by himself.
When Neil arrived in the study, his grandpa was looking over the desk. It seemed to be in good condition. Neil placed the chair in front of it and sat down. The chair was hard wood, not the moulded plastic of modern school chairs. He wondered what it would have been like when his grandpa was a schoolboy, doing his schoolwork sat as he was now. Then another question came to mind.
Why did Great-Grandma have a school desk?
My aunt was the matron at my boarding school until I was in the Third Form, said Grandpa.
That was until the headmaster caught her in a classroom with a young man from the village. He chased
them out and then chucked this thing at them. He basically told her to keep it. She had to move to Canada
a few months later so it was passed on to her sister with most of her other possessions.
Why’d she move to Canada?
I’ll explain when you’re older, said Grandpa.
How’s school for you?
Rubbish! Neil’s head fell back dramatically.
They let the girls wear skirts in summer but
boys always have to wear trousers. They don’t care that it’s too hot to have our legs covered!
In my day, we all dreamed of getting long trousers, said Grandpa.
Maybe you should bring
back short trousers.
We can’t wear shorts. The rule is black trousers.
I didn’t say shorts. I said short trousers. Trousers that are short. That’s what I wore to school
when I was your age.
Neil was giving him a weird look.
I’ve got some pictures in here somewhere. Grandpa turned to a shelf and started flipping through
some photo albums.
Here we are. This is my class photo from 1961. I was in the First Form, same age
as you. This is what we wore to school back then.
He handed the album to Neil, pointing to a black and white photo with three rows of smiling boys. Only the teacher, sat in the middle, wore long trousers. All the boys were showing off long socks that nearly went up to their knees. Above the knees, a lot of bare leg was visible! Neil was pretty sure he didn’t own any shorts that went that far back into the seat.
All boys had to wear short trousers before Third Form. Getting your own long trousers was a sign
of maturity. Grandpa turned a few pages.
This one is from ’64. That would be during fourth form.
Three years later, a lot of the white had been taken over by black. Now there were only two boys who hadn’t graduated to long trousers. It was glaringly obvious once you noticed it. One was third from the right; the other third from the left.
The boys with short trousers were always put in the front row for these pictures, said Grandpa.
When there were only a few left, they were assigned a seat first and then everyone else filed in.
Did you make fun of them?
That was me. Grandpa pointed to the pair of exposed legs on the left.
had to raise my three younger brothers on her own. She was already paying to send me to boarding school.
It didn’t make sense to replace clothes I still fit into. I understood but it was still hard to deal with
as a teenager. The other boys did give me a lot of ribbing for being the only one still in short trousers.
What about him? Neil pointed to the short-trousered boy on the right.
Hah. He got his long trousers taken away that term! I had my fun then.
Neil turned back to 1961 and found his Grandpa standing in the second row. The smiling boy’s lower half wasn’t visible behind the seated boys in shorts. Grandpa hadn’t stood out from the rest back then. Neil hadn’t noticed on the first look, with the picture being black and white, but the twelve-year-old Grandpa had a strong resemblance to himself. Grandpa nodded when Neil pointed the boy out.
I suppose I did have a similar face to you at your age, he said.
But you’ve never looked
like those boys in your modern clothes. You don’t even know what short trousers are!
You can call them trousers all you want, said Neil.
They’re clearly shorts!
Maybe you need to see them properly to understand, said Grandpa.
I think there’s some old
school clothes in the attic. I don’t know if they’re mine or spare stuff my aunt naturally acquired and
then couldn’t face returning. Do you want to help me sort through them next?
Neil was certainly curious. They went back up to the attic and found two boxes with clothes matching the photographs. The boxes were brought down and then all the clothes were laid out on the bed that Neil used when he stayed overnight. It looked like they had every piece of the uniform and then some. The black and white pictures hadn’t obscured much. Most of the colour scheme was white, grey or black. With the uniform in front of him in real life, there was a red and gold trim that stood out on the jerseys, ties, socks and caps.
Very Gryffindor, said Neil approvingly.
