The next morning Melanie, Curtis, Tim, and I (Charlie, back as your narrator) decided to have breakfast in the room. The very late hours of the balls had completely destroyed our schedules, and here we were eating breakfast at 10:30 a.m. It was a huge breakfast, and was surely going to be our lunch as well.
Melanie said, "Well, all good things must come to an end; tomorrow we head home. What time is the flight?"
Tim said, "Right about this time. We're going to have to get up a lot earlier. I'll be glad to get on a decent schedule."
I said, "Actually, Tim, this late at night business is good for us. Right now it's 3:30 a.m. in Grand Forks. We aren't going to have the jet lag that we might've had. Our time zones and schedules will change together."
"So you want to stay up till all hours tonight like the past few nights?"
"It would make sense."
Melanie asked, "Charlie, when Tim gets you out of bed so early back home, does that leave time for sex the night before?"
Tim cut in, "Absolutely. You just have to start early enough."
Curtis said, "Ah, the joys of youth."
Melanie chimed in with, "Sex with you two, Tim and Charlie, has been delightful this trip. Well, not just this trip. There's something absolutely rejuvenating about being fucked by young studs like you two."
The remark seemed to disturb Curtis, who thought for a while and then said, "I'm not sure that this intergenerational sex is really fair to your generation. Both Melanie and I are quite willing to admit that we find sex with kids about the age of our children to be very sexy. But I can't believe that it works both ways. I don't think we're being fair to you."
Tim responded, "Charlie and I have thought about that, and talked about it. You know, the first intergenerational sex we were ever involved in was with Felix-the man we bought our house from. I think that we really did begin the sex because we felt sorry for him, a frustrated gay man who'd never really had sex with anyone. But it was fun. First, it was fun because every time we did anything new, it was his first time. It was fun to guide him along, be part of that first time excitement. But after that passed, we realized that we simply liked having sex with Felix. Maybe it was because once your dick's in someone's mouth and your eyes are closed, sex is bound to be fun. But it was more than that. Felix was fun. Curtis and Melanie are fun. If Charlie can enjoy dancing with Melanie, and he certainly has, why shouldn't he enjoy having sex with her?"
I continued, "If sex with a young stud is exciting to an older person, that's fine. Some people like sex with redheads. Good, except that we don't have any redheads in the Gang to take care of their needs!"
Tim went on, "The younger members of the Gang may have sex with the older members for a number of reasons: they may like it and enjoy it, and who really cares why? It's great that they enjoy it. Or, they may feel that they're doing the older people a favor. Would there be anything wrong in that? I think we have some straight people in the Gang who are involved in more gay sex than might be their first choice, but they do it because they're giving pleasure to others. I'd hate for that to be the only reason that somebody had sex, but it's not illegitimate. And those young kids are going to get older, and may someday be glad than another generation comes along to entertain them."
Melanie jumped right in, "That's exactly the point that I was trying to get to. The need for the next generation. The Gang started with eight boys all the same age except for you, Charlie, and you were only five years and a little bit older. Except for Felix, all the early growth of the Gang was in that age range. Then we got that fantastic letter from Franklin, talking about extending the Gang, and the sex, to our generation. It changed our lives. It changed your lives. It changed the Gang.
"But I think the Gang's getting frozen. You opened the door a little to Sid and Cathy, and Jerry and Judy, but the door seems to be closed now. Don't you think that to continue as a vibrant group, you need to keep adding new blood, and I mean folks in the next generation coming on?"
Tim said, "We hadn't really thought of that. I'm thinking of the Circle, the nine kids living in our house. We've kind of assumed that they were good friends, but that they were their group and the Gang was our group. We haven't really moved to think about their being part of the Gang."
I said, "We have one huge issue. It's obvious that we're never talking about someone under age 18, but the Circle were all students at the university. The Gang's loaded with faculty, administrators, and staff. We'd be crossing a lot of dangerous lines with the Circle, and likely with anyone of the younger generation in Grand Forks that we might consider inviting."
Curtis said, "I can't accept that any faculty-student relationship is a conflict of interest or an abuse of power. I'll grant you that you need to exclude most undergraduates from the Gang, until they graduate or leave school. I said most, because I'm thinking about Alex. He's both staff and student, and I don't think his adult student status should be held against him."
