Tim and I had, individually and jointly, dreamed of going to the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City so many times, and in so many ways, that it's hard to separate the reality from the dreams. Did we really win all those medals? Yes, we did. Were there really four members of the Gang on the U.S. Olympic Team? Yes, there were. Did we ever really come down to earth from the euphoria of the trip? Never. Did the reality live up to the dreams? Almost. Both Tim and I would have to admit that flitting through our dreams was the idea of the four of us from Camp White Elk taking the 13 gold medals that were at least theoretically possible. The events in the real Mexico did have to have some grounding in reality, and we didn't capture the 13 golds. Who cared? Life was wonderful. Our adventure was as rarified as the air of Mexico City!
Hal was the first to Mexico, heading there as soon as his trials were over. Sue was with him. They had a Quaker friend in Norman who told them about Casa de Los Amigos in the heart of Mexico City. In English that was House of the Friends, or Quaker House. It was the home base for American Friends' activities in Mexico, and they decided that they would be honored to have Hal and Sue stay with them until the Olympics. It was a small building with small guest rooms, and filled with love as only Quakers can fill a house. Hal and Sue fit right it, helping with the chores, and doing their share of work. Sue had a lot of time on her hands while Hal ran, and she joined a number of the Casa's workers on mission trips to some of the villages in central Mexico. Hal sometimes went with them and always made it his business in the village to take the village boys running. Since the marathon is one of the few Olympic events that you can watch without a ticket - just stand along the route, Sue arranged for some of the boys who ran with Hal to come to the big city and watch him run. They would only get to see him for less than a minute, but it would be one of the big events of their lives. Sue and Hal paid for the bus for the trip.
Tim and I were the next to Mexico. We wanted some time to ourselves in Mexico before the team arrived. We rented a car and headed for the beaches of Acapulco, renting a room in a little hotel in the heights above the town. We did the tourist thing - with a difference. I actually convinced Tim to sleep in mornings - that is until about 8:00 a.m. We had a leisurely breakfast and took a long walk. After lunch we headed to the Morning Beach, while most of the other tourists headed to the Afternoon Beach - so named because of the way the sun fell. We knew we had to be careful of the sun, so we rented shaded hammocks and pretty much stayed in them - often we lay in the same one. We did some swimming, and for a hour hired a boat to take us water skiing - I had to be able to say that I had skied in the Pacific Ocean.
Two days of this was all Tim could take. We headed back to Mexico City, gathered up Hal and Jim, who had just arrived, and headed into the mountains for a day of just the four of us. We found a private spot for a picnic. There wasn't a lot of conversation, just sharing the joy of being with each other. We knew we were about to head back into the hustle and bustle of the largest sporting event in the world. This was our time to get ourselves mentally ready. We would tone up our bodies in the next few days, and then we would be ready to face the world! We kissed all around, and with some difficulty decided that we would leave it at that. We sang songs we remembered from Camp White Elk as we drove back to Mexico City in the rental car. Some of the songs were even clean - but not many.
We turned in the rental car, took a taxi to the Olympic Village, checked ourselves in, and we were officially Olympians. The Opening Ceremony would be the day after tomorrow. Tomorrow we might actually find some time to practice. We hoped to begin to meet other Olympians, many of whom would arrive tomorrow, and we would be briefed on our role in the Opening Ceremony, and procedures for the two weeks ahead.
Tim and I were roommates, as were Hal and Jim. Not everybody was happy about that - especially regarding Tim and me - but all of our coaches went to bat for us and the matter was quickly resolved. The shimmer of gold clearly outshone sexual prejudices, and again Tim and I realized that our successes as a gay couple could not easily be replicated by other couples. We felt a great sadness at that fact; but we had to put those thoughts aside for these two weeks. Even for us, sports, and yes, medals, had to come first!
Not all justice issues could easily be put aside in Mexico City. Just before Tim and I arrived there was a huge student protest of the games. Feeling that it was wrong to spend so much money on hosting the Olympics when there was so much poverty in Mexico, over 5,000 protesters had assembled in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas. The Mexican army responded viciously. We never could get a clear picture of the events, but somewhere between dozens and hundreds of the protesters were shot while the mob tried to leave through exits blocked by the army! The massive presence of the army was palpable throughout the games, but the protests were over - well the Mexican ones were.
Tim and I had been pretty insulated from the events that stemmed from the Brown vs. Board of Education decision of 1954. We lived in the north; and in Iowa, Minnesota, and North Dakota the numbers of colored people (as they preferred to be called then) were insignificant. By 1964 race was a major issue in the United States, and Tim and I found we could no longer not pay close attention to it.
At the Olympics African nations insisted that white South Africa not be allowed to compete, and while the white leadership of the Olympics wasn't sympathetic with that position, a threatened all-Africa boycott led to banning the South African team.
1968 was the year of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, and the many protests and demonstrations that had grown out of that. Harry Edwards, a football player from San Jose State, and now a part-time teacher there, had organized the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR). Originally they had called for a complete boycott of the games by black athletes. That had fizzled, but there were strong tensions among the athletes in Mexico City.
Tommie Smith, the great runner from San Jose State, was Hal's teammate on the U.S. Track and Field Team, and through Hal, Tim and I had a chance to meet Tommie. He was looking for gold in the 200 meters, and seriously involved in the OPHR. It didn't take much conversation - a few stories - for us to realize how naive and "out of it" we had been for years. It startled us to learn what Tommie had learned first hand: that black athletes could participate in the N.Y. Athletic Club's indoor track meet but weren't allowed to join the Club or be housed there with their white peers at the meet. Insulting situations like that abounded for black athletes, and they certainly weren't limited to the American South. Tim, Hal, and I - and soon after Jim - were given OPHR patches and we wore them throughout the Olympics. I think that many of our fellow athletes were more upset by those patches than by our sexuality.
