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Finding Tim

A Fourth Alternate Reality

by Charlie
With editorial assistance from Dix and John


This is somewhat of a digression. But it's such a wonderful story that I have to tell it.

Over time Tim and I, and all of the Gang really, became good friends with Carl's architectural staff and with Tim's development staff. This story involves two of that group, Dirk, Carl's number two architect, and Alan, the unmarried member of AAA, Tim's writer's group. While the events told here took place in the early years that Alan and Dirk were together in Grand Forks, we didn't learn of them until long afterwards. They came to us much later as stories told by friends who had learned to trust us and realized that we would never be judgmental. But they fit the story now, so now they shall be told.

Alan was gay and certainly wouldn't have accepted Tim and Fred's job offer if his future employer hadn't been accepting of his sexuality. It seemed that the Grand Forks community seemed willing to accept him-at least it had shown its willingness to accept Tim and me, and we'd told him about Franklin and Phil as well. As he lived in Grand Forks all went well for him, except that he had no success at finding a partner!

Dirk was straight, and was having an equal lack of success at finding a partner. Tim and I, along with Carl, made a serious effort to get the newcomers to town introduced to each other. Alan and Dirk became good friends, and found that they had a common interest: canoeing. They bought an aluminum canoe together and spent weekend hours paddling on the Red River and other waters in the area. They assured us that whatever Thief River Falls lacked in entertainment for Tim and me the day we visited, it made up for with wonderful waters for canoeing. Day canoeing soon led to longer trips. In the summer with Daylight Savings and long northern days they were able to leave a little early from work on a Friday (both had flexible bosses!) and get to a river in time to paddle two or three hours before they camped. They'd have all day Saturday to paddle, as well as Sunday morning, easily returning on Sunday afternoon. This became their summer weekend routine. By August they were talking about a two week trip the next summer in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota along the Canadian Border.

Their first trip out they took along two one-man pup tents, but found that they didn't like sleeping in separate tents-they enjoyed talking as they drifted off to sleep, and trying to shout between tents didn't work. So, before their second overnight trip they headed to Fred's Sports and found a three-man tent which suited them perfectly. It would've been heavier than they wanted had they been backpacking, but with a canoe to haul the gear, a little larger tent wasn't a problem. By the time they were camping in their new tent they'd become very good friends, having had many day trips together, the two-nighter a week before, and a lot of socializing at dinners, movies and other occasions back in Grand Forks. Alan realized, as they headed for bed in their new tent, that it would be the first time that they'd undressed in front of each other. He was a little worried about whether Dirk would be comfortable undressing in front of a gay man.

Luckily, Alan believed in getting things out in the open, so he simply said, "Dirk, will undressing in front of a gay man bother you? Should we change separately?"

Dirk was caught unawares by the question, thought a moment, and then responded, "It hadn't even occurred to me. Should it have? Will it bother you?"

"Not at all."

Of course, having talked about undressing and its possible sexual implications simply brought the issue to mind. Interestingly, it was Dirk who found himself with an embarrassing erection. He thought, "I'm in a pickle. I don't really want to show off my hard-on and perhaps suggest something that isn't true. On the other hand, after saying that undressing didn't bother me, I can hardly start hiding myself." Instead, he just laughed, pulled down his pants, and let it all hang out. Alan thought it was as funny as Dirk hoped he would think it was. Dirk slept in sweat pants, which he slipped on and slid into his sleeping bag. Alan slipped into his bag nude.

As they lay there Alan said, "No need to be embarrassed. Dicks get hard on their own terms. Our talking about undressing is what got you aroused. It was my fault; I didn't need to raise the subject."

"I'm glad that you did, Alan. I wasn't bothered by the idea, but that you were concerned about me was very nice. I appreciate it."

The conversation moved on to other things, especially the plans for the next day. Alan found his hand drifting down to his dick, and then he was rolling his balls through his fingers. Had he been in a tent alone, or back home, this would've led to his jacking himself off. Or at least so he concluded as he thought about it. But he wasn't going to jack himself off in front of Dirk. Why not? Why was that so socially unacceptable?

Dirk was having similar thoughts, but he kept his hands away from his balls. Soon sleep caught up with them both. Dirk was up first in the morning and dressed outside the tent so as not to disturb Alan. Thus the issue didn't arise as they dressed for the day.

