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Finding Tim

A Fourth Alternate Reality

by Charlie
With editorial assistance from Dix and John


My name is Kevin, the firstborn of Sharon, Ronnie, and Kyle. None of the four of us knows who my biological father is, that is, whose sperm actually fertilized Sharon's egg. It makes no difference to any of us. As far as I'm concerned I have three parents, and that just makes me 50% luckier than the average kid. When you look at the people that fill those three parental roles, you know that I'm luckier than the average kid by several orders of magnitude. Exactly the same thing can be said for my sister, Kay.

Let me tell you that I write this autobiographical sketch in 2011, from the perspective of a thirty-four year old Professor of Physics at the University of North Dakota, and Co-Director of the Super Collider Data Analysis Project of the Institute for Advanced Physics. Kay is my Co-Director! But I'm to focus on growing up COG; it was quite an experience.

First, let me address the question of my parentage. My mother was married to Ronnie, and I called them Mom and Dad. Kyle was Uncle Kyle. Somewhere around age 12 my parents, all three of them, sat Kay and me down and told us the whole story. They apologized to me for not having told me earlier, but they felt that they had to wait to tell both Kay and me together. We discussed whether we should call Kyle Pop, or some such, but all agreed that we'd continue to call him Uncle Kyle. In private Kay and I like to call him Daddy, and he likes that. But we all understand that the world isn't ready for threesomes, and we need to keep the details of our family a secret. It's kind of fun having a secret that you share with a few people that you love. Of course, it wasn't a secret from the Gang, and the smarter COGs (really all of them) figured it out, but we didn't talk about it until we were all into our teens.

My earliest memories are of the family dinner table. Dinner was an important meal for the Littleton family, and missing it was rare. Not only did we individually think it was important and tried our best not to miss, but Sharon, Kyle and Ronnie would have early dinners, delayed dinners, late dinners, whatever, to enable the complete family to gather around the table together. Since all three of our parents often were working at the Super Collider, that meant frequent late dinners.

Dinners were never rushed. They were a time for familiy conversation. We found out what the others were doing, plans for the next day, frustrations and hopes. Kay and I were always encouraged to participate, but never pushed. I don't ever remember, "How was your day at school?", or "What did you do in school today?" or worse, "What did you learn in school today?" But if we chose to tell something about school, or anything else, we were listened to with respect and enthusiasm. I remember telling everybody, "I managed to ride my bike all the way around the block today, without putting my foot down once." I had started with a bike with 24" wheels and no training wheels, so the first successful cruise was quite an event. My announcement was greeted with an enthusiastic cheer, and Ronnie led the charge outside-hot dinner be damned-to watch me repeat the feat, which, thankfully, I was able to accomplish. Kay was given training wheels, so she never really experienced the thrill of the first success on a two-wheeler.

But the nuts and bolts of dinner conversation was high speed particle physics. The latest theory, publication, or bright idea-from anywhere in the world-was laid on the table and discussed. In technical detail. At first, neither Kay nor I had any idea what this was all about. But slowly it began to make sense, first to me and later to Kay, who was two and a half years younger than I. At first there wasn't much of an attempt to use these discussions to teach us physics-of any kind at any level. But that changed all at once as a result of a story Kay told at one meal.

Kay was in fourth grade, and I was in sixth grade at Flynn Elementary School. As we ate our dinner Kay told us, "We did an interesting science experiment in class today. Mr. Harker took a pie plate and dripped some candle wax on it so that he could stand a candle up on the plate while it was still burning. Then he put some water in the plate, and lowered a bottle over the candle till it was in the water. Pretty soon the candle burned out, and the water in the pan rose up in the bottle."

Ronnie said, "Ah, the burning candle in the bottle experiment. It's a classic."

Kay went on, "Mr. Harker then asked us why the water rose up in the bottle."

Sharon asked, "Did a lot of the kids have an idea about the water?"

"Most people guessed that the oxygen was burned up, so that created a vacuum, and the water rose up to fill it."

"Is that what you thought?"

Kay said, "No. When Mr. Harker repeated the experiment for us, I watched very closely. The water doesn't rise up until after the candle goes out. If it were replacing the burned up oxygen, it would start rising right away."

All three, Sharon, Ronnie, and Kyle, smiled broadly at that; in fact they seemed startled that Kay had figured that out. Sharon said, "So why do you think the water rises?"

Kay said, "I think the hot air cools and takes up less room in the bottle."

