If you look back over this story you will see that Peg and Bert certainly enjoyed trysts with the Gang. But about 2005 Peg went off the pill, and from then on activity within the Gang did not involve her being fucked. Max, who keeps score not only for himself but of the activity of all the others that he gets word of (and Max gets around plenty, and asks plenty of questions) will tell you that a lot of other things happed to Peg while she was not being fucked (at least not by a penis; fingers and tongues were welcomed). But don't get the wrong idea, most evenings were spent with Bert, and through her hot periods she was fucked regularly by Bert, specifically by Burt's penis.
However, it didn't seem to be working. After over a year of careful timing, and taking advice from multiple persons as to position, time of day, and so forth–some of which was reliable, and some of which was silly–they finally decided that a joint trip to a doctor was in order. They were both examined and a number of tests performed–including having Bert provide a semen sample ("That was fun"). It was finally determined that Peg was hypothyroid. She was put on a thyroid supplement and told that it would take about three months before any effect would be felt. The three months came in April of 2007. She had a period toward the end of April, and missed one in May. She got proof that both she and Bert were fertile by June, and seemed to be over her morning sickness before traveling to China. Bert and Peg shared the fact she was pregnant at Fred's celebratory banquet at the end of the Games, and that simply added to the reasons to celebrate. Little Dianne arrived on February 29, 2008, a leap year baby, or leap day baby, or simply leap baby, depending one whom you ask, what book you read, or what website you consult.
Being born on February 29 presents all kinds of interesting situations. In a non-leap year: just when is your birthday? The year you turn twenty-one will not be a leap year, so just when do you turn twenty-one? If you are planning a party in a bar, that is a definite problem, but you can be sure that you can get all the legal opinions you want, some of which will say you become twenty-one on February 28; a bartender, if he actually cards you, will say that you are twenty on February 28, and can't be served till the next day.
Then, of course, there will be those that when you are eight years old and are celebrating your birthday on the actual day, will tell you that you are only two. Maybe when you're sixty you'll enjoy claiming it is your fifteenth birthday, but I can assure you that at eight you don't want to be told you are two. Such was the inevitable fate for Diane, but at age zero she hadn't a clue and wasn't worried. Her parents thought she was entirely too cute to worry about such things. I think she first became aware of the issue when she was five, had learned a little about the calendar, and wanted to know why her birthday wasn't on the calendar. OK, you try explaining that to a five-year-old! Bert and Peg did their best. You can bet that Diane got the hang of how the calendar handles a year that is just slightly less than 365¼ days long a lot faster than her peers.
Before we move on to other grandCOGs, I need to remind you of Owen, son of Jody and Gayle. We always thought of Owen as a "tween" because Jody was in between generations as well. But Owen was born in 1988, the year before Jay and was always part of the group.
Joan and Gary were trying to have a baby, and it just may be that conception occurred during their second trip to China–the first having been a year ahead of the Games to make arrangements and the second for the Games themselves. At the Games they had no particular responsibilities, except to cheer on the North Dakotans and enjoy themselves. They were good sightseers, but the main sight they saw was the view of the city from their room, or perhaps the ceiling above their huge bed. In any case, Joan was having her period when they arrived in China, and by midway through the Games she was at her most fertile time, and both she and Gary were eager to take advantage of the wonderful atmosphere at the Games, the congenial crowd they were with, the opportunity to relax with no responsibilities, and the simply wonderful bed.
It seemed to have worked. Joan missed the period she had expected shortly after they arrived home following the games, and not long thereafter they got confirmation from their doctor. They were a happy couple, and the entire Gang was happy for them. Andy assured Gary that his traveling days were over with Fred's Sports, except for short trips which wouldn't come around before the child was a year old.
I want to toot Fred's horn a little here, and Andy's as well. That may seem generous to Gary, but in fact it was company policy to be gracious to employees in times of family need, and pregnancy was certainly such a time. All managers were instructed to be cooperative in acceding to requests from employees for family reasons, and managers knew that the quickest way to lose your managerial position at Fred's Sports was to not follow those instructions. From time to time Andy or Fred would get a complaint that taking care of such requests required managers to hire an additional employee, or perhaps two. The response from headquarters was always, "If you need more employees, hire them." This cut into profits, but Fred's Sports made so much money a little less profit made little difference–particularly since Fred did not have stockholders looking over his shoulder. Fred told Andy, "If we are gracious to our employees, eventually that will come back to us. In the meantime, a little less profit means a little less money for the university and the Gang to spend. I don't hear them crying."
On the other hand, Curt Oldfield (son of Gary and Joan Oldfield, grandson of Andy, Kara, Jim, and Amy, and very likely the great-grandson of Curtis Oldfield, whose name he bore, even though it was very possible that Jim was his grandfather, and that therefore his great-grandfather was Walter Forsythe) could be heard crying beginning very early in the morning of his natal day, May 10, 2009. Gary and Joan were delighted, happy with a boy but insisting they would have been equally happy with a girl, and the multiple grandparents were equally happy, including Kara's parents even though they didn't have a clue about the complexities of young Curt's grandparenthood.