At lunch Dirk broached the subject of nudity and sex again. "Alan, I'd like to tell you a story from my college days. I guess it's stories."

"Sure. Go ahead."

"My freshman year in college my roommate was Jack Shaw, randomly assigned by the NDSU housing office. We got along, but never became fast friends. I think he was a little put off by my athletics, and the fact that despite being an athlete I got better grades than him I know rankled. He didn't have any serious girlfriend, in fact he had few dates."

"Was he gay?"

"I don't think so. No, I'm sure he wasn't, or if he was he was deep in the closet and living a lie, because he was engaged in his senior year. Where I'm going with this is, I was sure that he masturbated, but never so that I would know it. Of course, I did, too. He generally had eight o'clock classes, and I didn't, so I pretty regularly took care of my needs at eight in the morning."

"You're pretty brave to be having this conversation. For most guys talking about jacking off is always done in the abstract, rarely is doing it yourself discussed."

"You'll see where this is headed, and why I'm able to talk about it."

"Tell your story. It's getting interesting."

"That's all there is to tell about Jack Shaw. I never knew anything about his masturbating, I have to assume that he did. But, I tell you that simply to say that I remember thinking how stupid it was that we had to hide a perfectly natural function from each other. We could talk about shitting. We could talk about fucking girls-at least in our dreams. But we never talked about masturbating, even though we certainly both did it.

"I had a good friend, Evan Sanders, on the hockey team. We were both rookies together, and by the end of the year we decided to be roommates the following year. We settled that about April, became even better friends now that we were planning on being roommates, but we were apart for the summer, greeting each other again in September as we moved into our new room in an upperclass dorm."

Dirk's story continued, "We renewed our friendship quickly, and by the second day we were back as close as we'd been at the beginning of the summer. The second night, as we were chatting with the lights out, Evan surprised me with this comment. 'I'd phrase this as a question, but that would be stupid. I'll just say it right out: I presume that you jack yourself off fairly regularly.'

"I certainly wasn't ready for that. Certainly jacking off had been the subject of locker room conversation and humor. But never had it been put to me personally like that. Evan continued, 'Before you acknowledge that, I'll simply say that I jack off, almost daily.'

"Well, I certainly wasn't going to deny that I did, so I answered, 'So do I.'

"Evan went on, 'Good, that hurdle is behind us. We really can talk about such an obvious human function without being too embarrassed or silly. I tried to have that conversation with my roommate last year and it was hopeless. I thought we knew each other pretty well-it was March for Christ's sake-but he simply couldn't deal. He denied ever jacking off, and we never talked about it again. I decided that if you couldn't talk about it, I'd like to know right away. That's why I brought it up tonight.'"

Alan said, "Evan must've been quite a character. Anybody that could handle a conversation like that had to have been exciting in many ways."

"He was. And he was one Hell of a good hockey player, too."

"So go on with your story. Where was his conversation heading?"

"I was damned if I knew. Evan wanted to know how comfortable I would be if he masturbated in the room and didn't try to hide it. I asked if he was talking about in bed with the lights out, or a more public display. He replied that it depended on what I could deal with."

"Was Evan gay?"

"I was beginning to wonder. I'll skip ahead and tell you that Evan was most definitely not gay, but I suspect a little bi-sexual. I'll let you reach your own conclusions on that. I told Evan that I didn't give a shit when or where he jacked off; it wasn't going to bother me. That ended the evening's conversation. I awoke the next morning with Evan laying on his bed, completely naked, calmly jerking his dick. I sat and watched him, and it didn't seem to bother him at all that I was watching. It would be a while before I got comfortable jacking off in front of Evan, but I soon started doing it at night without any attempt to hide what I was doing. A few nights later as I was doing it, Evan came over to my bed, knelt beside it, and moved his hand onto my thigh. He said, 'It might be more enjoyable if I helped.'

"I said, 'OK,' and quickly learned that it was a lot more enjoyable to lay back, relax, and let him do it. Later than evening I returned the favor."

"Wow, sounds like a gay relationship to me," said Alan.

"Well, maybe it was. But we didn't consider it to be one. We just considered it jacking off. It never went further. We never kissed; never had a romantic relationship. We simple jacked off in the most enjoyable way that we knew."

"How long did that go on?"

