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Finding Tim

by Charlie

Episode 239 - Aquatics

This is Billy, and I guess I should be the one writing about Aquatics. Of course, I'm no longer the Aquatics Director at UND; that job was given to Mabel Cross upon my retirement. Mabel had been one of the swimming coaches, and she continues doing that while in her new position. Her new position did exempt her from having to do her share in the freshman physical education course, where swimming was one of the life sports that Hal insisted upon.

Jeff Calloway had been helping me coach the diving team. He came out of Indiana University with high raves from Ralph Billings–long retired but still keeping up with the program. Now Jeff was the head diving coach, ably assisted by Willie, Hardie (irregularly) and me. The success of Liam and Woody at the Rio Olympics had led to more interest in UND diving than had the previous successes of Tim, me, Willie and Hardie. I think that we were always viewed as exceptional individuals rather than the product of a program. But in the case of Liam and Woody there was a sense that the diving program at UND could take credit for their success. It was also true that Tim and I never had the spectacular success of Liam and Woody, simply because there wasn't synchronized diving in our day. We were "old men" when we made our Grand Slam, and no college diving program could claim us.

However, since Rio, a number of really good high school divers have decided to give the diving program a good try. As a result we had a very strong diving team, with talk of how UND Aquatics might move to Division I while other sports remained Division II. We were already doing that for ice hockey, but that was a special case. However, the fact that we were still Division II meant that our team competitions would be at a lower level. Really outstanding divers would, like Tim, Billy, Willie, Hardie, Liam, and Woody, have to make their marks in individual competitions. As far as Tim and I were concerned that was exactly the group of divers we wanted in Grand Forks–kids with fires in their bellies that would work like Hell as individual competitors.

Let me make a quick comment about the phrase "fire in the belly." We all knew what it meant, but we'd seldom, if ever, used the term. Tim often spoke of commitment, make up your mind, and don't look back. Then Shel told Dag that he didn't have fire in his belly. We all knew what he meant, but Dag had to figure out just what it meant for him. In Darwin he did that, and we were all impressed. And we've adopted the term and use it when appropriate. It says so much more than commitment.

So, in early 2019, with just a little more than a year to go until the swimming and diving Olympic Trials, the UND Aquatics Team had ten potential Olympic athletes. You're familiar with Liam and Woody. They would compete only off the 10-meter platform. Though only diving in the one event, they'd be the driving force behind the team. The four twins were possibilities. They were all four into diving and at least one swimming event All four nursed the dream that they could qualify as both a diver and a swimmer. That looked unlikely for Tokyo, but these kids were intense competitors, driven by Shel and others, but mostly by themselves and each other.

John Smith was the diver, springboard, that also had a good chance on the trampoline. If he qualified on the trampoline that would add one additional sport to the North Dakota collection. It is duly noted that trampoline is part of gymnastics, but we still thought of it as a separate sport, just as we considered swimming and diving as separate.

June Cummings had an excellent backstroke and had a decent chance at qualifying. Myra Sugerman was both a springboard and platform diver, and she also swam the individual medley which requires a mastery of all four of the competition strokes. Finally we had Waleed Hamza, an Arab-American from the Detroit area. He swam freestyle like a bat out of Hell, and was looking forward to success at the national level at the next nationals; he took a silver in his last national NCAA meet.

It was a most impressive group, the largest group of swimmers that Grand Forks had yet sent to an Olympic Trial. That group all got an invitation from Liam and Woody for dinner at The Hideout for the next Friday evening. John, June, Myra, and Waleed were unfamiliar with The Hideout, but Liam gave them directions when he gave them their invitations.

They walked together from the natatorium after Friday practice. All that Liam would say about the evening was the he and Woody thought they all should get to know each other better. When they got to The Hideout, Liam invited them all in, and suggested that the twins give those who were new to The Hideout a tour. As planned in advance the tour included the first floor and the basement. Those floors included the games, toys, ping-pong and pool tables, and lounge areas, as well as the kitchen and dining room. In the kitchen two employees from Jerry's were unpacking the evening's dinner.

Back in the living room Liam suggested everyone sit and get comfortable, dinner would be in about a half hour. In the meantime, everyone was asked to give a short personal biography. Liam began by talking about growing up in Grand Forks with a father and grandfather who were Olympic diving champions. He talked about his relationship with his uncle Tim and his conversation with Tim at age five when he'd laid out his goal of winning four gold diving medals at a single Olympics. Then he let Woody tell about growing up in Des Moines, meeting Liam at a diving meet in Chicago, moving to Grand Forks, and capturing four medals at the last Olympics.

The twins continued the stories. They talked about growing up in Grand Forks with a bunch of children most of whom had parents or grandparents who'd been Olympians. Marilyn decided to tell the story of how some of their parents and grandparents had resisted pushing them too hard as swimmers and divers, and how they'd gotten them to really support their Olympic dreams. The girls tried to explain The Playhouse where they lived, but it was far beyond the imaginations of the four newcomers. The boys explained that they lived in a normal house not too far from The Playhouse, with a father that happened to be one of the three youngest ever recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics.

At this point Liam invited the four UND divers to tell their stories. Also at that point those four divers were beginning to understand that they were amongst an exceptional group of people. John Smith started off by wondering if he really fit in this group.