Curt was healthy, happy, had loving and happy parents who were willing and able to provide for him, and had a gaggle of supportive Aunts and Uncles in the form of the Gang to see to his every need and whim. In that environment one does not find the necessary conflict to write a good story. So we will leave Curt and his family to live happily every after, and move elsewhere in the Gang.
Maternal instincts were bubbling up elsewhere in the Gang in 2008. At the Marauders' first dinner together after they came home from China Als announced that she wanted to be a mother. To that point, no one had tried to relate their living, and sleeping, arrangement to the idea of motherhood. Als slept with three boys–the Marauders were long since a woman and men but all of them liked the mental fiction that they were five boys and a girl–and was fucked by all three of them regularly, and from time to time by Coleman and Jake. Jinx voiced the question first, "Just who did you have in mind to be the daddy of this child? Or are we going to have a mystery daddy like several of the groupings in the Gang have done?"
Als said, "Let's talk about that. I'm not sure."
JoJo said, "It seems to work for the kids in the Gang. A lot of them aren't sure which of two is their father, but I don't think I'd be comfortable in that situation, and I don't thing I'd want to pass that along to a child of this group."
Coleman added, "There's another issue. All of those Gang kids with unknown biological fathers do have a legal father. They were not born of unmarried parents."
Jake added, "I know in this day and age not having your parents married is not a big deal; it's true for a huge number of children today. But I'm not comfortable with that. The term bastard is out of vogue right now, but it is a real word, with real meaning. I don't thing the Marauders should produce a bastard."
JoJo said, "That leads to a very simple conclusion. Als has to marry one of us, and limit her fucking to that person until she is a mother, perhaps a mother more than once."
Als said, "OK, if I marry one of you, and honestly I really do love you all, and could be content married to any of you, where does that leave the group? Instead of five boys and a girl living together, we'll have four single boys and a married couple. That's probably fine with Coleman and Jake, but what about the others?"
Adrian spoke for the first time, "OK, I have a simple proposal. Just like the two threesomes and foursomes, there has to be a public image and a set of private facts. I propose for our public image that we have three married couples, one traditional and two same-sex marriages. Privately, we carry on just as we always have, four and two, except that we'll make sure that Als is only fucked by her husband until she restarts her birth control. That probably means that two of us who are more straight than gay will end up married to a man, but so what?"
Jinx said, "OK, I'll go along with that, and I am going to be one of the more straight than gays who ends up with a husband."
Adrian said, "You could end of marrying Als, you know."
Jinx said, "Nope. We all know who's going to marry Als. That's JoJo. They were together before any of the rest of us were involved. They were the successful pair in three Olympics, and they deserve each other. Adrian, will you marry me?"
"Yes, I will, love."
Jojo said, "Als, will you marry me?"
"If you'll fuck me tonight, then, yes, of course."
JoJo replied, "It's a date."
Coleman turned to Jake, "I think it's our turn. I know we've had a public commitment ceremony, two of them in fact, I think it's time to go forward. Jake, will you marry me?"
"Goddam right I will. And you can fuck me tonight."
Adrian said, "Jinx, I think we have a date for a fuck tonight."
And just that simply and quickly the six Marauders decided how they were going to live the rest of their lives. You might have thought that Jinx and/or Adrian would have been jealous of JoJo, but they never seemed to be. Of course, the sleeping arrangements didn't change, and all three men, and sometimes five, were involved sexually with Als, but only JoJo fucked her, at least until a second child arrived and she had her tubes tied.
And we won't talk about either child number one or two until we get them through three marriages. That discussion was saved for a future time, as the now engaged couples all headed to bed. Als had just finished her period and would not restart her pills, but she certainly was not yet fertile. Nevertheless, Jojo was ceremoniously stripped by the other four men and told to disrobe Als, which he did with enthusiasm. As the four watched he very gently aroused her and fucked her, not for the first time, but for the first time in their new relationship.
The next day they had a new discussion. Als could get pregnant at any time, did it matter if the child was conceived after the marriage, or only if it was born after the marriage. Somebody noted that the definition of a bastard involved marriage at birth, not conception. Als made it clear that she wanted to proceed to get pregnant as quickly as possible, so if they wanted to be married before conception, they needed to move very quickly. Clearly same-sex marriages, then only legal in three states (none in the Midwest) and Canada, were going to take longer to arrange than a quickie for Als and Jojo. To this suggestion JoJo said, "No, we should all get married together, in a triple ceremony. We can work out the time and place, and certainly it will be before any child is born."
All agreed. Then Coleman said, "Their was a court ruling in Iowa last year saying that same-sex marriage was legal. The court order was stayed, but I think two or three marriages actually took place before the stay was issued. In any case, a ruling from the Supreme Court of Iowa is expected fairly soon. Let's see if that ruling permits same-sex marriages, and whether it comes soon enough for us. If not, we head to Canada the way Fred and Marty did a while ago."
It was agreed, and they waited to see what would happed in Iowa. On April 3, 2009, the Supreme Court of Iowa ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. By the end of April the Marauders had gathered every single member of the Gang, their ten parents (Adrian and Jake were brothers; I'll bet you forgot that), and a few siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles gathered in Gitchie Manitou State Preserve, in Lyon County, Iowa, for a triple wedding, presided over by the Rev. Barbara Saxon, of the Community Church of East Grand Forks. Tim had suggested Rev. Saxon, and she had been delighted to preside.
