It read as follows:
"Patrick J. Smith - Date of Birth 12/04/2033 - Male - Caucasian -Median Grade C-, following careful evaluation of your academic record and your scores on the personality profile examination, your recommended career paths are as follows:
2. Nursery Nurse
3. Shop Assistant
5. Air Steward
Patrick was so angry that he felt like tossing the card aside in disgust, or, even better, tearing it into little pieces. It was so unfair! All of the girls in his class would have got CAR's which recommended that they become Doctors or lawyers or Executives. All of the boys got CAR's which were similar to Patrick's own.
Patrick hadn't shown any reaction to his CAR because not only was he with somebody, Ms Brody, the Careers Officer at his school, to discuss his future career ambitions, but it was ungentlemenly for a boy to show any loss of control and of his decorum, a lesson that had been drilled into him during his boyhood.
Patrick fidgeted, pulling at his short skirt, or playing with his long blonde hair with his fingers.
Ms Brody studied the pretty boy sitting in her office. Patrick Smith was a tall, slim boy, with handsome features. His school uniform suited him well and he got admiring glances from the girls. He was well behaved and although he was a diligent student - for a boy at any rate - his grades were below average. He would do fine as a Secretary or Nursery Nurse until a rich woman swept him off his high heeled feet and made an honest man of him.
Still, thought Ms Brody, she wanted to move things along. There were another two dozen students waiting to see her today. Ms Brody cleared her throat "Well, Mr Smith, which of those career opportunities appeals to you the most?"
The boy shrugged and then spoke in the delightfully high voice that all boys had been trained to master. "To be honest Ma'am, I wouldn't want to do any of these jobs. Looking after children, styling men's hair, serving cocktails on a plane, selling perfume in a department store and taking dictation. That's not me, Ma'am".
Ms Brody was irritated by this little man. Who did he think he was, questioning the wisdom of the CAR system, which had successfully placed students into jobs for almost two decades now? She had better things to do with her time than try and persuade this little tyke that he had best go along with the recommendations the CAR had made for him.
She forced herself to remain calm before responding.
"Smith" she said in the tone of someone trying to reason with a small or retarded child "Like the CAR says, based on your academic performance, which we both know has been far from stellar, and that personality test you took last month, those are the jobs best suited to your intelligence and attributes. The CAR is never wrong! Alright, what is it you would like to do anyway?"
The boy, cowed by what had just been said to him, replied in a small voice "I thought I might join the army, Ma'am". He looked at her with the big blue eyes that most girls found attractive. He was clearly expecting derision or laughter.
But Ms Brody just looked at him "Fine. It's as good a career choice as any. Have you been in contact with the recruiters here?"
The boy nodded eagerly. He was clearly looking forward to the prospect of joining up.
Ms Brody looked at the boy again "Well, Smith, it's your life, I guess. As you're so set on this, there's not much else to say. Best of luck, kid".
The boy thanked her politely and handed his CAR back. Ms Brody noted that, unlike most of the other boys at this school (or any school for that matter), Patrick did not varnish his nails. It was disturbing evidence of a rebellious streak.
Ms Brody allowed herself a little smile, as she placed Patrick Smith's CAR back in his file. She and all of the other Career Officers knew that the CAR system was a complete fix to put girls into the best jobs and to put the boys into the worst ones. And as for Patrick Smith, he would find that by joining the Army, he was leaping from the frying pan into the fire.
Patrick arrived home, elated that he would be getting his own way. In truth, he had long been unhappy. Although he had had a typical boyhood, during which he wore dresses, frills and lace and played with dolls and then make up, within him, he yearned to escape the pink, frilly world he had to live in. He had committed small acts of rebellion, like failing to paint his nails, or to wear scent, in an attempt to become less gentlemanly.
By joining the Army, he aimed to abandon his past. According to the literature and the recruiters he had spoken with, the army was still a man's world. Patrick could wear fatigues, and fire guns and drive vehicles rather than worry about his clothes, weight and make up.
Patrick made a formal application to enlist. He was then invited to an assessment centre. This was set over a weekend and so Patrick had to take a suitcase. The assessment centre was staffed almost entirely by men, Patrick was pleased to note, except for the commissioned officers and the Doctors, who were naturally women in a female dominated society. Patrick was allowed to put off his skirts and wore combat fatigues.
He underwent a medical, a battery of tests and a series of physical exercises. Patrick was pleased by what he saw. A more traditionally masculine environment. He was interviewed by a young female officer and examined by an older woman Doctor, but that was the only contact he had with women during his stay there. The other potential recruits and the instructors had all been male. Patrick left the centre feeling that he had made the right choice for his career.
Two weeks later, Patrick received a letter congratulating him on being accepted into the Army as a private soldier. All he had to do was take an oath of allegiance at the local recruiting office and he would be in the Army. Patrick was giddy with joy. He took his oath and committed himself to a minimum of ten years service with the colours.
Shortly afterwards, he received orders to report to Camp Jasmine for basic training. Patrick was a little unsettled by the name of the camp and by an accompanying list of items that he was to bring with him. A make up kit. Hair straighteners. Depilation cream. Eye lash curlers. Perfume. And other feminine accroutrements.
He was deeply puzzled by all this. What would a soldier want with eye lash curlers? Maybe it was just to reassure boys like him that he had not lost all connection with his past. He diligently packed everything that he had been asked to bring into his case and got aboard the bus that had been sent to pick him up.