Regardless of the swirl of political tension, the pressures of the press, the excitement of the Olympic Village, Tim had to practice. Not so much for his body as for his mind. He made his way to the practice gym and went through all six of his routines/events. No one could concentrate like Tim, and it was only that concentration that allowed him to accomplish any practice. Facilities for archery practice were near the gym and I warmed up as well. I felt good about myself, and shot pretty well. I really wasn't at all certain that I could earn a medal. But I would certainly be in the competition for one!
Hal had found an area outside of town - a 45 minute drive considering the size of Mexico City - where he had measured a pretty accurate marathon. It was hilly, and was a more difficult course than the Olympic marathon would be. He'd run it six times a week for the past three months - more often than his coaches advised, but it was the routine that Hal was used to. On four occasions Hal had run two marathons in one day. What drove his coaches up the wall was that his time in the second one wasn't that far off the time in the first! Hal ran his marathon that day, and again the Saturday morning of the opening ceremony.
Jim was his usual self. He didn't really have much use for practicing. He was what he was, and that was that. The thing was, with or without adequate practice, nobody could beat him. He and Paul did spar around in the gym. They were determined that their friendship was going to outlast their competition, but were equally determined that the match that was inevitably coming was going to settle the matter of who was better - once and for all.
Early that morning Tim had been approached by a member of the US Olympic Committee and invited to carry the American flag. It was an incredible honor, offered because of his status as the only two-sport athlete. Tim didn't blink; never wavered an instant. No, he couldn't carry the flag. He would march with Charlie. That, not being the flag bearer, was his life's dream. To this day I don't think that the Olympic Committee understands why Tim turned them down. I'm not sure that I do, but I wasn't surprised in the least - neither with the offer nor with its refusal. God, I love that kid.
Dinner would be early, and we had to be ready to line up at the amphitheater that would host the opening ceremony by 6:00 p.m. The red, white and blue USA Olympic uniforms were sappy, the weather was muggy, the crowds were awful, the waiting interminable. But the euphoria was palpable. As we stood around Tim sort of backed into me and leaned against me. From time to time he would wiggle his butt, always getting the desired effect. I couldn't reciprocate with my hand like I would do in bed - not in the public arena. Hal saw what was going on and made it worse by coming up to Tim and saying, "You're missing something, aren't you?"
Tim just grinned. Soon after, the music started and the events of the night began. Eventually we were moving. There were more than 4,000 athletes to move into the stadium and then crowd into seats. Tim and I didn't care. We were so high, no drug could have competed. We almost floated along and then, all of a sudden the bright lights of the stadium were in front of us. Huge and blinding, we could hardly comprehend the view. Then my left hand was taken in a vice-like grip, and Tim pulled me into the lights. Jim and Hal were near us, and the four of us walked together around the stadium, past the reviewing stand with the Presidents of Mexico and the International Olympic Committee watching us, and then into the athletes' section of the stadium seating. Only when we were seated did the vice let go of my hand! We were caught on American television, but not much was made of the fact that we were holding hands. But much was made of it in Tim's mind, and mine, and his dream had come true. I really think that for Tim it was all downhill from there. His medal count never held a candle to those opening ceremonies. God bless him.
All of the ceremony with the Olympic flag, the athletes oath, the lighting of the flame were impressive. But for Tim and me the highlight began as a sort of electric buzz went through the athletes as the last leg of the torch relay went by. We realized that the Mexican runner Enriqueta Basilio would be the last relay runner and the first woman in history to light the Olympic cauldron. The American women athletes cheered at the news! So did Tim and I; the importance of including women in athletics was never lost on Tim.
The competition started the next day, Monday, October 13, 1968. But none of us had any events scheduled that day. Fred Milson invited everyone he knew for a grand breakfast that morning at Sanborn's restaurant in downtown Mexico City. I don't know how much Fred had paid them to close up shop and just seat his guests, but that's what they did. Stanley was the honored guest - the director of the camp that had sent four champion athletes to this Olympics. He drank in the attention, but insisted that we boys would have made it with or without him and Camp White Elk. Hal stood up and responded to this with: "It's true that Tim would have been here regardless of Camp White Elk. In fact, he would probably already hold two Olympic medals from Tokyo. But as for me, Charlie, and Jim, no Camp White Elk - no medals, no Olympics, and in my case, no life worth talking about. Camp White Elk is a special place, created by a special person. Stanley, you are loved by all."
Jim said, "I'll drink to that," and downed his glass of fresh orange juice!
Men's diving started Tuesday; springboard finals were Wednesday, and platform finals were on Friday. The preliminary springboard rounds on Tuesday produced no unexpected results. Tim was near perfection, as expected. Billy was doing very well, but it wasn't clear that he would medal; he was much better from the platform. That had once been the case for Tim as well, but by now he was so close to perfection on both that we really couldn't see much difference. James, the second in the U.S. trials was holding his own along with Billy. Sten, the Danish diver we had first met at the World's in Rome, with giving them close competition. Those three and a Japanese were clustered together behind Tim and well ahead of the nearest competition.
Wednesday evening, with live television coverage, the Americans brought in three medals. Ralph Billings was so excited I think he really did wet his pants. Larry Knudsen and Nelson Waters were simply in a state of shock. Tim was cool as a cucumber as he mounted the winner's stand. James was definitely not cool as he took his place as number two. He was virtually speechless at the thought of an Olympic silver medal. Billy didn't look the slightest bit disappointed at taking the bronze. At age 17 Billy was the rising star of American diving, and he was handling it very well. It isn't very often that three flags of one country rise over the winners' podia, but there they were: three Stars and Stripes. What a thrill to watch. What a thrill for Tim, Stan, and Billy to stand there as the Star-Spangled Banner was played. What a thrill for me to stand there in the audience and watch. What a thrill to sleep with Tim in our little bed that night!