Before they had asked Rev. Saxon, the Marauders, along with Tim and me, had a discussion about how much she should be told about their living plans. Tim and I stayed out of the discussion, and it was JoJo who said, "I think that it would be totally unfair to Rev. Saxon, and unethical of us, not to tell her the complete story. If she can't deal with it, we'll have to find someone else. And, maybe, we may have to omit some details when we invite someone else. But considering Rev. Saxon's relationship to Tim and others in the Gang, we can't deceive her."
Tim and I were delighted, and fairly certain that Barbara could deal with the situation. In fact, the six Marauders made an appointment with her to talk about marriage, not telling her they were talking about three marriages. They visited her at her church in East Grand Forks, and simply told her their life stories, including how they cycled and lived in Grand Forks, and how they planned to continue exactly the same, except they would now have the public face of being married.
I would like to have been a brain cell in Barbara's brain as she digested this story, as it piled one unusual fact on top of another, leading to their six-person living arrangement that encouraged every possible sexual activity and combination. It took them a little under an hour to tell the story, which gave her a chance to figure out her response.
"OK, Marauders. I think I get the picture. And if I am going to marry you I am going to have to fit into the picture at some level. OK, I'm used to, and comfortable with, gay relationships. I have never dealt with bisexual relationships, but they stretch the idea of two-person monogamy. I've thought about it, and I can deal with that. This pushes much further. But I've talked with Tim about some of the relationships you have in your Gang, and he has convinced me that they are loving, if unorthodox. I have to respect that you are making these moves to smooth the way of a child in this world, a child that you would prefer not be a bastard, even as you admit that that is a rather old-fashioned distinction. I hear old-fashioned and unorthodox in the same context and have to believe that I have some very unusual people in front of me. Well, I for one think that marriage is a good idea for people in love. I am delighted that you are thinking in those terms. I'll be glad to marry you, but you need to understand that I will require a double commitment on all of your parts. When you marry you are asked to love, honor, cherish, support, and sustain your spouse. I will ask you that, using the traditional vows, or new ones we write. But I also ask you here and now, will you commit to love, honor, cherish, support, and sustain not only your spouse, but all of the other four persons in this arrangement? From your story it seems to me that who is marrying whom isn't really important. You are all in this together, and how you pair off for the legal arrangement of marriage isn't all that important. Will you each take those vows with respect to each of the other five?"
It wasn't the response that any of them had expected. While they had been worrying about whether the Rev. Saxon would be willing to marry them in the face of their unusual life style, Rev. Saxon had been absorbing and understanding exactly who they were as a group, and asking exactly the right question.
Now she looked at each one of the six in turn, and asked, "Will you?"
And each in turn answered, "Yes, I will."
At the end Rev. Saxon stood up and said, "Well, I don't know what the Hell I'm supposed to do for marriage counseling with a group like this. But let's get together one more time and really try to get our heads around how a life-long six-person relationship might work. You've been together long enough that I think you may be able to enlighten me."
They were all over themselves thanking her for her understanding and willingness to marry them. She responded, "Oh, I'm not sure about understanding. Understanding you six may well be beyond me. But I am willing to marry you."
They were hardly to the bridge across the Red River before JoJo had called Tim to tell him of their meeting. Tim's replay was, "Good for her! She's great!"
Rev. Saxon's next meeting with the Marauders took all of an afternoon. They had a great discussion, Barbara, as she insisted they call her, raising all kinds of questions, and giving them a chance to talk about their lives together. She established right from the beginning that there were no words, nor subjects, that were taboo, and that allowed them to discuss their sexual relationships in some detail. Barbara raised feminist questions, and wondered aloud if the men were able to think of Als as an equal and not a sex object. Als was pleased as she heard each of the men respond to that question, each in his own way trying to affirm that Als was a full member of the Marauders, and, in fact, often the leader. The did laugh over the comment from one of the men that the fact that Als had the only cunt did skew the sex. Barbara allowed as how physical differences could always be accommodated, but they couldn't be an excuse for abuse or put downs. Als assured her that the men never acted that way. And she added, "If they do, they're going to wish their balls were made of brass."
Barbara asked, "Does that comment make any of you feel threatened?"
They all looked at each other and generally agreed that it did not. They would never put Als down, and Als would never strike out. She would simply explain why some particular behavior was unacceptable to her.
Barbara looked at Als and asked, "True?"
The wedding was wonderful. The six had had to travel a week ahead to Rock Rapids, Iowa, the county seat of Lyon County, which is in the northwest corner of Iowa, to get marriage licenses. They had called ahead to make sure that there would be no trouble getting licenses for same-sex marriages. The county clerk had responded, "Well, they're legal now. I haven't had any request for one, so I guess you'll be the first in the county. Alls I got is old forms; I'm going to have to cross out 'wife' and write in something else–unless one of yous has decided to be the wife. [Laughing as he said it.] Don't worry, we'll work it out. Come on down." It was about an eleven hour round trip to Rock Rapids. They left early in the morning, got their licenses in Rock Rapids (wife crossed out to be husband), and stopped in Rapid City, South Dakota, to finalize arrangements for a party afterwards. They had been warned, by Shel of course, not to call it a wedding reception, or prices would double. They stopped at the Holiday Inn, arranged to rent their largest meeting room, with a buffet for 160, for the following Saturday. They also rented every room that was available for that Saturday night. April in South Dakota is not the busy season; with appropriate squeezing they would all fit.
