Hostess With The Mostest
Part 5

Truly I can't really remember my dinner. Den did his best to make light conversation; I on the other hand made poor company, barely managing the occasional grunt. Indeed the only thing I could think of was the impending 'chat' with Ingrid, it was like waiting for Mr Guillotine.

"Come on snap out of it" Den broke my thoughts


"You haven't touched your ice cream" he stated flatly

"Oh sorry, Den. I'm just a bit on edge you know?"

"Look Chris I feel responsible for all this, I should have told the girls no"

"Come on Den, I went and agreed to this crazy scheme you know"

"Well I feel responsible." He stated, "do you want me to come when you meet with Ingrid?"

"Thanks for offering but I reckon I need to do this on my own"

"Well I'll only be in the bar"

It's amazing how you adapt isn't it? A few days ago I wouldn't have even dreamt that I'd be sat here like this with Den offering his 'protection'. I mean Den has equally adapted to my female persona and for the most part I don't even worry about what I'm wearing or how I look. Strange.

The pair of us moved through to the Stube and found a quiet corner to wait for Ingrid.

"Hi Nena, do you want a drink? Den?" Maria asked

"Er hi Maria, just coke for me" I told her

"Groß bier bitte" Den requested continuing after she left to fetch our drinks, "I guess she hasn't told anyone else then"

"Yet" I added

Our drinks and Ingrid arrived together a couple of minutes later.

"Hi, are you joining us Den?"

"No I'm going to practice being a bar fly for a bit"

"Shall we go sit outside Nena" Ingrid suggested

"Okay" I stood and drink in hand followed Ingrid out into what passes as a garden hereabouts. She led me to a fairly private corner where a table and chairs awaited us. Once we were sat Ingrid started.

"Firstly Ne.. Chris I should apologise. When Julia rang and told me what was going on I expected to see a, how do you say, a man in a dress."

"In drag" I offered, just wait till I see Julia!

"Yes man in drag," she used the addition to her vocabulary. "I hadn't realised that the Nena Den introduced was you Chris, Julia said you would be namen, er called Chrissie"

Now it was my turn to do some explaining. Keeping it in English I started.

"That was the plan. When Den saw me when I arrived he came up with this stupid Nena business and some cock and bull story to tell the passengers."

"It wasn't all planned?"

"No it was a spur of the moment thing."

"Well I have to say you had me fooled and I was expecting you and everyone else believes you are really a woman"

I let out a breath I didn't realise I was holding.

"So if you knew who I was, what was last night about?"

"Sorry, I got a bit carried away. When the girls are here we usually go out so I thought that for appearances with my girlfriends you should join us"


"Yes" she agreed

I sat back in the chair and took a swig of coke.

"So why did you mention it last night, I was petrified you were going to let it slip"

"I'm not sure really" she admitted, "maybe to see your reaction?"

"Well I'm glad it's over now anyway"

"What do you mean?" Ingrid asked

"I'll get my stuff of the bus and change back to myself, I'm sure we can come up with a plausible story for the passengers"

"But why, I won't tell anyone" she told me

"It's not just you. We met some friends earlier and I'm sure one of them twigged"


"Sorry, worked it out?"

"You are sure?"

"Well she didn't say anything but she was looking at me really strangely"

"Looking how?"

"Well..." I proceeded to give Ingrid the full story of our stop at Krimml earlier in the day.

"Nena, I can't call you Chris looking as you are," she stated, "Nena, I think you got it wrong. She was just sizing you up!"

"What do you mean?"

"All women do it. Whenever we meet somebody new, especially another woman we make comparisons to see if they are, how you say, competitions?"

"Competitor's. So you think Maureen was just checking me out?"

"I'm sure of it. She see's you, young and pretty, she is jealousy!"

"So that's what all the odd looks were about!" on reflection I could see Ingrid's reasoning.

"Look, you appear like a woman, you even speak like the German fraulein, I don't know how you do it, you are so convinced?" she mentioned, "So you stay Nena?"

"I suppose so" I allowed

"Well you could not be Chris with your 'weiskopf' anyway eh?"

"Don't remind me, I'll have to cut it short when I get home I suppose"

"Come on" Ingrid bounced up, "let's go keep Den company"

"Okay" I agreed, collecting my bag and glass and following her back to the Stube.

I managed to miss Julia's call, my phone was in my bag, heck, we'll talk tomorrow.

"We have a wunderbar, sorry wondrous?"

