This is a mobile proxy. It is intended to visit the IOMfAtS Story Shelf on devices that would otherwise not correctly display the site. Please direct all your feedback to the friendly guy over at IOMfAtS!

Finding Tim

A Fourth Alternate Reality

by Charlie
With editorial assistance from Dix and John

Episode 17


We arrived home a little earlier than expected, shortly after nine. Mom and Dad were waiting for us, along with Carl and Carol-who were both staying at the house during Tim's celebration week. Officially Carol was in the guest room, but everybody realized that was a fiction. After hugs and kisses all around, and coffee and Cokes for all of the thirsty, Dad said, "OK, tell all. We're eager to hear about your trip."

Tim replied, "Just how much of 'all' do you want to hear? It could get a little personal."

Carl said, "Carol and I want to hear every single gory detail, particularly all the little sexy details."

Betsy said, "Carl, if you can convince Tim and Charlie to tell you all of that, it's OK with me, but another time and another place. Boys, why don't you give us the slightly edited version?"

Tim said, "Carl, Charlie and I'll give you all the detail you want. But we're going to expect total reciprocity."

Carl said, "I figured that."

I said, "I'll start the story, and Tim can fill in the gaps."

Readers, you just read it. Edit out two things: the sex and our plans for the future, and that is exactly what we told the four of them. And yes, we did talk about our desire to have a conversation about sexual morality with Mom and Dad. Carl and Carol both agreed that would be helpful, and asked if they could join.

Dad said, "Your mother and I consider it an incredible compliment that you want to have that conversation with us. We would like to have it with you. I think I would suggest that tonight's not the night."

I said, "I didn't cover our discussions about future plans. We don't have enough time for that this evening. Tonight we just had an activity update. Tomorrow Tim and I'd like to share our dreams and plans, and we need to get your reaction to them. A lot depends on how you feel about some things.

Betsy said, "OK, what time do you want breakfast? Discussion will start right after we get the kitchen cleaned up from breakfast."

Tim said, "Most people in this house don't want to move early on Saturday. I'd like to suggest that Charlie and I go over to the Southwest pool from six to eight-thirty. We'll be back home for breakfast by a little after nine."

"The pool?" I asked.

"Of course. Remember all that new new business? Well, we can't start backsliding now. I practice from six to eight. You can watch or find something useful to do. For the next half hour you and I can play in the pool, do laps, whatever. It'll take a little over a half hour to shower and get home."

Carl said, "The only reason it'll take that long is that the play's going to extend into the shower."

Carol said, "Bingo."

I said, "Dirty minds."

Tim said, "What do you expect from my brother?"

Dad said, "I give up. Breakfast at 9:15. Don't be late." We all agreed.

We were off to bed. We spooned, wiggled, and tickled. And that was all we did. We slept soundly, until Tim's alarm awakened us at 5:42.

"Five forty-two?" I asked.

"No shower. We get dressed, grab a glass of juice on the way through the kitchen, drive to school, open the pool-I have a key and can use it as long as I have someone with me-put on my suit, and get to poolside. I get there exactly at six. But I've lost a minute talking to you. Move it."

I did. He was right, we walked up to poolside at 6:01. Tim headed straight for the platform. He stood at the top, in deep concentration. He made a dive just about every two minutes for a half hour. He did about six different dives and then started repeating those he wasn't happy with. After thirty minutes he swam 3 laps-I joined him, but couldn't hope to keep up. Then to the springboard, and he repeated his thirty-minute routine. More laps. Back to diving, but for the next fifty minutes he moved back and forth between platform and springboard. His concentration was so intense I don't think he really knew I was there. He had paid only scant attention to me while we were doing laps.

I was absolutely fascinated watching him. I compared his intensity with mine in front of an archery target. No comparison. I think for the first time I realized just how Tim accomplished what he did. His mind brooked no distractions. Now was diving time, that was it. I knew that if I had called him, he would have come immediately. He had always made it clear that loving Charlie was his highest priority. But I would never do that to him. There was a time and a place for Charlie in Tim's life. But right then it was diving. Period.

You could have set your watch by Tim's practice. At 8:00 o'clock he looked at me and said. "That's it. Time to play. With that he did a cannonball into the pool from the springboard, and came up out of the water naked as a jaybird. He came over, pulled my suit off, and pushed me into the pool. We swam-magically I could now keep up with him doing laps!-roughhoused, and took advantage of each other's nakedness. I asked Tim, "Aren't you worried about being naked here?"

"Oh no, the janitor isn't on until noon on the weekend, coach won't be here today, and no one else has a key."

Out of the corner of the pool area we heard, "Oh yes they do!"

It was Carl-and Carol-and Carl had my suit in one hand and the key to the pool in the other-grinning ear to ear. Tim's suit was on the bottom of the pool where he had left it after his cannonball. Carl and Carol both had their suits on!

I was glad to be in the water where I was a little covered. Tim wasn't bothered in the least. He said, "Either get those suits off and get in the pool with us, or go back home."

Carl and Carol ignored him and dove in with their suits on. Carl headed straight for Tim, grabbed him and pulled him over to Carol. Carol grabbed his genitals and said, "Say uncle."

Instead he said, "Charlie!"

I came right over, but instead of trying to rescue Tim I unzipped Carol's suit, and started to pull it off. She let go of Tim, who immediately grabbed Carl's suit and jerked it off. By then Carol was naked as well, as she hadn't been trying very hard to resist. The fun lasted about ten minutes when Tim said, "It's eight-thirty. We have to head to the shower or we'll miss breakfast with Mom and Dad."

The three of them retrieved their suits from the pool as I got out. Carl called, "No fair putting on that suit!" I didn't try.

Carol said, "I hope you don't mind if I shower with you guys? I have no idea where the girls' showers are."

We didn't. We took turns being soaped, with three persons doing the job. It was very thorough. Carl was last, and Tim and I were particularly thorough with him. He was completely hard, and Carol said, "I think he's gay. He never gets that hard for me."

Carl was embarrassed. He didn't have a good reply, so Tim and I simply worked harder on him, and he came there in the shower. Then he was really embarrassed! We laughed, along with Carol, and finally he joined in. He said, "I guess I asked for that when I brought Carol over this morning. I was certain that you guys would be playing in the pool nude. I thought it would be fun to catch you at it. But you guys're so cool! You weren't fazed."

I had to admit that I was a little, but with my suit in Carl's hand there hadn't been much I could do.

Tim summed up the morning, "I think we've moved to a new level in our relationship. Are we all ready for it? Are Mom and Dad?"