I said, "Yeah, but both Al and Alex report to me as chancellor."
Curtis replied, "Yeah, and you report to Tim as president. So?"
Melanie said, "OK, there are two issues here. Let's not get them confused. First, we're talking about opening the Gang up to the next generation as it comes along. Second, we're talking about sexual relations between different members of the UND community. Separate issues. Keep them separate."
Tim said, "On that, Melanie's right. One shouldn't confuse the other. And we should remember that we've never made sex the be-all and end-all of the Gang."
I said, "Yeah, but think about it. If we invited the Circle to join the Gang, what would really be different?"
Melanie said, "Sex. There'd be other things: if they were part of the Gang they'd be here in Vienna with us. But the biggest thing would be sex. And I'm quite certain that they would understand that in accepting the idea of joining the Gang they were likely to become sexually involved with members of the Gang."
"Do you think they'd join?"
"In a minute," said Curtis. Melanie nodded agreement.
Tim asked, "Do you think they'd think that agreeing to join the Gang was agreeing to accept sexual invitations?"
Melanie said, "I don't think so, but it's possible. It needs to be made very clear that Gang membership involves absolutely no obligations in regard to sex. They should stay within their comfort zone, and they don't need to give any explanations for turning down invitations. Except, of course, they'd be agreeing not to be offended by any such invitations."
I said, "That last point is important, Melanie. And the corollary is that they don't need to hesitate to issue reasonable invitations."
I continued, "So what I hear us saying here is that intergenerational sex is good, and that the Gang should continue to add new blood, partly, at least, to insure the continuation of intergenerational sex. There's a slight feeling that intergenerational sex favors the older partner, but not exclusively. Have I summarized that correctly?"
Melanie said, "I think so." Curtis nodded.
Tim said, "Where do we go from here, if this isn't just to be a theoretical discussion?"
I said, "Well, we don't have the authority to expand the Gang on our own. We have to discuss this with everyone. I don't think that we should call a big meeting and make a big deal out of this. Rather, if all of us here agree to go forward, each of us should have small scale discussions around the Gang. I'd presume that, in general, Curtis and Melanie will take the lead with their generation and we will with ours. We'll compare notes in a little while."
Tim said, "Let's not forget the issue of university students, employees, and the like."
I said, "Tim, I think we need some general rules, and after that we deal with a case by case situation."
"And the general rules would be?"
"First, no sex, and no Gang membership to undergraduates. The exception would be adult students who have passed their regular age of graduation.
"Second, no sex and no Gang membership to law students; no exceptions as long as I'm dean."
Tim said, "Those are reasonable. Others? How about staff and faculty reporting directly to Gang members?"
"Who's leaving the Gang, you or me? I'm uncomfortable about sleeping with secretaries, but what about Al and Alex? How do we distinguish? And then there's the converse, promoting or appointing Gang members to university positions. They were careful to insure I was appointed before you, so that you weren't appointing your partner."
"Appointing a partner, that is a spouse, is different than a member of a group of 60 people."
"It isn't the Gang membership that counts, is the having-sex-with that counts."
"Putting it that way sort of solves the problem. Some sexual relationships, even within the Gang, are just asking for trouble and should be avoided. Just like we don't have sex with our parents, we better avoid sex with our bosses."
"There goes our sex life."
"And that's why we need to keep all of this in mind, but make case by case decisions. And as to the specific case at hand, I think that you and I should avoid sex with Al and Alex for the foreseeable future; although that could change."
I summed up with, "Agreed."
Curtis changed the subject with, "Now, before we take a last stroll around the streets of Vienna, I want to take a last stroll up both of your dicks."
You can believe what you want about intergenerational sex; Curtis-old enough to be my father-was certainly arousing. Tim agreed. And what we did to Melanie and Curtis can't be discussed in polite company.
We did have several conversations about intergenerational sex and the composition of the Gang. There was general agreement, but nobody felt the need to push too fast. We needed to consult with the out-of-towners. We didn't feel in a hurry.
The Gang was growing in another way as well-we were having children. Yes, WE. In February (1984), Tina and Merle had come back into our lives. Well, with their move to Grand Forks, we saw them fairly often. They were very gracious in coming by, both invited and unannounced, and letting us see and play with Max. He was a great kid-what else could someone carrying Tim's genes be? We were amazed at how relaxed about the whole situation Merle was able to be. He frequently went out of his way to thank both of us for our gift of Max, and we assured him that it was a gift to us as well. But now they were back in a big way, telling us that they hoped to have another child. My child!