"We roomed together for three years, but it ended in the middle of our senior year when Evan got engaged, and started screwing his girl. That eliminated his desire to jack off. If I had asked, he would've continued to jack me off, but that only rarely happened. Of course, I continued to jack off and didn't try to hide it from Evan. Every once in a while he'd slip over to my bed and help me out."

"How long ago was that?"

"About five years ago."

"What's your sex life been like since then?"

"Pretty scarce. I dated a few girls in Fargo, but nothing ever got very far. I lived in an apartment alone, so masturbating has been a solo affair."

"Am I to conclude that at least part of the point of this story is that you're tired of it being a solo affair?"

"I think that's a fair suggestion."

"You're serious?"

"Only if you're interested and willing. I don't want you to be pressured, and I don't want our friendship, or our camping trips, to depend on your agreeing with me on this. But if you'd like to try it, I would."

"You know, Dirk, I'm gay. The implications of what you're suggesting are different with a gay man than with a straight roommate."

"For me I don't see a difference. For you, however, there might be. I'm not offering romance, just a more physically satisfying way to masturbate."

"I'm not sure what you're suggesting is masturbating."

"Terminology makes no difference. Just so we both understand what's involved, and what's not involved."

"I'm going to have to think about this for a while. Let's talk again in the tent tonight."

Canoeing that day was mostly in silence, as both Dirk and Alan thought about Dirk's story of the morning, his offer, and the possible consequences in the evening. In the middle of the afternoon, Alan offered one thought: "Dirk, obviously we have both been thinking a lot today about what we'll say to each other tonight. I haven't really made up my mind. But I do want to say this up front. Thank you for your story. Regardless of what kind of a physical relationship we may develop, I want to keep you as a friend."

"I agree, Alan. We'll make that happen, regardless."

As they cooked a can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew that evening, the conversation quickly got back to the question of masturbation. Alan opened it with, "I can't believe that the topic of tonight's conversation is jacking off, but that seems to be what's claiming our attention today."

"Right, but I can believe it, because I started it."

"I'll keep that in mind. To you this is so simple; you would just like to recreate the mutual masturbation that you and Evan were involved in in college. But Evan wasn't gay. I am. Letting you jack me off, or jacking you off, is different for me than it is, and was, for you."

"I know that. Let's just agree that whatever we do, we understand that each of us may think of it differently. Does that matter?"

"What if I fall in love with you?"

"I might fall in love with you, too. Would that matter? We'd just have to deal with it. If you fall in love with me and I don't fall in love with you, you'd have a problem. I might point out that unrequited love is not uncommon, among men and women, gay and straight. We all have to learn to deal with it."

"So, if I understand your suggestion, neither of us is getting sexually fulfilled by romantic love at present, and we relieve our sexual tensions through masturbation. Having another person jack you off is more fun than doing it yourself, ergo, let's do it together. Am I getting this straight?"

"Yes. Think of it this way. Have you ever tried to tickle yourself? You can't do it. Your ribs, the bottoms of your feet, your balls, whatever, respond when another person tickles them, but not your own fingers. I'll have a lot more exciting time if it's your hand instead of my hand. And I'm sure you'll find the same thing."

"I'm sure I will. I worry about where it'll lead."

"I don't. If it leads somewhere, fine. If it doesn't, and it certainly didn't with Evan and me, that's fine too. We'll enjoy the event."

"Let's take a walk along the river." They did, and got back to their campsite about 9:30-just as it was getting dark.

Dirk got into the tent, took off his clothes, came back out with only moccasins on, and headed into the woods a ways to pee. He headed back to the tent as Alan pulled the food pack up into air hanging from a tree branch to bearproof it. He followed Dirk into the tent and found him laying on his back on his sleeping bag, obviously waiting for things to happen. He undressed and lay down beside Dirk. "OK, Dirk, this was your idea, so you're going first." He turned on his side, reached over and took Dirk's dick, and gently stroked it.

Dirk said, "You're good. You've done this before."

Alan said, "I'm gay, remember. I haven't been celibate. Yours isn't the first dick I've stroked. But I guess it's the first straight dick I've stroked."

"Were the others all curved?"

"Funny man."

"I've only stroked one dick, other than my own-Evan's."

"And since then, nothing, except do-it-yourself?"

"I had one grand night with a girl a couple of years ago. A friend from college, who was back home in Fargo at Christmas. We had a couple of dates, and the second evening she made it pretty clear that she wanted to be fucked. She got her wish. But there was no romance. She lives in Denver and we haven't seen each other since that night. How about you?'