He picked up what he could now clearly see were trousers. The legs were short – very short – yet they were nothing like the baggy shorts Neil was wearing. There were belt loops around the waist, along with clasps and even a zip for the fly. They had a thick pinstripe texture, which just made them even more formal in Neil’s mind. He thought back to the picture of his Grandpa at twelve. What did he look like with the short trousers at that point?
Can I try them on?
Go ahead, said Grandpa. Neil kicked off his trainers and the cargo shorts quickly dropped
to the floor.
You can’t wear trunks with short trousers, though. There’s some Y Fronts here. They were
specified on the school uniform back then. You may as well wear the whole outfit.
Neil picked up the white Y Fronts. They looked a bit like the pants (briefs) he used to wear, only bigger. There was a hem line that went down the centre of one side before splitting off in two directions. The hem on one side of the split was hiding a gap so Neil figured that must be the front. He turned around, pulled off his t-shirt and dropped his boxers. The naked boy then slid the Y Fronts up his legs. They hugged his underside like pants but went further up his waist like boxers. They were surprisingly comfortable.
...And other than being folded in a box for decades, continued Grandpa.
They should be
clean. Heh, boys never change. We weren’t too bothered about hygiene back then either. What do you think?
Your generation had long trousers. My generation has boxers, said Neil. He pulled back the
hem to look at his willy. For some reason, it had started doing that stiffening thing it sometimes did.
These are better than pants, though.
I’d say they’re better than those boxers your mum got you since there’s no buttons to break,
And it’s easy to just whip out your little snake in front of a toilet. Why don’t you
try this vest?
The vest was a more familiar design to Neil and it really wasn’t the weather to add extra layers. It was made from the same fabric as the Y Fronts, rather than the thinner stuff he was used to. He decided to try it. He was briefly thrown off by the lack of a label inside but realised the bigger side of the head-hole would be in front. His bare arms went all the way through their own holes and the vest fell in front of the Y Fronts.
Tuck it in, lad.
So there was a use for the extra height on the underwear. He had to stuff a lot of the vest in – This one was probably a little big for him. When he looked down, it almost looked like a single white outfit. Neil figured he could get used to wearing something like this. Having his arms and legs fully exposed certainly helped in the heat. At the very least, he made a mental note to track down his own vests at home. His mum would probably welcome him having something on his chest.
Neil reached for a pair of socks. He couldn’t help stretching them out with widening eyes. Seeing them worn in pictures hadn’t prepared him for just how long they were. It took a bit more manoeuvring than the ankle socks he was used too but soon both socks were pulled all the way up to his knees. They felt like thick socks he’d worn before, Neil supposed. It was just weird to sense them so far up his legs.
You’ll need these too, said Grandpa.
Neil was handed two small... Belts? Braces?
Are these for the socks? he asked.
Boys in short trousers need to keep their knee socks pulled all the way up so they look smart.
That puts you in a fight with gravity, which is always conspiring to earn you a smacked leg. You see how
the trim is behind the top of the socks? Tighten the garters under there and then pull it over. They’re
not visible but they’ll keep the socks held up.
This was getting weirder. Neil adjusted the size of the loops and pulled them up his socks. He had to change their position a few times to get the red and gold trim level across both legs. Having two belts just below his knees felt weirder than just the socks.
The shirts, on the other hand, were perfectly normal. They were white and Neil had to fasten a series of buttons down his chest. Neil had only worn shirts on a few occasions but he’d wear something identical as part of a modern uniform if he went to the nearby Catholic school. He recalled reading something about boys having to attach the collar separately but fixed collars had evidently come into fashion by the time his grandpa was at school. The only consideration there was to lift it up and place a tie around his shoulders.
He looked at his grandpa.
All right, said Grandpa.
I’ll tie it for you this time. You’ll need to learn this skill
at some point, you know.
Grandpa made some incomprehensible movements and gave Neil a respectable knot in the tie. Now that he was wearing a shirt and tie, he felt like a mature young man. This wasn’t the outfit of a little schoolboy. As Neil marvelled, he did notice that the back end of the tie was hanging loose.
Isn’t there something to hold this? asked Neil.