Gay men don't go through life dreaming of being biological fathers. Well, we may dream, but those are considered fantasies, not realistic dreams. But here was a fantasy possibly coming true. Only as Tina and Merle made their specific request did I come to understand what Tim'd gone through two years before. They did one thing differently: they gave us warning. They invited us to dinner one evening and after dinner told us of their dreams of another child and asked if I'd be willing to participate, and asked Tim if he was willing for me to. They knew our answers, but were kind enough to ask it in a way that didn't seem presumptuous. They also told us that Tina's fertile time was about two weeks off. Ron, Kyle, and Sharon had agreed to take care of Max, and the best three days had been marked on the calendar. As luck would have it, we'd be available, though the second of the three nights I had an evening program in the law school and the events of the night would be a little late.
That night as Tim and I spooned together he said, "It's kind of special, isn't it?"
"Yes, it really is."
"You know, I haven't really told you all of my feelings, because I feared that it might be that you'd never have a chance. I didn't want to talk about the excitement of being a father, well really a sperm donor, but you know what I mean. It's really special, Charlie. I'm so happy for you."
"Thanks, Tim. I hope it works out. I'm sure it will. Tina's a special woman, and we're really seeing how special a man Merle is. I'm looking forward to it."
I've never had any trouble accepting Tim's maxim that there's a little straight in every gay person. Tim and I have lived that, and found it to be true. The more we experiment, with women or with other men, the more we enjoy the sex with each other. Returning to Tim after the times with Melanie as we were waltzing our way around the world simply added spice to Tim's and my sex life. It meant that for gay men we'd fucked quite a few women. I'd fucked quite a few women. Well, fucking Tina was different. It wasn't physically different. It was emotionally different. It was, like, Wow!, Zowie!, Oh, My Gawd! all rolled into one. I climaxed, fell on top of Tina and lay there, as planned, as long as I could stay inside her. Then Merle came up to me and kissed me deeply before he whispered, "Thank you, Charlie, thank you."
I hugged Merle as much as I'd hugged Tina. Then he wiggled us around to a 69 position; he didn't manage a second orgasm for me, but I gave him a wonderful one. Tina was taking care of Tim at the same time. We were in Tim's and my big bed, and we all fell asleep together.
We woke up early; Tim headed off to the pool; I dressed for a class I was teaching; and Merle and Tina headed to Ronnie's house to pick up Max. The whole thing was repeated, with little variation, the next two nights. Six weeks later we got the excited call from Tina. "The rabbit sacrificed himself so that I can tell you that I'm pregnant. Is that more precise, Mr. Pedant?"
"That, my dear, is both precise and wonderful. How shall we celebrate?"
"You, father-to-be, are going to take me, Merle, Ronnie, Kyle, Sharon, and Tim out to a grand and expensive dinner. Jim, Andy and company are going to babysit Max, Kevin, and Kay."
"Where am I taking you for this dinner?"
"The Western? The Western is in Minneapolis."
"My goodness, what a memory you have. I hope you have some of the same wonderful memories of the place that Tim and I have. In any case, Merle and I want to tell our parents, I'd like you along, so dinner at the Western this Saturday night is on your schedule. I've already cleared it with Tim. I think he knows what's up, but I didn't tell him anything about the rabbit. He doesn't know we're going to Minneapolis, but he does know that I need you both for the entire weekend. We'll drive down in Merle's station wagon. Dinner at the Western, evening with my folks and Tim's, and Sunday lunch with the entire Minneapolis contingent of the Gang. You and Tim'll sleep at Tim's house, Ronnie, Kyle and Sharon are going to stay with Hal's folks, and Merle and I will stay with Merle's."
"You have this all planned out."
"Right. Bring your credit card, dinner at the Western is on you, and I'm eating steaks for two."
"You're wonderful, Tina."
"You're damn right I am. So are you, fella."
What can I tell you about that weekend? It worked out exactly as Tina had orchestrated it. Both sets of parents were on board with the conception of Max, so number two wasn't a great surprise. Nor do I think it was a surprise that she'd turned this time to me instead of Tim.
