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Finding Tim

A Fourth Alternate Reality

by Charlie
With editorial assistance from Dix and John


Tim was an Olympic Champion in two sports and I was in a third. Now that we had achieved our dreams, principally being able to compete together in an Olympic Games, we had to decide where we were going with those sports. We recognized that they took an inordinate amount of time. We also realized that we needed to begin to shift gears in our lives away from sports to our life careers.

Tim had already made the first move in diving. After the Olympics he determined that he and Billy would not compete against each other again. It wasn't fair to Billy, who was reluctant to ever beat Tim, and who, Tim knew, either was already the better diver or soon would be. So Tim's diving future was settled: he would compete at the college level for UND, alternating on the springboard and platform with Billy, and let Billy represent UND at national and international events. The one exception was the January Northern Regionals, which I'll tell about later.

Tim was truly undecided about gymnastics. Obviously he would continue to compete during his Senior year, but he couldn't make up his mind whether he wanted to try to retain his competitive level until the Munich Olympics. He put that decision off for a year, and determined that during his senior year he would continue the same level of effort.

Tim raised the question of my archery. He basically gave me permission to ease off, or quit if I wanted to. He recognized that I had started serious archery competition just to support his dream of our being in Mexico together, and with that accomplished was quite willing that I not work to sustain my level of competition in archery. I was torn. It was a huge time commitment, and it was clear that unless I sustained the full effort I could not expect to compete at national levels. On the other hand, Olympic gold medals are intoxicating! The idea of succeeding myself in Munich was intoxicating! I wasn't sure that I would be able to quit. So, at least for the short term, I continued my routine of at least five days a week of serious practice - 2 to 4 hours.

Billy came to Tim and urged him to go to at least one more national diving competition. Billy offered not to compete, and let Tim have center stage. Tim's response was to hug Billy, thank him, but decline. But they finally agreed that Tim's farewell national diving performance would be at the Northern Regionals in January. They were scheduled for Minneapolis, and we thought it was a fitting place for him to take a last bow.

When Susan Wilfield heard about the plan, she set to work publicizing the event. It soon became clear that this wasn't going to be a regional event, but a national and even international event, as registrations started pouring in from the top divers all over the world. It would be the last chance to compete with Tim. If you wanted a chance to say that (1) you dove against Tim, or, even better, (2) you beat him, this was it. Much to their surprise, the University of Minnesota Swim Team found themselves hosts of the diving meet of the year. For divers, it was overshadowing the Nationals which would come along six months later.

Of course, the Gang all came. Along with most of their parents. Spouses and partners all insisted that the original Gang of 8 would stay together at Tim's house, with Mom and Dad. The rest bunked in hotels, motels, with Hal's folks and friends of Carl, Tim, Mom and Dad. Fred and my mom shared a hotel room, and didn't even try to hide the relationship. But marriage continued to not be under consideration - at least from Mom's point of view.

I would not want to have been a judge at that meet. Tim would make a total of 18 dives on the Friday and Saturday of the meet. There were so many divers competing, that it would be the first event and would continue till the end on Saturday - in fact it would delay the end. The natatorium at the University was filled to capacity. It was featured on Wide World of Sports on Sunday. It was carried in Minneapolis on live television, but it seemed that most of the Twin Cities had turned out to watch that television on huge screens set up in the Field House. The world expected a 10 on each and every one of Tim's dives - from every judge. His first dive was one of the required dives, a relatively easy one, and he did it absolutely flawlessly. At least that was Billy's judgement, and he was willing to criticize Tim's diving when appropriate - they were always totally honest with and about each other. The score came up all tens and the audience rose as one - in the natatorium and the Field House - and cheered. Billy swears Tim earned every ten, but no judge that day even dreamed of awarding less! They would have needed a police escort to get out of the building safely.

We saw a lot of wonderful diving those two days - as good as the Olympics. The divers were in good form, inspired by Tim. There didn't seem to be any resentment of Tim's success - I think his competitors realized that he had earned it with years of hard work, incredible discipline, and total self-sacrifice. This time Sports Illustrated didn't bother to send a photographer, they simply contracted with Mike. With SI paying for the film, Mike took so many pictures it was inevitable that he would get a good one for the cover. It turned out that he took so many good ones that they couldn't make up their minds which to use. So the cover was a montage of midair pictures of Tim's best dives. Inside were pictures of me, us, his folks, the Gang. All Mike's. All superb. All sexy as Hell; Tim's tiny Speedo almost made the cover pornographic. I loved it. We all did. It was Tim's fifth SI cover, and the third which included one of Mike's pictures, but this had eight of Mike's pictures. Mike was making a serious name for himself as a sport's photographer, and had already been offered a full-time job with SI when he graduated. He was thinking that he would probably take it.