Not on these old ties, said Grandpa.
It doesn’t matter since the tie goes under the jersey.
Neil picked up a jersey. It was heavy.
It’s too hot to wear this!
That’s the uniform, said Grandpa.
We wore it every day. It didn’t matter if we were in
a heatwave or it was snowing.
At least the girls weren’t allowed long trousers back then, said Neil as he was engulfed inside
I seem to recall the girls wore gymslips in winter.
So uniforms have always been sexist against boys. Good to know.
Don’t whine. It toughened us up.
Neil was starting to find the outfit dumb in general. The jersey completely smothered his smart shirt and tie! Only the collar and knot were visible. He may as well have just worn a grey jumper in the first place!
He’d gone this far, though. He finally pulled on the short trousers, tucking in the bottom of the shirt as he did so. There was a weird-looking belt on the bed but the trousers fit well enough. He wasn’t tucking in the jersey to show a belt off. It was a good thing he wasn’t self-conscious about his knees because there was a lot of bare skin between the cuffs of the trousers and the top of the knee socks.
Neil grabbed a cap and put it on his head.
So do I look like an old schoolboy now?
Not with that hair, said Grandpa, flicking a lock hanging down from the back of his head.
You know, there was a story on the news about a boy being suspended for cutting his hair too short.
In my day, they wouldn’t have let you in the building until that mane was cut off. Still... You do look
very smart in that uniform. You should wear that outfit to school. Bring back the good, old fashions.
Neil tried to imagine wearing a heavy, three-layered top with bare legs every day. Right now, it was too hot to keep the jersey on for long. As for his legs, he already had bad memories of wearing shorts outside for PE the previous winter. He was starting to feel grateful for long trousers and permission to take off his jumper.
They’re strict about the uniform and this isn’t it, was his diplomatic response.
That’s a shame, said Grandpa.
Have a look at yourself in the mirror.
There was a full-length mirror in his grandpa’s bedroom. Neil walked over and the boy he saw looking back could have been his grandpa at that age. The hair below the cap was certainly longer than the boys in the pictures. The outfit, on the other hand, made him look like an authentic vintage schoolboy. It really wasn’t something anyone would wear today. It wasn’t that he minded the vest and Y Fronts or the shirt and tie or even the short trousers. He was pretty sure he would be mocked mercilessly if anyone saw him wearing the full outfit, though.
So he overreacted when he walked out of the room and a flash went off. His grandpa was holding up a camera.
What was that?!
Since you went to all the trouble of dressing up, we should get a picture for posterity. I bet
your mum would love to see it.
Neil grabbed the camera out of the old man’s hands. He turned it around, intending to delete the picture, only to realise this was an old camera that preserved the image on film. In the moment he was distracted, he didn’t notice the back of his short trousers lift up. His grandpa planted a hard, stinging smack on the bare skin just below his bottom. Neil squeaked and a hand flew to rub the sore spot.
Shortly after his dad had run off, Neil had gone through a very naughty phase. His grandpa had taken to slapping him on the leg every time he acted up. That had been years ago, though. The action of being smacked now was much more childish to Neil than the short trousers, which were really a relic from a different era.
What was that for?!
Don’t snatch things.
Grandpa folded his arms with a serious look. Neil felt a flush of rebellion, only to take a deep breath.
Look, I’m sorry I overreacted. You can develop the picture and show it to Mum. But come on, I’m
too old to be smacked!
Boys in short trousers aren’t too old to have their legs smacked, said Grandpa.
I got the
cane well into my teens.
The cane’s illegal, said Neil.
I’m getting hot in this jersey. Can I take it off now?
Of course. You wanted to try it on.
Neil marched to his room, threw every piece of the old school uniform on the bed and put his modern summer clothes back on. He had his mind set to simply walk out the door, only for his grandpa to intercept him and put a £5 note in his hand.
Take this and get a haircut, Neil. No, listen. You can ask for what you want. I know the fashions
have changed since my day. I just don’t think that mop can be good for you in this weather.