Liam jumped right in, "Of course you do. We're all divers here, and all headed to the Olympic Trials. We want everybody to know everybody else's background, but the price of admission is hard work on your diving skills and an invitation to the Trials."

John continued, "I grew up in the west Chicago suburbs, dove in high school–only from springboard and 5-meter platform–and did quite well in metro area meets, but seldom came in first–it's a highly competitive region. In my junior year my coach talked with me about my future in diving. He told me getting to the top was a difficult road, that the top was the U.S. Olympic Team, and that the road there led through the University of North Dakota. I asked him why and he simply said, 'Tim and the Carsons,' Well, here I am, and I'm getting my shot at the Olympics. Last summer I spoke with my old coach and thanked him for the advice and assured him that it wasn't just good advice, but absolutely right on target."

Liam said, "As a Carson I'll thank him for that, but I think that conversation was before Woody and I had been to the Olympics." I could note that Liam could just as well have said "before we got the Grand Slam," but he was as smooth at dealing with people as Tim. A most impressive kid.

It was June's turn. "I grew up in Boise, Idaho. I was a competitive swimmer starting in elementary school. I swam every stroke, but backstroke was my forte. The scuttlebutt among swimmers in Boise was that if you wanted to go to the Olympics, head to the University of North Dakota–they seemed to turn out Olympians, and Olympic medalists, by the truckload. Boise should've been able to send more athletes here, but the big two, football and basketball, seemed to grab most of the good athletes. Swimmers, even state champions, weren't the heros in Idaho.

Myra surprised them. "I grew up in Missoula, Montana, the home of the University of Montana. Like June, I was a competitive swimmer starting in elementary school. My diving began then, but competitive diving started when I was in middle school. But my love affair with water sports began when I was five years old and Tim, Billy, and Wille were scoring their Grand Slam. My dad got Sports Illustrated and I was just learning to read. There on the cover were three of the handsomest male bodies you can imagine. I was five years old, but I sure could relate. Inside were pictures of them diving. Right then I became a competitive diver–if only in my mind. As I got a little older and could use the magazine collections in the library, I read about the careers of all three of those divers. I read about other Olympic athletes from Grand Forks. I went to bed at night dreaming of Willie, dreaming of dating Willie, of meeting Tim and Billy, of diving with them. And I read about love and support. I talked to my coaches about love and support. I thought about what love might imply–in high school I really liked that line of thinking. There was never any doubt in my mind that I'd attend UND, and I worked my butt off swimming and diving to insure that I'd make the UND team. By my junior year of high school I was Montana state champion in the individual medley and springboard diving. I came in third and fourth in the junior nationals as a junior and first and second as a senior. A lot of schools tried to recruit me, but I didn't pay any attention. I was laser focused on UND, applied, got a decent scholarship and here I am. Oh, yes, Liam and Woody captured my dreams when they got their Grand Slam. And here I am, diving every day with Liam and Woody, and most days with Tim, Billy, and Willie. Liam, I know your dreams started at age five, so did mine."

The room was still. Rarely had Liam and Woody received that kind of affirmation, Finally, Woody said, "You know, most of the men you're dreaming about are gay, does that bother you?"

"Not in my dreams are they gay! But I don't have any problem separating dreams from reality."

Liam said, "OK, Waleed, can you top that?"

"You have to be kidding. I grew up in an Arab-American community around Detroit. I was born there, to two Palestinian parents that had grown up on the West Bank and emigrated to the U.S. right after they were married. Arabic culture doesn't encourage swimming, and I didn't learn to swim until eighth grade when we all had compulsory swimming lessons in gym class. I took to the water like a fish, wondering why I'd missed this all my life. In high school I could escape the dreaded gym class by going out for a sport, and swimming was my only hope. I never mastered any of the strokes, but I could beat all comers in freestyle. I've never looked back. I went to a college fair in my junior year of high school, and UND had a table. It was manned by a recent graduate, now doing graduate work at the University of Michigan. He asked me about myself, and I told him I was a swimmer. The minute I said that he picked up on it and said, 'You want to be at North Dakota. There's nothing like falling under the spell of Tim and the dozens of other Olympic medalists around the place.' He'd been a gymnast, never at the top level of the sport, and talked about the impact of having Tim practice with the team. He said, 'Tim's around the pool every day, too.' Before I left the table I had a catalog, and application, and the instruction to put TTT at the top of the application. I did. I got a call from Tim, who by that point knew all about me, and I was hooked. Best decision of my life."

Liam said, "Well, our timing was about perfect. Our stories are told, and dinner's ready. The twins are going to lead the discussion at dinner. I'll let them tell you what it's all about."

They headed for the dining room where a huge mixed grill buffet had been laid out: pork and lamb chops, calves liver, bacon, and pork sausage, along the side were mashed potatoes and peas and carrots. There was plenty to eat.

Tyler started the conversation during dinner. "We'll explain later why this comes from us twins and not from Liam and Woody. We're gathered here tonight not to just socialize, but to deal with a very important aspect to our lives as a group, in particular a group that has incredibly high ambitions about athletic success. The topic is Tim's favorite, love and support. By now you've felt the support available to you here in Grand Forks, from the university, from your coaches, I hope from your fellow athletes, and from Fred's Sports. By the way you're all on the pink list at the downtown Fred's Sports store: anything related to your swimming or diving is free, anything else is 40% off. Just tell the checker at checkout to look at the pink list, and then point out what should be free.