We enjoyed spending a little time with Norman and Betsy. We saw them fairly frequently, but never as often as we would've liked. They did have one bit of news, well, more of a bombshell. Norman told us, "You know, Herb Johnson is 67 years old, and he's coached about as much high school track as he's up for. He's going to retire in June of 1985. I'm a little younger, but I'm eligible to retire under the 3-M retirement plan. John Bruder is more than ready, and eligible. We're all going to retire and move to Grand Forks in the summer of '85. I hope you're ready for us?"
"Ready? That's wonderful news. And you'll love watching the next generation grow up. Does Carl know about this? I guess Hal's learning this weekend from his folks, right?"
Betsy said, "We thought that, rather than telling Carl on the telephone, we'd let you tell him in person when you get back to Grand Forks. I'm sure the first thing he'll do is pick up the telephone and call us."
"He's going to be delighted. And it'll be so nice for Nels and Bert to have their grandparents nearby. It will be for Junior and Bud Bruder as well."
Norman said, "Well, guys, I don't want to disillusion you. But it's the grandkids that are pulling us to North Dakota, not you guys!"
Tim said, "We know. But we're going to be really happy to have you close."
I said, "What about Herb? Does he have children and grandchildren? Certainly they aren't in North Dakota."
"Yes, he has three kids, and they all have children. But they're spread all over the map. One family is in Chicago, one somewhere in Montana, and one in Texas-Dallas, I think. So there's no family in Minneapolis to keep him here. In fact, I really think that he thinks of the Gang as his family as much as his children. No, that's not fair. They visit back and forth fairly regularly. But folks from the Gang drop by Minneapolis much more than his kids do. The Gang's been wonderful to him, especially Hal, of course. He and Phyllis are really looking forward to Grand Forks."
"Any thought about where you might live? Are you going to buy houses? There are a couple of very nice retirement villages being built."
"None of that. We're seriously thinking about buying a big house and having the three couples share it. We don't see why non-traditional living arrangements should be the exclusive privilege of your generation."
"Way to go!" piped up Tim.
"I agree," I said, very enthusiastically. "With Merle and Tina in Grand Forks and you folks coming we're nearing being complete."
Betsy asked, "Do you think we'll ever be complete?"
Tim said, "I don't think so. Paul's very happy coaching in Ironwood, and Dick and Jeff are permanently connected to the camp. Billy isn't going to move out of Indiana anytime soon."
Norman said, "The winter office of Camp White Elk could be in North Dakota. Billy could replace Larry. But you'll only get Paul at retirement, but look for Amanda and Paul then."
"What makes you think that?" Tim asked.
"Paul is no fool; he can see a good thing. When we've been together, I've sensed a little wistful imaginings about living near the Gang. But you're right, he's not going to give up his coaching. He really believes he's making a contribution to the boys of Ironwood."
"He is; that's for sure," Tim said. "But what's this about Billy?"
"Tim, Larry is going to retire. I have no idea when, but he's older than you, and certainly a lot older than Billy. Now, I'll ask a simple question. When that position comes open, who will you invite first? Will he accept? I don't know. There's a lot more to diving in Indiana than North Dakota, and in North Dakota he'd be responsible for swimming as well-though there would be other coaches. But you know you're going to ask, right?"
"I hadn't even thought about it. But, of course, you're right."
Norman continued, "Don't forget Tom's folks. I wouldn't want to try to predict; I don't know them that well. But a move is certainly possible."
"Gangland could get crowded some nights," I mused.
Tim contributed, "That would be fun."
Betsy said, "Indeed."
While this story has been proceeding, following various paths of the lives of Tim, me, and the rest of the Gang, I should note that the group had been regularly copulating, not always for purely recreational purposes. Tom and Nancy had their second, Margaret, called Peg, on October 20, 1980. She was born in Grand Forks, to the delight of one and all, and by now she was
three, running, talking (sort of), and certainly giving her parents a run for their money. She had all of her aunts and uncles entranced.
On March 21, 1981, Paul and Amanda had the little wrestler that Paul dreamed of. He wouldn't admit that he was eager for a boy before Perry was born, but with the little tiger in hand, Paul was quick to show his pleasure. I don't think he thought less of Nettie, but in the double he-man culture (the Northwoods, and wrestling) in which he lived, it's good that he didn't have two girls. At three Perry was already looking like a wrestler. When you mentioned that to Amanda she just smiled and said, "I'm betting that Nettie gets to the Olympics first."
