Norman here, continuing what I started in Episode 168–Boys. Toronto was behind us, and European adventure beckoned.
Much to Charlie's relief, coastal European weather is much milder than central Canadian weather. The weather on the IJsselmeer (Lake Yssel) at Medemblik, Holland, over the four days of the regatta was quite varied, from one day about the same as Toronto to the other days quite mild. The winds were equally variable, with the second day causing all kinds of difficulties for the boats and sailors. In fact, on that day the Maddie II and the Freddie were the only 49ers that didn't capsize at least once. Tim considered that a testament to Auggie's constant demand that they, "Push it, push it, push it." Auggie was quite right: sailing on the edge is the only way to learn to sail on the edge. In bad weather you're always sailing on the edge. Auggie and Goose weren't ranked and didn't participate in the medal race because they weren't Olympic qualified. Tim and Charlie took second overall, even though they won the final, or medal, race. The medal race included a reduced number of qualifying boats and counted double in the final standings, but otherwise was just one of the series. Auggie pointed out that the most important thing was that they were the top American 49er entry.
The English Channel port of Quiberon in France was our next port of call. I don't remember anything particularly special about our visit there, except that Tim and Charlie won the 49er race with a spectacular lead. The media and the sailing community were beginning to realize that these upstart Americans, who thought they could learn to sail in less than an Olympiad, were serious contenders for Olympic metal. The Europeans, who had invented the 49er, and had dominated 49er competition up till now, were not happy campers. However, the sailing fraternity was such that, even though their winning was sometimes resented, Charlie and Tim were welcomed as members, along with Auggie and Goose. A good many of the sailors they met knew who Auggie was, having read about his successes in Wisconsin and New York, as I had.
We had finished the racing schedule that Auggie had laid out in Grand Forks a year and a half before. Auggie had been working on the schedule for the summer leading up to the final regatta where the American Olympic entry would be selected in Sydney in early September. Tim and Charlie had been told, that long year and a half ago, that the coming summer was crucial for their entry in the Olympics and that they should make themselves available full time until the Sydney regatta ended about mid-September. Other than that, Auggie had kept the summer schedule open until he would announce it in Quiberon. Perry had the support team ready to dispatch to every new sailing city to make arrangements as soon as the schedule was known. We were all together in a meeting, expecting the big announcement from Auggie, when Tim took over the meeting, somewhat to Auggie's surprise. Tim simply said, "Auggie, your plans are on hold. The entire team will now proceed to Madison, Wisconsin. Perry, we won't need the 49ers in Madison. Talk to Auggie privately and find out where we're going next. We'll be available to travel from Madison on June 10th. Ship the boats; have one of your team–not Norman and not you, make arrangements for our first stop; and get your whole team to Madison ASAP."
It was the first order that Tim had given in this entire process. None of us were expecting it. And nobody, certainly not Auggie, challenged him. Auggie put the slip of paper on which had notes, presumably about our forthcoming schedule, in his pocket; said, "OK, Tim," and, "Perry, we'll talk in just a few minutes"; and stayed in his seat.
Charlie said, "OK, everybody, you have your marching orders. Perry, make reservations to get us all to Madison right away. Let's move."
With that Tim and Charlie left the room and headed to their hotel room. The rest of us sat there looking at each other. Perry asked, "Auggie, what the Hell is going on?"
Auggie said, "I can guess, but I have no inside information. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to share my guess with anyone."
Perry said, "Millie, I have to meet with Auggie. Will you make make arrangements to get us to Madison? David, please help her. Curtis and Gene, get the boats packed for shipment. They'll leave here by truck regardless of whether we have to air ship from Amsterdam or drive them somewhere in Europe. I guess I'll know which very soon. Norman, I'll meet you in our room as soon as I've met with Auggie."
Auggie said, "Goose, you'd better get packed. Lynn, I'll meet you in the room." We all left Auggie and Perry alone in the meeting room. Of course, I know now where Auggie told Perry we were going next. But Perry didn't share that with anyone, including me, until he was allowed to in Madison.
Word soon circulated that we'd leave for Madison the next day, June 6, 1999, about 10:30 in the morning on a non-stop flight to Chicago, with a connection to Madison to arrive by 4:00 in the afternoon. A charter bus would take all of us but Curtis to Amsterdam, leaving the hotel at 6:30 in the morning. We'd meet in the dining room at six. Curtis would see to the crating of the boats and other equipment and follow a day later. Perry would provide direct instructions to the freight handling company on where to ship the boats. Only Auggie and Perry knew where we were going next. We had no idea why Tim wanted it kept secret, but that was clearly his intention. And, as Auggie pointed out, it was secret from Tim and Charlie as well.
I knew better than to try to pry the information out of Perry that night. It simply wouldn't have been fair to him to suggest that he breach what was, obviously, a confidence. We had our usual go to bed entertainment, and got to sleep early, to be ready for an early start the next day.
Fred was at the gate at the Madison airport when we arrived. Three taxis were ready to take us to the Mendota Sailing Club where we were occupying almost all of their guest rooms. We were treated as honored guests, the President of the Club insisting that friends of Auggie, and especially his sailing team, were always welcome at the Club. We could use the facilities whenever we wanted; we were on "the list."
Most of us, and certainly I, were new to Madison, and we enjoyed walking around the downtown that evening. We were near the campus of the University of Wisconsin and Norman and I walked all around it. I said to Norman, "This campus seems to be much bigger than the University of North Dakota. Am I right?"
"You sure are. Wisconsin is a very famous university with enormous prestige. It's about five times as big as UND. I don't know what Tim has planned for the next few days, but it'd be fun to come back here and look it over during the day when everything's open. And the state capitol is just a few blocks to the east. Madison is one of only a few state capital cities that are also home to the state university. I don't know whether that affects the students here much, but Lynn tells me that it makes it an exciting and interesting place to live."