What did Mr. Harker say made the water rise?" asked Sharon.

He told us that he was going to explain that the water was replacing the burned up oxygen. But he said he'd have to think about the whole thing tonight and talk to us more tomorrow. He agreed with me that if the water were replacing the burned up oxygen, it would start rising right away."

Kyle said, "Good for Mr. Harker. He's willing to think about it, rather than just make a pronouncement, right or wrong."

I asked, "OK, all you smart scientists. Why does the water rise?"

Ronnie said, "Oh, Kevin, it isn't simple. When I was a kid I saw Mr. Wizard do that experiment on television. He said the water replaced the burned up oxygen, which is about 1/5 of the air. That's partly true, but it isn't that simple. Then in my high school chemistry class my teacher showed us the same experiment. He said that when the candle burns the molecules of oxygen are replaced by molecules of carbon dioxide, which take up the same space. He claimed it was the cooling of the heated air."

Kay said, "Then I was right."

"Only partly. My chemistry teacher was wrong about the chemical reaction. Candle wax can contain different things, but they are all what we call hydrocarbons; that is they have hydrogen and carbon in them. But the mix of hydrogen and carbon can vary. In very simple hydrocarbons you'll get one carbon dioxide molecule for every two oxygen molecules. But more complex hydrocarbons will give you a little higher level of carbon dioxide. But you also get water. It'll come out of the flame as vapor, and the water vapor plus the carbon dioxide will equal more molecules than the oxygen. But when the candle goes out, the water vapor will begin to condense into liquid water on the inside of the glass. Do you follow that?"

To be honest, both Kay and I had a number of questions before we understood everything Ronnie had said.

Then Kay said, "So with the candle burning you're heating the air, which pushes some of it out of the bottle, and you're turning oxygen into more molecules of carbon dioxide and water vapor than the number of molecules of oxygen we started with. When the candle goes out, the air cools and the water vapor turns to liquid, and both of these changes make the water rise."

Kyle said, "Exactly. Can you explain all that to your teacher tomorrow?"

"I'll try."

The conversation picked up the next evening, again at dinner. Kyle asked Kay, "Well did you talk to Mr. Harker about the burning candle? What did he say?"

"He said that he'd gone to the library and gotten several books that talked about the experiment, and none of them agreed with each other. He had one that said it was the cooling air and another that said it was the chemical reaction that gave less carbon dioxide than oxygen. But he said that explanation didn't mention the water vapor. He decided that I had it right. And he gave me extra credit. I told him that it was you that gave me the explanation, and you should get the extra credit. He said, I got the credit because of how well I explained what you'd told me."

"Good for Mr. Harker."

Sharon said, "Mr. Harker must love having nuclear physicists among his parents; it makes every science lesson a challenge."

The result of all of this came a week or so later when Ronnie said, "Kevin and Kay, I've been thinking about your science lessons at school. Clearly you aren't going to learn much science in the class that you're in, and there isn't any other class for you to be in. If you're going to learn science at the level you're capable of, you're going to have to learn it from Kyle, Sharon, or me. Would you like that?"

We both enthusiastically said, "Yes." We'd been learning at lot of science from our parents, but now they were talking about systematic teaching. We were in fourth and sixth grades, and we started out with chapter one of the UND freshman physics textbook. When we needed lab work, Ronnie took us into one of the college physics labs.

It wasn't long before our mathematics wasn't advanced enough to do the physics problems. No problem! We were taught the necessary mathematics, essentially algebra, but also some trigonometry. We finished freshman physics by the end of the school year, and Ronnie gave us the same final exam that the UND freshmen were taking. We both got almost perfect scores, and would've been numbers 2 and 3 among the freshmen, if we'd been formally enrolled in the class.

The next year, while we were in fifth and seventh grades, we studied freshman chemistry, and again got outstanding scores on the college exams. It's amazing how little this overlapped with our science lessons at school. At school we studied weather, stars, human biology, animals, but never really touched on the hard sciences we studied at home. Eventually, when we got to high school, we had to skip chemistry and physics, so if you looked at our high school transcript, you'd never guess we would become scientists-it looked like we had avoided science. And mathematics. By the time we finished high school we were more than half way through a course of study that would give us a math major in college. For our math credits in high school we simply enrolled in courses at UND-in their special program that allowed high school students to take college courses. We were just taking much more advanced courses than the program anticipated.

