Well, Charlie told you I was up next. This in Margie, and I have a lot to tell. Charlie's already alluded to 1984 being a very special year. Well, indeed it was, but I need to go back to December of 1981 when Tim and Charlie gathered the Gang to talk about what was then called The Gay Disease.
The nine of us, that is the Circle, had really appreciated being included in that meeting of the Gang. True, we got some important information, but since we never even contemplated sex outside of our group, and only rarely outside of our pairings, the concern about AIDS wasn't critical. Of much more importance to us was the fact that we were treated as mature adults, worthy of inclusion in their most intimate conversations. That demonstrated a love and trust on the Gang's part that we understood we had to work to continue to warrant. It also exposed us to the extent of the sexual relationships that existed within the Gang. Toppy and Murray seemed to have guessed pretty accurately, based on their summer at Pike Lake, but they were pretty circumspect about what they said to us. At that meeting the Gang let it all hang out.
It got us to thinking. No, not what you're thinking. We didn't come home and decide that we'd turn Tim and Charlie's house into an orgy palace. Rather, we began to think about whether the Circle should, or could, have a long term existence like the Gang. And the more we thought about it and talked about it, the more we thought it might be a good idea.
And another thing happened. Arnie, Fyn and I began to wonder whether Sharon, Ronnie, and Kyle might be a model for the three of us! Well, you know me; if I could arrange all that conversation on the Empire Builder, I could put the question to Fyn and Arnie pretty bluntly. As we went to bed one evening I simply asked, "Is this really a three-way and we haven't been willing to admit it?"
Arnie had said, "I've always understood that I was the third wheel. We head to the Olympics in 1984, maybe win medals, and you and Fyn come home and get married. What's this about a three-way?"
"Are you telling us that you'd be happy to have us get married and let you alone?"
"Hell no. But that was the deal. I'm not going back on it; it wouldn't be fair to the two of you."
"But what if we have no more desire to lose you than you do to lose us?"
"I haven't heard Fyn say anything yet."
Fyn said, "Arnie, you've become an important part of my life."
Arnie said, "We're talking love here. And if we're talking a three-way, one of the implicit relationships is homosexual. Is that what you two are talking about?"
Fyn said, "Does that bother you?"
"Shit no. We've been jacking off together and handling each other's dicks. I feel as close to you as I do to Margie."
I said, "Look, guys, I want to make a suggestion. Well, I want to make two suggestions."
Fyn said, "And those would be?"
"First, let's change the sex rules for the three of us. We said no mutual orgasms, and we've kept to that. Let's change the rule to no intercourse. I don't think we're ready for fucking, but let's let things go a little. Second, let's get together with Ronnie, Sharon, and Kyle and talk. I think they might be very helpful to us."
Arnie said, "Ok, with the new rules, Fyn's going to have his first orgasm at the hands of another person. That person's going to be Margie."
I said, "No, Arnie, we're going to do it together. Then Fyn and I are going to do you, and then the two of you are going to finger fuck me. I'm sure that as time goes on we'll try a lot of different things, but tonight let's keep it simple."
Well, that's exactly what happened. That pattern, and variations of it involving our hands, continued for several months. None of us had had any experience sucking a dick, or having semen in our mouths, though Arnie'd had oral sex with one of his girlfriends. We were having so much fun with our hands that we didn't feel much pressure to use our mouths. Eventually Fyn broke the ice by grabbing Arnie one night and sucking him. I was watching and expected him to spit out Arnie's cum, but he just kept on sucking and swallowed it without thinking. Arnie was really surprised. Well, so was I. Once we crossed that threshold, we explored all of the permutations of oral sex pretty quickly. Wow, to think what we'd been missing! We knew that fucking was the next obvious thing, but we continued to feel that we weren't ready.
I'm ahead a little. A couple of months after our first conversation we got together with Ronnie, Kyle and Sharon. We invited them to our house, but they turned the invitation around and invited us to their house. Sharon explained that they didn't mind cooking, and this eliminated the need for a babysitter. It also meant that we didn't have to ask the other six guys at our house to get lost for the evening. It wasn't lost on me that Sharon has said that THEY didn't mind cooking. It told me right away that their relationship was share and share alike-no woman's role governed. I decided right then that that would be the prototype for our threesome if we had one.
I had talked with Sharon quite a bit when I extended the original invitation. I guess it was easier to talk girl-to-girl. She told me that she'd been the one that had moved their group from a science partnership to a romantic and sexual one. She added, "But once they moved, they moved!"
I told her that we'd moved our sex into a sort of three way, and were trying to figure out what that might mean for our lives. She'd said, "Well, we are a possible model, but it's certainly a lifestyle that takes a lot of effort. The typical spouse has to be very aware of the needs of his or her mate. In a three-way you have two other people whose needs you have to take into consideration."
I said, "That's the kind of thing that the three of us need to hear."
