Nevis! It hadn't changed, nor had the Manor Inn. Except that this time we were in a cottage somewhat removed from the main Inn; we had hardly been aware of the cottages on the previous trip, and that meant that people in the Inn now were equally unaware of us. It's a good thing too, because our behavior would have raised a lot of eyebrows among the rest of the guests, most of which were pretty elderly and staid.
We climbed the mountain. We swam in the sea. We hiked and biked all over the island. We tried to relax, but Tim's idea of relaxation was constant movement. Hal agreed with him. Afternoon naps were frowned upon, but some of us insisted.
Did I mention sex? Of course, why else would we want to get away like this? Actually, that isn't true. It's certainly true that sex figured large in our plans for the trip, but the real joy was in being together. We did most of our activities together. We ate together, usually in the Inn dining room for breakfast and dinner, but elsewhere at noon. We played games, read, and talked, endlessly. But don't let me kid you, sex was an important part of the holiday.
As soon as we settled into the cottage someone raised the question of sex. Who was going to do what, and with which, and to whom? One proposal was to pair off enough different ways and times so that everybody would have a chance with everybody else. That would make for a pretty active sex life over the next five days. Several others held out for a more relaxed schedule, in which those who paired together naturally would indulge. There were a couple of voices for sticking with our partners - I don't remember that Ronnie was among those!
Carol's voice carried the day, overwhelmingly. She said, "Look, a lot of you have paired with a lot of the Gang. But there are a lot of pairs that have never happened. That keeps some people wishing and dreaming, and it creeps into our plans whenever we are together. Let's end it once and for all. If we systematically pair off on this trip, then everybody will have had a time with everybody. Then maybe in future trips and times together, sex won't be so overwhelmingly important."
Tim said, "Yes, it will. But I agree with Carol. Let's try it."
Nancy spoke up saying, "Those of us not part of the original Gang are the ones that really haven't experienced everyone. I'm all for it."
Jim said, "Ronnie, you are the genius here. You work out the mathematics for us."
There were thirteen of us, so it meant that we had to have thirteen different pairings for each of us to have time with every person [Think! You have to be alone once]. Since we were there for five nights, that meant five bedtimes, four mornings, and four mid-afternoons - not counting arrival and departure days. Ronnie had his chart made by dinner, and that night we went to bed with our first partners. Surprise, I was paired with Ronnie.
Ronnie said, "We can't fuck, can we?"
"No, Ronnie. That's Tim's and my rule."
"I know, and I respect it. Get on top of my head and fuck my mouth, would you?" He really knew what he wanted. Attempts at foreplay and variation were rejected. "Charlie, just do it, please. Then I'll do whatever you want with you."
I did. It was an unusual request; I was afraid that my weight would hurt him, but he was eager. With my knees in his armpits, I plunged into his mouth. His head was pinned; there was no way he could move up and down on me. It was up to me, and I pounded him. His hands on my butt made it clear that he was getting exactly what he wanted. I came in his throat, and collapsed on top of him. He made no effort to move me until I was completely soft. Soon we were kissing, but my tongue could find none of my cum in his mouth.
"Charlie, I don't know why, but I have been dreaming of having that done to me for some time. It was perfect. It wasn't exactly what my dream led me to expect, but it was exactly what I wanted. What would you like me to do now?"
"Exactly the same thing." I don't know what made me say that; when I was pounding Ronnie it hadn't looked that great. But I think I decided that if Ronnie could enjoy it, so could I, and I was determined to have a new experience.
It certainly was. I'm bigger, heavier, and stronger than Ronnie - and thicker and longer. If it was tough for me, I couldn't help but wonder how it had been for Ronnie. I'm not sure I'd want it regularly, but having Ronnie's dick pounding down my throat was an interesting experience. Certainly it was erotic. And it certainly was for Ronnie, who seemed truly excited about being on top of me. In due course he came, thank God sooner rather than later. We lay side by side and just held each other.
With each pairing one person was alone. He or she was given complete choice: Watch whomever you want, masturbate, or ask for service from whomever you want. That first night Hal was the single person, and he had elected to watch Ronnie and me. Now he said, "I think I'll try that. From you, Charlie."
