I heard a car pull up and park at the rear of the building and the clip-clop of heels as the driver exited and headed towards the side door where I was waiting as instructed to start my first day working at “The Lingerie Emporium”.
“Glad to see you’re punctual Robert; I like punctuality. Come on, let’s go in. I’ll turn the alarm off and show you around.”
Mrs Ferguson was wearing a smart, black suit over a crisp white blouse. I don’t know why I looked to see if she was wearing stockings or tights, I guess it was just something I always did when walking behind women. She was wearing hosiery – a light-tan shade – but tights or stockings? I couldn’t say. I did think though that, for a woman her age, her skirt was just a little too short.
She turned on the lights to the ground floor and explained this was where they sold bras, panties, knickers, hosiery and suchlike, adding that I only needed to know this as I’d be called upon to replenish stock outside of opening hours. The first floor was for corsets, girdles and similar. Both floors had changing and fitting rooms. Again, she pointed out that I’d only ever need to go in these places to make sure all was tidy when I first came in of a morning, before the shop opened. It was, to me, like an Aladdin’s cave of ladies’ underwear, with names like Playtex and Gossard, familiar from my catalogue browsing. I was excited – almost breathless – yet had a queasy feeling in my stomach – first-day nerves I guess – tinged with a large dose of humiliation.
We then returned to the basement where I would spend most of my working hours. My duties would include opening the mail, dealing with the orders that came in the post (“The Lingerie Emporium” advertised in Women’s magazines and in the local paper), wrapping, parcelling and posting them and keeping a record of the orders, payments and customers’ details. All new postal customers were added to a card-index mailing list and sent lingerie catalogues twice a year.
I would also come in handy paying-in the takings to the bank each day – something the usual staff felt a little uneasy doing in case they were mugged. (Mr Holroyd had assured Mrs Ferguson that I could be trusted with this).
As I had a full driving licence, once my details were added to the business’s Vehicle Insurance, I’d be expected to drive the firm’s van to pick up or return stock to various manufacturers.
In short, I’d be kept busy enough never to have to show my face on the shop floor during opening hours.
Whilst being told all this, I could hear the side-door being opened and various voices in the background. Mrs Ferguson then led me back to the basement to introduce me to the other ladies with whom I’d be working.
I’ll give an abridged description of my first-impressions of the main characters and then crack on with the events that followed in later chapters. (First impression can sometimes be wrong though.)
EDNA: About 58, maybe 60. Tall with shortish black hair. Bespectacled and with rather plain, stern features, she was Mrs. Ferguson’s trusted number two and would be my overseer for the most part whilst I learned the ropes. She had a rather puritan demeanour and I suspected she would be disgusted to know anyone had a sexual fetish, not just me and mine. Oddly enough, she too wore her shop uniform dress a little too short for one her age – perhaps it was a lingerie-shop thing. She always wore seamed stockings and I couldn’t help but imagine the top of her legs and the suspender straps of her girdle tugging at them: perhaps she wasn’t the puritan first impressions suggested. She didn’t need a full-length corset as she was a trim, well-presented older lady, a size 12 perhaps; certainly no more than a 14 tops. She did have a rather large bust which, even though I had no desires for her, I couldn’t help but ponder what kind of bra or corsetry she used to keep them so, well, prominent! A long-line bra I concluded.
She was always polite and friendly with me, never giving any indication that she disapproved of a male taking about panties and suchlike with her. In fact, perhaps if she removed her glasses and maybe modernised her hairstyle she might have managed to be thought attractive for her age.
ANGIE: Only 19, a bubbly, funny, curvaceous blonde with no airs or graces about her; the sort that would get any hot-blooded male horny. She was going out with some boring accountant 4 or 5 years her senior. Once she got to know me, she’d make me laugh and talk to me about bras and knickers without the slightest hint that she thought it might embarrass me. She always wore fishnet stockings under her short uniform dress, and made no secret of her wearing sexy suspender-belts which she informed me, drove her boyfriend crazy. I knew how he felt. She had legs to drool over.
YVONNE: As sexy as Angie was, the undoubted beauty was Yvonne, 30 yrs old, tall, graceful and elegant and with beautiful long, straight red hair. Her piercing green eyes would make most men weak at the knees, me included. Needless to say, she was already spoken for, not by any old bloke but by the head-coach of the local Rugby League team (which in this part of the world was a big-deal). He was often called upon to open new local businesses and there was barely a month went by when his picture didn’t appear in the local press, usually with his gorgeous wife by his side.
I assumed she wore tights when at work but only wore the most expensive underwear when at home. She wore her uniform to just above knee-length and her breasts seemed just large enough to excite yet not so big as to imagine them ever sagging.
Sadly, Yvonne was the only one of the ladies who displayed any animosity towards me. Not so much in what she said, more in the way she said it. I wondered, feared perhaps, she had sussed out I was a closet cross-dresser and thus – in comparison to her macho husband – merited contempt. I had to keep telling myself that there really was no way she could know. (Anyway, I hadn’t yet ever donned any female underwear even if I’d wanted to, so how could she know?) I’d probably have fainted if she ever invited me in to her knickers.
We never made much small talk – not like how I did with Angie – and her instructions to me to re-stock the suspender-belts or panties for instance, either side of opening hours were brusque and cold.
I would never dream of answering Angie back or being as dismissive to her as she was with me. She was the top saleswoman in the store and didn’t she know it.
Angie and Yvonne were both women I would happily jack-off to when back home, however, I suppose I might as well be honest and tell you how things evolved in those first weeks.
I spent most of those early days with Edna as she showed me the ropes and instructed me where to find the items that needed to be re-stocked in the shop or despatched by mail.
She showed me how to fold and wrap items for posting and how to record all this in the sales ledger and customer card-index, before franking the packages for despatch. Consequently, I found myself handling ladies’ smalls and corsetry items most afternoons. Talking about and inspecting panties and knickers and bras and girdles with Edna to such an extent always led me to having a stiffy by late afternoon. I began to wonder if she had the slightest inkling that I was so aroused. By the time I got home after work, I would often jack-off to the thought of helping her undress, imagining unclipping her stockings and running my hands over her generous breasts as they fell out of the cups of her corselet.
I knew it was unusual, unnatural even, for a young, fit male like me to be getting-off to the thought of a woman Edna’s age and the underwear she wore, but when all said and done, a fetish is a fetish.
There is one other member of “The Lingerie Emporium’s” team I should mention, but she wasn’t working there when I started. This is ANITA.
She was 19 and studying Business Studies in London. When home from University, she would work in the shop to earn a bit of spending money. With short black hair, pretty face and a little taller than me, she never seemed to think it odd that a man was working in a lingerie shop. She was quick-witted, smart and a quite a looker in a classy sort of way: she was intellectually well out of my league.
The thing is, (it was Angie who told me this), for all her brains, she wasn’t actually that good at selling underwear and she (Angie) felt that Joyce (Mrs Ferguson)only let her work there because she was Edna’s daughter. Furthermore (remember this was the 1970’s), Anita was something of a feminist and didn’t think it right that women thought it necessary to wear titillating lingerie to satisfy men. This didn’t stop her working in a shop that sold those sorts of things though. I would sometimes remind her that Germaine Greer advocated liberated women burn their bras not sell them!
It turned out Anita’s brand of feminism was more that of a woman who wanted to put arrogant men in their place rather than burn her underwear.
Edna didn’t approve of her daughter’s feminism and hoped that she’d mellow as she got older but Angie reckoned the girls she mixed with at University were making her more of a feminist not less.
“Pity the man that crosses her,” Angie mused.