Tim had two days off - women's diving would be featured the next two days, and gymnastics was scheduled the second week. Tim was lucky that his two sports were the most telegenic of all. ABC didn't pay four and a half million dollars to have to divide prime time one evening between diving and gymnastics. The doubling up went to sports like riflery, archery, rowing, and walking. Luckily archery was a daytime sport, generally in the morning. Gymnastics was later in the day, with the key events in the evening for prime television. Archery took four days, and ended the day before the closing ceremony. Gymnastics ended the day before that, so Tim would be able to see the archery finals and the awarding of medals - which we all hoped would involve me. Hal's marathon was the Sunday of the middle weekend of the Games; Jim's wrestling class would compete early in the second week, and his finals would conflict with gymnastics. Tim insisted that if the final was the match between Paul and Jim, that we ALL had to be there to watch.
However, right then we were facing two days in which none of us had any scheduled competition. Tim practiced just a little - to "keep my edge" as he put it - and encouraged the others to do the same. We spent most of the two days meeting and getting to know other athletes, both American and foreign. Our favorite journalists all found us and asked for pictures and interviews. It was good to see Susan, Bill, Eddie, Mike, and Mick. There were others we had gotten to know, but those were the special ones, and we tried our best to give them inside "scoops."
We weren't sure how well we were going to be accepted by the other athletes. Many "stars" avoided living in the Olympic Village; Tim was an exception to that rule. The four of us from Camp White Elk had gotten a lot of advance publicity which might have been resented. And, Tim and I were, as far as we knew, the only openly gay athletes. Of course, with almost 6,000 athletes, there had to be hundreds of gay athletes, but they weren't talking.
We needn't have worried. Tim was wildly popular. He was his usual happy and loving self, and enjoyed talking with everyone. He signed endless autographs, including one rather spectacular one: A young man, Canadian I'm pretty sure, came up to Tim and mooned him. Before Tim could react, the young man handed Tim a Magic Marker and asked for his autograph. He got it right where he wanted it, on his right bun - "TIM" in very dark, very permanent, Magic Marker. That night Tim told me, "He was cute. I was tempted to turn him around and sign his dick, but I thought better of it."
The preliminary rounds in platform diving didn't present a challenge for Tim, Billy, or Stan. James seemed to struggle a little, but made the semi-finals by a decent margin. The first round in the semi-finals shocked us all: Billy got a 9.7, after not going below a 9.8 in the preliminary rounds. Dives in the semi-finals count toward the final medal points, so Billy had hurt himself. Tim had gotten a 10 and Stan a 9.8. Billy was in 6th place with his 9.7. Round two went just the same, 9.7 for Billy, 9.9 for Tim. Stan had a 9.9, which turned out to be his best dive of the event.
Tim was worried about Billy. So were his coaches, especially Ralph Billings. Larry had a long quiet talk with him and reported that he thought all was well; Billy had seemed very calm.
The next round Billy hit a ten, as did Tim. Neither Tim nor Billy got less than a 9.9 for the rest of the semi-finals. They were 1,2 going into the finals, with Stan tied for 4th with a Mexican diver.
That night at dinner - the finals would come after dinner in television prime time - we didn't talk about Billy's two slips; at least not in front of him. But there was a lot of quiet speculation about why it had happened. Regardless, the match was now Tim's if he didn't slip. Billy would be second if he didn't slip again. We hoped that Stan could hold on for third.
It is hard to describe the finals. Tim and Billy matched each other dive for dive, point for point until the last dive. Mostly tens, never less than 9.9. I sat in the front row of the audience and wondered how I could ever have fallen in love with such a perfect specimen of humanity and had him fall in love with me. How did he do what he did? I looked for the tiniest flaws and couldn't find them - though the odd 9.9 did suggest that the judges were seeing what I couldn't. Billy was the same. Susan sat down next to me and said, "It's like a miracle, isn't it?"
"God, yes," I replied, "How does he do it? How does Billy do it?"
"I don't know, but it's like watching Rembrandt paint, or hearing Caruso sing. You don't understand perfection, you simply marvel at it."
Billy would have been ever so slightly ahead of Tim were it not for Billy's first two dives - one of Tim's 9.9 dives had a slightly lower point value than the dive he got a ten on. Billy's incredible performance after his first two dives had easily earned him silver. Stan and the Mexican fought it out until the last dive, when Stan did a spectacular dive with a high point value and a 9.8 score which clinched the bronze medal for him. For years the United States had dominated Olympic diving, and twice before (1924 and 1932) had taken all six men's diving medals. But this was the first time since the games resumed after the war; the first time in 36 years. It was truly special - for Tim, for Billy and the other divers, for Ralph, Larry and Nelson, for me and all the Gang, for America, which was ready to cheer a genuine hero - even if he was gay; it seemed the country was willing to overlook that. At least the Americans in the audience were willing to: the three divers got a standing ovation that simply wouldn't stop.
And then there were Tim, Billy, and Stan standing on the winners' podia, hands over their hearts, thrilling for a second time to the Star Spangled Banner. No American in Mexico City would tire of hearing that tune that summer. As soon as the medal ceremony ended Tim ran and got James, and the four medalists who had captured every men's diving medal for the United States all stood together, waved to the crowd, and spoke to reporters.
We all went out for a late night drink - beer for most, Coke for us - with Fred as our host. It was a huge crowd, but as far as Fred was concerned, the more the merrier. For the divers, competition was over. Tim had two days off before gymnastics started. I had three days before archery. Jim had the same three days. Hal was next up, with the marathon on Sunday, the day after tomorrow. So this was somewhat of a breather for us. We hadn't had time, in the midst of all the sports and ceremony to see much, if anything, of Mexico. Late at night was not the time to start, but at least we decided to avoid anyplace likely to be frequented by either Americans or Olympians. That meant taxis, four in fact. Fred wasn't deterred. He got a taxi that was dropping someone off at the Olympic Village and told him to round up three of his buddies and come and get us. It took a matter of seven minutes and four cabs pulled up. We did have one member of the group, a diver from Venezuela who also spoke some English, who spoke Spanish. After a lot of back and forth in Spanish it was agreed where we were going and all of us took off in the four cabs. The cabs - we hoped - knew where they were going, but evidently they all were going to take different routes. In any event, after four wild rides, and some considerable uncertainty, we all arrived at a large bar that had seen little light, a rare broom, and even more rarely an American.
