The sixth segment of my friend Julia's stories from her childhood.
Hi friends, I hope you enjoyed the first five parts of my story.
I'm going to go a little bit out of time order with my stories now. This actually happened a little before part 5; part 5 all happened in the hot summer season, but this one happened the winter before that.
I suppose not many kids my age ever get to experience being in a straitjacket, but my mother's specialty sewing work gave me a unique opportunity.
One winter afternoon just after I got out of school I was downstairs in Mom's sewing workshop. She was repairing another big canvas party tent that had been damaged when some doofus who had too much to drink shut the tailgate of his pickup truck on one of the tiedown straps and drove off. Fortunately nobody got hurt but the strap was ruined and the tent had a big tear. While Mom was fixing the tear and adding some reinforcing material, she got a phone call. I could only hear her side of the conversation, but I was intrigued.
When Mom got off the phone, she told me about the call. There was this dentist in our city, Dr. Larson* who specialized in providing dental care for difficult special needs kids. [*exact names in this story altered for privacy] One of the things that Dr. Larson used in his practice was a straitjacket. A STRAITJACKET! My eyes grew wide. From all my reading about Houdini in library books, I knew exactly what a straitjacket was. But one used on kids? Mom explained that some kids just couldn't keep still and were dangerous to both the dentist and themselves. He said that this dentist had a straitjacket that was in bad shape; some of the stitching on the straps was coming out and one strap was unraveling. The dentist's assistant was going to bring it in to the shop to have it repaired.
I immediately got this vision in my mind of a stereotypical horror movie evil dentist. I cooked up an image of his assistant too. I pictured a stern older woman with a German accent (or at least a stereotype of a German accent from my watching too many world war II movies). That night I cooked up all kinds of not very nice fantasies of kids being roughly manhandled into a straitjacket and subjected to painful dental procedures. I had some scary dreams. But still the idea kind of excited me in a curious and naughty way.
The next day after school, a cute young woman walked into Mom's shop carrying a good sized canvas duffel bag. I immediately assumed it was some kind of small tent or awning repair. She started talking to my Mom. "I'm Amy Larson. I called you yesterday about having this repaired", she said. I started to wonder. Things weren't adding up.
The woman told her story. "My father and I have been using this for the last few years in our dental office." I quickly realized that Dr. Larson, the dentist must be her father; and she was both his daughter and his dental assistant. I figured she was in her mid twenties more or less. The woman continued, "almost every time we use it, it gets drool and tooth polish and bits of filling material on it, so I end up taking it to the laundromat and running it through one of the big commercial washing machines. That gets it nice and clean, but it also wears it out." My mom nodded and listened. I came over and listened too. I was wondering if I'd get a warning look from Mom to go mind my own business, but I didn't.
The woman unzipped the duffel bag and took it out. Sure enough, it was a real straitjacket, but it was tiny, too small for most adults. The main thing I saw on Mom's work table was a pile of canvas straps and metal buckles. My eyes grew wide again.
I couldn't hold back. "Miss Larson, do you actually put that on little kids?" I asked. Mom gave me a bit of a dirty look, but the woman wasn't bothered at all. "Yes, she said. Almost all of the kids we use it on actually become very comfortable with it. And you can call me Amy. 'Miss Larson' sounds much too formal." She went on to explain that she was trained as both a dental assistant and at working with special needs kids. She said that they would work with the kids and the parents to make a game out of the jacket, and include special treats and rewards. She would tell the kids that it would help them hug themselves and feel good. She was so bright and cute and cheerful and enthusiastic I could easily see how she could charm just about anybody into that jacket.
"Can you show me how it works?" Mom interrupted, "We don't want to take up too much of your time." Amy seemed unconcerned, "I'm in no hurry, and I think your daughter is very curious. Curiosity is a good thing!" She asked me my name, and I told her it was Julia.
Amy held up the jacket. The straps and their buckles hung down. There were twelve in all; six straps that ended in buckles, and six that were just plain canvas straps. She turned it around to show all sides of it to Mom and me. She pointed out a strap that was badly unraveled. Mom said it would have to be replaced. Mom also noted some other stitching that was starting to come apart. Mom said it would take a few days but she could fix it up better than new.