"But it's not support we're here to talk about this evening, it's love. This evening we want specifically to explore the sexual aspects of the love that Tim hopes exists between us all. First, let me say that for some or all of you the non-sexual aspects of love (friendship, support, honesty, caring, giving) are enough. But we're here to suggest that the sexual aspects of love can be a very important part of athletic success. We'll talk more about that soon.

"If you're already uncomfortable with this conversation, say so. We're all hoping that you'll be intrigued and want it to continue."

Nobody said so.

Taylor continued the discussion (well, it wasn't a discussion, yet). "Are you all comfortable talking about sex? Let me put it this way: Many of us here have a rule: Talk first; It you can't talk about dicks, cunts, clits, and fucking, then you shouldn't be playing with them either. Now is anybody so uncomfortable that we shouldn't proceed?"

Again, silence.

Marilyn continued: "OK, we need to make this a conversation, not a lecture. We're going to invite you all to tell your sexual histories. We want to hear specifics, not generalities, but no names; if telling a story is easier with a name, make one up. Before we go on, we need to have a clear understanding that everything said here is confidential and won't be repeated outside this group. Are you all willing to honor that? I need verbal assent, not just head nodding or silence."

All said something on the order of, "I agree."

"Carolyn's going to begin."

Carolyn told her history like this: "You have to understand that I grew up with a lot of friends and cousins that were quite active sexually, starting at a very young age. Marilyn and I grew up in The Playhouse, with very liberal parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. We slept together from infancy and still do. We learned to swim, and soon after dive, in the pool in the basement of The Playhouse. Everybody swam naked in that pool. Play and roughhousing just naturally included our genitals, and nobody thought anything about it.

"Our parents, Viv and Milt Reed, were very good friends of Tyler and Taylor's parents, Kevin and Noreen Littleton. When Viv and Noreen both became pregnant with twins, their lives just naturally intertwined, and that continues today. The Littletons lived fairly near to us, but in a much smaller house. It was natural that all four of us, and Frank Bruder the grandson of Hal Bruder and about a year older than us, would play at the playhouse, spending a lot of time in the pool–always naked. Puberty tends to change things, but in our case not the playing, just the consciousness of its sexual implications. The bottom line is the four of us, along with some other close friends, led a much more active sex life than any of your friends at UND, except that there's no fucking–ever. OK, Liam and Woody, it's your turn."

Liam spoke first, "I know that's a lot to absorb, but I need to assure you that I grew up in the same atmosphere, just with different kids, centered on different houses. One big difference is that we didn't have a pool that we could swim naked in, but we did have access to the university pool, and swam like water rats. I grew up in a house with a whole bunch of other kids, mostly pretty near in age to me. We all slept up on the third floor in one great huge bed. Our sex lives developed much as the twins did, just a few years earlier. My goal in life was the diving Grand Slam, and to get there I had one huge problem: find a diving partner. At this point I'm going to let Woody carry this forward."

"I grew up in Des Moines, far, far away from the sexual freedom that the others were enjoying in Grand Forks! My sexual experience was limited to a little handsies with a couple of girls and a boy. My older brother was in an active gay relationship which started in high school, and both my parents and I were aware of it and comfortable with it. I was beginning to think that I might be bi. Then along came Liam; we became diving partners and soon after fell in love. And I met a whole cast of characters that lived with Liam. It was great fun, and I joined in."

Taylor took over the conversation. "I'm sure that by now you've figured out that this was a fairly carefully scripted conversation, designed to introduce you to a new aspect of the possible relationships between athletes. There's a reason that we twins started off the conversation. By now you understand that while we twins, at age fourteen, can be part of the conversation, we can't be part of the action. Since it's absolutely unthinkable that we might have a sexual relationship with you, we cannot have ulterior sexual motives for bringing the subject up. On the other hand Liam and Woody are adults, and their bringing up the subject could easily be interpreted as a come on. That isn't their intention, but appearances are important. We four are the instigators here.

"Now here's where the rubber hits the road. Are you willing to share your sexual histories with the group?"

John Smith spoke first. "I am. I've often dreamed of being part of a group that could be completely open with each other regarding sex. Hell, most boys I know aren't even willing to talk about masturbating. Oh, they'll talk about their female conquests, but it's not the same, and often it's pure fiction. I'll go first, but before I do, I'd like to hear if Myra, June, and Waleed are willing to share as well."

Waleed said, "You cannot imagine how alien all this is to the Arab culture. Only in the second generation in America are Arab men able to have any kind of sexual activity before marriage–often an arranged marriage. Girls are a no-no. Sex education is non-existent. It's a shock to the immigrant generation when the next generation starts acting like Americans. But, as you know, American teenagers are also lacking in good sex education, and are likely to be following a very male-chauvinist script. So this conversation is as far beyond my comprehension as you can imagine. But it sounds enticing and exciting. And the thought that sex and swimming might go together is almost irresistible. Count me in."

Myra said, "I'm in. My story will surprise you. I'll follow John."

