Billy Keane: 'Every man in the country should be made to dress up as a woman for five nights - if only to give it up'
This is what was said to me by the woman in the underwear department of the big store when I asked to buy a bra and knickers, for myself.
The ever so polite salesperson didn't seem in the least bit fazed. "You'd be amazed," she said, "who asks me for what in here."
Sure isn't the country full of transvestites and cross-dressers. Fair play to them too. To each, his and her own.
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To be more specific I was looking for black tights, pink bloomers and a large bra for the fuller figure.
I was shocked to hear the bloomers are no longer available. These were the best contraceptives of all and were approved of by the Church which was down on sex, unless one of themselves was having it. The bloomers were double-gusseted and elasticated below the knee, for purity. It would be easier to get through strands of barbed wire in World War I.
I went to a smaller store.
I settled for large white panties with long legs like football togs and plenty of room inside for the extremities women do not have to cope with. I had to go for the XXL and I didn't try them on.
The lady in the shop sized me up from bottom to toe. Her conclusion was "you're a small man, but you're a big woman".
There was no charge.
The sign on the counter read "underwear and bras cannot be returned under any circumstances". And who could argue with that? I needed to wear the knick-oomers five nights in a row so. The lady was spot on. The knick-oomers fitted perfectly and were as soft as eiderdown on the skin.
I couldn't find a bra to fit me. I never knew bras were measured all the way around. It seems the back is included in the calculations. The size that suited best wasn't in stock and was something like a 46A, as in the buses, or a 99, like as in the ice creams. Whatever it was I forget, but we are talking big numbers here.
I blew up two balloons. I couldn't see my feet, which was very dangerous, and when I went to the toilet I had to remove my boobs. It was like learning to walk all over again. I was banging off everyone. My special awareness had to be reconfigured. I was always very bad at the parking. A garda said to me one time "you didn't park that car, you abandoned it". It was as if there was an exclusion zone all around me. People backed off.
The worst part was the tights. One of my toes had grown long and pointy. The tights were torn and a fireman's ladder climbed up all along the length of my leg.
The tights were borrowed by a friend from his wife without her permission. The brand was called Alo Yoga. We're talking a hundred here or maybe more. That's fifty a leg and one leg was only fit for the bin. If I waxed my legs, well then that cost more again.
I had my chest waxed for charity and the hair took years to grow back, I had to wear a top on the beach in case lads thought I was trying out for a place in a boy band comeback tour.
Leggings went on inside the tights as my floral, elasticated, one-size-fits- all skirt was very light and only fit for summer picnics.
I had to go to the chiropodist to be shod or the new tights would be torn to pieces.
The make-up took an age to put on. There isn't a part of the face that goes untouched and several types of brushes are used to apply the paint but I did find that part very relaxing. You are made to feel special.
It's also a day's work going to the toilet. You have to be very careful all the undergarments do not get tangled up, or fall on the floor which may not be pristine. You wouldn't want to be in hurry.
I had to go out to the car for my manuka honey as my throat was as if it was grated by a potato peeler and salved with sandpaper dipped in hydrochloric acid. But am I complaining? No, not at all. When a man says he has the flu, some, but definitely not all, of the women will automatically diagnose man flu.
The graveyards of Ireland are full of men who were afraid to say they were sick. I heard lately of an epitaph that read: 'I REALLY DID HAVE PNEUMONIA'.
As I was saying before I mentioned a man's right to be sick, I was on the way out to the car for the manuka when this lad wearing a woolly hat couldn't keep his beady eyes off my new breasts. He perved me. It must be tough on women, all the same.
So I say to him, "Hey boss, I'm a man."
"So what?" says he.
I didn't go out in public again until Wednesday last, the opening night of the panto 'Goody Two Shoes', which is brilliantly directed by Donal Whelan and is choreographed by the genius of Jo Jordan, who brought Kate Winslet in to John B's for a drink and I hadn't a clue who she was.
As I was saying earlier up the page, it isn't easy being a woman. I was sweating up under the lights and all the clothes. The sickness would have done for an ordinary man but I soldiered on. The rest of the cast carried me.
I am terrible for remembering lines and I missed most of the rehearsals due to work commitments. So I made up my own lines.
Right in the middle of the panto I stopped the show for a commercial break. I told the audience knickers were down all week in the January sales.
The man in the woolly hat who perved me was only a few rows up from the front. He never took his eyes off me and he had this pervy smiley face on him all through. One of my co-stars said he might appear at the back stage door with a bunch of flowers.
Every man in the country should be made to dress up as a woman for five nights.
We still have a few tickets left for tonight and tomorrow night. The proceeds go to local charities.
And then I will ceremonially hand back the silk scarf, my shawl, the three pairs of torn tights, the gold high-heel toe-crippling shoes, my black leggings and the knick-oomers, which were very warm and very comfortable, but that's me done with being a woman, forever.