"Well, come on. We'll see you for dinner next Wednesday. Come about seven and we'll have the kids well on their way to bed."
"Hey, we want a chance to at least say, 'Hi,' to Kevin and Kay."
"They'll still be up." And they were.
Kevin, at age 5, was a charmer. He was quite articulate, cute as a button, and incredibly polite. He seemed totally relaxed around his family, and around us. It made me think, "What does one do to insure such a charming child? Is it luck, skill, or just genes? Well, the cute as a button part had to be genes. Of course, we didn't know whose for half of his parentage."
Kay-that's what they called Rhoda-was equally cute. She was just beginning to talk. She seemed happy, and never seemed inclined to cry or pout. But it was too early to guess how she'd turn out. By 7:30 they went off to bed with no protests. I'll jump ahead and note that about a half hour after he went to bed Kevin reappeared. "I can't sleep."
None of his parents seemed in the least perturbed. Ronnie asked, "Do you want something to eat?"
"How about a banana?"
"Maybe a cookie."
"A banana might be better for you."
"A cookie would taste better."
"OK, half a cookie and half a banana."
"Deal," said Kevin.
He ate the half banana, the half cookie, and then the other half cookie, with a big grin on his face. Then he headed back to bed with no protest.
Fyn said, "Parenting at it's best. Right down to letting him win one with the second half cookie."
Ronnie said, "The kid's going to grow up to be either be a lawyer or a labor negotiator."
Kyle said, "I think we were about to start talking about our relationships. I understand that you three think you might end up in a crazy relationship like ours. Is that right?"
Fyn said, "We've already moved pretty far down that road."
"And you're happy about it?"
"All three of you?"
"But it's just far enough beyond the norm that it worries you?"
Ronnie said, "That's good. If you were so dumb that you'd get involved in a three-way relationship, particularly one that might involved kids, and not be worried or concerned, I would just assume that you were entirely too stupid to get involved in any kind of a relationship. We've had enormous success as a trio, but we've worked at it, had tremendous support from the Gang, and still had our trials and tribulations."
I said, "I think it may be the trials and tribulations that we want to hear about."
Sharon said, "Well, homosexuality can be an issue. We decided right away that if all the possible pairings within the group aren't given equal respect, then we're not going to make it. And one of those pairings is two men."
Kyle said, "And just as important, none of those pairings involves two women. It means that we have two active bisexuals and one completely straight member of this group."
I said, "Does that bother you, Sharon?"
"That's a tough question. It doesn't bother me now, and it didn't at first. But I went through an odd period of time. When we first started having sex I had no interest in lesbian sex and didn't miss it. But then I became part of the Gang and learned the joys of lesbian sex. Mind you, I'll take a man over a woman any day, but that business about variety being the spice of life has a lot to recommend it. Then I went through a period when I worried that the trio provided no lesbian opportunities. But after a while I realized that I could get all the lesbian sex I needed within the Gang. The relationships within our little group of three aren't really based on gender, but on personal relationships. Ronnie has a very similar relationship to me as he has with Kyle. The fact that he sucks Kyle and usually fucks me doesn't change the fundamental relationship."
"Wow!" said Fyn. "There's more to this whole thing than we've discussed."
Ronnie said, "And you'll keep finding new layers and issues as you move through life."
"Have you three had any trouble keeping your relationships private? Do people accept Kyle as simply your boarder, or whatever, or are they suspicious?"
"Some of our close friends-outside the Gang-have their suspicions. And we really haven't tried to hide things from some of our close friends. They don't seem upset. The fact that we're connected by our science helps a lot. What're you three thinking about in terms of living arrangements?"
"We're going to enjoy ninesies."
"Our informal name for the relationship we're developing in the Circle. We're thinking very carefully about living together as a group of nine. But within the group we plan to have three pairs and whatever the three of us work out."
"And we thought our living arrangements were unconventional!"
"What're your parents going to think? Not that you need to lead your lives around your parents' wishes, but they are important."
"What about your parents?"
"Well, Ronnie's are part of the Gang. They know everything and are supportive. Sharon's think she's married to Ronnie, and wonder what Kyle is doing hanging around. Kyle's wish he'd find a girl and get married. But they're convinced he's happily married to his cyclotron. What about your parents?"
"We're not sure. Fyn's convinced his parents can handle it. Arnie's dad died a year ago, and he isn't sure about his mom. My folks would flip out at the homosexual aspect of the whole thing. But, can we live a lie?"
Sharon said, "You know, I've never actually lied to my parents. I am married to Ronnie; Kyle does live with us; Ronnie is the father listed on the kids' birth certificates. The actual relationship is so outside of my parents imagination that the right questions never occur to them. The same with Kyle's folks."
