Dinner with Alice Roosevelt Longworth was the most preposterous affair Tim and I'd ever been to. We arrived with Sherm, Thelma, and Chrissy at precisely seven, in a rented Cadillac. (Chrissy had said, "You simply don't go to Alice's in any other kind of car," and then paid for the rental.) We were met by a butler and escorted into the drawing room where we met Alice Longworth ("Oh, you simply must call me Alice.")
She blew Chrissy away by talking about his parents as if they were old friends ("As far as I know they've never met.") and she mentioned legal work done by his father's law firm for Teddy Roosevelt decades before. It was a remarkable performance.
She knew more about Tim and me than we did ourselves. God knows how much reading she'd done that afternoon, but between the Time and Sports Illustrated articles we didn't have many secrets. She actually seemed more interested in my archery than in Tim's gymnastics and diving.
When settled in the drawing room we were offered all kinds of drinks; Tim and I had been advised that the most socially acceptable non-alcoholic drink was tea. We asked for tea. It was served very quickly from an unbelievable silver tea service that looked like it might have been made by Paul Revere just for the Roosevelts, even if the dates didn't work! The rest had wine, served with ceremony equal to that for the tea. There was shrimp and ramaki - ramaki is chicken liver and a water chestnut wrapped in a piece of bacon and cooked in the oven - wonderful. I think that Mrs. Longworth - it took a while to get used to Alice - was surprised and possibly a little disappointed that Tim and I were familiar with ramaki.
With the drinks the conversation changed. Alice focused on Tim. From Camp White Elk, to gymnastics, to diving, to the University of North Dakota, few parts of his life were left unexamined - all in the most pleasant and cheerful manner. Alice seemed to be driven more by interest in Tim than in a desire to ferret out information. But her previous confession that in her world information was the coin of the realm, led us to believe that while she might be genuinely interested in us, filing away information was never far from her mind.
Before long a butler came and signaled to Mrs. Longworth, who nodded and then invited us all into dinner. The table, set perfectly for six, looked like a picture out of a fancy homemaking magazine. On each side of the plate (we never used it, and Thelma later referred to it as a service plate) were enough knives, forks, and spoons to serve the whole dining room at Camp White Elk. We knew the protocol, and simply used the utensil on the outside, watching carefully to make sure that the other guests were doing the same - though I didn't think that any one of them was a lot more experienced with this sort of dining than Tim and I were.
After the soup, while we were eating little trout fillets, Alice looked first at me and then at Tim and said, "OK, let's get down to business. Thelma and Sherm have probably warned you that I can be pretty blunt and straightforward. You're here to talk about a party to introduce you to Washington society. Thelma either thinks (a) I'd like to give such a party and she's doing me a favor, or (b) that you'd enjoy being toasted by the hostess with the mostess in Washington. Am I right? And which is it?"
Thelma said, "Alice, that's not fair to the boys."
"OK, you tell me which it is."
Tim spoke up, "I think it's fair for Charlie or me to answer. And the answer is, honestly, both."
Chrissy spoke up, "Mrs. Longworth...."
"Alice, we've warned these boys about the Washington party circuit. It can be a brutal game, but these two play games like this like masters."
"Lyndon's already learned that."
That floored us. How on earth did Alice Roosevelt Longworth know about our connection with Lyndon Johnson?
"Got you there, didn't I? Just remember, you're playing with the master game player. Information is the prize, and I gather and store it more effectively than the CIA - they're amateurs."
The source of her knowledge of our connection with LBJ was never revealed. I suspect that she took a stab in the dark and called him up, but I'll never know. Sherm, Thelma, and Chrissy all swore that Alice didn't learn it from them.
As the fish plates were removed and a very exotic salad was brought in, Alice continued, "Let's not beat around the bush. You two are gay. That adds an interesting new dimension to the problems of a party hostess. There're no protocols - and nothing happens in Washington without protocols. Prejudice against queers is going to be much less of a problem for you two, than poor hostesses trying to figure out how to handle two extra men every time you're invited. There's no precedent, no protocol."
Thelma said, "So you're going to have to make one up."
"That's the project for the evening." She turned to us, "I suspect that you two are used to having to deal with issues like this. You had to plan a coming out, a wedding or commitment service, perhaps a senior prom?"