I persisted. "Maybe you should show my Mom how it gets used. You could demonstrate on me!" Mom rolled her eyes. Amy gave me a smile with a twinkle in her eye, "you really are a curious girl!". She said she had plenty of time and she could give a demonstration. She said she didn't have to make it tight, and she could take it off me right away if I found it scary. I told her I wasn't scared of anything, and I wanted her to put it on tight so Mom would really get a good demonstration. Amy giggled a little and looked at my Mom, as if for approval. Mom said that if she had time, it was fine with her to do a demonstration on me. Mom also made one of her little sarcastic remarks, "Maybe I should make another one of these just for her, to keep her out of trouble." All three of us got the giggles.
Amy said that it was almost exactly the right size for me. I told her I wanted to try it and see. She had me hold my arms out and she slipped the sleeves onto my arms. Of course there were no wrist openings; the sleeves were just sewn shut at the end with heavy stitching. She asked me if I really wanted her to buckle it on me. I smiled and told her of course. So she went around behind me and fastened the strap around my waist and pulled it snug. Then she went to the other three straps and fastened them too. Then she came back in front of me and she took the strap at the end of my left sleeve and she fed it through a loop at the front of the jacket, and then put my arm through the loop too. She did the same thing with my right sleeve, so now both my arms were folded in front of me, encased in canvas sleeves, and the sleeves were fed through one more loop of canvas strap. She threaded the ends through two more loops at my sides, and then she went behind me and fastened the straps on my arms together behind my back. I noticed one last strap was hanging down between my legs. Amy reached between my legs from behind and brought the strap behind me. She fastened it to one last buckle at the back of my waist, and she pulled it snug against my crotch.
Amy and Mom saw the huge grin on my face. "I guess I can skip asking if you're OK like that, given that smile on your face," she said. Then she got a mischievous look. "You look like a girl who might try to struggle out of this, so I should probably make it tighter. She put her arms around me and hugged me, which squeezed my arms even tighter to my body. As she squeezed me, she reached behind me and took out all the slack from the straps holding my arms. Then she went behind me and she tightened up all four straps holding the jacket on. Finally she pulled the crotch strap very snug too.
Amy stepped back next to Mom, and the two of them looked at me. I just giggled and joked, "Look at me! I'm a crazy girl in a straitjacket!" I tried to struggle, but I was totally stuck like this. Amy said to Mom, "she's definitely not going to get out of that until we let her out." Mom looked at me. "Let's see your Houdini straitjacket escape!". I struggled for all I was worth. I tugged at the straps. Some of they were frayed and in bad shape, but they held just the same. When I pulled with all my strength, a couple of weak stitches ripped loose, but the other straps quickly took up the force and they held firm. Even though the straitjacket was old and worn and badly in need of Mom's repair skills, I was still stuck and helpless. And of course, as always, this made it very exciting for me. I just had to show Michael.
I ran up the stairs at the back of Mom's shop that went to our little apartment just over the shop. The door was closed, and with no use of my hands I couldn't work the doorknob. So I just kicked at the door and shouted. "Hey Michael, they put your crazy little sister in a straitjacket! Come and see!". I heard Michael bound across the apartment and the door opened. His eyes grew wide as he looked me over, all strapped up in the tattered old canvas jacket. I went back downstairs to the sewing shop and he followed along. We went back and joined Amy. Mom and Amy were both smiling. Mom told Amy that Michael and I loved to play games like this, especially me.
I asked Amy more questions. "Once you get the kids to wear the straitjacket, then what happens?" She explained that she and her father the dentist and the kid's parents would work together to reassure the kid and make sure they were comfortable. She said her father often gave the kids a little bit of nitrous oxide (laughing gas), since it helped them relax and kept them from feeling pain. She said that most of the kids found music to be comforting, so they had a record player in the office and they'd put on whatever music the kid liked the most. She said that a lot of them were scared by the sight of the dental instruments, so they preferred to wear a blindfold. When she said this, Michael took off back upstairs. Amy went on to say that the whole idea was to both fix the kids teeth and to make them feel good about it, so they would never be afraid to come back. There were always rewards and extra treats and hugs.
Michael reappeared with my sleep mask. "I think she would be scared by the dental instruments, so she would need this." He put it on me and carefully smoothed it against my face so I couldn't see a thing. "I'm not scared of anything at all, I replied defiantly." But Michael left me blindfolded, and with my arms all done up in the straitjacket there wasn't a thing I could do about it.