June followed with, "I won't be a killjoy, but I'm not really sure what I'm getting myself into."

Liam said, "Nothing that you can't easily leave behind at any point, with no hard feelings, and no impact on your place on the aquatics team."

John started: "Teenage boys in metro Chicago weren't all that different from teenagers everywhere in America. We dreamed of 'doing it' with the girls around us, but only a few managed it in high school, despite a lot of claims made over a can of beer. And I'll have to say that I think the beer had a significant influence on the sex, and not on the good side. I was very lucky; I hated beer, and every other alcoholic drink, so I avoided the issues that go with teenage drinking."

Woody said, "You sure were the exception."

John said, "Not as much as you think. There's a lot of drinking in high school, but I didn't have any trouble having a set of friends that didn't drink. Only a very few of my fellow athletes drank more than a beer now and then, and those that did drink were far from being the top athletes.

"My experiences with girls were fairly few and far between. I dated two or three girls on the aquatics team, but it never got sexual. One of the boys came out to me as gay, and we experimented once or twice, but that never amounted to much. One night a group of us from the aquatics team, boys and girls–all juniors and seniors, were sitting around in the basement family room of one of our houses. One of the girls said, 'Let's play strip poker. I'll bet you boys are chicken.'

"One of the boys said, 'I'm not chicken, but what're the rules?'

"The girl that started it said, 'I don't know. I've never played strip poker, but I've heard it talked about a lot. If anybody would like to play, suggest the rules.'

"Well, one thing led to another, and we quickly had our rules. We'd deal out poker hands, the low hand had to take off two pieces of clothing, the second lowest hand hand to take one off, and the high hand could put one back on if they'd lost any. We'd play until at least one boy and one girl were naked. When you were naked you had to stand up, walk around and stand for a while in front of everyone else and let them look. We also agreed that everyone would have to start with the same amount of clothing to lose, and eight pieces were agreed: two shoes, two socks, two shirts, pants/skirt, underpants. Somebody added that when a girl was naked to the waist she had to parade in front of everybody, and when a boy was down to his underpants so did he. I think everybody understood the implications of that."

"So did you play?"

"Yes we did. And with each hand the pile of clothes in the middle of the circle grew by two–sometimes three. It wasn't long before one of the girls had to parade, and she was cheered on. Then I found myself losing my undershirt and pants, left with just my briefs. I was hard as a rock and it sure showed as I paraded in front of everybody. My face was as red as my dick was hard. Then the girl who had paraded her tits was the big loser and she lost slacks and panties in one shot–the first naked. She stood in front of each of us, and I was seeing a naked girl for the first time. I won the next hand, so I was able to put my pants back on. Eventually another girl lost, and then a boy. Boys certainly show a lot more standing there than girls do. But that ended the game. Nobody pushed to go further. And that's my entire sexual history. Here at the university I've not been sexually involved at all."

Waleed said, "I'd have liked to been at your strip poker game. I think I would've had the nerve to take my clothes off; I sure as Hell would've liked to see the girls take their clothes off. Myra, you wanted to be next."

Myra's story: "I've told you I have a thing for handsome male athletic bodies. Well, there's no better place to find them, and see them, than around a bunch of swimmers and divers. I won't tell you that that's why I got interested in swimming and diving, but it sure didn't discourage me. In my junior year of high school, one of the top divers on the team, also a junior, asked me if I'd like to go to a movie the coming Saturday. My God, his body was as close to perfect as the human male comes; I said, 'Sure,' and we set the date. The next day, Wednesday, he suggested that he pick me up about 5:30 and we'd have dinner before the movie. That sounded great, and I said yes. Friday he spoke to me again and said that one of his good friends, another diver–just as handsome and sexy as he was–didn't have a date for Saturday, and could he join us. I was dubious, but then I thought, 'How can you beat two handsome, sexy divers?'

"So, Bill (my original date), Chris (the add-on), and Myra had a great time at dinner and at the movies, where I sat between the two of them. The next week the invitation came from Chris, with Bill added on. At dinner I asked, 'OK, what gives? Who am I dating here?'

"Chris said, 'Both of us. We both like you; you seem to like us both. Why can't we just have a threesome?' I didn't really see any harm in that, and this went on for a couple of months, almost every weekend. Some of the girls on the team made comments, but I simply told them that they were jealous of my having two boys.

"Just before Christmas vacation Bill started the conversation at dinner (our dates were always dinner somewhere and then a movie, game, or other activity). He said, 'OK, we could dance around the subject, start by trying to massage your tits in the movie, pull your hands toward our groins, or have an embarrassing conversation that went nowhere. We don't believe in that. We'll be straightforward: Are you ready for sex with us?'

"Us? Them? I knew the triple dating was strange, but having it lead to sex was sort of off the wall. Chris picked up the conversation, 'OK, we'll be totally honest. Both of us are bisexual; we've have sex together for about a year. We both knew we were also interested in girls, and that's when we decided to see if you might go for dating the two of us. It's been great. But now we're putting our cards on the table. We'd like to explore sex with you. We hoped that if you were open minded about dating us, that might extend to other things.'

"'Other things being sex, right?'


"'Where and when?'

"'Tonight at Bill's house, nobody's home, and his parents never go down the basement.'