That June, June 9, 1981, to be specific, Judy gave birth to Jennie, full name Jennifer. Jerry, now the father of two girls was utterly delighted. He pointed out that the Gang was having more boys than girls, which would be great for the girls when they became teenagers-unless all the boys were gay! Tim couldn't resist pointing out that Jennie might be a lesbian. To which Jerry replied, "I hope that she'll live in a world in which that won't make any difference. It certainly wouldn't to Judy and me. But there's a scarcity of girls in her generation of the Gang."
For us the really big news was that on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 1984, Milton Robert Reed, son of Tina and Merle Reed, came into this world. Tina and Merle were ecstatic. So was I. I know that I had no claim to be Milt's father; I was the sperm donor. A friendlier term is biological father. Who the Hell cares? When I partnered with Tim I gave up the chance to father a child, and all of a sudden I'd been given a gift. And Tina and Merle always thought in terms of my having given a gift to them. That made it all the more poignant. I'd never really understood Tim's feelings at the birth of Max until I was in the same situation. To me, Merle was the real hero. Faced with the devastating diagnosis that he could never father a child, he bravely sought a surrogate-two surrogates. Then he watched his wife have intercourse with the surrogates, without jealousy. And he allowed most of his world (his parents and the entire Gang) to share in what for most men would be a dark secret. In return he had two loving children, and the support of the entire Gang. I don't think any other aspect of our lives together as a Gang more clearly demonstrates the unique and wonderful relationships that we shared. That Thanksgiving night, as Tim and I went to bed basking in the glow of Tina and Merle's joy, we had sex like we had never had sex before. We did 69 laying on our sides, which isn't necessarily our most favored technique, but it's the one that most makes the partners equal-and that was how we felt that evening. What a night!
Back to the spring of 1984 as it continued its inexorable journey to Olympic Trials and Olympic Games. No one from the Gang would be competing unless our thinking about inviting the Circle to join the Gang came to fruition before the Games.
That was moved a notch further forward one day when Murray and Toppy came to visit me in my office. We greeted each other and they sat down, but they seemed to be a little uncomfortable. I said, "OK, what's on your minds? Out with it."
Murray was evidently to be the spokesman. "I'm not sure where to start. Two separate facts have come together at this moment in time."
I said, "I'll tell you what. Murray, you tell me fact one, and Toppy, you tell me fact two. Does the order make any difference?"
Murray said, "Yes, one needs to go before the other. I'll start. The Circle has been observing the Gang, particularly the original eight. We think you got it right. Something as good at the relationship that you eight had was worth keeping. It was worth shaping your lives around. Well, the nine of us in the Circle are thinking the same thing. We're going to shape our lives around the Circle. All nine of us are committed to that. And we've decided that that means staying in Grand Forks."
I said, "That's a pretty deep commitment. Are you ready for it?"
"Yes. We talked as a larger group, and in pairs, well one trio. I think things are developing there, but I'm not sure what. But they all agree that they want to continue with the Circle-in Grand Forks. You know, we're older than the Gang-except you Charlie-when you made similar decisions."
"Yes, but we had a number of years before we had to act on those decisions, and we made sure that nobody made a irrevocable commitment."
"All the original Gang is here, and the parents weren't part of that original decision, if I understand your history correctly."
"That's right. Membership in the Gang has never meant a commitment to move to Grand Forks. Some may never move here-I'd be very surprised if Jeff, Dick, Paul or Amanda ever made the move."
"Well, it doesn't matter. The nine of us are committed. Though we understand that nobody is locked in for the future."
I said, "OK, what's your second fact."
Toppy said, "The house next door is for sale."
I said, "And?"
He continued, "This is what's awkward. In our conversations we've just always thought in terms of the house we're living in. We've already stopped giving you bills for food, repairs, and such. Nothing has been said, but we've just sort of thought about our lives in that house. But we realize that Tim isn't going to be the president of the university forever, and he's going to have to move out of Dakota House. If we owned the house next door, it would solve the housing crisis."
I said, "And who did you have in mind moving into the house next door?"