What could Neil do? He took the money with a quiet
thank you and walked to the barbers. He
had to wait his turn but the building at least had air conditioning. He was initially going to go with
Grant’s suggestion of an all-over cut. But the flush of humiliation died down – it had lasted
much longer than the sting – and his mind went back to the picture of his grandpa in 1961.
When his turn came, he ended up asking for his old short-back and sides with just a trim on top.
It was when he got home that the fireworks started.
His mum had looked in his homework diary. It wasn’t good. Nothing due the next week had been done. Worse, a few items he was supposed to hand in the previous week were still outstanding. The sentencing was swift. Neil was grounded until every piece of homework was finished. He complained that she was snooping. She shot back that they’d both agreed to his teachers that she was supposed to keep an eye on his homework. Neil had no grounds to argue back.
Confined to his room, Neil spent the next half an hour silently fuming. Eventually, his frustration shifted to the weather. It was far too hot. Neil decided to rifle through his drawers to see if any cooler clothes were hiding. He stripped down and ended up putting on a vest and even an old pair of pants (a word I’m still using to refer to briefs).
With arms and legs fully bared, Neil pulled out his maths homework and sat down to work. He managed to complete a few sums before his mind drifted. A couple of years earlier, Neil had really wanted to go to boarding school. At first, he specifically wanted to go to Hogwarts. Then Grandpa had told him about muggle boarding schools and they sounded all right too.
He’d first thought boarding schools wouldn’t have homework, since the students were always at school. But no, they still had to work on their own time. Harry Potter was always writing long essays and then getting Hermione to check them. Grandpa had given him a book that Roald Dahl wrote about his own schooldays in the 1930s. Back then, boys at boarding school had to do Prep in the evenings on one of those individual wooden desks with the ink pots. Roald Dahl had once gotten the cane for daring to ask another boy for a pen nib during Prep! When Neil was in Sixth Form and had a chance to do homework during a free period, he’d be allowed to talk and ask to borrow stationary.
Neil managed to finish all the sums but by then he was bored. He lay on his beanbag playing on his 3DS for a while. He planned to go back to his homework but, before he knew it, it was time for bed and he hadn’t done anything else. He was an attentive enough student at school. At home, he always seemed to get distracted by something more interesting.
In his dream that night, Neil was stood in front of his headmaster in his modern school uniform. The head was telling him that he’d failed Year Seven because he hadn’t done his homework. They were going to try different measures. The headmaster indicated a wooden school desk. Neil suddenly realised he was only wearing Y Fronts as chains emerged from the desk! The chains wrapped around his legs and waist and tied him down to the chair. More chains wrapped around his wrists and pulled a hand to a pen in the groove of the desk. The pen had no nib. He asked another boy if they had one (there were other boys in similar desks around him now) and his grandpa slapped his leg for talking.
Neil woke up. His heart was beating heavily. It was light outside but still early. The dream was nonsense, of course. Yet he couldn’t throw off the powerful image it had left. A feeling of dread rose from his emotions and lingered in the air. Neil could tell himself he’d do all his homework. Realistically, though, it wasn’t going to happen. He’d be in trouble at school, which would strain things even further at home.
As Neil continued to lie in bed contemplating the dream, an idea formed. He perked up, thinking it could actually work for him. His willy had finally softened from its recent trend of stiffening in the morning – this one sure had lasted a while – so he got up to use the toilet. He had another quick breakfast, this time wearing a vest with the boxers. As soon as he was fully dressed, he ran for the door. His mum caught him tying his school shoes.
Where are you going? You’re grounded, remember!
Neil lifted his bag by one of the straps.
I’m going to do my homework at Grandpa’s house.
She gave him a blank look. Her mouth opened, closed and then opened again.
All right... But I’m calling your grandpa. You are to walk straight there and homework is the
only thing you’ll do there.
Fifteen minutes later, he was in front of his grandpa’s front door.
That’s looking better, said Grandpa, nodding at his hair.
I’ve just been on the phone with
your mum. I think we need a talk.
They walked through to the study. The wooden desk was still there.
I hear your homework is in a bad state.