"I thought a little and decided I'd test these guys a little. 'OK, here's the deal. We'll skip the movie, go to Bill's, and you two guys show me what you'd be doing together if I wasn't there. Then I'll decide if I want to play. I certainly understand that nobody talks about what they see.'

"'That's a little one-sided.'

"'Take it or leave it.'

"Chris said, 'We'll take it.'

"We finished dinner, not saying much, but thinking a lot. We went down the basement at Bill's where there was a big couch. I said, 'Pretend I'm not here.'

"'That's a little hard.'


"They did. They kissed, and slowly took off each other's clothes, playing with genitals, nipples, and asses as they progressed. Then they were naked, sucking each other, and ending up doing 69. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It'd never occurred to me that they would go that far, but they did. Bill turned to me, 'Can we take your clothes off?'

"I nodded, they very gently stripped me, and then took turns playing with my tits and genitals. Finally, their tongues took turns on my clit and I had the most fantastic orgasm–remember, before that the only orgasms I'd had were from masturbating. OK, you don't need details, but the three of us had the most wonderful times together until we graduated. I got on the pill, and the boys really enjoyed fucking me, but the variations were endless. And, no, there was never another girl involved, but I would've been open to it."

June said, "Wow. That's a tough act to follow. I'm not even going to try. Idaho was a lot tamer than Montana. I had a boyfriend throughout high school. Sex started in ninth grade with fooling around in the movies. He parents drove us, so not much could happen in the car. But Boise is pretty rural and we didn't have much trouble riding bikes to woods and rocks near town where we could be private. Over the next four years there wasn't much we didn't do, but we did follow the rule I've heard here–no fucking in high school. Rod didn't go to college, and he's working in his father's business in Boise now. We'd agreed from the beginning that this was just a high school thing. He has another girl now, and I think it's serious. We talk at vacations, and he's told me that they're into fucking. He's never said whether he's glad or sorry that we never fucked each other."

Waleed said, "I guess I'm next. I can't believe the stories that I've just heard. Mine's a little different; I guess I'm brave enough to tell it.

"You know that Arab boys back in Syria, Jordan, Palestine, and other Arab countries aren't allowed to be near girls their own age. That's breaking down somewhat, especially in Lebanon where there are a lot of Christians who don't have the same attitude toward boys and girls. Things are changing in the cities more than rural areas. The sexual taboos break down in American-Arab communities, but the 'no sex with girls ethos' is still pretty strong. Of course, some of the boys are going after girls just to show that they can, but I think they're the exception.

"But there's another aspect of the no girls rule: homosexuality. There's a strong religious prohibition of homosexuality, and Muslim communities in the U.S. have been shocked by the recent acceptance of homosexuality in America. But there's another side to homosexuality in Muslim communities. Since boys can't be with girls, playing with other boys is common. So while homosexuality is universally condemned, it's widely practiced among unmarried men and boys. It kind of like the attitude toward premarital sex in much of America. In my high school about half the students were Arab, and most of us were Muslim–at least by heritage. A lot of us were really non-religous; just as a lot of Americans that we think of as Christians really are nothing. But ethnic customs don't die easily. It was hard to get a date with a girl. It was easy to be with a bunch of boys that liked to jack each other off. So that describes my experience: I've done a lot with boys, two-by-two or in small groups, most with hands but also oral, and nothing whatsoever with girls. And that's a situation that I've dreamed of changing, but I'm still learning how."

Liam said, "Well, we all bring very different backgrounds to the group, but nobody's been chaste–thank goodness. The question for discussion is where do we go from here, if anywhere?"

Taylor spoke up, "Remember we can be part of your discussion if you'd like, but we can't be part of the action. Adult-child sex is out-of-bounds."

Woody said, "Understood."

Myra asked, "Do I understand that the purpose of this evening is to get us comfortable with the idea that the relationships between us could be improved if sex were a part of them?"

"That's kind of wordy, but, Yes."

John said, "Are we talking about group sex? Should I be taking off my clothes? Maybe a big game of strip poker?"

Waleed said, "I've already told you that that would appeal to me; I'd be up to losing my clothes for the chance to see a naked girl."

Myra stood up and said, "Waleed, you don't have to get into a poker game." She turned to Liam and asked, "If I'm going to strip now do the twins have to leave?"

Tyler answered, "We've seen naked girls. As long as you're not aiming at us, we're fine. We'll leave in good time."

Myra was quickly naked and standing in front of Waleed. She said, "You can look, and you can touch." He was totally embarrassed, but did both.

John Smith said, "Waleed, I'll bet you're as hard as a rock. Show us."

At this point the twins slipped into the kitchen, found the dessert, ate more than their share, and headed for the aerie.

Waleed wasn't sure how to respond to John. Woody walked over to him, extended a hand to help him stand up, and said, "Just drop your pants. It isn't hard, and it isn't a big deal." Waleed didn't move. Woody said, "Just say, "Stop," if you want me to." He unbuckled Waleed's belt, opened his pants at the waist, unzipped his fly, and pushed his pants down below his knees. He took hold of his boxers, giving Waleed time to object if he wanted to, and pushed the boxers down below the knees. You couldn't see much because his shirttails were hiding things. Woody got behind him, reached around, and pulled the shirt up and out of the way. Waleed was, indeed, hard as a rock, rather well endowed, totally embarrassed, but found himself enjoying his first ever heterosexual experience.

