I am writing this in 2005, looking back on a rich and rewarding life. As I look at the spring and summer of 1965, forty years ago, I realize that the move to Grand Forks was, in many ways, a turning point in our lives. We could point to the summer of 1961 when Tim and I met. We could point to the Weekend-coming out and commitment in the space of three days. And I guess you could say that our transition from boys to men occurred over the space of the four years, 1961 to 1965. But I can tell you the place and date where it actually happened, perhaps to the hour.
We set off for North Dakota on Tuesday, August 31, 1965. We intended to spend the night somewhere on the way so that we would arrive fairly early in the morning in Grand Forks. We had a lot to do before school started. Luckily, back then colleges started a few days (some over a week) after Labor Day, unlike the early starts of today. Arriving September first, we would have just over a week to get our house in order-including furnishing it, get Felix moved back in, get both Tim and me registered, and the myriad of other things we knew would come our way.
We made our first crossing of the Mississippi River before we left Minneapolis, following the river upstream to Little Falls where we crossed from east to west, left the river and headed for North Dakota. As we crossed it in Little Falls Tim said, "You know, this is the grandest river of them all. I think there's some significance to our crossing it today. We have plenty of time, since we aren't going to Grand Forks until tomorrow. Let's take the more easterly road north and go by Lake Itaska. I've never been there, have you?"
"That's the headwaters of the Mississippi isn't it?"
"Yes. The river takes a big swing east and then circles around to the west again ending-or beginning-at Lake Itaska. Let's go."
I checked our map. It wasn't far out of our way, but it would mean driving on slower roads. It looked like an interesting side trip. That's where we headed.
We got to the Itaska area by about 12:30, ate lunch, and found a little motel that looked clean and inexpensive. It was one of those little rows of cabins-about ten of them I think. They look incredibly small, but on the inside they are about the same size as a regular motel room-but you don't hear your neighbors, and they don't hear you. Settled in, we drove to Itaska State Park the site of the headwaters of the Mississippi. The great river is about 20 feet wide as it flows out of Lake Itaska, and you could walk across on a row of rocks without getting your feet wet, or at least not very wet. Everybody had to cross over the Mississippi that way; not doing so would be like going to New York and not going up the Empire State Building or going to Paris and not going up the Eiffel Tower. When we got across Tim took me by the hand and we walked a ways into the woods where we couldn't be seen. He kissed me very gently and said, "That crossing symbolizes the beginning of our real life together. Till now we have been getting ready. We have crossed the bar, no turning back. Are you with me?"
"Forever, Tim." The next kiss was a little harder and a little deeper! And a lot longer.
Of course, the geography of Itaska State Park made us look a little foolish, as we immediately had to head back and cross back over the river on the same rocks. But symbolically we never went back.
Not that there was anything behind us that we were running from. Our successes to this point were stellar-especially Tim's, but I was no slouch. We had loving parents, who were supporting us unconditionally, even though we knew that all four of them had some reservations about our life style. We'd been hugely supported by the Gang, other friends, family, schools, teachers, coaches, and even the press. So we weren't going away from anything. We were going forward to something. On that day, August 31, 1965, about 4:00 p.m. we weren't sure what we were going toward. But we were excited-elated would be a better word-eager, and confident. We had no fear of the future; we saw it as an adventure.
That night, we walked along some back roads near the motel. It was warm, starlit, with enough breeze to keep the bugs away. We walked miles, going till late at night. We held hands, stopped to hug and kiss from time to time, but said very little. We were both thinking about our separate paths that had brought us to this spot and the single path that stretched out before us. At least that was the metaphor that came to my mind. I am sure that Tim reflected on similar themes using his own images.
Back at the motel we undressed, climbed into bed, spooned together, and slept.
At 5:42 a.m. September first-the damn little kid actually set an alarm-Tim bounded out of bed, pulled me up with him and said, "Wake up Charlie, our new life has started. We don't want to miss any of it."
I did, in fact, think that it would be quite nice to miss at least the first couple of hours, but I thought better of saying that to Tim. So I let myself be dragged into the shower, washed quite thoroughly you know where, and then be pulled back to the bed. My very hard dick was soon encircled by Tim's lips, tongue and teeth, which didn't slow their activity until I cried "uncle." I pulled him into my arms, we kissed, and I started to move down his body to take him into my mouth.
"Not now, Charlie, the world beckons. I got all the pleasure I needed by giving you that pleasure. Wash me well as we take another shower, and we'll start the day."
We did take another shower, but I would have none of his ducking out on sex. I pulled him to the bed, and used my greater size to hold him still and suck him eagerly. He didn't resist long. As we headed to our third shower, I asked, "Why were you thinking of one-sided sex?"
"It was my gift to you, to celebrate our new life on this side of the Mississippi. But I appreciate your gift to me just as much. Now I don't think there's enough hot water for a fourth shower, so we'd better dress, have breakfast, and head to Grand Forks."
"I love you Tim. I'm so madly in love with you I don't know what to do. Please don't change, but be my Tim forever."
"I won't change, but you mustn't either. I love you just the way you are."