"Ma'am, you're good," said Tim. "We've dealt with all of those. Successfully."
"Good. Now, at Washington parties two men are never seated together, so don't expect to be. However, there's no discrimination, as couples are rarely seated together. How to find two extra women is the hostess' problem. The widows of Washington are going to welcome you two, as two of them are going to get invitations every time you two do. Dancing. Do you two dance together?"
"It's a problem we haven't solved. We'd like to, but we really object to dancing like a straight couple with one of us taking the female role. Neither of us is a woman and we don't play that role. The arrival of the twist has solved our problem. There are no male-female roles when Chubby Checker does the twist, or when anybody does it for that matter."
"I'm not sure that Washington society is ready for the twist dance."
"If they don't learn soon, the world will pass them by. Get the right band for your party and it'll be a sensation."
"The right band would be Chubby Checker's wouldn't it?"
"I can't believe the direction my mind's going in."
"I can imagine. It sounds like fun. And from what I have read about you, Alice, you like turning Washington society on its head - done with all the correct decorum."
Thelma said, "You have her number, Tim."
Alice continued, "OK, the party will take care of itself. Now I'd like to be seen with Tim and Charlie. We have to get people talking and speculating. Then when the party invitations hit, there'll be an immediate reaction. Boys, we must go to lunch this week. Halversham's, of course. The two of you, me, and we have to have one additional woman. It won't do to have Thelma: Charlie you can't be escorting your boss's wife to lunch. I think I'll ask Sally. She'll be eager enough."
"Sally?" I asked.
Sherm said, "The wife of the Chief Justice."
"As in Supreme Court Chief Justice?"
"There's only one Chief Justice. The head of our court is the Chief Judge."
"That's what I thought."
Alice continued, "It's a good pairing. Charlie you work in the judiciary, if you're going to be seen at lunch with me, who better to be seen with than the wife of the Chief Justice. Tongues will waggle."
Sherm said, "And that's exactly what you want, isn't it?"
"Exactly. Never forget the game. Always pass Go, always collect the $200."
"You won't eat at Halversham's for $200."
"I'm going to call Sally, but first I have to call Halversham's and get a reservation."
She was gone for seven minutes, during which time the salad plates were removed and very small puff pastries served. Those empty plates were being removed upon her return. "It's all set, we'll pick up Sally at noon on Friday, and go straight to the restaurant. We'll have you two back wherever you're going by two-thirty."
Tim and I had met our match. We were both in awe of this woman.
Alice then asked, "Where are you two going to be living in Washington?"
I said, "We haven't the slightest idea. We started this morning looking for apartments, but haven't gotten very far. Since we're only going to be here two years we don't want to buy, and we couldn't afford it anyway. To the extent we have accumulated any capital, it's tied up in our house in Grand Forks, which we're keeping."
A beautiful rib roast was wheeled in on a cart, and the butler proceeded to slice it and serve each of us: beef, some kind of fancy cheesy potatoes and asparagus. We were asked if we liked it rare, and we assured him that we did. It was sliced very thin, very rare, and piled high. No king ever ate better. Thelma was served first, then Alice, then me, then Tim, then Sherm, then Chrissy. The pecking order was immutable, but not explained until Thelma spoke in the car afterwards. Various rules applied: Women first. Honored guests second (Tim and me), me ahead of Tim because I worked for Sherm and it was assumed that protocol would equate partners with spouses, Sherm before Chrissy on the basis of the rank of their jobs. At most parties, the difficult thing was ranking various jobs. There was, we were assured, a Blue Book that provided the answers.
Alice mused, "A place to live. I wonder...." She picked up a little bell at her place and rang it. The butler appeared immediately. "Warren."
"The Winston House in Georgetown is vacant, isn't it?"
"Yes, ma'am. The Austin George's left about two weeks ago."
"Any scheduled users that you know of?"
"The Smiths like to use it most summers for a couple of weeks. That's all I'm aware of."
Warren left, soon to reappear with dessert.
Alice said, "Why don't the two of you live in Winston House this year? It can probably be worked out for two years, but I can't promise past next June at this time."
Thelma said, "Winston House! That's a delightful place. One of those skinny Georgetown townhouses. It'll take getting used to. But a lovely location. You can't be serious, Alice."
