This is Gene, of the Gene and Curtis duo. A little over a week ago Charlie walked into my office in the Fred's Sports building in Grand Forks and asked me to write the next chapter in his ongoing saga of the Gang, Finding Tim. He had showed it to me on the web a while ago and I had enjoyed reading it. He handed me a CD which he said contained the still-being-edited chapters that were not as yet published so that I could read everything up to my chapter. I was to do the usual autobiographical stuff and then continue the story of the sailing team.
Where to start? Iron Mountain, obviously. I was born and raised there, went to North Elementary School, Central Middle School, and Iron Mountain High School. The only school in the district that I didn't attend was Central Elementary School. Creative names, aren't they? There have been endless suggestions for new names, but no chance of agreement. My first taste of any kind of sex was in middle school. In seventh grade there was a group of five or six of us that liked to play poker for pennies and nickels. One day as we were playing Pete lost all of his money–maybe 75¢. James, the boy whose basement we were playing in, said, "Well, you're out of money, you can bet clothing. It's called strip poker."
I said, "So what if I win his clothes, or some of them? I can't take them home and leave him here naked. And what would I do with his clothes if I had them?"
"Sell them back to him for sex. You can make him do things for you, or you can tease his nads."
One of the others asked, "What?"
Mike said, "Cool. I'm telling you now, if I end up with your clothes, you're going to suck my dick to get them back."
We agreed to play for an hour, and anybody missing more than shoes and socks would have to buy their clothes back. We also agreed that the money in the game was limited to the little bit on the table; from then on you had to bet with clothes.
The funny thing was that James, who had suggested the game, was the only one missing clothes at the end. He was down to just his underpants. Three of us had his clothes, and we got together and decided that we'd make him take off his underpants and let each of us fondle his dick and balls. I was last, and I was kneeling between his legs messing with his dick, bending it down, slapping it around, and tickling his balls. Without any specific intention I asked James, "Have you ever done this before?"
"When you win, what do you make the loser do?"
"Suck my dick."
"Who have you played with?"
"Mr. Galverson and several of the boys on the hockey team."
Mr. Galverson was our gym teacher and also a coach of the ice hockey league that served the young teens in town. I asked, "You play strip poker with Mr. Galverson?"
"Sure. We go over to his house after hockey practice for Cokes and ice cream. You have to take your shoes off to get a Coke and your socks off to get ice cream. Then we play strip poker pretty much like we just played, until somebody's naked. He then has to perform for anybody who still has his pants on."
"Perform? What does he have to do?"
"We usually just tease his nads, but when Mr. Galverson wins he makes the loser suck his dick. He makes him swallow it all."
"Have you had to do that?"
"Sure. It's not bad."
"What do you make Mr. Galverson do if he loses?"
"I just played with his dick until he shot jizm all over himself. I think he liked it."
"How often do you do this?"
"Once or twice a week, after practice."
"Do your parents know?"
"Are you kidding? And none of you had better tell. I told you this in secret."
"We all–except Mike--promised not to tell anyone."
Mike said, "I won't tell if you'll let me play with you next time."
"Shit, Mr. Galverson would kill me if he knew I'd told any of you."
"Mr. Galverson can either invite me to join the group or I'm going to sing. Just tell him."
Mr. Galverson approached Mike at school a couple of days later. He said, "I understand you'd like to join the party at my house after hockey practice. It's usually just for hockey players, but since you're a good friend of James, you can come." He smiled, and then said, "Wear clean underwear."
The next party was the following Wednesday, and Mike waited for hockey practice to end and walked with James to Mr. Galverson's house. The party followed the usual pattern, Coke for shoes, ice cream for socks, strip poker. Amazingly, Mr. Galverson lost and James and Mike were the only boys with pants on. Mike said, "You go first." James had Mr. Galverson lay down on the floor naked, and then he alternately tickled his genitals and treated them very roughly. Mike watched as James worked over Mr. Galverson. He took a drink of Coke and choked on it, coughing very loudly.
As if on signal, and in fact it was on the coughing signal, police detectives smashed in the front and back doors of the house and caught Galverson just as he ejaculated. Cameras flashed and the boys were quickly removed from the living room and taken upstairs where all the clothes were sorted out and the boys dressed. Galverson's clothes were taken as evidence, and he was handed a bright orange jail suit to put on. He was handcuffed and taken to a Michigan State Police car and driven away.