Can I try doing my homework on that desk? I might get more done if I think of it
Sounds like an interesting idea, said Grandpa.
I’m happy to leave the desk here for you
to use, if you think it will help. The uniform is still upstairs if you really want to get into the right
OK. But, um, you’re not allowed to smack me.
Well, I don’t know about that. What do you think happened to lazy boys who didn’t do their homework
They got caned. Your... Your aunt didn’t have a cane, did she?
No. She always hauled us off to the headmaster when she wanted us dealing with. I don’t need to
go so far as to cane you, though. Boys in short trousers can always get their legs smacked. It wouldn’t
just stop at the one hand slap, mind. For an offense like this, both of your thighs would get quite red
before we were done. As for the matter of whether I’m allowed to smack you, your mother has the
sole say on that. Not you.
She doesn’t like it.
She also doesn’t like how much you’ve been slacking. She’s given me free discretion to deal with
you, just like she did when you were little. You know, I got a few shorts-down slipperings for laziness
from my father when he was still alive. They certainly motivated me.
I get the picture. I’ll do my homework.
Good boy. Go upstairs and change into the vest and Y Fronts. Bring the rest of the uniform downstairs.
I’ll let you leave the jersey off but you’ll need the garters. You’ll get a smacked leg if you don’t keep
your socks up!
Neil hurried upstairs and found the clothes he’d tried on the previous day still in a disarray on his bed. He stripped off his modern clothes, slid the Y Fronts back on and tucked in the vest. He was a little more concerned about having the top of his legs exposed. Grandpa kept talking about smacked legs. Only at this point did it dawn on Neil that bringing the other clothes downstairs meant he would put them on after what Grandpa planned. He was serious about smacking Neil.
Neil picked up the short trousers. He could put them on right there and just sit down at the desk. Or change back into his modern clothes and walk home. At home, he’d have to explain to his mum why he broke his grounding without making any progress on his homework. He could take the smacking. It stung but it was a little kid’s punishment. Neil decided it would be easiest to just humour his grandpa and then get to work.
When Neil returned to the study, a new scene was waiting for him. The school desk had been placed against an empty corner. Its chair was facing inwards. Grandpa was sat on a bigger hard-backed chair. There was a slipper in his hand. Stood in the old-fashioned underwear, Neil suddenly felt very vulnerable.
Um, Mum told me to do homework and nothing else. So... I should get to it.
Nice try, laddy. Place those clothes on the desk and come here. A little demonstration should
help you stay focussed on your work.
Neil dropped the clothes and made a hesitant step towards his grandpa. A firm hand on his back kept him moving forward and then down. For the first time in Neil’s life, he was bent over a man’s lap staring at the carpet. He could make out each tuft right in front of his eyes. If the big mirror was downstairs, Neil would have seen the unmistakeable image of a boy in vest and Y Fronts about to get a spanking. He gritted his teeth.
The hard sole of the slipper smacked down on the seat of the Y Fronts with a pop. Neil gasped. A wave of tiny itches rippled across his buttocks, only to quickly settle. He gained a little more confidence. The swat hadn’t been as bad as a hand smack on bare leg. The sensation repeated on the other side of Neil’s bottom. This made him a little nervous again. A single swat was over as soon as you knew about it. How long would it take for both his thighs to turn red?
Grandpa wasn’t even paying attention to his thighs. The slipper smacked each cheek back and forth. It kept going for a while. The itching sensation started to take hold across Neil’s bottom, even after the waves had passed. He started wriggling over his grandpa’s lap.
With a loud thwack, the slipper gave a hard smack to exposed skin at the top of Neil’s leg. He yelped. A hand flew back to protect the sore skin. His grandpa calmly took hold of the wrist and pressed it into his back. Neil’s other hand had to grab the chair leg for support. There was no way for him to stop the slipper.
Now I’m starting to get through to you, said Grandpa.
The slipper smacked the other leg. Grandpa moved his focus to the area immediately under the Y Fronts. Again and again, the slipper struck down. The heat was building up. This was turning into a real spanking. Neil was reacting to each swat now.
Ow! Ah! Oh!