Liam said, "We could all get naked and enjoy dessert in the buff."

John said, "Remember my story. I've never been naked in front of girls. I paraded in my undershorts, but that was it."

Woody said, "No time like the present to have a new experience. Would you like the girls to strip you?'

Myra walked over to John, stood in front of him, and said, "Just like Waleed, you can tell me to stop at any time." She got down on her knees and helped him slip off his shoes and socks. They she stood up and unbuttoned his shirt and let it drop on the floor. She pulled his tee shirt over his head, and gently massaged his nipples. She moved her massage down to his belly button, very briefly, and then undid his pants, which she pushed down and invited him to step out of. Then she massaged his dick through his briefs till it was very hard and very obvious. She said, "Let's see the parade." He was brave and walked around the room once, his hard-on sticking straight out. Myra said, "OK, you can take them off or I will. If I do, I'm going to play with it a little." John fooled them all by walking over and standing in front of Myra. She pushed down his shorts and fondled his dick and balls for a while. She said, "You're pretty brave."

June said, "Waleed, get your shirt off, you're only half-naked.'

He complied, and said, "Who's next?"

June said, "I have an idea, but I have to be naked to suggest it." With that she very calmly stripped naked, being careful to let everybody see her nakedness. Than she said, "OK, the last two, interestingly enough are the two that really started it all. I wonder how they ended up the last to lose their clothes. But Myra's shown us the way forward. Boys, let's go upstairs, find a bed, and let the two of you show us what you'd do in that bed if we weren't there; just pretend we aren't."

Woody was flabbergasted. He said to Liam, "We've been had."

Liam smiled and said, "I'm going to have so much fund giving you a blow job. And then I think I'll fuck you. These folks need a good lesson."

Woody said, "You've got to be kidding."

"Not in the least. Let's head upstairs. This is going to end in the shower; they're all naked; we'll drag them in."

Liam did unto Woody exactly what he said he would, putting on a magnificent show. The whole thing had turned out better than his wildest dreams. Woody was totally embarrassed, but willing. It ended with all six in the shower. Liam told Waleed to give John an orgasm; he used his hand. Then he told the girls to take care of Waleed, and Waleed almost swooned as the girls sucked him. Then they used their hands on each other, for the first lesbian experience for either of them. The all dried off, and headed downstairs to eat the pie that the twins hadn't eaten–naked in the kitchen.

Waleed asked, "OK, what does this mean for the future?"

Liam said, "Well, now you should be comfortable letting sex be a part of your relationship with your fellow divers. Of course, the rest of the team isn't a part of this, so we can't be swimming naked in the university pool. Wait a minute; Chet and Jimmy are around the pool a lot. I think they'd be open to a sexual invitation–for sure they wouldn't be offended. I'm sure we'll get an invitation to The Playhouse pool, and you've been told they always swim naked out there. And this house is available. I'll give you all the combination. But I'll have to ask you not to bring anyone else here but you four. Also, there may be little kids in and out of here, so keep the nudity upstairs."

For the next few weeks John, Myra, June, and Waleed, explored the sexual possibilities of the group. They found that Chet and Jimmy were willing players. But as time went on, libidos settled down and diving returned to being the central focus. Did the sexual activities, and closer relationships they engendered, improve anyone's diving? Who's to say? The next year they all got better and better, and they became a very close-knit group, almost like the Cave or the Circle. It had to have enhanced their diving.

About this time Tim and Charlie got a very unusual telephone call from Terry Osbourne, one of our four ballet dancers. He sounded excited, but wouldn't tell them what it was about. He just said they were to get with Toppy and the three of them call him back. Charlie called Toppy and asked him to come over to The Madhouse. The three of them gathered at a speakerphone and called Terry. All four, Terry, Gerry, Josey, and Natalie were on their own speakerphone. Toppy said, "OK, what's this all about?"

Josey was so excited she could hardly talk. "We got a call today from the artistic director of the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, London. They're mounting a new production of Giselle and want the four of us to be leads. After about a month in London, the production will move to Copenhagen for about two weeks. They'll revive it in London about once every six months for about three years. They've already talked to Master Pascal at the New York City Ballet and he's willing to work our performances here around the schedule in London."

Toppy said, "That's fantastic. How did you ever get that invitation–and for all four of you?"

"You know we dance the leads in the New York production of Giselle. We dance other roles, but that's our speciality. When Covent Garden was looking to mount Giselle, the director called Master Pascal and asked him, in essence, could they borrow his leads. He told them they could, but assured them that it would be no go with us if the invitation wasn't extended to all four of us. It was."

Tim asked, "So why this crazy phone call?"

"We've told our parents, but no one else in North Dakota. We couldn't decide who to tell first, Tim or Toppy, so we told you together."

Natalie said, "Wait, there's more. Giselle only runs a little over and hour and a half, with intermission. The Royal Ballet is trying to broaden their audience. As the third act they want the boys to recreate Dueling Dancers. They think it'll bring down the house, and they're hoping get a lot of new people to watch a ballet."