Carl said, "I don't know whether Mom and Dad will like it, but that had better be part of the breakfast conversation. I know one of the things you're going to be talking about is whether you and Charlie are going to live at home. Mom and Dad need to know that when Carol and I are around sex will be an issue. If they told us, 'No,' we'd honor it. But they wouldn't do that. So if they aren't going to be comfortable with our having sex of some kind together, we either need to agree among ourselves to abstain, or you have to live somewhere else."

Tim's careful schedule didn't take into account four of us in the shower or getting dressed together. We didn't get back to the house till 9:15. Dad pointed out the time, but said that they figured we'd be late when Carl and Carol headed for the pool. Breakfast had been moved to 9:30.

Carol began the conversation by reporting on the Unitarians. They had just become the Unitarian-Universalists, following a merger. They had no statement on homosexuality. Some local congregations were actively welcoming of homosexuals, most were simply silent on the issue. Carol had talked to the local pastor and found him to be pretty liberal. Sort of a tautology for a Unitarian. He was quite willing to host the marriage, and offered to host Tim's and my commitment ceremony. That did it for Carol, and she was instantly in love with the church-even before she had been shown the sanctuary! But that passed muster as well. Carol and Tim had even picked a date: July 17, 1965, the middle of the five Saturdays in July.

We all agreed on the time and place, and it was settled for the whole family. Carl and Carol would talk to her parents in the afternoon, and if the date worked for them, it would be set. Carol looked at us and said, "OK, you two are up." We were, and we knew it. Tim said, "I would like Charlie to do the talking. I'm too close to you two, Mom and Dad, to be able to speak for Charlie and me as a unit. That'll change over time, but for now Charlie can speak for us."

I said, "Tim, you never said that. You're catching me off guard."

Dad said, "Charlie, he's right. He's had 18 years of listening to me as his Dad. We get along well. But the relationship is changing, and it's going to take him a while-and Betsy and me too. You, on the other hand, don't have that history. We meet as equals."

"Dad, let's not think of our relationship as equals. Friends, family, something like that. Equals is too impersonal."

Carl said, "May I step in here and suggest that you people know what you mean even if you can't say it. Charlie, get on with it."

I did. "Dad, Tim wants me to move to Minneapolis and live with him. We have both talked and we'd like to live here. I would think that I was pushing myself on you and Betsy, but Tim says he's already talked to you about it. So I don't see any reason to beat around the bush. May Tim and I live here until it's time for him to head off to college?"

Betsy said, "Norman and I have been dreaming you would ask that. We'd really like to get to know you, Charlie, and we think your living here would help that. We promise to treat you and Tim as adults."

Both Tim and I jumped on that, but I spoke louder, "We aren't in the least worried about how we'll be treated. You've treated Tim and Carl as adults for years, we know you'll do the same for Tim and me. And when we don't act like adults, don't treat us like ones."

"We're not worried."

I said, "Tim's going to have to tell you about college plans. He has all the details worked out, and I'm just beginning to get them straight in my mind. Tim, take us all the way through to retirement."

Damned if he didn't. He was even more explicit than he had been with me! I was going to be the Dean of Law at the University of North Dakota!

Dad said, "The first step in all of that is to get Charlie and Hal to the Olympics. Make that happen and the rest is like falling off a log."

Now I knew where Tim got it. Or had Norman gotten it from Tim? I wasn't sure. I asked Betsy, and she said they fed off of each other.

I said, "Week after next we visit my parents. We already settled on a date for the coming out and commitment. Let's do use the Unitarian Church if we can schedule it. Then we'll go to a hotel for a big dinner."

Before we could discuss the commitment plans further, Dad blew me away with, "Charlie, there's one thing you haven't talked about yet-getting a job. I suppose you could get one at the Red Cross, and certainly you could pump gas or something stupid. But when you only have six months you aren't going to get any kind of job that's worth anything. So don't. If you live here you won't have rent to pay, and the food comes in the bargain. I'll help out if needed."

I said, "Norman, I can't...."

"Oh, yes, you can. Listen. Tim has so much on his plate that he has no extra time, zero. He'll need all the support he can get from you. Getting the pool opened mornings now that Carl's in college has been a problem-you'll solve it. You're going to want to watch him practice. You have a commitment to plan. Your coming out has to be carefully planned. You have to deal with your parents. You're both going to want to visit Grand Forks. You need to find an archery club and start practicing. Tim'll tell you it needs to be six hours a day. How would a minimum wage job fit into that?"


"Tim likes to say some things are non-negotiable. That's where this stands right now. Tim, tell him."

I said, "Tim, is this one of those things that has been all worked out for years, and I'm only now finding out?"

"No, honest, Charlie. I'm hearing this for the first time. But it's the most wonderful gift we could be given-the gift of time. It's the scarcest commodity of all."

Norman said, "Betsy and I have been talking about this for some time. And Tim has it right. Time is the most wonderful gift we can give, and we couldn't be more pleased to give it to two of our sons."

I could hardly speak. I wanted to say 'No.' A little voice started to whisper in my ear, but was drowned out by Tim saying, "Buy the damn shoes."

I did manage to get out, "Thank you."

Carol said, "Am I missing something? What's this about shoes?"

Carl said, "We'll get Hal or his mom to tell you that story sometime. It's a good story. Basically, it means, 'Use your head.'"

Carl said, "Dad, Mom, we're talking about all six of us living in the house this summer. And on weekends from time to time when Carol's here. We have to talk a little about that."

Dad said, "So talk."

"Carol and I went over to the pool this morning with one specific thing in mind. We were sure they would spend that final half hour swimming naked, and we caught them and joined them. We enjoyed it. All four of us. We know that if we four are all living here one thing's going to lead to another. We refuse to have things happen behind your backs. Can you be comfortable with that?"

Betsy spoke, "We have trusted you all your lives. It's clear that all four of you play by different rules than Norman and I were brought up with. When Tim began to talk about gay feelings, our norms were challenged. Almost every day since then they have been challenged. You know, I was a virgin on my wedding night-that's the way it was-at least for us. I'll have to be honest, yes, we're uncomfortable when we're pushed. And as soon as we adjust our comfort zones, you guys push us some more. We'd like to take you up on your offer to talk about sexual morals as a family some time. But you want and need an answer now. So here it is. First, thank you for being honest. The fact that we asked Charlie and Tim to spare us the details last night doesn't mean that we want you to keep secrets from us. Next, yes, we're going to be uncomfortable knowing you four are doing things together. But the bottom line is that we'll continue to trust and accept. And we ask you not to expect enthusiasm. Is that a fair deal?"