We got rolling and soon pulled up to the house. It didn't look very different. Then our eyes moved up to the new roof. Then we noticed a new front door and screen-storm window units at all the windows. In back was the detritus of recent construction. We stepped up to the front door and I unlocked it. I guess I looked like I was going to pick Tim up and carry him across the threshold, but he put out his hand to stop me from doing that. I wasn't sure of the intention of his gesture, until he said, "Nobody carries anybody over the threshold. Too much dominance in that gesture. Take my hand."
I did, and we crossed together, closed the door, and kissed. Then we looked around. God, was it changed. The restoration was fabulous. The walls were in serious need of paint-plaster patched in many places where it had been damaged, and also where they had had to get behind the walls for electrical and heating work. But in the front hall and living room the woodwork stood out over everything else. And it was grand. Oak throughout except for the living room where all of the trim, including the windows and mantelpiece, was in solid mahogany. Unbelievable. We learned later that Felix hadn't known about the mahogany, as the previous owner had painted it over. Stripping the wood wasn't in the restoration contract, but when the contractor discovered-accidently-that the living room was different wood, and that it was in fact mahogany, he couldn't help but strip it. He told us, "Not to take that paint off would have been a crime. Let it be my housewarming gift to you two."
The dining room had been in pretty good condition, and there were no walls to restore there. So it had been done first and all of Felix' furniture that was worth keeping had been stuffed in there. We couldn't even get in the door. The rest of the house was bare of furniture. Getting settled in here in a week was going to be a tough job, if not downright impossible.
We called Coach Knudsen to check on Felix and let him know we were in town. It was just after noon and we were invited to lunch. At lunch we were invited to stay with them for a few days while we got the house sorted out. Thinking about the mess behind us, we really had no choice but to accept. It was the first of so many kindnesses that we would receive from the Knudsens who proved to be gracious hosts and true friends.
I could make a whole chapter out of getting the house together. We decided to paint rooms before we filled them up, as that was so much more efficient. We started with Felix' bedroom on the third floor, and ours on the second. That allowed us to move in. Then our kitchen, and Felix ate with us until we got his kitchen done. Then we worked slowly throughout the house. It took until mid October, which made it too late to tackle the outside painting until spring. So our house slowly became quite grand on the inside, but looked pretty dumpy on the outside for almost the entire school year. It a way, Tim and I were glad, as living in the grand house that we finally had by June of 1966, would have been a little pretentious for a Freshman and his partner. By the end of the year the whole school, actually the whole town, knew Tim was pretty special and his house just matched the rest of him.
But by the first day of school we had only the two bedrooms finished. We ate in one of the cheap eateries near campus, usually with Felix, and hurried home to paint. Felix was right, he was a good painter if he didn't have to climb on a ladder. Much of the woodwork in the house needed to be painted-only the downstairs hall, living room, library, and dining room were nice enough to keep natural. Felix became the woodwork painter. It all got a complete scraping and cleaning, a primer and two coats. It looked gorgeous. Neither Tim nor I had the patience to do that kind of work-which kind of disappointed Felix, who pointed out some of our sloppiness. But we were all good sports-we accepted his criticism and he accepted that we weren't really going to change. But he helped as much as he could in the three key rooms, living room, dining room, and hall, and insisted that we do a perfect job there. We accepted that, and were glad over the years that we had taken his advice. Well, it wasn't advice; it was orders.
Over the years the house was furnished three times. The first was that fall: we bought used, sale, cheap, whatever we could find to fill the rooms comfortably and functionally, but certainly not beautifully. As soon as that was completed we started on round two: slowly replacing junk with decent furniture that we didn't have to apologize for. Round two took us more than the four years we lived in Grand Forks during Tim's undergraduate and my law years. Round three began when we moved back, as we sought to change the house into a fine showpiece of art and interior design. But more of that later.
Tim was a Freshman education major, I was taking two classes in the Law School. We were determined to keep our grades up. We were determined to keep our athletic practice up. And we were determined to make an "impact"-Tim's word, on the school and community. He insisted that we take time for sex. I added that I thought eating ought to be put into the schedule. We both accepted that we had to sleep at night. Accomplishing all that would take a thirty hour day, and God had not so blessed us. Tim insisted that we could shove it into a twenty-four hour day!
Maybe. As we worked on the painting and first round of furnishing, we realized that there were some domestic issues that we had to attend to. When we moved into the bedroom, we realized that we didn't share the same attitude about making the bed, picking up clothes, putting towels back on the towel bar, and similar things-many of which have destroyed marriages, a fact of which we were aware. By the way, I have no intention of tattling on either of us and confessing who tended to be the slob and who the neatnik. But we soon realized that wedded bliss, or partnership peace, depended on a resolution of those differences.
After some thought, Tim shared three things that were very important to him: First, that we have mutual bedtimes and get up times regardless of whether we had sex. Second, he believed that we should protect our dinner hour-at least 30 minutes. Finally, we had to be equal domestic partners, with neither of us taking the traditional feminine role.
I asked for a day to sleep on those, and the next day at breakfast-eaten in a diner without Felix who generally didn't like to get up as early as Tim and I did-I responded. Well, I insisted that I was just commenting, not responding as that sounded too final.
First, I guessed that we didn't agree on times to go to bed and get up. Tim seemed to be a morning person; I was more of a night person. I noted that in such a situation, one or the other gives in, or they try to find a compromise. I said, "If one of us gives in the other will likely feel guilty. And the one who gives in can easily feel put upon. And I'm not sure there a real compromise on this issue." I went on, "Tim, you like to get up early to get a two hour practice session in-at least that was your high school pattern. Could you effectively use a single hour of practice somewhere, instead of 2? If we compromise like that will neither of us be happy?"