Both Kay and I were physics majors at UND. I did a Ph.D. at M.I.T. and she got hers at Cal Tech. And then we both came onto the faculty at UND, in the Department of Physics and the staff of the Super Collider.

But I've taken too much time telling about our science background. It was sort of inevitable living with the parents we had. But that had little to do with our experiences growing up as Children of the Gang. Kay and I had one big advantage as COGs: we were right about the middle of the group. We had several COGs older than us around, four COGs (Noreen, Nettie, Cam, and Bud) between us in age, and a number younger than us. In the older group were Nels, Junior, Gary, Louise, and Jude; remember, Willie and Bob grew up in Bloomington. Nels, the oldest here in Grand Forks, was only a year and a half older than me, so we were a very close group. We'd gather at The Hideout most weekends, at first with some Gang member with us, but once we got to about age ten we went there alone. We played games of all sorts: brain games, board games, physical games, stupid games. We invited friends from school to join us, so that sometimes we had pretty big groups-especially when the weather was good and we could play outdoors.

We liked to sit and talk. That was when outsiders tended to get bored and head home. But we loved to talk about all sorts of things, most of which I can't remember, but they seemed so important at the time. Of course, sex was on the topic list, especially when we started getting what theyl called "sex education" at school. We called it "sex non-education" because there was more that the teacher couldn't talk about than she or he could. They would separate the boys from the girls for the classes; I guess because they figured we'd be too embarrassed to talk in front of the opposite sex. So we would sit around in our coed COG group and compare what the boys and the girls talked about. Nowhere in any sex education class that any of us got at school was there talk of birth control, masturbation, oral or anal sex, or homosexuality, to name just a few of the taboo subjects. The idea of an orgasm without intercourse (one of the best forms of birth control for teenagers) was never mentioned. Should you or shouldn't you came down to simply you shouldn't. I remember asking about circumcision in one of my sex ed classes. It was taught my a Mr. Hale, who I think made one of the better efforts to really teach us something. He explained, as best he could to a bunch of boys who didn't have one, what a foreskin was, and explained that it was cut off during circumcision. It was done as a religious rite, to help you keep your penis clean, and simply because everyone did it. The next class he actually brought in two photographs of penises, one circumcised and one not. Once we got started, the boys really got into that discussion, and we talked quite a while about why people were circumcised. I remember that we concluded that the main reason was that everybody did it. I wish we could've had that good a discussion about masturbation, and perhaps we might have if someone had asked the question. But there was no way that Mr. Hale felt free to bring the subject up.

Our real sex education took place in The Hideout. We decided that we'd use live models, and our oldest boy and oldest girl were picked. They were Nels and Louise. They were good sports, and let the rest of us explore them in considerable detail. I think we were more confused about the clitoris than anything. We could see it; we could feel it; but we didn't have a clue what it did. "What's it for?" we asked.

After looking at some books in the library, talking to some of our parents, and talking at length among ourselves, we concluded that it didn't "do" anything. It just got you excited. And if you didn't get excited you didn't have sex with a boy or man. And if you didn't have sex, you didn't have babies. And the sex organs, including the clitoris, were intended to make babies. Actually, I think we just about hit the nail on the head.

We were game players, and our sex ed discussions led to sex games. Strip poker was an obvious game, but since we were comfortable being undressed around each other, there wasn't much point in playing strip poker, except when kids other than COGs were in the group. But then they were usually chicken to play and the game either wouldn't get started or would end before somebody lost all their clothes.

When it was just COGs, we got bolder. A favorite for the girls was to have all the boys pull down their pants and see who could stay soft the longest. The girls would wiggle, expose parts of themselves, do a strip tease, or some other activity sure to get us hard. They were also the judges. The winner would get to do something to the girl of his choice: usually sticking his finger in her vagina, or tickling her clitoris. As we reached puberty, each of us went through a period of a little shyness as we grew pubic hair and had periods or first ejaculations. But that opened the door to more erotic games. It also led to pairing up, and sex became more of an activity for pairs than for the larger groups. I started to write, "It's a miracle that nobody got pregnant," but that isn't true. We were very conscious of boundaries, and we didn't cross them. We also understood how girls got pregnant, and we made sure that none did. At pretty early ages most of us decided that we wouldn't have intercourse until after high school. Some changed their minds, but they were very careful about birth control. We not only had no pregnancies; we had no close calls.