The Venezuelan gave us all a brief Spanish lesson. We were told that we were in a cantina, though it had numerious names just as in English. We were going to drink cerveza, except the poor souls who wanted Coca-Cola. We were told to order coca not coke.
Tim and I ordered dos coca - I thought I was ordering for both of us, and Tim repeated it. We each got two Cokes! The beer drinkers did better - while the pronunciation varied, cerveza got everybody a bottle of beer, and stood them in good stead for a second round! Fred made it very clear that a third round was not going to happen.
We sat around two small tables pushed together, and talked about the Olympics, Mexico, medals, girls, Fred's hospitality, and a lot of nothing. As the beer went down voices got a little louder, and we were a source of never-ending fascination to the dozen or so regulars in the bar. I don't think any of them understood a word after the short Spanish lesson on how to order drinks, but that didn't make us any less interesting.
In the days to come, we would be a source of conversation for everyone present, second only to the fact that Fred paid for the drinks for everyone in the bar, and the size of his tip.
Hal was rested; he had last run a marathon about a week ago, and had limited his running to about ten miles a day since. He would only run a mile or so tomorrow, and on Sunday would run the marathon of his life. The entire Gang, and in fact our whole crowd which included parents, other swimmers and gymnasts, coaches, Fred, and other hangers on, would all be along the route to cheer him on. In addition, Sue's busload of Mexican children that ran with Hal in some of the nearby villages would be there. "Go, Hal!" would echo along the whole route. We couldn't imagine that any other runner would have that kind of a support group. It was hardly fair, but Hal didn't suggest that any of us stay home.
All of the events of the coming week were in our minds as we headed back to the Olympic Village that Friday evening. Tim and I headed for our room, and as soon as we were inside Tim turned and said, "Kiss me, Charlie."
I did. He was quiet, soft, gentle, and loving. Then he did something I don't ever remember him doing before: he bent over and piled up some books and stood on them so that he was about an inch taller than me. From that height he wrapped his arms around me and kissed me again, long, hard, and loving. His tongue crept into my mouth and explored everywhere. Then he loosened his grip and slipped off his clothes, while I did the same thing. Then we were back together, with him retaining his extra height.
Soon he pulled me onto the bed and we wrapped around ourselves again. "Charlie?"
"Tonight's special. But I'm a little frustrated. How do we make the sex special, when we've done everything to each other that either one of us can think of?"
"Maybe we just do it all again."
"Charlie, I'm serious. How do we make tonight different? Really special?"
"I don't know the answer to that, Tim. Our love is so special, that for me that makes the sex special." Then I had a terrible thought. "Tim, is the sex getting boring because the love is getting old?"
"Oh, God, Charlie, No. No, no, no. I love you more and more each day. Being with you is wonderful. I couldn't live without you. And I don't mean the sex is boring. But it's the same. You aren't the same when we talk, there's always something new to say, see, and do. The two of us will never run out of new and exciting things in our lives. Honest, I really believe that, and I mean it."
"I believe you."
"But, honestly, the sex is the same, isn't it?"
"I guess. It seems to bother you more than me."
"I don't know. Maybe. I still love the sex. I guess I'll have to admit that varying the people enhances it. I'm really glad that we didn't decide to be exclusive. That would've been hard. And stupid."
"I agree. But we didn't. And, I'm glad we didn't."
Tim said, "Go get Jim and Hal."
"You go get them, you get dressed and undressed faster than I do."
"OK." Like lightning he had on pants and a tee shirt - no underwear, no shoes or socks, just enough to be decent. Then he was gone, out the door, and down the hall.
Soon he was back with Hal and Jim in tow. As soon as they were in the door he was kissing them in turn, and urging me to follow, and I certainly did.
I said, "Tim's tired of sex with me and wants to do a little trading."
"I'm not tired of sex with you, I love it and will never tire of it. But variety is the spice of life, and that's what I'm in for tonight."
Hal said, "What would Sue think of that, and Andy, Amy and Kara?"
Tim said, "Oh, Hell, don't be stupid. The four of them are rooming together, as you well know, and are perfectly comfortable with the Gang's mixing up the sex. For all I know they have Phil and Franklin in the room with them." We learned the next morning that it was Tom and Nancy!
We all laughed, and then Tim and I helped Hal and Jim get their clothes off. Hal said, "I want to start with Charlie."
Jim said, "I want to start with Tim. I may end with him as well. God what a wonderful body." With that he was on his knees in front of Tim, taking him in his mouth. Tim intertwined his fingers behind Jim's head and pulled him gently down on his dick. Soon the gentleness had gone and Jim was being tugged hard onto Tim's dick. Jim wrapped his hands around Tim's buns and stood up, lifting Tim high, but never losing his dick from his mouth. I went around behind, licked my finger wet, and wiggled it against Tim's anus. Getting inside was impossible with all of the tension of being lifted, but it felt good for both of us. Hal gave the same treatment to Jim's anus, but didn't get any further than I did. Just then Tim came, jerking and squeezing Jim's head. Then they collapsed onto Tim's bed.
I said to Tim, "Was that exciting enough for you?"
"Oh, God, yes." With that he grabbed Jim and kissed him, long and hard.
We tried to be equally ingenious in bringing on orgasms for Hal, Jim, and me, but I don't think we equaled that one. Hal had me sucking his dick while Tim kissed him and Jim played, rather roughly, with his balls. Jim got well lubricated with saliva from the three of us, and then fucked Hal. I closed my eyes, told them to take turns sucking, and not tell me who finished the job. I'm sure it wasn't Tim, but I still don't know whether it was Jim or Hal. We pushed the two beds in the room together and Jim and Hal slept in one and Tim and I the other. We talked late, and slept late - Tim didn't wake us until 8:00 a.m.
That afternoon Tim pulled me aside and said, "I've been thinking about last night, Charlie. You know what I miss?"
"What? Or is it, who?"
"He's here. Let's go over to the hotel. I'll bet he's as horny as you, probably more so, though I think that he and Ronnie have been mixing it up a little."