The next day was the sixth of June and we were all invited for a sail on the Maddie, "Auggie's A-boat," with Auggie at the helm. After our time working with 49ers the A-boat seemed like an ocean liner. It easily held all eleven of us (Curtis had taken a red-eye and arrived about 8:00 in the morning). Auggie lived up to his motto of, "Push it," and those of us that weren't experienced sailors held our hearts in our hands at times. That included me, and I considered myself a pretty experienced sailor. It was easy to see why Auggie had done so well in sailing races, and by extension why Tim and Charlie had done so well.
We were on our own by two in the afternoon, invited to look around the town and university. No clue was offered as to why we were there. From some knowing smiles it looked like some people, including Perry, had figured it out, but they weren't sharing their ideas. This prevailed all the next day as well.
June 8 was a most bizarre day. Perry and I awoke to a knock on the door. We opened it and there stood my parents! "What on earth are you doing here?" was about all that I could get out.
"May we come in?" asked my mom.
"Sure." And I held the door open. "Let me ask again. What're you doing here?"
"We have no idea. About two weeks ago we got a call from Fred Milson, inviting us to Madison, and telling us that it was a trip we simply couldn't turn down. But he wouldn't answer questions. And we were not to tell you, under any circumstances. He had us in a motel in Madison last night."
Perry and I had been sleeping in bed when the knock came, and we sleep nude, of course. Perry had stayed under the sheet when I opened the door, and I'd pulled a towel around me. Once my parents and I were seated I let go of the towel; Perry stayed in bed, sitting up. Another door knock. Perry seemed sure who it was and walked naked to the door, opened it a crack, and then let his parents in. They had no more idea what it was all about than we did, but they were glad to be here. Accepting weird invitations from Fred wasn't out of the ordinary for Paul and Amanda.
We got dressed and we all went to breakfast where we found Auggie's parents, grandmother and two aunts, and Perry's sister, Nettie. Our party virtually filled the club dining room, which wasn't usually open for breakfast, but had, at Fred's urging, made an exception while we were there. The entire group adjourned to the club lounge, where we talked away the day. Everyone was interested in our stories of Tim and Charlie's successes on the 49er circuit, and the story of Perry and I sailing in Toronto was a big hit as well–at least with our parents.
Andy and Fred showed themselves about 2:00 p.m. and around 4:00 in walked Franklin, Ronnie, Jim, Tom, Hal, and a huge collection of young people, ranging in age from 14 to 25. I recognized most of them, and was told that this was all of the COGs. I had to be reminded that COG mean Children Of the Gang. Perry looked at Fred and asked, "Is this it, or are you assembling the entire Gang, for whatever it is you're assembling this bunch for?"
"Fred smiled, opened the door for Lynn's parents and her brother, and said, "This is it." Since they were local, they could hardly be excluded!
A large charter bus arrived about 7:30 after we'd been warned to get cleaned up for a nice dinner. Luckily, the expected dress at most regattas involved decent looking clothes, so the team, even traveling light, could get itself looking decent (without coats and ties; we didn't go that far). Auggie said, "Fred, let me guess. We're going to Mader's for dinner, right?"
"Of course, where else?"
Dinner was served in a private dining room about 9:30 and was out of this world. Dessert wasn't served until a little after eleven. We enjoyed the dessert, coffee (Cokes for Tim and Charlie and anybody else so inclined; I chose tea, but it was that weak American stuff–I kept my mouth shut), after dinner mints, and the conversation continued. No move was made to go home or end the meal. At about two minutes before midnight Tim stood up and got everyone's attention. "Ladies and gentlemen. This is a most momentous occasion. In just a few seconds the youngest member of the Fred's Sports sailing team will become an adult. I don't expect that I'll have to explain to anyone here the import of that statement. He looked at his watch and counted the seconds. "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, Happy Birthday, Auggie. Stand up. And Norman, you and Perry stand up as well." We stood, and someone started to sing Happy Birthday, but was quickly stopped by Tim. "No singing now. The birthday party is tomorrow–well, later today. That is, after all, why we're all assembled here in Madison."
Tim continued, "I need to explain a few things. First, the guest list. For a variety of reasons it wasn't feasible to assemble the entire Gang. Schedules didn't work, and the Mendota Sailing Club didn't have sufficient capacity. Oh, Hell, you can all see through those excuses. So I'll tell you the real reason. He's here in this room. Sheldon won't be eighteen until December 15th of next year. He lives in the Lighthouse with a wonderful bunch of people who are all waiting to join the Gang when Shel, the youngest of their group, becomes eighteen and eligible to join. Now that he's eighteen, Auggie, as well as Perry and Norman, and any others on the team that're so inclined are eligible to join the Gang, right now. But no way are Auggie and Perry going to join before Shel and the Lighthouse Keepers. Furthermore, the members of the team need time to absorb the idea of being invited to join the Gang, and consider what it would mean for their lives. Between now and the end of the Olympics they'll be able to think about it. So for all those reasons, we didn't want to assemble the Gang at this time. So the families of the three birthday boys are here. All the COGs are here. Lynn's family is here because they live here and love Auggie as much as we do. And the original Gang of Eight is here. And, of course, Fred (your host) and the Fred's Sports Sailing Team.
"Why are Perry and Norman standing? The team understands. They agreed not to pay any attention to eighteenth birthdays until all three of the underage members of the team turned eighteen. Auggie, the youngest, turned eighteen a few minutes ago. We didn't sing tonight, because the birthday party is tomorrow. Good night, everyone."