"Second, Tim, in the real world can we protect dinner? And are we allowing only 30 minutes for dinner?
"Third, and finally, aren't there times when one of us should take the larger share of the domestic chores, because of the other's work, studies, practice, and so forth?
"That's a lot to think about. We'll talk again tomorrow after you, or we, sleep on it."
Tim didn't wait for the next day. As we went to bed that night about midnight (we were on my schedule that day)-Tim came back to the three issues we had been dealing with. "Charlie, I would rather totally concede on bedtime than not have us go to bed together. It's as simple as that.
"Dinner's important, we should take more than thirty minutes, and there are going to be tremendous conflicts that want to pull us away from having dinner together. But it's important, and we need to try.
"The question of domestic chores is important. While there may be minor exceptions from time to time, this whole partnership will fail unless we're equal domestic partners. It's important. Both of us have to plan our days to get the chores done. And we need to organize our house and our lives in order to minimize domestic work."
"Tim, I hear you. I want to think a little; perhaps more than a little."
In fact there were several days of soul searching ahead for me before I sorted it all out in my mind. But this is what I later proposed to Tim:
Bedtime: Monday to Friday we would get up at 5:30 a.m. for work, practice or school by six. That meant we needed to get to bed by 11:00; which meant starting to bed at 10:30. On weekends, we'd be in bed by 1:00, and sleep till nine. We'd get up earlier if both of us were awake. If I went back to bed after Tim left in the morning, I wouldn't "rumple the sheets" and he wouldn't ask stupid questions; some things were better left private.
Dinner: We agreed up front that each of us could screw up dinner one night a week-for a meeting, practice, whatever. One night a week we would eat out in a restaurant-better a weeknight as the crowds are less. Except in extraordinary situations, we'd protect the other four nights, whichever ones they were, for dinner at home together-sometimes with guests, sometimes alone. It would be OK for some of the nights together to be at a joint meeting, dinner theater, with friends, etc. But we must be together.
Domestic partnership. Yes, we were equals, but we needed to get in a routine that (1) made sure the house was completely straightened each night before bed-including our desks-no sex if the house wasn't neat; (2) included making the bed together each morning; (3) included some other work around the house each day so that we never had to spend "all day" cleaning; and (4) had us trade off cooking or cook together.
Tim's response was, "Charlie, you're totally conceding to me when you agree to being a morning person. That isn't fair to you."
"Yes, it is. First, it's my decision. Second, I'll hold you in bed on weekends. Third, your practice schedule, and mine too, simply won't work without that early morning time. I'm just going to have to get used to it. I'll live. Don't let me backslide."
"Charlie, I love you."
"I know, Tim. And I know that you would have given up that morning practice to be in bed with me. But I need to face the reality that I have made my life with a morning person, and that if I take that away from him he'll change in ways that I don't want him to change. I fell in love with Morning Tim. I'll deal." And I have, for years. And the sound of an alarm clock is still one of the pernicious sounds on earth!
Today I am used to the media-in the 1960's we usually called them-it?-the press. In 1965 I was still getting used to the idea that I, or at least my partner, was news, and that that meant that the press would be bothering me more often than I would like. Granted, Tim had had several more years of dealing with them than I had, but he seemed to glide past the demands of the press with little concern. More important, he was skilled at using them for his own purposes.
So it didn't surprise me that just as we were finishing painting the first room of the house, Ed Schmidt arrived looking for an interview, nor did it surprise me that Tim welcomed him eagerly. Ed got a tour of the house, and a pretty complete tour of our lives. Tim prohibited house pictures being published until it was looking good, but allowed Ed to take "before" pictures to use later. He was confident that he could trust Ed, and that proved to be true on many occasions. We headed over to campus to let Ed take pictures for the feature story he was doing on our arrival in North Dakota. Again, the story, which appeared in the following Sunday Herald read like it had been written by Tim's own publicist. He continued to be the darling of the media.
But Tim demanded his pound of flesh. The quid pro quo for the interview was a subsequent story when Tim was ready for some kind of fundraiser to get a gymnastics program going at UND. Ed was immediately intrigued by the idea and suggested doing a one man show, simply to be called Tim. The three of us kicked the idea around a while, placing it in the field house (seating 3000) and having Tim show off on the trampoline and in gymnastics. That seemed unlikely to draw a big crowd (how wrong we were), so we noodled about what could be added. Tim got the idea of inviting some of the folks from the Sutvan Circus to come, especially the bicyclists. And Sutvan could bring a trapeze so that Tim could show off his skills there as well. I had only seen him on a trapeze once, but he had looked good to me. But I am prejudiced.
The first step was to get Dr. Stevens, Director of Athletics, on board. His support was critical. In particular, Tim was hoping that the cost of opening the field house could be borne by the Athletics Department so that all of the money from ticket sales could go to gymnastics. He also had to strike some kind of a deal with Sutvan's. That meant the event had to be soon-before Sutvan's broke up for the winter.
If you were the Director of Athletics at a college and a brand new Freshman approached you to ask to use the field house for a one-man show, to raise money for anything, how would you react? I suspect you're thinking about like I did. Except that we all know Tim pretty well by now, so maybe, just maybe, he could pull it off. Dr. Stevens was ready for Tim. "I expected you, perhaps not quite this soon-it's only the second day of classes-but I knew you would be holding my feet to the fire about gymnastics."
"You really think people are going to pay $10 each to see the new kid on the diving team do his stuff-when his stuff doesn't even include diving-you can't dive in the field house, you know?"
"Yes, I know, and yes, I think the tickets will sell."
"So do I. Every time you get your picture in the paper related to coming to UND my phone rings off the hook for two or three days. 'Who is this kid? Is he really coming to UND? How did you get him?' I'm sure that you can imagine a lot more."
"Yes. How about, 'How much are you paying him under the table?'"
"Yes, I've been asked that."
"Well, about the show, Tim."
"I'll buy a ticket."
"Is that a 'Yes'?"
"What does it take to open the field house for an event?"
"Janitorial crew, we'll eat the cost somewhere: ushers-work studies, no cost: technical person for lights and sound, that may have to come out of receipts: ticket sales, handled by the box office, no extra cost. We can do it."
"I'm thinking of Friday the 24th of September."
"The field house is available. It'll be in use Saturday afternoon, but the janitor crew can get it ready by then."
"I need Sutvan's Circus here. They'll provide equipment and support performers."
"Who are they, and what's your connection?"
Tim told his story. Dr. Stevens responded, "I learn something new, and startling, about you every day."
Tim continued, "I either need to pay them a lot to get here, or trade them something. If the University had a field where they could set up for three performances, two Saturday and one Sunday, I don't think they'd charge anything to come and support our show."
"I have to get the higher ups in on that decision. But talk to Sutvan's, we'll try to work it out. I think we can."
Tim came home bubbling with excitement as he told me about the meeting. He called Mr. Sutvan that evening and he bought in. Tim was back with Stevens the next day, and by the end of the day all approvals were granted. I've never seen a bureaucracy move that fast in my life. It never hurts to have the President behind you, and Stevens' first phone call after Tim left was to Prexy, who in turn made a few key phone calls, and things just happened.
I knew that we needed a poster that we could plaster around the campus that would call attention to the event. Not all bright ideas begin with Tim, and this time I had a great one. I called Mick Jacobs. Forgot who he was? The reporter that interviewed us for Sports Illustrated. We'd had a good relationship with him, and I thought he could help. I wanted permission to reprint Tim's SI cover on the poster. He replied that such permissions don't come cheap, but he would see what he could do. I hesitated to tell him that we were working with a very short deadline, but I had to. In fact, he called me back in less than two hours. He had persuaded his bosses that Tim had been extraordinarily cooperative with the article, and would continue to be a big name. Being on Tim's good side was worth a lot. The were willing to waive the full copyright fee, but not their standard minimum of $100 for handling any copyright request. I should telegraph the request, along with the $100 to SI immediately. I had the permission by ten the next morning. A call to Sutvan's for permission to use their circus poster from the previous summer had that permission in hand by the same time. Tim on the SI cover next to Tim the circus performer, next to a blown up version of Tim's UND ID card, made a pretty spectacular poster. It attracted tremendous attention. From Tim I got the huge thank you kiss, and more, that I so richly deserved.
The posters were printed, ads in the paper taken out, tickets printed, all almost magically fast. Tim and I had to front the money for these, as they were beyond the support the University could provide. We got it back out of ticket sales. The key publicity piece, however, depended on Ed Schmidt. His story was great, and even included a picture of Tim on Sutvan's trapeze. It was on the front page of the sports section, with a small picture and headline on page one, directing you to Sports. Tim even got an Editorial in the paper praising the UND Athletics Department for attracting Tim, and providing this opportunity for the campus and town communities to meet Tim. The editorial concluded, "and we want to meet his partner, Charlie, too. Got that Tim?"
Tim accused me of getting that in, but I was innocent.
I won't keep you in suspense about the success, or lack thereof, of the ticket sales any more than we were kept in suspense by the events of the two weeks leading up to Tim. The posters were put up late on a Thursday night, so they were seen on campus Friday morning-hundreds of them. Tim and I and a few friends had spent most of the night getting them up. The newspaper piece, along with the editorial, was in the Sunday paper. Tickets would go on sale on Monday morning and we stewed most of Sunday night. We needn't have. Sales were so brisk on Monday that the line at the box office, while not extending around the proverbial block at opening, never died down. More than 1,200 tickets had been sold by Monday night. It was sold out three days before the performance, and the university was getting worried about scalping, but there wasn't much.
Sutvan's arrived in town Wednesday night, and spent most of the day on Thursday setting up in the field house. They had to rig a trapeze and safety net on a hardwood floor that they couldn't nail into-they usually worked in a field where stakes could be driven. That meant renting special equipment and bringing it with them-and a cost of nearly $3,000. But by then we had sufficient funds from ticket sales to cover the rentals. Friday was rehearsal day, as Tim and these performers hadn't worked together for more than a year. I was allowed to watch, and it was amazing how this group of professionals worked so well with the one amateur. Well, I guess Tim was an amateur athlete but a professional circus performer. I wasn't sure which was his role in Tim. It didn't matter: he was amazing to watch.
As far as I knew Tim hadn't been on a trapeze for a year. He looked as comfortable up there as he did on the balance beam. Again, part of his love of the trapeze had to have been the lack of restricting rules-he could do anything that he thought the audience would like. There was only the single trapeze, so there was no flying. He swung and did all sorts of acrobatics while he swung. This looked fairly spectacular, but for most of it he was holding on with his hands, so there was little risk of falling-into the safety net. But then he brought the trapeze to rest and did a handstand. Then a headstand. Then he released his hands. God, I wasn't able to breathe. Granted he had a shaped headplate attached to the trapeze-that wasn't hidden. But it was still awesome.
When he came down from his second practice I asked him how he could do that without practice. "Charlie, there isn't any difference between a trapeze and the gymnastics high bar. I practice on that."
"But it doesn't move!"
"Neither does the trapeze if you hold still."
"God." What else was there to say?
"Charlie, get up here on the trampoline. I need your weight in the routine." Again I bounced to give him height, and he left the trampoline for the trapeze which was lowered over his head at the appropriate moment-just as they'd done at Sutvan's.
This was Tim's show, so the Sutvan's people didn't do much except support Tim. The 10-bicycle act was included, as was some tumbling with Tim. This included the circus folks juggling. Tim didn't try that. I was glad to see that there was something he couldn't do.
Friday night came. The field house was full. Town and gown were both interested in this new phenomenon in Grand Forks. Quite a few folks had come up from Fargo, and a few of Tim's friends had come from the Twin Cities. The Gang was present in force, as well as a good number of their parents.
The show went off without a hitch. Tim's gymnastics was flawless. He used equipment borrowed from the St. Paul Gymnastics Club, which they had brought up in a rented truck-another expense to pay. Tim was not the gymnast that he was diver, so he kept his routines at a lower level of difficulty to insure that he could do them well, if not flawlessly. The first thing following the intermission fooled everybody, even me, and I had thought I had seen the complete rehearsal. But bringing Tim in for the second act riding in an elephant's trunk was completely off the wall. But Sutvan's had an elephant, and had to plug their three circus shows that were planned for Saturday and Sunday. They had a much easier time selling out-the tent only held 400 for three performances. And they did sell out, covering their expenses, and giving the performers a season end bonus and Sutvan an extra cash boost for the next season.
The bicycles ended the show and they bicycled out the end of the field house, ten on a bike. To a standing ovation Tim reentered, accepted the applause and signaled for quiet. He called me out to the center, where a little 4-piece band had assembled. With no apologies to David and Mike we stole their encore completely. There was no coming out, the newspaper article had told much of our story. My face was on the SI cover and therefore the Tim poster, so I was known. The combo started and we sang the same duet that David and Mike had sung:
We kiss in a shadow,
We hide from the moon,
Our meetings are few,
And over too soon.
We speak in a whisper,
Afraid to be heard-
When people are near
We speak not a word!
Along in our secret,
Together we sigh
For one smiling day to be free
To kiss in the sunlight
And say to the sky:
"Behold and believe what you see!
Behold how my lover loves me!"
[The King and I, Rodgers and Hammerstein]
We kissed in the spotlight. I picked up Tim and carried him out, and the show was over. I am still amazed by the impact of that song. It was written about the forbidden love of a slave, but describes the dilemma of gay and lesbian couples to this day. There had been plenty of cheering for Tim when he took his first bow. But after "We Kiss in a Shadow" there was mostly silence, as if people had been forced to think, or empathize, or something.
Tim was vintage Tim following the show. He stood, with me beside him, in the lobby and shook hands and spoke with everyone that came up. He signed autographs endlessly. If a third of the audience found their way to him, it meant 1000 handshakes and at least 400-500 autographs. Some wanted my autograph: ah, reflected glory. Tim refused to leave until the entire line was satisfied. It took two hours! But Tim was simply incapable of saying to someone in line, "Sorry, I'm leaving. You stood there for nothing." So he stood there until the line was gone. The last in line was a family of three, father, mother and young teenager that looked to be about 14. Tim shook his hand and saw that the boy was almost swooning with the joy of meeting Tim. He father said, "Billy dives, and you have been his hero for at least two years. We live in Fargo, and he simply couldn't believe that you were coming to North Dakota. When he heard you were doing this show, we had no choice but to get tickets. I'm glad we did."
Billy got his voice. "I can't wait to see you in a diving meet. I've only seen you on television and in pictures."
I couldn't believe the next thing that came out of Tim's mouth. "Tell you what, Billy. Let's go get dinner somewhere, and then we'll head over to the university pool and we can dive a little."
It was midnight! It would be at least 1:30 before we could get to the pool. And Tim was going to take this kid diving. And dinner meant dinner with about thirty folks making up the Gang, parents, a couple of coaches-who knew who all would tag along with Tim: he welcomed everyone. It was so late I had no idea where we were going to eat. Tim simply smiled and said, "The Dusty Diner isn't far away and it's open all night. Then to the pool." He was unstoppable.
Billy was flabbergasted. His parents were embarrassed, and refused to accept the invitation. I stepped up and assured them that Tim never issued an invitation he didn't sincerely mean, and that they would be doing Billy a grave injustice not to let him accept the invitation. Billy looked at his mom and dad with the most pathetic eyes and said, "Please."
Tim didn't wait for an answer. He grabbed Billy's hand and dragged him along with the Gang, which had assembled assuming that dinner would follow fairly close on Tim finishing with the handshaking. Tim said, "Billy, I'm going to introduce you to a bunch of guys here. Remember the names, there's going to be a test. This is Hal, Phil, Sue, Tom..." He kept going around the group till he had named everyone.
However, Billy got the last laugh, and it isn't often that someone gets one up on Tim. Billy walked up to Hal, shook hands and said, "Glad to meet you Hal." Then he went around the group, shook everyone's hands, and called us all by name. He hadn't even gone in the same order as Tim, as the group had been moving around. We were as flabbergasted as we had been at Tim's trapeze stunts. Had Tim met his match? I couldn't wait to see them dive together!
Tim saw that Billy's parents had caught up, and he said, "I hope it's OK if Billy rides over to the diner with Charlie and me. I'd like to get to know him better." He didn't wait for an answer, just assuming that silence equaled permission. The three of us hopped in our car, Billy in front with Tim, and set off leading the caravan to The Dusty Diner.
The Diner was almost empty, with just one middle aged couple and an older man sitting alone. Tim walked in and said, "Hi. I'm afraid that you're about to be enveloped by a gang of very hungry college kids, parents, and other odd sorts. You can't fight us, so you might as well join the party." They were startled, but soon had figured out who the kid was, and slowly joined in the party. Franklin decided that Tim needed a chance to talk to everyone, so he pulled Billy to his table to sit with him and Phil along with Hal and Sue. He reported that Billy had remembered their names, congratulated Hal on his 9th place finish in Boston, and asked Franklin how he liked Kansas State. On being asked-of course-how he knew all that, he said, "It's all been in the newspaper stories about Tim. I've read them all."
Franklin said to us later, "Real hero worship. But he's sure a friendly kid."
Coach Knudsen had been at the show, and I had asked him if he could stick with us and open the pool. He was delighted to. I asked him, "Wouldn't you rather be home in bed at this hour?"
"Charlie, I remember you warning me that being around Tim was like a roller coaster. It's fun, I don't want to get off. Besides it's moving too fast."
Billy rode with Franklin and a few others to the pool, was met by Tim at the door, and taken to the locker room. Tim said, "You don't have a suit, but you look to have about my waist size, even if you have four inches height on me. You can wear one of mine."
Billy had been an eager conversationalist at Franklin's table, but was virtually speechless with Tim. He only nodded. Soon they were back up in the pool area, dressed in identical suits. Tim said, "You first. Do you prefer the springboard or the platform?"
"Do your best dive."
Billy hesitated, but climbed up the platform: Tim right behind him. They talked quietly at the top for a while, then Billy went to the edge and did a simple, but virtually flawless front jackknife. Tim didn't dive, but waited for Billy to get back up on the platform. A little more conversation, and Billy dove again, this time a front flip. Tim then did one of his triple whatevers that he often used to show off. Flawless. Billy had watched from the side of the pool, and clapped hard as Tim came out of the water. He was joined by all of us. Tim and Billy dove alternately for about half an hour. Billy's dives got increasingly difficult, and Tim often did the dive before Billy. The whole performance went on as if the rest of us weren't in the room. At about 2:15 the two of them came to the edge of the platform together and did simultaneous cannonballs. They got some of us, too. With that they sort of came out of their joint isolation and greeted the audience. In particular, Tim went over to Billy's parents and said, "He's good. I hope you continue to encourage him: he says you do."
Then he said to Billy, "Let's go take a shower and dress." They disappeared into the locker room. Billy was allowed to keep the swim suit. I know for a fact he still has it-forty years later.
Tim and I got to know Billy's parents, as the two dove together often-either Billy would come up to Grand Forks and dive with Tim, or Tim would go down to Fargo and dive with Billy's diving team. Bill, Billy's father, told us much later that he had had serious reservations about Billy riding alone in the car with us to the diner, and still more about his changing and showering with Tim. "Tim, Charlie, gay men are new to me. I'm learning, but fear is endemic. As Martha [Billy's mother] and I drove to The Dusty Diner I shared my fears. She said, 'Bill, thank goodness you didn't say anything. It would have killed Billy. He's safe. I've read everything that Billy has about Tim, and Charlie, and all their Gang. Charlie and Tim were separate for more than three years because he wouldn't have a relationship with someone under eighteen. Tim wouldn't touch Billy.' Of course she was right."
I asked, "Bill, why are you telling us."
"Maybe confession is good for the soul. But I think that it's sort of a caution to you guys. The world doesn't see you as you see yourselves. Or as I see you now. There's still a lot of fear out there."
"Thanks, Bill. And thanks for being honest. And thanks for trusting your son to us. He is truly safe."
"I know now-for sure. But he knew, instinctively, that first day."
It was funny to see Tim dive with Billy's Fargo North High team which he visited every two or three weeks. I often went along. Even though he was in college, he was the smallest diver there. As they got to know him, he became one of the group. They'd kid with him, toss him in the pool, and treat him like another high school student. I think that was what he liked best about his trips to Fargo-being one of the gang. At UND, among the divers and swimmers, he was more of an icon.
But I digress. It's hard not to as I tell this story, as Tim, and I as well, moved in so many directions at once. But the beginning of gymnastics at the University of North Dakota is my main subject right now.
The huge success of Tim meant that Tim-really his new gymnastics club-had the funds to buy good gymnastics equipment: vault, rings, parallel bars, balance beam, high bar, rings, uneven bars, and mats. Adequate storage was made available in the gym, and they could be set up for practice rather easily whenever needed. Most of the time during the week they could be left up in the practice gym. In response to simple notices around the campus, about twelve students expressed an interest. Of those,Tim encouraged eight, and the nine of them became the nucleus of the UND Gymnastics Club. Four of the eight had high school experience, the others had trampoline or tumbling experience. They all were pretty good athletes and were physically fit. All were eager.
They did not, of course, have the dedication that Tim had. He suggested that the gym be made available from 4 to 6 every weekday, and 1 to 4 Saturday and Sunday. People had to sign up in advance, so that the first aid trained work study student wouldn't come and have no one there. Tim suggested that everybody try to get there five days a week. They suggested three, and he had to live with that. Tim, of course, was there every day except when he had an unavoidable conflict.
The group got pretty good under his guidance and coaching, and he continued to slowly improve-but not at a rate that would get him to the Olympics. The advice he had been given was correct, he was going to need experienced coaching. However, the Olympics were three years off. He decided that this level of work was OK for this year, and he had a year to work out other arrangements.
He discussed this all with Dr. Stevens, who told him, "Tim, I don't have a solution for the coaching problem. You knew that coming in, I'm afraid it's your problem to solve. I'll help any way I can."
Tim replied, "The solution's money. We can't do another Tim show, but we have got to have a source of funds for this program. I guess I'm going to have to become a fundraiser."
He did. He decided that he had to be serious about fundraising and started with a meeting with Prexy-his first since he had arrived.
"I expected that you might be in to see me sooner than this."
"Everybody has been so cooperative, I haven't had to go to the top."
"It's lonely up here. Come and visit more often. What can I do for you this afternoon?"
"We need money for a gymnastics coach."
"I haven't got money for that in the budget, and I'm sorry to say I'm not likely to get it."
"I plan to raise the money. I need your support and permission."
"Just how do you plan to raise this money?"
"Visit every sporting goods supplier and store in the eastern half of North Dakota and beg."
"Of course. You're the President of a University, you know all about begging for money."
"This is a state school, we aren't as dependent on fundraising as private schools are."
"Clearly that's a crucial issue for UND. But my concern right now is to raise some money for a gymnastics coach."
"I want to pay a top coach to come in here for a weekend of coaching fifteen times a year. It'll cost $400 a weekend with travel and housing, that's $6,000 a year. I could set out to raise that amount, but I'd rather endow the position. That'll require $120,000. That's my goal. Short of that, we'll spend the cash to get the coach here."
Tim told me later, "Charlie, Prexy almost fell over at the $120,000 number. He told me that that would be a major fundraising goal for an academic department, not a small club program in the athletic department."
"Can I try?"
"Of course. I wouldn't stop you. But I hate to encourage you."
"I need the Athletic Department to formally set up a fund that people and businesses can give to. Dr. Stevens said he was willing but needed your authority. Please give it to him."
Tim's campaign would have won him a medal had he been a soldier. He got the names of the owners of every sporting goods store and supplier in the area. If they were public companies, he got their financial statements. If they were private, he got hold of a credit report-some local business helped him with that-I'm not sure it was legal, but he destroyed them after he got a sense of the numbers. Then he went down the list and assigned an amount to each, totaling $250,000. "Charlie, we need less than a 50% success rate for this."
I was used to Tim. "What're you going to do if you raise $200,000?"
"Keep it in the fund until there's enough to hire a full time gymnastics coach, and pay for other aspects of the program."
Armed with his financial information, and with Dr. Stevens in tow for the first few visits, Prexy's condition, Tim went to work. He sought out owners personally, not through their business, and asked for home appointments. He and Dr. Stevens would arrive, with clear instructions to Stevens to say as little as possible. (The kid still had balls.) When Tim started expanding on his dreams for gymnastics at UND people got swept into the vision. They would soon have a full team at UND, with NCAA competition. There was no reason that they couldn't make an outstanding name for themselves-they just had to dream a little and work hard.
His first visit was to Fred Milson, the owner of a chain of sporting goods stores in Fargo, Grand Forks, Morehead, and a few nearby smaller towns. Tim had him on the list for $10,000-a figure that Stevens thought was ridiculous. Tim said, "Don't you dare mention a smaller number." Stevens got the hint.
After sitting and talking with Mr. Milson for about an hour, Tim was ready to actually ask for money. "We have a starting goal of $120,000 to endow a part-time coaching position. We need triple that to endow a full program. I'm hoping that I can count on you for $10,000 now, and $20,000 more when we have the $120,000 in hand and are starting on the next $240,000."
He got it. Dr. Stevens almost fainted dead away. Mr. Milson was so pleased to be the man making the initial challenge gift that he offered to go with Tim to visit some of the others on the list, fellow businessmen of his. In three weeks time Tim had his $120,000, which immediately triggered Mr. Milson's additional $20,000, and that triggered a few more gifts, for a total of $162,500. And Tim had made it clear that they needed the coach this year, so he needed cash in hand, not pledges.
He gathered the checks together, asked me and Dr. Stevens to go with him, and headed for the President's office. He and Dr. Stevens had agreed to keep the results of the campaign confidential, and in fact Tim had secured a number of checks that Stevens didn't know about. Tim walked into President Edison's office deliberately displaying a sort of hang-dog look. Prexy said, "I guess you're here to report on your fundraising efforts. How did you do?"
Tim said, "We didn't reach our ultimate goal."
"Did you at least cover the $6,000 you need for the first year?"
Dr. Stevens could hardly keep his mouth shut, but he managed.
"$6,000 in cash, so that you can actually start bringing a coach here?"
"Yeah. It's all cash, no pledges."
"All cash? How much?"
Tim got out the envelope with the checks and donor forms, and handed it to Prexy. "$162,000 and a little more."
Dr. Stevens finally burst. Prexy was flabbergasted. Tim just grinned. I don't know what I looked like, but it was a delicious moment.
Tim said, "By this time next year I'll have my $360,000."
Prexy still hadn't spoken. He just sort of leafed through the checks and then sort of leafed through them again. Finally he spoke, "Tim, your coach warned me that I was getting an exceptional student. I just never took him that seriously. I thought I just had an exceptional athlete, sort of like the 7' basketball players. I totally misjudged you. This is the most successful fundraising campaign in the history of the University. I don't know what to say."
Tim was ready. "We can do the same thing for other aspects of the University. I want to start the 'Students' Faculty Support Fund.' I want students to raise enough endowment money to significantly increase faculty salaries across the board. That's the most important key to improving the quality of this institution."
"And you want students to be the fundraisers?"
"We can do better than the professionals. We're willing to take more risks."
Dr. Stevens cut in, "Tim has no shortage of a willingness to take risk. He'd targeted Fred Milson for $10,000, which I thought was really pushing it. He'd the nerve to ask for $30,000 and got it. Milson seemed truly pleased to be parting with his money. He helped us get introductions to numerous others."
Dr. Edison said, "We need to talk more about this."
Tim said, "Don't put it off long. I'd like to make a presentation to the Board of Trustees to establish the fund, and get all of them to contribute towards it. If the Trustees won't support it, then nobody else will either."
Prexy was floored. "Tim, you're going too fast for me. Come back and see me in a couple of days and we'll talk more."
Tim said, "OK, but I want to do more than talk about this."
"OK, Tim. Come back."
On the way out Tim made an appointment for both of us with Dr. Edison for two days hence.
Out the door, Tim said, "Charlie, come to the pool with me. I really feel good. I need to dive."
I felt in my bones that I was going to get pushed into the pool before the day was over. Without Tim's noticing I slipped my wallet and watch under the front seat of the car-at least they would stay dry.
I was right. Tim let me help him up the steps after each dive. He didn't need help, but touching him was always a delight. The third time I got jerked into the pool, and he was instantly on me, reaching inside my pants and doing all sorts of things that would offend little old grandmothers had they been watching-but none were. However, we couldn't be assured the privacy here that we could count on Saturday mornings at the Southwest High pool. So we reluctantly got out: Tim showered and dressed: and I dried out as best I could. It was cold and windy-we headed home very fast. Tim said, "Get those clothes off fast, I'll warm you up as quick as I can." By the time he finished talking he was naked, pulling me upstairs to the bedroom, helping me get my wet clothes off, pulling me into bed, and hugging me tight.
Tim's next request floored me. "Charlie, tie me up before we have sex."
"Are we getting into S&M, Tim?"
"No. I don't want you to hurt me. But there's just something sexy about the idea of being spreadeagled on the bed, and tied that way."
Tim certainly was trusting, though he had no reason not to be. I found the idea quite arousing. Rope wasn't hard to find, and soon his hands and feet were tied to the four legs of the bed. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with him, but the whole situation was incredibly erotic. I kissed him, then worked down his chest till I had his dick in my mouth. I used my teeth a little, but I knew anything serious would hurt him. Then he said, "You've got to use your imagination, Charlie."
I decided to tickle him, which I did, concentrating on his ribs till he screamed for mercy. I tickled his balls then, and moved to his dick. I didn't let him come, but I'd pretty much run out of ideas. Then a light bulb came on in my head-just like the comic strips. I left him and headed to the bathroom, coming back with shaving cream and a razor. I lathered up his pubes. He wiggled and tugged on the ropes, but didn't otherwise protest. I got out his safety razor and began slowly to shave him. He realized that wiggling wasn't too good an idea then, so he lay still. Soon he was clean as a whistle "down there." I went down to the kitchen and got a bowl of water, put ice in it, came up and dipped a washcloth into the ice water and cleaned him up. I said, "You'd better not complain about it being cold." He didn't
I jacked off his dick with an ice cube in the palm of my hand. But the cold water had made him limp, and the ice cube prevented my hand motion from achieving its desired result. My warm mouth changed all that and he soon came. He said, "Share it with me."
I did, and then untied him. I wasn't sure what his reaction would be, but he leapt on me, hugged me tight, and told me that had been one of the most erotic times of his life. I was next, but another day. My punishment for today, for all the mean things I had done to him, was that I didn't get to have an orgasm. I accepted my fate. "No jacking off either, Charlie." I didn't.
As we went to bed that night I heard Tim mutter, clearly loud enough that he intended me to hear it, "I'm going to pull his hairs out one by one."
Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]
* Some browsers may require a right click instead