The answer was contained in the hugs and kisses all around. Carol summed it up, "You're wonderful. I hope that we can treat our own children half as well as you treat us. Thank you."

Tim said, "That's my mom. Best in the world. And, Mom, we aren't ever going to abuse your trust."

"It's getting mushy," said Carl. Next subject.

Tim said, "There's one more thing that we haven't talked about. And Charlie and I missed it on our trip to Duluth. I'm going to a school that's not nationally competitive in diving and doesn't have a gymnastics program. I chose North Dakota for other reasons, because I'm sure that those obstacles can be overcome. But Charlie and I need to spend some time working on plans to deal with that."

Carl said, "If I'm not mistaken, you have been told quite firmly by very competent coaches that you have to go someplace where you can get first class coaching or you won't make the Olympics. You're ignoring that advice. I guess I should expect that from my brother. Charlie, I warned you."

I said, "I'm still not completely sure why Tim chose North Dakota. But clearly the 'big duck, small pond' syndrome was at work. There aren't any small ponds with nationally competitive diving and gymnastics programs. So he either gives up a life-spanning plan to make a major impact at a small pond, or he figures out how to get around the little inconvenience of not having top notch coaches available. I do have to point out that none of his current coaches would qualify, and he hasn't exactly been a failure."

As I gave that speech Tim looked at me with pure love on his face. "Thank you, Charlie. You really get it. I love you."

Norman said, "So do we all. Tim, you have always played your sports by your own rules. You can claim full credit for your success. You're going to have to accept responsibility for whatever failures come your way. You can't blame Charlie. You can't blame a coach that works with you, but tells you in advance that he doesn't have adequate skills."

"I understand. And I understand that I can't go through life without experiencing failure. That I haven't really had a failure yet is pure luck. I know I lead a charmed life. I hope that I'm prepared to deal with things when my luck changes. But I won't blame anyone but myself. I promise. That's all I can say."

"I'll take him just as he is," I said. I continued with, "There have been some pretty substantial changes in the plans for coming out and a commitment ceremony. As we thought more about it, we decided that we needed to cram everything into a single weekend, so the Gang could be here for everything."

"The Gang's really important to you, isn't it Charlie?" asked Mom.

Tim said, "And to me too. Second only to Charlie, you two, and Carl."

"Exactly," I said.

Dad said, "So fill us in on the details."

I recited them as close to the way I'd laid them out for Tim as I could.

Carl said, "If that was your plan Charlie, you're just as bad as Tim. You don't seem to realize that not everybody can accomplish 48 hours worth of activity in a single day. That would leave most normal persons flat on their backs before the commitment ceremony arrived-two big athletic meets, every meal a celebration, that sexy Gang won't let you sleep peacefully at night...."

"Carl!" said Mom.

"It's true," said Tim.

Dad said, "We all know Tim can handle it. If Charlie can't, he'd better find out now, before he hitches his wagon to this shooting star. If you can't handle it Carl, them you can take a nap with the old folks. As for Betsy and me, we're just along for the ride, and to write checks. And, Tim and Charlie, that would be our greatest pleasure. Go for it."

What we went for was bed. And other things. Obviously.

Sunday morning it was gymnastics all morning. He swam and dove most of the afternoon. That evening we took Tina out to dinner. It was my first chance to really get to know her. What a girl! She was obviously head over heels in love with Tim. Well, who wouldn't be? That she could deal with me simply made her as exceptional as Tim. She told us, "Look guys. I've really enjoyed going over to St. Paul and watching Tim's gymnastics practice. I hope you're going to take me with you from time to time."

"Any time you want to come," said Tim. I seconded him.

I said, "You're welcome at the diving pool as well, anytime."

Tim added, "Why don't you come with us next Saturday?" With a twinkle in his eye, aimed at me, he said, "Carl and Carol joined us yesterday for after-practice play at eight. You could join us next Saturday."

Tina said, "It's a date." Her knowing smile suggested that she had a pretty good idea what Tim had in mind. I hoped I was ready for this. Carl was right about life with Tim being like a roller coaster that only went down.

The next week was the prototype for the rest of the year-except for when Tim and I had to be away for some reason. Up at 5:42-earlier if we wanted to have sex-to swim, or 5:10 to head to St. Paul for gymnastics. School began at 8:45. I next saw him at diving practice, or we drove together to gymnastics. Home for dinner. Study. Sex. Sleep. His concentration, including on the sex, was as total as the two hours I watched him in diving practice that first Saturday.

I asked Tina about his school day. She reported that when Tim was in class his attention was riveted on the teacher, unless there was a class discussion. His questions were sharp, and often focused on drawing out the teacher's opinions or special expertise. His interchanges with teachers took place almost as if the rest of the class wasn't there. When the bell rang and the teacher dismissed the class he changed. He was friendly, vivacious, talkative, and immediately immersed in the lives and concerns of his friends. The start of the next class seemed almost to trigger a switch in his brain. Then at lunch he would be the life of the party. Tina had the same impression that I did: his love for her (or me) would have overcome his concentration, but it wouldn't have been fair for her to have tested or pushed. She accepted his attention in the time slots open. During class, or practice, he was in his own world, and only teachers and coaches had a place there. But, Tina insisted, he never did it in a way that hurt people or made them feel left out. He simply seem to dissolve into himself, and he expected everyone else to be that involved in their classes, or sports, as he was. Tina added that he did seem to bring kids along with him. He certainly inspired his teammates, and he seemed to inspire classmates as well. I got to know some of his teachers and they confirmed it.

One afternoon we stopped by Dr. Olafsen's office. Tim wanted to check in, thank him for coming to his birthday party, and remind him he would be in Indiana next week. Olafsen was charming, and thanked Tim for stopping by. Then Tim asked, "You know, Dr. Olafsen, Charlie and I are going to be coming out in about a month. How do you think the school's going to react?"

Dr. Olafsen was careful in his reply. "I'd like to promise you a cakewalk, but I can't. Our one previous experience with an out gay was unfriendly-mostly teasing. But he feared it might get worse and changed schools. Some time has passed, and I've heard some comments that our treatment of him was bad, so maybe we learned a little. But the student body has changed, so the current students couldn't have learned from that experience. Obviously, you have the tremendous advantage of being a very popular student-everybody knows who you are and all will be inclined to be supportive. I'm sure your team'll back you, and they're influential. And Charlie'll be an important support. I'm going to guess that you'll do fine. But we have to plan carefully."