"The gay scene in LA is pretty much one night stands, quick fucks, pick-ups in bars. The stereotypes aren't far from the truth. I guess, in time, I would've found a nice lover. Some do. But I was glad to leave that scene behind. Of course, the scene in Grand Forks is at the other extreme-nothing. I'm going to enjoy this evening in ways that you aren't. I hope you're OK with that."

"I already made it clear that I was."

About then Dirk arched his back and shot his cum all over his chest. It was pretty obvious that it had been a while since he'd had a satisfying orgasm, or perhaps any orgasm. It was all Alan could do not to flop on top of him and hug and kiss him. But he didn't think Dirk was ready for that. Alan could dream, and who knew what might develop? It was hard to believe that Dirk had come this far without being a little bit gay.

Alan dreamed of a lot of things that might develop as he lay back and let Dirk jack him off. But all that happened that night was a delightful orgasm, followed by each of them climbing into his own sleeping bag for the night. It wasn't the way Alan would've had the day end!

As Alan drifted off to sleep he wondered whether he could be long satisfied by the kind of sex that clearly satisfied Dirk-at least while Dirk looked for a girl. Could Alan be similarly satisfied as he looked for a boy-a different boy. He had already realized that he could easily fall in love with Dirk, but that that wasn't likely to be in the cards. But what had Dirk said? "If that happens, we'll deal with it." He wondered what Dirk had in mind.

Not much was said the next morning about the night before. They had a good paddle in the morning, and talked about other things in Dirk's car as they drove back to the launch point to pick up Alan's car. They drove separately back to Grand Forks, and each thought about the night before and wondered where this would go.

Their weekend trips became pretty regular, and they took advantage of a couple of three day weekends to take a little longer trip-adding a vacation day to get four nights out. The masturbating became quite routine, which seemed to satisfy Dirk but frustrated Alan somewhat. Every night they'd take turns jacking each other off, and they alternated very carefully on who went first. A couple of times they tried doing it simultaneously, but that didn't seem to work well, and they gave that up. A couple of times, at Alan's suggestion, they did each other and raced against the clock. Sometimes they'd bet on who could last the longest. But generally, they just jacked each other off. Period.

In was in their second summer, on the way to Minnesota and the Boundary Waters, when Alan raised the question of whether the sex could be more varied. Dirk responded, "Alan, I'm happy with what I have. I don't have a girl; I'd like one; masturbating with you relieves the tension. But I know you'd like more. You've been a good sport-last year and so far this summer-and not pushed for more or different things. These next two weeks, when we're away from civilization and other people, and other people's rules, I'm willing to do more. In fact, I'll let you completely guide the party. Whatever you want, we'll do. I don't know how I'll like it, but it won't hurt me, and I'm only making a two week offer. On the way home we'll talk. But you have to agree to be willing to go back to what we've been doing when we get back to Grand Forks, if that's all I'm comfortable with."

Alan said, "It's a deal. It's better than a deal, it's a fabulous offer for me. And I agree that I'll be happy with masturbation back in Grand Forks if that's what you want."

It was quite a trip. The lakes were lovely. The weather was perfect. They were late enough in the season that the bugs weren't too bad. The paddling was strenuous, but easily within their limitations. The portages were tough, but not so long that they spoiled the trip.

Both men were careful with the sun, but spent more and more time with less and less clothes as they soaked up the rays. Alan generally paddled the stern, and enjoyed the view of Dirk's naked back and, by the third day. of his entire naked body for an hour. By the end of the trip both were naked most of the day.

At Alan's urging they were naked at the campsite in the evening until it got chilly. When Alan had suggested it, Dirk had said, "I don't think I'm into nudity that much, but I said you could be the guide these two weeks. If you'd like to be nude, it's OK with me."

Alan liked to come up on Dirk and tickle his balls, or squeeze his dick or goose him. At first Dirk never reciprocated, but by the second week he got the message that Alan would really enjoy the same treatment, and he gave it to him-at least every now and then. At night Alan took Dirk on a slow tour of the sexual possibilities for two men. The first night they had their first kiss, tongue and all. That challenged Dirk more than anything else during the week. He knew enough about gay sex that he had anticipated oral and anal sex, and knew that was coming when he'd made the offer to Alan in the car. But he hadn't even thought about kissing. Now here he was with Dirk passionately kissing him, pushing his tongue in, and clearly wishing for reciprocation. Dirk decided that he owed it to Alan, and shoved his tongue back. It was quite a first kiss, and much to Dirk's shock, he liked it. They just barely got beyond kissing that night, but came within a minute or so of each other, with Alan on top, froting Dirk. For the first time, Alan shoved his face into Dirk's cum instead of just letting him clean it up. When Dirk brought him Alan pulled Dirk's face onto his chest and smeared it with cum.

