Denise was in a quandry. Should she go or not? Her husband, Mark, was losing patience with her. "I need to know whether you are going or not if you want a lift. Just let me know when you have made your mind up but please make it quick!"
Denise's negative self-talk was particularly powerful today. What did she think she was doing? Here she was well over 40 years of age with three children and a husband. Exactly, what was she thinking of?
"Well, I'll need some things so you'll have to take me to Asda" Denise told Mark.
"At last. I knew you would go in the end" he laughed.
Twenty minutes later, Denise was in the underwear department at Asda. Helen, her best friend, had reassured her "You will be OK there. They cater for the bigger woman". With best friends like that you might think but Denise knew better. 3 pregnancies had taken their toll and she was size 22 with stretchmarks that could win the world championship if there was one for bodies that have lost their va-va-voom.
The problem was that she was now running out of time and was bombarded with a vast array of lingerie from the burlesque style to the more mundane. Which should she choose? In the end, she turned down the most pervy gear (despite herself!) and went for a plunging bra and pants set in crimson. Bottling it a little, she also picked up a pyjama vest and shorts set. It would cover the cellulite if nothing else.
Half a hour later and we find our heroine being dropped off by Mark in the people carrier. She waved at her 3 children who, mercifully, seemed more interested in getting to Burger King than in what she is doing entering a hotel.
Denise luxuriated as she always does in that first few minutes when she becomes kids-free. Time to be herself, time to think and to feel without the constant demands of little ones. As she approached the Receptionist, she thought how nice it would be to book in for the night not for some wild affair but just to get a good night's sleep, all too rare these days. The Receptionist was male and looked as if all he wanted to do was to move Denise on and as fast as possible. She felt vaguely like he was treating her like a hooker and that amused her considering her age, shape and size.
Denise took the lift to the suite to which she was directed. She then spent a good fifteen minutes walking up and down the corridor with self-doubt stopping her knocking on the door to the room. Something inside her forced her to the door eventually and an inevitably blonde, slim and gorgeous girl answered. She was instructed to go to the bathroom and to get into her outfit. She now knew this was a mistake but how could she escape? She would have to go through with it. She got into the bra and pants and thanked the Lord she had also brought a satin dressing gown to cover herself up. She relaxed a little as she entered the room itself where there were a variety of women of different ages and sizes chatting away. Some were fully dressed and some in states of undress. It reminded her a little of the Maternity Ward. There is something strangely comforting about all-female environments where you can talk freely and not put on some sort of fake act.
Julia, the make-up artist, poured her a glass of champagne and placed a box of soft centres in front of her. "I won't need to do much with you, love. You have the most gorgeous skin and hair." Shock, horror! Why weren't they turning her away for being fat and frumpy? Julia almost sounded genuine and the truth was that Denise had not yet had any booze. Denise decided not to have a chocolate - things were bad enough without going up from a size 22 to a size 24 in a day.
As the drink flowed, Denise relaxed and Julia chattered away pleasantly in a distracting way. As she looked in the mirror, she could accept that she looked OK. There was nothing she could do about the body disaster but her face looked fine and her hair had been straightened nicely.
At this point, the photographer came into the room and Denise got a surprise but a pleasant one at that. Violet was at least size 28 and clearly proud of it with a very revealing top on and a lovely warm face and an infectious laugh.
"Are you going nude?" she asked Denise.
"Oh yes!" answerered Denise and then quietly muttered to herself, "Now, why did I say that?"
Violet ushered Denise into the neighbouring suite where the photography session was to take place. Denise whipped off her black satin cover-up and did some gentle bra and pants shots. Violet made her feel like a professional model. Denise was not quite sure how but she felt fabulous. Soon, Denise was begging to take off the rest and posing on a chaise longue, on a bed spread with feathers, playing with a riding crop and a huge fan, the works. The session probably lasted for about 40 minutes in all.
Walking through the station and later on the train home, people look at an overweight lady in her purple anorak and tracksuit bottoms wondering why, every few minutes, she keeps bursting into fits of uncontrollable giggles. Naughty but nice!