I immediately picked up on the "We have to plan" and knew we had a key ally.

Tim thanked him, and promised to include him in the planning for our coming out.

Saturday diving practice ended with Tina appearing out of nowhere-she had been reading in the bleachers during practice-at exactly 8:00 a.m. She was wearing her birthday suit. She walked over to me and said, "You're overdressed. Surely you knew that this was what Tim had in mind for this morning." Well, yes, I knew. I hadn't been completely sure that she knew, however. As I contemplated this, she pulled down my suit and grabbed my balls. "Say uncle," she said.

That was all that I needed to know that I had been set up. Well, they had been together in school all week. Tim would have had no trouble giving her the right lines. I responded with, "Tim!" Tina said, "Let's get Tim." I nodded and we both dove in the pool to catch him. He was ahead of us and the chase was on. In open water we would never have caught him. But pools have edges and he was caught. He could have climbed out, but that would have been cheating. He turned toward us and swam straight at us. He was ducked, stripped, and fondled. He managed to dish it out as well as he got it.

When we got to the shower Tina said, "Charlie, grab him and hold him under the shower."

I did, and held him so that his dick was getting the full force of the water. Tina got down on her knees and took him in her mouth and sucked him. It didn't take him long to come. He said, "Charlie, I'm going to get even with you."

"How?" I asked.

"By not letting you have an orgasm this morning. Either of you. Let's get dressed." Tina and I could have helped each other out, but decided to let Tim have his victory. We got dressed, but not before Tim had gotten thoroughly fondled all over again.

Tina came home with us for breakfast, and following breakfast she came up to our room. Tim said, "OK, you two can take care of your needs by performing for me. I have never seen a hetero 69. I want to now."

Tina was neither shocked or embarrassed. I was. Then I wondered aloud, "Tim, truth now. How much of this was planned in advance?"

"Truth? Are you sure?"


"Every damn bit. Right down to Tina's 'Charlie grab him' in the shower."


"At school. We spent most of the week working out the scenario. And we had a bet on when you would tumble. Tina said before breakfast. I said after. I win. And my prize is I get to see you and Tina do 69. Get your clothes off."

I did. We did. He watched. I said, "I hope you're good and horny now, because you'll get no relief from us."

With that he pushed down his shorts and jerked himself off. I'd never seen him do that. It was sexy to watch him. I think Tina thought so too. Tina did say, "Charlie, believe me. That was not part of the script."

The next day we headed for Indiana, and who knew what kind of reaction from my parents to our relationship. We took two days to drive it, spending the night near Chicago. Sunday afternoon, as Tim drove us through the Wisconsin countryside, I asked, "Tim, are we going to get bored with each other? You're eighteen, I'm twenty-four. Just for discussion, say we're twenty. We can expect about sixty more years together. There're only so many ways you can make love. There're only so many conversations to be held. There are only so many friends to be made. Then things have to start repeating. Will we get bored? How do we deal with that?"

"Never," was his reply.

"I'm serious."

"OK. I'll try to be serious. Love doesn't get boring. If the only thing there was to it was sex, it would get boring. But sex is just a little piece of love. Love is being with you, being with you, not talking with you, or having sex with you, being. One doesn't get bored with being. Being just is. It's timeless. The activities of life have to be varied. If they aren't, it'll be boring. But that's going to be easy for us, our lives'll be incredibly varied. That's all the more reason that we need the stability of being with the one we love. And I think in this conversation is the basis for a good argument for our commitment being exclusive, sexually. And there is a good basis for saying that the being has to be exclusive, but the activity-including sex-varied and with varied people. In other words, we aren't any closer to the answer to our one really unsettled issue."

"The wisdom of Solomon in an eighteen year old."

"Yeah, but I had good parents and a damn smart camp counselor. He taught me everything I know."

"Including how to have sex." I showed him a little, but I couldn't push it too far while he drove.

"Want me to pull over?"

"No, there's a motel waiting for us down the road. We can wait."

The next day brought talk of my parents, and how they'd react. But it didn't bring answers.

We had lunch in Lafayette, with very little talking. We knew we were headed into an uncomfortable situation, and it dampened our mood. I drove the hour and a half to Indianapolis in virtual silence.

We pulled up in front of the familiar house where I'd lived from age two through the end of high school, and walked up the long walk to the front door. It seemed strange to have to ring the doorbell instead of pulling a key out of my pocket, but it had never made sense to carry a house key once I no longer lived in the house full time. It's funny how little things like a key distract you, especially when your mind's in the mood to be distracted!

Dad answered the doorbell and Mom was right behind. They were glad to see me, even though it had only been a short time since the last visit. We hugged, and I kissed Mom. Then I introduced Tim, who was his usual charming self. We went in. Mom said, "Charles, its wonderful to have you here, and Tim, you are certainly welcome. Charles, show Tim where the guest room is so he can put away his suitcase." The guest room had two antique beds in it. They were about 4 inches narrower than the standard twin bed. The mattresses were new-I am not sure where my mother had found them to fit the beds. While the bed was certainly big enough for Tim's small frame, it wouldn't do for the two of us!

We went back downstairs and joined Mom and Dad in the living room. We talked about my job, why I'd left it (I explained that it'd been a fixed term contract), what I was going to do next, how Tim got off from school, and all of the usual things that families discuss about the recent past of out of town family members. There was no tension in the air, and neither Mom nor Dad had any inkling about the real reason Tim was with me.

We'd decided that "telling all" would wait until Tuesday at the earliest. I wanted them to get to know Tim, and like him, before they had to deal with him as their son's lover.

That evening they took us out to dinner. My two half-brothers, Wayne and Gill, each more than a decade older than me, and their wives joined us. Tim charmed them all, and almost the whole evening was spent with him telling stories of his diving and gymnastics. I could see a family that was going to be doing a lot of name dropping in the next week or so. His stories were a good mixture of his successes and goofs-right down to the belly-flop Carl had mentioned on our first weekend together almost four years before. I hadn't heard the story. It'd been at an outside pool and Tim had been distracted by a dog getting loose in the pool area. He had realized that he couldn't make a double somersault, and hadn't been able to cut back to a single. Whap, right on his stomach. His stomach was red, and his teammates didn't stop teasing him about it for more than a week when the redness finally went away. He ended the story, "I think it was the most spectacular dive I have ever seen in competition. I even went over and asked the chief judge what the point value for the dive was."