"Of course I am, and you know it. You probably put these kids up to talking about house hunting." She turned to me, "I'm right, am I not? Nothing gets by me."
Thelma saved me embarrassment. "Of course, you're right. I knew you'd want the opportunity."
I said, "I do have to point out that it was you, Alice, that first mentioned house hunting. It wasn't unexpected; we'd been advised to mention our apartment hunting this morning. We certainly didn't expect any kind of offer like this. It's incredibly generous, but we can't accept. Despite a wonderful meal and evening, we're really strangers. We can't simply move into your house for a year."
"Fred Milson warned me that you'd say that."
I was completely taken aback. "Fred Milson? How do you know Fred Milson?"
"I told you, information is the coin of the realm. I'm better than the CIA. Fred told me to tell you that angels in Washington are the same as angels in North Dakota: they're terribly hurt when their generosity is refused. And just like you and Tim, I don't say things, and don't make offers, that I don't mean."
Tim had been visibly shaken by the mention of Fred's name. We had no idea how she'd connected with him, but she certainly had delivered exactly the message that he would have delivered. Tim said, "I'll speak for Charlie, because I think he's lost his voice. I have barely recovered mine. We accept. We will be utterly delighted to live in Winston House. And I can promise you that it'll be in as good or better condition when we leave as it is when we arrive."
"Good. I'm glad that's settled. Now there are two ground rules that we must clearly understand - both sides. First, living at Winston House gives you no special entrees here. I'm far too busy to become a surrogate parent to two young men new to Washington. You'll have to find your own way. Second, living at Winston House puts you under no special obligations to me. You're going to be far too busy at school and jobs to be concerned about an old lady who's old enough to be your grandmother. I hope that we have a chance to get to know each other better, we'll see. But no special relationship is implied by the fact that you're my guest at Winston House.
"And a word of warning. It would be considered gauche for you to talk about living in 'Winston House.' And only outsiders and social climbers talk about their townhouses or their Georgetown Houses. Simply call it your home or house in the District, and use its address: 3030 Dumbarton Street. Real Washingtonians will either be impressed or won't believe you. It doesn't really matter which." She knew her city, and its citizens - at least the upper crust of them.
The dinner was drawing to a close. We had "retired to the library" (honest, those were exactly the words used) for brandy (Tim and I sipped ever so slowly and left most) and exquisite chocolates. Alice asked, "Do you two young men mind if an old lady calls you 'boys'?"
I looked at Tim and he looked back and started giggling. He said, "We love it. We've talked about whether we're boys or men, and we both think that we like it on the boy side of the dividing line."
"Good, at my age there's no question that you still look like boys. You don't look at all like the men around the city, most of whom are fifty-plus. I guess the forties are here, but they don't make it into my circle. You can't believe what a welcome change you boys are. It's just that most boys are far older than you two before they make it to the cover of Time magazine. Tim, you are remarkable: a top college fundraiser while still a teenager! Oh, I'm going to have so much fun introducing you to Washington. And both of you are clearly going to play the game so well."
"And enjoy it," put in Tim.
An unexpectedly pleasurable evening came to a fairly early end. What had promised to be a fairly dull and stuffy affair had turned out to be almost exciting, and our acquiring unimaginably good housing for the year was simply icing on the cake.
Well, not exactly. The icing on the cake came at Chrissy's afterwards. The rented car took us back to Sherm and Thelma's, where the rental agency would pick it up in the morning. From there we drove in Chrissy's car to his apartment in the District.
It was small, but nicely furnished. Certainly adequate for a single man who'd be living in Washington for only one year. The bedroom had a double bed, which was neatly made. The second bedroom in the apartment was furnished as a study. Papers everywhere, but otherwise quite neat. Lots of books displaying a broad set of interests, with emphasis on history. As we stood looking at his books he came up behind us and said, "I can't believe that Charlie and Tim, famous Olympians, just plain famous people, the most prominent gay couple in America right now, are in my apartment and are expecting to spend the night. In my bed.
His pants were tenting; he was obviously hard as a rock. "Down boy," said Tim, pressing on his fly.
"Has Sherm ever been in your apartment?" I asked.
