You may recall Cinder’s Princess Dress–the fluffy, lacey, floor-length Disney princess gown Flora received for her first Christmas from her Nana, and which was immediately confiscated by Cinder as his party dress, which he wore to every major party event for the next two or so years. He stopped wearing it quite abruptly–I remember feeling sad at the rise of consciousness that accompanied that decision of his, his awareness that “boys did not wear dresses” and his acquiescence to that norm. But, by the time he outgrew the dress, Flora was ready for it… and how many little sisters get to wear their brother’s hand-me-down Princess dress? “What a lovely dress,” people would say, and she’s say, “Thank you, it was my brother’s,” and people would not be quite sure what to say next.
The dress got too tight for Flora a couple of years ago, and got retired to the back of the dress up pile. Smaller friends wiggled into it, puppy Anya wore it on special occasions… and today, proud Big Sister dressed little Ender in it.
Flora had a couple of friends over today and they dressed up in a variety of costumes, uncovering the Princess dress. This evening after bath, Ender dragged Flora over to the dress up rack. “Peese?” he said, pointing. “Peese?” “Mom!” Flora called. “Ender wants the Princess dress! Can I dress him in the Princess dress?”
She did–although first, she had to let him run around the house naked, clutching the dress to his chest and bellowing, “Wheeee!” Finally, she wrestled him into it. He immediately ran to show himself to Sean. “This!” he announced, turning around. “Oh my god,” said Sean. “It’s like a … ” “He looks just like me!” Flora said. Pause. A critical look at Ender. “Only much fatter.”
She took him downstairs to show Cinder. “Oh, he’s wearing my Princess dress!” Cinder said. He tousled his little brother’s hair. Ender tried to bite him. They wrestled for a bit. “Did people make fun of me for wearing the Princess dress?” Cinder asked me suddenly. I frowned in concentration. “Not really,” I said. “I remember once, N and F did…” “And?” prodded Cinder. I remember very clearly — Cinder, wearing a Princess dress and yellow rubber boots and a baseball cap, marching into the house, getting the biggest water gun he could find, and a few minutes later… shrieks. He chased the girls with the gun, first spraying them with water, then trying to pummel them with the gun. It’s a story with a tricky moral–no one on the Common ever made fun of his Princess dress again. But, um, that whole pummelling with the gun thing…
“And… you kinda… ” I searched for the right word. “Whooped them?” Flora suggested. “Hmmm,” I murmured.
Cinder hugged Ender. “So, if anyone makes fun of you for wearing a Princess dress, you go and whoop them,” he said. “And if they’re bigger then you, come get Bubba, and Bubba will whoop them for you.”
“Wheee!” Ender vocalized. Then bit Cinder in the arm pit. And got a bit of a whoop in return.