Noreen had a crush on me. There's no other way to describe it. I think it began during Tim and Charlie's Grand Adventure. At that stage I liked Noreen but wasn't interested in girls in general. Nothing much developed, though over the years we were often together when we were with the other COGs. Of course, we were sexually involved from time to time, but never very seriously. But Noreen never had a boyfriend, and I never really had a girlfriend.

I wasn't without female company, however. I still remember-it was during my freshman year at UND-Auggie coming to me and telling me that Lynn would be in town and needed companionship. I didn't tumble right away (silly me), and I told Auggie, "For God's sake, Auggie, she has you for companionship."

"We have an age difference that makes nights somewhat difficult."

I tumbled. "You mean that you don't want her to have to be alone at night?"


"And where will you be?"

"With Perry."

"Does Lynn know that? Wait, that was a stupid question; of course she does."

"She encourages me to sleep with Perry. Listen, come to the airport when we get back from the Bahamas. Everybody but Lynn has a place to go, and I need to find one for Lynn. Will you host Lynn?"

I wasn't meeting Lynn for the first time, but I didn't know her that well. That didn't make any difference. She was a delight, and was eager to get to know me and my whole family. I'm pretty sure that she was prepared for the question of whether she'd like to sleep in our guest room or with me, but she wasn't prepared for it to come from Sharon. She responded, "Auggie's tried to tell me that the Gang are a bunch of really extraordinary people, but it takes getting used to."

Sharon responded by saying, "I put clean sheets on Kevin's bed. He's a boy and doesn't change them very often. The guest room sheets are clean as well. We're really quite comfortable with either arrangement, but I know that Kevin will be disappointed if you choose the guest room."

"I'd love to snuggle up with Kevin. This age thing is really a bother, but Auggie is dead serious. Luckily I can marry him when he's 16; I don't think I could wait two more years."

The conversation continued a little while, but soon Lynn and I headed up to my room. I carried her suitcase and put it on a chair. I looked at Lynn, and said, "You'd think that I was this very experienced gentlemen, ready and eager for the next beautiful woman to come into my bed. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm quite inexperienced and still a virgin. I did play around a lot with other Gang kids, but it was only play. I've never had a serious girlfriend. I have no plans to push you into anything tonight, but I'm willing to see where this might lead. We know it isn't going to lead to love and romance; I couldn't even dream of trying to do that to Auggie, and I'm sure that you couldn't either."

Lynn said, "Auggie's the most wonderful boy in the world. I'm incredibly lucky to have him. And that he asked you to host me this evening is really special. Host; that's an unusual euphemism for a sexual liaison."

"Is that what we're having, a sexual liaison?"

"That's my assumption. It certainly was Auggie's assumption as well, when he told me who would be my 'host this evening. Is it your assumption?"

"It was more like a hope or a dream than an assumption."

"Dream on, Kevin."

"Well, in my dream neither of us is wearing clothes."

"That's a dream that's easy to make come true." Within minutes it had come true. Lynn wasn't in the least embarrassed, and neither was I-my experiences with the COGs took care of that.

"In my dream we're laying on the bed, wrapped in each other's arms."

"Dreams into reality." And so it was. "How does your dream end?"

"It's fuzzy. I think I'm waiting to find out how you want it to end."

"It's a very simple question. Do you want to lose your virginity tonight, or do you want to save that for the woman you will someday love?"

"You know, I've thought about that, not specifically in regard to tonight, but to life, and women in general."

"Any conclusions?"

"Yes, but they aren't helpful. My conclusion is that if I fall in love with a girl who's a virgin, I'd like to be a virgin. If I fall in love with an experienced woman, I'd like to be the same. But I don't know who I'm going to fall in love with."

"Ah, but you're a scientist and a mathematician. You know full well that the probability of your true love being a virgin is fairly low in today's world. If you're going to play the odds, you'd better let me steal your cherry tonight."

"I take it that you aren't a virgin."

"I'm not. I had a fling with a man in college; we both knew what we were doing, and knew that it wasn't going to be a lifelong relationship. I have no regrets. I don't think he has. Auggie knows all the details."

"Auggie's a virgin, I'm pretty sure."

"Only if you have a narrow definition of virgin. His sexual activity is mostly gay, and he's been fucked and he has fucked. Is he a virgin? Technically, yes. Does it put us on an essentially even plane, yes. Are either of us bothered by the other's sexual history. No. Are we looking forward to creating a joint sexual history. You bet. But not till we are married or both of us are age 18. You can bet that marriage will come first."