"Wonderful" Den supplied

"Yes wonderful trip today. We go first to St Christophorus and the Arlberg Pass for a short stop. After, we go out of Tirol into Voralberg then we head for our lunch stop at the Silvretta Pass"

Well last night was a revelation ending in Ingrid lending me the ankle length cotton skirt I'm wearing this morning. After we joined Den back in the bar no mention was made at all about my gender, I 'was' Nena!

Den took us through Telfs before joining the autobahn heading west up the Inn valley. Despite several sets of roadwork's, it was still well before eleven when we passed St Anton and began the final climb up the Arlberg. I was less surprised today by the passengers reaction to me, and instead of my usual ten drinks on this leg of the trip, I cleared a round two dozen. Apart from anything else it certainly passed the time!

The Arlberg is hardly the most scenic of the passes, it lacks the scenery of the Silvretta, the tunnels of the Flexen and people using the tunnel are not missing much! We generally stop at St Christophorus rather than ever-popular St Anton, to be different. There are a few shops and café's and in the ski season there's no need for ski lifts, you are straight onto the piste from the village. It was cooler today and with the sharp breeze up here I was glad of Ingrid's skirt. After our thirty-minute break we continued over the pass, pausing briefly at the top for photos before heading down towards Switzerland.

Shortly before reaching Bludenz we turned left into Montafon to start the climb of the Silvretta Pass. Up past Gashurn the climb was pretty gradual then after Partenen the pass proper starts around over thirty often hairpin bends. We were overtaken by several motorbikes; the route is a favourite with bikers from all over Europe, just because of these bends. Even our bus's 12 cylinder Mercedes engine was complaining by the time the last numbered bend was cleared. Although some of the passengers had managed to jabber to each other all the way up, most were in awe of the amazing series of switchbacks and sheer drops. I must have been over here at least twenty times and I still find it amazing. Switzerland and royal favourite, Klosters lie just a few k's south and the brooding presence of Piz Buin and Hohesrad add to the extraordinary aura of the place.

We pulled up at the 2000 metre high coach park just about spot on one, just right for lunch!

 Piz Buin!
The brooding presence of Piz Buin overlooks the top of the pass.

"Welcome everybody to The Silvretta Pass. We have here one hour and," I glanced at Den who mouthed half past at me, "er," I checked my watch, "thirty five minutes. Please to be at the bus at half past two. There are toilets and a restaurant over with the gift shop, maybe after you walk across the Staudamm, sorry the lake wall?"

"Dam" Den supplied

"Dam" I told the passengers, which caused some hilarity, that I had to pretend not to appreciate.

I stepped off the bus and did the usual exiting customer routine.

"We eating Den?"

"I'll meet you over there, I just need to finish this tacho sheet"

Suddenly I felt alone and afraid as I walked over to the little complex perched on the edge of the reservoir. The long skirt flapped about my legs, strands of blonde hair flew about my head, I was just glad that my new glasses hid my rabbit in the headlights stare. I know what you're thinking, 'he travelled hundreds of kilometres on Sunday on his own" somehow this was different. On Sunday no one knew me, here there were about thirty people who do know me, but know me as Nena. Scary! I used the ladies and met Den by the restaurant steps.

"Ready? He asked


We climbed up to the roomy cafeteria and joined the food seekers. I got myself Wiener schnitzel, fries and salad, a slice of strawberry torte for dessert and a diet coke, I might be a girl this week but I'm not going to stop eating! I waited for Den then we made our way out onto the balcony. The building provided just enough shelter from the wind to make eating al-fresco comfortable.

"You okay today?" Den asked between mouthfuls of würst.

"So far, this skirt takes some getting used to, flapping about all the time"

"Hmmm" he nodded

I can't say the food was the best I've ever had but it was fresh if a little overdone. I finished eating and propping my elbows on the table sipped at my coke while checking out the view. Awesome! The 3000 plus metres of Piz Buin looks down on us as it dominates the southern skyline, the wind whipped the unfamiliar blonde hair as a sudden gust hit the veranda.

"It's so, I don't know, big up here" I mentioned

Den nodded in agreement, "could get pretty lonely" he noted

"Sometimes when I'm up here I just feel like going walkabout you know?"

"Not today though, in that skirt!" he joked

"No today I'm happy just to look at it all"

We sat and looked at the vista spread before us while we finished our drinks.

"You going back to the bus?" I asked as we cleared our plates away.