The judge, not missing a beat, answered, "Point oh two. But we're going to score it a ten."

It was a fun evening, and Tim and I almost forgot the tension that we were feeling, even if nobody else was. Bedtime didn't help. I went up to the guest room with Tim, kissed him good night, and let him sleep alone. We weren't going to push things yet.

Dad owned his own business, and he was home the next day, along with Mom. We joined them for a nice breakfast. Tim had contacted the diving and gymnastics coaches at Indiana University, and had appointments to see them and the admissions office on Wednesday. Today we simply went sightseeing in Indianapolis. We had lunch near the Capitol, and then drove around the rest of the city. It was definitely a Midwestern town, but it seemed to Tim like a pleasant place to live.

We headed home at around 3:30. As we drove home I said to Tim, "I think this evening had better be the time. They'll resent it if we wait any longer. They have had a chance to get to know you. That's all we can accomplish before 'the talk'."

"You're in charge here, Charlie. I'll back you up, but you know the lay of the land better than I do. But I'll have to say I like your Mom and Dad and can hardly believe they'll react too badly."

"I wish I knew."

Mom was in the kitchen before dinner. So we were at the dinner table before we were all together.

"Mom, Dad, I have something pretty important to discuss."

"About a job? Are you thinking of going back to school? Law school?"

"Yes, going to law school happens to be part of it. But that's really a side issue. We need to talk about Tim and me."


"This is tough to say. I'm gay. So's Tim. We're in love."

"Gay? You mean homosexual?"


"You and Tim are in love?"


"That's the reason for this trip then?"


"Charles, maybe you should start from the beginning."

"I'm not sure where the beginning is. I know I met Tim at camp three summers ago. But I was having homosexual feelings before that."

"Why didn't you tell us?"

"Two reasons. First, I wasn't sure about myself. I didn't have any understanding of homosexuality, and didn't think of myself as homosexual. Second, I wasn't sure how you would react. I'm still not."

"Was Tim the first boy you were in love with?"


"I'm sorry, Tim, we're carrying on this conversation as if you weren't here. Maybe you'd rather not be."

That was the most accurate thing that Mother would say all evening.

Tim said, "I'm part of this. We really are in love. We want to make it work. You both are important parts of that."

I said, "You know Tim was one of my campers. He claims he fell in love with me in the first two minutes of camp. Maybe. I don't know."

Tim said, "It's my turn. I did fall in love with him. And he basically said, 'No, you're too young and you're a camper and I'm your counselor.' I didn't accept that. We went back and forth for the two weeks. There was never anything physical. He kissed me once, the last day, just before I left for home. That was it. I told him that I didn't want to leave it there. We agreed to write but not see each other till I was 18. My eighteenth birthday was two weeks ago today."

Mom said, "This is more than I can take in."

I tried to fill in the gaps. I told about the plan for monthly letters, and about not seeing each other. I told about the letter I had gotten from Norman telling me Tim was homosexual. And that Tim thought I was gay. That brought a question.

"You thought Charles was gay? We have known him for 24 years and we never thought he was gay."

"You aren't a sexy looking boy," said Tim. "I was, and Charlie couldn't take his eyes off me. I guessed right." With anyone else, that would have been boasting. But Tim somehow managed to make it just a matter of fact statement. It was obviously true.

Questions about Norman's letter brought us to the Minneapolis weekend after camp. And that led both to questions about Norman and Betsy and to disbelief about what they were hearing about Norman and Betsy.

Dad said, "You're telling us that this boy, at age 14, came home from camp and told his parents that he was in love with his counselor, that the counselor had discouraged it but in the end permitted it, and that he wanted to invite the counselor for a weekend? And that his parents let him invite his counselor for the weekend, welcomed him with open arms, and encouraged the two of you? Have I got that right?"

Tim said, "Almost. It was my parents idea to invite Charlie for a weekend."

Mom said, "I simply don't believe it. What kind of parents do you have, Tim?"

"Very loving ones," he responded. "I'm completely open with them, and they are with me. We were able to talk together about my earliest homosexual feelings, at about age 11. We talked about masturbating about a year later. I live in a world in which complete openness with your parents is normal. When I talk to my friends at school, or when I talk to Charlie, I realize how abnormal my family life is."

"We have always thought we had a pretty good relationship with Charles."

Tim continued, "I don't want to be unkind, but let me ask some questions. How much do you know about why Charlie messed up at Columbia? How much of his homework did he do in high school? How much of his assigned reading? Did he ever have sex-any kind-with a girl in high school? College? When did he start masturbating? Does he? I'm sorry, but you really don't know Charlie. I could answer all of those questions." He could have added that so could his parents, but he spared them that.

My mother, who always had a reply, simply didn't have one. I wasn't sure that Tim had taken the right tack, but perhaps he had.

Dad said, "That doesn't explain your parents supporting a love affair with your camp counselor."

Tim said, "My parents told me a long time ago that I didn't need their permission for love or sex. Dad likes to say that the back seats of cars, and before that haystacks in the back forty, made parental permission obsolete. It was his job to give guidance and love, and to realize that all of the decisions were going to be mine regardless of what he thought. He treated Carl, my older brother, the same way.

"He could have forbidden me from seeing Charlie. But Charlie had already said he wasn't going to see me. He could have forbidden me from writing. I might have obeyed, but likely not. He could have intercepted Charlie's letters, but that wouldn't have stopped me from telephoning."

I picked up, "Norman and Betsy told me about two years ago when they stopped in Rockford that their invitation to Minneapolis was really an attempt to nip the romance in the bud. They were convinced that absence would make the heart grow fonder. And they didn't want me to become forbidden fruit-to use the two cliches I think they used when they told me. They hoped that by being open about it, they would help it to die a natural death."

Tim said, "Instead they fell in love with Charlie almost as much as I had."

"I don't want to be mean to Charles, but why Charles?" asked Mom.

"He's truly special. But let me start with some simple statistics. Half the population's female, and I'm gay. 90% of the population's straight, and I'm gay. Charlie's in the top 2% based on his IQ-actually much higher. He's a potential Olympic athlete, which puts him in the top 1% or less of the population. Do the math, he's one in 100,000. How long does it take me to meet 100,000 young men, say in an age range of seven years from my age? Decades. Once I had him pegged as male, gay, smart, and athletic he was certainly worth another look. Then I find that he's all of those things as well as the most loving guy on earth. If you'd ever seen him interact with the campers at Camp White Elk you would know that he was something really special. Then I finally pinned him down. I asked, 'Not, do you love me, but could you love me?'"