"A couple of times. He's picked me up for a couple of trips, and one evening he came over to work on an opinion. We'd have worked at his house but his study was being redecorated."
"Then he knows that the only bed here is your double bed?"
"I assume so."
"And he suggested that we'd enjoy being your houseguests?"
"I'd asked him earlier if I could entertain you one evening."
"Does he know that we had sex the evening of my visit?"
"Yes. He asked me specifically the next morning. He'd already hired you, so I wasn't worried that an honest answer would affect your getting the job. He thanked me for my honesty and assured me that he considered it a totally private matter between you and me. He did ask if Tim was aware of what was going on, and I told him that you'd told me Tim knew about it."
"Quite a guy. It's going to be an interesting year."
Tim asked, "What're you going to do next year, Chrissy?"
"Head back to Boston. Look for a job in one of the top law firms. It's a family tradition."
"I thought your father was the managing partner of one of the biggies."
"He is, but the family tradition is no nepotism. My father's the third generation of leading Boston lawyers, and each was a partner in a different firm. For about a year all three generations were competing with each other."
Tim continued with his questions. "What about your sex life? Are you condemned to the closet for the rest of your life?"
"I'm afraid so. I'll get married. I told Charlie that it was my dream to find a lesbian that was looking for cover as well. But I doubt that'll happen. I'll marry a nice girl, have kids, lead a frustrating sex life, and die sexually unfulfilled, like a huge number of gays ahead of me."
I said, "It's no way to live. I couldn't do it. It isn't fair to the girl. Aren't there alternatives for you."
"My father would disown me if I came out, not so much because of what he thinks of homosexuality, but for the damage to the family reputation. I'd never get a decent law position in Boston. It would end my life as I know it."
Tim said, "It might begin your life as you ought to know it."
I said, "Have you thought of San Francisco, New York? Almost any big city is beginning to have a solid, out gay community. There's plenty of room for a good gay lawyer. You wouldn't make the kind of money that you'll make in Boston, but do you really care?"
"I couldn't do that to my father."
"But look what he's doing to you. Of course, he doesn't know it, but do you think it would change if he did know it?"
"I doubt it."
"Why don't you come out to your father, very privately? See what his reaction is. If he's in no way supportive, why would you worry about being supportive of him? And he might fool you."
We fell silent. Tim and I realized that we had pushed Chrissy pretty hard. A quick glance showed that his dick was now soft. We wondered if we'd killed his desire for the evening.
Then Chrissy said, "I have been dreaming of this evening ever since our night together, Charlie. Please, Tim, may I undress you?"
"Of course, where do you want me?"
"Right here in front of me."
Tim walked over, and Chrissy very slowly, very sensuously undressed him. When he was nude, Tim said, "Help me out here, Charlie." We both undressed Chrissy the same way."
Chrissy said, "I know that you two won't fuck me or let me fuck you. I'm not sure that I'm ready for that anyway. But could I watch you two fuck?"
Tim said, "Sure. Charlie, do you want to be the fucker or the fuckee?"
I replied, "Tonight I think I'd rather be the fuckee."
"Then get up here on the bed, on your back, legs in the air. Come here, Chrissy, and help me get him ready."
"I'm just slightly inexperienced."
"We all started out that way. And Charlie and I don't fuck very often, so we aren't exactly the most experienced pair on earth."
"Do you have lubricant?" Tim asked.
"Yes, I have a tube of KY that I bought to have for tonight. I thought someone might need it."
Soon my ass was well lubricated with the stuff. Tim was slipping his middle finger inside, feeling for my prostate. His short fingers didn't make for the easiest exploration of an anal cavity. Tim put some lube on Chrissy's fingers and got him probing. His long fingers hit pay dirt rather quickly. My body language showed it, too.
I think that Chrissy would've liked nothing better than to be the fucker that evening, but he respected the understanding that Tim and I had, and never even hinted at the idea. Tim did, indeed, carry out his mission, and it did, indeed, feel wonderful. At that point the night degenerated into a free for all, and I couldn't tell you who did what to whom, but mouths, tongues, penises, and fingers were well exercised. We awoke the next morning with Tim and me spooned together and Chrissy lying beside us, arms and legs at odd angles. Tim and I seemed to manage to spoon together even when we were asleep.