Alan had brought along two new sleeping bags for their trip. He said that for two weeks they needed better bags and new air mattresses, and they'd be his gift. What he didn't say what that the new bags could be zipped into one double bag. As they were cleaning themselves up from their little romp, Alan told Dirk about the bags and they agreed to try out the double bag. Alan said, "And, Dirk, forget the sweat pants. That's part of our deal." Dirk complied.

They hugged in bed, and kissed again, but pretty much slept separately. The next morning Dirk asked Alan, "Am I gay?"

"I don't know. I doubt it. Maybe bi-sexual is the right word. But I don't think a word is necessary. You love who you love. You enjoy sex with who you enjoy sex with. You keep it honest. You enjoy yourself. We'll talk again in two weeks."

Days they enjoyed a wonderful trip. Nights they progressed through every stage that Alan could think of: They sucked each other, ate each other's cum, did 69, played with each other's asses, fucked and were fucked, and Alan even rimmed Dirk, but Dirk drew a line at doing that to Alan. Alan didn't care; they'd had a wonderful week. However, Alan wasn't sure whether Dirk had really enjoyed the activities of the week or had just done them for Alan's sake.

Driving home, Dirk answered that question. "Alan, thank you for the two weeks. As our evenings started, I wasn't sure what I'd think of them. But I had decided to let whatever happened happen-for your sake. That changed the first night, when we kissed. Something changed in me. I really liked it. I liked the sex. I liked the fucking. I liked going nude. I liked being able to walk up to you and grab your dick. It was fun."

"It was, wasn't it?"

"Yes. But I have to do a lot of thinking about where we go from here. We have a deal. You're willing to go back to where we were and at least pretend you're satisfied."

"That's the deal. We don't leave each other until one of us has a true lover. Until then we at least masturbate."

"Can you be satisfied with that now?"

"That's the deal. I had my two weeks. I wouldn't give it back for anything. It's up to you where we go from here. I'll follow. You were a really good sport and followed everywhere I led the last two weeks. I can be just as good a sport."

They went back to jacking each other off, with one difference. Before the trip they'd only spent the night together on canoe trips. Now they spent the night in each other's apartments about two or three times a week. It was about a month later, when Alan was jacking off Dirk that things changed. Dirk said, really almost shouted, "Suck it!"

Alan did, and the dam broke. When Dirk came in Alan's mouth he said, again almost shouting, "Fuck me." Alan did, and from then on everything was on the table. Alan didn't push, allowing Dirk to lead, but Dirk had been unleashed, and there weren't any more limitations on their sex. Alan knew that all barriers were down the night Dirk shoved his face in Alan's ass and fought his way in with his tongue.

But were they lovers? They talked about that, and decided that they weren't. Dirk still wanted a woman, and Alan had to admit that the sex was wonderful, the canoeing great, but he had yet to find his life partner. Both agreed that the present relationship was just great in the meantime.

It was three years before Dirk and Alan met Simon and Mattie. They met at an outfitter's in Thief River Falls as they bought last minute supplies for a long weekend trip. They realized that they were headed down the same stretch of river, and agreed to travel together. Dirk and Alan's camping style was a little cramped by the visitors, but not much more than usual when they were traveling in the much more public waters of the Thief River as opposed to the solitude of the BWCA. Mattie and Simon both lived in Thief River Falls: Mattie lived with her parents, and Simon rented a little apartment in a four-unit apartment building across the street. Mattie was a nurse and Simon an accountant. They made it very clear they were friends, not lovers. They did share a tent. Mattie changed inside, and Simon outside.

At dinner the second night of their third weekend trip together, Alan very innocently asked, "OK, so how come you two aren't lovers? You seem to get along pretty well together, have common interests, and all that."

Mattie very matter-of-factly replied, "Well, Simon's gay. Otherwise we might be."

Neither Alan nor Dirk were ready for that; they hadn't suspected at all.