Gitchie Manitou State Preserve fits into the northwest corner of Iowa, bordered on the north and west by South Dakota. It contains interesting rock formations and archaeological sites and not much else, including roads. But there was a dirt road leading from Adams Avenue on the east side of the Preserve. That road quickly came near the Big Sioux River which was the border with South Dakota. There everyone got out of the four chartered buses and was handed a pair of paper shoe coverings to keep their shoes clean in potential dust or mud. Luckily it was dust, not mud, and the weather was gorgeous. The six Marauders stood in a small circle with Rev. Saxon in the middle. Their parents and families stood in a circle around them. The Gang encircled everyone. Rev. Saxon proceeded with the ceremony very quickly, saying she would have more to say at the party afterwards. Everyone tramped back to the buses and they were off to Holiday Inn. The room was ready for them, with the buffet to be set up in the end of the room, behind a curtain. The curtain would be removed at dinner time.
Shel, who had been advising the Marauders and helping make arrangements, appointed himself the MC and invited everyone to find a place to sit at one of the tables and then give their attention to Rev. Saxon. She pointed out that it was difficult to hear by the river, and that all they really needed to do in Iowa was say the legal words, which they had done. Now she would like to give greetings to the couples and comments to everyone.
Barbara had asked, and been told by the Marauders, that their parents and all family coming to the weddings, knew about their living arrangements. They didn't necessarily approve–that varied by family–but their lifestyle was at least accepted. Barbara started off by saying that there was a part of the ceremony that wasn't required by Iowa law, and therefore would be done now. She called the six to the front and asked them the same question she had first asked them, would they make the same vows to each of the others that they made to their spouse. Each in turn again said, "I will."
Barbara went on to explain the importance of that vow, and how, after talking to the six, she was quite confident of their willingness and ability to keep it. She talked about the conjunction in this group of the old-fashioned and the unorthodox. She thanked them for seeing the importance of marriage for a child, and noted with some enthusiasm that Als was pregnant with the next Marauder, a boy, due in the middle of July. The boy would be loved by two parents, four foster parents, four grandparents, and about a hundred and thirty aunts and uncles. What could bode better for his future?
The dinner was wonderful. But the best part of the evening was when Jinx's parents came up to Jinx and Adrian and told them they were loved and accepted. His mother said, "It's been hard for us, but Rev. Saxon's comments were very moving. We want to be part of your lives, all six of your lives. We love you Jinx, and you too, Adrian."
Jinx's parents had been the least willing to accept the relationships within the Marauders. When they had all gone to Eugene for the commitment service for Coleman and Jake, Jinx had told his parents the whole story. They hadn't disowned him, but had made it clear that they could not approve of nor accept the relationships that he participated in. Jinx had been sorry, but since he lived almost two thousand miles away he didn't let it bother him. When he had invited his parents to the wedding he had made the continuing relationship clear, and they had promised not to make any scenes when they came. They hadn't, and now they were talking of love and acceptance. It made the day, if not the year, for Jinx.
And the boy did arrive: on July 10, 2009, with the name of Jon Jon Hopkins. Well, come on, with parents named Als and JoJo, did you expect a traditional name. JoJo pointed out that he could elect to be Jon, Jons, JonJon, Johnny, or any number of possible nicknames; it would be up to him. In the meantime he would simply be called Jon. The six Marauders quickly proved to be wonderful, loving parents. Jon was smothered in love, but as others have pointed out in these pages you can't be spoiled by too much love. I think he could ride a bicycle before he could walk, at least it seemed that way. We'd often see JoJo, or Jinx, or any of them, riding down the street with Jon in a basket in front, screaming with delight as they tore by. He would prove to be as fearless as his parents and the rest of the Marauders.
While the Marauders continued competitive cycling, it's extent was curtailed, and they put more effort into coaching the younger cyclists of NTAC. It was a task that they proved ideally suited for, and Nels and Mary were delighted. Before long NTAC would again be represented in international cycling circles by new teams that would choose new names, but would always embody the Marauder Spirit, as Nels put it.
The Marauder Spirit rekindled in Als and JoJo not long after Jon's arrival. After Jon's birth Als had not resumed her birth control pills. She and JoJo, with the rest agreeing, decided to simply play Vatican Roulette, i.e. the rhythm method. It wasn't reliable, they knew, but it was likely to work for a year, which was the time frame they had in mind. And a slip simply meant that the next child would come a little sooner.