"Yeah I think I'll catch forty winks"

"I'm gonna take a short walk then"

"See you in a bit then"

We parted company and I headed along the path towards the Madlener Haus, the pass top hotel. I took a few pictures of the mountains and the lake, I've got loads but somehow every time you come they look different! I sat myself on a rock for a few minutes just taking in the view before heading back towards the little pot of human activity around the restaurant. I exchanged waves and smiles with several of our passengers as I headed to the row of coaches on the far side of the parking lot.

Letting myself onto the bus, I woke Den from his snooze in the first row of passenger seats.

"Comfy up there?"

"Not really but the curtains keep the sun off better than my blind, what's the time?"

"Don't worry, we've got fifteen minutes yet, you want a drink?"

"Please, I just fancy a cup of tea"

"Coming up captain" I saluted as I passed him on the way to the servery

Five minutes later we were both nursing mugs of tea.

"Hello, is it alright if we get on?" Mr Stubbings asked through the doorway

"Of course it is" Den replied hopping down to give them a hand on board

"Ooh that tea smells nice" Mrs Stubbings mentioned as she climbed past me

"Would you like one?" I slipped into Nena speak

"That would be nice Nena"

By the time I got to finish my own by now cold cup, I'd made about a dozen hot drinks and sold the same number of cold cans!

After the usual head count we headed down the eastern side of the pass towards ill-fated Galtür. I was on a Ski'n'tour holiday based just down the valley at Ischgl with one of the other drivers when that terrible avalanche hit Galtür taking so many lives with it. Like so many others we joined the rescue teams digging for survivors, a fruitless task on the whole, most being taken in their sleep. I've been back many times since but I can't shake the images of those couple of days from my mind.

There's no impressive series of bends this side of the pass, instead the gradient is fairly even, the road comparatively straight and even a ten ton coach can make good time. Down the Paznauntal to rejoin the Inntal at Landeck then a short stretch on the autobahn to reach our afternoon stop at Imst. With less than an hour's drive back to Seefeld, Den suggested we have a longer than scheduled stop, an hour and a quarter instead of an hour.

So far on this tour, we hadn't really had a 'proper' shopping opportunity for our 'guests' so Imst with its mix of normal shops, café's and souvenir emporiums would fill the gap nicely. I'm not usually one for the shops, and doing these tours regularly the tourist bit gets a bit weak too but being Nena has brought new demands, restocking of toiletries and on Ingrid's advice, the need for more clothing!

Den joined me as I headed down to the bottom of the 'shopping zone'.

"Chris, take this" Den palmed me something as we walked

"What's this for?" I asked opening my hand to reveal a couple of fifty Euro notes.

"Look I know it's cost you a fair bit already this week, think of that as my contribution"

"Den you don't need to" I tried to give the money back to him.

"Keep it please, I still feel a bit responsible for all this, it would ease my conscience"

"Well I'll admit it won't go amiss, but the drinks are on me tonight!"

"Okay miss bossy boots" he mocked dodging a decidedly girly swipe from me.

We found a Drogerie where I was able to get most of what I needed, cotton wool, face cream and much to Den's amusement a new lipstick! Well he was paying for it. Being that time of day again, we found a bakery that doubled as a coffee shop to indulge my desire for cake - again! Two Cappuccino's and a slice of lemon torte later we started back up the main street.

"What are you looking for?" Den asked

"Ingrid reckons I should get, what did she call it now, oh yeah a 'schwarze kleine Kleid'"

"A black what?"

"Erm, a little black dress"

"You serious?"

"I said I'd look if I got a chance, okay?"

"Sorry Chr.. Nena" Den corrected himself just in time as we passed a couple of our passengers.

We walked along in a slightly uneasy silence for a short way before Den pointed over the road.

"There's a boutique place over there if you want to look"

"I guess"

Not being exactly into women's fashion, 'Orsay' over the door meant nothing to me. I'll give him due; Den joined me inside as I made my way around the racks.

"That's quite nice" he motioned to a dress that was more holes than fabric. I just gave him a look.

"Okay, p'rhaps it's not quite you"

"Ich kann hilfe?"

I switched into full German mode.

"I'm looking for a dress" I replied to the young woman who had addressed me

"Party? Work?" she gave a questioning half shrug

"Fairly formal, dinner that sort of thing" I offered

"I think we have something for you over here, come" she instructed

I, with Den trailing, followed her to a side rail.