He got it! He knew what he was asking for, and he got it full force. And since this was my second orgasm, it took quite a bit longer. Hal didn't seemed fazed. After it was over, he simply said, "Wow! But I think once may do me for a lifetime. And I don't think I'll try doing that to Sue." We ended with kisses all around.
There were 13 X 6 pairings before the trip was over. A total of 78. I think that you would get pretty bored with the recitation of what each pair did, and I honestly don't know what most of them did. I could have asked, we really didn't have secrets, but I didn't. Some pairs were quizzed - people were particularly curious about what Hal and Franklin did. (They fucked each other.)
Sue and I went to bed together on the second evening. She said, "You can fuck me Charlie, if you'd like."
"I know Hal wouldn't mind, but I think I'd just like to lie with you, let my hand explore your body ,and my tongue explore yours. She was content with that, and we didn't have orgasms until the next morning when we traded partners - I got Tim and she got Franklin. There were only five rooms, so the pairings were spiced up by the fact that sometimes you shared a room with another couple. Ronnie had been careful to insure that every time someone was paired with his or her partner, there was someone else in the room. Sue and Nancy shared the room with Tim and me when we were paired. Sue said, let's both do 69, you can watch us and then we'll watch you." And that's what we did. It wasn't the first time we had seen girls do 69, but it certainly was an unusual view. Sue and Nancy didn't know each other that well, but they carried on like troopers. They knew their boys had a strong love - Tom had led the effort to create the New Hal. They bonded almost as strongly as Tom and Hal had.
When I was massaging Jim's balls one afternoon, he chatted a little. It certainly didn't speed up his climax, but we weren't in a hurry. He said, "Charlie, I've got a girl, and I think we're serious."
"What's her name?"
"Are you going to tell me more?"
"She's in my economics class, a junior like me. We started going to the coffee shop after class, and that led to dating after Thanksgiving. She's really very nice."
"What does Andy think?"
"He's happy for me. But he needs a girl. I haven't had sex with Kara, and Andy and I are still active."
"Does Kara know about you and Andy?"
"Yes. It was tough, but I decided that I had to share sexuality issues with her before I let the relationship go very far. I told her that I was bisexual. She really didn't know what that meant, but I explained that it meant that I could love both boys and girls, and enjoy a sexual relationship with both a boy and a girl."
"How did she react to that?"
"I've had that conversation twice previously with a girl, and both times the relationship stopped dead. The first time that became our last date. The second time that ended the date - we were at dinner and she didn't even finish dinner! But Kara was different. She said, 'Jim, it must have been very hard to tell me that; it took courage. I respect you for it. As far as I'm concerned it's just one of many factors that I have to take into consideration when I think about where I want our relationship to go. I can't be sure how I'll finally come out on the issue; I want to think about it.'"
I asked, "Did she?"
"Yes. And she had a lot of questions, the most important of which had to do with monogamy. Did being bisexual mean that if I fell in love with one person I'd feel the need to continue having sex with someone of the opposite sex?"
"What did you answer? I guess I'm kind of interested myself."
"I told her that the same rules would apply if I was heterosexual. That any relationship with another person would only happen within the context of the commitment I had with my partner. Then I explained a little about the Gang's relationship with each other."
"And that didn't blow her mind?"
"Not in the least. It was back to, 'Jim, I have to think about that.' She's still thinking, and we are still dating."
"Does she know you are still active with Andy."
"We haven't discussed it, but I think not. Which is why I need to end it with Andy. But I can't hurt Andy. So he needs to find a girl."
"Does he know about Kara?"
"Yes, of course."
"And he still wants to have sex with you?"
"No, he's offered to quit. But I have insisted. It wouldn't be fair to him."
"Is it fair to Kara?"
"Don't push too hard, Charlie. This is tough. And don't think I haven't asked myself that question."
"The only thing that makes me uncomfortable is that you haven't been completely open with Kara - though I'm sure you haven't lied to her."
"You're right, Charlie."
"Are you going to tell her everything about these four days?