"I couldn't not answer that with a 'Yes,' and that was all she wrote. Tim tried everything he could the second week of camp to get me to fall in love with him, but I said, 'No.' The night before he left he said to me, 'I've said everything I can. It's in your hands.' We had a pretty sleepless night."

Tim said, "The next morning he told me about the letters, and that he would come to my 18th birthday party and we'd see where things stood. We both knew then how they would stand, but we waited. It was quite a birthday. And I love him madly."

"And I love Tim."

"Charles, why didn't you tell us you were gay earlier?"

"I was afraid of your reaction. And I wasn't sure. But the most important reason is that I thought you should see a real live human in love with me, not something abstract. So here he is: Tim, the most wonderful boy on earth. And can you believe it? He's in love with me. Your Charles has got the catch of the century!"

Dad said, "You aren't giving us much choice. It's sort of take it or leave it."

"Well, yes. I think that's pretty much the way love works. You married a divorced women with two boys. Would you have given your mother veto power? Did she have a choice?"

"Not really. But at least I framed it as a question."

"I'm not sure it would have been honest for me to come in here and ask your permission for my love for Tim, knowing that we were going to go on with or without your permission. Maybe four years ago I might've. But I have learned from Tim that it's better to always tell the truth. He and his whole family make that their guiding principle. I'm learning."

"Well," said Mom. "We're going to have many, many questions. But I need to say a few things. First, I simply cannot approve of homosexuality, regardless of the science that says it's built in, or genetic, or whatever. It's wrong, and I don't think I'll ever be able to think otherwise. But I love my son even if he's wrong. And I'll always love him. And I'll love the people he loves. And you're right, Charlie, Tim's one in a million, and not just because we've seen pictures of him in the newspaper. My friends with daughters are going to be both jealous and mad that you got him, Charles. I'm saying two opposite things, and I know it. I'm going to have to learn to live with that, and so are the two of you."

Tim said, "Some gay boys who tell their parents are, by this point in the conversation, disowned and tossed out of the house. This is clearly a house with love in it. I'm going to be comfortable here. I hope that my being here doesn't make you all uncomfortable."

"It won't."

I said, "There's one thing we need to settle this evening. Are you going to be upset if Tim doesn't spend the night in the guest room?"

Mom surprised me with, "Tim, I can't deal with that question. Make sure you rumple the bed and move quietly. That way I won't have to deal with it." She turned to me, "Is that OK, Charles?"

"It's a solution that seems to fit the house. It wouldn't fit Tim's house, but we're comfortable if you are."

"I'm going to have to think about that. In the meantime, rumple the bed. And now it's late, I'm going to bed."

I said, "Tomorrow we're going over to IU to talk about the possibility of college for Tim next year. We won't end up there, but it'll help Tim think through his options."

Mom said, "And tomorrow evening we have to talk a lot more. We want to know your plans; we have to tell your brothers; and we have to talk about the party planned-at your suggestion-for Saturday night."

Dad said, "Wait. Something got by us as this conversation moved so fast. Tim, you talked about Charles as an athlete. An Olympic athlete. Back then, at least, he was overweight, and certainly not an athlete. And he certainly isn't an Olympic athlete, then or now."

Tim said, "Oh, yes he is. He'll be on the U.S. Archery team in Mexico City and we're going to march together in the opening ceremonies-holding hands. And Hal, another from the wonderful camper group of three summers ago, is going to march beside us as an Olympic marathoner."

"Charles, we didn't know you were that good in archery, though you did say you had started practicing again. But you had only done it at camp, and certainly not at competition levels."

"True, and I'm not at world competition levels yet. But I get better little by little, and Tim won't accept that I won't be the best in the world by the Mexico Olympics."

"He'll be there," said Tim. "It's inevitable."

Mother said, "I think I see why you love him."

"Good night," we all said, but Dad.

He said, "I want to go back to something else. You made a big thing of being honest. But aren't you going over to IU tomorrow under false pretenses? You're going to pretend you're thinking about attending there, get shown around, probably given lunch and dinner if you stay, when you have already made up your mind. Isn't that being dishonest?"

"Oh," said Tim. "I made the contact through the gymnastics coach at the University of Minnesota. I could have been tempted by his program, but not the diving program there. He knows I'm not going to Minnesota, and probably not IU either. But he called the IU coach and told him to wine and dine me-his words-you never know what you'll hook. When he called me I said, "Look, I'm almost certainly going to a smaller school. But I'll be in Indiana and would love to meet you. The next day I got a call from the swim coach here. They're eager to meet me. And if they don't understand that they likely won't get me, it's because they haven't been listening."

I said, "There are very few diving or gymnastics coaches in the country that wouldn't just like to shake his hand and tell their colleagues that they took him to lunch. And he'll take a gym bag and show off a little if they want him to. They will."

Dad asked, "Are you going along? How does he explain you?"

"I'm driving him. He got to Bloomington by joining me when I visited my parents in Indianapolis."

"When are you due over there?" asked Mom.

"Ten a.m. We ought to leave here by 8:15 to get there, park, and find the athletic offices."

"This time it is 'Good night' for real." Mom headed for her bedroom.

Tim and I each headed for our own rooms. After the house was quiet, he got out of the narrow guest bed, making sure it looked well slept in, and came to my room, which was on the opposite side of the house from my parents. He crawled into bed with me, and backed into our favorite position. "That didn't go badly," he suggested.

"You're right. It could have been a lot worse. I'm quite sure that having you there helped a lot, but none of us will ever know."

"It doesn't matter. Your father was right on me about not telling the truth to the IU athletic department. But they were told the truth by me and Coach Burns at the U. I can't help it if they don't believe me."

"And I was right. They'd like to spend a day with you even if there was no hope of getting you. I'll bet we have a good day tomorrow."

We did. Tim insisted on getting up early and running, and he dragged me with him. Without a gym or equipment, running was about the only option, and he was determined not to get either lax or flabby (of mind or body) on this trip. We were met by the IU Director of Athletics, and introduced to the head swimming coach, the diving coach and the gymnastics coach. I think Coach Burns had alerted them to the fact that they had to present a united front, and not seem to be fighting over Tim.

We met other coaches, visited the admissions office, and later in the day met the teams. Tim asked if he could practice with them. That was well received, and he changed into his swim suit and headed to the pool with the divers. Most of the swimming and diving teams were juniors and seniors, in the neighborhood of six feet. Tim at five-four looked like a baby. Even knowing who he was they couldn't help but talk down to him. One kid actually asked him if he had been off a 3m. platform. Tim just smiled and said, "Yeah. It's kind of high, isn't it?"