Much to the annoyance–if they knew–of many birth control counselors who preached (rightly so) against the reliability of the rhythm method, it worked for about fifteen months, when it was discontinued. Then the fecundity of both Als and JoJo was demonstrated by the swift arrival of pregnancy, followed by the birth of another boy, Bruce, on August 15, 2012. Yes, Bruce was an uncharacteristicly conventional name, but all six of them liked it, so Bruce he was. I should note that JoJo and Als were very eager to have the involvement of the other four Marauders in all aspects of pregnancy and birth. The public image that JoJo and Als were the parents was fine, but they were very eager that the private commitment that all were involved would be honored. The name, Bruce, had come from Jinx, and was endorsed by the others. Neither JoJo nor Als were not going along.
"It's time." The speaker was Lynn and the audience was one person: Auggie.
"That tone of voice indicates a serious discussion coming up. Since I am currently grilling pork chops for dinner, outside, and you are presumably going to take care of some kind of potatoes and vegetables, inside, perhaps we should schedule the discussion for dinnertime."
"That is exactly what I have in mind, Auggie dear. I am just putting you on notice."
Auggie brought in four loin chops, finished on the grill with barbeque sauce, and added them to two plates that Lynn had already prepared with snap peas and home fried potatoes. Auggie took a bit of chop, a drink of water, and said, "Time for what?"
"Auggie, except for the gay COGs, almost all of them are parents. We aren't. It's time."
"I, we, have a multiyear commitment to Perry and Norman as they prepare for the London Olympics. You aren't suggesting that we back out of that, are you?"
"Absolutely not. After how they supported you, there is no way that we aren't going to keep that commitment. It is one that I totally approve of."
"How does that fit with parenthood?"
"Very nicely, silly. Look, we have a wild, roaming lifestyle, and we are going to have to settle down somewhat eventually. We've discussed that, and we both understand it. And I know that if we have children, I am going to have to stay home some of the time as you roam around and take pictures. But it isn't children that will curtail our roaming, it's school. Schools don't roam around very easily, unless you home school your child, which I don't think is a particularly good idea. But, until a child reaches school age, she can travel with his parents quite easily. So I don't think our forthcoming travel with Perry and Norman should stand in the way of having a child."
"Neither do I. I just haven't thought about it carefully. Does this mean that it's time to have that rod, or whatever you call it, taken out of your arm? How quickly would you be fertile after it came out?"
"Yes, it's time. And, I think almost immediately, but I'll have to ask the doctor."
"Do you want me to come with you?"
"That seems to becoming a tradition for the Gang. Since you came along when it was inserted, come with me to have it removed. I know that Dr. Taylor would not have any thoughts that you didn't agree, but your being there does indicate that you are in agreement that I could become pregnant."
"And I wondered if we were going to have some kind of disagreement when this conversation started."
"When have we had serious disagreement, Auggie? I can't think of a time."
"No marriage can avoid them forever. Our turn will come."
"Maybe not. Auggie, I love you dearly, and I think we have avoided serious disagreements. At least I hope so."
"I picture our first serious disagreement over who gets up to take care of a crying baby in the middle of the night."
"Madison babies don't cry in the middle of the night."
"Not really, and I think I'll be the one to get up, because I'll be the one with the breasts full of milk. You're pretty exceptional, Auggie, but that is one game you can't play."
"I don't think I'm sorry about that."
"Auggie, I love you. Making you happy would be more important to me than having a baby, but the wonderful thing about our situation is that no such choice is required. How did we ever get so lucky?"
"You picked the right bench to sit on by the lake, and I was the brash kid that decided to make a pass at you. God, I was lucky."
Deciding to have a baby and having a baby are not the same thing. But they were lucky. Not much time passed before Lynn was pregnant, and it was time to think about names. Auggie said, "Well, if it's a girl, it will have to be May or June; we have to keep up the tradition. If it's a boy it's a little harder. Perhaps Julius, with July as a nickname. Or, how about Septimus? Or maybe March."
"You have got to be kidding, because if you're serious, this kid's in deep trouble."
"You know how much I like to be called August. I don't think you need to worry about April or Julius. Maybe May."
"Nuts. I like family names. If it's a girl I was thinking we could honor your grandmother, but then I remembered her name was April. I guess that is where the August came from. For a girl we go to my mother, Millie. Forget the Mildred, just name her Millie."
"And for a boy?"
"Sid, of course. Again, skip the Sidney, if that is Sid's full name. It doesn't matter, let's go with Sid."
"Millie and Sid. And if we have two of the same sex?"
"I want one of each, so that's what we'll get."
"Pretty cocksure of yourself, aren't you?"
"It's what comes out of your cock that makes the difference. And, buddy boy, you had better get it right."
"Do you care which order they come in?"
"Then the first one I will be sure to get right. I don't think I can promise more than a fifty-fifty chance on the second one."
"As I said, you had better do better than that."
The first was a girl, arriving January 14, 2009. Lynn had been pregnant at the Olympics, but had kept it to herself (and Auggie, of course). The name would be Millie April Madison, honoring both sides of the family. Four months later Cathy was pregnant again. Auggie had been warned to only send Y chromosomes, and somewhere inside him the message was received, because little Sid was born March 1, 2010, and was duly named Sid March Madison. Lynn's comment was, "God knows how the next generation will handle names; I hope they forget this month business. Three generations is enough."
Dear reader: I fear this story will end before we learn the names of the next generation. Speculate all you want!