"She knows already. At least I had assumed that there'd be a lot of sex, and I told her that."
"So you have talked about sex, but haven't had it?"
"Right. She isn't ready yet, and I'm not going to push."
"Good for you. Knowing what she knows about you, when she's ready, you'll know it. Good luck, Jim."
"Now be quiet so you can reach a climax and squirt - I'm hungry." He did stop talking, and my hand moved from his balls to his dick, and he shot all over me almost instantly.
Hal worried about Sue. The first afternoon he came to me and said, "Charlie, I didn't say anything about this when the Gang was making plans, but I worry if Sue's ready to have sex with everybody here."
"Did she say anything to you?"
"She didn't say anything to the group. Would she have been shy about expressing her reservations?"
"I don't think so. I'm pretty sure she'd speak up."
"So what are you worried about? Really, Hal, aren't you giving Sue insufficient credit for recovering from her one bad experience? You have been so good to her, I'm sure that's behind her. Trust her, Hal."
"Thanks, Charlie. You're right."
"Let's take a little run, Hal. Very little in your terms. I need to loosen up." We ran along the beach about a mile and then a mile back. Hal let me set the pace - it must have killed him. We didn't talk much; just enjoyed being together. When we got back to the starting point on the beach we gave each other gentle kisses and went back to the cottage.
Franklin had been watching us on the beach. "You know, I think your kisses on the beach mean more to you two than a good fuck. I love you guys."
He was right.
Flying back from Nevis Tim hit me with a new thought. It obviously wasn't new to him; he admitted that he had been thinking about it a while, and felt it was time to share it with me. He said, "Charlie, I want to change my name, and I hope you might like to do the same thing."
"Change our names to what? You want us to have the same surname?"
"No. I want to be just Tim. Legally. And I thought you might like to be just Charlie."
"I'm going to have to think about that. Do you think a court would approve that change?"
"I don't know. You are the lawyer."
"I don't have a clue, but it would make a good question in one of my law classes."
"Tim, we both love our parents, and the names they represent. Why do you want to get rid of your surname."
"First, I like Tim. Second, having my father's name and not my mother's is sexist. I don't like these new hyphenated names. How about no name?"
"It could be a real problem if 6000 people wanted to be Tim."
"There are 6000 John Smiths. It takes a birthdate or a birthplace, sometimes both, to tell them apart. Or a Social Security number. Besides, I'd probably be the only Tim. And you the only Charlie."
We did present ourselves in the Grand Forks County court about a month later for a hearing on our petitions for name changes. The law's fairly clear, there's no real basis for denying a name change petition unless it's suspected that fraud is involved, or an attempt to hide debts, or something similar. We walked out of the court house legally "Tim" and "Charlie." Our petitions were heard one right after the other, because they were filed together, but we kept them separate, so that the relationship between us did not become an issue. It certainly would have been had we been trying to both have the same surname, though I have no idea whether that would have blocked the changes.
Tim's parents were fully understanding. I think my mom was a little disappointed that I didn't want to use Dad's name. There was no answer to that, just that Tim and I had decided on the change. I think she understood that it was really Tim's idea and it was he that got the idea of the legal change.
We were eating dinner in early February: "Charlie, you know I'm taking an Ecology course."
"Yeah." I knew his course had been running about two weeks.
"I need some kind of project."
"What kind of project?"
"The class is going to talk about possibilities, but I think Dr. Cook's open to almost any ideas. He'd like it to be original in some way, if possible. Not just a term paper that chews up information from a bunch of secondary sources."
"Got any ideas?"
"I have always wondered about the early vegetation of North Dakota. Was it forested like the states to the east, or prairie? What did the Indians see here?"
"Isn't that just a matter of getting a good book and reading it - and then spitting it back in a tried and true term paper?"
"Dr. Cook doesn't think so. He says there is a lot of dispute about what the land looked like before Europeans came."
"How does this lead to a project?"
"I don't know. I'm trying to think of where there are original sources that might be tapped for some kind of answer."
"Who were the first people here?"
"Duh. Who were the first Europeans here?"