The coach had everybody doing laps and Tim joined right in. In this crowd he couldn't lead the pack, but he stayed near the front. The coach called for a fairly easy dive off the 3m. platform, and everybody did it. They were pretty good. He told Tim, who was at the end of the line, he could do whatever he liked, but Tim did exactly what everybody else did. Except his form was perfect. The coach shouted "Ten." The kid nearest me said, "My God!" under his breath. The coach then invited Tim to show off a little, and he did. Not just a little. He did six of the most difficult dives in the dive book, and all but one of them was flawless. The last one his foot was off a little and he got too much splash.

The coach looked at his team and said, "Whether he comes here or goes someplace else, that, boys, is your competition next year. Actually the next four years." The others set to diving, but while waiting they crowded around Tim with lots of questions and awed conversation.

Tim thanked them all for the chance to dive, complimented several of the better divers on their best dives-and these guys were pretty good, they had been the number 1, 2 or 3 college team for years. He then said that he'd like to join the gymnastics team for a while. The coach sent a member of the team to show him where to change and how to get to the practice gym. He joined that team toward the end of practice. I heard his guide say to a friend on the team, "Look out, this kid's a fooler."

Tim looked around and said, "No balance beam?"

That got a laugh as everyone told him that was a girls event. Tim knew the question was going to be misinterpreted, and I was sure that was why he asked it. Then a little bell rang in the coach's mind and he said, "John, Tank, get out the beam. I think Tim might be willing to put on a show for us. Would you Tim?"

"Sure." Tim did two somersaults and leapt to the rings, using them to loosen up. His time in the circus had shown him how to make gymnastics routines appear spectacular, even if your form and style wouldn't earn you points.

The beam was pushed in and set, Tim mounted it quite spectacularly, and did one of his most showy routines-right from the circus. It ended with his getting stunned silence and then applause. The coach asked if he could do a standard routine for them, and he went through both his rings and floor exercise routines. Two more rounds of applause.

After getting dressed he was invited to dinner and to spend the night with a couple of the gymnasts in the athletic dorm. He looked over at me and I nodded "Yes." We ate dinner in a private dining room with the three coaches, the Director of Athletics, two divers and two gymnasts, including the two team captains. Tim was offered a spectacular athletic scholarship-everything the NCAA allowed, guaranteed for four years-even if he broke his neck and could never dive or flip again. It was an unheard of offer, and it certainly boosted Tim's ego-as if it needed boosting. There were other sweeteners, including not having to live in an athletic dorm.

Tim had the good sense not to decline immediately. He was invited to come back, with his parents, bring his brother and girlfriend, all expenses paid. We really saw the glamor side of high level intercollegiate sports. I wondered if Tim was tempted. It was quite an offer: Forget the money value, he'd be on top of one of the highest hills in college sport. The best of the best. With the coaching and support he would get here, in both sports, he would be a national champion for four years, and an Olympic medalist in Mexico. How could North Dakota hold a candle to this offer? I wasn't sure it could. And I knew that I could enjoy IU as much as North Dakota. I would support Tim in whatever he chose. I knew that his parents would as well.

I headed home, telling Tim I would pick him up about ten the next morning. I think my parents were glad to have me alone for the evening. It led to a long question and answer session, some of it a little painful. But I was glad to find that they were not trying to talk me out of living with Tim. I guess that they had gotten the message that that truly was a done deal.

They got details of the weeks at camp, of my life the last two years at Rockford and in Des Moines. It was funny, they never thought to ask about sexual relationships besides Tim, or for Tim besides me. They had seen Tina mentioned in the papers, but just assumed that she was a friend or cover. I was just as glad to leave it at that; I was quite certain that would have pushed beyond their level of acceptance.

Interestingly, they asked about my friendship with an old high school friend, David. They had, as I had, heard that he was gay and had a partner he had met at Northwestern University. Had we known the other was gay in high school? Had we had a relationship? The answer was "No," to both. It reminded me that I wanted to get in touch with David, and talk to him about his experiences. I was sure that he and Tim would enjoy meeting each other, and I hadn't seen him since high school.

We sort of planned out the week. Thursday evening we were going to have my brothers and their wives for dinner. It was our job to "come out" to them. Friday was open. Saturday they had a party planned for Tim and me. Mom asked, "Are you two going to be open about your relationship at the party?"

"Mom, the word is out. No we aren't going to be out. If we are out in a big group like that, it'll leak. And it'll make the papers. Tim and I are planning a coming out event in Minneapolis. It would be spoiled if it leaked here. But it's going to make the newspapers here, so be prepared. If you would like, we'll schedule a trip here immediately after we come out in Minneapolis and you can introduce Tim to the same group, but this time as my partner."

"I think we won't make a big deal of it. People'll read the papers. They'll talk. We'll let them. When we're asked, will simply say that the newspapers got it right-Charles got the most eligible young man in the country. I think that will quiet people."

"We'd like you, Dad, Wayne and Irma, and Gill and Anita to come to Minneapolis for our big weekend. It's four weeks from this weekend. On Friday there's a big diving meet at school and Tim's going to come out at the meet, and introduce me. That night we'll have dinner with the team. Parents'll be invited.

"Saturday we're going to do it all over again at a gymnastics meet. Again, dinner afterward. Saturday morning'll be a time for just the Gang from camp to be together. It'll be our first time together since that first summer at camp.

"Sunday noon we'll have the extended family for a nice dinner. We don't know where."

"Just who is the extended family?"

"Tim's parents, his brother Carl and his girlfriend, Tina, his coaches, and the six other boys from camp and their girlfriends and boyfriend."

Mom said, "You consider all those part of your family?"

"Yeah, and we'll probably include Hal's parents and coach and his wife as well. Breakfast'll be a private affair with just Tina, Tim, Phil and Franklin, Priscy and Jane, and me."

"Phil? Your debate partner?"

"Yes. He's gay. He has a partner. They both are at Kansas State. I introduced him to his partner, Franklin, one of the Gang."

"Priscy and Jane. Didn't you work with a Priscy at the Red Cross?" asked Mom.

"Yes. She met Jane on a research trip with me to Iowa City."

"Why the private lunch?"

"It should be obvious. Tim and Tina were very close, really partners. So were Phil and I. So were Priscy and I. It's part of saying 'Goodbye' and moving on." I continued, "I have told any number of parents, 'Don't ask questions that you don't want the answers to.' I think that advice may apply here."