There was only room for the team, plus Fred and Andy (who were sharing a room!), at the club. The bus let the rest off at a downtown motel not far away. As we got off the bus and walked into the main club room it was almost two in the morning. Tim came over to Perry and whispered in his year, and then did the same to Auggie. Both of them smiled radiantly, and I could only guess what it was all about, but I had my suspicions. Tim had, after all, suggested what the import of the eighteenth birthday was in the Gang. I figured this was it,, but I wasn't sure where I fit in. As Perry and I walked to the stairs, he said, "We, and I mean we, are invited to Room 15 tonight. Tim, Charlie and Auggie'll be joining us there. I assume you'd like to come."
"You have to be kidding–both about the invitation and whether I'd like to accept it."
"Neither. Room 15 is just past ours, down the hall. Just keep going."
At that moment Charlie walked down the hall past us, opened the door to Room 15, walked in and then held the door open for us. As we walked past him he whispered, "You're overdressed."
Tim soon joined us, and we weren't overdressed for long. Tim looked around at the four naked men in front of him and said, "Sit down everyone. We need to talk a little before we proceed to the obvious."
I said, "Nothing is particularly obvious to me. This is so totally unexpected that I hardly know what to say."
Perry said, "Exactly. So, my suggestion, Norman, is to say nothing and listen. You can't screw things up that way."
I got the hint and said not another word.
Charlie said, "Auggie, Perry, Norman, Tim's making a bold assumption that we need to confirm. It's been the pattern of all the Gang, and for the COGs old enough, to want to have sex with Tim. Because of his special relationship to many of them as president of the university, this has sometimes been impossible. Further, both he and I believe that it's inappropriate for adults to have sex with high school students regardless of age. So far, this has put Tim off limits to many of the COGs as they reach age eighteen. But you three guys are special. Over the last two years we've developed a very special relationship with you as our mentor and support team. As a team we've been incredibly close, and we're both well aware that without all of the team, and especially Auggie and Perry, we wouldn't be where we are today. That special closeness is part of the love and support that's sustained us this far, and will sustain us for the more than a year that we have left. To deny that relationship would be quite unfair to the three of you. Whether the relationship should be sustained sexually is another matter. But the traditions of the Gang suggest that it should, and, Norman, our observations of you and Perry suggest that you might fit the Gang mold in that regard. We can also note, of course, that none of you are high school students. Auggie's graduated and Perry and Norman have set high school aside, and will eventually go straight to college."
Tim continued, "And, of course, there's the simple fact that you're a really sexy trio and Charlie and I've been drooling over you for a long time."
Auggie jumped in with, "You can be quite certain that the reverse is true. Seeing you two out on that wing, straining at a sheet or tiller, or simply hanging on the trapeze, gives me a hard-on every time."
Charlie said, "I hardly think that we two old men are that sexually tempting."
I decided it was appropriate for me to talk at this point, "Believe me, the idea of sex with you two is absolutely through the roof." And that is precisely where my dick was pointing, and they all could see.
Tim said, "Norman, you probably aren't aware of Charlie's and my one rule: We don't fuck other men, and don't let other men fuck us. Otherwise, anything goes."
Perry said, "Now?"
Tim answered, "Now."
Perry was hugging and kissing Tim before he had the word out. "Oh, Tim, I've dreamed of this day for at least a dozen years. I knew it would come, but it's coming this soon is beyond my wildest dreams. You simply can't imagine how much your love and friendship has meant to me, and all the COGs, over the years." With that he went back to kissing, and slowly moved down Tim's body until he was kissing his genitalia.
Auggie went to Charlie and pretty much duplicated Perry's efforts. I just sat and watched, knowing that with this crowd I wouldn't be forgotten. I also knew that this was much more important for Auggie and Perry than it was for me. As expected, both couples soon were signally me to join them. I started with Perry and Tim (what kind of message would I have sent to Perry if I hadn't moved his way first?). However, I was really eager to make love to Auggie, and I moved there fairly quickly.
Auggie had always intrigued me. I'd been reading about him long before I met any of the Gang. As a gay boy with no lover around, I usually imaging being with some one of my heros as I wanked. Auggie had unknowingly played that role quite frequently. It's a rare lad of eighteen that has a wanking fantasy like that come true! Auggie was an interesting combination of Caucasian and Negroid features. Perry tells me that as a little boy his hair was straight, but it curled with puberty. He wears it quite short. His skin color is either light for a person of color or dark for a white person. Our tans were gone now, but at the end of the summer our tans would make our skin color almost exactly the same as Auggie's. His dick was another matter. It was the darkest part of his body. And it undermined the stereotype of the huge black penis: it was about the same size as Perry's and mine. It didn't taste or smell any different from ours either, as we discovered time and again playing around over the years. I took Auggie in my mouth and brought him to a climax quite quickly. He'd started on Charlie, and I took up that task while he traded with Perry. Perry joined me with Charlie and we took turns till he came in Perry's mouth. Perry kissed me and then Charlie, sharing the cum. We looked over and found Tim and Auggie in a 69 position, and really going at it. We watched their obvious enjoyment.
Soon we were all sitting on the big bed, somewhat exhausted. Tim said, "Boy, that was quick. Let's get some sleep, because I want a chance at Norman in the morning. He got his chance. Being sucked by Tim was a real upper. He knew what he was doing, and just having someone that beautiful bring you was totally erotic. Bringing him was just as much so, even immediately after my own orgasm.
Charlie was being entertained by Auggie and Perry, who were doing 69. They followed that by Perry sucking on his dick while Auggie licked his balls. Oh, wow. Perry and I were pretty wild, but nothing we did prepared me for a five-man. Oh, wow.
All good things come to an end, and ours finished with our missing breakfast. However, lunch was soon upon us, and we easily managed on a two-meal day. Those among us who could sail were invited to take the others out on either an E-boat or one of the As. I was entrusted to an A-boat, and I had Perry, his mom and dad, and my whole family aboard, along with Ronnie whom I was just getting to know. While we were sailing in a relatively light wind, Ronnie asked me, within earshot of everyone, "Did you have a good time last night?"