"Hunters, I would guess. Trappers."
"You won't find original sources there. Most were illiterate, I'd think."
"Who came next?" asked Tim.
"Loggers; I guess there was logging here. Hell, Tim, I'm not sure. I know a lot about the Michigan UP, but not this area."
"Regardless, the next group would have owned land. Whether to farm, ranch, log, or just build homes, they had to own land. Before them had to be surveyors."
I said, "Yes, there was extensive surveying in the United States - very early. As I remember it, systematic surveying started in the Northwest Territories, in Ohio. I'm sure it was extended into the western territories."
"I wonder where those early surveys are located? I'll bet the survey notes mention trees and perhaps other vegetation."
"There's your project, Tim. Talk to Dr. Cook and go to work."
Tim didn't waste any time. The next evening at dinner he reported on his conversation with Dr. Cook. Dr. Cook had pointed out that in the grasslands of North Dakota the survey notes would be much less helpful than in forested areas, where surveyors often used trees to mark the location of corner posts. However, he indicated that the survey records would contain some information, and to the best of his knowledge there had never been a review of the records from a botanical point of view. He encouraged Tim in his plan, but warned him that he was likely to find little data. However, that didn't devalue the importance of actually reviewing the records to see what was there, and the collection of mainly negative reports certainly wouldn't affect his grade on the project.
Tim was disappointed that he hadn't come up with an idea that would turn the world of North Dakota ecological history upside down. But he was pleased to be doing original research rather then regurgitating other people's work.
The original survey notes were in the hands of the Bureau of Land Management, and Tim wasn't sure exactly where. The North Dakota State Water Commission had copies of them all in Bismarck. Each county surveyor's office had a copy for that county. So to look at the records for a given county you either went to the county seat or to Bismarck, whichever was closer. Of course, Tim started with Grand Forks County. It didn't take him very long to conclude that the lack of trees in 1874 meant that there was little data in the Grand Forks County notes of use to him. However, he did find comments indicating that there were trees bordering the Red River, and the notes suggested, but didn't prove, that there were very few other trees in the county. Corner points were driven into mounds piled in the prairie, with no notation regarding vegetation. It was disappointing to Tim.
Dr. Cook's reaction was just the opposite. "Tim, academics have been arguing for a long time about just how many trees were here when Europeans first got to this area. You haven't provided proof, but your work strongly supports the claim that the entire state was prairie, and that the forest of Minnesota didn't reach this far."
Tim had thus far only sampled the Grand Forks notes, and there were a lot of counties in North Dakota. Dr. Cook wasn't worried. "Look, Tim," he told him, "just do three counties: Grand Forks, Rolette, and Slope. Rolette, up north, has some native hardwoods, I believe, and Slope, out west, has some unusual features as well. This research will be publishable - you can make four articles out of your three-county project: one to define the project, and one to provide the details for each county. The State Water Commission, which for some strange reason in North Dakota is responsible for the survey maps, will, I'm sure, want to publish what you produce. Others will pick up the other counties, including students in future cycles of this class."
It meant almost a week's work in Bismarck. Luckily, the Friends of the University had decided to retain the little apartment they had in Bismarck - it was cheaper than paying hotel bills when various people from the University were there. Tim was able to use the apartment while doing his research. Since the records were only available during business hours, he had lots of time to kill in the evening. He found a decent pool at the YMCA. It didn't have a high platform, but had a pretty good springboard. He practiced every evening, and by Thursday, the last night, he had a pretty big audience of people that came to see him dive. The little imp couldn't help but show off in that situation, so he had put on a pretty good show every night. The coach at one of the local high schools saw him and asked if he would come by the high school when the team practiced after school on Friday. It meant delaying his return, but Tim could never turn down an invitation like that, so Friday afternoon found him at the Bismarck community pool where the Bismarck High School swim team practiced. He showed off a little, but then worked with each of the divers for a while. When he told me the story at home the next day he concluded, "But I'm sorry to say there was no Billy in the crowd. They did all have a good time, though."