It was now Tuesday and our original plans were to spend Tuesday and Wednesday feverishly looking for housing and then head home on Thursday. The evening before had destroyed those plans: we didn't have to do any searching for housing and we were now staying at least until Friday afternoon, to allow for Alice Longworth's lunch at Halversham's. Halversham's? What was that? Tim had no more idea than I did. Chrissy had already left for the court, so we were on our own, with no one to ask about Halversham's. So we decided to have lunch there, if by any chance we could get in without a reservation. We did find it in the telephone book. It wasn't listed under restaurants in the Yellow Pages, but we did find it with a tiny listing in the white pages. It was in Georgetown, a walkable distance from Chrissy's apartment. So we put on coats and ties and set out for a nice walk in Georgetown, planning to end at Halversham's for lunch if that was feasible. They I remembered Sherm's comment that $200 wouldn't pay the bill for four for lunch at Halversham's. "Tim, what're we getting ourselves in for? After all, we're going to eat there on Friday."
Tim sort of shrugged his shoulders and said, "Charlie, we put on these ties for something. We have that much money if we have to pay it. Let's go. We'll just be innocents in Washington."
We spent well over an hour walking slowly to and around Georgetown. It was inevitable that our feet would carry us by 3030 Dumbarton Street. It was four stories high, with a basement below. You went up five steps to the front door, which was massive and make of oak. The door was to the side of the front of the house, and there were three narrow windows in the center of the wall. The house appeared to be about 16 feet wide, not any kind of record for Georgetown (that was around the corner and 11 feet wide) but it would make for unusual living. We couldn't tell much more about the house from the outside, except that it was obviously superbly maintained.
Our walk ended at Halversham's at about 12:30. Halversham's had none of the markings of a commercial establishment. There was a small brass plaque next to the door which said, "D. Halversham, estd. 1872." With some hesitation, we walked into what was obviously an historic townhouse, and were greeted by a lovely fire in a fireplace, eight tables for four, six or eight, almost as many waiters, gorgeous antiques around the edges of the room, and a maitre d' behind a small podium who looked like his sole purpose in life was to keep out riffraff such as us. He looked up, and seemed puzzled; clearly people without reservations did not come to Halversham's. In fact, we were to learn later, people unknown to Halversham did not come to Halversham's. After just a moment something clicked for the maitre d'. He smiled, walked out from behind his podium and crossed the little foyer to where we were standing just inside the door. In as smooth and gentle a voice as could be heard anywhere in the District of Columbia, he said, "Mr. Tim and Mr. Charlie." It was a statement not a question. "Welcome to Halversham's. We're delighted to have you." Before either of us could say anything about not having a reservation, he continued, "I'm delighted that we have an empty table at the one o'clock lunch seating. I trust you can stay. Let me show you to the bar where you can wait."
We were ushered into a beautifully appointed bar in the next room. There might have been 25 people, seated at little tables or around the bar. All were clearly waiting for the one o'clock seating. The bar was well stocked, and people were drinking wine and mixed drinks. No beer was in evidence. Nor was there any sign of bar tabs, cash drawer or cash register. Drinks were offered and received seemingly with no record being kept. Tim and I ordered Cokes, and were quickly served Cokes from bottles poured into crystal glasses. There were very light hors d'oeuvres on the bar and a side table, and Tim and I helped ourselves - clearly what was expected. Soon the maitre d' returned, took us in hand and led us around the room introducing us. We met two senators, three judges, a cabinet secretary, the president of Georgetown University and a number of men and women whose names were unfamiliar, even though they were introduced as if everyone in the world would know who they were. Clearly the world we'd just walked into wasn't the world in which we had awakened that morning. We were introduced as Mr. Tim, winning gold medalist in both diving and gymnastics in the recent Olympics, and I as Mr. Charlie winner of the archery gold medal, attorney, and soon to be clerk for Justice Wilcox. Where he got all that information in just a few minutes was beyond me.