Simon said, "Well, I'm not sure I was quite ready for that announcement, but now that it's out, yes, I'm gay. I hope that doesn't put you two off."

Alan said, "Well, it's our turn to shake things up. So am I."

"'I,' not 'we'?"


"So you two have basically the same relationship here that we do?"


Mattie said, "I'm going to have to think about the implications of this."

I don't know who thought what, but nothing further happened on that trip. Simon invited the three of them to eat dinner at his apartment before Alan and Dirk headed back to Grand Forks. There was a lot of silence at the dinner table, as all of them seemed to be thinking about the implications of the self-revelations the previous night. Alan broke a long silence with, "Why don't you two visit us in Grand Forks next weekend? We'll stay in town instead of heading down the river. If you drive over Saturday morning, maybe by Saturday evening we'll figure out what the sleeping arrangements might be."

Mattie said, "That sound intriguing. What do you think, Simon?"

Simon replied, "I think it might be interesting. Who knows? It might even be sexy."

Dirk said, "I think that that's what Alan is hoping. I'll go along with that idea."

They met at Alan's the next Saturday, and had lunch at Jerry's. Alan had been introduced to Jerry by Fred. That afternoon they walked together along the Red River. Dirk said, "I think it might be a good idea if we walked a ways in pairs. Mattie, let's you and I sit here a while and let Alan and Simon get ahead."

Mattie said, "Good idea."

As they watched the two gay men walk away from them along the river, they noticed that Simon took Alan's hand and they moved along hand in hand. Dirk asked Mattie, "Has there been any sex between you and Simon?"

"You're really up front with your questions, aren't you?"

"Too much so?"

"I guess not."

"Would you be comfortable answering that question?"

"I think so. The answer is, 'Yes,' but I don't think Simon was very comfortable. He really didn't know what to do with me. He liked to have me suck his dick, but all he ever really felt comfortable doing to me was finger fucking me."

"Kind of one-sided."

"He was up front that he was gay. I couldn't get mad at him."

"I'm not gay. If we spent the night together, what would you like me to do to you?"

"I don't want to be fucked on the first date. I'm not sure I want to be fucked before I get married. I'm good for anything else."


"My turn to ask a question."

"You want to know whether I've had some kind of sex with Alan?"


"Yes. There isn't much we haven't done. I guess I'm bi-sexual. But I'm more straight than gay. Alan would've been happy for us to be life-long lovers, but I couldn't do that. I've needed a woman. But life has been fun with Alan while I waited for the right woman to come along. Who knows? Maybe she has."

"Amazing. And, yes, who knows? I'd guess that those two are going to want to spend the night together, presumably at Alan's house. Am I welcome with you?"

"You sure are."

Well, the rest of the story's pretty straight forward. Dirk and Alan were well established with good jobs in Grand Forks. Mattie, a nurse, could easily find a job in Grand Forks. The same was true for Simon, an accountant. In fact, Simon joined Tim's Development Office staff, which by this time needed an accountant.

It might seem that the obvious course of the story would be that the four of them eventually became part of the Gang. But Tim and I, along with Carl and Carol, had talked about the question of our staffs becoming part of the Gang. We decided that it wasn't a good idea. It would really be difficult if part of the staff was and part wasn't. Yet, the implications of Gang membership were so far-reaching, that it would've been most unfair to expect all of the staff to be a willing part of the Gang. So, while Alan, Dirk, Mattie and Simon became good friends with a number of members of the Gang, we never even hinted about the existence of a Gang, much less a consideration of membership.

The four of them didn't think in terms of being a foursome. They had separate homes. Mattie and Dirk bought a very nice little house, and eventually had a couple of kids. Simon and Alan preferred an apartment, saying that they'd rather spend their weekends and vacations out in the real out-of-doors, rather than tending to a pretend out-of-doors in their yard.

They made one discovery. Dirk missed sex with Alan. And interestingly enough, Simon and Mattie missed the playing around that they had done. So they traded off from time to time, but never pairing Mattie with Alan-neither of them had any interest in that, nor did Dirk have much interest in messing around with Simon.

They continued to canoe and camp together quite regularly. They invited Tim and me to join them a couple of times, and we accepted. We all slept in separate two-person tents, and the sexual relationships weren't tested at all. Then they made the mistake of inviting Tim and me to go on a cross country skiing and snow camping trip in the Thief River Falls area. We were all having dinner together at Dakota House when the invitation was extended. Tim looked at me and, in a completely serious manner, asked, "Are you ready for snow camping, Charlie?"