My memories of that year are a hodgepodge. Tim being a Junior, Law School, the forthcoming Olympics, a house to take care of, Felix to nurture, Tim's roller coaster to dodge, Billy and Sara, you name it.
Tim got a message from Prexy one day, asking him to stop by Prexy's office. Prexy told him that there would soon be a meeting of the Association of Public University Development Officers taking place in Las Vegas. Would Tim be part of the delegation from UND that would participate? Well, more than that, would Tim make a presentation about his fundraising efforts at UND? Well, more than that, would he be willing that his presentation be the keynote speech of the conference? Prexy went on, "You know we are pretty proud of you here. And, you are the only university fundraiser ever to get his picture on a Time Magazine cover. You'd be doing me a big favor, and get a chance to toot your own horn as well. Honestly, the planners of the conference figure they'll have a substantial increase in attendance with you on the program. Oh, yes, the Association is inviting you, drive a good bargain."
Tim said, "There were a lot of us involved in that effort - there still are. Mary Jane Bullock and Phil Peterson are still leading the effort. I don't go without Charlie. Are they willing to bring the four of us, and pay Mary Jane, Phil, and me honoraria?"
"If their attendance estimates are correct, you'll be a bargain for them."
"Tell them, 'Yes'."
"Tell them yourself. Call Izzy Jacobs at the University of Illinois. Here's his number."
He called, and easily negotiated a good deal for all of us. Then Mr. Jacobs fooled him with, "Oh, yes, Tim. We'd like to have you speak a second time at dinner, talking about diving, gymnastics, being a world champion, whatever you think would be interesting. We'll pay an additional $500 honorarium for that."
Tim had to call the rules committee of the NCAA about that. Would it cost him amateur status to accept such an honorarium? The answer was "No," and we were off to Vegas. Well, we would be in May.
Fred was really enjoying having Billy live with him. Billy's schedule was almost as bad as Tim's, but Fred insisted on a nice with him almost every night except Saturday. Frequently they were joined by one or both of Billy's parents, and often either we joined them or they came to our house. Fred told me that conversation with Billy at dinner was like conversation with a very mature adult, and a smart one at that. Billy was taking about a 2/3 load of college studies - enough to be counted as a full load by his high school and get him a diploma. He didn't want to accumulate too many credits, as he wanted to be a student for the next four years.
Fred often showed up at diving practice to watch Billy, and Tim of course. Tim and Fred had time to talk a lot about Billy, who was turning out to be not only an impressive diver but an impressive young man as well. Prexy came by one afternoon and asked them, "Are we going to be able to keep him here next year?"
Tim said, "If you tried to keep him out he'd break down the doors."
Fred said, "As long as Tim's here. But I think the loyalty to the place will go beyond just next year while Tim's here. He knows very well that there's been a great deal of effort expended on him, and not just by Tim. I'd be totally amazed if he didn't stay here all four years of college."
Prexy asked Fred, Tim and me to meet with him in his office the next day. Larry Knudsen and Dr. Stevens, the Director of Athletics, would be there. Prexy got right down to business. "Listen, I'm quite confident that Billy Carson is going to be a UND student for the next four years. With that in mind, should we be upgrading our swim and diving competition?"
Dr. Stevens said, "We can't change conferences, so you are talking about out-of-conference meets. Yes, we can get invitations to meets with tougher competition, but that's going to put a lot of pressure on our regular swimmers and divers."
Larry said, "The team, under Tim's influence, is getting better and better, and Billy is pulling them as well. We are already seeing a lot of top high school divers, swimmers too, applying for admission. At least from the northern tier states."
I said, "Look, I think it's an interesting idea, but let me make a suggestion. Let's invite the University of Indiana to a one-on-one meet here in Grand Forks next winter."
"Will they come?"
Tim said, "They'll come; I'm sure."
Larry said, "I got a call from their coach the other day. I have been invited to be an assistant diving coach for him at the Mexico City Olympics. I wonder what, or who, might be behind that?"
Tim leapt up and was hugging him instantly. "Oh, Larry. That's wonderful. It'll be you and Mr. Waters along with Mr. Billings. And Billy, Stan and I will be diving."