Are you going to concentrate on your homework when we’re done? asked Grandpa.
Yes! Neil almost shouted.
Well, I’ll give you a little more. Just to be sure.
No. You don’t have tooowwaaaah!
The slipper whacked the Y Fronts again. Fast and firm, Neil was hit with a barrage of smacks. His legs kicked back and forth. He yelled out in pain. He’d changed his mind. Those kiddy leg slaps were nothing compared to this!
The slipper fell to the floor. Grandpa let go of Neil’s wrist and patted the boy’s back. Neil was breathing deeply. That had been bad... but survivable. He hadn’t cried. Neil pushed up on his grandpa’s knee and found himself standing. His hands went to clutch his bottom. He couldn’t help bouncing on his toes.
Man, that smarts. No wonder kids behaved back then!
Grandpa was smiling. It wasn’t an unkind smile, though. The older man gently took his wrists and pulled him into a hug. For a moment, Neil took the comfort from the man who had just heated up his bottom. But then Grandpa was talking in his ear.
I told you. That was a demonstration. If I don’t see you applying yourself today, I’ll pull down
those Y Fronts and show you how bad boys really used to get it. You’re going to finish all your
homework, even if I have to spank you so hard that you can’t sit down at school all of next week. Do I
make myself clear?
Neil nodded. Grandpa pulled him out of the hug and ruffled the hair the barber had left at his fringe. He was smiling again.
You’d better dressed then.
A moment later, a knee sock was already going up Neil’s leg. He made sure to add the garters as well.
He was suddenly resolved to be a good boy while he did his
Prep. He was not going to give an adult
any reason to smack him. The shirt went on next and, as he was buttoning, he realised he felt some pride
in his appearance when he wore the uniform. He hadn’t fully undone the tie knot the previous day so he
was able to tighten it without any problems. Then it was just a matter of pulling up the short trousers
over his stinging bottom.
Neil pulled all the books out of his bag and placed them in the space inside the desk. He picked up his homework diary and moved to sit down, only for his bottom to recoil at the hard seat. He felt his grandpa’s hands on his shoulders and he was pushed down. Neil groaned as he was forced to make contact. It hit home that he was a naughty schoolboy in short trousers who had truly earned a sore bottom. That thought actually felt strangely right. He got straight to work, squirming in the chair as he did so.
Neil spent most of the day working on his
Prep. The sting died down after a while and Neil
was energised enough that there was no consideration of Grandpa carrying out his threat. Grandpa let him
take a break for lunch and a few calls of nature gave Neil a chance to see for himself how conveniently
the Y Fronts were designed. The rest of the time, Neil did his homework at the small wooden desk, dressed
in a shirt and tie with short trousers and knee socks.
Who is this smart boy?
Grandpa and Neil had been reviewing the homework diary when his mum walked in. Neil had a momentary panic at someone else seeing him like this. This time, he let it pass without earning a smack on his leg.
I’m your dad, said Neil.
I’ve come all the way from 1961 to learn about the future!
How exciting! What do you think of it?
It’s great! Do you know the schools can’t cane kids any more? Sign me up!
Mmm-hmm, said Mum.
And do you happen to know how my undisciplined boy is getting along
with his homework?
It’s all finished, said Neil, proudly handing her the homework diary. It had taken a full
day’s work but there was nothing left to do. He’d just finished the second sheet that Mr. Colen wasn’t
expecting until Friday afternoon.
That’s wonderful! said Mum.
I guess your grandpa knows more than me when it comes to motivating
Neil already knew what he wanted to do, said Grandpa.
I helped him get into the spirit
a little and then I just left him to it.
His mum picked up a pen and signed the homework diary. Then she wrote Well done, Neil, which made him feel good. Then she added See what you can do when you apply yourself, which Neil felt was less necessary. Neil took it back and flipped to the page listing the school uniform. An idea had been forming all day.
Grandpa? Would it be all right if I borrowed these trousers?
You can have anything from that old stuff, said Grandpa.
Just say the word and I won’t
sell it. You can take them home or I’ll wash everything and put it away in your room upstairs.