Just at one we were invited into the dining room again. The tables had been rearranged to match the guests for this seating. A table for two had been set rather central in the room, and that's where we were seated. In the middle of each place setting there was a nicely printed white card which simply listed five main dishes. It was in French, which neither Tim nor I were familiar with. I recognized veau as veal and suggested to Tim that we try that. Very quickly our waiter arrived and assured us that the veal was an excellent suggestion. We ordered iced tea to drink and that was it. The meal started to arrive immediately, beginning with a cream of celery soup, spinach salad, veal over wild rice in a light cream sauce with a most unusual hot, crispy green leafy vegetable on the side, and a dessert tray to die for. At the other tables wine was served with each course, but we had declined that and it wasn't pushed upon us at all. Chocolates and mints were offered at precisely 1:50 and it was very clear that lingering wasn't part of the plan of the day at Halversham's. We were told by another diner as we left that there were three lunch servings, eleven, twelve and one, each weekday, and that the precise schedule was needed to accomplish this. The maitre d' was effusive with his thanks to us for dining with them. As we left he said, "I'm looking forward to seeing you again on Friday." Nothing was ever said, from that day to this, about paying for the meal!
We had a free afternoon in Washington and we acted like typical tourists and headed for the Mall and the Smithsonian.
The one thing that I wanted to see at the Smithsonian was The Spirit of St. Louis - Charles Lindbergh's plane. Tim was just generally curious, and wanted to see everything, or at least as much as possible. My second interest was the Franklin Roosevelt stamp collection - what other stamp collector had been able to get special stamps made for his collection? So off we went to find the plane and the stamps. The Spirit of St. Louis was still in the old Arts and Industries Building, though much of the collection in that building - including the Roosevelt stamps - had been moved to the new Museum of American History. But there it was, hanging from the ceiling in the main gallery, right behind the Wright flyer. Wow, seeing the plane, imagining flying alone across the Atlantic at night in the thing. It could knock your socks off. Tim was impressed as well, but not nearly the way I was. From there we went to the old temporary building behind the Arts and Industries Building and the Castle. Left over from one of the World Wars, it housed a huge collection of old airplanes, some of which would reside in the new Air and Space Museum in a few years. Then across the Mall to the new American History Museum with the Roosevelt stamps and the Star Spangled Banner. The flag was so huge it's hard to imagine it hanging on a flagpole! The stamps were something: whole sheets of many, many United States stamps that most collectors would be glad to have singles of. Then the National Parks series of unperforated stamps. These had been presented to Roosevelt by Charles Farley his Postmaster General, but when the other stamp collectors learned that Roosevelt had stamps that the general public couldn't buy, they had to be made available for purchase. So all stamp collectors had rushed out and bought the unperforated versions of the parks stamps! I'd read the story, and was eager to see the actual stamps. Of course, you couldn't tell now that Roosevelt's stamps had been in his collection before the same stamps became a public issue. But if you knew the story, you knew.
Tim wanted to see the elephant in the Museum of Natural History, so we made a quick tour there. For this first visit we skipped the art museums, and so ended our day.
That evening we had a quiet dinner at home with the Wilcoxes. Sherm asked about the North Dakota bar exam: whether I expected it to be a problem, and when I would take it. The answers were "No" and "Late June".
Tim chimed in with, "Sherm, when do you want Charlie here in Washington?"
"The position begins on October 1. Chrissy's position ends the day before. I'd really appreciate it if you could arrive about a week early, and Chrissy's already agreed to stay a week late. I can't pay you for that week, and I can't require you to be there, but it'll make the transition a lot smoother. I'll try to make the time up to you during the year. But things can be hectic around here, so I can't promise."
I said, "No problem, Sherm. Tim and I will head to Washington in time for me to be ready to work the last week of September. I'm sure that Alice is planning to make Winston House available by then, but Tim and I will have to talk to her about that; I guess on Friday."
Tim said, "So that means from the day you take - and pass - the bar exam until the middle of September, we have no obligations. We will have graduated; your job with the Red Cross will have ended; there're no Olympics. What will we do with ourselves?"
I looked at Tim and then turned to Sherm and Thelma, "He's about to tell us."
Tim wasn't fazed. "The only athletic event that interests me this summer is the European Gymnastics Meet in Munich the second week in August. Since that's the site of the next Olympics I think it'd be interesting to compete there."
I said, "Go on. I'm sure there's more coming."
He continued, "Let's spend the entire summer in Europe - be the typical tourists."
"It'll be hard to keep up your gymnastics practice while you travel around Europe. And you're talking about very top level competition in Munich."