"I guess my cherry is up for grabs, but usually that term refers to a woman losing her virginity."

"We won't get involved in terminology. But we do have a bit of a complication."

"What's that?"

"Usually when fucking it's the man that takes the lead. Likewise, in fucking it's common for the more experienced person to take the lead. Those two run counter to each other. But if neither of us takes the lead, you aren't going to lose your cherry, and I'm going to be a frustrated lady."

"Madam, lead on."

"To be perfectly honest, Kevin, all my previous experiences-all with the same guy-were with me on the bottom in the missionary position. You might prefer that, it's sort of the guy thing to be on top."

"Madam, you lead. I get the impression that you'd like a different experience. Well, this is your opportunity."

Lynn assured me that she was on the pill, and then pushed me onto my back, and sort of shoved me into the middle of the bed. She got on top of me in a sitting position with my dick between her legs. In that position she was able to fondle my balls, dick, navel, nipples, and face. She did all of that and returned to my dick. She made sure it was as hard as it could be; they she rose up on her knees and wiggled forward a little, aimed my dick with her hand, and dropped her weight on me. I slid right inside. She bounced, and I quickly got the rhythm and bounced with her. She took my right hand and led it to where I could finger her clit, and I quickly got the hint. In no time at all I exploded into her. She fell forward on top of me, causing my dick to slip out of her cunt. We fell into a wonderful kiss, which ended as we rolled onto our sides facing each other. We lay that way until we slept.

The next morning neither of us would admit to any regrets, and we vowed to explore another position that evening. We did! (Missionary.)

Noreen wasn't about to drop out of my life, nor out of this story. We were born 18 days apart in the fall of 1977. We attended the same schools, and since we were both COGs, we were around each other a lot. A couple of times we almost became a pair, but neither of us were ready. We both went to UND, and we lived in the same coed dorm our freshman year. Then Tim meddled; bless him. You've already read the story. Nettie and Marshall were engaged (well, I'm not sure it was formal, but they were certain they were going to get married) and asked Tim about living arrangements for their first year at UND-which would be both Noreen's and my sophomore year. Tim suggested that Marshall room with me and Nettie room with Noreen during their freshman, our sophomore, year. But Tim went further; he suggested that we'd probably be open to some roommate swapping!

I think Tim knew us better than we knew ourselves.

The next fall I found myself rooming with Marshall Chalmers of Ironwood, Michigan, and Noreen found herself rooming with Nettie Weeks, also of Ironwood, but of the Gang as well. I found Marshall to be a very interesting young man, and certainly one that the Gang would soon eagerly welcome. We became good friends, and did things together when Marshall wasn't doing things with Nettie-which wasn't very often. With Noreen added, the four of us did things together, including accepting dinner invitations from various Gang familes who simply didn't believe Tim and Charlie's protestations that dormitory food at UND was really pretty good, as well as healthy. By the way, I'll have to agree with Tim and Charlie on that, but who's going to turn down home cooked meals, especially with people as interesting as the Gang? It was particularly valuable for Marshall to get to know the Gang. Having lived in Michigan instead of North Dakota, Nettie was also eager to get to know them better.

We hadn't been roommates very long before Marshall rather hesitantly brought up the subject of roommate swapping. He seemed hesitant, but managed to say, "Kevin, I'm not quite sure what your relationship to Noreen is, but last spring when Tim suggested that we might be roommates, he also suggested that you and Noreen might be into roommate swapping from time to time."

"Tim warned us that he'd made that suggestion. Noreen and I have talked about it. We certainly understand the desire that you and Nettie have to spend some nights together. Well, that's fine with us. You just let us know when. You need to understand, Marshall, that Noreen and I have known each other as long as we can remember, and we've been in situations where we slept together, played together-with all that implies-and got to know each other very well. Having her spend the night here won't push us. Then again, maybe it's time we are pushed a little."

Marshall thought a little about than and said, "I guess I'm going to have a lot to learn about the Gang and the COGs. Well, how about tomorrow night?"

"Suits me, and I'll bet it suits Noreen." It did.

So that put Noreen and me together in my dorm room for the following night. We didn't want to make a big deal of it in the dorm, so she dropped by about nine o'clock with her needed things in a book bag. Not long after that Marshall left, with just a toothbrush and clean Jockeys in his pockets. Noreen and I studied for a while, but neither of us had very much work that had to be done that night. We were soon talking about nothing in particular, and obviously avoiding the elephant in the room.