"Kind of like rumpled sheets?"


"You know, Charles, the sixties are changing the world in ways we don't comprehend. But be careful that you don't move too fast for the crowd."

"Tim's brother Carl warned me that life with Tim was going to be like a roller coaster. Except that when this one get to the top of the first hill and lets go, it just goes straight down-no little hills to slow it down. Lots of twists and turns. He was right; that does describe life with Tim, and I have only been with him two weeks and a couple of days.

"I should add that I hope you get to Minneapolis a few days early and get to know Tim's parents; you're going to like them. They'll enjoy getting to know you, and will certainly want you to join us for dinner when you're there. I'm guessing that you would like to stay at the Radisson, it's the hotel of Minneapolis."

"Charles, we'll be there. Please make reservations for us."

"It's time for bed. Listen. Thank you. I can't believe how supportive you have been. I should've told you sooner. I just didn't have the nerve. Tim has helped me a lot."

"We know. We saw you change that fall. We only now understand what happened-you fell in love, with superboy. Who would have guessed?"

"I love you."

"We love you too, Charles. Good night."

I picked up Tim the next morning. He asked me to take him over to the gym. He wanted to talk to the diving coach. He also stopped by the office of the Director of Athletics and thanked him for the scholarship offer, but politely declined it. I almost cried when he told me of his conversation with the diving coach, Mr. Billings. Tim had thanked him for the chance to meet the team and practice a little. And for the chance to spend the night with a couple of the athletes-gymnasts-in the dorm. Tim had enjoyed the two boys, they were both very considerate and they had talked late into the night. The dorm, however, left a lot to be desired. "God, Charlie, I don't think anybody studies anything!"

Mr. Billings had smiled and asked, "I suppose you get better grades than the average athlete?"

Tim had long ago learned not to hedge answers to questions like that. "I get straight As. Always have. I'm lucky."

Mr. Billings added, "And I suspect that you work like Hell. How do you manage good grades and outstanding achievement in two sports? Do you have any time left over for anything?"

"No. I do try to date on weekends."

"I'm not sure what you have planned for next year, but I suspect you might have trouble fitting in here. These teams are fiercely competitive. As a coach I'm expected to produce. I expect the divers to produce. I insist on practice schedules that the boys consider to be brutal. But when I hold those demands up to your self-discipline, it doesn't even compare. I think you might even find yourself resented here because you work too hard."

"I sensed a competitive tension both among the gymnasts and the divers. I don't think I'll find that at a smaller school."

"No, but you also need top notch coaching. If there's ever anything that I can do to help you with that problem, let me know."

"Thank you. The gymnastics coach at the University of Minnesota has made me the same offer regarding gymnastics. I may need some help."

"Listen, Tim. I'll share something with you, confidentially. I sense that I can trust you. I expect to be the U.S. Olympic diving coach for the Mexico City Olympics. I don't know why you didn't go to Tokyo, but I assume you're going to go to Mexico; your public statements have always said that."

"Yes, I plan to."

"You certainly aren't so naive as not to realize that coaching appointments on U.S. Olympic teams are highly political. And IU has a reputation for playing athletic politics well. I hope that doesn't offend you."

"I live in the real world. Nothing I've seen or heard at IU surprises me or offends me. It just isn't exactly my style."

"It'll be my honor to be your coach."

"Now, may I undertake some athletic politics of my own?" Tim asked. "You're just the person I need to help me with a problem." Tim told about Coach Nelson, and how he had missed the opportunity to be his coach of record for Tokyo. He wanted Coach Nelson to go to Mexico City with him."

Mr. Billings asked about Coach Nelson, his coaching style, the team he coached, and how it had managed to produce a national champion. Tim responded with, "He loves his divers. We know it every minute. He allows us to reach our potential. He knows that in a Minneapolis public high school he isn't going to produce many championship teams. That isn't his goal, he just wants the boys to do their best. He helped me to do my best. You know the rest."

"I'd love to meet him, and he'll certainly be welcome as an Assistant Coach in Mexico City. That's a promise." Tim's response had been to get up, walk over to the coach, and hug him tightly. Billings had said, "Tim, I think that's the first time I've been hugged by one of my athletes-except for the group hugs after a victory. It feels wonderful."

Tim was shocked. "Coach Nelson hugs us all the time; so do my gymnastics coaches. It's part of what makes the team a team."

"Tim, you live in a different world. Now, more than ever, I'm eager to be your coach in Mexico. I hope it works out."

Tim hugged him again as they said goodbye.

Driving home to Indianapolis I told Tim that my parents and I had gone over all of our plans for the commitment and coming out. Dinner that evening with my brothers and their wives was a mixed bag. Wayne and Gill were OK with everything. Wayne's wife Irma was fine; Gill's wife Anita wasn't. She could hardly get through the meal, and she and Gill left shortly after dinner. The rest had a great time quizzing Tim and me about just about everything. But there was nothing new for the readers of this story!

The party Saturday night was a huge success. I knew most of the guests from my teen years, and some of my close high school friends were able to come-but most no longer lived in Indianapolis. Tim was a hit, and everybody wanted a chance to talk to him-and have their pictures taken with him. Dad took the pictures, and you can be sure that his business associates would get nice framed pictures for their office walls. Funny, my face didn't manage to get in many of the pictures. Tim's comment afterwards was, "If they only knew you were going to get an Olympic medal, they would have wanted your picture too." I just smiled; Tim was irrepressible.

What had started out as a fearful journey had worked out well. We drove home in one long day on Sunday. On the way home Tim asked, "Charlie, commitment weekend is just four weeks away. What do we need to get accomplished in that time?"

"Well, we have already informed the Gang, and they'll all be there. We need to arrange for the big dinners after we come out. We need to arrange for refreshments after the commitment service-I wonder if there's a women's group at the church that would like a fundraiser? We need to talk to the Unitarian minister about the service. He'll probably want to counsel with us, even though we aren't getting married. We want to keep all of this as simple as possible."

We did manage to keep it pretty simple. I still marvel at how people can spend the time and money they do on a wedding, when it can be simple. And yet, as we tell the story, you'll realize it wasn't that simple, we just refused to make a big deal of it. Tim's practice schedule kind of went to Hell, however, and I didn't get as much archery practice as I should have until it was all behind us.

We arrived in Minneapolis in time to assure Tim's family that all had gone well-details to follow. And off to bed. And....

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead