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Finding Tim

A Fourth Alternate Reality

by Charlie
With editorial assistance from Dix and John


Summer vacation! The dream of every student. For a graduate, a time to relax before the tremendous changes that college-or entering into the world of work-would bring. Not for Tim. The National Diving Championships were slightly over three weeks away. Tim's practicing had been irregular for most of the spring, and very much so in the weeks between prom and graduation.

That changed overnight. He moved into an intense practice routine that should've killed him. Up at the old 5:42 and off to the pool by 6:00. Dive till 8:00. Breakfast at home and back to the pool by a little after 9:00. Dive till noon. Home for lunch. Drive to the gym for two hours on the balance beam, trampoline and whatever other gymnastics equipment he felt like-but the emphasis was on his joys: beam and trampoline. By 3:30 or 4:00 he was back to the pool for another two hours. Dinner at home, as relaxed as possible. Back to the pool for another two hours. Home. Me. Bed. 5:42 start all over again. Seven days a week. Each day contained a total of nine hours diving and two more at the gym. In each diving hour he did a few laps to loosen up, but the emphasis was on his dives. He would repeat a dive until it was perfection, perfection, perfection. Move on. Come back. On and on. I would've gotten tired just from climbing the 3 meters up to the platform. Of course, he put more emphasis on the springboard, and that did mean a little less climbing. I don't think he noticed that.

Either Carl, or me, or his coach would be at the pool with him. From time to time he sought our comments on a dive, but his routine was totally controlled by him-as if the rest of us did not exist. We weren't sure that in his world we did exist.

At meals he was happy, relaxed, entered into conversation, as if diving didn't exist. In fact, he was more likely to talk about something from the gym than the pool. Nights we would head up to our bedroom and his whole self would be involved with me, as intensely as he had been involved with diving a hour earlier. Sex varied, from zero to incredible excitement-more at my whim than his. But we always ended the day spooned together, with my roaming hands and his wiggling ass. Believe me, there is no other way to fall asleep!

Tim got a phone call one evening; actually it first came during the day and Mom had told the caller when to call back. She hadn't recognized the voice and the caller hadn't said who he was. So Tim was expecting a call from someone. It turned out to be a young man named Leon. Tim didn't make the connection right away, but Leon explained that he had gotten Tim's name and telephone number from a wrestler in his school, a guy called Big Paul.

Tim's memory clicked. "You are one of the two gay boys in Paul's school that got roughed up a little and were protected by the wrestling team. Am I remembering correctly?"

"Yes. Paul and the entire wrestling team were unbelievable. Just when Jimmy and I thought we might have to leave the school, Paul showed up and asked where we lived. He said he was going that way and would like to walk with me. I don't think he was particularly sympathetic to my being gay, but in his world people simply didn't beat up other people. He changed a lot after his big wrestling defeat in Ann Arbor. He came back a different guy. All of a sudden he was asking Jimmy and me a lot of questions about being gay, coming out, how we had been outed. He became quite sympathetic. I don't know whether it came from the chagrin of his big defeat, or from meeting you."

"I think it might've been from meeting me and a bunch of my friends, including the guy who beat him."

"Jimmy and I always appreciated Paul, but he didn't have much to do with us except to escort us. Now he's really friendly, and we're becoming friends."

"Has he suffered being teased because he protected you or talks to you?"

"Not many kids in this school consider teasing Big Paul. I've never seen him hit anyone, but he comes across tough enough that nobody seems inclined to test him."

"So why did you call?"

"I'm not sure. I just needed someone to talk to. Jimmy and I don't know anyone who's gay. Ever since Paul gave me your card I've been trying to screw up the nerve to call you."

"I'm glad you did. I wouldn't have given Paul the number for you if I didn't want you to call."

The conversation continued following fairly predictable lines. Leon and Jimmy were isolated, and certainly not in a gay-friendly environment, though their school was at least safe, if not friendly. Tim encouraged Leon to have Jimmy call, and for them both to call back whenever they wanted to talk. This time in the late evening was the best time to call.

Jimmy called a couple of days later and I got the call. He had asked for Tim, but he wasn't home, and I asked who was calling. Jimmy and I talked a while, covering much the same ground that Tim and Leon had. Like Tim, I encouraged Jimmy and Leon to call us when they needed to talk. They were going to Northern Michigan University in Marquette in the fall. They were going to take advantage of the one place where society makes rules that work to the advantage of gays and lesbians: they were going to be roommates. They did call from time to time, from home and from college the next year, but seldom more than once a month, and they kept their calls to reasonable length. The conversations tended to concentrate on sexual matters. Before the internet Gay kids in Ironwood or Marquette had virtually no access to good information, and we spent a lot of our time simply answering questions. We were kind of floored by "What does circumcised mean?" but the practice is so common in this area that kids never see uncircumcised penises, and don't understand just what was done to them. I was also surprised by "Is it safe to eat cum?" That one, at least, was really easy to answer!

As Tim and I talked about the calls and the boys, we decided that they were growing more in love, perhaps their romance might survive. At least it had made it into college. But I digress; let's go back to the springtime of Tim's Senior year.

One night as we were heading off to sleep Tim said, "Charlie, who is going to come with us to the Nationals in Champaign?" They would be held at the University of Illinois. "Wait, don't answer that, it really wasn't a question. I think the question really is, 'Can we limit the number of people who come to Champaign?' The gang simply can't go running around the country every time one of us is in some kind of sporting event."

I said, "The National Diving Championships are hardly some little sporting event."

"Yeah, I know. But I've been three times before, and I'm the reigning champion. Can't we make it no big deal?"

"I have an idea, Tim. Let's contact the gang and tell them that this is a special time just for you and me. I couldn't be with you for the previous Nationals, and this year it's just for us-very personal, very special. Would everyone else please watch on television?"

"I think that would work. Please do it Charlie."

The next day, while Tim was diving hour after hour I contacted all of the gang and asked them to allow Tim and me to have a special time in Champaign-all alone. Of course everyone respected that, and Tim and I did go to Champaign alone. Even his parents stayed behind; though we had insisted that we would be happy to have them there. Secretly I think both Tim and I were glad to have the time alone, and we stretched out the trip a few extra days.

Of course, the extra days were afterwards. We drove down two days before the meet to allow a day of relaxation and practice. Coach Nelson flew down and met us there. At Dad's suggestion he had declined our offer to drive down with us, so that we could have the time really alone. I'm sure that Dad paid for his airline ticket, though that was never mentioned by either of them.

As soon as Tim showed up at the natatorium he was greeted by Coach Billings from Indiana University. Tim decided that shaking hands might be better in this very public environment, but a big hug was what he wanted to give the coach. Several of the Indiana divers were there, and they remembered him from his visit. Coach Billings simply noted to them all that Tim was the man to beat!

They tried. A lot of divers tried. It was hopeless. Tim so dominated the meet that it almost wasn't any fun. I was simply in awe of the little kid. At his full height of 5' 4" you could hardly see him in a group of athletes. But when he added the 3 meters of platform height he stood out in more ways than one. I didn't see a single foot, hand, hip, or anything else out of place. Some of the judges did, however: not every dive got a ten. But they were all scored extraordinarily high, and the difficulty level of his dive list was higher than any other competitor. Combine those two, and you have a runaway competition.

His performances on the springboard weren't quite so spectacular, but he still easily held onto first place. Coach Billings came up to Coach Nelson right after Tim had gotten the second gold medal. Tim was standing with Coach Nelson. Billings said, "Coach, you may not think you're a world class coach, but the rest of the world does. And Tim, wherever you go the next three years, I'll be glad to support you if you call-but clearly you don't need my help or anybody's. It's official now that I'll be the Olympic Coach in Mexico City, and I'm dearly looking forward to having you on the team. And Mr. Waters, I want you to be the team's first assistant coach."

Coach Nelson was flabbergasted. Public school high school coach to Olympic coach overnight. Tim poked him in the ribs and said, "Say, yes."

He did. Coach Billings just laughed. "You guys are a trip. Where's that Charlie?"

Tim called me over from where I had been talking so the second place winner. "Hi, Charlie. Don't let this kid freeze to death in the North Dakota winter."

"Ha. I'm the one that'll freeze to death. He won't let me wear a coat. I don't think he owns one. He thinks short sleeves are appropriate for all weather conditions short of the arctic."

Tim just laughed. He couldn't really deny it. The conversation continued a while. Then Tim recognized one of the divers that he had met in Grand Forks-Harry Jensen. He was their top diver and team captain, and had just barely qualified to come to Champaign. He had ended up 31st-just barely in the top half of the finishers. Tim called him over, introduced him to Coach Billings, and the others standing around. Larry Knudsen hadn't been able to come with him, so it was just Harry and his father that had made the trip from North Dakota.

Our conversations broke up, and Tim invited Harry and his father to eat dinner with us. Harry was hesitant, but both Tim and I urged him to come. He found his father, Phil Jensen, introduced us both, and we headed for a Howard Johnson's to eat. It took both Harry and his father a little while to loosen up in Tim's company. They were sort of in awe of him. But Tim was so friendly, down to earth, and interested in them, that the awkwardness of the first few minutes easily passed.

During the conversation Tim was exposed to a sporting world that he had hardly been aware of: the athletes who come to meets like this-all meets in fact-and know going in that there is no chance that they will win. Tim had always understood that he was exceptional; that nobody had the right to simply assume that he would win; and Tim had worked hard to avoid that mind set. That's why he practiced like a madman as a big meet approached. He took nothing for granted. But he was always part of the group that competed to win. Now he was introduced, in a way that hadn't really come through to him before, to the group that practiced, worried about qualifying, traveled to the meet, competed hard, and knew, absolutely knew, going in that they didn't have a chance at a medal.

Well, he had seen that in Minneapolis. Most of his teammates knew they weren't going to win. But it was just a high school sport. Good exercise. Fun after school. The meets were fun and games. It was nice to move up a rank or two, even if you knew you would slip next time. But here was Harry, practicing hard for three years in college, not to mention high school, and now traveling with his father hundreds of miles to compete in a diving meet that he couldn't possibly win.

Harry told us, "I did well in high school diving. I've been number one at UND for two years. I medaled in a few of our tournaments. But my goal from the beginning was to get to the Nationals. I was happy just to qualify; just to attend. That was the goal I set myself, and I made it. In fact, I beat my goal when I finished in the upper half, and I did it as a junior not as a senior. I knew I didn't have a chance at the finals. Sure, I can dream. But I can sort out dreams from reality. I feel sorry for guys who can't. Knowing you, Tim; being invited for dinner like this-well, it's just icing on the cake.

"At the next level up guys dream of going to the Olympics, not getting a medal, just going. It's the experience of a lifetime. For me, these Nationals are the athletic experience of a lifetime, and maybe I'll get to come again next year. But then I'll be ready to move on from sports. I trust that I'll have other experiences that are better that this, but they won't be athletic events."

Tim responded, "Harry, I'm glad that I'm going to have a year when we're both at UND. I'm looking forward to getting to know you."

"I'm not sure I'm going to like giving up my number one position."

Tim thought hard on that for a minute, and then began to look very pained. "Harry, am I being unfair to the guys at UND to come and dominate their team?"

That made Harry think, "I'm not sure. I guess I was being unfair. I think I'm willing to trade being number one and captain for the experience of diving with you for a year. Everything is tradeoffs. But don't apologize for coming to UND and being number one. I didn't apologize for being number one the last two years; I enjoyed it. But I didn't rub it in other guys faces either."

Harry continued, "What about your high school? Did the guys there resent your being so good? Or did they enjoy the ride? I'll bet that, on balance, none of them would've traded having you on the team."

I spoke up, "You know that's true, Tim. And they were all better divers for having the experience with you."

Coach Nelson spoke up, "Tim, it wasn't your skill that made your contribution to the team invaluable; it was your attitude. Well, let's be plain, it was your love of everyone and everything. Your enthusiasm, dedication, and leadership. But if you asked the team, they would say it was the fact that you loved and respected every one of them."

I said, "We need Carl here to keep this from getting too maudlin."

Harry's father spoke up, "I'm embarrassed to say this, but you two are the first gay couple I've ever met. I'm curious, but I simply don't even know what questions I might ask. And I don't know whether I'm being offensive-I hope I'm not. I'm not trying to be."

I answered, "We don't mind honest curiosity, and we don't mind questions. But we really aren't that different from a straight couple. We love each other, live with each other, support each other, and face the world together. Sometimes it can be a hostile world, but we've been very lucky. We've faced very little hostility. But let me ask you a question. You may not be able to answer it without a lot of introspection, but here goes. How would you have reacted to Tim and me if Tim had just placed 59th in the meet?"

"I wouldn't dream of giving you a less than honest answer, and that would have to be, 'I don't know.' Frankly, I'm embarrassed by that answer, but it's where I am."

"OK, let me try another. 'How will you react if you learn that there's a gay teacher in the local high school?'"

"Are we talking about yesterday or tomorrow?"


"I'd think of you and Tim and be comfortable with it. I'll be honest though. I'm not sure I would be brave enough to stand up to a hostile crowd. But I'm beyond ever joining the crowd."

Tim jumped right in, "I'll take honesty any day. The world will be a better place when we get everyone to stop joining hostile crowds."

Then Tim got a devilish little smile on his face and said, "But your real question, which you couldn't figure out how to ask, was, 'What do two gay boys DO?' And the answer is, 'If you can imagine it, so can we, and we probably do it.'"

Phil Jensen turned red as a beet, while his son started chuckling and then laughing out loud. He said, "You got it; that was the question. I love the answer."

His father finally recovered and said, "I guess I deserved that. You certainly win that round. And you certainly get the honesty prize."

Tim said, "If you think that was blunt, you should hear Charlie talking to some of the parents of the other kids in my Gang from camp. I've heard him discuss anal and oral sex."

Phil lost it again. I wondered if Tim had pushed a little too hard, but Harry was ready to roll off his chair onto the floor. Coach Nelson was ready for anything after his trip to Boston with us, but he too looked a little green by this point. I said, "When are you two heading back to North Dakota?"

Harry just managed, "What a segue, Charlie. How often are you the one that has to bail Tim out."

Tim jumped right in, "About as often as I have to bail him out."

Coach said, "Where in North Dakota are you heading back to?"

Phil said, "At last, I can answer one safely. Fargo."

Tim was not to be deterred, "Charlie, it's time to go. The bed in Howard Johnson's awaits. What shall we do in it tonight?"

I took him and pulled him out the door before he could continue. And I'm not going to tell you what we did in it that night, either.

The next morning Coach Billings invited us to breakfast along with Coach Nelson. It was a pleasant time, but other than renewing his offer to help Tim in any way he could, Coach Billings had little new to offer us than friendship, which we both lapped up. Following breakfast Tim and I headed out and the two coaches were left to preliminary talk about the Mexico Olympics.

Tim and I were off to Indianapolis to see my parents. We had invited them to Nationals, but they hadn't come. When we asked them why Dad said, "Charlie, your invitation didn't include the usual list of people that would be there, like in Boston and elsewhere. So Mamie called Betsy and asked if she and Norman were going. They said that they weren't, as they thought you and Tim wanted to be alone. Then when you told us you would come over here, we decided that we'd watch television like the rest of the world. Tim, you looked beautiful."

We were only spending one night in Indianapolis. That evening Mom and Dad had invited my brothers and their wives. Mom had leaned pretty heavily on Gil and Anita to be there. Anita was still unable to cope with the idea of a gay brother-in-law. I would like to say that Tim won her over, but even though he tried as hard as possible, Anita simply couldn't be reconciled to a gay family member. Comments like, "I just can't imagine what you DO at night," and "The Bible makes it very clear it's sin" were as far as she could get. They left after dinner. Gil stayed behind a minute or two as Anita went to the car; he said he was sorry that Anita and I couldn't be friends, but it simply wasn't going to be.

Wayne and Irma, on the other hand, were intrigued to have Tim-the darling of the sports pages-as a member of the family. They admitted to being shameless name droppers amongst their friends, and insisted that the next time we were in town we had to come to a party at their house so that they could show us off. This was all said with a twinkle in their eye and a barely suppressed chuckle, so that we took it in good fun. And we promised them their party. I asked, "Do you want us to wear clothes?" That was almost too much for them! Chains and leather didn't go down well either. Had they said, "Yes," to that, I don't know where Tim and I would've gotten them! It certainly wasn't our style.

Shortly after we had arrived Mom said, "Charlie, your old high school friend, David, is in town this summer. The rumors that he's gay are evidently true, he's staying at his folks' house with a friend."

I called David immediately, and learned he was in town for the summer with a "friend," Mike. He had read about Tim and me in the news, and asked if Tim was also in town. We made a date for lunch the next day, before Tim and I headed out of town.

We had a leisurely breakfast with Mom and Dad, but we were completely taken off guard by what came right after breakfast. We settled into the living room to talk for a while before we headed north. Dad said, "Charlie and Tim, we want to give you a commitment present. In fact, we're going to join with Betsy and Norman to give you a commitment present."

Tim said, "You paid for the entire commitment Weekend. That was your present."

"No, that's what parents are supposed to do. Well, the norms are established by the straight world, but I'm glad that all of us had the good sense to extend those norms-at least the good ones-to you two as well. Your lives together are clearly going to be better than a lot of marriages.

"Now it's commitment gift time. We would've liked to be able to join with Norman and Betsy when we tell you about this gift. We had hoped to do it at the time of Carl's wedding. But I have commitments here that won't allow me to get away until after the wedding, so we're going straight to the cabin.

"We told Norman and Betsy to make the presentation, but they insisted that we do it. And Norman can insist as well as you can, Tim. So here it is."

Dad handed us a large manilla envelope with our names on it. The return address was Waterhouse Contracting, Fargo, North Dakota. Tim opened the metal clasp on the back and took out a seven page contract. Waterhouse would make complete structural repairs and restoration to our house in Grand Forks. New roof. New plumbing and heating. Upgrade to the electrical. Restoration of all woodwork that was possible. Painting was not included.

We would still have our hands full with whole house painting, but all of the major work-work that would've simply been beyond our capacity to do in a timely manner-would be done. And the work would start soon after August 1 and be finished before school. Also in the envelope was a copy of a letter from Larry Knudsen to Felix, inviting Felix to stay with Larry during August while his house was being rebuilt out from under him.

Tim couldn't believe it. I only did a little better. Neither of us could talk for a long moment. But talk wasn't necessary, hugging was. And we did, taking turns with both Mom and Dad. Norman and Betsy would get theirs in a couple of days. I'm sure that we actually verbalized our thanks, and put it in writing as well, but I don't remember a word. We were simply overwhelmed. Our copy of the contract had the dollar amounts deleted, but I'm sure that it was very costly. But it wasn't the cost, but the symbolism that made this gift extra special: They were giving us a home. A home for two gay men, maybe still boys, to share together, with the full blessing of their families. A gold mine in California would've paled in significance beside this. The hugging and thanking ended with Tim and me falling into each other's arms. The joy and happiness of the situation was simply overwhelming. We were able to regain our equilibrium only in each other's arms.

I hadn't seen David since high school. We had lived only about eight blocks from each other and had been good friends. But lives go in separate directions when you graduate from high school, and we hadn't kept in touch. Through mutual friends I had heard rumors that David was gay, and my parents had picked that up as well. But he hadn't been living in Indianapolis, so nothing much came of the rumors.

We met at a restaurant not far from home. David and I shook hands and greeted each other warmly, but somewhat awkwardly. Tim and Mike were introduced, and we got a quiet table in a corner. Tim broke the silence. "Well, the world knows Charlie and I are queer, thanks to Sports Illustrated. We didn't try to hide it, we just took the bull by the horns and trusted to luck. And we've had pretty good luck. Rumor has it that you two are queer as well; is that right?"

That was putting your cards on the table. I might not have had the nerve to say that, but Tim was right to clear the air immediately. If Tim was wrong, or they weren't going to admit who they were, there wasn't much point in having this lunch. But Tim was right. David replied, "Yes, Mike and I are lovers. We met at Northwestern, and then got Ph.D.s at M.I.T. and Boston University, finishing last month. We're returning to M.I.T. with a joint research fellowship in chemistry. We're truly in love; we have a lifetime partnership. We've been out since our Senior year at Northwestern."

That cleared the air, and our biographies since high school started rolling out. All of a sudden I remembered a story from my college time at Rockford. "David, I remember hearing of two boys that came out in the Chicago area singing 'We Kiss in the Shadow' in some public concert. Was that you two?"

Mike said, "Yes, that was us. I don't know how we ever got the courage to do that. It was at a program called It's a Grand Night for Singing-a charity fundraiser. The winning performance is the one that raises the most money. Our close friends who knew we were gay realized that to see us come out they had to put enough money in to assure that we won. 'We Kiss in the Shadow" was our winners' encore performance."

"How did it go?"

"Amazingly well. But there sure was no turning back."

I said, "I guess that's when people back here in Indianapolis began to talk about you being gay, David."

"Yeah, I think so. I don't mind, people have been OK with it, but I haven't gotten a lot of fan mail from Indiana."

He continued, "Charlie, do you remember a night at my house when we worked on a truly impossible math problem from Scientific American?"

"Yes, I do. I remember the problem, it was about how many kids were playing in the back yard."

"Right. I remember something else from that night," said David.


"I remember thinking how beautiful you were, and trying to get up enough nerve to come out to you. I just couldn't do it."

"My God, David. I was sitting in the same room thinking exactly the same thing about you. But I couldn't bring myself to speak."

Mike said, "My God, the same night. Tim, if either one of these two shrinking violets had had any guts at all, we would be out in the cold."

Tim said, "Kind of scary isn't it."

I said, "I had a couple of flings in high school and one in college, but it was sex play, jacking off together, never love. We didn't even think of it as homosexuality. Just playing around; boys being boys. And I didn't come out to Tim, he came out to me. And then he told me that he thought I was gay. I had to admit he was right. The rest is history."

Tim said, "The rest is more than three years of very painful waiting."

David said, "Would somebody explain?"

We did, telling our whole story.

Mike said, "Take me back to the math problem. You both were gay, didn't realize it about each other, but were mutually attracted, but never said a word. Is that right?"

David said, "Exactly. What a terrible world we live in that boys feel they have to act that way."

I said, "OK, I'm going to be brave and ask the $64 question."

David said, "What's that?"

"Is your commitment exclusive, do you ever mess around sexually with anybody else?"

David said, "No. We did a little at first, but decided that a commitment needs to be total. We agreed about that about six months after we got to Boston. We've only had sex with each other since. What about you two?"

Tim said, "We've talked a lot about it. We aren't sure, but until we are sure, we have played around. Never behind anyone's back, and only people that we're very close to-nothing casual. Charlie told you about the Gang, the group of campers that I was in that first summer at camp. They were all desperate to have sex with Charlie, once they were adults and after I went first. They all have; with me too."

"Are they all gay?"

"No just three of the eight are gay, including Charlie and me. But they all admit to having a little gay in them. Two of them are clearly bisexual."

"You must lead quite a life."

I said, "Oh God, David, we really do. Life with Tim's the most wonderful experience you can imagine."

David said, "I can imagine, because life with Mike is just the same."

"How did you two come out to each other?"

"Mike came into my room one night and said, 'David I think you're gay. Well, so am I. Are you willing to admit it?' I was shocked, but I was willing to admit it, and the rest is history."

"Mike, how did you know?"

"I had watched him mentally undress me too often, as well as some of the really hot looking studs on campus. I had mentally undressed all the same guys. And he didn't pay any attention to girls, no matter how little clothing they had on. I was pretty sure."

"Still that was gutsy. What if you had been wrong?"

"I knew David well enough to trust him, even if I'd guessed wrong. But I hadn't."

Tim said, "Guys we have to be on the road. We must keep in touch. Charlie, kiss David goodbye."

I did. I even got brave enough to slip my tongue inside, and he did the same. Tim watched us and said, "Mike, they're having so much fun, we ought to as well." He kissed Mike more aggressively that I had David-and Mike returned the favor.

David said, "Hands off the rest of the merchandise."

Well all laughed and said goodbye all over again. We set off for home.

Take a map of Illinois and Indiana and look for some interesting place in the northern halves of those states. If you look today, you will see the Indiana Dunes National Seashore along the bottom of Lake Michigan, but not in 1965. We thought of driving through Amish country in northern Indiana, but that really didn't turn us on. But we were determined to have two or three days of relaxation just to ourselves. I proposed that we simply take a slow driving trip. We headed north out of Indianapolis through Kokomo until we reached route 30-the Lincoln Highway-the first great automobile road across the United States. Developed in the teens it was an essential link for the nation, but had long since been replaced by a complex road system that was fast being replaced by an Interstate system. But we followed the Lincoln Highway west across the western half of Indiana, completely across Illinois, to Dubuque, Iowa. There we turned north and followed the Great River Road to Minneapolis. No hurry. No rush. Few stops. We just looked at the scenery (mostly farms until we hit the Mississippi), and often held hands. We took turns driving. We stopped for three nice meals a day, and found pleasant mom and pop motels for our two overnight stops.

The first night we didn't even have sex. We just sat on two chairs that had been placed on the lawn in front of our motel room, one of 14 in the little place. When we tired we climbed into bed and just spooned. Well, there was always the wiggle and the roaming hand.

The second night, in a little motel with a view of the Mississippi, we repeated the evening, but the roaming and the wiggle led to other things. My hand lingered on Tim's dick long enough to give him an orgasm, and then I gently rubbed his cum on his stomach, chest and face. He rolled over on me and we kissed as our bodies shared the essence of Tim. He moved down my body and took me in his mouth. I was ready, and soon he was kissing me and sharing my essence.

We leaned back, covered with each other. We knew that a shower was called for, but right then we just wanted to lay on our backs touching. Tim said, "Charlie, I know that fucking and 69 are supposed to be where it's at. But what we just did was totally satisfying."

"Would you like me to have sucked you?"

"Sometimes, yes. Tonight, I liked just what you did."

"Tim, I don't think we should be guided by what others think is the ultimate gay sexual experience. We'll do what we like, and we won't apologize for it."

"Right. Thank you, Charlie."

"But, Tim, why did you choose to be fucked the time we got pushed into performing for the gang?"

"Simple. It wasn't what we liked that counted then. It was how they would interpret what they saw. The world perceives fucking, gay or straight, as the ultimate experience. If we were going to use that opportunity to draw the gang together, fucking was the way to go. Besides, I never said I didn't enjoy being fucked. I've been fucked twice in a little over eighteen years. I'd like the experience a little more often than that! I'll let you know."

"Same here. And I'm letting you know right now; tomorrow morning I'd like you to fuck me."

"You mean it, Charlie?"

"I said it."

"I'd love that. Let's take a shower."

The next morning Tim woke me by stroking my balls with a tube of KY lube. "On your stomach; knees up; butt in the air."

"I thought we did this face to face."

"Not this morning. Over, butt in the air."

I complied. The KY was cool, but pleasant. "Fingers first," said Tim. I wasn't sure whether it was a statement or a question. I decided not to answer and let him go.

His fingers moved inside of me-it seemed forever. He changed the number, varied the motion, found my prostate, backed out and started over. I wanted to yell, "Now!" but I left him in control. Finally-it seemed like noon was upon us-his very hard penis slipped inside of me. Slowly at first, then thrusting harder and harder. He leaned on my back and his right hand wrapped around me and found my penis-hard as a rock. We came virtually simultaneously. He softened, slipped out, and we collapsed on the bed, slowly turning so that we could kiss. I have no idea how long we lay like that. Finally a shower seemed more important than a kiss, and we started the day.

Later in the car Tim said, "We aren't consistent, Charlie. Last night we agreed we liked our hands and mouths, and then this morning we had the most wonderful fuck."

"Tim, I like it all. Variation is what'll make it last. But as much as I enjoyed this morning, last night was better. But this morning was special, partly because we do it so seldom. And you obviously enjoyed it and that made it the best thing in the world-for that time and place."

"Thanks, Charlie. I'll do the same for you, anytime."

"I know, Tim. That's why I love you."

"Me too."

"Pull over."

He did, and we kissed each other, letting our hands roam-just a little.

"Shall we stop at a motel for another go around this afternoon, or simply head home?" That was Tim, but I could've been asking the same question. The answer, we decided, was to head home and thank Mom and Dad for the most wonderful commitment present we could possibly have imagined.

We pulled up to the house and were greeted by Carl at the front door. He looked like death warmed over. Clothes a mess; circles under his eyes like he hadn't slept. "Carl, what's wrong?"

"Dad's in the hospital. We had no way to contact you. He went in yesterday. He fainted at work, and didn't snap out of it. The ambulance took him to the hospital, and he woke up after about four hours. No diagnosis yet, but he seems to be OK."

We headed to the hospital, where Betsy and Carol were standing watch. Hal was there, along with his mother. "Who called you?" I asked.

Carl spoke up, "I did. I called the whole Gang, but told them nobody was to come to Minneapolis, just keep Dad in their prayers. I called your parents, Charlie. Tim, you or Charlie need to call them all again with an update as soon as we learn a little more."

Norman was awake. They wanted to limit visitors, so just Betsy, Tim and I went in. He seemed to be feeling OK. We both wanted to rush in and kiss him, and thank him for the gift. But we remained restrained, and extended our love and thanks as best we could in the hospital environment. In a little while we left the room with Betsy, and Carl and Carol went in. Betsy gave us a few more details-there weren't very many-and we were able to hug and kiss her a little more demonstratively. We also thanked her for the gift, but said that we would do that properly at a more appropriate time.

Dad had two more episodes over the next four days. Diagnostic tools were less effective then, but Dad's problem was finally diagnosed as a series of minor strokes. We had several family conferences, both with and without Norman, about the forthcoming wedding, now a week away. To postpone or not postpone. The vote was a huge number (depending on who was taking part in the conversation) to one each time. Norman would have nothing to do with a postponement. He finally settled it by announcing, "If you postpone I'll be so upset I'll have a major stroke instead of a minor one. I'll make the wedding. Don't you dare postpone it."

Carl and Carol didn't dare. Five days before the wedding Norman came home from the hospital. The doctors had said, "Take it easy," but hadn't otherwise restricted his activity.

Norman simply said, "Look, all this means is that if you want tables moved, boxes carried, or people picked up at the airport, I'm not going to be allowed to do it. I think it's a good deal for me."

We were afraid that it would dampen everyone's spirits at the wedding, but Norman remained in such high spirits that nobody else dared be anything else but on a high.

The wedding itself was fairly traditional, with a few exceptions-so I guess the average observer would've called it hugely non-traditional; it is all in your point of view. Both Carl and Carol insisted that the words of a commitment ceremony be used, avoiding the matrimonial terms that Tim and I couldn't use. Another exception was more interesting. Carol said, "Look, this is just as special a day for Carl as it is for me. And nobody's giving me away, I'm joining Carl of my own free will. So no walking the bride down the aisle with Daddy giving her away. The wedding party will come down the aisle in pairs. But it won't be made up of a group of girls to support me and boys to support Carl. Rather, they'll all support both of us. Tim and Charlie will walk in together, in the lead, followed by the rest of the wedding party couples. Then Dad will walk me down the aisle and Betsy will walk Carl down the aisle. Then Mom and Norman will join us, and all four parents will stay up front with the wedding party to support us-just like the Gang did for you two."

It was unusual, but it worked. Some few traditionalists were shocked, but Carl and Carol hadn't known many of those to invite. Most of the rest of the guests thought it was a lovely gesture, a symbolism of equality coming into the marriage and in the marriage. Rev. Millister was delighted.

The reception afterwards was lovely, the meal delicious, the music very danceable, the cake too sweet, the speeches too sappy (despite Carl's threats),and it was all over too soon. We saw them off in Carl's car, to a honeymoon evening we knew not where. About an hour later, as we were all sitting around in Norman and Betsy's living room, Carl and Carol came in. To our great surprise they announced that, like Tim and me, they wanted to spend their first night in the warmth and love of their home, where they had been accepted, and knew they would always be.

Tim and I somehow restrained ourselves and didn't bang on the door in the middle of the night.

They were off the next morning for a trip to Canada, all the way around Lake Superior. On their return they moved into a little apartment near the campus which they had rented just before the wedding, and which they could occupy beginning August first-the day of their return. The morning of August first Tim and I set up their bed in the apartment; for the rest they were on their own. It was shortsheeted, of course.

Tim and I set off the next day for Grand Forks to check on Felix and the house, and then headed for my folks' cabin in the UP. Mom and Dad were glad to see us again. Certainly they were getting used to us as a pair, and their concerns and fears about our being a gay couple seemed to be receding. I knew that they both had religious reservations about gay sex, and I didn't expect them to change those easily. But they were good to us, and didn't let those reservations be a bar to family harmony.

Tim thrived in the Northwoods. He loved Pike Lake where the cabin was located. It was about a mile across, and he was eager to swim it. The rule had always been that someone had to row along in a boat when someone swam across; this really frustrated Tim. But we pointed out that a lone swimmer or even two were hard to see in the water, especially if the sun was wrong, and we didn't want someone run down by a water ski boat. Tim accepted that, and decided instead to swim around the lake staying near the shore-about a five mile swim. He insisted that I come along-but only once. I slowed him down too much. That became his morning exercise. Days we walked the woods, picked blueberries, or drove some of the old back roads. Tim preferred walking-it was more active. My mother liked to pick berries, and we joined her a few afternoons. Tim was willing to sit still only as a kindness to her.

Late afternoon we water skied. Unlike today, you didn't have to have a spotter in a ski boat, provided you had a rear view mirror. So the two of us could go skiing together. At first I thought I had finally found a sport that I could do better than Tim. He could ski on one ski, as could I, but I could turn around and go backwards on trick skis. I should've known; within three days he was going backwards on one ski!

Nights he liked to swim. By ten o'clock there were no boats on the lake, and we would swim straight across; he was willing to slow down to my pace. The boat rule for swimming across the lake was for more reasons than fear of ski boats-it was assumed that if a swimmer tired in the middle of the lake that a boat would be needed. Tim simply didn't allow for such fear. He said, "I could get a heart attack in the woods and need a jeep, but that doesn't keep me out of the woods." So we swam the two miles across the lake and back. We were always in bed by midnight, and he was actually willing to sleep till eight a.m.

My parents couldn't believe the breakneck pace. They thought of the cabin, and the Northwoods, as a place for relaxation. So did Tim; they just didn't realize that this was a very relaxed pace for Tim! Mom enjoyed cooking for us, especially Tim, who ate heartily and enjoyed everything. And he went out of his way to be kind to both Mom and Dad.

Dad liked to fish. His favorite day started with fishing after breakfast, going out in his little red outboard runabout. He usually fished near shore, and Tim would come by the boat on his morning swim. They would talk about a quarter hour or so, and then Tim would continue around the lake. Tim was always disappointed that Dad only cast with artificial bait. He could imagine Dad sitting there with a minnow and his sneaking up and going down and pulling on Dad's line! But he didn't get the chance for that.

While Tim swam in the morning I took Timmy out to an archery target we had set up in the woods where we had cleared a straight path through the trees. Under these less than ideal conditions I maintained my skill but didn't improve much. I was going to have to really work hard this coming year.

With all of that, the Northwoods would've been heavenly. I had always thought so as I summered there over the years. But Tim brought more than a new level of activity. He brought sexuality!

We didn't swim at night; we skinny dipped. We didn't just hike through the woods, we stopped and fucked, or sucked, or felt, or whatever. We learned you could clean up with leaves, pine needles, or a quick skinny dip in a remote corner of a lake. We kept a quilt in the back of the car, for quick stops along remote roads; sometimes not so quick stops. We discovered that climbing trees naked was sometimes problematical; as was sex in a tree! We'd walk around the property naked after my parents were asleep. We found that cum mixed in sand from the beach across the lake got in the way of hugging, but cleaned up well in the lake. We discovered that neither of us could come quick enough to do 69 under water. But we could bring each other while swimming if one did a sidestroke and the other a resting backstroke. Sex late at night by a campfire was joyful. Oh, we learned a lot of outdoor "skills" that summer.

My mother came upon us one time-in the woods not too far from the cabin. As we heard her approach I said, "rumpled sheets." But she wasn't deterred and came up fairly near us. We were on the ground, naked, hugging each other, and because we were hugging, our genitals weren't exposed.

Mom looked at us for a while and finally said, "I think I finally understand." With that she calmly turned and headed back to the cabin. After a few steps she turned back to us and said, "I don't think I need the rumpled sheets anymore."

About a week after our arrival, Hal and Sue and Ronnie joined us. Hal and Ronnie only spent one night, and then they went over to Camp White Elk, for their annual visit. Sue stayed with us. Their presence the one night added an interesting complication to Pike Lake life. The cabin had three bedrooms, each with twin beds. Mom and Dad had one room, Tim and I the larger of the other two. Where to put three more? Hal and Sue took the middle room, and Ronnie said he would sleep on the couch. Tim said, "Nonsense. You're sleeping with us."

It was my Mom and Dad's first experience with the differing sexual rules of the Gang. But they decided to just keep mum. They never realized that we didn't have three in our room that night, but five. The games started with skinny dipping at the lake, and adjourned to the bedroom. We got a deck of cards and pulled out five-three red and two black. The bed near the window was designated black, the one near the door as red. Hal and I drew black. Tim, Sue and Ronnie drew red. We turned the lights out and let everybody be private. Hal and I tried 69 and enjoyed it immensely. Tim told me later that he and Sue had taken turns sucking Ronnie. That was all he was up for, and they took care of each other's needs with their hands.

One Saturday morning while Tim was swimming I got a phone call from Carl. I reported it to Tim when he got back to the cabin. "Tim, Carl called, you'll never guess his question."

"I presume that you're going to tell me."

"Carl and Carol are spending the weekend with Mom and Dad. At breakfast this morning Mom and Dad had the conversation about being naked around the house."

"So? Why did Carl call?"

"He smelled a rat. He asked me if we had had such a conversation, and what had come of it."

"Did you tell him?"

"Yes. I figured that if he was smart enough to suspect something and ask questions-we weren't you know-he deserved an answer."

"So exactly what did you tell him?"

"I described the whole morning adventure with your parents. I didn't hold back anything."

"What's he going to do?"

"He's thinking. He didn't say."

"Should be interesting." The conversation got us horny, and we headed for the hills and a little relief before lunch.

All good things must come to an end. August was almost over; we returned to Minneapolis, and soon would set off for the next stage of the adventure that we called life: Grand Forks and the University of North Dakota.

However, in the brief time that we were in Minneapolis we did have two conversations worth reporting.

Carl could hardly wait to tell of his and Carol's adventure the morning after Carl's telephone call to me. He and Carol figured that Mom and Dad would do the same thing to them, and almost certainly the next morning, as they were only going to be there one more night before they headed back to their apartment. They considered different ways they might handle the morning, and finally hit on the perfect plan: They did to Mom and Dad exactly what had been done to us. They figured that Mom and Dad would have to get up about six to get breakfast started and wake them up. So they set their alarm for five.

They got up, no clothes, got breakfast started, and at 5:45 stormed into Mom and Dad's room, waking them up and jerking off the covers. To their surprise, Mom and Dad were nude. Dad started to pull the covers up, but Carl jerked them back, saying, we want to see you hug each other. Carl and Carol watched a little while-Carl said he was hard as rock the whole time, and Norman had followed-and then announced breakfast. "No clothes."

Breakfast had followed the same pattern as Tim's and mine about six months before. Norman had said, "Did Tim or Charlie tip you off?"

Carl replied, "After the conversation at breakfast yesterday we smelled a rat. Tim and Charlie had told us nothing, but after breakfast we called Charlie and asked him what to expect. He spilled the beans. And we decided that turnabout was fair play."

Everybody enjoyed the breakfast, and laughed about the whole thing. Norman and Betsy had to admit that they had been one-upped. Norman also admitted that he and Betsy hadn't slept nude together for years, but had been learning from their sons! Carol put the icing on the cake by going into the living room, putting on a record and, returning to the kitchen, saying, "Let's dance, Norman." She and Norman had danced as had Carl and his mother. After a while they traded partners, and both drifted back to their bedrooms.

While we were still in Minneapolis getting ready to set off and become Fighting Sioux! Carl and Carol came home so that we could be a family for a few days before both universities started. We noticed that everybody seemed to push the nudity envelope a little while we were all around. With Tim and I and Carl and Carol it was both convenience (we shared a bathroom) and erotic. One night we traded partners and Carl and I slept together while Tim and Carol slept together. The next morning we compared notes and realized that we had all chosen our tongues as the weapon of choice. Mom overheard part of the conversation, and said, "A while ago you all offered to have a conversation about sexual morality with your father and me. How about this afternoon?"

We had agreed. It made lunch a little awkward, because none of us really knew what to expect. Mom had started the conversation: "Don't think that I asked for this because I was upset about hearing how you all slept last night. But I'll admit that hearing that conversation reminded me that we had talked about doing this, and I thought it was the right time. You're both going off on your own soon. Neither Norman nor I expect your behavior to change at all because of what we're all going to say this afternoon. But I think that Norman and I may be more comfortable thinking about all the things you do, and you may feel a little more grounded for having to express yourselves to us. Having said that, I'm not sure where to begin."

I said, "I'll start. You all have met Priscy. You know that I had a sexual relationship with her in Des Moines. We had intercourse-once. Priscy had a lover in college; her name was Charl. Charl pretty much rescued Priscy from a very loose life style that had begun as a teen during the war, as she fucked every boy as he went off to war."

"Do we need that word?" ask Mom.

"Yes," said Tim. "The euphemisms are too awkward. It's just a word, and we're certainly going to talk about the act it describes-unless we're going to dance around the subject all afternoon."

"OK, you win. It still makes me uncomfortable."

"I'll try to use it only when it seems to be the best word for the situation. But it accurately describes, in both tone and physical act, Priscy's behavior as she said 'Goodbye' to the boys in Lincoln, Illinois."

"Charl liked to say that sex could be put into four categories: dangerous, casual, emotional and loving. Dangerous was when you were at risk, from abuse or disease. Casual is self-explanatory. Emotional is when there's real affection between the parties, but not true love. She had a test to separate casual sex from emotional sex. If at least half of the joy was from hugging, kissing and lying together it was emotional sex. If more than half of the the joy was genital based, it was casual sex. Loving sex is with your life partner, or the person you expect or hope will be your life partner."

Dad asked, "And when you guys play around with the Gang, what is that?"

Tim said, "Emotional-using Charl's terms. You'd be surprised how often we never get beyond hugging, kissing and lying together, because that much is often completely fulfilling."

"That's right," said Carl, "but we aren't selling short the sexual aspects either."

Mom said, "What about the old fashioned idea that sex was just for your spouse?"

Tim said, "I don't want to sell that short. I would never condemn anyone who respected that rule. I might admire them. But for me, I have to ask two questions: 'Is sex fun, pleasurable, fantastic enjoyment?' and 'Is it hurting anyone?' I guess you know how I, and Charlie, have answered those questions."

I said, "We've had lengthy discussions as to whether our commitment to each other needs to exclude sex outside the partnership. Till now we haven't reached any conclusion, but we aren't exclusive."

Tim said, "Every boy in the Gang fully expected a night with Charlie, in which sex was OK, and they deserved it. And they've all gotten it."

Betsy said, "Do you guys have any limits?"

I said, "Yes. And I wouldn't want to try to claim any more rational basis for these than there is a rational basis for keeping sex within marriage (or partnership). But here they are: First, we do nothing behind each other's back. That doesn't mean the partner has to be present, but never uninformed. Second, we avoid anal sex. That's reserved for Tim and me, but we aren't particularly into it. Third, we avoid casual sex-as we defined it earlier. We've had sex a few times-very limited-outside of the Gang. We've never said that we're limited to the Gang-even though in large measure that's true-the expanded Gang, I mean."

"While we're being so very blunt, who outside the gang?" asked Betsy.

I said, "A rule I've shared with all the parents of the Gang is, 'Never ask a question that you don't want to have answered.'"

Betsy said, "I'm ready."

Tim said, "Hal and I gave Merle an interesting experience as we dressed for the prom."

"Euphemisms, Tim. I thought you didn't approve," said Betsy.

"We pulled off his pants, with his cooperation, and gave him a hand job. How's that?"

"Much better."

I said, "You know I was involved with Priscy. Jane as well after they partnered. And you know that I had some partners in college-nobody you ever met-except forr Phil."

Carl said, "Carol knew that I wasn't a virgin when we had our first conversation about sex. Tim insisted that I tell her, and he was right."

"Who?" It was Norman who was curious this time.

"Sorry, it's not fair to the girl. She was at Southwest with me. It didn't last, but neither of us were sorry. We grew a lot, but learned that we weren't for each other."

Carol said, "I was pretty innocent before Carl. A few roaming hands. I remember the first time I had a boy's penis in my hand-it belonged to John Simmons and we were in the Varsity movie theater. It got hard while I held it. I never really understood hard-ons before that. Sex education in school never really dealt with just exactly how a boy's equipment actually got inside a girl's equipment."

Tim said, "OK, everybody has been very frank here. How about some from the other generation?"

Betsy said, "We were virgins on our wedding night. I saw Norman naked for the first time that night. It was the first night we spent together. But our hands had roamed. He had come in his shorts a few times as we played in the car."

Norman said, "There were a couple of girls before Betsy, and I got about that far with each of them. We were all pretty innocent back then."

Norman continued, "OK, you four are pretty comfortable in a pretty wide variety of sexual situations-including gay sex. I understand you have some limits, but let's explore those. In the last months Betsy and I have had a couple of fairly erotic encounters with you. I was dancing naked with Carol, you with your Mom, Carl. It was certainly erotic to pull the sheets off of Tim and Charlie and make them spoon together. Are you all up to six-way sex with us?"

Carl reacted almost violently, "My God. Is that an invitation?"

"How would you respond?"



"You don't have sex with your parents."

"How about Charlie and Mom?"

Carl continued, "They're Mother and son-in-law."

"Why not have sex with in-laws? Carol had sex with Tim; why not me? She's cute."

Carl said, "I can't believe I'm hearing this."

Norman said, "OK. Let's reflect on the conversation of the past few minutes. First, everybody needs to understand that I'm not interested in sex with any of the four of you. But you reacted pretty strongly to the suggestion. I suspect that strong reaction is based on your cultural bias against incest. But, after all, the taboo against incest preceded birth control. It really isn't needed now if people take precautions. But the whole idea appalled you. You need to understand that your mother and I have had much the same reaction to some of the things that you've told us you've done. We can't explain that negative reaction, or justify it, any more than you can explain the reaction you just had to my suggestion of a six-way."

I spoke up. "Norman, that's a point well taken, and it goes a long way to helping us understand where you and Mom are."

"Please understand that we can accept the things you do. We know they're done in love, respect, and caring. But they take getting used to. And we always hope that you continue to be blunt and honest with us, and we'll try our best to be loving and accepting. But understand that acceptance only goes so far. We would call the police if you came in and told us that the Gang had gang-raped a girl you met on the playground. There are limits to acceptance; but I hasten to add that we also understand that you would never push those limits."

I said, "What've we learned in this hour?"

"That we're prudes and you aren't. That you play by different rules than we do. But that the basic, underlying rule's the same for all of us: Let everything be done in love."

Tim said, "It's time for hugs all around." We all got them. At least five each.

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