"You're pretty confident, aren't you?"
Tim just ignored that. "IU's schedule for next year may be set in stone, but I think that Ralph Billings will find a way to get here. Give him date flexibility and he'll make it. And tell him Tim says we are going to whoop his ass."
Prexy said, "Tim!"
Tim said, "Quote me exactly."
The report back a week later was that Billings' reply was, "Like Hell you will, Tim." But the real fooler was that the meet would be in the coming April. Coach Billings was eager to get star divers together, and this provided an opportunity. Billings had said that since it was just an informal two-school meet, it would be fine if Billy and Stan competed. Well, with those two and Tim the backbone of the Fighting Sioux divers, it might turn out to be quite an exciting meet.
Larry took the three divers aside and told them, "Look, guys, this is a big deal for you three, and you can probably, in Tim's words, 'Whoop their ass.' But our swimmers can't. You know it; they know it; and Indiana knows it. I don't want you putting pressure on these kids; they aren't to feel that they have to keep up with you three freaks to be part of the team."
Tim spoke for all three when he said, "As long as everybody does their best it'll be an incredible meet. Remember, those IU swimmers think that this will be a walk in the park. They might get fooled. But we agree, no pressure on our swimmers."
The big meet came. Tim was floored to see Mick from SI there, and a lot of other big sports writers as well. Mike and Bill showed up, having been tipped by Mick - who had taken a liking to them from the beginning. "What gives?" asked Tim. "This is just a little two school informal meet."
"Like Hell. This is probably the only time you three divers will be competing before the Olympic trials. And with Coach Billings and his IU divers here it's real news."
Tim responded with, "If you guys don't give fair attention to the swim races you won't get anything out of me. Those guys work their butts off, and they deserve some recognition."
"How good are they?" asked Mick.
"I really don't know," said Tim. I watch them race, and they do OK. But I haven't a clue how they are going to do against IU. They are scared shitless of being shown up; but how that will translate into swim times I really don't know."
IU had arrived the Friday night before the meet - 22 of them and three coaches. We had arranged housing for them - even though IU had a big athletic budget, an extra trip like this wasn't in the planning. They flew up in an athletic department plane that happened to be idle that weekend, and with us providing housing there was only a small impact on their budget. Coach Billings stayed with Tim and me, with their two best divers. Larry hosted the two other coaches. Some of our swimmers had single rooms in the dorm and could host a guest. There were some empty rooms in the dorms that housed guests. The University guest house took most of the rest, and some alums in the community got the last three.
Prexy hosted both teams for dinner on Friday night. There was a real sense of friendly competition, and pretty good camaraderie among the two teams. When we asked Coach Billings about that back at our house that night, he told us, "They aren't used to fraternizing with opponents - we are usually separate in a hotel and really only see the other team or teams at the meet. So dinner tonight was quite unusual. However, the big thing is that they don't really see you guys as opponents. They assume that, except for the diving which they consider to be a special case, they are going to walk all over you. They think of this as either a charity trip, or a trip just to see you guys dive, and the swimmers are along for the ride. Please tell me that your swimmers are going to knock them down a peg or two. It'll do them a lot of good."
Tim said, "I'd like to tell you that, but I can't. My biggest fear is that your swimmers are going to do to us what I think, and hope, our divers are going to do to you. We'll just have to see."
Our best swimmer was a Freshman from somewhere in northern Minnesota, Karl Fredrickson. He did the butterfly like he had been born to it. In a sense he had, as his body, shoulders in particular, was simply made slightly differently, and it allowed him to master the butterfly stroke with amazing ease and speed. Larry and Tim had decided, in planning the meet, to put the 200 meter butterfly first. Maybe, just maybe, we could pull an upset and put IU off its form.
Karl did the impossible. The two IU butterfly swimmers were damn good. One was a Senior and the other a Junior. Both had done well in the last nationals, though they hadn't medaled. It hadn't occurred to either of them that an unknown at a virtually unknown school - at least as far as swimming was concerned - was going to be serious competition. Our number two butterfly, a junior who was always called Cappy - I can't even remember his real name - was no slouch. When Karl came in a full body length ahead of the top IU swimmer, with Cappy only a foot or two behind Karl, IU was stunned. I'm not sure they were any more stunned than the North Dakota swimmers, but all of a sudden it was a contest. And the IU men knew that they were already in trouble in the two diving events.
One can always dream, but reality does eventually intrude. The meet featured 14 swimming events, including two relays, and two diving events. In the 14 swimming events UND got 2 firsts and 6 seconds. More importantly, what we feared might happen didn't happen once: That the IU swimmers would leave the UND swimmers far, far behind so that it looked like no competition. The men from North Dakota were at their finest. And, as we had hoped, the men from IU were not: they started out a little cocky and certain of total victory, and after losing the first race, were caught off stride for the rest of the meet. But IU is damn good when they aren't at their best, and there was no way UND was going to beat them, short of the whole IU team coming down with the flu. But there was a lot of pride in Grand Forks Saturday night at the showing that they did make.
Billy beat Tim off the platform! He went into the meet again choosing the most difficult seven optional dives. Tim deliberately choose two that were less difficult. That meant that the meet was Billy's to lose, but if his dives were as good as Tim's, he would win on difficulty. They two of them put on a demonstration of grace and perfection seldom seen anywhere. Ralph Billings was completely enraptured by the performance. He was almost in a trance, and hardly paid any attention to his own divers - who were good but nowhere on earth were their divers in Tim's and Billy's league that day. The judges simply couldn't justify giving less than a ten on all of their dives. And that left Billy the winner. Billy wasn't that good off the springboard, and Stan came in number two there, not really very close to Tim.
Dinner afterwards was at our house, which could hold everybody as long as they didn't need to sit down at a formal table. We would have asked Felix to cook, but he wanted to see the diving, so local caterers did the meal. The atmosphere that evening was very different. The IU swimmers treated the North Dakotans with a lot more respect, and Tim and Billy were almost worshiped. They had known coming in that these two were the world's best, but they had never dreamed just how good they were. Mick was beside himself, and was certain that Tim would make another cover, with Billy on there with him.
Mick had asked the two of them to do some special diving for the SI photographer. That was fine as long as Mike was allowed to shoot as well. At the top of the platform Tim and Billy put their heads together in their usual totally-ignore-the-rest-of-the-world manner. Then they went to the edge of the platform and simultaneously did a dive - I've forgotten which one, if I ever had attached a name to it - of particular grace. After about four practices, they told the photographers to shoot away as they gave them another half dozen chances. Seeing the two of them doing exactly the same thing, off the same platform was unbelievable. It looked like one mind was controlling both bodies.
Well, Tim and Billy did make the cover. But what was a much bigger deal for Tim was that it was Mike's picture, not the SI staff photographer's picture on the cover. Mike, through skill or luck, had caught a twinkle in both of their eyes that seemed to be saying, "See, we really love diving together." I told Mike, "Don't you sign away the rights to that picture. Let Time, Inc. have exclusive rights for the SI cover and agree not to sell it anywhere else for a month. But that picture is one of the best ever, and you keep ownership. The SI editors were not happy, but Mike stood firm, and after a lot of bluster and threats that they could use their own staff pictures, they finally capitulated and Mike's picture was on the cover. It was a knockout. Because he wouldn't surrender the picture rights to Time, Inc. Mike got only a pittance for its use on the cover (you can't win everything in a negotiation). But that picture was a substantial income in royalties for several years afterward - nothing to compare came out of the Olympics! Mike has told me that royalties on the picture still come in from time to time.
It was finally dawning on Billy's folks that their son was a phenomenon. They were becoming newsworthy in their own right. It really hit Bill when he walked into a courtroom about three days after the SI cover story: upon identifying himself to the judge, he was asked, "Are you Billy Carson's father?"
"Yes, your honor."
"He's really good."
"Yes, your honor."
"You must be really proud of him."
"Yes, your honor, I am."
"Where did he learn to dive like that?"
"How did he ever get hooked up with Tim?"
"It's a long story."
"Good, I love stories. Tell it."