"I think so. Are you?"

"Sure." He turned to the other four and asked, "Do you all have much experience with snow camping?"

Dirk responded, "We've been out several times. If you bring the right clothes the snow isn't a problem."

Tim responded, "I'm sure Charlie and I'll manage. When are you thinking of going?"

A trip was set up for Friday, Saturday, Sunday following Thanksgiving. It would give us two nights on the trail.

Thanksgiving night as we were putting together our packs, Tim grinned and said, "It's pretty warm right now; I don't expect it to get down much lower than twenty. Should we wear short shorts, or Bermuda length?"

I said, "I think we'd better stick with Bermuda length for two reasons."

"One is certainly to lessen the shock for the other four. What's the other?"

"I think you may find thighs are more susceptible to frostbite than the lower legs. I'm not sure exposing thighs is a good idea."

"If our stomachs can handle it, so can our thighs. And I certainly intend to go shirtless at least some of the time."

"Then I'll go back to reason one-less shock for our friends."

Well, the shock began when we picked them up in the University station wagon we'd checked out. That was permissible provided we reimbursed the university the full cost of the vehicle. We were in shorts and tee shirts and had no heat going in the wagon. Dirk looked at us and said, "You do understand where we're going this weekend, right?"

Tim said, "Of course. Didn't you bring your shorts and tee shirts?"

Alan said, "I have a tee shirt on under two other shirts. I don't plan to freeze. Will you explain what's going on?"

Tim giggled, "You tell him, Charlie."

I said, "A long time ago Tim taught me a lesson about concentration by taking me camping in the snow. We were at International Falls, and it was somewhat colder than I expect we'll encounter on this trip. We went shirtless most of the trip. I learned that the mind can do wonderful things for you if you let it. We're inviting you into our strange world this weekend. Have faith and come along. Or, you can just watch us from behind your heavy coats, and have a much less exhilarating experience."

Tim said, "Come on, we dare you."

Interestingly, it was Mattie who spoke first. "OK, I'm game. You lead, we'll follow. But we need reasonable explanations as we go along."

Tim said, "Fair enough. And be sure to bring along the heavy clothes you planned on. Weather can change, and you may not be able to deal with the cold the way Charlie and I have been able to. You won't be criticized for the need to climb into a heavy coat."

Well, folks, you know the routine. The outfitter in Thief River Falls who would provide food, some of our needed gear, and drop off/pick up service thought we were insane. I think Dirk, Alan, and Simon agreed, but they were trying to be good sports. Mattie, on the other hand, was really getting into it. When we stopped about a mile down the trail to remove our shirts she did leave her bra on. "It's not for modesty, but I think my breasts need covering just like your balls do." We didn't argue.

We sat around the first evening's campfire with coats draped over our shoulders to cover our backs, with just tee shirts and shorts facing the fire so that we could absorb its warmth. Tim said, "OK, now is the real test. Nude snow wrestling for three minutes, then into our double sleeping bags. You've never hugged your partner like you're going to this evening."

Tim stripped naked, helped me do the same and pushed me into a big pile of snow. I grabbed him and rolled him on the snowy ground, until he grabbed a big handful of snow and rubbed it into my groin. Wow. He got a handful pushed into his ass crack, and then we were wrestling in the snow. It wasn't long before he cried, "Enough," and we headed to our tent. God, it was wonderful to brush off the snow and climb in with him. I hadn't hugged him that tight since our nights in the Northwest Angle.

We'd been watched closely by the other four, even cheered on. As soon as we began to get just a little warm we poked our heads out to see what the others were going to do. Mattie was already naked, standing on her coat to protect her feet. "Come on you guys. Are you chicken? If they can do it, and I can do it, then you can."

The men started to slowly strip. Tim said, "Slow is not the way to go in this. Do it quick, toss all your clothes into your tents and go for it."

They did. They lasted about twenty seconds, but they did get down into the snow. Then they rushed to their tents yelling that Tim was completely crazy. About fifteen minutes later, as they began to warm up, Simon said, "That was quite an experience. And you're right. I've never hugged anyone like I just hugged Alan. This whole trip was something special."

That little incident is also the closest we ever got to sex with any of the four of them.

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