We talked till late in the evening. Our three hosts were really open with us, talking about their unusual relationship. We were a little embarrassed to ask questions about their sex lives, but they shared with us without our having to ask. The bottom line was that they did just about everything you could imagine, in all pairings. They made no conscious effort to keep things equal, but it seemed to work out that way. We got one surprise. As Sharon was being a little graphic about their activities I innocently asked, "Who has the bigger dick?"
Sharon looked really surprised, and then said, "You know, I'm not sure. Size is so completely unimportant." She turned to Ronnie and asked, "Well, who does have the bigger dick?"
Ronnie replied by asking, "Hard or soft?"
"It makes a difference?"
"As a matter of fact, yes. Soft, I'm bigger than Kyle. Hard, he's bigger. I have no idea why."
"How do you know, have you measured," Fyn asked.
"As a matter of fact, yes," said Ronnie. "And it's rather hard to measure a soft dick-it tends to get hard." We all had a good laugh at that.
We came home that night with our minds and our futures made up. We were a threesome, a trio, a three-way. We decided that we liked the word trio. And Arnie announced, very firmly, that there had to be a marriage, just like Ronnie, Sharon and Kyle, and that the couple would be Fyn and me. He said, "The world already thinks of you two as a pair. A different pairing would raise eyebrows that we don't want raised. That's settled."
Fyn and I announced our engagement within a week. The ring had two stones, and only the three of us knew that one stone was from Arnie.
Ninesies was coming to pass in a lot of other ways as well. The group decision of the Circle that we wanted to continue as a group after college gradually took shape. Each couple made an individual decision, and those decisions were shared with the group. The last to commit were Al and Alex, but once they made up their minds they were as firm as the rest of us. I think that the most enthusiastic of the group was Nate. He'd come to Grand Forks to find a place where he could be comfortable as a gay man. Now that place was beckoning him for a lifetime. It was a dream come true. Toppy and Murray found in us the families they'd lost as teenagers. While Murray's parents, and Toppy's mom, were coming back into their lives, the breach had been so painful that it couldn't be completely healed. The Circle was their family.
Pat was less in need of the Circle. He was completely bisexual, and his choice of Nate as a partner was based on Nate's personality not his gender. Pat could go with the flow. But he was completely, head over heels in love with Nate. If Nate was happy in the Circle, so was Pat. That worried us a little at first, but Pat assured us that it was completely reasonable from his point of view. "Make Nate happy and you make me happy. It's as simple as that." Pat did say, "I'm really glad that there's one girl in the Circle. And I hope that she's willing to let me fuck her from time to time, since we seem to be agreeing to open the bedroom doors more than they have been."
When he said that, I grabbed him, pulled him upstairs to Toppy and Murray's big bed, and said, "Right here and right now. If Nate's jealous, that's tough."
Nate, who followed us upstairs along with the entire Circle, said, "Jealous? Not in the least. I think it's wonderful that you can give Pat something he really needs, and which I can't give him."
Nate was really the only member of the Circle who was almost exclusively homosexual. He'll let me suck him from time to time, but I think he's only fucked me once in his life, and I know for a fact that I'm the only girl he's ever fucked. He's the exception that proves Tim's rule.
Pat's adventure that evening became known (to us) as The Fuck. Witnessed by all, it broke down all of the barriers within the group. We've never seen any reason to erect them again. But let me make it clear, we spent, and still spend, most of our nights, and have most of our sex, in our natural pairings, Toppy and Murray, Al and Alex, Nate and Pat, and our trio.
All that sets the stage for the afternoon we came home from the university and saw the For Sale sign on the big house next door. It'd been cut up into apartments which were all occupied by students, both graduate and undergraduate. We knew some of the students there, and some of us had been in the house. At dinner Toppy raised the question of whether the house fit into our plans to remain a group and remain in Grand Forks.
Someone said, "I'd hate to leave this house."
Another added, "It would take a lot of money to make it into a house we, or anyone, could use."
Alex added, "Tim and Charlie are going to want this house back someday, perhaps soon. We weren't offered a long-term arrangement."
Murray got to the nub of it, "Look, when Tim and Charlie move out of Dakota House we're going to need more space. The house next door is the answer. How or when it's utilized isn't important. Toppy, you and I should go visit Charlie and ask for help buying the house."
"We can't afford to buy a house."
"Oh, yes, we can." That was Alex. "Al and I have good incomes and could get a mortgage on the house."
"But the rest of us couldn't keep up our share."
"So?" That was Al.
"It would make me very uncomfortable," said Fyn. "I should be earning money and instead I'm freeloading while I try to get to the Olympics."
Alex said, "And that's exactly what you're supposed to be doing."
I said, "I think there are two issues here: house and money. Toppy, you and Murray talk to Charlie tomorrow about the house. Money will have to be a group agenda for the near future."
Well, you've read Charlie's version of the meeting between him, Toppy and Murray. Both Toppy and Murray have read it and think Charlie got it just about right. They came home and reported to us that night at dinner. We agreed that they should see Fred as soon as possible.