"Ellie? Can you give me a hand?" a disembodied voice called out

"Are you okay?" she asked

"Er yes thanks"

"I won't be long" Ellie advised

"I wish I had your gift of the gab" Den stated

"That's why you drive and I guide, what do you reckon to these?" I said pulling a couple of frocks off the rail.

"The blue one's nice but I prefer the red one"

"I wish I was looking for trousers" I mentioned to no one in particular, "I guess I'd best see what they look like at least."

"Hey don't look at me in that tone of voice!" Den mentioned

Seeing Ellie down at the cash desk I went for broke.

"Kann ich dieses Kleid anprobieren?"

"Ja kabine drei" she called back

"I'll wait outside" Den told me

"Oh no you don't, I need you help here"

I took the dresses into the cubicle and slipped out of the top and skirt. I couldn't work out how to put the red dress on so I tried the blue one first. After Sunday I had the sizing cracked so that wasn't a problem, doing up the rear zip was but finally I had it on. Weird! In my worst nightmares I never envisioned wearing a dress and here I was in a shop trying one on. My heart was going nineteen to the dozen.

"You okay in there?" Den enquired

"Just a minute" I straightened the skirt and made my entrance, exit, whatever.

"You look all woman in that"

"Yeah but how does it look?"

"Fine to me"

"I'll try the red one then"

Back in the changing room I quickly got out of the first dress then after discovering the side zip I got into the red frock, I prefer side zips, you can reach them easier! This one felt a lot better and was a couple of inches longer.

"Wow that really looks good on you" Den commented

"It fits better than the blue one"

"If you're gonna get one my votes with that one"

I did the changing bit again, back into the skirt and top.

"I don't know, what do you reckon?"

"Just get it, you can always give it to one of the girls. What size shoes do you take?"

"Six, why?"

"You'll need some shoes, that's 38 yeah?"


"What about these?" Den pointed to a pair of pointy-toed things that on another woman (?) I would find quite sexy.

"Go on then, in for a penny"

There was only one pair on the display so I caught Ellie's eye

"Okay?" she asked coming over

"Ja, haben sie Größe acht und dreizig bitte?"

"Moment bitte"

"You gonna get them then?" Den asked

"I guess so, it'll keep Ingrid quiet and like you said, I can give them to the girls."

"Damn! Is that the time?"

"Bugger, I didn't realise we'd been in here that long"

"You finish up here, I'll pick you up outside the church, you know where the bus stops are?"

"Okay, see you in a few, teuss"

Den quickly left the shop and disappeared. All the passengers would be waiting at the bus, what a mess!

Ellie returned with the shoes by which time I had my sandals off ready

"Here you are, thirty eight, I brought a size either side as well."


"Will you be wearing hose? They are for the dress?"

"Yes to go with the dress"

"Hose then, hang on" and she was off again returning with a packet of 'fuß hose'. "Put these on first."

Five minutes later I knew that with tights on my new size thirty seven stiletto's fit a dream and that I'd just spent thirty Euro's on shoes and forty three on a dress that I never intend wearing! I hurried up to the church and actually had to wait for Den to come round with the bus.

Once on board I felt I needed to apologise

"Sorry everyone, I was trying on a dress" cringe! I waved my Orsay bag to emphasise the statement.

"I hope we're gonna see you in it?" one wag called out

"Perhaps, if you are well behaved" I countered, which caused a few chuckles

Once we were clear of the town I whispered to Den.

"Were they okay?"

"Fine, they were all sat on a wall eating ice cream, I take it you got them both then?"

"I can't believe I just spent another seventy odd Euro's"

I did my usual coach walk, making sure that everyone had a good time and in seemingly no time at all we were climbing the hill up to Mösern and thence Seefeld.

"Good day?" Ingrid asked when I collapsed into the seat opposite her.

"Yeah, it was a bit cooler today thankfully"

"And shopping I see?"

"I got a dress like you said, I don't know why, it's a waste of seventy Euro's"

"How much?"

"Well the dress was forty three but I had to get shoes as well, nothing I've got would look right"

"Lets see then" she enthused

"I'll see you girls later" Den mentioned as he went through

"Okay" we chimed which resulted in a fit of giggles.

I did the show and tell with my new outfit.

"You little flirt Nena" Ingrid mentioned

"Am not"

"Bagsy the shoes when your done with them" she demanded

I rolled my eyes as I left her to go change.

Maddy Bell 05.02.04 © 2004

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