All of the boys were carefully interviewed, but none of them mentioned the strip poker game in James' basement, so I was never interviewed. But Mike and James told me all about it. After Mike heard the story he had immediately told his mother who had called the State Police. She didn't think the little three person local police force was up to the job. The State Police had wanted to arrest Galverson right away, but Mike had suggested that they catch him in the act. Mike said, "I can't testify, I haven't seen anything. I think the others might think they were betraying Mr. Galverson and refuse to tell you anything. Nobody's going to get hurt next week. You can be right outside and listen for me coughing. Then come in."
It turned out that this had been going on for several years. As far as I ever heard, the strip poker games that I've described were as far as it ever went, but Mike thinks that Galverson had some favorites that he may have gone a lot further with in private. This was the age of cover up, and not much was said in the town. Everyone knew Mr. Galverson had left after some kind of a sex scandal. Most seemed to think it was with a middle school girl. It never made the newspapers, which is just as well. Galverson's attorney and the local prosecutor cut a deal. He pled guilty to some kind of charge of sex with a minor and got ten years in jail. We understood that he got out after about four years, but I'm not sure. I never heard of him again.
Was I scarred by the incident? Not at all. I had only had an innocent game of strip poker with some friends. Mike? He seemed fine; kind of proud of himself, but since it was all hushed up, he couldn't become a hero. As for James, he never forgave Mike. He considered Mr. Galverson a friend who he had betrayed, and Mike an even worse betrayer. James was getting counseling, as were the other boys involved, but eventually his family left town. The other boys never seemed any the worse for wear–at least to us kids.
Even though I'd only played the one game, I'd liked playing strip poker with the kids. But after hearing of Mike's experience, none of us ever suggested playing again. Two things did come out of it: I learned about masturbation and started doing it. And, I began to think about whether I was gay, and by ninth grade I'd decided that I was.
In tenth grade we all took a required health course; half of the health curriculum was human sexuality. I'll have to say that the teachers were pretty cool. As I've read this story so far, I haven't seen any mention of a good high school sex ed course. Well, I had a pretty good one. We had boys and girls together, with both a man and a woman teacher. The course started with the biology of reproduction. We then had a unit test, and in the next class we got the test back. We talked about all of the questions, and our teachers made sure that they went over every question than anyone had missed–not many because the test was basic and the instruction had been good. Then Mr. Malcott said,"OK, we have to move on to two difficult subjects. But you're all intelligent enough to deal with them seriously. In a lot of places they separate girls from boys for this, but we think you'll benefit from hearing it all. The immediate subjects are menstruation for girls and erections for boys. It'd be easy for us to assume that you all know about those things, but we aren't going to embarrass anybody by asking, we're just going to assume that at least one of you boys is clueless about a girl's period, and that at least one of you girls doesn't know what a hard-on is."
Mrs. Scarver was first, and she gave a very detailed explanation of menstruation, including talking about pads, tampons, embarrassing situations, and she dealt with intercourse during a girl's period (discouraged, messy, but not injurious). An amazing thing about this class is that they didn't use scare tactics, and they didn't spread myths. Mr. Malcott then dealt with erections, beginning with putting a list on the blackboard of all the different names for them. The class agreed to use the term hard-on and the rest were erased. We learned that it was blood that made it hard (I certainly hadn't known that), and that all boys had as little control over their hard-ons as we did. Then we moved on to the physiology of the sex act (with good sketches–never photos–of positions).
Then we got to "should we or shouldn't we." That was exactly the way the question was framed. We tossed it back and forth for most of a week–in class and out–exactly as our teachers intended. Mr. Malcott and Mrs. Scarver never took a position. But they were careful to point out that the community was divided, and hypocritical. "Do as I say and not as I do," was very much the position of the community, Mr. Malcott pointed out. And he demonstrated that with many examples of "not until marriage" literature and pledges, and valid statistical polls that indicated the high rate of "before marriage" sex. This led inevitably, and as intended, to questions about birth control. For that a local doctor was invited to speak. He was a man who clearly didn't want to be involved in abortions or delivering unwanted babies. He told us that the pill worked, almost all of the time. Condoms worked, most of the time. Condoms also limited disease. He strongly recommended that any girl that was thinking about sex get on the pill. And any boy thinking about sex buy condoms, carry them, and use them. Girls shouldn't let a boy near them that didn't use a condom, regardless of whether they were on the pill. He talked about withdrawal (useless), the rhythm method (a good way to make babies), IUDs (OK, but not as good as the pill), and abstinence–one hundred percent effective, highly recommended, and he insisted that it should describe any boy-girl relationship at least until they knew each other well, were able to talk about sex (in his words "while sitting up"), and had agreed–in advance–what kind of birth control they would use. Then, and only then, should they consider intercourse.
It fell to Mr. Malcott, the next day, to point out that activites that didn't involve intercourse were also a good form of birth control. I think he was pushing his luck with the curriculum overseers to suggest that, and he didn't go into detail, but we got the point.
Then we talked about masturbation. It began with Mrs. Scarver bringing in a bunch of tracts, pamphets, and even books, that told lies about masturbation: it causes insanity and/or sterility; only a few "bad boys" do it; girls never do it; if you get bad grades it's probably because you masturbate. "All lies. Not errors, lies, because the people that wrote this stuff knew better–they'd all masturbated as kids and very likely from time to time continued as adults." By tenth grade it was pretty much assumed that we knew how to do it, but that was briefly touched upon. And the subject was summed up with, "It's normal, it's private, and the only downside is that, done to excess, it can waste a lot of time."
The course ended with a great question and answer session–several of them. In my class was a boy named Curtis Simpson. He lived in a different part of town and had gone to Central Elementary, so I didn't know him well, but I certainly knew who he was–everybody in the school knew everybody. On the second question and answer day, Curtis asked, "You didn't talk about homosexuality. Is it normal or sinful?"
As I think back on it, I think the teachers were glad for the question. Homosexuality wasn't in the curriculum, so they couldn't bring the subject up, but they could answer questions. Mr. Malcott answered the question with, "Neither. Normal means the norm, and homosexuality is not the norm, heterosexuality is the norm. Just like being right-handed is normal, and being left-handed isn't normal. Notice, I did not say abnormal. Abnormal implies something defective, problematical, or not right. The norm is an IQ of about 100. That's the definition of a normal IQ. Most of you have higher IQs than that, but you aren't abnormal. They guess that about the same percentage of the population that's left-handed is homosexual, but it's a completely different group of people, obviously. Homosexual is simply the way some people were made. If you're religious, you would say God made homosexuals that way. Others would simply say that that's what their genes determined they would be. Is it sinful? Of course not, just like being left-handed, or unusually smart is not sinful. But in our history we've persecuted left-handed persons, sometimes trying to make them right-handed. The same has been true for homosexual people. Many are fearful and afraid to tell people they're homosexual. It can be a serious problem for homosexual teenagers. If someone in this room thinks he's homosexual, you should talk to a trusted teacher [he clearly meant himself] who would try to put you in touch with a counselor experienced with counseling homosexual teenagers."
My God, I'd heard a lot of remarks from teachers, ministers, coaches, even my scoutmaster, which said a lot of different things about homosexuals, some awful, and some more neutral. Nobody had spoken so directly, and so acceptingly. A few days later I did talk to Mr. Malcott, because I did trust him. We talked a long time, and I didn't learn much that I didn't know. But I'd had someone listen to my story, as I had never before been able to tell it. We had two meetings and as the second one was ending Mr. Malcott startled me with, "You know, Gene, there's another gay boy in the school that has talked to me. I told him about you, without mentioning your name. He told me that I could give you his name, if you wanted to talk to him. Would you like to?"
"Yes, Mr. Malcott, I think I would." What an understatement. I could hardly contain my excitement. Another gay boy that I could talk to about being gay!
"His name is Curtis Simpson."
I sought out Curtis in the lunch hall the next day. I went up to him and simply said, "I'm Gene Turner. Mr. Malcott thought we might like to talk."
Curtis knew immediately who I was and what I had in mind. "How would you like to come home with me after school. We can have a snack and talk as long as we want."
Curtis lived about a ten minutes walk from the school and we walked along pretty much in silence. He asked where I lived and a few other fairly innocuous questions, but we didn't mention sexuality. We got to his house and he invited me into the kitchen where we had Pepsi's and some cake which had been standing on the counter. "From last night's dinner," he said. The he went on. "OK, I assume that Mr. Malcott told you I was gay and that you are as well. Am I right?"
"Except for Mr. Malcott, I've never told anybody I was gay. I was afraid to. I had no idea who else in school might be gay and I didn't know how to find out."
"I'm the same."
"How long have you known you were gay?"
"I guess since about eighth grade."
"Are you sure?"
"I guess. I don't have much interest in girls. I dream of boys when I jack off."
"About the same for me. What do you dream of about boys when you jack off."
"That could get embarrassing."
"OK, I'll take back the question. But I'll answer it for myself. I dream of watching other boys jack off, of jacking them off and being jacked off by them. I like to fantasize about school initiations in which a boy is stripped and everybody gets together and jacks him off."
"Wow. My mind never really gets beyond thinking about a boy at school being naked. You really think about school initiations and stripping a boy?"
"This is fantasy, remember. I've never done any of that stuff."
"Is that what you hope happens with the two of us?"
"I'll be completely honest. Yes."
Curtis said, "Let's go upstairs." As we climbed the stairs he asked, "What is going to happen?"
"What do you want?"
"Can I be honest?"
"Recreate my fantasy. Pretend I'm joining some club, and you're initiating me. Strip me. Do anything to me you want. Make me do anything to you that you want. Push the limits. I'll tell you if you're going too far."
"I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that."
"Wouldn't you enjoy being in complete control?"
"But nothing. Live your own fantasy. You won't hurt me. It'll be fun. Another day we can trade places if you want, but only if you want. It isn't a trade off. Today is today, and you're doing what I'm asking you to."
"OK, if that's really what you want. But I'm not sure just what is going to happen."
By this time we were in his room. He had closed and locked the door, telling me that it was unnecessary as his parents wouldn't be home for about two hours. He looked at me and said, "OK, I want to join your club. What do I have to do?" He seemed to be into his fantasy.
I wasn't sure where to go, but I moved over to him and unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it off. I said, "Take off your shoes and socks." He did. I unbuckled his belt and pulled it out of his pants.
He said, "Are you going to spank me with that?" It seemed to be a hint.
I said, "Turn around and bend over." He did and I pulled his pants and underpants down in back to expose his butt. I slapped it a couple of times with belt doubled up–not enough to hurt.
He turned and grinned and said, "If you ever give me a chance like that, I'll do a lot better job."
The next whack made him shout a little, stand straight, and put his hands on his butt cheeks. I said, "Take off your pants and underpants." He did, and I said, "Bend over again." He did. Whack. I really wasn't getting any fun out of spanking Curtis, so I said, "Stand up and face me."
He stood up and his dick was rock hard. Clearly being spanked was sexy for him. I grabbed his dick and squeezed it with one hand, while I manipulated his balls with the other. This was much further than I'd ever gone in my own fantasies, and I wasn't sure where to go. I told him to lay down on his bed. He did, and I got on my knees between his legs, where I could play with his dick, which I did for a while. Then I told him to get up and very gently undress me. We were soon both naked, with him back on his back and me between his legs. I was as hard as he was, and really enjoying the situation by this time. I took his dick in my hand and set about jacking him off. He came very quickly, spraying semen up on his stomach and chest. I didn't want to get my hand in it, so I told him to rub it all over his front, including his face. With that my "initiation" seemed to push him. I said, "You wanted to join my club, that's the membership requirement."
He quickly returned to the fantasy and rubbed himself all over, including his face. I said, "Now we trade places and you jack me off."
"Can I clean up?"
"Certainly not. Jack me off, now."
He did. We were now both a mess, and he suggested that we take a shower. His parents' bathroom had a big shower stall which we used to considerable enjoyment. We played with each other's balls and dick, washed each other, and eventually dried each other and got dressed.
Curtis said, "That was neat. I've dreamed of something like that for more than a year."
I said, "Not me. That's so much further than anything I ever dreamed up. But it was great." I had to go home. Nothing was said about a "next time" but I think both of us were thinking about it.
Well, what can I say? Our afternoon visits became pretty regular, and we replaced "initiations" with "love-ins" and we learned that kissing was almost, but not quite, as sexy as hand jobs. By our junior year in high school we decided we were in love and that it was time to tell our parents. We decided that we'd go together to visit with each set of parents. We flipped a coin to see who'd go first and I lost, or maybe I won. But we would first visit my parents.
One does not go hand in hand with one's boyfriend to come out to one's parents without considerable fear and trepidation. Curtis and I had talked about it, and we thought that all of our parents would be accepting. We'd been friends for a year, and my parents knew and liked Curtis, and his parents knew and liked me. Liking your son's good friend who happens to be a boy is one thing; liking your son's boyfriend is another.
Curtis came over to my house after dinner one evening and I asked my parents to join us in the living room. We all sat down and then my mom left us totally speechless with, "Is this the time that you and Curtis are going to tell us that you're madly in love; or does this start with, 'Mom, I think I'm gay,' and only get to the madly in love part in a month or so?"
Neither Curtis or I could speak. Dad broke the silence with, "Caught you flatfooted, didn't she?"
I managed, "Yes, you–she–did." I got my wits about me and ran over to my mom, who was grinning from ear to ear, and kissed her.
She said, "It's not often that an old mom gets one up on her teenage son, but I think I managed it today. Gene, it's been obvious for most of this year that you and Curtis had something going, and that it was more than a buddy buddy friendship. Your father agreed. We decided to wait till you raised the subject, but if you hadn't by the middle of your senior year, we would have."
I asked, "You're cool with it?"
"Of course. You are who you are, and that's exactly who we want you to be. Some people make a big deal of it, but it isn't a big deal. Well, that's not true, if you came home engaged to a girl that would be a big deal, and so this is a big deal. But it's not a negative big deal, if you know what I mean."
Curtis said, "Oh, Mom, we do. Can I call you 'Mom'?"
"Of course you can, Curtis, I'd love it. I'm getting the second child that I never had. Two boys. How wonderful!"
Dad said, "I'll second all of that. Now, have you had this conversation with your parents, Curtis?"
"How come we were first?"
"We flipped a coin. I sure hope that it goes half this well with my folks."
Well, not quite so well. Curtis' parents hadn't figured us out. In fact, they seemed to find the whole concept of Gene loving a boy to be a little strange, perhaps off-kilter would be the word to use. They weren't upset, just confused. We had a long conversation, with lots of questions and answers. Some made us think, but most seemed completely obvious to us, but not to the Simpsons. Their last questions were, "Gene, have you told your parents?"
I answered, "Yes."
Their next question was, "Are they comfortable with all of this?"
I said, "Yes, they are."
Curtis said, "Mom, they'd figured it out in advance and they're completely comfortable with it."
Curtis' dad ended the conversation with, "Then so are we."
There must be a gazillion gay boys in the world that wish for reactions like those. And we got two out of two. We felt like the luckiest guys in the world. It led to a dinner at my house for Curtis' and his parents. My father took the lead, and we talked about the future for us. He knew exactly what the crucial issues were: Were we having sex and where? When would we come out, or would we? Assuming we wanted to live together, where, and starting when?
Without any fear we told them that we'd been having sex in both of our rooms after school. We didn't have any clear idea about coming out, nor had we thought much about living anywhere after high school. All of the parents agreed that our rooms were the best place for sex, and they pleaded with us not to be caught in some compromising situation outside of our houses. We easily agreed.
We also agreed that coming out in high school was a bad idea in the UP, and that we had a year before we had to deal with any of the other issues. Oh, wow. Did we have wonderful parents?
To keep this episode to a manageable length, I'll simply note that all went well for the rest of high school. It wasn't the norm for UP boys to go to college, and our deciding to try to get jobs at a local store seemed to be a good idea. We both applied for an after school job at Fred's Sports in our senior year, and David McIntyre the manager of the local store told us that if we did well he would add us on as full time clerks beginning the following summer. We graduated from high school and decided that getting an apartment over in Florence, Wisconsin, would suit our situation perfectly. We weren't going to hide our relationship, but pushing it right out in front of everybody's nose in Iron Mountain didn't seem too smart. You know the rest of the story. Andy hired us as life guards for Willie in Iron River, and we helped out over there for most of the four years that Willie was a WYCON. Shortly after going back to work in Iron Mountain, David called us in to his office. "I'm being transferred to the Detroit regional office. We need to talk about your futures in this store and with Fred's Sports. I should begin by thanking you for doing such a good job over in Iron River."
I'd said, "We didn't do much. We kept the pool open when they asked and did little favors for the school and Willie Carson's adopted family. They were really nice people and nice to us."
"I don't care how easy the job was, or how little you did. The reports that got back to Andy, and were forwarded on to me, said you were absolutely wonderful. When the number two guy in a large corporation has you in his sights as an 'absolutely wonderful' employee, you have a good future. And I might add, so does the boss that put you into that situation. I'm off to Detroit, and looking forward to it. As for you guys, I have a problem. The corporate staffing guide has no provision for Co-Managers of a store. So I have to recommend one of you as Manager and the other as an Assistant Manager. I'm not going to try to judge between you, and neither is Andy. It's your call. You can come to some logical reason for one of you to be Manager, or you can flip a coin. But I need to know who by tomorrow."
I didn't have any problem with that decision. Curtis was much more organized than me. He was the logical one to be Manager. We both knew it, and he didn't protest when I suggested that he become Manager of the Iron Mountain Fred's Sports Store. I might note that with David leaving the store and Curtis promoted we needed to replace one managerial level employee. Millie was that replacement, and continued as an Assistant Manager until Perry hired all of us. That left the store bare. The day before I left, Gary Oldfield–I learned later he was Andy's son–arrived to take over the store. He wanted a briefing, mostly concentrating on information about employees and any local issues he should know about. It only took an hour. Then he told me to go home, get packed and forget about the store; sailboats were now my only responsibility. I also learned later than he'd only taken a week's break from college at UND to come over and set up the transition in the store. Within three days he'd picked a new management team and set them working. He checked in daily by telephone, and the store never missed a beat.
Well, you know the story for the next year or so. We had no idea that we'd get a free trip to the winter Olympics in Nagano as part of our job, but Perry insisted that Olympic experience in our background would help us comprehend the full import of our jobs. From Fred's greetings to us in Nagano it was very clear that he agreed with Perry. Fred seemed to make it his personal mission to get everybody in the world to the Olympic Games. I'm certainly glad that I was caught in his web.
We left Nagano and headed for Kaneohe, Hawaii, arriving just two days later than the original schedule called for, but not in time for the qualifying rounds in the race Auggie had planned for Tim and Charlie to sail in. It became simply a practice week. Except there's nothing simple about a practice week with Auggie. Kaneohe is on the northwest shore of Oahu, just across the island from Honolulu. Coming from snow country in Japan the weather was delightful. Both sailing pairs sailed from early morning until last light. The support team functioned as usual, with two of us in the launch, one with Lynn, and one back at the Marina. However, nothing works exactly as planned, and there were a variety of extra chores to be accomplished. Curtis and I did get one full day free. Perry took us north along the shore to a very secluded beach that he and Norman had found two days before. We were put ashore with a wonderful lunch fixed by our hotel, towels, a beach umbrella, sunscreen and not much more. They would pick us up about 6:00 p.m. in time for dinner. Oh, my God, did Curtis and I have a wonderful day. We got naked as soon as we hit the beach, with Perry and Norman laughing as they watched us strip. We tanned (I know all of the stuff about the health consequences of tanning, and I don't want to hear it–we'd decided that for the three years we were on the team we would just be tanned–most of the team felt that way), swam, ate, and fornicated.
I've read Goose's comments about our sex lives. You, and Goose, and the whole damn Gang can have sex anyway you want. Curtis and I like using our hands. God, it feels good. I need to remind you that it's the same orgasm. Masters and Johnson even found that masturbating (essentially a hand job) gives a more intense organism than intercourse. I wouldn't know. I will confess, however, that after a couple of sessions with Goose, who seemed really to be into oral sex, Curtis and I decided that sometime we would experiment further than we had already. We decided on the Oahu beach that day to try the experiment. We each sucked each other, but neither wanted to swallow the semen–it got spit out on the sand. I know that Goose would've found that to be a serious waste. It wasn't our first such experiment, but it confirmed our earlier conclusion that hand jobs were for us. We got our jollies by varying the position, but more especially the place. You'd be surprised at some of the places that I've had an orgasm. And, no, most of them are none of your business. Though I'll have to admit that I'm not sure that we have ever done better than Tim and Charlie's adventure on the roof of St. Peter's in Rome! [Episode 54]
Tim and Charlie were unbelievable. Charlie was 57, almost twice my age. I couldn't dream of keeping up with him. He'd stayed completely fit over the years. I asked him how, and he simply said that he kept up a level of regular exercise, but that the real secret was trying to keep up with Tim. Nobody could keep up with Tim. Goose was, except for Tim, the guy in the best shape on the team. He was young, fit, and an experienced sailor. But at the end of a day's sailing he looked completely bedraggled compared to Tim, who always looked like he was ready to run a race.
And could they sail? Tim, Charlie, Auggie and Goose. I was convinced that they were some of the best 49er sailors in the world, and race results over the next two years generally proved me correct. It was a combination of Auggie's skill, talent, and teaching ability, and Tim's intensity, which infected all of us. Tim and Charlie never seemed to be tempted to take time off to lay on the beach, swim in the ocean, or see any sights in Hawaii. I don't think it's tattling, however, to tell you that when they heard about our beach, they took the launch there with Perry and Norman just as they quit sailing because of impending darkness. Perry told me that when then got to the beach he and Norman had walked north and Charlie and Tim had walked south. They had agreed to meet back at the launch in 75 minutes, and all four arrived promptly. When they met, Norman and Perry aimed their flashlights on Tim and Charlie and started laughing; Tim and Charlie realized that they didn't have any clothes on. They had to go back and get their swimming suits and shirts! You don't have any doubts about how they spent their time on the beach, do you?
From Hawaii Tim, Charlie, and Lynn headed back to North Dakota. Tim and Charlie to attend to university business for two weeks, and Lynn to represent the support team in case she was needed and to attend to some personal business. The rest of us headed to Tonga, for two weeks of relaxation before Tim, Charlie, and Lynn would join us there.
Auggie was pushing Tim and Charlie into competitive races, and the little race in Tonga would probably have the smallest field of any that they would enter. However, Auggie expected two or three of the top teams to come to Tonga, in part so that they could see Tim and Charlie up close. Word was geting around that Tim and Charlie, with the support of Fred's Sports and the coaching of Auggie Madison, might just be the team to beat in Sydney. I'm pretty sure that Auggie was also looking for another fun place to sail–following Hawaii–before they tackled some really difficult sailing in Europe.
We had about ten days completely free after we'd made all necessary arrangements for the coming sailing. We all paired up and did our own thing. Goose and Auggie sailed. They rented a big yacht and headed out to sea and weren't seen again for the ten days. Tonga is a pretty big archipelago and they sailed around quite a bit of it, reporting that it was beautiful, remote, and enchanting. David and Millie stayed based in the hotel in Nuku'alofa, the largest city, the capital, and our home base while we were in Tonga. They reported that they'd simply been typical tourists for the ten days. Tongans frown on nude and even topless sunbathing, so they were unable to pursue their pleasures on nude beaches. They could, of course, have found a remote beach for nude swimming, but their fun, after getting their start in South Africa, was pubic (oh, excuse me, public) nude sunbathing!
Perry and Norman rented a much smaller sailboat–a 16' dinghy with none of the speed or grace of the 49er, but with a cockpit into which they could put towels, sunscreen and food–they figured that that was about all they were going to need for the next ten days. They sailed out of the harbor (losing all clothes as soon as they were out of sight) and headed around Tongatapu Island (the main island of the archipelago and our home base) to the south side where there were large stretches of nice beaches largely inaccessible by land–at least not without leaving roads and trails and heading overland to the beach. They found their perfect beach, beached the boat, and did exactly what you'd expect two horny teenagers to do in that situation. They admitted that they stopped to eat and sleep on a somewhat irregular basis! I'm getting ahead, but I have to add that on their return they took great pleasure in sitting in Curtis' and my room and describing in exquisite detail the things that they liked to do to each other. It seems that there isn't a single part of the body that cannot be erotically explored by, first, the hand, then the tongue, and finally the penis. Toes got into the act as well. I have to report that Curtis and I remain untempted!
What did we do for the ten days? We rented a little beachfront bungalow, settled in like old married men, read, played some chess, swam, ran a little to try to get in better shape, and ate enough to offset the running. And, yes, we had our own special kind of sex. Hey, it works for us.
The racing in Tonga was delightful. There were eleven 49ers entered in the races, including the Maddie II and the Freddie. Three of the boats had a Tongan homeport, and of those two were sailed by native Tongans and the third by a pair of British expatriates. In addition to our two, six other boats had come for the race: from Hawaii, San Diego, Australia, New Zealand (2), and Figi. Ron Branson and Pete Summerall from San Diego, and Randy Elliott and Cameron Rulling from Cairns were our toughest competition. One of the Tongan boats was also a close competitor. We had eight races, four mornings and four afternoons, in four different venues throughout the archipelago. Every boat managed a top three finish at least once, which made for tough, close racing. The only problem–at least from Auggie's standpoint, was that we had almost perfect sailing weather for all of the races. Auggie wants to be challenged, and even more so, wanted Tim and Charlie to be challenged. He complained, "Even the wind behaves here."
Tim and Charlie had a ball. They won three of the races, and never finished below fourth. Auggie and Goose finished first in two races, and never finished below fifth. Pete and Ron took two firsts and Randy and Cam took one. Tim and Charlie were first overall followed by Auggie and Goose and then Randy and Cam, who'd gotten ahead of Pete and Ron because Pete and Ron had one disastrous day in which they capsized on a freak wave and finished second to last. However, the most important thing about the racing was that we all got to know each other and became pretty good friends. Tim and Charlie were beginning to be accepted into the worldwide sailing fraternity and no longer considered interlopers who were buying their place with Fred's Sports' money.
At the end of our time in Tonga Perry and Norman headed home with Tim, Charlie, Auggie and Lynn, to join us in two weeks in Malcesine, Italy. Goose headed home to Freeport before heading to Italy. David, Millie, Curtis and I took care of closing up everything in Tonga, shipping the 49ers, and heading to Italy to get things ready for some very serious racing.
Malcesine is on Lake Garda in the north of Italy, about halfway between Venice and Milan. We, and the 49ers, flew into Milan and proceeded from there to Malcesine by road–in two rented cars and a hired van for the 49ers. All of this had been arranged in advance by Norman who'd made a flying trip there a couple of months before. I never ceased to be amazed at how smoothly everything seemed to work under Perry's guidance. He may be a teenager, but he proved again and again that he was a logistical genius. Balls weren't dropped, complicated schedules were arranged, and backup plans ready when things didn't go completely as planned. I had no trouble doing my part–Perry gave clear instructions, and as a group we'd developed minute checklists which were incredibly helpful. We spent at least one evening at each location going over the checklists and improving them. Perry responded to compliments such as I've given above by saying, "It's easy when you have Fred's Sports behind you, and a team like these guys working with you."
When it was time for the group to arrive, Mille drove over to Milan to meet Goose, who arrived from the Bahamas. Goose drove the rental car back to Malcesine and Millie waited for Lynn and the sailors from Grand Forks. She met them, bundled them into a minibus, hired with a driver, and they were off to Malcesine, with a leisurely stop for lunch. They could've rushed and arrived Saturday, but qualification races for the regatta didn't start until Thursday, so they made a more leisurely trip, arriving on Sunday. This was Auggie's show, and sailing started in earnest on Monday morning, with alarms set for 5:00 a.m. Why so early? The north wind, which they call Peler, comes early in the morning and usually fades around 9:00 a.m. The lighter south wind doesn't come up until around noon. So breakfast is late and lunch is early so that the boats can catch maximum wind. The races are scheduled the same way.
A note on the weather. In early April we expected, and got, temperatures about sixty. Lake Garda, however, was mountain stream fed, and snow and ice were feeding those streams in March and early April. The water was COLD. The sailors wore wet suits–even Tim. He'd blown off a suggestion that he needed a wet suit on the first Monday of sailing, choosing instead a down to your knees swimsuit and tee shirt under his life vest. With chattering teeth, he admitted at noon that a wet suit was a good idea. Without it he simply couldn't perform at top level.
The qualification rounds ran two days and everybody had one early morning race and one afternoon race. The best 30 boats, based on total time in the two races, entered the regatta, which consisted of five races for each boat. The boats were arranged in groups of five. The fastest boat was in group one, the second in group two, etc. down to boat thirty. The races consisted of ten boats and the groups rotated so that you sailed against each group once. The top ten boats, based on finishing positions in all five races, moved on to the finals, which was two races, one at 6:30 a.m. and the other at 3:00 p.m. There were only a few upsets–one really good team from France and another from New Zealand failed to qualify–and by and large the top teams found themselves in the finals. That included Auggie and Goose as well as Tim and Charlie.
Not enough people had seen Tim and Charlie perform in Tonga and previous races, but this was center stage in the highly competitive world of 49er racing. Tim and Charlie were being noticed. I guess so. In the morning race they were second behind Auggie and Goose. In the afternoon they were second behind an Italian team with Auggie and Goose in third. With two seconds Charlie and Tim were tied with Auggie and Goose who had a first and third. (The Italian team that had the other first were fifth in the other race and out of contention for first place.) They went to times to break the tie, and Charlie and Tim won. A new task had to be given to the support team: shipping the trophies home! We dutifully added it to our "Close Out" checklist.
Our next stop was Portsmouth, and Perry and Norman were really eager for our return to Norman's home and the city in which they met. The entire support team told the two of them to head there just as soon as Tim and Charlie's trophy was shipped to North Dakota; the rest of us took care of all of the details of the move. Tim and Charlie insisted that it wasn't necessary that anybody fly with them to and from Grand Forks, and Perry wisely stopped trying to provide that level of support. We got them to Milan, saw them to security, and waited in the airport until the plane was in the air (flights are subject to last minute cancellations, and we always had backup plans in mind).
When the rest of the team got to Portsmouth, we found that Perry and Norman were happily established in the Crosse home, with Perry being welcomed into the family. I think it's only fair that Norman or Perry tell that story, so I'll simply mention our sailing in Portsmouth. Auggie and Goose weren't competing. The race was limited to single nationality teams that might be contenders for Olympic berths. Auggie didn't mind. It gave him an opportunity to watch Tim and Charlie very carefully and critique their sailing. If Tim didn't have any trouble noticing a turned wrist in a dive or a bent knee on the pommel horse, Auggie didn't miss a sloppy jibe, a slow pull on the spinnaker, or a fumbled clip of the trapeze wire. Unlike Tim, who liked to keep his criticism to one thing per dive, Auggie let fire with the whole barrage, but in a very kindly manner. "You should know that...." Or, "I assume you realize that...."
Tim and Charlie could take the whole barrage, and, in fact, had told Auggie that's what they needed. Rarely were their mistakes news to them, and it always led to a discussion of how to avoid them in the future. When I was in the launch, I was always interested in seeing how well they'd listened to Auggie's comments. I know, I've said it many times: I never ceased to be amazed by the entire team. They were incredible.
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