Kay and Cam were the only heterosexual couple of COGs to not have a child. At first it was because of Kay's intense work at the Super Collider. But it changed to the simple fact that, try as they might, Kay didn't get pregnant. It was off to several doctors, for all sorts of tests. Cam's sperm count was good; every test suggested that Kay was fertile. They finally consulted a specialist in St. Paul. Dr. Frangin looked at all of their test results, which they had brought with them, and then she examined both of them in incredible detail. Cam later said, "Here is this quite beautiful female doctor manually examining my penis and testicles, how way I not supposed to get hard. Well, I did. She just smiled and said, 'Don't worry about that. It's normal. We are trying to discover if you are abnormal in some way. It doesn't appear that you are.' The male nurse in the room, needed for professional protection, just smiled, and that made it all the worse."
Kay got the same treatment, this time with a female nurse in the room. Again, a declaration of normality. Dr. Frangin talked with both of us and said, "There is no clear reason for your not getting pregnant. But I can speculate. When sperm are ejaculated they are not capable of fertilizing an egg. They must go through a process called capacitation. This is a biochemical process that takes place inside the female reproductive track in the first hours after intercourse. I'm guessing that the chemical environment inside Kay does not facilitate capacitation."
"So what do we do about it?"
"Remember, I'm guessing. And the treatment can be controversial. I'll need you to come to our hospitality suite and spend the night. You'll have intercourse with a nurse standing by. You must withdraw just before ejaculation and then the nurse will swab Kay's vagina. We will get a chemical profile, and use it to design a douche that will facilitate capacitation."
Kay asked, "If Cam is going to withdraw, why can't I be stimulated with my finger or perhaps a dildo?"
"We try to replicate intercourse as closely as possible. We don't really know what affects your chemical makeup; we do know that emotions are part of it. Masturbating with your finger, or using a dildo, is not the same as having intercourse with your lover."
Cam and Kay were ready to try anything. Besides, with their experiences within the Gang, this wasn't going to be all that unusual an experience. Two nights later they checked into the doctor's hospitality suite. They were greeted by a nurse who introduced herself as Betsy, and she explained that she was an R.N. and would swab Kay at the appropriate time. She went on to explain that she would be with them through the entire process; they needed to get used to her being in the background, because her coming into the room at the last minute could be very upsetting.
Betsy invited them to have something to drink, offering coffee, tea, soft drinks, and said she could get anything else they wanted, but only soft drinks. Kay asked for coffee and Cam for Coke. Betsy said, "While I get your drinks, what don't you two start to get undressed and begin to arouse each other?"
Betsy continued, "I don't want to be your guide though all of this. Have your drinks and carry on as close as you can to what you do at home. The only thing is, Cam, if you ejaculate before you withdraw, we have to try again another night. If you withdraw too soon, we may not get the right chemical analysis. When you withdraw you don't need to say anything, just roll over and kiss Kay, without rolling her. I'll do my thing quickly."
Kay told some of the Gang afterwards that it took a while for them to get over being shy in front of Betsy. She continued the story: "But finally Cam let go and started kissing and sucking me as he often did at home. First my tits, then down below, then with his tongue pushing into my vagina. I was worried that that might mess up the testing, but Betsy never said a word. He continued by shoving his dick at my face and getting me to harden him with my tongue. Then he mounted me missionary style (which had been requested by Betsy), and pumped pretty hard. I was just coming when he flipped off me, pulling his dick out as he rolled. He immediately knelt over me and kissed me deeply. I could feel two things: his ejaculate hitting my side and Betsy swabbing my vagina."
Betsy said, "That's it. You two really got into it. Most couples have a very difficult time dealing with a third person being present, but we haven't yet figured out another way. You were super, and Cam your timing was perfect. Kay, I don't think you had an orgasm. I'll get out and let Cam pleasure you. You can spend the night here, or leave whenever you want. Good Night."
Kay continued: "The minute the door closed behind Betsy Cam was all over me, fingers, tongue, soft dick. Fingers on my clit did the trick, and we hugged, kissed, and slept. The next morning we headed home to Grand Forks, Dr. Frangin having told them she didn't need to see them again."
The chemical analysis and the preparation of the correct douche took a little over a week. About ten days later a FedEx package arrived with several bottles of douche. Kay was to douche herself (or Cam could help, that was Cam's idea, not the Doctor's) immediately before intercourse during the period of high fertility in her menstrual cycle.
Guess what? In the second cycle she missed her next period, and had a confirmed pregnancy test soon after. Dr. Frangin had assured them that once conceived, the problem was behind them. This wouldn't be an "at risk" baby, and if it worked once, there was no reason to believe that it wouldn't work again and again. The shelf life of the douche was three years, since it was simply a chemical formulation, and not biologic in nature. It was carefully saved. Needless to say, as soon as they had the confirming pregnancy test, they called Dr. Frangin and told her, and thanked her.
Author's note: Remember, this is fiction. If you find anything like this on some medical page of the internet, consider the source. The author might have gotten the idea reading a story on iomfats.org!