As soon as possible was late the next afternoon. They met him, along with Marty, at their house. They started right in by telling Fred that the house next door to Tim's was for sale. Fred listened, and then said, "It's for sale, is it. Let me call a Realtor friend of mine and find out how much they want for it."
He spent about five minutes on the phone, looking very glum as he listened to the Realtor. When he hung up he said, "It was sold late this morning."
Toppy and Murray were crushed. "Who to?"
"What do you suppose they're going to do with it? Just keep it for rentals? Do you think they'll fix it up?"
With that Marty got to giggling. Fred said, "Marty, be still."
Marty said, "I can't, Fred."
"You're giving the whole thing away."
Toppy said, "Giving what away? What're we missing here?"
Marty said, "You asked the wrong question. You should've asked the name of the corporation that bought the house."
Murray said, "OK, I'll bite. What is the name of the corporation that bought the house?"
"The Circle, Inc." said Fred.
"I don't understand," said Toppy.
"I do," said Murray. "They created a corporation for us to buy the house, and evidently they went ahead and bought it."
"Well, The Circle, Inc. doesn't own it yet. But it owns a very clear contract to purchase."
"And where're we going to get the money?"
"I think there's enough money in the corporate checking account."
"And just how would it have gotten there?"
"I haven't the slightest idea," said Fred.
"Of course you do."
"No, I don't. I suspect Marty does though. On second thought, it was probably Andy."
With that Marty handed Toppy and Murray an envelope. "Open it when you get home. You'll have questions. Call Jim Edison, our attorney. He'll explain it all to you, and help you with some of the details that have to be completed."
Fred simply flat out refused to discuss the house, the corporation, or the money any further. He simple moved on to the plans for the Circle to live in Grand Forks. Toppy explained our thinking and our plans, and Fred expressed complete and total support and delight. He said, "Well you'll all have to become members of the Gang. We'll have to see to that right away."
Murray and Toppy's report back to the Circle about the day's events was surreal. None of us could believe what we were hearing. Murray flipped the envelope onto the table and said, "We haven't looked inside. It's still sealed. But I'm pretty sure that it'll explain everything."
The envelope contained the corporate papers that had been filed that noon in Bismarck, and electronically copied back to Grand Forks to a Qwip machine attached to the Fred's Sports' telephone. (Digital faxes were just on the horizon.) Fred, Marty, and Andy were the incorporators and initial Board of Directors, until the stockholders could elect a board. There were 50 authorized shares of stock, of which nine were issued, one in the name of each of us. The contract for the purchase of the house next door was enclosed. There was a stock certificate for one share of stock in The Circle, Inc. in the name of each of us. Finally there was a corporate checkbook, with a $75,000 balance-enough for a huge down payment. We were simply overwhelmed.
Not more than a few minutes later Tim called. We were to meet in the lobby of the building called The Carl at 9:00 p.m. that evening. We were all to be there, and we were to wear clean underwear. No further explanation was provided.
Well, you can imagine the conversations amongst us as we anticipated the nine o'clock meeting. And what was this about underwear? I said, "Well, it seems pretty obvious to me that we shouldn't be surprised if some clothes come off before the night's over. It's not exactly the invitation that I expected, but I think we'd better be ready for it."
Al said, "Alex, some of your underwear has holes. You'd better check before you go."
We all laughed, except Alex, who turned a little red. He did check before we left but didn't tell us whether he'd changed anything.
Luckily Toppy knew where The Carl was. It was within walking distance and we all headed over there at about twenty minutes of nine. We arrived as a group about three minutes of nine. At exactly nine, the rear elevator opened and Tim motioned us in. We had to ride up in two groups, but soon we were assembled outside of a utility closet on the fourth floor of The Carl. Tim pushed aside the "Utility" sign and punched in some number code. Thirty seconds later the door opened, and we all filed down an oddly angled corridor. Tim had led, but the boys in the Circle had insisted that I go before them. It's amazing how chivalry comes to the fore when boys are entering into the unknown: Ladies first.
Before I could really see into the room, Tim stopped me. He announced, "Welcome. Almost all of the members of the Gang who live in Grand Forks have squeezed in here. We're here to invite you to become members of the Gang. Will you accept our invitation? If yes, please come in.
We had guessed that this was what was coming, and none of us had the slightest hesitation. We walked in and indeed found the room full of Gang members. We also found the most amazing set of pictures on the wall. You already know about them, of course, but we didn't. We hadn't the slightest clue that such pictures even existed. And they were so good! And so erotic! So wonderful! We knew immediately that they were Sid's, and there he stood, grinning, next to his triple self-portrait.
He said, "As Gang members, you all are next. We've decided that since you're all one group, and since wall space is running out, I'm going to paint you as a group portrait."
"No, it's too confusing, and we have other things to do. But we'll set a time before you all leave tonight."