"Yeah the dinner was great. Gee, it was a surprise to see all the people there."
"I meant after that."
I paused for a minute. "Yeah, it was fun."
"Just what did you do?"
It was very clear that Ronnie knew exactly what we all had done, and was baiting me. But how the Hell was I going to answer him? I said, "We did just about what you'd expect."
Ronnie seemed willing to let it go at that, but Nettie chimed in with, "We'd all like a few details."
My mom asked, "Are you talking about after the dinner. That was late. Didn't you just go to bed?"
Oh, shit. What had Ronnie started?
Perry was no help at all. He came in with, "You're stuck, Norman. You might as well confess."
I said, "There's nothing to confess to. Oh, all right. Perry, Auggie, and I were invited to spend the night with Tim and Charlie, and we did."
My dad said, "And?"
"And we had sex. Lots of sex. Do you all need more details?"
Amanda said, "I'm tempted to ask, but I think I can figure it out. I hope you had fun. Most of us were a lot older than eighteen when we first got into bed with Tim and Charlie."
Dad said, "Ronnie had you going there for a while. Don't worry. When Fred called us with his invitation he warned us that this kind of thing was going to go on, and if it was going to upset us, it would be better if we were upset back in England and not in Wisconsin."
I'm still trying to get my head wrapped around all of that. Fred had been so sure that we'd be sexually involved with the Gang that he'd warned my folks? And my folks, forewarned, came anyway? These weren't the parents I'd grown up with in Portsmouth. It never ceases to amaze me how the Gang changes lives, often in most dramatic ways.
A little later in the cruise Perry was at the helm and I was sitting next to Mom in the bow. We were sharing holding the jib sheet. I asked Mom, "Are you really comfortable with all of this? This whole trip is far out, even for my standards."
"Norman, I'm as surprised at myself as you are surprised at me. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I could accept your having sex with four other men–especially with two of them more than twice your age. I talked a long time on the telephone with Fred, and then your father and I had a long talk. We looked at what's happened to you in the last year. You've accomplished as much in this year as most people do in a lifetime. Fred puts it all down to the Gang. And he says the strength of the Gang is in the fact that they all love each other. He puts the emphasis on the love, not the sex. But he argues that the sex grows out of the love, and that it's healthy. He assured me that you, and your father and I, would be welcome on his team, and at this party, even if we couldn't accept the sexual mores of the Gang. But he assured us that we'd be missing something, and not just physical sex. The bonds of love that he believes are sealed with the sex would be missing. After talking a long time, your father and I decided not to miss out. We made the right decision. At this point, I don't think there's much you could tell me about last night, nor of the Gang, that would shock me. But you don't need to feel obliged to try."
Dad wasn't far away in the boat and had heard most of the conversation. He simply winked.
Tim had promised a birthday party; we all wondered what he had in mind. We were told to dress casually, but decently (Tim actually added that), and be ready for a bus pick-up at the club or hotel at 5:00 p.m. We were taken to a large private banquet hall, the kind of place that usually hosts wedding receptions. There were tables set up, a buffet on one side of the room, a stage with a dance floor in front, and a soft drink bar to one side that seemed to have everything a pop-a-holic or juice-a-holic might dream of. I would learn that, except for some university functions where it was expected, a Tim and Charlie party didn't include alcohol–that was true for most of the Gang. Over the years Perry and I decided that that was a pretty good way to go, and we generally avoided alcoholic beverages.
Andy was the MC for the party. He invited us to eat and drink as we liked, but warned us that we'd be there a long time, the buffet would remain filled all that time, so we shouldn't overeat at the beginning. Entertainment would begin in a little while. A string quartet was introduced, consisting of graduate music students from the university. They played for about 45 minutes. After a few minutes of quiet, Andy introduced a brass quintet from the university. They'd clearly taken their cues from the Canadian Brass, combining excellent musicianship with humor and sparkling showmanship. Then a local magician was introduced. I haven't seen a lot of magic shows, but Auggie said that he had, and this guy was good. He handled cards like a master. He came out toward the front of the dance floor. Nothing around him. He took off his coat, rolled up his sleeve above his elbow, and sat down in a straight chair. He reached in his pocket and took out a deck of cards which he held out from his body in his right hand. He manipulated the cards one-handed, fanning them, shuffling them, making the ace of spades hop out, and so forth. Then he took off his top hat and put it on the floor and dropped the cards into in. He wiggled his hand and all of a sudden, right before our eyes he had another full deck of cards in his right hand. That deck was manipulated a while and tossed into the hat. A new deck in his hand. More manipulation and tossed into the hat. A new deck. Another new deck. Another. The hat was overflowing, cards piling up around it. After he dropped a deck, he'd turn his hand around so we could see the back, then the front, then the back again. The next time he turned it so we could see the front, it had a deck of cards in it. Till I die I'll never know where those cards came from. It was spectacular. He got a huge round of applause, and the speculation went on all evening, not just about that trick, but about all of them.
Then Andy came on stage in front of the curtain and said we were all going to dance. The curtain opened and there was Chubby Checker and his band, and we were all going to, "Do the Twist," whether we liked it or not. We all loved it.
It was now getting on toward eleven in the evening and Andy again took over the stage. I was called up on the stage and Andy read a biography of me, written by someone who knew more about me than I did. It covered my life in England and on tour with the team. It also made me out to be larger than life and the perfect companion for Perry. Right in the middle of the story Andy read, "He was thirteen years old when he learned to wank." Having dropped that in, the story went right on. Where did anybody find that out. Well, it was correct, but I thought only I knew. (Mom later confessed that Fred had gotten the information from her, and that she knew from my stiff underwear in the laundry box.)