It was decided then. They ate dinner at Grandpa’s house before Neil changed back into his modern summer clothes. He picked out a few items to bring home and put everything else in his grandpa’s washing machine. Neil’s mum was giving him curious looks but he was confident in his new plan.
When Neil got dressed for school the next morning, he put on some trousers as usual. The only change was that these trousers left plenty of bare leg exposed to the warm air. He’d read the uniform rules several times and they only said that boys were to wear black trousers all year. They didn’t specify how long the trousers should be! He checked himself in the mirror and he liked the new look. This was going to be an historic day. Neil was going to bring short trousers back into fashion.
He was just glad he didn’t have PE on Mondays. Wearing trousers this short ran the risk of flashing part of his boxers. He wasn’t sure how people would react to Y Fronts but they didn’t end up becoming an option. His mum had insisted that Grandpa wash every pair before they were worn again so Neil was stuck in pants. Old, childish underwear that would absolutely earn ridicule if the other boys knew he was wearing them.
Neil was also wearing knee socks, held up just below his knees by the garters. As long as he was wearing short trousers, he figured he should go with the full image. Above the trousers, though, he was wearing a standard polo-shirt. The bottle green jumper with his school’s logo was wrapped around his waist. That morning, as a 21st Century twelve-year-old boy, this was the outfit Neil wanted to wear. He wasn’t interested in wearing a skirt or a thick jersey. He just wanted to find a way for boys to deal with the heat. This was a way to do it while staying within the letter of the school rules.
It was another warm morning that threatened to get hotter. As he walked to school, Neil knew he’d made the right choice in adapting his uniform. He was a lot more comfortable than he’d been the previous week. His grandpa’s lesson in old school uniforms was the best education he’d received all weekend. The bag full of completed homework on his back was just satisfying for being done.
Neil got a few looks on the street. Once he was past the school gates, though, the other students appeared to already be interested in something else. He moved through a crowd of taller boys to try to see what was going on. At the centre of attention, he found Grant. While Neil had found a way to follow the letter of the rules, Grant had actually turned up to school wearing a skirt!
Wow! Neil couldn’t help joining the smirking faces around him.
I can really sense your
masculinity right now, dude.
Grant flashed him a grin.
If you’re going to break the rules, you may as well do it in style.
You should have kept your hair long and pretended to be a girl, Neil. No one’s going to be impressed by
I don’t know what you’re talking about, said Neil.
I’m wearing trousers.
All right, people. There’s no reason for everyone to hang around the gates. Let’s disperse a little.
That was the voice of Mr. Smith, the head of Year Seven, of all people. The teacher reached the centre
of the circle and his eyes fell on Grant and Neil.
You two. My office. Now.
Neil put on an innocent who, me? look but Mr. Smith was already turning around. Grant shrugged and they followed him inside. Mr. Smith led them to his office, only to come to a halt in front of the door and turn to face them. He looked from Grant’s skirt to Neil’s short trousers.
Can either of you boys tell me what the school uniform says should be on your legs right now?
We have to wear black trousers, said Neil.
Girls have the option to wear skirts in summer.
That’s right, said Mr. Smith.
Are you a girl, Grant? I hear you told Mr. Colen you were
secure in your masculinity. I take it this isn’t a transgender thing?
No, said Grant.
I’m a guy who has the sense not to wear trousers in this heat!
And as long as you’re breaking the rules, it didn’t occur to you to just wear shorts like Neil?
I’m not wearing shorts, Sir, said Neil.
These are trousers. They’re properly tailored and
everything. They just happen to have a short leg.
A very short leg, said Mr. Smith.
They might be a little too short?
They’re a lot too short. Did you notice the part of the rules where even skirts have to
be knee length? I’d send a girl home for showing that much leg and I’d call what you’re wearing obscene
even if we allowed shorts! What kind of attention are you trying to attract?
I... I... Neil was thrown off. He didn’t know how to respond to that.