Tim said, "We have one ritual to perform. First, we have to decide the official order in which you all will join the Gang and receive numbers. Line up in a row as we figure out your order.
"Murray,you're first; you were the first to meet a member of the Gang, and that was Paul. Toppy, you're next. Next would be Arnie, who walked into Tim's office to talk about diving. Followed by Fyn, and then Margie. Next was Nate, contacting Tim about being a gay football player. And then Pat. Then Al, the quarterback, and finally Alex the caretaker for the banged up quarterback.
They all got in a line. Tim led them around the bed, so that there were three on each side and the foot of the bed. "OK, face the bed. Lean over the bed. Now moon us."
We hadn't expected that, but we'd been warned about the underwear. We all slipped our pants and underwear down to expose our butt cheeks, not knowing what was coming next. Franklin stepped forward, showing us the biggest permanent marker I've ever seen. It appeared that it would make a line about a half inch wide. He asked, "What's the next number?"
Tim said, "Fifty. The magic number fifty goes to Murray."
Franklin walked around to Murray and put a big five on his left bun, and a zero on his right. Toppy got 51; Arnie, 52; Fyn, 53; Margie, 54; Nate, 55; Pat, 56; Al, 57; and finally Alex got 58.
Tim said, "Turn around and pull your pants up, you look indecent."
None of use missed the subtle suggestion in his instruction. It wasn't pull your pants up and turn around, it was turn around and pull your pants up. I think all nine of us reached the same conclusion: a little exposure would be well received. We all provided it, and from the stares we got as we turned around and fairly leisurely reassembled our clothing, it was clear that folks got what they wanted. About half of the boys in the Circle were able to pull it off without getting hard. The other half weren't.
Cokes, in the small old-fashioned returnable bottles-still available from some bottlers-were passed around, and a Coca-Cola toast was raised "To the Gang."
Carl explained Gangland to us, and told us that we'd get the entry code just as soon as our portrait was hanging.
Carol told us about the sex rules of the Gang. In general, sex is OK. But it's also completely OK to decline any and all invitations. It's OK to extend invitations. It's not OK to be offended by either the extension of an invitation or the declining of an invitation. We were also informed that, since we'd graduated, Tim and Charlie, and other faculty, weren't off-limits, though they would be if we'd still been undergraduates. And finally, Al and Alex, as staff reporting to Tim and Charlie, were off limits for Tim and Charlie. That was it. "Welcome to the Gang."
We learned very quickly that the Gang took membership very seriously. Three of the Circle hoped to make it to the Los Angeles Olympics: Fyn and Arnie as divers and Murray in wrestling. All of a sudden they discovered that they had a support group of more than fifty persons. Members of the Gang started appearing at practices, inviting us to dinner, and assuring us that we'd be well supported at the trials as well as in Los Angeles. Tim had always been a strong supporter of Fyn and Arnie, but he seemed to be around more. Billy made two flying trips up from Indiana to have special weekend sessions with Fyn and Arnie. Paul came over two weekends to wrestle with Murray and give him pointers. As a group they left no possible stone unturned to insure the success of the three Olympic hopefuls.
The swimming and diving trials were in early April about two weeks ahead of the wrestling trials.In addition to Fyn and Arnie, thirty-five members of the Gang showed up, organized by Fred, who arranged hotel rooms for all of us. Fred had discussed room arrangements with us ahead of time. He'd booked seven rooms with two queen size beds in each. We quickly understood the implications of that, but he assured us that we could have two rooms set aside for the Circle. We declined that gracious offer and said that if we were going to be part of the Gang, then we'd fit in with the Gang.
Tim talked to me ahead of time and asked, "What happens the night before Fyn and Arnie's diving is crucial. I know you want to be in the room with them. Should that be it, or who else should be there?"
I hadn't even thought about that, and hadn't seen the connection between the night before and the next day's competition. At least not the way Tim had seen it. I asked, "Do you have a suggestion?"
Of course he did. "Why don't you invite Billy and me to join you that night?"
"Are you serious?"
"And you're speaking for Billy, too?"
"What about Charlie and Sara?"
"My guess is that they'll be together in whatever room they end up in."
"And they won't mind?"
"Certainly not. They know the importance of the night before."
Over the years I've gotten used to the Gang. As I look back on it, the whole thing was completely typical of the Gang. There were two kids that had an important competition. And for the Gang, no athletic event compared to the Olympics; somehow they were really hung up on the Olympics. So everyone in the Gang simply did those things that would best support Fyn and Arnie. And they did it absolutely selflessly.