I was told that I was the first of the three that evening because my birthday had been first. Fred came up on the stage with a box in his hand and said, simply, "Happy Birthday." He made it clear I was to open the box, and I did, discovering a high end laptop computer, with electric current adapters for everywhere in the world you could think of. Instinctively I hugged Fred, kissed him, and said, "Thank you," through my tears. He said, quietly, just to me, "You keep making Perry happy the way you have this year, and you're worth a lot more than a laptop. Thank you."
It was now Perry's turn. It was a repeat performance, with an equally good biography. The drop in line was, "He was thirteen years old when he learned to masturbate at the hands of his sister." Both Perry and Nettie gave Andy "what for" for that line. None of us ever figured out how Andy, or whoever wrote the biography, got that tidbit of information, but Perry admitted to me that night that it was true. I realized then that it would be a long time before I'd heard all of his stories.
Fred came up on the stage again bearing another box. Perry opened it and took out a much smaller box, which he then opened. It was a Montblanc pen, ball-point pen, and pencil set. Perry took one look at it and almost squealed. "How did you know I've always wanted this? Oh, God, Fred, it's perfect."
Fred simply replied, "Remember, I have spies. I know everything."
I think he did.
Last up was Auggie, and I figured he might be getting nervous about what little detail about his wanking might be revealed. Auggie's biography was impressive, including his successes in sailing, and in capturing the fair maiden, Lynn; not to mention his coaching of Tim and Charlie. And, yes, he got it too: "There's no report on when Auggie started masturbating, though we're certain it was very young. His first sexual relationship, other than COGs, was with a young man right here in Madison." Auggie grinned and mouthed, "How did you know that?" Andy ignored him.
Auggie's box from Fred contained a top of the line, professional quality electronic camera. His whoop for joy when he saw it made it clear that Fred was the master gift giver.
Then Fred turned to the audience and said, "There's a pile of brown boxes in the center of each table. There's one for each of you. They're all packed to carry in an airplane, so I suggest that you not unwrap them. I'm going to ask Lynn's mother, Helen, to open hers. They're all the same and you can all see what they are by looking at Helen's. Helen opened the box, removed the very careful packaging, and lifted out a wooden sailboat model. It was a 49er, perfectly crafted by a sophisticated laser cutter. It had plastic sails, just like the real thing, and beneath the American flag on the mainsail were the names and birthdates of the three birthday boys. The boat was named Freddie. Carved into it was a little stand. One one side of the stand was "Fred's Sports" and its logo; on the other side was "Crosse and Blanders Ship Chandlery" and its logo. It was positively beautiful. Over the years those models have meant more to Auggie, Perry, and me than the much more expensive gifts we got individually.
It turned out that Fred had talked to Henry Crosse about possible gifts, and Henry had suggested that one of his suppliers could produce models like that. The first was very expensive, but each additional could be made automatically, very cheaply. It'd been Fred's idea to put the two company logos on the base of the models. Henry was embarrassed to see Crosse and Blanders names there, because he hadn't contributed to the cost of the gift, other than forgoing the Crosse and Blanders sales mark-up.
Andy invited Tim up to the podium for a final word. The ten of us on the team were pretty sure we knew what it was going to be. Tim said, "Tomorrow we return to the world of water. Auggie warned Charlie and me from the beginning that this was going to be a tough summer. Only Auggie knows the schedule. Come up here Auggie and tell us where we're going to be sailing, and where we're heading tomorrow."
Auggie went up to the stage and pulled a note card from his pocket. We leave the day after tomorrow for Singapore for the Asian championships. We all head to Chicago early tomorrow morning (5:30 pickup in the lobby, folks). The support team will spend the night at their lodging in Chicago. The sailing team will catch an early flight to Minnapolis and go on to Grand Forks for a day. The day after we all leave for Singapore, with the two groups meeting in Los Angeles in the evening, ready for the red-eye to Singapore. We arrive early in the morning of the day we leave (remember the date line). We have one day of rest for the sailors while the support team gets everything ready to sail. Three days of intense practice getting used to the Singapore winds and waters and the race is on. From there to Ottawa, Long Island, Weymouth, Malta, Miami, Newport, two days off in Chicago and Grand Forks, on to Hawaii, Bandol, Netherlands, Italy, and then our conquering heros will head to Sydney, there to be crowned the 49er crew of the 2000 United States Olympic Sailing Team.
As Perry and I headed for Chicago with the rest of the support team, I had a chance to reflect on my situation, on the Gang to which I would clearly be invited to join whenever it was decided that Perry would be invited to join, and on the Fred's Sports Sailing Team which I'd become an integral part of. I had a lot of questions, and that night in Chicago I started asking them, beginning with Perry.
"Perry, you're as good a sailor as Goose, or could be if you sailed as much as he. You and Auggie could be a major force on the world 49er circuit. Yet, you're content to be part of the support team. How come?"
"Norman, you know the story. I was invited to the Bahamas to be a sailing partner for Auggie, but neither of us had ever sailed a 49er; never hung from a sailboat trapeze. Goose was essential. And he was good, and available. Trying to take his place would've set up a very unhealthy dynamic on the team. I spotted my niche, asked Fred for it, got it, and am doing the job better than anyone else could have, or at least as well. That's part of being a team. For the rest, being part of a team meant welcoming you to the team because everyone knew that I wanted you very badly. Sure, Auggie and I might've made a great sailing team. We still could. We're both pretty young, you know. Norman, you and I could as well. Those're all things that we might consider right after Tim and Charlie get gold medals hung around their necks. But I think that all three of us have other plans: Auggie wants to return to his professional photograhy; you have an opportunity with Fred's Sports that could set you up for a lifetime; I'm thinking about what I want to do–I'm not certain, but it'll be in Grand Forks and I want to get started. I'm not ready to commit another four years to sailing around he world. This has been great.