Gerry added, "And since they don't want to feature the boys and not the girls, the two girls're going to interpret Saint-Saens The Swan as a duet–with both on stage together, but each doing their own interpretation. Then it'll be on to Dueling Dancers."

Toppy spoke for all of them when he said, "The Brits don't know what's going to hit them." He added, "Be sure and let us know when you head to London and start rehearsals."

That news came in about three weeks, and soon thereafter rehearsals would start in London. Normally rehearsals begin with just the principals working on their lead parts, but since the four were well established Giselle dancers, rehearsals began with the entire company. Perry insisted that no way were the four going to head off to England without support. Support was a private jet that picked up Tim and Charlie, Perry and Norman, Andy and his foursome, and the twins' parents. It stopped in New York to pick up the twins and headed to Gatwick. The folks at the Royal Ballet were a little startled. The director pointed out that visitors weren't usually allowed at rehearsals, especially early ones. Gerry simply nodded, with a firmness in his voice that was seldom heard, "Well, that custom will have to be waived this time around." Nobody disputed him.

They did, in fact, watch the first three days of rehearsals. The time was mostly spent in familiarizing the company with the new leads, and vice versa. They all seemed to get along. The North Dakotans, along with the twins, were concerned that there might be resentment that Americans were being brought in for the leads. Marilyn actually voiced that concern, and was told by one of the troupe, "We don't think of you as Americans. You're just the famous twins that were a smash success with Giselle in New York; you know, the roles are really tough; we don't have anyone in the company that can handle them as well as you four do. We're glad to introduce you to the London audience." Smiles from others indicated concurrences.

They didn't see much exciting those three days, neither in Covent Garden nor the rest of London. They did some sightseeing on the fourth day, and flew home the next, skipping the New York stop. Before they left, Perry bought 150 orchestra seats for opening night, even though the tickets hadn't officially gone on sale. The company business manager said, "Well, that almost assures a sell-out for the first night. We'll probably have some standees. That's rare for a ballet–except for the Bolshoi on their early tours."

Opening night was Wednesday, December 11, 2019. They selected the day and date in order to start their new production in time for the holiday season. They were particularly hopeful that the addition of Dueling Dancers would be well received at holiday time. As for the selection of Wednesday: the critics would be in attendance, the reviews would appear Thursday, in time for people to decide to buy tickets for the weekend performances.

The chartered jet was a little bigger for opening night. The entire Gang was aboard along with a few selected guests. We stopped in New York, this time to pick up Master Pascal, who was determined not to miss the show. Exactly 150 passengers debarked from the plane at Gatwick, and were taken in coaches to a hotel in Covent Garden, the London district where the Royal Opera House (also referred to as Covent Garden) was located. This was Sunday, and opening night would be Wednesday. We had two days for sightseeing, relaxing, or whatever floated our boats. Tim and Charlie, along with Auggie, Lynn, Perry, Norman, Josh, Greg, David, Millie, Gene, and Curtis–all of the Gang members that'd been part of the Olympic Sailing effort–spent an afternoon with Angus and Trevor. Since they were still working for Fred's Sports, Perry had no trouble knowing where they'd be on Monday afternoon, and all twelve of them walked into the store where they were giving a demonstration of some sort, completely upsetting the demonstration. However, the store manager had been alerted and was ready to introduce seven Olympic sailing medalists, and many of the members of their support teams. The group that had been watching the demonstration was thrilled and all asked for and got autographs–all signed on a beautiful brochure for Fred's Sports aquatic equipment–never miss a marketing opportunity! They headed into the staff lounge in the back of the store and spent a couple of hours exchanging life histories since their sailing days. Angus and Trevor had been quite successfully supporting the Fred's Sports Marketing Department. The little demonstration of snorkeling equipment that they were giving that afternoon was quite unexpected and not their usual routine, but their boss had scheduled it–at Perry's request--and they were carrying on like good soldiers when the sailors all walked in.

The afternoon led to a dinner in a local pub and an invitation for them to come back to our hotel for a game of musical beds. They eagerly accepted. They sat around the hotel suite that Perry had put Tim and Charlie in, and talked about their lives since sailing. Angus and Trevor had really enjoyed working for Fred's Sports, and were doing very well. They'd been promoted to headquarters positions, working with multiple stores in marketing. Their gold medals were getting old, and were no longer attracting customers to stores to "meet the sailors." However, they were very good with demonstrations, and in consulting with local store managers on promoting sporting goods.

And they were happy. Accepted by both of their families, being gay had only rarely been a problem. One store manager had made a rather disparaging remark one time. Angus had asked the man to step into his office. He said, "If I reported that remark to my boss, and Trevor, who heard it, confirmed it, you'd be history in Fred's Sports–they're totally intolerant of homophobia, from the top down. So get over it. I'll be glad not to have heard that remark, as long as I never hear anything like it again. I'm not talking about your just not making a remark to me, I'm talking about a complete change in attitude. Am I completely clear?"

The manager replied, "Remarks like that were so common in the public school I attended that they're almost second nature. You know, the amazing thing about my school, and I think a lot of boys boarding public schools, is that there's a lot of homosexuality–not surprising since there are no girls and the boys are in the school twenty-four hours a day–as well as complete contempt for homosexuals in public. I'm sorry for the remark, and I'll make sure it doesn't happen again."