When we got into the hotel room I was afraid that I was going to be the odd man (pardon the sexism) out. But that wasn't the way it worked out. Tim and Billy climbed into bed with Arnie and put me to bed with Fyn. They were very gentle, quiet, and loving with Arnie. They spent a long time just lying next to him and holding him. But it got sexual, and he eventually came in Billy's mouth. Fyn and I had held each other, but Tim had suggested that we not get too sexually involved. Not long after Arnie had climaxed, Tim gently guided me to the bed with Arnie and he and Billy got in bed with Fyn, repeating what they'd just done with Arnie. By the time they finished, Arnie and I were sleeping.
The hotel room had a large tub with a shower. The next morning Tim and Billy stationed themselves in the shower and washed each of the remaining three of us in turn. Very thoroughly, if you know what I mean. I'm sure you do if you've been reading this story for very long. I was last, and then Billy and Tim washed each other. That was fun to watch.
Both Fyn and Arnie were competing on the platform and the springboard. Both of them considered the platform as their best event. Both events had strong competition from many different schools and others that had graduated but kept up their diving. Billy had three divers from IU here. We'd asked him if it wasn't a conflict of interest for him to spend the night with Fyn and Arnie and then work with his divers the next day.
He told us, "No, it isn't. For two reasons. First, at night I'm a member of the Gang. During the day I'm the diving coach for Indiana University. When I can't be both, IU goes, not the Gang. I still work for Ralph, and he knows I've worked hard with both Fyn and Arnie. The IU team knows it. I don't have secrets. And when Tim's visiting in Bloomington, he works with the IU team.
"And that brings me to the second reason, which is really the more important. I completely embrace Tim's philosophy that you want everybody to be absolutely at their best. Then if you win you can be proud of it. It's no fun to win because the other guy had a bad day.
"I do have a disadvantage with my team. Sexual relationships aren't on the table. They aren't at UND either, except in the very special case of the Gang. Neither Tim, nor Larry, nor Billy, nor Ralph could suggest sex as a form of support for a diver, except in the very special case of the Gang, and then Gang membership has to be independent of the diving. Fyn and Arnie lived in Tim's house, developed the special relationship within the Circle, and only then did the idea of their being in the Gang surface. And only then was there any contemplation of sex."
This was the year of Greg Louganis. He was magnificent! He collected 10s like Tim and Billy before him. It was tough on the rest of the divers, who basically had to accept the fact that they were all completing for the other two slots in each event. It turned out that two of Billy's divers would be Olympians. And so would Fyn and Arnie. Arnie was second on the platform and Fyn was third on the springboard. Billy's two divers held down the other two positions. Tim and Ralph had to put off their argument over which school, IU or UND, was better, because they had a complete tie. Once again UND and IU were dominating US Olympic diving. Greg was a graduate of the University of California at Irvine-not a diving power-but was no longer connected to the school. He, like many others who would be heading to Los Angeles, had been ready for Moscow, and had to put things (his whole life) on hold for four years to compete.
It was expected that IU would dominate, but UND was a Division 2 school that wasn't supposed to be in this position. Up to now people had just considered Tim and Billy to be extreme exceptions. Fyn and Arnie killed that idea. UND was now seen as a significant player in US diving. Who would've guessed? Not Larry Knudsen, but he was sure basking in the glow of success. As far as Tim was concerned, he deserved it.
And then the Gang was off to Ann Arbor for the wrestling trials. Murray roomed with Paul, Jim, and Toppy the whole time. I left Fyn and Arnie together and shared a room with Amanda. We played around a little, but neither of us was particularly enthusiastic about lesbian sex. We elected to get a good night's sleep each night. The boys did, too, but Paul assured Amanda, who told me, that they had a good time before they went to sleep. Paul had his first experience as a bottom, because Murray really wanted to fuck him. He liked it, much to his surprise.
Murray had good success in his early matches and ended up in the semi-finals. In that match he was leading on points when, all of a sudden, his opponent took him down and pinned him. Wham, the match was over.
That evening he would meet the other semi-final loser. The winner of that match would occupy the number three position heading for Los Angeles, so his chances of going to the Olympics were still alive. It was like that high school match Paul fought against Jim so many years ago-everywhere he looked there was a Gang member cheering Jim on. It ought to have done the trick for Murray, but in the long run, love and support can only help you do your best, it can't make you do better than your best. And the young man Murray was matched against was simply the better wrestler. Paul was sitting next to me, and he said as we sat down, "I don't think Murray can win this, unless the other guy is off his stride, or Murray gets a lucky break."
"He wouldn't want to win that way."
"Good for him. I'm sorry, and I could be surprised, but I don't think Murray's going to make it to Los Angeles except as a spectator."
Paul and I, and all the others, cheered for Murray, giving him smiles and thumbs up when he happened to glance our way-which was seldom, he had to keep his eyes on his opponent. But he slowly was outscored on points, losing 8 points to 6. The amazing thing is how well he took it. He congratulated his opponent, clearly sincerely. He said to Paul, Jim, and Marty, the three Olympic wrestlers in the Gang, "I was beaten fair and square. The best three are heading to Los Angeles. And by damn I'm going to make it to Seoul."