"Sure, in a different set of circumstances I might've been a sailing part of the team–but not one of the top dogs. This thing was entirely created to get Tim and Charlie Olympic gold medals; there can be only one American 49er team; ergo, I wasn't going to be Olympic bound no matter what."
I continued, "You're telling me that you aren't jealous of Auggie or Goose at all?"
"Honestly, not in the least. I'm one of the luckiest kids on earth to be where I am. I simply don't begrudge Auggie and Goose being where they are."
"Perry, you're an amazing guy, and I love you for it. Now, honestly, how typical are you of the COGs and Gang members?"
"Completely typical. They would all feel the same. I know that you're going to find that difficult to accept, but as you get to know all of them, you'll see."
"Let's make love."
We did; we did.
I guess I believed Perry, but that kind of selflessness is hard to comprehend. I had to wonder if I could behave that way in the same situation, and whether I belonged in this Gang. I shared that thought with Perry, and he responded, "Norman, I'd be as confident of saying that about you as I am of everybody else in the Gang. That's why I fell in love with you. It wasn't just the great sex, it was the great you. Remember, I invited you to Australia before I'd ever had sex with you. And I knew very much what I wanted when I invited you–I was looking for a life partner; I'd found him; and now I had to win him. And, by damn, I did win him. And I love him."
Lynn was next on my list of people to talk to. She seemed to be in a similar position to me: spouse of a COG, destined to be invited to join the Gang soon, and certainly going to accept the invitation. I got myself assigned as her support person on the second day of sailing in Singapore. I knew that she liked to talk as she painted, and I took the opportunity to ask a few questions. I began with, "What're we getting ourselves into as partners of COGs?"
She answered, "You know, Norman, I've had more time with the COGs and the Gang than you have. I've asked that same question. The best answer I've gotten came from Carl, Tim's brother. He said, 'I've compared life with Tim, and it could just as easily be life with the Gang, to riding a roller coaster. You get to the top of the first hill and start flying down. Except, on a real roller coaster in addition to twists and turns at breakneck speed, there are also new hills that slow you down. On the Tim coaster they added extra twists and turns and took out the slowing hills. Just hang on tight, keep your eyes open so you don't miss anything, and enjoy the ride.' Norman, I'm just enjoying the ride. How could I have possibly guessed that the fourteen-year-old kid who picked me up by the lake in Madison would take me to the heights that he's taken me to. I just sensed that he was something special, and he's proved it every day."
"What about the sex? Does sharing Auggie with half the world bother you?"
"It's not half the world. It's the Gang. They really are special people, and you'll learn that being fully a part of the Gang is vastly more important in life than whatever value you put upon monogamy, or exclusivity, or whatever you call it. I was a little startled at the idea that Auggie wanted to be Perry's sex partner on this trip, even after he was married to me, but now it just seems so logical. I can't really explain it; you just have to live it. I know you think you're gay, but in the Gang it's just assumed that everybody is at least somewhat straight and somewhat gay. Since there are only two girls on this team, and Millie isn't really part of the COG/Gang world, I think you'd better expect that I'll be the one who steals your virginity–if you still have it, and if by virginity we mean actually sticking a penis into a vagina and having an orgasm. Now that you're eighteen, I think that's on someone's agenda."
"How about tonight? Auggie and Perry would love to watch."
"I'll take that as a, 'Yes.' The two of you come to our hotel room tonight shortly after the team meeting, or whatever we do as a group, ends."
"I'll have to admit that I'm a little fearful of that invitation, and perhaps a little reluctant."
"I know. But get over it. You're going to miss a lot in life, at least in Gang life, if you don't get your feet wet. See you tonight."
She went back to her painting, and I had a lot to think about for the rest of the day. We were on the shore nearest to where they were sailing, and Lynn was really just getting backgrounds filled in for her paintings in Singapore. I had nothing to do but sit and think. By the end of the afternoon, my dick was hard at the thought of what was going to happen in the evening. I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into, but it was clear that this was where the roller coaster was taking me. I was determined to hold on.
Auggie was next, but my chance to have a private conversation with him didn't occur until later in the week. In the meantime, Perry and I had an invitation to accept!
What an invitation; what a night; what an experience! When I told Perry about it, he was delighted. However, he immediately realized that it might be tramatic for me. I was as gay as they come–at least that's what I thought back then. He knew, and believe me I knew, that I'd never had a sexual experience with a girl. I'd never seen a girl naked, nor had a girl see me naked. He repeated the Gang mantra, "There's at least a little gay and a little straight in everybody." He told me, "Tonight we're going to find out just how much straight there is in you. I'll bet more than you think. Tonight, just go with the flow. Don't push things, and don't resist. The three of us will take care of you."
I said to Perry, "This is your first experience with Lynn, isn't it? Aren't you going to be put off by the fact that everyone's concentrating on me, and thereby screwing up your first time with Lynn?"
"Don't be silly. This isn't going to be my first experience with Lynn. That will happen in the days ahead. Tonight's for you. Think about Lynn's invitation, as you quoted it to me. This is her night with you; your night with a girl. Have a ball, guy."
"Bad pun. And, thank God, I have two balls."
"And, in case you missed that part of sex ed, Lynn has none."
"Tell me about it.... No, don't."
We headed to Auggie and Lynn's room and I knocked on the door. I'd wanted Perry to knock, but he made me. Lynn came to the door and invited us in. She had on a bra and panties, and Auggie was wearing briefs, with the label Lee. I couldn't help but remember that that was an important brand of jeans in America. I had no idea that Lee made underwear. Clearly, my mind was avoiding the subject at hand.