I struggled as much as I could against the straitjacket, to no effect. Meanwhile, with me modeling the jacket, Mom and Amy went over all its defects, noting stitching that needed to be redone, a badly frayed strap that needed replacing, and a couple of small tears to be mended. When they were finally done, they let me out. Amy undid the buckle that joined my sleeves behind my back, and she slipped my arms back out of the loops so I could move my arms again. I was still pretty stuck; my hands were covered in heavy canvas in the closed sleeves and I was sure I wouldn't be able to manipulate the buckles behind my back to take off the jacket. Amy continued to release me. She undid the crotch strap, and then she worked her way up the four buckles that kept the jacket on. She slipped the jacket off me. Once I had my hands again I pulled my sleep mask up to my forehead so I could see again.
I was smiling. Amy smiled back at me. "So how did that feel?" I probably didn't even need to answer, but I did, "That was fun! Let's try it on Michael!" Mom interrupted, "I don't want us to take up too much of Miss Larson's time. She probably has other things to get done." Amy's bright smile continued, "It's OK; I don't have anything at all planned today. And please just call me Amy."
Michael wasn't nearly as enthusiastic as me, but he agreed to a demonstration. "Can you teach me how to put it on him?" I asked, somewhat naughtily. Amy immediately agreed. She had me hold the jacket up while Michael slid his arms into the sleeves. She showed me how to properly fasten all the buckles in back and how to tighten the straps up snug. Then we went to the crotch strap. She warned me to be gentle with it. "Boys are very sensitive there. We don't want to hurt Michael." Michael blushed a little bit as I went behind him, reached between his legs, took the strap, and threaded it through the buckle. I took the slack out slowly, stopping when it was just snug. I asked Michael if he was OK and he said he was fine. Finally, Amy showed me how to put Michael's arms through the loop in front and then through the ones at his sides, and then I buckled them together behind his back. I pulled that strap extra tight.
Finally, I finished off Michael by removing the sleep mask from my forehead, putting it on him, and pulling it down over his eyes. Now he was just as helpless as I had been after he blindfolded me. Michael didn't get crazy exited by tie up stuff the way I did (and still do), but it was still fun for him and he was a good sport. I put on a big display of affection, hugging and squeezing and kissing Michael. "Isn't this the best way to keep a great big brother?"
From the look Mom was giving me, I had a sense that I had pushed as far as I should. I worked my way through the six buckles to let Michael out of the straitjacket. I slipped it off his arms and Mom took it from me. Michael took off my sleep mask blindfold and handed it to me. Mom and Amy agreed on a price and a date to complete the repairs. Amy said friendly goodbyes to all three of us and she left the sewing shop.
Michael and I were busy with schoolwork for the next few days, so the straitjacket didn't come up as a topic again. From time to time as I passed through Mom's shop I noted the progress. She had to cut out a lot of old stitches in places that needed repairing. I saw she had prepared a new strong canvas strap to replace the badly frayed one, and she had carefully stitched the end of it so it would last a long time.
Mom finished her repair the day before she had promised completion. Mom ended up having to be in another part of the city the afternoon that Amy was going to pick up the jacket. She asked if Michael and I would wait in the shop for her. Amy would give us a check to pay for the work, and we would give her the jacket. So Mom took off to catch a city bus, while Michael and I started on our homework in the shop.
Our homework was easy and we finished it quickly. I told Michael it would be fun to test out the repaired straitjacket. I told him Amy would get a better idea of just how great Mom's work was if she could see me in it now. Michael knew that his crazy little sister just wanted to get tied up again, but he was happy to accommodate me. Amy's cheerful manner and cuteness made us feel confident that we wouldn't get in trouble for this. So Michael held up the jacket and I slipped my arms into the sleeves. He did up the four buckles behind my back. Then he went over them again to make them extra snug. Then he threaded my arms through the loops and buckled the sleeves behind my back. He pulled those very tight too. Then he came in front of me, wrapped his arms around me, gave me a wonderfully tight, squeezing hug, and reached behind my back and took out another half inch of slack. Wow, this jacket was TIGHT! Finally, he went to the sixth and final strap, the one that hung down between my legs. He reached between my legs, grabbed it, and threaded it into the buckle. Then he got a bit naughtier than he usually did. "Amy said we needed to be careful not to pull this too tight on a boy. But you're not a boy." I stuck out my tongue at him. He pulled the crotch strap up snug. It certainly didn't hurt me, but I could feel it's tight pressure between my legs. Then Michael pulled it even tighter, so I really felt it in my most sensitive places.
Michael didn't bother to go get my sleep mask, and I didn't suggest it. I really wanted to see the look on Amy's face when she first saw me all strapped up and helpless like this. As I was just getting settled in to enjoying my newly found helplessness, the phone rang. Michael answered the phone; it was Amy. She said she had been delayed, but if it was still OK she wanted to come in half an hour to pick up the jacket. Michael told her that would be fine.