Toppy told me later that Murray, after he'd lost the first match, had asked Toppy if they could eat dinner together, alone. He confided in Toppy that he didn't think he was going to win the next match either.
Toppy had said, "That doesn't sound like the optimistic Murray that I know. Have you given up before the match starts?"
"You watch me wrestle this evening. If there's the slightest chance of winning, I'll win. If he makes a mistake, I'll win. But I'm no fool and I've watched all these guys wrestle. If we want the three best wrestlers in my class to represent the United States in Los Angeles, we don't want me. I'm about fourth or fifth best here."
"Murray, it's too soon to judge that. You have to give it everything tonight and not give up now."
"I haven't given up. Didn't you hear me say that he's got to make no mistakes, not let up a bit. I'll take every advantage I can. But so will he, and he will win."
"I'm not happy with this," said Toppy.
"There's a reason I wanted to talk to you now."
"If you look at the guys that're going to be 1, 2, 3, you'll see that one, the guy that beat me this afternoon, is my contemporary; in fact he's a year younger. The other two are older-three or four years. Their Olympics was Moscow and they couldn't go. Well, my Olympics was supposed to be Los Angeles, and I can't go because the Moscow cohort is filling two of the three slots. Toppy, I really want to be an Olympian. I guess I have Olympic fever. I caught it from Tim, or Marty, or Paul. Not from Jim, he never had it. I want to keep myself in the ring for another four years. Is that being unfair to you?"
"Why would it be unfair to me?"
"Think about it. We're a couple. It's time to move on, get jobs, and start living our lives. I'm talking about putting my life on hold for four years. That's going to impact you a lot. Is it being fair to you?"
Toppy said, "Is this coming down to money? We've decided to live in Grand Forks. You're worried that I'll be the breadwinner for the next four years and you'll be a freeloader. Is that it?"
"That doesn't put it very nicely, but I guess that's it. I'll get a job, but most of my life will be focused on wrestling."
"Wrong. You won't get a job. Your job will be wrestling. Mine will be related to music in some way. Maybe as a student, maybe a teacher, maybe both. It isn't going to be affected by your decisions. There's going to be enough money coming into the Circle that we don't have to worry. The entire group will fully support your decision to head for Seoul. Go for it."
"You really mean that?"
"You're not supposed to have to ask that, but you're forgiven-this once. Yes, I really mean that."
And that was the background to Murray's statement, right after his loss, that he was heading for Seoul. And, by damn, he was going to make it.
The Olympics themselves were an anticlimax. The whole Gang was there. Fred was completely in his element playing a combination of majordomo and sugar daddy. We all loved him. Only two Gang members were competing. Fyn and Arnie marched together in the opening ceremony holding hands. They made it very plain to the Gang that it was a symbolic gesture in honor of Tim. (Tim had tears in his eyes as they marched by in front of us.)
But this was Greg Louganis' year. He took both diving golds, doing almost as well as Billy and Tim had before him. Ralph was delighted that IU came out on top of UND: Both Fyn and Arnie got bronze medals. The United States had again swept the six men's diving medals. Tim was so damn proud of Fyn and Arnie that he almost burst. But it wasn't the medals that he was most proud of. Both of the boys had been marvelously good sports, taking pride in their bronze medals and congratulating Greg and the silver medalists. Fyn spoke for both of them at Fred's celebration dinner afterward when he said, "Who gives a shit whether it's silver or bronze? We would've been proud to tell our kids we were Olympic athletes. To be an Olympic medal winners is just icing on the cake."
Arnie said, "I'll second that. And we keep reminding ourselves that without the Gang behind us, we wouldn't be in Los Angeles at all. Thank you."
By the time we came home we were the owners of the house next door. First, it needed a name. We racked our brains and couldn't come up with many decent ideas. We thought we should play on the word circle, but we weren't sure how. Fyn said, "Well, trains have more of a significance for the trio than for the rest of you, but how about "The Roundhouse"?"
Everyone liked it. I loved it. And The Roundhouse it became. We followed Carl's custom, which he used for The Carl, of capitalizing the "The" and it was settled.
Carl was wonderful. Tim had talked to him and suggested that he might design the remodeling for us, and he approached the task with enthusiasm. He spent a lot of time with us over a period two weeks that August (1984). We talked about life styles, sex, living arrangements, how we expected our interpersonal relationships to develop. He made us think very carefully about the extent that we were a group of nine as opposed to three pairs and a trio. On that we were, and are, ambivalent. We see ourselves both ways. Carl tried to incorporate that ambivalence into the house. Then, what about children? How many, max? And, finally, what image did the three of us in the trio want to present to the world? People would be guests in the house; they would draw conclusions about our relationships from the house design. What conclusions did we want them to draw?