Lynn smiled and said, "We thought it might be easier for you it we'd started the process before you came. Would you like to strip me, have me take off these things, or would you like to lose your own clothes first?"
I just stood there, dumb.
Auggie came up to me and said, "We'll help you answer that. A little help here, Perry." Before I knew it I was naked. My feeble attempt to hide my dick from Lynn was thwarted by Auggie. I was turned and presented to Lynn by Auggie who said, "Lynn, this is Norman, and that thing down there below his pubic hair is his dick. Despite his obvious shyness, his dick is really eager to be introduced to your cunt." Then he whispered in my ear, but loud enough so everyone heard, "Go over there and take off her bra and pull down her panties."
"I didn't move."
"Now!" I was goosed rather firmly up the ass by Auggie. I moved.
Lynn turned around and told me to unfasten her bra, and I managed to accomplish that feat after some fumbling with the catches. She turned to face me and said, "Kiss me, Norman."
I'd kissed her before in the course of all of the greetings exchanged within the team. But not like this. As soon as our lips touched, her tongue pushed in. I came to and treated her like I treated Perry. It was quite a kiss, and seemed to break the ice. I was then instructed to kiss her tits, and I was back to being Mr. Shy. Then Auggie and Norman came up behind me and slowly put pressure on my shoulders so that my head moved down her body and was soon even with her genitals. I was told to push down her panties. When I didn't move, Auggie pinched my ass, hard, and said, "Now!" Another pinch and her panties flew down. Then Lynn put her hands behind my head and pulled me into her. She held me a minute or so, and then said, "I think we might move to the bed. And we did.
Auggie and Perry positioned themselves in chairs on opposite sides of the bed, seemingly to bar my escape–though escape never really entered my mind. Lynn said, "Most boys're so eager for the sex, expecially their first time, that foreplay is ignored. We aren't going to do that. Besides, in addition to foreplay, you need foreinstruction. She spread her legs and had me kneel between them. I was putty in her hands. She made me start with her tits and explore them completely. I rubbed them, massaged them, played with the nipples, pressed them, and then was told to taste and smell them. Lynn didn't seem the least embarrassed, but I certainly was. My dick was as hard as a rock and was sticking up where it could be seen, and clearly Lynn was looking. But she didn't say anything, or do anything, about it.
I was told to move to her belly button and explore it completely, and again that involved touch, taste and smell. Then her pubic hair, and I was pushed to rub my face and nose in it. Then, at her instruction, Perry and Auggie pulled her legs up toward her shoulders, exposing her anus. I'd only really explored one anus in my life–Perry's. So this was new. It had a lot less hair, and was kind of cute. At Lynn's insistence, my right index finger pushed inside,, but not very deep. I pulled it out, and Perry cleaned it with a wash rag, explaining that it wasn't really good for a girl to get fecal material in her vagina.
I was told to move up her body to her clitoris and explore it the same way. That was the first part of her that really affected my sense of smell. Then on to her vagina, same exploration, and this time she insisted that I push my finger, and then my tongue, in as far as possible. I was given a brief anatomy lesson as I touched the cervix and other parts. Then I was told to lay down on her, with my dick between her legs. She squeezed her legs tight and gave me a minor thrill. No, honestly, it was a pretty major thrill. She could feel me respond, and she said, "Now we know that there's at least a little straight in you along with all that gay."
Then I was told to lay down on my back, Lynn got between my legs, and proceeded to explore every part of me, hair, eyes, nose, mouth, teeth, tits, ribs (yes, indeed, I'm ticklish and the boys held me down as I thrashed), then my asshole, my balls, and finally my dick, starting at the base and slowly working out to the head. She didn't play so much as to make me come, but it was close.
She said, "Norman, I'm on the pill, and Perry's assured me that you have no disease that I need to fear, so we're going to skip the condom. However, we think you ought to have a condom lesson. I was handed one and told to roll it on. All three joined in that instruction, and seemed to get a kick out of my novice status. Once it was on, all three of them tickled my dick a little through it, and then Perry pulled it off. Lynn and I changed position on the bed, and I was told to use first my finger and then my tongue on her clit. Then she very quietly said, "Fuck me." I had a little trouble getting my dick aimed right, but Perry helped aim, and it slipped in. Lynn and I fairly quickly got the rhythm and soon I was shooting great loads of semen into her cunt. She thrashed about, and it was clear that she'd had her own orgasm. I collapsed on top of her, and we soon fell side to side, hugging and kissing.
I said, "That was wonderful."
"You're Goddammed right it was, fucker. And that now truly describes you. Norman, it's been wonderful. And you have no idea how much fun it was to bring you along this evening. Now, we have two very hot and horny spectators, and we need to give them the bed."
Lynn and I put our chairs together on one side of the bed, and watched intently as Auggie and Perry started with 69, and then moved to Auggie on top, with Perry on his back and his feet in the air. Auggie used his hand on Perry's dick as he pumped his ass, and before too long he came, with Perry not far behind him. Lynn said, "Everybody gets a taste, and Norman suck up enough so that you can share with Perry."
As I've said, there really wasn't anything that Perry and I hadn't done with each other, so that wasn't an unusual request, and I easily complied.
Auggie said, "I can't wait to have my chance at you Norman, and Lynn's eager to try out Perry. We have a date for tomorrow night. Tonight we all sleep in this big bed."
We slept two by two, me wih Lynn and Auggie with Perry. I slept the sleep of a fucker–a former virgin, an (at least a little) straight man. It felt good. Most important, I knew that I was going to be comfortable among the COGs and Gang–something that had become very important to me in the last year or so.
The next morning Tim came up to me at breakfast and sort of sang, "There's a little ta-da, and a little tee-dum in everybody, isn't there?" There certainly aren't any secrets in the Gang!
