Paul had been coming to see his therapist for a few weeks. An east Texas man he'd moved to the UK a few years before and landed a job with the police. 5'9 and carrying some extra luggage his hair has begun to thin in his twenties. In his thirties he has little left.
His career had gone nowhere. An outsider in every sense he just couldn't connect with his colleagues. His work was not great, his competence was tied to his confidence. Two kids, a wife with a better job and a little too much Baptist rhetoric for British taste he was stuck going nowhere fast.
Paul's supervisor had signed him up for a therapy and confidence course. £200 an hour seemed to Paul, a complete was of time with the therapist droning on about 'trust equations', positively reframing negative statements and his leadership style.
Paul stared across the room, not really listening and sinking deeper into the armchairs that Tom his therapist insisted they sit in. Paul's mind began to wander as he found Tom increasingly irritating. Tom was a little older than Paul. He was obviously well paid, spending his fees on designer suits, a crisp pale blue shirt, ties and socks in strong colours and expensive chucker boots. The whole lot must have cost more than Paul earned in a week. Tom's car was a flash coupe, parked outside the station and a designer watch hung loosely from his wrist. He knew nothing about Paul's crap life, but it didn't stop him droning on.
Paul has cycled into work today, his wife had the car. He'd got in late, stripped out of his cycling gear and climbed into his uniform, black pants, white shirt, clip on tie, black socks. If he was lucky he'd save on laundry and get away with the same shirt, underpants and socks for a few days before he had to haul the whole lot home for washing in his back pack.
Paul let his eyes fall to the floor, Tom's honey coloured boots and designer socks kept catching his eye. Jesus, the guy liked his labels. Paul thought the boots where Jeffery West. He'd seen them in a magazine at the dentists, way out of his price range.
Paul tuned back into Tom's speech," Look Paul, how you present is really important, if you look slovenly then your colleagues and your customers will presume you are. You need to walk in the door like a winner and take charge. I don't slouch around, it's very clear than I'm a confident, successful person from the minute you meet me. How do you think you come across to the casual observer? "
Paul suddenly got angry, almost in despair burst out, "you've no idea how little control over my life I really have. I'm told what to wear, what to do and how to do it at all times. From the second I wake up the wife starts and then I get to work and my inspector starts. No one cares what I want, no one listens to me and frankly you telling me that I should walk in the door like a winner isn't helping. "
"So what would help?" Responded Tom. "If you woke up tomorrow and your world had changed how would you know Paul?"
"Well for one thing I'd have the kind of freedoms from responsibility you have, if I could walk a day in your shoes life would be great, no wife, no expectations of a cop, a wallet full of money and a flash car. Yeah that would be great, but it ain't my life." Paul flashed back.
Tom was taken aback but then inspiration took him. "Look what about if you had that day, we'll swap roles, you take charge, be free for a day and see if you can maintain those free behaviours going forward?"
That's how it started. Paul and Tom talked about what a role swap day would be like, how Paul would behave and act, what Tom would need to do, what it meant to be the arrogant therapist and the down trodden cop. For Paul this was his fantasy, to be rid of all his failures and responsibilities, just for a day and perhaps to get Tom off his back and realising just how tough things were for him.
They arranged to come into the station on a Sunday when no one was around and spend a full day in role. "Look Paul", said Tom, "I'm concerned that you won't get this role reversal. You won't have that brutal, focused streak to absorb the behaviours we are looking for."
"Tom, don't worry, I've got it, I'm going to be a different person that day. It's you that's got to worry ok? I'm going to have to break you of your cock sure style but I've a plan in mind", replied Paul.
Just over a week passed. Tom was sitting in the station interview room waiting for Paul. He arrived early, dressed in a navy suit, Paul Smith, shirt, tie, socks and underpants with his favourite Jeffery West boots. Paul burst in the door in his cycle kit, helmet in hand and sweat dripping off his brow. Typical thought Tom, he's starting the day out of sorts and he'll never recover from here, but Paul had other ideas.
"Look I've been thinking, I'm never going to act like you if I'm not wearing a flash suit and all the other props you have for your ego Tom and you ain't going to have any idea about my life if you don't look the part", Said Paul immediately.
"Ok" said Tom," have you brought a suit to wear today?"
"No, I'm going to borrow yours", grinned Paul, "we're about the same build so let's get started with our day, get out of your, no my suit suit now",he said with determination. Tom shrugged, not sure where this was going but interested in the new sense of steel he was getting from Paul. Tom took off his jacket and tie.
"Right what am I going to wear?" asked Tom. "Oh we'll find something",replied Paul. Tom slipped off his shirt, boots and trousers feeling slightly self conscious in his Spanks vest, trunks, socks and garters.
Paul pulled off his cycle gloves, and began to pull off his sweat damp cycle shirt, tearing at the Velcro on his cycle shoes, leaving him in his padded shorts and dirty cycle socks. His gut hanging over the Lycra shorts. Glancing at Tom he growled with a new determination, "I'll need the rest, don't protest. You can't keep that lot on with cycle gear". Unsure he wanted to go further Tom could nt think of a way out so he pulled off his Spanks vest and socks.
Paul picked up Tom's vest. It was tight and he was forced to roll it down across his body. His body heat quickly releasing the smell of Tom's cologne. Paul immediately noticed the slimming effect of the vest, flattening his stomach and pulling in his curves. He pulled down his padded cycle shorts, clicking his fingers for Toms clean crisp boxers which Tom very reluctantly removed. Pulling on Toms socks and garters, Paul tossed his cycle shorts and shirt over to the naked Tom. "Put them on, you wanted to know about my day".
Tom really did'nt know where Paul was going and really didn't want to wear his cycle gear but he was very conscious of his nudity. He placed his legs into the cycle shorts and immediately noticed the cool damp and strong odour of sweat. Free of the control of his vest now his gut rolled over the top of the shorts and he hurried to cover up with the cycle shirt.
Paul was now fully dressed in Tom's suit and was fastening the laces of his boots. Not knowing what else to do, Tom picked up the cycle shoes and dirty white ankle socks. The Lycra was pressing Paul's sweat against his body and the cool damp pad from the shorts was pressing against his backside as he sat down to put on the socks and shoes.
"Ok nearly done for now",said Paul pulling off his wedding ring and watch which he handed to Tom demanding his Rolex in return. "Right, gloves, helmet and back pack then you're done". All three were slick with sweat. Tom felt terrible but Paul added insult when he told him he'd not had a chance to wash the kit a few days with a broad grin, "but I look and smell great in this suit buddy!"
Paul made Tom sit for an hour in the tight and dirty cycle kit. Paul began to feel a lot more confident the second he'd put the suit on and this feeling was growing. Now for the second part.
"In the back pack you'll find a key for locker 29, your uniform is waiting. Second door on the right for the lockers, be back in 10, think I'll have a coffee", said Paul.
Reaching the locker room Tom found number 29 and after a few attempts with a bunch of keys he found in the back pack he got the lock off. Inside he found a shirt and trousers hanging. The shirt looked pressed but had a grubby brown ring at the collar. To his disgust he found some tatty grey trunks and a pair of black socks lying across some black shoes at the foot of the locker.
Pulling off the cycle gear he stepped into the grey trunks and as he pulled the also clearly dirty socks on he found a hole at the toe. The shirt had a musky smell and Tom thought the trousers would stand on their own. Finally he clipped on the black tie and fully stood in Paul's shoes. Returning to the interview room he readied himself for the rest of this nightmare experiment.Next chapter