Michael turned to me with a naughty grin on his face. "Looks like you're going to be stuck like that for a while, unless you can escape!". Then he got more hesitant, "are you sure you're really OK like that?" I was fine. It was really tight since Michael had tightened every single strap so much, and I can't say I was completely comfortable, but I wasn't in any pain or distress. And I wanted to experience what it would be like to be really helpless for a while.
The old couch where we'd watch TV as little kids while Mom worked was still at the bad of the shop, out of sight of the view from the windows toward the street. Michael brought me back to the couch. He sat me down on it, and he sat down next to me. He put his arms around me and he hugged me and squeezed me, although it didn't make that much difference as the jacket was already squeezing me. Still, I always loved closeness and cuddling. After a few nice cuddly minutes, Michael got back up and told me to make my very best escape attempt. I did, but it was completely useless. Mom had sewn on new fasteners that grabbed the canvas straps more tightly than ever. All the weak spots had been thoroughly reinforced, so nothing was going to rip. My arms were strapped so tight I don't think I could even move them an inch. And every tug and struggle I made pulled that crotch strap up deep between my legs. I liked that feeling.
I probably fought to get out for about fifteen minutes, without the slightest effect at all. Michael had succeeded in making me the most completely helpless that I'd ever been up to that point. When I finally decided it was no use, I flopped back down on the couch again. He joined me, and snuggled up close again. He told me he couldn't believe what a cute little prisoner he had. He held me close and he kissed me. The only thing I could think of even better than being tied up and helpless was being tied up and helpless and subjected to lots of physical affection. I loved every second of it.
Finally, we heard the the shop door open, and Amy called out, "anybody home?". Michael led me back to the front of the shop. Amy certainly had a surprised look on her face when she saw me all buckled into the straitjacket. "Hi Amy, we thought we should show you what a nice job Mom did for you." I started to get the giggles. They were contagious, and Amy started giggling too. Amy started inspecting the straitjacket, looking over all Mom's new straps and new stitching. She turned to Michael, smiling, "did you put this on her?" Michael told her he had. "Well you really did a good job of it. I usually don't put it on someone this tight, but we have a few kids who like it when it really squeezes them. Julia, you seem like one of those squeezable kids!" I smiled and nodded, trying to not have another major giggling outburst. Amy gave Michael the check to pay for the work. He put it into the drawer of Mom's desk. Amy turned to me again, "You're so cute I'd almost like to take you with me like that. But I think your brother and your Mom and Dad would miss you too much. I guess we'd better let you out."
Amy and Michael went to work on releasing the buckles. Amy released my arms while Michael undid the crotch strap. With the two of them working together it only took a minute of so for them to get all six straps undone. I held my arms out in front while Amy slipped the jacket off. She folded it and rolled it up and put it back in the canvas duffel bag she had brought it in. I looked at the clock. I had been strapped up in the straitjacket for a total of about 45 minutes.
My curiosity got the best of me, so I asked a bit of a naughty question, "Amy, have you ever been in a straitjacket?" Michael gave me a bit of a funny look, as though the question was inappropriate. Amy was not bothered. "Lots of times. Sometimes the kids and the parents want to see how it works. Part of what we do to make the kids more comfortable is to show them things before we do anything, so they won't be surprised and scared. If they want a demonstration, my dad puts me into the straitjacket. It's almost too small for me, but not quite." Amy was indeed a petite young woman, not all that much bigger than Michael and me.
"Dad gets me all strapped in, and I make it a point to smile and laugh and have fun with it. That really helps put the kids at ease." I continued with my naughty curious questions, "What's the longest you've ever been in it? And have you ever escaped from it without help?" Michael gave up on the dirty looks, since I was ignoring them. Amy was amused by my curiosity. "As long as it is put on properly, with arms though all the loops and the strap between the legs snug too, it is probably just about impossible to escape from. I've tried a few times, and I've never made any progress at all." I asked again about the longest she had ever been in it. Amy smiled and told a story. "Soon after my dad the dentist had gotten it, we needed to do an hour long procedure on a kid with lots of bad teeth. Dad was worried that an hour would be too long in the straitjacket. In the name of science, I volunteered to try it to find out. After our last patient of the day had left, Dad locked up our dental office and he brought me back to a back room where he had his business office, with a desk and bookshelves and a couple of chairs and a nice couch, way nicer than the ones in the waiting room."