Already in the bus were other boy recruits and their numbers were added to as the bus made further pick-ups along the way. Patrick got chatting to some of the other boys and they exchanged their names and the story of their lives to date. Like Patrick, they had joined the Army to escape femininity, and like Patrick, they were confused at being asked to bring along accessories that represented their feminine pasts.
The bus pulled into Camp Jasmine, a military training camp complete with a parade ground, obstacle course and barrack huts. A female non-comissioned officer (NCO) ordered them off the bus in a sharper tone of voice than Patrick would have liked, and made them line up on the parade ground.
A girl only barely older than the new recruits, but who wore the rank badge of a Sergeant marched up to them and barked at them to get in a line. Then, introducing herself as Sergeant Doyle, she told them in no uncertain terms that they were the biggest bunch of sisses she had ever laid eyes on and it would be a miracle if she could ever turn them into soldiers.
The Sergeant made them do push ups for an hour solid. The recruits were exhausted by the end of their rigourous exercise. The Sergeant then marched them off to the quartermaster's block to get their uniforms.
Patrick was dismayed when he received his "uniforms". They consisted of seven sets of dresses, greatly embellished with lace, frills and ribbons. The dresses were in different colours - Pink, Mint Green, Lilac, Yellow, Purple, Pale Blue and Gold. The recruits were also given enough sets of underwear, white frilly panties and frilly ankle socks, for a week, and two sets of shiny black mary jane shoes.
Patrick looked at his uniforms with shame and bewilderment. The other boys looked as embarressed and confused as he was. They looked at each other. These were supposed to be military uniforms?
Sgt Doyle explained to the boys that there was a uniform schedule in their barrack room and that they would have to ensure that they wore the correct uniform each day of the week and also wore nail varnish of a colour that matched the uniform that they had to wear that day.
Sgt Doyle marched them off to their barrack room. As Patrick had guessed, this was like no barrack room he had envisaged, but literally screamed femininity. There were pink carpets, cute little red curtains with white hearts on them, pink and white wallpaper, white vanity tables, wardrobes and dressers. The beds were four posters with white lace curtains, satin pink sheets and heart shaped pillows.
It was the most feminine room Patrick had ever seen in his life and he had been in many such rooms in his life to date. Patrick put his humiliating uniforms and underwear away, wondering if he could ever escape the trappings of femininity that had been his since birth.
Sgt Doyle ordered them to change into their gold uniforms. Reluctantly, the boys donned their dresses. The hems of the skirts barely reached the frilled edging of the boys' panties. Patrick knew that the slightest movement would expose his frills for all to see. The lace and ribbons on the dresses were way over the top. The boys' heads were bowed with shame at having to wear such overly feminine garments, far worse than their normal school clothes.
But worse was to follow, for Sgt Doyle ordered them to varnish their nails. Patrick absolutely hated having to paint his nails but had to obey. To his humiliation, his nails were painted gold and made his hands and feet look very pretty and feminine.
Sgt Doyle then escorted them to the officers' mess. This was occupied exclusively by young girl officers and officer cadets in their late teens and early twenties. Sgt Doyle ordered the boys to wait on these girls, refilling their glasses or bring them dishes. The girl officers giggled at the sight of the prettified recruits and commented on how sweet they looked.
Patrick felt very foolish at the way he was dressed. One of the officer cadets, a young woman who could not have been much older than eighteen, took a particular interest in Patrick, but only because she wanted to make him bend over so that she could see his underwear. Patrick was glad when the ordeal was over and he and the others were allowed to return to barracks.
The following day, the boys had to line up to be inspected by the Camp Commandant, Colonel Ashworth, a female who could not have been any older than thirty. The Colonel found fault with every boy, and they all found themselves on punishment detail.
Punishment detail involved scrubbing the paradeground with a toothbrush. The regular girl soldiers and officers, dressed in proper military uniform, were bemused to see twenty boys in short dresses scrubbing furiously at the parade ground under the watchful eye and harsh bark of their Sergeant.
Once the Sergeant and the Commandant were satisfied, the boys were released for training. But if the boys had hoped to be able to handle firearms and do other military activities, they were to be disappointed. They were put to work cleaning or cooking or darning the socks of the real soldiers. Then they had to wait upon the officers again at mealtimes.
This regime continued for a month. Patrick and the other boys found that they had to spend a large amount of time making sure that their appearance was flawless. From being a hater of nail varnish, Patrick had to become an expert at its application. The boys soon became adept at cooking, cleaning and sewing.
In the final week, the boys were made to sit an exam. These exams, the Sergeant explained would determine what role the boys would fill once they had passed out as fully fledged soldiers. Patrick learnt, to his surprise, that he had been selected to be part of the all-male secretarial pool. He would receive training as a secretary once he had passed out.
On their final evening, the officers had requested that the new recruits who would be passing out on the following day put on an entertainment for them. Sergeant Doyle handed them the outfits that they were to wear. Patrick and the other boys had to put on the revealing dresses, stockings and frilly underwear of can-can dancers and perform in front of a load of girl officers who were shrieking with laughter.
As he kicked his legs high to reveal his frillies, Patrick knew that joining the army had been the biggest mistake of his life. Instead of leaving femininity behind him, as he had hoped, he was trapped in a regime which constantly reinforced it for the next ten years.