Auggie was the last of the three Gang-related members of the team that I wanted to talk to. I'd thought that I might ask him some questions when we had sex, but the two pairs shared the bed, and all the conversation was pretty lewd, and certainly not private. A couple of days later, I asked him if we could eat dinner together, and he agreed immediately.
"What's on your mind, Norman?"
"The Gang. You know, you guys're hard to believe."
"I'm not a Gang member yet. I had to be eighteen. And there are some complications with the date. It isn't clear that they're going to take in any COGs until all of the Lighthouse keepers are ready to join, and that means that Shel has to turn eighteen."
"I know, Tim mentioned that at the birthday party. But you know what I mean. You're part of the Gang experience, even if you aren't formally a member. Let me ask, how can you be so selflessly devoted to training Tim and Charlie, when with the same effort you could be getting yourself ready for the Olympics. Instead you sail with a guy who isn't American, deliberately disqualifying yourself from the Olympics."
"Oh, Norman, there are so many reasons. If they had an E-boat or A-boat class, I'd be sure to be a competitor. Any by God, I'd take gold. Nobody beats me in an A- or E-boat over an extended series of races. But I'm not that big on ocean sailing, nor does hanging from a trapeze do much for me."
"You wouldn't know it when you're out on the Maddie II with Goose."
"If I'm going to sail, I'm going to do it right. There's more, however. I never even thought of the Olympics. It wasn't in my field of vision. It was Tim's idea; he convinced Charlie–not too difficult, Charlie's too much in love with Tim; he convinced Fred–even easier; and then he convinced me. It simply wouldn't have been fair in that situation, after Fred paid to send me to the Bahamas to learn to sail a 49er, to talk about displacing Tim on the Olympic Team."
"You could've sailed in a different class of boat."
"Not and done the job that needed doing with Charlie and Tim. But there's a much bigger reason, and all others pale beside this. Tim and Charlie have given their lives to the Gang. If they had to choose between the Gang and the University of North Dakota, the Gang would be number one every time. They've done so much for everyone of us, for the COGs, for the parent generation, and for the original eight. Those eight guys are as close as any married couple, completely in love. Everyone of them would jump in front of a train to push the other out of the way. Once I knew that there was some specific thing that I could do for Tim, and that it was important to Tim, I would've put anything aside to do it; certainly I would've put aside any personal ambitions for Olympic gold in Sydney. Do understand, Tim wasn't asking me to do that, because I didn't have the Olympics in mind, and if I did, I'll be at my prime in the next Olympiad."
"I'm surprised that Tim was willing to ask so much of you."
"Well, there are two answers to that. First, he wasn't really asking much, because it's been a fabulous time, and I've made a huge number of contacts that'll help me in the future. However, Tim wouldn't have minded asking even if it'd been a serious inconvenience. He'd tell you that love only works if it's two-way. If he can't ask of us when it's important, then we can't ask of him. And if we can't, or won't, ask of him, then he can't show his love to us. And vice-versa. So, if I can do something for him, small or large, he'll ask. And I'll give, knowing that he would, and has, done the same for me and every other member of the Gang.
"You have to know one thing more about Tim. This isn't about medals, even gold medals. Tim's lost count of gold medals. He only know his total medal count, because so much has been made of his having more than anybody else. For Tim, the highlight of his entire Olympic experience so far was walking with Charlie in the Opening Ceremony of the Mexico Games, walking hand in hand. I wasn't alive then, but I've heard the story so often, from every member of the original eight, that I know it by heart. First, Charlie worked his ass off to qualify in archery and go to Mexico with Tim–solely to take that walk. Tim turned down being the American flag bearer for that walk. They held hands from before they entered the stadium until they were seated, and only then did they let go, reluctantly. Tim's swears it was the highlight of the Games, perhaps of his life. No, he isn't here to get a medal. And it isn't walking in the Opening Ceremony that brings him here. He's done that with Charlie, twice. No, what Tim wants is to share a podium with Charlie. And he's being honest when he says he doesn't give a damn which podium. But if he and Charlie get to Sydney as part of the U.S. Olympic Team and don't stand on a podium together, Tim will be devastated. Absolutely devastated. I hate to think about it. Charlie hates to think about it. Charlie's told me that he's even thought about calling the whole thing off because of the possibility that Tim would miss that podium. He couldn't do that to Tim, but that's why he's out there busting his ass, day in and day out, to make sure that doesn't happen. That's why Fred's put the money into this team that he has, why he's given the project personal attention. It's one of the reasons that Perry's along with us, and why he does his job to perfection. And now that you've heard this speech, it's why you'll never slip up, never goof off, never risk any failure of that pair being your fault. The responsibility–once you know and love Tim–is awesome. I worry every day, 'Am I doing this right? Are we in the right races? Am I pushing too hard, or not hard enough? What've I forgotten to teach them?' Tim and Charlie will stand on one of those three podia. They will hold hands while some national anthem is played, and while two medals are sliped over their heads. And their hands will separate only when the circumstances of the presentation force them to. The entire Gang and all the COGs will be in the audience. Their hearts will be pounding with pride. There isn't one of them that wouldn't rather see Tim and Charlie get those medals than get gold medals of their own. Believe me, the Gang is unique. My father was invited into their circle as a boy, and he's brought me up to appreciate how fantastically lucky he was, and I am, to be part of this Gang. And now you have that chance, Norman. Don't fuck it up."
I couldn't believe the intensity of Auggie's feelings as he told me all of that. It made my feelings for Perry seem like puppy love. I knew then that I had gotten myself into something wonderful, not just in my love of Perry and his love for me, but in the love of this truly unique group of people. I was determined not to fuck it up.
I looked over the schedule for the next few months. It would be intense, it would be exciting, it would be loving, it would be off the wall. And to think that just fourteen months before I was a retail sales clerk in a little ship chandlery in southern England!
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