Cam and Kay thought long and hard about possible names. They learned from her fifth month sonogram that it was a boy. That did narrow the search for names. They decided that they didn't want a name that would duplicate another grandCOG, and didn't really want to duplicate any in the Gang. Then Kay came up with an interesting thought. In the lifetime of this child Google searches were going to be important, and while at some point it was going to be necessary to find a way to uniquely identify people, only the Social Security number did that now, and it was private (or was assumed to be by too many people who should know better). So how about a name that would be unique?
Cam added that it ought to be unambiguous as well. For example Frederick Charles Thompson could be on the web in any combination of Fred or Frederick with a middle name of "C", "C.", "Charles", or none, making a total of eight possible names. Kay said, "The only way to avoid the middle name conflict is not to have one."
Cam said, "Right. And the first name needs to be unique and have only one version; no Daniel/Dan business."
They thought for a while, actually for weeks. They tossed around a lot of names but couldn't find one they liked. Then one morning Cam came up with, "Pned. The 'p' is silent. It's a standard name, pronounced like Ned, but it's Pned. It'll drive his teachers nuts, but his friends won't care, they'll just be saying it. And if they write it without the P, so what? But that mistake won't make the Internet, so a search for Pned Forsythe will almost certainly be unique and ambiguous."
Kay said, "I love it. Pned he will be." And that was settled. Try a search for Pned Forsythe and see what you get.
The Gang is used to all kinds of thinking outside the box, but Pned took a little getting used to. But they soon realized that almost all of their interaction with Pned would be verbal, and when spoken there was no difference between Pned and Ned.
So, with the name announced beforehand, and with the background of the rather unusual medical testing involved in his conception, Pned arrived with great fanfare on November 25, 2010, Thanksgiving Day. For Kay and Cam the day could not have been more appropriate.
Almost two years later Pnan arrived, pronounced exactly as you would expect. Her October 18, 2012, birth was greeted with great joy. And the remaining douche bottles were quickly disposed of!
It the space of two and a half years, the three straight couples in The Lighthouse had birthed six kids; Liam was the oldest by almost a year, and he became the leader, not just because of his age, but also because of his personality. We weren't sure whether we had a little Auggie on our hands, or a little Shel, but it was clear that Liam would be one or the other, and toss in Willie's diving along with it. As soon as May, the fifth along in age, was ready to climb out of a crib, the question of a new bed was raised. Liam, all of age thee announced that no new bed was needed, three would fit fine in a double bed! He was right. They slept that way for years, adding Sonnie as the third in the second double bed.. And it wasn't boys in one bed and girls in the other, the make up of each bed seemed to change every day.
They played together wonderfully. Sure, they had their spats, and as they grew, Liam became the peacemaker for the group. We changed the kitchen table so that it was lower, and they ate dinner in the kitchen as a group, while the ten adults ate in the dining room. Lunches and breakfasts were always catch as catch can, until the kids got into school; then breakfasts had to be more orderly.
Sally was their nanny, as had been agreed by all of the Keepers (Lighthouse Keepers, remember) shortly after Sonnie (Nels and Mary's son, the last of the six) had arrived. As other of the grandCOGs arrived, and got beyond the diaper stage, Sally sort of adopted them into the group. She decided to set up headquarters in The Hideout, and fixed up one of the bedrooms as a little preschool room. All of the grandCOGs were invited and all participated. As soon as that pattern was established, Nels talked to the other parents, and they also contributed to Sally's compensation–and Social Security. With this arrangement it was decided that the kids could skip nursery school or preschool and begin their formal schooling in Kindergarten. All of them were reading as they entered Kindergarten! Even though all of The Lighthouse kids were in Kindergarten, Sally planned to keep her little school going until the last, Bruce and Pnan, were ready for Kindergarten. Viv and Noreen, the mothers of the two sets of twins, were always willing helpers for Sally, and they worked out an arrangement that they would share in the income, also for their protection under Social Security.
Liam was learning to swim at age two and dive at age three. Jay Bruder was running with his father from an early age. Nels' Ginny and Sonnie were introduced to the Marty Center and various gymnastics exercises, beginning with floor exercises from a very early age. JonJon, as he was being called, and his brother, Bruce, were set on little bicycles (without training wheels) at age two and were flying around the velodrome shortly thereafter. Well, you get the point, in almost all cases is was like father like son or daughter, or like mother like daughter or son.
Sometime in the middle of all that, the COGs got to thinking: Shel, who obviously had some of the most exciting genes of all of them, wasn't going to be a father. It wasn't lost on anyone that both Tim and I had continued our genes through Max and Milt. Through whom might Shel's genes be carried forward? Nettie had been a part of these conversations, and one evening she got Shel to invite her up to his room in The Lighthouse, along with Brian. Beating around the bush is not one of the dysfunctions of the Gang, and she simply asked the two men, "I would be willing to carry your babies, if you would like, and if you would adopt them and be good parents to them."
Shel and Brian were speechless. They looked at each other, and then Shel asked, "You'd do that for us?"
"Not a permitted question within the Gang."
Brian said, "Oh, my God, Nettie, that is a fabulous gift. We'd be completely honored, willing, and eager."
"OK, one of you get your clothes off–you decide who is first. Then the other needs to strip me. It's the right time of the month, and I'm not on birth control. And, yes, Marshall is aware of this and enthusiastically endorses it."