My eyes grew wide as I listened intently. Amy knew I was enjoying her story, and she was a good storyteller. "Some kids are bothered by the dental office sounds, especially the drill but also some of the other sounds too. We have earplugs available for kids who like it quieter, and we also have sound deadening earmuffs that you can wear over your ears like big headphones. Dad brought me a pair of earplugs and told me to put them in. I did, and the office became strangely quiet. I could barely hear the noise of the city traffic outside. Then Dad slipped the straitjacket onto my arms, and he strapped me into it nice and tight. Some of the kids we treat thrash and kick too much, so sometimes we need to put a strap around their legs to hold them to the dental chair. I wasn't in a dental chair, but Dad still got a couple of extra straps and he secured my legs together at my ankles with one of them and he strapped on the other just above my knees. The particular kid we were going to work on preferred to be blindfolded, so Dad blindfolded me too. Finally, I felt him put the sound deadening earmuffs on me. Now I was in almost complete silence and darkness. I couldn't believe how completely helpless I felt. I knew I was safe; Dad is always very gentle and loving with me, so I wasn't scared. He hugged me and asked if I was OK. He would lift up the earmuffs and talk loud so I could hear him. I told him I was fine. He asked if I wanted to go ahead with the experiment. Of course I did! He told me he wasn't going to give me any ideas on how long it had been, so I wouldn't have any idea on the passage of time. He smoothed the blindfold carefully against my face and he made sure the earmuffs were on well too. With the blindfold on, I really couldn't see a thing, but just a faint little trickle of light was coming up the edge by my nose. After a minute, that stopped. Dad must had turned off the light in his office. The office was an interior room with no windows, so it got completely black in there with the lights off."
Amy had a very attentive audience in Michael and me. She was obviously having fun telling her story. "I just flopped back on the couch. There really wasn't a thing I could do. I couldn't move my arms or my hands, and I couldn't move my legs either. I couldn't see or hear a thing. Still, it was a very exciting feeling in a strange way." Amy and I looked each other in the eyes. I think a piece of our spirits connected right there. I knew how she felt about being tied up, and she knew how I felt. "I struggled a bit, but it was absolutely no use. By bending and straightening my legs and shifting my weight, I could just barely switch between sitting and lying on the couch and with some effort I could roll myself over. But that was all. With no sights or sounds I had no idea of the passage of time. It felt like I was strapped up like that for hours. Still, I didn't complain. I was curious as to how it would feel, and also how long could I endure this. Finally, after I had completely lost all sense of time, with almost no warning, I felt Dad's hands on me. He sat me up, took off the earmuffs, and lifted the blindfold up to my forehead. The light was back on in his office. I looked at his wall clock. Exactly sixty two minutes had passed since he had blindfolded me and left me helpless. Dad quickly undid all the straps and let me out. I took out the earplugs."
Wow, that was a great story. One more question from me, "How did this experience make you feel, Amy?" She had a big smile as she told the story, so I had a pretty good idea. "It was fun. It was a little bit scary, especially when I couldn't judge the passage of time. All my life I've worried about keeping schedules and being on time for things. Losing control and having no sense of time was the hardest part. But still, it was fun and exciting too. I knew I'd be safe, and I'm so glad I got to have that experience!" Then Amy asked her own naughty questions. "Julia, I think you would have liked it too. Whose idea was it to put you in the straitjacket when I came to pick it up?" "Mine!" I answered proudly. "I was pretty sure of that. I could tell from the look in your eyes when we put you in it the first time that it was all just fun and games for you." I nodded. Amy went on, "do you two play other tie up games?" Michael looked a bit embarrassed as I told a few of my own stories. I told Amy we had lots of fun tying each other up. I told her I liked to be tied up more than Michael did, but he was a great play partner. Amy asked if we were careful to never hurt each other, especially when we played with ropes. We both assured her we were very careful. I didn't tell her about the times Mom tied me up, and neither did Michael.
We heard the shop door open again. Mom was back. She joined us in her work area. Michael pointed out the payment check that he had carefully put in the drawer. Amy commented on how beautifully the straitjacket was repaired. I joined in. "I had Michael put me in it so Amy could see first hand what a nice job you had done!" Mom rolled her eyes and looked at Amy. "I hope they didn't waste too much of your time." Amy assured her it was fine. She told Mom it was nice to get a demonstration. Mom and Amy exchanged business cards and Amy soon picked up the duffel bag with the straitjacket and went on her way. My excitement for tie up games took quite an upturn that day.
I hope you liked part 6! Hugs and squeezes! I'll bet you'd like to strap me into one of those straitjackets!