We chewed on all of that, both with Carl, with others in the Gang (especially Ronnie, Sharon, and Kyle), and among ourselves. Finally Carl simply announced, "OK, I've heard enough. Let me go to work."
We knew he'd design a masterpiece, and he did. It was a big old house, but there were serious limits to what you could do with it. It didn't lend itself to tricky or fancy solutions. Carl's design was simple. He told us, "I can't house nine of you, with two kids, all on the second floor, even though that would be ideal. Kids have to go on the second floor-you don't want them on the first when you have guests. They need to be near their parents, so that puts the trio on the second floor-assuming the need to plan for two children, that means we have five on the second floor already. It'll hold one other pair. That leaves two other pairs to put somewhere. I've listened to all of you, and it seems to me that none of the pairs would want to be alone either on the third floor or the first floor. So I've moved things around on the first floor to house two pairs down here. They'll share a single door off the front hall, but move through a little vestibule into two separate rooms-not real big, but acceptable. Between the rooms will be a shared bath with a Tim'n Charlie shower.
"On the second floor five doors will open off the hall. One for the pair, one for Fyn and Margie, one for Arnie, and two for two kids. All five rooms will have connecting doors between them. Fyn and Margie's will be the largest, because it'll really be for Arnie as well. He'll have a little room with it's own door, but mainly for show. It'll have a single bed, and his desk, but I don't expect it to be used as much more than a closet. We'll squeeze a bath, with another Tim'n Charlie shower to be accessed by both rooms. On the other side of the large room will be two kids' rooms, with a single shared bath. They'll have to come over to their parents' room if they want a huge shower. Their bath will have a standard tub shower-the only tub in the house. The room for the pair will have a decent shower for two, but if they want a Tim'n Charlie shower they'll have to go downstairs or into the trio's room, through the connecting door to Arnie's room.
"Or they can go to the third floor, where there'll be two guest rooms, each with a private bath-one will have a Tim'n Charlie shower. The first floor will also have living room, dining room, and kitchen-I'm assuming that you are planning on continuing the eating together which you do now. The basement will be a huge family/playroom-all open space. Of course there will be furnace and storage there as well."
I asked, "Can you get all of that into that house?"
"Luckily it's a huge house, and I've completely redone the second floor to make the hall as small as possible. The present house has a much grander upstairs hall, but I thought you'd like grand rooms and screw the upstairs hall."
Fyn said, "Absolutely correct. And three Tim'n Charlie showers! Are they really as big as Tim's?"
"They are 1.2 inches smaller in both directions-except for the one on the third floor which is actually a little bigger than Tim's. You won't notice the difference."
"Franklin or Phil might if they have sex in the shower laying down."
"An interesting proposition. I'm not worried-they're used to ducking their heads."
While the design locked in the room assignments for our trio, the other rooms were simply designated for three pairs. At some point those six would have to decide who would go where.
We decided that we wanted to do as much of the work ourselves as possible. Carl encouraged that, and we decided to make it a four-year project. We'd move in in the fall of 1988, just after Murray came back from Seoul. We were absolutely confident that Murray would be going to Seoul! Murray reminded us that the entire Gang would be invited to Seoul by Fred, so we would move in when we all came back from Seoul.
A last footnote: Sid invited us one at a time to Gangland to sketch us-completely buck naked. It was fun to watch him work, because he would always be buck naked as well! Then he booked the wrestling room at the university for an afternoon. He took us all over there, locked the door so that we wouldn't be disturbed, and had us all strip-along with him. We were told to have what he called "a gymnastic orgy." We were to explore athletic sex. In all possible pairings and groupings, climbing on each other, you name it. As we played, he took picture after picture, often encouraging us in odd poses, athletic leaps, and anything else that came into his mind. I don't want to think how many pictures he took. He certainly wasn't going to send them to the drugstore to be developed!
A week later we were invited to Gangland for a private showing of his portrait. Something else! We were shown on a stage like a European acrobatic troupe. We were all engaged in some kind of athletic sex. Al was fucking Alex as they were doing a back flip together. Toppy was on the floor and Murray was doing a headstand over him, sucking his dick. Pat was tackling Nate, with his dick in his mouth. The three of us? Fyn and I were standing on Arnie's shoulders, facing each other, and he was fucking me over Arnie's head. Arnie's dick was sticking straight out and his two hands were balancing us by holding our butts. You could see very clearly, however, that his two index fingers were pushed into our cracks. The anatomy was absolutely correct. It was so well drawn that you could have identified any of us from our genitals! (Well, nor Arnie, his dick was hidden.) Sid said, "The original rules were that I was to be erotic without being pornographic. I decided that I'd had enough of that limitation; this is pure porn. It's fun, isn't it?"
Indeed it was. The rest of the Gang joined us about an hour later, and they completely approved. Carl, with some ceremony, recited the code for the door and the nine of us became full members of the Gang! We would not, however, give up calling the group that lived together as ninesies the Circle.
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