"We just sort of assumed that we'd solve that when the time came."
"And in the meantime?"
"We ought to own both houses."
"I guess we were thinking that you and Tim might help us buy it."
"Or buy it for ourselves?"
"Oh, God, Charlie, when we talk like this I realize that we're really imposing on you."
"No, Tim and I always want you to share your thinking with us. It isn't imposing. We'll always be honest, but you be honest, too. And I think you're being honest here. But you haven't thought it through completely. First, Tim has only lived in three houses in his life: His parents', the one you live in, and Dakota House. You live in the only one he's ever owned. I can absolutely tell you that he wants to move back there when he retires as president-whenever he retires. So let's not even think of making any kind of a suggestion to him that he might do otherwise; that wouldn't be fair to him."
"We understand," said Murray. Toppy nodded his head, "Yes."
"Why don't you guys just buy the house next door?"
"How could we?"
"Al and Alex have decent incomes from the university; they could get a mortgage."
"We're all uncomfortable asking them to carry us."
"But you aren't uncomfortable asking us to?"
"That wasn't why we came. We saw the For Sale sign and thought it was an opportunity. We didn't think out the details."
"So let's think a little. What's the condition of the house?"
"Sad. It may once have been a little grander than yours, and it's a little bigger. However, it was cut up into six apartments. It hasn't been maintained too well. But we think it's sound. I've been in it once or twice visiting students who live there."
I said, "Let me guess. If you get a mortgage to buy the house, you wouldn't have the money you need to fix it up?"
"I'm sure that's true."
"Before I make my suggestion as to where you go next, I want to go back to your statement that having Al and Alex fund the purchase wouldn't be fair. If your Circle is going to work, you are going to have to get over that idea. There's nothing fair about income distribution in America. There's almost an inverse relationship between income and contribution to society. Compare the salaries of teachers with baseball players; social workers with movie actors; nurses with doctors; doctors with insurance company executives. So some members of your Circle are going to earn a lot more than others. If they're really committed to the Circle, they're going to want to make that extra income available for the group.
"You know, the Gang had to deal with the same issue. Fred has so much money he doesn't know what to do with it. At first we felt guilty when he spent his money on the Gang. But he made it clear that that was the joy of his life, and that we were absolutely not to worry about it. It took some getting used to, but we now accept his offerings without guilt, concern, or a sense of taking charity.
"As to your house. Buy the house. Take your time planning and executing the remodeling. Talk to Carl; he's a great architect. And he's creative. He'll show you how to change the house to match the crazy lifestyle that you nine are thinking about. You can live where you are for as long as you need to to get the house ready. Then it'll be your house. You'll love it much more than the one you're presently in.
"Now, go talk to Fred. Ask for his advice and help buying and remodeling the house. Don't be shy, but just be very general with your asking for help. Tell him you want the house, you want to remodel it, and live in it as a group. Tell him I suggested you talk to him about how to pull that off."
We chatted for a while. They didn't make any decisions; they needed to talk to the seven others, but I was pretty sure that they'd follow my advice. Thinking that, I got on the telephone and told Fred what was coming. He thanked me profusely for getting him involved and for the heads up. His reaction was exactly what I expected.
I'm going to let Margie tell you the rest of the story. She was present and tell's it much better first hand than I could tell it second hand. That'll be the next episode.
That evening I shared with Tim the fact that the Circle was planning to live together in Grand Forks. He picked up on the key issue and asked, "Where?"
"They know that they eventually have to get out of our house. They have their eye on the house next door, which has evidently come on the market. I've sent them to Fred to talk about it."
"Oh, boy. Fred'll move so fast their heads will start spinning."
"I'm sure he will."
"I guess it's time we talked about inviting them to be part of the Gang."
"I think so. We've gotten positive feedback from the folks here in Grand Forks. Let's write to the Michigan and Minneapolis contingents and get their input."
"I'm sure it'll be positive."
"I agree. I'll write this evening."
The replies to my letter ranged from "Go for it!" (Norman) to "I think those determinations need to be made by the Gang in Grand Forks, but since you asked, yes," (Amanda and Paul).
It was time to issue the invitation!
It's time to turn the narrator job over to Margie. This episode will be a little short, I guess. But I never promised to standardize the length, did I? Readers, you can get to sleep a little earlier tonight.
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