"Are you man enough?"
The headline on the ad asked.
"Are you man enough to be a Pansy?"
The rest of the copy didn't go into much detail about the company--Pansy Enterprises--but it was looking for men with Jack's skills. He had a background in design and was familiar with most computer imaging software. Only one criterion concerned him: They were looking for men of a certain physical type--slender and relatively hairless.
"What can it hurt?" he asked himself, as he filled out the on-line application and attached a recent photo.
Two days later, he got an e-mail: "Dear Jack, we are very interested in your application and resume. Can you come to our offices tomorrow for a more in-depth interview?" He replied that he could and they set a time for early morning.
The next morning, Jack was at Pansy Enterprises headquarters, located in a fashionable office park on the outskirts of town. He went to the reception desk and said, "My name is Jack Reynolds; I have an appointment with Ms. Vera Demanden."
The receptionist, a beautiful redhead dressed in a somewhat retro "New Look" nipped waist suit, replied, "Oh, yes, Mr. Reynolds. Ms. Demanden will be right out to get you. Please have a seat." He did so, and began to look around the reception area. It was decorated in a very feminine style and featured photos of what he assume to be models wearing Pansy's output. But there was something about all the models...something "different" that he just couldn't put his finger on.
As he mused on that, he saw a spectacular pair of legs on six-inch patent heel pumps move into his vision. He looked up and saw a an equally spectacular middle-aged woman smiling down at him. "Hello, Jack," she said, extending her gloved hand, "I'm Vera Demanden."
"Come with me, please," she said, leading the way down a corridor lined with more photos and a series of doors. In each room, he saw another lovely woman, all dressed like Ms. Demanden and the receptionist. "They must really expect everyone to wear the company's clothes," Jack thought.
She led Jack into an elegant office, done in French Provincial, and gestured for him to take a seat in front of the desk. She settled into her own chair and smiled again. "Now, Jack, tell me more about you. I can already see from your resume and application you have all the technical qualifications for the job...and you seem to meet our physical requirements. Do you have any family? Are you married? Engaged?"
"No, Ms. Demanden, I'm an only child and my parents died a few years ago. I have no permanent romantic relationship of any kind right now."
"How about friends?"
"I'm relatively new in the city...I have a nodding acquaintance with my neighbors, that's about all. I'm really hoping a job like this one will improve my social life."
"I'm sure it will, Jack," she answered, smiling. "But there's one more thing we have to do before we know you're the man for the job. Come with me." She led him next door to a smaller room, with just a desk and a computer. "We'll be giving you a test...if you pass--and I suspect you will--you have a job on the spot."
He took a seat before the computer screen, as Ms. Demanden pressed a few buttons on the keyboard. "Just follow the instructions and respond to the questions..." As the screen came to life, she left the room.
After prompting to enter his name, Jack was confronted by a series of seemingly innocent questions about his computer skills. All the while though, he was sure he heard other sounds from the speakers and the screen seemed to flash occasionally in a strange manner.
He grew sleepy and began to answer the questions more slowly...in time, he stopped responding all together, simply staring at the screen. At that moment, Ms. Demanden walked back into the room. She picked up the phone and dialed an internal number. "Girls, he's ready...come and get him..."
Jack awoke in a different room, staring into a different computer. "Hello, Jacqueline," Ms. Demanden cooed to him. "The girls have done a wonderful job with you. Welcome to Pansy."
He stared down at himself...breasts, painted fingernails, smooth legs...who was he now?
TO BE CONTINUED
Please respond to the survey at the right.