Angus said that as far as they ever knew the man was true to his word.

By now a couple of others from the Gang, including Sara and me, had wandered in. We asked if they had many gay friends and what their relationship was to them. It seems they had only a few, preferring not to limit their social life to a few gay couples. Trevor laughed and said, "What you want to know is whether we sleep with other people. Well, yes, we do. There's one gay couple that we're quite fond of. But we have half a dozen straight couples we're friends with and also bedmates. You can toss in a couple of lesbian couples as well."

Tim said, "I think we're going to have a fun time tonight."

We did.

The next day was Wednesday and the big show would be that night. The twins slept late, actually later than usual–getting up at around noon. They pointed out that the theater ran late at night, so theater people slept late. Charlie said that they'd been told the same thing by two theater majors they knew at Ohio State. The dancers were due at the theater at 4:30. We all had a grand lunch together at 2:00, with a promise of a grand dinner about 1:00, a.m. to celebrate their success.

Curtain was at eight and the 150 of us walked over to the Royal Opera House, getting there about 7:15. The doors opened shortly after we arrived and we all marched in, filling a block of the best seats in the house. Our seats started in the seventh row, considered the best for ballet. In the first through sixth rows your eyes were slightly below the level of the stage floor, and you missed some of the ballet footwork. The more than half-hour wait was easily spent in conversation within the Gang.

The lights dimmed, the curtain opened to a beautiful set and an empty stage that was soon filled Gerry and four ballerinas who danced with Gerry and soon left the stage. Gerry was Hilarion the gamekeeper, and he danced in front of Giselle's cottage and soon left. Soon arrived Prince Albrecht, disguised as the peasant Loys and danced by Terry. The Royal Ballet solved the problem of twins dancing the roles of the two lovers of Giselle the same way we did in Grand Forks, by giving Loys blond hair and Hilarion dark hair! Soon Giselle appeared, danced by Natalie, and she and Terry danced together for the first, but certainly not the last time. We didn't meet Myrtha, the Queen of the Wilis, danced by Josie, until the second act.

All four of our dancers were superb. Well, what else could I say? But it was confirmed by the audience and the reviews. The curtain calls seemed to go on forever. This time, and in New York, Natalie and Terry, the two leads, absolutely refused to take a curtain call as a pair; Josey, Gerry, and usually other members of the company took bows together. Natalie and Terry had allowed Josey and Gerry to push them onstage for a final curtain call in Grand Forks without really thinking about it. Since then they'd insisted that the four were a set, and they'd take their curtain calls together. Josey and Gerry couldn't get them to change their minds.

We were now at the second intermission. It was interesting to listen to the London ballet audience speculate about what would be coming next. They were eager to see the American ballerinas dance to "The Swan," but were puzzled about it being a duet. They simply had no idea what to expected from Dueling Dancers.

Saint-Saens' "The Swan" lends itself beautifully to the idea of a dying swan, and that's the usual interpretation, and it was Natalie's this evening. Josey chose to interpret the ending of the piece as a rejuvenation. So while Natalie on the left side of the stage is slowly dying, Josey on the right is recovering herself and slowly coming to life to the music, but boldly in the choreography. When the music ended, the living swan walked over to the dead swan and pulled her up, and they took their bows together. It was incredibly well received.

The curtain closed, their was a pause and the stage was slightly rearranged, and the curtain opened to two groups of dancers: one group of twelve, half men and half women, dressed in traditional Irish costumes, another twelve dressed in flapper dresses and tuxedos. The Irish clogged away. Then the flappers tapped away. Then Terry and Gerry came out and did alternate solos, followed by more extended numbers with the rest of the troupe behind them. Soon the stage is allowed to go quiet, and Arthur Smith's "Dueling Banjos" begins it quiet introduction. The orchestra used a harp and a flute for the two parts, but as the contest grows, it become horns and woodwinds against strings. Gerry tapped with the strings and Terry clogged with the horn and woodwinds. The dancing started with the whole groups taking part, but they slowly dropped away and allowed Gerry and Terry to solo. My God they were good! Their feet moved so fast you couldn't follow them, much less follow their patterns. The overall effect was breathtaking. It ended with them dancing together as the entire orchestra played, seemingly trying to keep up with the dancing. They closed with a new twist: they danced until they were close together and facing apart, kicking into the air while their shoes met, heel and toe. Then they turned toward each other, kicked their legs out in front of them and their shoes met once again. A quick turn of clogging and tapping and they were finished. It made the shows we'd seen in Grand Forks look amateurish. Tapping and clogging had debuted at the Royal Ballet and considering the standing and cheering audience, it'd made a big hit. Their encore, danced to the Charleston, was out of this world.

The dinner that night at the hotel was a riotous success, as had been the dancing. The Covant Garden ballet troupe were the guests of the Gang and seemed to fit right into the party. Everybody congratulated the twins and thanked Perry and Andy for making it possible for them to see the twins' tour de force.

Author's Note: "Dueling Banjos" was originally written for two banjos, thus the name. In the movie Deliverance, it was played with a guitar and banjo, and that has now become the tradition. Actually, the banjo/guitar pairing was first seen in an episode of The Andy Griffith Show.

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