Tim had invited Billy to stay at his folks house, with the Gang, but he declined. He noted that this was just the original eight, and even though he loved the idea of being part of the Gang, he recognized that this occasion was just for us eight. He and Sara stayed with Hal's folks.

The eight of us tried to cram into Tim's and my old queen size bed, but even without clothes on, there simply wasn't room. We had available to us a queen size bed in Carl's room and two twins in the guest room. I grabbed Hal and headed for the guest room, but we left one bed unused. Frankly, I had been dreaming of those legs of steel and was delighted not to have to share them. Curling up against Hal and stroking his legs from his crotch to his ankles was an unbelievable turn-on. Having it done to him seemed to be an equal turn-on for Hal. From time to time he would flex the muscles in the leg I was stroking and it would almost give me an orgasm. I think I could have kept it up all night, but after a while Hal rolled over, grabbed me by the hips and pulled me up the bed. His mouth grabbed my dick and I lost it before he had started to use his tongue. I reached down and gently pulled his head up to mine and we kissed long and deep.


"Yes, Hal."

"I love you. You and that crazy bunch down the hall have given me the most wonderful life. I don't even want to think about where I would be without that summer at Camp While Elk."

"Hal, it was a life changing event for all eight of us, not just you."

He didn't answer that, he just kissed harder and hugged me tighter - and with Hal's strength, tight really meant tight. Slowly he eased his hold, and I moved toward his dick with my mouth. He stopped me and pulled my hand there instead. I took the hint, and started alternately stroking his dick and tickling his balls. He seemed to prefer the attention to his balls, so I kept that up. It wasn't long before he came, with my not touching his dick at all. All of a sudden I was recaptured in a crushing hug and kiss that just wouldn't stop. Slowly we relaxed and drifted off to sleep.

Tim reported that he, Franklin and Ronnie had had a genuine free-for-all in Tim's bed. The others reported a more quiet night, but no less intense orgasms! Jim and Andy had laid Tom back on the bed and slowly brought him to a climax. Then he had watched them do 69.

The second night saw us recombined in different ways. No one was allowed to sleep in the same room or to sleep with any of the same people. Tom had grabbed Tim and taken him off to the bed that Hal and I had occupied the night before. Later Tim had told me that he and Tom had hugged together but it didn't become sexual. Tom seemed quite content just to just lay with Tim and enjoy the touch of his body. They had talked quietly about the Gang, me, Nancy, all kinds of things. Tom had said that he and Nancy, now happily married and finishing at Chicago, were eager to locate near some of the Gang. They were waiting to see where people were heading to make their own plans. Tim realized that most of the Gang had those decisions to make. Ronnie, of course, was already settled at Stanford. Franklin had graduated the year before but was continuing on a Master's degree that he would finish when Tim and the others graduated.

The rest of the group quickly found that the prescribed formula for musical beds was impossible. Three people in a room couldn't all move separately to three different rooms when only two other rooms were available! [Did you catch that before you read this paragraph? Good for you!] Jim and Franklin stayed put. [And, as the riddles go, if I tell you that I slept in Carl's bed, you would have enough information to figure out who slept with whom, but not what they did with each other.]

Jim retired from wrestling. He simply felt that there was noplace else for him to go, and continuing wrestling at the university didn't seem worth the effort. Paul continued to dominate Michigan wrestling for the rest of the year. Then he graduated along with Jim, and both ceased to be competitors. Big Paul majored in physical education and headed back to Ironwood where he taught PE at the junior high school and was the assistant wrestling coach at his former high school. We kept in touch over the years and were pleased to see him become a high school teacher, head wrestling coach, and then athletic director for the high school. His Olympic medal hung on the wall of his office, and the high point of his career came years later when one of the wrestlers he had coached in high school made it to the Olympics in Seoul.

Hal finished his college running career at Oklahoma by running both the mile and two-mile races. He had gotten so good at distances that he could run both at a meet without one affecting the other much. He won a lot of his races, but not all, and never was a spectacular runner at any distance but the marathon. He showed not the slightest inclination to stop running marathons, and entered them frequently. He rarely did anything but win.

Stan and James retired from diving, took their Olympic medals, for which they gave Tim complete credit, and faded out of our lives. Stan lives in Indianapolis, and I see him from time to time. He and Billy have remained friends, but they don't see each other as much as they would like, even though Indianapolis and Bloomington aren't that far apart. Stan is doing very well selling insurance. James lives in California, and neither Tim, nor I, nor Stan has seen him since the Olympics. He called Tim several times that winter to thank him and try to keep us up to date. But California is a long way away, and we have completely lost touch.

Tim and I were faced with the problem of planning our next year. Tim was absolutely certain that my efforts to clerk for a Supreme Court justice would succeed, and he was considering graduate school plans. He explained to me, "Charlie, the best university in Washington is Georgetown. But, if I am going to make a career out of public university administration, then I need to be the product of public universities. That means that I will need to go to the University of Maryland in College Park."

"Tim, that's a party school, and not worthy of you."

"It's better than its party reputation, and I am only going to get a Master's degree while you are a clerk."

"Tim, what makes you so sure that I am going to clerk in Washington."

"You are as smart as they come Charlie. Your Lincoln work made a reputation for you. Your Law Review editing was superior, and the articles you published excellent. You'll succeed. You have to have faith in yourself."

"You have enough faith for both of us." And he got a big hug.

Supreme Court terms begin in October and the clerks generally come from law school graduating classes from the previous year. The intervening year is spent dealing with bar exams and clerking for a lesser judge or working somewhere in the federal judicial bureaucracy. Tim insisted that I set my sights on exactly the scenario I wanted and accept nothing less. OK, that meant clerking for a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and going the next year to clerk for one of the supremes - two highly competed for appointments, in an environment in which the prestige of your law school was a key factor, and the prestige factor for the University of North Dakota Law School on the east coast was next to zero, if not minus.

Tim pointed out the rather irrelevant fact that I had an Olympic Gold Medal. "It never hurts," said Tim, pointing out that not many lawyers had that in their background. Then he really floored me when he reminded me of President Johnson's final line in our brief conversation, "I owe you one."

Charlie, "It's time to collect. What better credential in an application for a law clerkship than a personal telephone call from a former President of the United States. Johnson is famous for picking up the phone and talking to people. See if you can get him on the telephone."

Chutzpah, balls, guts; I don't know what you call it. But Tim lacked none of those, and I was slowly learning, very slowly. It was too early in the process to try to get in touch with Lyndon Johnson, so it gave me a lot of time to screw up my courage. On the other hand, I knew that I would have to make the attempt, or Tim would never let me live it down - especially if I didn't get the clerkship. Actually, that isn't true. Tim wouldn't say a word, but I would know what he was thinking, and that would be enough.

With the grades - all A's - that he had earned taking college courses as a high student, Billy had been admited as a regular student at UND even though he had not received a high school diploma. He had enough credits to be a Sophomore, but he was happy with his Freshman status, because he wanted to dive in the NCAA for four years. Tim was convinced that he would totally dominate the national and world diving scene at least until the Munich Olympics, and probably beyond if he kept at it.

Prexy invited Tim and me to his office late one afternoon toward the end of November, and there we found Fred, Dr. Stevens, and Larry Knudsen. Billy's parents arrived just after we did, with no more idea of what it was all about than Tim or I had. They did say that Prexy had asked them not to talk to Billy about their visit. Prexy opened the conversation very directly, "The question for the day is, 'Is it fair to Billy Carson to encourage him to stay at the University of North Dakota for three more years?'"

Tim immediately answered, "Yes. That is what he is planning on."

"I know," said Prexy. "But is it fair to him? We don't have a diving program that can hold a candle to IU, or Wisconsin, or any of the major universities. That isn't an insult to our team or coaches, it is simply stating a fact of small university life. And, Tim, you won't be here next year to be a inspiration to Billy - or anybody else on the team."

Larry spoke up, "Billy is damn good, and he'll stay that good if he stays here. But not having the competition at daily practice is bound to take a toll. He needs to expand his repertoire of dives, and the coaching at IU - that is almost certainly where he would go if he didn't stay here, he loves Ralph Billings, and I don't blame him - can do a lot more for him in that area than I can."

Martha spoke up. "I can't speak for Billy, but I can speak for Bill and me. And we are flabbergasted that this conversation is taking place. After everything this University has done for Billy, it is completely natural that you would expect him to stay four years. You would have a right to feel cheated if he moved on. Yet here you are, discussing his moving on, and the only factor that seems to be under consideration is Billy's best interests. Amazing. I can only thank you, and note that Tim certainly was right when he chose this school in the first place."

Prexy spoke, "Thank you, Mrs. Carson. But our job is students, and Billy is one of our best. If it is better for him to be someplace else, that is where he should be."

Bill said, "All I can say is, ask Billy. He will be as flabbergasted at the suggestion as Martha and I are."

I spoke up, "By all means ask him. But I have a feeling he may fool you."

Prexy said, "He is due to come by my office in about ten minutes. We will ask him. Everybody, please give him whatever advice and comments you think are best. But he must understand that we want him to do what he thinks is best for him. That is what we want him to do."

In a little while Prexy's secretary let Billy in. It was clear that he wasn't as comfortable in the President's office as Tim was, but give him a break, he was only 17 years old. He was surprised to see all of us. "Am I in trouble?" were his first words, probably prompted by the presence of his parents in the group.

"Not at all," said Prexy, "We have invited you here to talk a little about your school plans for the next few years."

"UND, that's obvious," said Billy.

"Why?" asked Larry. "Remember, Tim will be leaving."

"This is my school. I'm happy here. I like diving here. I like Larry. Where else would I go?"

Tim said, "How about Indiana? You like Coach Billings. It's the top school for swimming and diving. It's the best place for you to prepare for Munich and all levels of international competition."

Prexy spoke up. "Billy, we would be delighted if you were to stay at North Dakota. But we want you to do what's best for you, and we think that that may be elsewhere, at a major university - like Indiana. We think that you may be staying here out of loyalty to us, and while we appreciate and honor loyalty, our responsibility is to you. We want to encourage you to act in your own best interests as you plan the next three years."

His mom continued, "Billy, I could hardly believe it when I found out why we were invited here today. Everybody in this room loves you and really wants you to do what you think is best for your swimming career. That's really important to you, and you need to think about what is best."

Billy was quiet for a long time. He looked at Larry and asked, "What do you think, Coach? Tim certainly did well here. What about me?"

"Billy, I like to think I am a pretty good coach. But you know that I haven't taught Tim much. I'm not an experienced coach at your level of diving. You and Tim do dives that no diver has ever done before at UND. You need to expand your repertoire. I'm not sure I can give you the help you need."

Billy thought a long time, and nobody disturbed him.

Prexy said, "Billy, nobody is saying you have to make up your mind now. We are all here today to give you permission to go where you want next year. We know you are loyal to this school, but we want you to make your own decision, in your own time."

Billy seemed ready to speak. He had been sitting, but now he stood and faced us. We were seeing a thoughtful man, not a teenager, even though that was his chronological age. "Tim made it clear to me that one of the most important things that I would need to succeed as a diver was a good support system. Mom and Dad, you were wonderful when I was a high school diver, but this year that support system has shifted to Grand Forks. And you people have been wonderful. But Tim talks not of support, but of love and support. I got that from my parents and I get that here. Not just from Tim and Charlie, who I know will be leaving, but from virtually everyone here. Larry, Dr. Stevens, the team, teachers: I feel like I am in a cocoon of love here. I've talked to the IU divers. It is a very competitive environment. They don't love each other; they compete with each other. They are more likely to resent each other's successes than cheer them. I don't want to sell that program short. Coach Billings is great, and he taught me a lot during our time in Mexico. If I stay here I will have the same problem Tim had regarding technical coaching. He solved it; I can, too. But the pat on the back that I get as I start up the ladder, or the hug when I come out of the water I want to be Larry's. And the fact that you all put this meeting together, that you are willing to have gone so far out of the way for me this year and still would be comfortable with my going to Indiana next year.... My God, that just makes my point. I'll take the love and support from North Dakota, and I don't even have to think very hard about it."

I am not sure why he chose me, but as he ended his little speech he came over to where I was standing and sort of backed into me, leaning against me. I felt this really strong young man slowly melt into a little boy, and I put my arms around him. He had sounded strong and determined, but I could feel that the decision he had been forced to make had been wrenching. He was emotionally drained.

Larry came over to Billy and hugged him. "Thank you, Billy. Not for staying; I'm glad about that, but it isn't that important. But you have affirmed me as a coach in a way that most coaches never get in a lifetime. And, by God, the University of North Dakota is going to get you to Munich for the Olympic gold you deserve. And it doesn't matter whether Tim dives in Munich or not. You are going to be the best in the world!"

Martha said, "I don't care whether he gets gold, bronze, or nothing in Munich. I am convinced that this school is going to make a good man of my boy. I can't thank you all enough - and that goes for everyone in this room."

I think that the only two people in the room surprised by this turn of events were Prexy and Dr. Stevens. While it was their administrative leadership that encouraged the climate that Billy was talking about, I don't think that they really understood what they had accomplished. By encouraging the Larrys and the Tims of the world, they had created a campus climate to be envied in other places. Billy understood. So did Tim. So did I.

Prexy said, "One of the perks of being the President of this University is access, even at the last minute, to the private dining rooms on the second floor of the dining commons. You are all invited to join me for dinner to celebrate. Larry and Phil (Stevens), call and invite your wives, and Charlie why don't you invite your buddy Felix to come over and join us? My wife will join us as well."

The dinner was both delicious and unique. The Ag School down at North Dakota State was pushing North Dakota grown products, and had provided both the recipe and key ingredient of a cracked sunflower seed crusted chicken breast. The appetizer was little buffalo kebabs. Prexy noted the name of the room on the door, "President's Dining Room," saying, "Tim look around carefully, it's all going to be your domain someday - at least I know that's your plan, and I don't see any reason why it won't work out."

I said, "Just how are you going to answer that, Tim, boy?"

"I have to get my first job first. Then we can talk about a path to the top."

Prexy said, "Vice-President for Development. It's a position we need to add. You can have it in June if you want it. But, if you want to get to the top, you need to get a Ph.D. I doubt you'll learn anything on your way to a Ph.D. that will make you a better University President, but you have to have your ticket punched. No Ph.D., no President's Dining Room."

I said, "Prexy, Tim has to make a decision about graduate school next year. If we move to Washington, should he be looking at Georgetown or the University of Maryland? He is convinced that if he wants to be a public school administrator he should come from a public school."

"Ah, the old story. Prestige versus functionality. In Tim's case, the prestige doesn't make a bit of difference - Tim is a known quantity anywhere, and anyplace he looks for a job he is going to get it. Besides, people don't look at your Master's Degree, they look at your doctorate. Tim, where are you thinking of for a doctorate?"

"Charlie and I haven't even talked doctorate. But the finest public universities are in the Midwest with only one real exception - the University of California. I guess in the back of my mind I have been thinking of the northern tier of schools: Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota. Charlie, jump in here."

"I suppose that approximates my thinking. I think that the only one I would add to that would be Illinois. It's too early to even think much about it."

Prexy asked, "Tim, have you thought about coming back here for your doctorate?"

"Not really," said Tim. "It would be too much inbreeding. I think being an undergraduate alum with high quality outside graduate work is the perfect combination."

"Tim, how old were you when you decided that you wanted to become a University President? Be honest."

"I guess about 15. It was after I had met Charlie, though he wasn't the source of the idea. "

"What was?"

"I really don't know. It just slowly gelled as a idea."

"So when you went school hunting, you were really looking for a university that you thought you might like to be president of?" That was Dr. Stevens, who had been listening to the conversation with considerable fascination.

"Truth, now," said Felix.

"Truth?" asked Tim. "Yes."

"And what did we have to do to pass the test?" asked Prexy.

"Run a good school and accept Charlie." Tim hadn't hesitated an instant with that answer.

"Have you ever felt, even for a little bit, that you made a mistake on either of those issues?" asked Prexy.

"Never. It's a good school; you know what I think of it. And Charlie and I remain constantly amazed at the acceptance we have felt here. We'll admit that athletic stardom and Olympic medals certainly help the acceptance process, but there have to be basic good intentions underneath."

Dr. Stevens asked, "How, in the short time you visited here, did you conclude that this would be an accepting campus? Evidently it has been."

"We asked. And the consistent answer ran something like this, 'I don't know, we have had little or no experience with out, gay students on campus. But if I have anything to do with it, you'll be accepted.' Honesty counts. I would have been suspicious of answers that implied assurances or guarantees of acceptance. Nobody can promise that in any large institution today. You can only speak for yourself. But I sensed a genuine desire to make Charlie and me welcome, and not for our talents, but for ourselves. And that is what we've found for these four years."

The conversation turned to focus on Billy. He tried, perhaps in vain, to explain why he would rather be at the University of North Dakota and not Indiana University. The conversation moved on to the Munich Olympics, interest in Sara, and numerous other topics.

Mrs. Edison had been careful to see that she was seated between Tim and me. As the rest of the group focused on Billy, she turned to Tim and said, "Tim, I've heard so much about you, but the only times that I have met you were very formal occasions when I haven't had a chance to get to know you. Tell me all about yourself." She paused briefly and then continued, "And about this wonderful partner of yours."

Sometimes Tim outdoes himself, and this was one of those times. I am not sure how he had so accurately pegged his audience, but he had. He replied with, "I'm superman. The world's greatest diver, the world's greatest gymnast, the smartest student at UND, a fantastic circus performer, the only college fundraiser to grace the cover of Time, subject of five Sports Illustrated cover stories, scintillating conversationalist, and total con artist. I have a bridge I am willing to sell."

Mrs. Edison almost squealed she laughed so hard. Then she said, "No wonder the current president of this university is planning an early retirement; he doesn't want to compete with superman."

Then she looked at me and said, "You're next Charlie, how do you follow that?"

"I just remind everybody that he owes it all to me. I made him what he is. Oh, yes. He made me what I am as well."

Prexy turned and said, "And that isn't small potatoes: Olympic gold medalist, top in his law school class, future clerk to one of the supremes, future Dean of Law, and the partner of the sexiest kid in North Dakota!"

Now it was my turn to be flabbergasted. I was seeing a side of Prexy that I wasn't used to; perhaps the presence of his wife, a truly charming lady, brought out the fun in him. From the twinkles in both of their eyes I was pretty sure I was right.

Dinner and conversation continued until about 9:00 p.m. when Bill and Martha said that they had to be getting back to Fargo. That was everybody's cue to thank Prexy and head for home.

The Stevens, Knudsens, and Carsons headed for their cars and departed. Sara and Billy went off into a corner and had a brief conversation. The rest of us stood around in the lobby of the commons, each sort of waiting for the rest to make a move. Billy and Sara were the last to come downstairs, and when they joined us Billy said, "Sara and I would like to be together tonight. She signed out of the dorm. Can we find a place to sleep either at your house, Charlie, or at yours, Fred?"

Fred said, "You already have a place at my house. You live there, remember?"

"But I don't want to impose by bringing Sara. We've never really discussed that."

Before Fred could answer I spoke up, "Fred, you could come under some pretty serious criticism if you hosted these two and it became public. On the other hand, Tim and I are just students, and we can have visit who we like. After the events on American campuses in this decade, boys and girls sleeping together in our house isn't even going to raise an eyebrow."

Sara said, "Who said anything about sleeping together?"

Tim said, "Charlie did. And I am sure that both you and Billy thought about it. But I want to know whether you two still have your 'rule'."

"We do, and it isn't going to be broken tonight."

Fred looked a little perplexed, and Billy said, "Fred, I'll explain all of that at dinner tomorrow. It seems I am staying at Tim and Charlie's tonight."

Fred offered to drive us, but we choose to walk, even though it was pretty cold and windy out. I should say that Tim chose to walk; the rest of us just followed behind him. Felix was no dummy, and he accepted the ride from Fred, and the two of them headed for Fred's car.

Tim had on a light jacket; the rest of us had pretty warm coats. However, the sign that it was really cold was when Tim pulled a pair of earmuffs out of his jacket pocket! Sara asked, "Why are we walking? We were offered a ride, and it's really cold out here."

I said, "Tim always walks the four blocks to our house. I have never seen him accept a ride, even in pouring rain."

Tim said, "When it's really cold, or rainy, it gives me an excuse to take a nice hot shower when I get home. And if Charlie is along, we get to take a nice hot shower together. Tonight you and Billy can join us if you dare."

I said, "I think it might violate their rule."

 "The rule has slowly evolved from 'No peeking' to 'No touching.' I think we'll join you in the shower. I hear that you two have a most remarkable shower stall."

"How on earth did you hear about that?"

"I really don't remember. Billy has seen it. Hell, Charlie, I think everybody knows about it."

"I didn't realize. It's amazing the reputation you get without even knowing it."

"Everybody is interested in the two of you. Believe me, there isn't much that you do that isn't commented upon by somebody on campus."

About then we got to our house, and Tim led the way upstairs. He headed straight into our bedroom, stripped off his clothes, tossed them on the bed, and headed for the shower. I followed, leaving Billy and Sara standing in the bedroom, looking at each other, and wondering how far this was going. It wasn't long before the two of them, stark naked and holding hands, rather shyly came into the bathroom and approached the shower. The shower had plenty of room, and four wall-mounted shower heads. Tim and I were standing in front of the two mounted side by side, leaving the two facing each other for Billy and Sara.

Tim and I were able to stay soft, but just barely. We both concentrated on washing. Billy was hard, and a little embarrassed about it. We weren't clear whether Billy and Sara were seeing each other naked for the first time, but it was certainly arousing both of them. And realizing that soon aroused both Tim and me. Sara watched our masts rise with some interest, but she didn't say anything.

Billy finally burst. "I guess you can tell that this is a first time for us."

Sara was turning somewhat red. She said, "Three of you at once is more than I expected. The only man I have ever seen naked is my father, and that really wasn't sexy. This is different."

I said, "Tim and I are going to get out; I think we're clean. You and Billy can stay and get nice and clean, and warm, and maybe other things." Tim and I did leave. Not long after, Billy and Sara came out of the bathroom, wrapped in the big towels we had left for them. I said, "Just across the hall is a room with a queen size bed. Next to it is a room with twin beds. Take your pick."

They picked up their clothes and left, closing the door behind them, leaving us to speculate on which room they would choose. Both Tim and I agreed that they would head for the queen.

We were up ahead of them the next morning, and the open door on the two undisturbed twin beds told the story. Tim banged on their door, and barged in before they had a chance to react. They were sleeping peacefully in the queen bed, but sat up groggily. This exposed their naked torsos, but didn't tell the story about the bottom half. Billy looked at Tim and grinned. "I know what you're wondering. What do you think?"

Tim said, "I think you have briefs on, and Sara has panties." With that he jerked off the covers and proved himself to be correct.

I said, "They have been faithful to their rule."

Sara said, "But sleeping together last night was wonderful. Thank you for your hospitality and understanding."

Billy said, "I needed Sara last night. She assured me that I had made the right decision. I knew I had, but her confirmation was important."

I asked, "Sara, when you signed out of the dorm where did you say you were going?"

"Oh, you don't have to say. They gave up asking a couple of years ago. The sign out sheet is sort of a compromise. They really want to know who is not in, but they understood that they would only get cooperation if the blank for 'To?' was optional."

"It's a different world than just a few years ago when I was a freshman. Girls had hours, and you would have been expected in at ten last night. No exceptions."

"I think I like this world; but clearly some of the girls can't handle it. When they come in drunk at 1:30 a.m. on a school night, it's a little sad."

"Is that common?"

"For some it is regular. Most are pretty well-behaved."

I said, "Tim, are you sure you want to be a university administrator?"

"Yes, but not a Dean of Student Affairs. I'm not sure I could handle that."

Tim said, "Let's watch them get dressed, and then we'll all eat breakfast."

I said, "That won't be any fun, they don't have clean underwear, so they're just going to dress over what they have on."

"Damn. Let's go eat breakfast."

We did, and Billy and Sara soon joined us.

Tim's competitive sport was gymnastics. UND's team had now reached a level that they could compete as a team in small invitational meets in the area as well as regional meets. Tim dominated these, but knew that he needed a higher level competition to stay in form. In early March the University of Minnesota hosted a major invitational meet, and UND was invited. They had never been invited to participate at that level before, and they understood that the invitation came because Coach Burns and the University of Minnesota Athletic Department wanted the Olympic hero to perform. It was sure to sell a lot of extra tickets!

Tim and Frank got the team together and asked them whether they wanted to go. "You know, we can't compete in this league, and we are likely to come in dead last. Do we want that?"

Frank said, "Listen gang, it's up to you all. Tim is going to have plenty of opportunities at individual meets. This is a team affair. You will be on a national stage. Are you ready to deal with that?"

Mary Jo, one of the freshmen on the team, said, "Of course we want to go. The is an opportunity of a lifetime. And we need to perform well enough that they want us back next year, even without Tim."

Frank said, "I know Coach Burns at Minnesota. He's a good man. I'll tell him we'll come, if they promise to invite us back next year if we make a respectable showing this year. I think we're good enough to get an invitation every year."

The team realized that it ran a risk of being the joke of the meet. Tim was worried; Frank wasn't. Frank told Tim, "Look, this is the chance of a lifetime for these kids. And they owe it to you. They know UND would never have gotten this invitation without you. Hell, Tim, there wouldn't be a team here if it hadn't been for you. And you watch, this team is going to work it's butts off in the next two months. You just have to continue to be the role model that you've always been."

Tim was. He slacked off on his diving, and spent hours in the gym. The whole team did. Tim spent more time coaching than practicing. They used their available funds and brought in four visiting coaches in the two months before the meet - one was Coach Burns, who I think was a little surprised by the quality of the gymnastics he saw on his visit.

The big weekend came, and everyone bundled into a bus. I came along, as well as a couple of boyfriends and girlfriends of others on the team. That was unusual, but Frank ran an unusual ship. At UND Dr. Stephens and Prexy encouraged that.

Again, reality has to take its place in this story. The UND team did not burn up the mats. But a couple of our Sophomores - our best group - got medals, and not one team member came in dead last in any event. Coach Burns was mightily impressed. To do that well in our first major meet was totally unexpected. The team got an invitation for the next year on the spot.

Tim dominated the whole meet. Gold in every event except parallel bars, and silver in that. Best all around. It was exactly what would have been expected if he had sustained the level that he had in Mexico. And clearly he had. Considering everything else on his plate, and that a major portion of his practice time in the last two months had been spent coaching the rest of the team, it was quite spectacular that he was holding his edge. I think he made up his mind right then that we would head for Munich - though he didn't admit it, even to himself, for over a year.

There were 32 teams at the meet, and UND came in 17th, mainly on the strength of Tim's performance, but well supported by the quite satisfactory job done by the whole team. There were 15 teams pretty pissed to be beaten by a nobody team.

Mom and Dad were in attendance, and really enjoyed being the proud parents of Mr. SuperGymnast. Saturday evening they invited everybody to their house for dinner. It was crowded, and there wasn't room to get everybody comfortably around the table, but we all squeezed in and enjoyed wonderful prime rib. Mom had cooked a full seven rib roast in her oven, and another in the oven of a next door neighbor. We ate like kings.

Everyone was delighted to have a chance to see where Tim had grown up. Norman and Betsy were always wonderful hosts, and this evening was no exception. The bus took everyone back to the motel where the team was staying, except that Tim and I stayed with Mom and Dad. The only sad moment came when Tim noticed that the one other gay member of the team - known only to Tim, me, and the Thursday night crowd, and not to any of those present - was almost in tears when he saw how accepting Norman and Betsy were of Tim and me. He almost lost it when he heard me calling them Mom and Dad.

Frank had agreed to allow the five boy/girlfriends along on condition that there were no boy/girl sleeping arrangements. That got a protest, but Frank was adamant. "Look, I know the world is getting pretty accepting. But we can't afford any controversy around this team. We raise our own funds, and we struggle for invitations to meets. Just letting extras come along has been criticized. If it gets out that you are sleeping together, we could be cooked. So if you are inviting friends, you know the rules. And I want everyone's word that the rules will be obeyed.

One wag raised an obvious question, "What about Tim and Charlie?"

Tim shut him up with, "In almost every way gays are disadvantaged. But in choosing roommates, we get away with a lot. And nobody better try to screw up the deal." No one did.

Sunday morning we all visited John at the St. Paul Gymnastics Club. In fact, we worked out for about an hour, so that John could see how good Frank's bunch had become. Tim was delighted to have the time with John. John got out the balance beam and told Tim to show off. Over the four years at UND Tim had less and less time for the beam, but he had never given it up entirely. However, only a few of the team knew how good he could be on it. At John's urging he gave a remarkable performance. I would never tire of watching him perform.

On the bus trip home, Tim turned to me and said, "There is only one thing missing to make this trip a complete success."

"What's that?"

"A bedroom in the back of the bus!"

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