What are you talking about? Mr. Slater had been walking by and stopped to speak up. He had
already retired but Neil had encountered him as a substitute teacher a few times. He must have been older
than Neil’s grandpa. This was a stroke of good fortune. He’d understand better than Mr. Smith.
not something to be a prude about. Exposed upper legs used to be the fashion for smartly dressed boys.
Good job on keeping both knee socks pulled up to the correct height.
Th-Thank you, Sir, said Neil.
Old fashioned or not, said Mr. Smith.
They’re both breaking the uniform rules. I’m giving
them a chance to explain themselves before I send them home to change.
I’m not breaking the rules, said Neil.
I’m wearing trousers. There’s nothing in the rules
about the length of trousers.
Can’t you make an exception? asked Mr. Slater.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen a boy
They’re trousers, repeated Neil.
Oh, I know. But that’s what we used to call short trousers. Boys’ knickers.
Grant burst out laughing.
Ha ha ha ha ha! Neil’s wearing knickers!
You’re wearing a skirt! shot Neil.
OK, said Mr. Smith.
Let’s calm it down. Now, are you going to go home and change, Neil?
Or do you want me to make an example of your –ahem– knickers?
Neil’s face flushed scarlet and not from the heat.
I’ll go home and change, Sir.
That’s a shame, said Mr. Slater. But Neil didn’t miss him wink to Mr. Smith.
And thus ended Neil’s attempt to bring back short trousers. His grandpa had a good chuckle when Neil told him the story. Mr. Slater had apparently been telling the truth but Grandpa reckoned he would have been just as mortified to hear his short trousers called knickers as a boy. The next day, a cool wind blew in from Scandinavia and England soon returned to more familiar weather patterns. The summer holidays began soon after, allowing Neil to forget all about uniforms and homework. Until September.
Shortly before beginning Year 8, his mum and grandpa sat Neil down for a talk. Neil’s self-motivation for completing homework the previous year had been appalling, to put it lightly. This was all the worse because Neil was a good student and could do the work when he put his mind to it. So they had decided to go with what had already been seen to work.
Grandpa was now responsible for signing Neil’s homework diary. Neil would report to him every Sunday. Anything he hadn’t completed yet would be done at his Prep desk, while wearing his full Prep uniform. If Grandpa didn’t think Neil had done enough homework during the week, he would be slippered on his bare legs and Y Fronts. Maybe even bare butt if it came to that!
Neil wanted to protest but his mum maintained an utterly serious expression as Grandpa explained the rules. Her only concession was that they could review his progress down the line. The only way out of the new regime was to get his act together and do his homework. So he did... After a while. It took a session sitting on the wooden chair, writing lines, after a big bare bottom slippering for the message to sink in. By Christmas, Neil was seriously looking at what he needed to do on weekday evenings.
And yet, he always saved a few pieces of homework for Sunday. He liked working at his desk in his special uniform. Even the jersey grew on him. They started regularly having Sunday dinner at Grandpa’s house and Neil’s uniform became his official Sunday clothes. Grandpa taught him to tie a proper knot in his tie so he could assemble the full outfit by himself.
Once Neil was about to start Year 9, he was told he wouldn’t have to wear the short trousers any more. He was at the same point that Grandpa’s generation had been allowed to move up to long trousers. But that was an option that Great-Grandma hadn’t allowed Grandpa for her own reasons. Now, Neil willingly chose to keep the short trousers as part of his Sunday outfit. He wasn’t a part of his grandpa’s generation.
By this point, Neil was starting to discover other aspects of himself that explained the appeal of being an old-fashioned short-trousered boy. After the autumn of Year 8, he didn’t get another spanking from his grandpa and he couldn’t bring himself to ask for one. In time, though, he learnt there were other men out there. Men who would gladly provide discipline for any young man once they were eighteen.
Neil ended up writing most of his university dissertation wearing a shirt and short trousers, just
as he’d done his
Prep years earlier. When he lacked the motivation as a university student, he
knew he’d be instructed to bend over to receive a dozen sharp stripes from the cane. As time went on,
he would meet other adult boys who also dressed in short trousers to provide access for the smacked legs
they craved. As it turned out, short trousers had never fully gone away.