"You're not on birth control? That means you've been planning this for a while. Is that right?"
"It is, indeed. Marshall and I have been talking about it, and I talked with Charlie about legal issues. People will assume it was artificial insemination–but it had better not be–and that I was agreeing to be a surrogate parent. Minnesota law is much kinder in this situation, so the baby will be born in East Grand Forks. Now get moving; I don't need these clothes."
Of all things, Brian and Shel flipped a coin, and Brian won. He easily stripped and Shel had Nettie naked in what seemed like a nanosecond. Nettie said, "OK, I'm told the missionary position is best for conception, so climb on Brian. Shel, get him hard and guide him in. Then enjoy the show."
It wasn't much of a show. Brian pushed in, came fairly quickly, and stayed inside Nettie as long as he could stay hard. Nettie was told to stay on her back (it may be an old wive's tale that that encourages conception, but it sure didn't discourage it), while Brian saw to Shel's needs. They all slept together.
They repeated the performance the next three nights; those nights Marshall joined Shel as spectator, and then he and Shel explored variations of gay sex. With the arrival of a positive pregnancy test, Nettie was convinced that the first night was when the deed was accomplished. When a sonogram declared it to be a boy Brian wanted to name him Peter Brian.... And then he stopped. He asked Shel, "What will be his last name? We have different last names, but our children shouldn't."
Shel said, "Well, I'm Oldfield and you're Bert. We could use one of those, make up a new one, or do what Tim and Charlie do–have no surname at all."
"Bert has always been a problem–it sounds like a first name, not a last name. And it can be spelled with an e or a u, just to make it more difficult. The boy can be Peter Brian Oldfield, and I am going to talk to Charlie about how to change my name to Oldfield. The whole damn family can be Oldfields."
"It doesn't bother you to lose your name?"
"Hell, most women accept a name change when they get married. It isn't a big deal. Besides, I like Oldfield better than Bert."
Peter Brian Oldfield, to be called Pete, arrived on August 15, 2007, at
the Sanford Medical Center in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. The biological parents were listed on the birth certificate, and Shel petitioned the court to adopt Pete, with the consent of Pete's mother. After a few months of court process and delay Pete became the legal child of Shel and Brian.
Sixteen months later, December 22, 2008 to be exact, along came Henry Sheldon Oldfield. Hank, as he would be called, was born in Grand Forks, because a court ruling since Pete's birth, had made the same adoption process available in North Dakota. The arrival of two new boys made the residents of the aerie to be six boys (Liam, Anton, Bobby, Sonnie, Pete and Hank) and two girls (Ginnie and May). Ages nine down to newborn. Not long after Hank was born Liam got the kids together, well Pete and Hank were too young to participate, to talk about beds. After coming to an agreement amongst themselves they brought up the subject at a Lighthouse dinner one evening. Liam said, "We like sleeping together, and now we have eight kids, and soon Pete and Hank can be out of cribs. We think we'd like to get three king-size beds for the aerie."
Shel asked, "Do you all like sleeping together?"
"Yep." It was a chorus.
"Well, the doubles that are up there are a little small since you've been growing up. This weekend we make an expedition to find three nice king-size beds. I hope that Hank and Pete like this decision, as they are too little to take part."
Not only did they get three king-size beds, they were all shoved together down one side of the big room, so that they seemed to be one huge bed. This had been planned when they bought the beds, and they went out of their way to find bed frames that would allow the mattresses to sit tightly side by side–that wasn't easy, by the way. The beds were made carefully, so that the whole thing looked and functioned like a single bed. That is, they were made carefully about once every three weeks. The rest of the time the bed was a complete mess, but they all dug their way in every night and managed to keep warm–both from the covers and the body warmth of the body next to them.
And they were introduced to The Hideout. As the COGs had aged, the toys and games had changed, and the old ones had been discarded. So we all were adding age appropriate games and toys to the collection, and soon The Hideout was a joyous place for little children again. Liam first enjoyed the shower at about age six when Willie, his father, suggested that they take a shower after some rough and tumble in the basement. That didn't get sexual, but Liam learned how to use the hand-held shower heads to great effect. It wasn't long before the first grandCOG cohort of four boys and two girls all of about the same age, learned to shower together, and from there learning that aiming at genitals produced a wonderful reaction soon followed. And that led to roughhousing in the basement, and back home, especially in the aerie, in which hands stealthily sought out sensitive areas. Stealth was soon abandoned.
Like the COGs before them, the grandCOGs were willing, even eager, to share their new activities with their parents, and I don't have to tell you of the attitude of the COGs to the stories.
The COGs had followed their parents in treating their children as grown up right from the beginning. They did not specifically organize sex education, but the openness in family conversations, and the willingness to answer all questions quite factually, served the grandCOGs well. However, as Owen, Jay and other reached age eleven and twelve it was agreed that some specific education was needed. But before they even got started, they realized that girls were close in age and had need of some specific information as well.
By the way, this will be a great story. But this episode is already longer than it needs to be, and the story of the grandCOGs' sex education will not fit in a couple of paragraphs–or pages. So, we'll end here and invite you to the next episode.
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