We found Felix in his room, and it didn't take him long to figure out what Tim had in mind. Well, it was kind of obvious; since Tim had his clothes off almost before the door was shut. Then he realized that Franklin and Phil were in the room with Felix, both of them laughing hysterically. Tim looked at them, and simply said, you are welcome to watch, but Felix and I are in the mood, aren't we Felix?"
"Damn straight," said Felix. Tim was immediately at him, taking off his clothes. Felix continued, "Let's show these boys how to do 69."
They did. On Felix' double bed. The three spectators cheered, but let the two alone. When they were done, Tim simply said, "I'm ready for the high bar. God it'd be fun to tackle it naked. That's the way the original Olympians competed."
"Don't try it," was Franklin's entire comment. Then he grabbed Tim by the balls and said, "God, you're cute. I could just eat all of you."
Phil said, "You have to share." They sort of pulled Tim back and forth for a while, Tim giggling so hard he could hardly breathe. He got his right hand free and grabbed at Franklin's balls, surprising Franklin and making him let go. Phil caught Tim before he hit the floor, and they all collapsed laughing.
Franklin looked over at me and said, "Charlie, you look left out." Before I knew what was happening the four of them grabbed me and laid me out on the bed. My clothes disappeared and I was held fast as Tim tickled my balls, and much of the rest of me, mercilessly. He wouldn't let me come, moving deftly to my ribs just as I was about to come. I refused to beg and the torture continued almost twenty minutes. Then Phil took pity on me, pushed Tim aside, and sucked me to an almost instant climax. Then he was on me hugging. My mind went back to the wonderful month we had shared in Rockford.
Phil said, "I know what you're thinking. It was wonderful back then, but we both made the right choice. Now kiss me for old times sake."
I did, but on his dick.
Franklin said, "I'll bet you can't take that whole big thing."
"I'll bet I can." It was huge, but I relaxed my throat and slid down on Phil - as I had done years before. He came quickly down my throat, to soft cheering from the rest. "I can handle you, too, Franklin." And I did.
The next day was Hal's day to shine. There would be no records set at this altitude, but three runners were going to go home with medals, and Hal was determined to be one of the three. Hal's targeted time was 2 hours and 20 minutes, not a record and not his personal best, but the best he could hope for in Mexico City. He was certain that time would earn him a medal, and there was a good chance it would be gold.
Hal ran his usual race, pulling away from the field at first, then setting a fairly slow pace, and picking up speed at mile 17. He had a firm lead by mile 21 and led the second place runner, his Kenyan competition, by almost four minutes at the end. His time was 2:20:08. And he crossed the finish line in fine form, ran an extra quarter mile, and stood talking to Mick from Sports Illustrated while he watched the second and third place runners cross the finish line and collapse. Mick watched with him and said, "I'd ask you how you do it, but I wouldn't get any better an answer than when I've asked in the past. You just run your own race, don't you?"
"Yes, Mick. But I'll tell you. I'd decided that for an Olympic medal I'd give absolutely everything I had to get across that line, even if it meant falling down as I broke the tape. But it didn't come to that. Practicing in Mexico since June is what made the difference. Today was the 36th marathon that I've run in Mexico. I'm a little annoyed with myself that I was eight seconds off my planned time, but I knew I could do it today. I've beaten this time 11 out of the last 12 marathons - and my practice course was a little tougher than this one."
Soon Hal was standing tall on the podium, smiling at all of us, basking in the sound of the recorded anthem. As soon as he was off the podium Sue was there kissing him. They went together for a lunch alone, and I think they ended up back in her hotel room. Jim didn't see Hal until almost ten that night.
The boys from Camp White Elk had contended for three medals and won three golds. An impressive record. Stanley just glowed. There were ten more medals undecided for the Gang - eight of them Tim's gymnastics contests.
That night Tim was completely different. We undressed and slid into bed, in our usual spooning arrangement. "Charlie."
"I love you."
"I love you, too."
"Tonight I have absolutely no interest in anyone but you." With that, he rolled over, wiggled down and took me in his mouth. When he was finished, and we were finished kissing, he said, "It's strange. I'm still me, but night before last I wanted - almost needed - someone else to join in. Tonight you are all I need or want."
"I'll never understand you, Tim. I think that's one of the reasons I love you so, you are unexplainable. You've never been able to explain how you fell in love with me as fast as you did, or why you did. But, God, it's wonderful that you did. Thank you."
He spooned and wiggled, and my hand found him to be very hard, and quite explosive!
Jim had the stage to himself on Monday, at least as far as the Gang was concerned. We all went to watch. I haven't meant to gloss over the question of how we got tickets to see just about anything we wanted to see. It was as simple as asking Fred. Even at the last minute, Fred produced tickets. He was a little reluctant to share his secret, but it turned out to be "Mr. Ticket." Fred asked Mr. Ticket for whatever he needed and quick as a flash he had them; it seldom took more than an hour. Needless to say, Mr. Ticket was reluctant to share his secrets. Fred provided some background. His sporting goods business did some buying in Mexico, and Fred learned very quickly that if you wanted to do business in Mexico you needed the right local contact, and that asking too many questions about how he did what he did wasn't a good idea. The fact is that nothing of importance happens in Mexico until money changes hands. It usually doesn't take a lot of money, but it takes lots of contacts and a real understanding of the system to make it work. This had frustrated many businessmen in Mexico, and it had Fred at first. But then he came to terms with it and learned to live with it. Mr. Ticket was Mr. Fixit when the Olympics weren't going, but there was much more to be made in the ticket business than the sporting goods business in October of 1968. So Mr. Fixit became Mr. Ticket and Fred Milson became one of his best customers. He actually got a bulk discount on his bribes!
When one looked around the various venues they were seldom full. Nevertheless tickets were scarce. Most Americans just assumed that businessmen and scalpers had bought them up and they were going unused. It never occurred to our good countrymen that they could walk up to a ticket booth and be told the event was sold out while the ticket seller had tickets in his drawer! But he wasn't going to get anything for selling those tickets at face value, so why bother, and why undermine his black market? If you knew what you were doing, when told an event was sold out, you simply said something dumb like, "Here's 10 pesos; please see if there are any tickets for tomorrow." After a quick search the ten pesos would disappear and tickets for today would appear at the regular price. If you were American the standard bribe was 10 to 20 pesos. For Mexicans is was about a fourth of that, which is why Fred always got his tickets through Mr. Ticket - who certainly didn't have to wait in line and go through all that silliness for each ticket. For those on the inside the black market was as simple as shopping for sporting goods at Milson's! The Mexicans didn't see any ethical difference from the habit of French waiters expecting, really demanding, a tip after the restaurant had added a service charge to the bill.
I hope that Mr. Ticket hadn't charged too much to get tickets to the half-full arena where the wrestling preliminaries were taking place. We had excellent seats, and we watched as Jim dispatched four opponents, bang, bang, bang, bang. There would be a quarter final in the afternoon, and semi-finals and finals on Thursday.
To us Jim seemed invincible. His coach wasn't convinced, as Jim didn't follow much, if any, of the conventional wisdom of Olympic free-style wrestling. Jim was totally obvious, lacking any kind of subtlety, but was totally unfooled by any such from his opponents. You took him on head-on, or you didn't take him on at all. And you had to take him on to get any points. And when you came head-on, he beat you. Period. His quarterfinal was against a Japanese, who was certain that eastern treachery would beat western brute force. When he first found himself flat on his back he realized how wrong he was.
I don't want to suggest that Jim was some kind of phenomenon. To Tim he was, but for entirely different reasons. Jim had to struggle to get his victories, and he worked up a terrific sweat like all the other wrestlers. But when he came onto the mat, he was a force to be reckoned with, and if you didn't understand that right from the beginning, you lost. As Jim said at dinner that night, "Paul understands that."
To Tim, Jim was a phenomenon not because of his wrestling style, but because of his total lack of dedication to the sport. He could take it or leave it. That was almost his attitude toward the Olympics. Tim, Billy, Hal, virtually all the athletes in Mexico City had dedicated much of their lives to the pursuit of gold - or at least the pursuit of an individual Olympic dream. Not Jim. I don't think Tim actually resented the ease with which Jim became an Olympian, but there was certainly a touch of jealousy. It never marred their friendship, because Jim never flaunted his easy success. But Tim hated to see his firm belief that success in sport required total dedication so easily undermined!
American politics imposed themselves on the Olympics that day. While Jim was winning his wresting matches Tommie Smith and John Carlos were winning gold and bronze in the 200 meters. They appeared on the winners' podia with no shoes and black socks as a sign of black poverty. They had black pride scarves around their necks, and OPHR badges on their jackets. In this symbol they were joined by the Australian silver medalist, Peter Norman. All of this they might have been forgiven. But when the national anthem started, the bowed their heads and raised their arms with fists in black gloves. Tommie his right hand and John his left.
Americans were shocked. America was shocked. The audience booed. The USOC threw them off the team and they had to leave the Olympic Village. There was a lot of fuss about their having to return their medals, but I really don't know the whole story about that. Olympic records books today show them as the gold and bronze medalists.
From then on, in every interview Tim and all the American athletes had they were asked about the gloved hands. Tim's answer was always the same, "Don't ask a white American, ask a black American if the protest was justified. Every one that I have asked has answered, 'Yes.'"
Neither Tim, nor I, nor Hal, nor Jim, ever appeared in Mexico without the OPHR badge.
Tim met Tommie at some event a year or so after the Olympics and they talked about the events of Mexico. Tommie had no regrets about his actions, and in fact he and John Carlos had become somewhat folk heroes in the black community. Tim had asked, "Was there a symbolism to the fact that you raised your right arm and John raised his left?"
"We liked to say there was, but what really happened is that John forget his pair of black gloves, so we had to share mine. I got the right one and he got the left." He had gone on to say, "Tim, John and I really appreciated the way you answered reporters. We heard so many dumb athletes condemning us for politicizing the Games. As if the color of our skins hadn't politicized our entire lives. But, you know, the press didn't get it. You told them to go ask black Americans; and they never really did."
The next day men's gymnastics began. Tim would compete on four days, doing required programs and optional ones. He was one of the very few athletes that had qualified individually on all six of the apparatus, so he would have a very full schedule. Of course, everyone competed on each apparatus for the medley and team events.
Tim was his usual self. Did the impossible. Stuck absolutely everything; I think that was, to most of the other athletes, his most spectacular feat. When he showed off his muscle strength on the rings it made arms in the audience hurt. And, true to form, he treated the high bar as a circus stunt, and scared everybody silly - including the judges. The Japanese coach openly criticized the American coaches for encouraging Tim to take such risks. What could they say? They certainly hadn't encouraged Tim; they had, in fact, tried to discourage him from his risk-taking. But they had learned better, and simply laughed off the Japanese comment.
By the end of the first afternoon and evening, Tim had become the man to beat. The press had decided that he was a genuine American hero and were treating him as such. The other athletes were in awe of him. The talk was already of who was going to get silver and bronze in the medley and Tim's three star events. Tim took in all in stride. His total dedication, and concentration, enabled him to carry on despite the fuss. But that night, in bed, he finally burst. "Charlie! It was wonderful! I can't believe I did that well. Oh, God, Charlie, I'm floating on clouds. Don't even think about trying to bring me down. I love it up here." Then he thought a little and continued, "Archery tomorrow. Then you can float up here with me. Charlie, Charlie, kiss me, fuck me, take me, love me."
I did. All of the above. And even with all that we got to sleep early, to be ready for more gymnastics and archery the next day.
Archery involved two F.I.T.A. rounds of 144 arrows each, at four distances. It would take four days for us to do all of the shooting. We shot at 90 and 70 meters the first day, 50 and 30 meters the second, all four distances the third, and the semi-finals and finals were the fourth, again at all four distances. It was an average of about 70 shots per day; in my practice I shot about 200 in a day. The course wouldn't overwhelm me.
Starting at the longer distances separated the men from the boys, as it were, right from the beginning. I knew that if I was going to stumble it would be in the opening rounds at 90 meters. Stumble I did not! What a day! I led the pack, and continued to lead throughout the entire time. I didn't win each round, but I had enough of a lead from the first day, that I managed to stay ahead. Tim was able to see the morning rounds, because his gymnastics started in the afternoon. So he saw me take the lead in the 90 meter rounds. In fact, since my first shot was a bull's-eye, you could say that I led, or was tied for the lead, from the very first shot till the last.
One of the nice things about Olympic archery that year, was that 1968 was its first appearance in the modern Olympics. There had been archery in the 1900, 1904, 1908, and 1920 Olympics, but there was no standard course. Now with the standardization that F.I.T.A. brought to the sport, archery was back. And whoever won this year would set the Olympic record, no matter how well or badly he did. It appeared that I was on my way to an Olympic gold medal and a place in the Olympic record book!
This is Tim. Charlie isn't going to tell you this, but you really have to understand just what this competition involved. Imagine standing on the goal line of a football stadium, and shooting arrows at a target underneath the goal posts at the OTHER END. Now forget about those big targets you are used to seeing. The bull's-eye is almost exactly the size of the apple that poor William Tell's son was supposed to hold on his head. At that distance, Charlie hit it half the time! I couldn't believe it. Back to you, Charlie.
Tim's right. At the 90 meter distance, the bull's-eye appears to be about the size of the head of a thumbtack. You pray a lot as the arrow heads toward the target. Mostly you pray for no wind! Or, at least no changes in the wind.
Jim was up next. He, Tim, and I would all be competing on Thursday. There was no way that Tim would be able to watch Jim's match with Paul; of course there would be no match with Paul unless both of them won their semi-final matches, but both just assumed that they would. And, damn their little egos, they both did. My archery would finish about 40 minutes before the expected match, but there was simply no way to get between the archery and wrestling venues in that amount of time. Or at least so I assumed. In the middle of the afternoon, between archery rounds, I was approached by an ABC-TV reporter. If they could have an exclusive interview with me en route, the ABC helicopter would take me to the wrestling arena in time for Jim's match. I would like to credit ABC for being so on the ball, but in fact it was Fred working in the background that had made this happen. I had told the reporter that I didn't have a ticket to get in and asked if he could get me in. He handed me an envelope which contained a ticket to a good seat. On the back was written, "Love, Fred."
Of course, I accepted. The interview going over confirmed what I already knew: that the TV sports reporters really hadn't done their homework. The interviewer knew about my connection with Jim through Camp White Elk. He had none of the background of our lives since, even though he could have read a lot of it in Sports Illustrated. More importantly, he didn't know of the relationship between Paul and Jim, except that Paul had beaten Jim at the trials. It was such a good story, and both Paul and Jim deserved to have it told well. Could this guy, and ABC Sports, do the job? I decided that the best thing to do was to ask the guy. Unbelievably he was honest. "I can't. I'm under too much time pressure to produce sports news for prime time. It's not my job to do color. But one of our color reporters [honest to God that's his term], Amy Stitchen, is really good. May I ask her to join us at the wrestling match?"
"Sure." Jim and Paul's fate was sealed, they would be the centerpieces of a major "color" piece the next evening on ABC-TV. They got prime time coverage for about 4 minutes. Once ABC got moving they did a terrific job. They dug up pictures of the original match in Ann Arbor, had a local reporter interview teammates in Ann Arbor, got hold of Susan Wilfield in Mexico City and interviewed her, and put together a really terrific piece about the friendly rivalry between Jim and Paul, with a wonderful sidebar on Jim's relationship to Tim, Hal, and me. All in 25 hours.
The match itself was, for me, the high point of the Olympics. The arena was almost full, and the crowd seemed to sense that something big was going to happen, even though there hadn't been much hype around this match. Neither Jim nor Paul were big names in wrestling - well, to be honest, nobody was a big name in wrestling outside of the wrestling community itself. They faced each other, struggled mightily, grunted often, tried every trick and every avenue of brute force, and between them they scored absolutely nothing in the first two plus minutes. Then they seemed to realize that this would get them nowhere, perhaps even a referee's decision to award a point to the least aggressive wrestler - though neither was lacking in aggression. They started taking greater risks, and they started scoring points, both offensive and defensive points. All of a sudden it was a wild match with bodies moving all over the place. The match ended in the inevitable tie, 11 to 11. Since all of the points were scored in the last two and a little more minutes, it had been an incredibly high scoring period of time. In the break before the three minute overtime period that would settle the tie, the two of them waved at each other and grinned. I know they would have talked, but it would have been misinterpreted as collusion.
In their first match years ago the tie-breaker had been sudden death. This was total points for three minutes. It made for a different style of wrestling. Jim was leading at 2 minutes 45 seconds, following the most aggressive period you can imagine. Then Paul got a hold on Jim in a serious effort to take him to the mat by brute force. Jim resisted with all of his effort, but slowly Paul dominated and Jim fell to the mat. Paul was instantly on top of Jim and pinned him at 2 minutes and 57 seconds. The match was over, Paul had won the gold. Paul looked down at Jim and smiled and said, "Now we know."
Jim smiled back and said, "Maybe, and maybe I couldn't stand to see a grown man cry."
Paul laughed, and said, "I watched you go down. You had absolutely nothing left. Now we know."
Jim hugged Paul tight and said, "I knew all along. Congratulations, champion. You're the best."
By this time the referee was hauling Paul off of Jim, not realizing that it was friendship and not latent aggression that was keeping him there. Paul's arm was lifted, and he was the Olympic gold medalist. Jim won the silver, and the bronze went to an Irani who was the winner of the match between the two who had been beaten that morning by Jim and Paul. Another Star Spangled Banner; another medal for Camp White Elk; another celebration for the Gang; another chance for Fred to play host with the most.
The TV people had finally caught on to a good story, and were tracking Camp White Elk medals, much to Stanley's delight. Jim's was number four; three golds and a silver. That put the spotlight on Tim and the gymnastics finals the next day - Friday. They wouldn't be ignoring me either; I would be in the semifinals on Friday.
Friday came, following a small Thursday night party and celebration of Jim's medal. With two of us in key events the next day, we couldn't party long, and nobody felt like celebrating after Tim and I had left, though we urged them to.
Just as Tim could watch my shooting Friday morning, I could watch his gymnastics in the evening. What a show. I sat with Betsy and Norman, and I don't think the three of us breathed more than five breaths the whole evening. He twisted and turned on the high bar like it was a circus trapeze, and for him I think it was. He claims the high bar is a cinch compared to the trapeze - the trapeze moves. He ended with an impossible triple somersault which he stuck like his feet were glue sticks. Frank was on him the minute he was clear, hugging him, picking him up, cheering. Frank embodied the entire crowd. He was the darling of the Americans; but everybody in the arena loved him and cheered wildly. He couldn't top that performance, but he came close on the floor exercises. He stuck his final run to the corner so close that a judge walked over and put his finger next to Tim's foot to see if he had actually gone over. There was just barely room for a fingernail! His vaults were great; his performances on the pommel horse and the parallel bars excellent, and his rings beyond belief. Bottom line: High bar - gold. Floor exercises - gold. Rings - gold. Vault - silver. Parallel bars - bronze. Pommel horse - fifth, no medal. Individual medley - gold. Regrettably the team didn't have sufficient depth to support Tim's performances. They had to settle for a bronze; without Tim they wouldn't have been near a medal. But nobody cared; they were a team; Tim was part of it; and the United States gymnastics team had its first team medal ever!
Editor's note: In the real world, the United States gymnastics team did not win a team medal until it took the gold in Los Angeles in 1984.
Much to Tim's surprise, before he left the arena IOC officials handed him a important looking document that was entitled a "Victory Diploma." It was for his fifth place win in the pommel horse. In some ways it was fancier than a medal, but medalists don't receive them, though in later games they would. It still looks good on our wall!
Tim's Olympic performances were over, at least for the next four years. Six golds, one silver, and two bronze. Camp White Elk was counting eleven, well, really it was Stanley that was counting - and ABC-TV.
Tomorrow was Saturday, the last day of archery competition. I would be the only one of the four from the Gang competing. Our whole contingent would be watching! The pressure was on me to bring in a medal for the United States, for Camp White Elk, for UND, for the Gang, and for Tim. Only Tim and I really understood that it was all for Tim, the rest were irrelevant. My entire pursuit of archery was for Tim, so that we could walk together in the opening ceremony holding hands. By accomplishing that I was an Olympic winner. Getting a medal, even the gold medal and the Olympic record that would inevitably accompany it, was simply icing on the cake. But I couldn't deny that it was a tasty cake, and I wanted a big slice if I could earn it. Well, I was in the lead; I had been from the first arrow. It was just like Tim's diving: if I could keep up my pace I would win. It was as simple as that, and as difficult.
As Tim and I rode the bus to the archery venue on Saturday I thought of our trip to International Falls where he had first taught me about concentration. I had learned that lesson, and whenever I slipped Tim reminded me of it. He didn't need to remind me today. I knew that I was physically capable of sustaining my pace. All I needed was the mental strength to go with it. With Tim in my life I had it. Without Tim, the whole exercise would have been futile.
I didn't set a personal best that day, either for a single round or for the Olympic double round. I didn't need to. My first round had been a 1268; the second was a wonderful 1309, for a total of 2577. It took gold by a wide margin (second place was 2532), and set a record that held until 1984 when Darrell Pace broke 2600 - at 2616. I'm not sure when it hit me that I was an Olympic gold medalist. In college nobody had even thought of me as an athlete, and that included me. Until that moment, I don't think I really understood how much there was a new Charlie, a change almost as dramatic as the change that had created the new Hal. And here we were, together in Mexico City, both Olympic gold medalists; probably the most unlikely combination of events that anyone could have imagined that day in August, 1961, when the two of us had met!
I don't think I will ever forget standing on the podium, the American flag rising over my head, an IOC official placing the gold medal around my neck, being congratulated by the other two medalists: one American and one Swedish, and finally being hugged and kissed by my little bundle of energy and joy. There was nothing shy about his kissing me - right on the mouth and filled with passion. Tim wasn't going to pretend that he and I were anything other than what we were: committed lovers.
Stanley was next; he was more excited than me, if that was possible. "Charlie, twelve medals, nine of them gold. Camp White Elk is like a middle sized nation with its medal count." He was right; only six countries had more golds than Camp White Elk, and only eleven had more total medals! It was unbelievable.
My mother had come to Mexico at the urging of Betsy and Norman. At age 64 she was certainly up to making the trip, though the altitude had slowed her some. But she had been afraid that she would be out of place and slow the party. Nothing could have been further from the truth, and Betsy convinced her, helped by Tim and me calling her with special invitations. She had enjoyed watching Tim, but wrestling simply didn't interest her, and neither did the marathon ("You get to watch one minute out of a two-hour race!") She understood diving and enjoyed watching all of the divers - especially Tim; she loved the beauty of the performances. As for archery, it was, "incredibly boring - except when you're shooting Charlie!" Now she waited while all sorts of people congratulated me. When she did get to me, she had me to herself. She hugged me gently and said, "Now I understand. You and Tim have a special love that transcends everything. And to think that I, and many others, would've urged you to look elsewhere. Thank God you didn't listen to any of us. Charles, I'm sorry that I ever doubted. You and Tim are wonderful. Never lose what you have together."
I don't know what I replied, or if I had enough wits about me to reply at all. But those words summed up everything there was to say about my life thus far, and about what the future had in store for me. If I wasn't able to say it then or while she still lived, I'll say it now, "Thanks, Mom, I love you."
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