Finally Noreen said, "Kevin we need to talk. Not just about what's going to happen tonight-I don't think that's particularly important. We need to talk about us."

I said, "Noreen, I think you've had a crush on me for years. Have you outgrown it?"

"Are we being honest tonight?"

"Of course."

"I really mean, if I answer that honestly, will you give me some honest answers in return."

"Yes. I will."

"OK. No, I haven't outgrown my crush on you. You're really a sweet guy, Kevin, even if you can't get your nose out of a physics textbook. Now, honestly, what am I to you?"

"A really nice girl, Noreen. No, I guess more than that. I guess that I've loved you from a distance for years. But I've put that out of my mind for two reasons."

"And those would be?"

"My science. You know that pretty much my controls my life. The second reason relates to that: I don't think it would be fair to you to fall in love with me, when I'm so wrapped up in physics. And that means being wrapped up with my sister Kay. I'm really not sure that there's room in my life for a real romance."

"Kevin, I'll thank you to let me make my own decisions about who's being fair to me."

"OK, I'll accept that."

"You know, even as a senior in high school Cam says that he loves Kay and is going to spend his life supporting her and helping her be the best damn scientist at UND. I think I could be quite content playing the same role. Motherhood is underrated by the current generation of feminists."

"It can be overrated, as a lot of empty-nester mothers will attest."

"I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. It's a long way off, and I can't imagine that I'm ever going to find it hard to fill my days with interesting and useful activities."

"I could easily feel very guilty in the kind of arrangement you seem to be suggesting."

"Guilty of what? Being the best, or second best, physicist around? Loving me too much? Not making me go to work and have a 'career'? I don't think it's a problem. If it is, we'll fix it. In the meantime, I want to love you and be loved back. Are you ready for that?"

"Yes, Noreen, I am. I do love you."

"Then tonight you're going to prove it by fucking me. Right here. Right now."

"Noreen, you need to know that I'm not a virgin. Lynn and I had sex last year."

"I know. Auggie told me; he thought I should know. In fact, he told me before it happened."

"You have to be kidding me."

"I thought it was a great idea. Now we don't have to have two inexperienced people trying to figure out what to do."

"It doesn't bother you that I'm not a virgin? Honest?"

"The Gang doesn't allow a tag line like that, 'Honest'."

"OK. So, it doesn't bother you?"

"If it were going to bother me I would've told Auggie to find another roommate for Lynn."

"I'm damned."

"No, that's what you'll be if you don't get your clothes off." She was taking hers off as she spoke.

"What about birth control?"

"I'm on the pill. Went on it last spring when Tim first started talking about roommate swapping."

"I guess I've been a little dense. I didn't see any of this coming."

"Too much physics. Well, not too much. You'll never get too much physics. But it's the physics that explains the density."

I was now naked along with Noreen. It certainly wasn't the first time we'd been naked together, but it was the first time with the clear sexual overtones of the present situation. "I'm not sure where we go from here."

"How about the bed?"

I took her hand and we moved toward the bed together. She lay down on her side and motioned for me to lay behind her, spooning into her, just as Charlie has described spooning with Tim. I reached around her, fondling first her tits and then her clit and cunt. She reached behind and fondled my dick. We lay there for quite a while, just letting our fingers gently massage our partner. Then I said, "Lynn told me that as a man I should be the aggressor, and that also that the more experienced person should be the aggressor. What do you think?"

"Aggressors aren't support to ask; they're supposed to act."

So I rolled her on her back, mounted her firmly, but I hope gently, and aimed my spike toward her hole. I missed, of course. The third try she took it in hand and guided it in. So much for aggression. We both pumped and both had a good time. From the perspective of many years I can tell you that it was exciting and satisfying sex only because it was our first time. We did better, starting with the next night.

It wasn't long after than that Nettie and Noreen surprised both Marshall and me with a suggestion-well it was more than a suggestion-that we should explore our gay sides on the nights when we weren't trading roommates. The girls told us that they'd feel bad if they were doing so and we weren't, so that night (!) we were to start the exploration.

Mind you, this wasn't new territory for me; I grew up in the Gang. Marshall did not, but he and his brother Tom had played around quite a bit, and then he'd been involved with Perry on an early trip to Grand Forks. Nettie had known all of that, so she hadn't been worried about suggesting homosexual activity for Marshall. But he surely wasn't expecting the suggestion.

The girls had made the suggestion as we all sat together in the lounge on the first floor of our dormitory, where we had two rooms on the fifth floor, one of the floors that had both boys and girls rooms. After making the "suggestion" Nettie further suggested that it was time to head upstairs. It was almost eleven, so that was certainly correct. We rode the elevator together to the fifth floor. When we got out we turned to the right down the corridor, expecting the girls to head to their room, which was to the left. Instead they followed us, without saying anything. When we went into our room they slipped right in behind us.

Marshall asked, "Just what are you girls doing here? We thought you wanted us to be in here so that you two could explore your lesbian sides down in your room."

Nettie said, "We changed our minds. We decided that it would be more fun to watch you two explore your gay sides."

Marshall was completely nonplused. While the suggestion was certainly not beyond the comfort zone of the Gang, it was startling for me as well. I decided to wait and see what Marshall would do. I was pretty sure that Marshall had never had any kind of sexual liaison with Noreen-hadn't even seen her undressed. I wasn't sure how far he'd gone with Nettie. For that matter, I wasn't sure how far any of his homosexual experiences had gone, though I thought that I remembered he had done 69 at least once or twice. How would he handle this?

Marshall handled the situation with the savoir faire expected of a true Gang member-which he would become. He gathered his thoughts, looked at the girls, and said, "What a delightful idea. However, spectators at these affairs are expected to wear no more clothes than the participants. When you're all ready, Kevin and I will commence."

The girls hadn't been expecting that, but they complied, and sat together, quite naked, on my bed as Marshall pulled down the sheet on his bed. Then he quite methodically undressed first me and then himself. He sat down on the bed and reached up his hand to me, inviting me to lay beside him. Then he grabbed me in a wonderful bear hug and we kissed and hugged for some time. Then he slowly worked down my body until he could take my dick in his mouth. I reached toward him, pulling his hips near my face and took his dick in my mouth as we lay on our sides facing each other. We both sucked and Marshall came well ahead of me. I kept at him until I came, and we both had swallowed all the evidence of orgasms. He then stood up, now quite flaccid, and said to the girls. "Well, that's it for tonight. We'll see you in your room tomorrow night."

I think that the girls had hoped to see a little more of a show. I doubt that they were certain that either one of us had had an orgasm, but we had, and so we assured them. After they left Marshall said, "They're going to insist on more in the future. I think we might go over to The Hideout where there's both a huge bed and a grand shower and have an interesting four-way."

The next night we were in the girls' room, and the night after that we were at The Hideout. We started in the shower, moved to the bed, and then headed back to the shower. Few opportunities for combinations or activities were missed, and the four of us have enjoyed mutual sex regularly ever since.

Noreen and I were married at the end of our sophomore year in Grand Forks. The wedding took place in the garden behind The Hideout-Roundhouse-Lighthouse complex. Invitations were limited to the Gang and COGs. We were a little reluctant to so limit the group, because it did mean that some of our school friends were excluded. We handled that by simply keeping the news of the wedding inside the Gang, and telling friends the next fall that we'd been married "over the summer." Most assumed that we had eloped.

The reason, of course, for the secrecy was my parentage. There was no way that I was going to have a big celebration of life and not acknowledge both of my fathers. We, my parents, and in fact the entire Gang, remained convinced that the world wasn't ready for a public three-way. We could imagine the scandal even affecting the Super Collider. [Headline: Super Collider Directors Involved in Mênage à Trois. You can write the story.] There was no way that either of us was going to pick one COG to be our 'best man' or 'maid of honor.' So we stood in front of all, Noreen in a simple white wedding gown and me in a charcoal suit, with her parents-Tom and Nancy-supporting her and my parents-Sharon, Kyle, and Ronnie-supporting me.

Tim, Charlie, and Franklin led the ceremony. The Gang had had several discussions about marriage and had concluded that it would be very convenient if some member of the Gang had the authority to marry people. Some states have Justices of the Peace that essentially function as part-time judges. It's a practice that's diminishing across the country as legal systems become more urban and formal. North Dakota has no such judicial office. The closest is Municipal Judge, but it's a full time position presiding over the municipal court. There's only one municipal judge in Grand Forks. Alternatively, ministers, priests, and other persons authorized by organized religious groups can marry people. We weren't a particularly religious lot, but we decided that, in general, it wasn't religion that we objected to, but the stance of particular religions regarding sexuality (and other things). On his own, Franklin decided to pursue ordination through an on-line church. Much to our surprise it took him all of about a half-hour and $50 to become an ordained minister, and the ordination was recognized for the purpose of signing marriage licenses in the State of North Dakota. Because Noreen and I really wanted Tim and Charlie to marry us, Franklin's role was limited to, "I now pronounce you spouse and spouse." While Franklin could not legally marry two men or two women, he could use wording that could apply in such situations. We prayed for a more open future for North Dakota.

The reception was buffalo barbeque right there in the garden. We had room in The Hideout in case of rain, but we were blessed with perfect weather. We hoped that that would be an omen for our lives, and thus far it has been. I'll have to admit that the reception, limited to Gang members, ended on a raunchy note. Someone-I'm sure it was Marshall, but I can't prove it-shouted that they should have a shivaree. "Good idea!" was the response and soon people were banging on anything they could lay their hands on that made noise. Soon several of the COGs were carrying a bed out of The Hideout and putting it in the middle of the garden. (I should note that the plantings around the garden made it completely private, as numerous pairs of COGs had proven over the years.) Wordlessly it was made clear to Noreen and me that the noise wouldn't stop until we were in the bed. I tried lifting the covers and letting her get in in her wedding dress, but the crowd would have none of that. We soon realized that we were going to have to be naked, and so we took off all of our clothes-to numerous shouts of, "That's the way." or some such-and stood there naked, holding hands and then kissing. We then got under the covers and the noise lessened, but didn't stop. So, staying under the covers (a sheet and quilt), I climbed on top of Noreen as if in a missionary position and pretended to hump her. Actually I wasn't coming close, but that was nobody's business. That got applause and then silence and the party ended.

Nettie was the last to go. She told us, "I think you'll find your clothes in The Hideout living room. You can get there with one of you wrapped in a sheet and the other in the quilt. But I think I'd wait for a while, there are still people around. By the way, you were really good sports. I don't think I could've handled that, even if it was only the Gang."

After Nettie had left I turned to Noreen and said, "Let's fuck for real this time." And we did.

That summer Noreen and I started to live in one of the rooms of The Hideout. Charlie had suggested it, and we accepted. Before the summer ended Tim and Charlie came by the house and said, "You two seem happy here. If you don't mind the comings and goings of the COGs and others, you're welcome to live here for the next two years while you're in school at the university. You'll have to move out of the master bedroom, because we don't want that tied up. But you're welcome to use the shower as much as you like when others aren't here." We accepted the offer, and did live in The Hideout for the next two years. Close to campus, it was a great place to live. We learned why Tim and Charlie had so loved the place when they were both students and faculty, and why they didn't want to see it sold.

Marshall and Nettie were spending the summer in Ironwood, but they came over to Grand Forks one week to do some business at the college. They stayed at The Hideout and it gave me a chance to talk to Marshall. "Did you start that shivaree business?"

"Am I in trouble if I confess?"

"No, I don't think so. I guess if there were really any complaints they would've come from the neighbors about the noise. Noreen was a good sport and I guess I am. By the way, when are you and Nettie getting married?"

"I don't think I'm going to tell you. It's going to be a very private affair."

"The wedding may be, but the events after it are certainly going to be interesting. By the way, Marshall, how did you become so perfectly suited to the Gang when you didn't grow up in the Gang?"

"I guess I'm a quick learner. I guess being a pretty horny fellow helps. Once Nettie opened the door for me, I easily walked right in. You guys certainly are a wonderful bunch."

We continued our close relationship with Marshall and Nettie. Of course, we had to pause for three years while Noreen and I headed for Massachusetts, where I got my Ph.D. in physics at M.I.T. and Noreen got two master's degrees, one at Boston University in teaching and one at Harvard in sociology. She hasn't yet figured out what she plans to do with either of them, but she points out that they kept her busy and out of my hair while I got my degree at M.I.T.

We're now back in Grand Forks. I'm buried in my physics, working long hours at either the univeristy (usually Tuesdays and Thursdays) or at the Super Collider, usually all of the other days of the week. We try to reserve Sundays for just Noreen and me, and that often works out. However, change is about to come into our lives: Noreen is pregnant, expecting next February. Just so you know how far ahead of the story I've gotten you, Next February will be February, 2005.

Oh, yes. The doctor has assured Noreen that she's about to become the mother of twin boys!

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