And so the entire court ground to a halt while Bill told the story of Billy and Tim. The judge constantly interrupted for details. At the end of the story, the judge announced: "That was quite a story. Quite a boy. I'm afraid that I got so wrapped up in it that I completely forgot the time and this case. Now I'm totally prejudiced in regard to counsel for the plaintiff, so I'm going to have to recuse myself. I'll get this case transferred to another judge, and hopefully it can be heard this afternoon. Court is in recess."
Bill, along with the opposing lawyer, was completely flabbergasted. But soon most of the rest of the people in the courtroom were asking Bill more questions about Billy and Tim. Bill was a proud father, but that morning he would rather have been just a good lawyer!
Backing up to Saturday night: after we had gotten everyone out and the caterers had finished up in the kitchen, Tim, Billy, his parents, Fred, and I sat down and relaxed. The Indianans had headed to the airport, and the North Dakotans had gone home. Felix was upstairs. Billy got up in the middle of the room and said, "I love you all. Any success that I have had, or will have, comes from you all. I really don't know how to thank you." At that point he couldn't hold back the tears any longer and he broke down crying. How he choose me I don't know, but the next thing I knew he was sort of curled in my lap, hugging me with his head on my shoulder. I held him tight and let him cry. Before long it had passed and he was back under control. "Thanks, Charlie. You're like a rock for both me and Tim. Neither one of us could get better than an 8.5 if we didn't have you behind us." He kissed my cheek very gently. Then he went over to his mom and kissed her. "I'm the luckiest kid alive. I have a support team to beat all support teams." Then he very quietly and gently moved to and kissed first his father, then Tim, and finally Fred. Then he looked at his mom and dad and asked, "Is it OK if I stay here in Grand Forks tonight - with Fred. I know I was scheduled to go back to Fargo tonight, but I really would like to dive with Tim tomorrow."
Before either of his parents could speak, Tim spoke up, "Bill, Martha, why don't you two stay here tonight and watch the diving practice tomorrow. Billy and I'll make it spectacular."
Bill said, "It doesn't have to be spectacular. It just has to be the two of you. Charlie, are you going to join us tomorrow?"
"I wouldn't miss it."
Fred and Billy left, and Tim and I started upstairs. Martha called to us, "Sit just a minute, please."
"Do you two realize what you have done for my son?"
"World champion diver, coming up."
"Piffle. World champions in something or other are a dime a dozen. Billy's become a giant of a man. Poised; mature; intellectual; athletic. You can pile on the adjectives. But there are two that make all the difference as far as I'm concerned: loving and caring. Those aren't necessarily qualities that go with being a world champion. But those qualities go with you two, Tim and Charlie, and you have passed them on to Billy. It's for that that you get our most humble and heartfelt thanks. She walked over to us both and kissed us, in turn, right full on the lips, without the slightest hesitation or embarrassment.
Bill said, "Martha has said everything there is to be said. We trusted the life of our child to you both, and you have proved worthy of that trust beyond our wildest dreams." That was followed by two equally warm kisses.
That night, between the wiggles, Tim said, "Charlie. Do you remember the first night we slept together?"
"How could I forget?"
"I talked about the joy I had gotten from knowing that I had some part of the responsibility for Hal's successes."
"Yes, you did. I remember. I think that it was the joy that you got out of helping Hal, and others, that convinced me that I really loved you."
"I had that same feeling tonight about Billy."
"So did I."
"Billy is quite a boy."
"He would have been even without us. But we, especially you, have made him extraordinary. Martha senses that, and I think she's right. But the thing that makes you extraordinary, Tim, is the joy you get out of Billy's successes. There isn't a jealous bone in your body."
"You just kiss another boy, or girl, behind my back and you'll find out about jealousy."
"I won't try. But right now kiss me."
For perhaps the first night in our lives Tim rolled over to face me, we tilted our heads up so that our lips could meet as we lay together with our heads on a single pillow. We gently kissed, long and glorious. And fell asleep - not spooned together. We woke in the middle of the night and moved to take care of Tim's need to wiggle and my need to be wiggled.
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