"We'll schedule the trip to be in Munich the week before the meet. I can get back into form in a week after having been away just over a month."
Tim continued, "I have dreamed of traveling to Europe with you ever since you told me about the trip you took in 1959. But the idea of going this summer came to me at dinner - as I mentioned the meet in Munich. Honest, Charlie. If I'd thought of it earlier I'd have talked about it. You know I can't keep secrets like that. The idea's too exciting."
He was lying about not being able to keep secrets, and he knew it. But I didn't think he was lying about when he'd gotten the idea of going to Europe. It was very typical of his thought processes. And, of course, now that he had laid it out, it was a done deal - as soon as I said, "Yes." He would have accepted a "No" without outward disappointment. But Tim's charm was his movement from one high to the next, each one higher. A "No" here would have set him back. I loved him too much for that. Besides, Europe sounded like a blast.
I said, "I flew over on Icelandic Airlines. I think that's still the cheapest way to get there. While there, a Eurailpass is the best way to get around. We have both been to England, so I suggest that we stick to the Continent. Let's fly over right after the bar exam. After the exam, we'll drive to Minneapolis, spend the night with your folks, and fly to New York the next day to board Icelandic that night."
Tim said, "Great. The only reservations that we'll need are the flights. Let's head to the airline office tomorrow and set it up."
Thelma's head had been turning to look at first one and then the other of us, as the conversation moved back and forth. She looked like she was going to burst. Finally she did, saying, "Am I to understand that when you sat down to dinner neither one of you had thought about going to Europe this summer, and in the space of five minutes have made up your minds and are going to buy tickets tomorrow?"
Tim started giggling. "I had thought about the meet in Munich. But, yes, you're right, this is the first either of us has thought about traveling in Europe this summer. Sometimes we plan ahead a little more than this. But this is real advance planning compared to some of our adventures. But I think Europe for the summer is now a settled matter. I think our parents may be surprised."
"Yours won't be. My mother's still getting used to this kind of thing."
Tim said, "I'm glad that Billy planned his wedding so close to graduation, it won't conflict with the trip."
Sherm said, "You two are going to take some getting used to."
I said, "I think you'll find us exciting. And we're going to find Washington exciting."
Thelma said, "You took a trip to Europe in 1959, Charlie?"
"Yes. For about two months in the spring. Mostly Northern Europe. It was a life-changing experience."
"You know, it's going to be different this time."
"Well, it's gotten a lot more expensive since then, but it's still cheap by American standards. But you and Tim, especially Tim, are known on a world stage. You'll be recognized. You are celebrities. That changes things."
"I suppose it will. Well, we can't, or won't, travel in disguise."
Sherm said, "I can just see hotel check-in. 'Name?' 'Tim.' 'Full name?'
'Tim. Here look at my passport.' 'Oh, my goodness, THE Tim.'"
"Yeah, I guess," said Tim.
Thelma put in, "Then it's deluxe rooms, autograph signing, photographs, complimentary meals. There's no way you're going to be typical tourists."
Tim said, "In some ways that'll be fun. In other ways it'll be dreadful. Whatever will be, will be. We can't change who we are."
"Thelma and I want to hear all about it in October. Plan on dinner."
"OK," I said. "But at our house. You're the first guests we'll entertain."
Wednesday and Thursday were a whirlwind. Tickets, a visit to the court, introductions to the other clerks, embarrassed requests for autographs, delighted clerks who were given copies of Tim's card - which now had a replica of an Olympic gold medal in the corner (a gift from a card company). Despite their protests, we took Thelma, Sherm and Chrissy out to a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown on Thursday evening.
Friday was the big day. We got a telephone call in the morning from Warren, Alice's butler. The car would pick us up at ten in the morning. We would visit Winston House, and then pick up Mrs. Clark and proceed on to Halversham's to arrive about 12:15. Would that be all right? Indeed it would.
We were ready at ten, and the car - a Cadillac Limo - arrived about one minute before ten. The chauffeur held the door for us and we got in. I noticed that Warren was riding with the chauffeur in the front seat. Alice was already in the limo. She greeted us warmly. As we rode the short distance to 3030 Dumbarton she asked when we'd like to move into the house. It could be available now, but if we didn't need it until fall, the Smiths would like to use it for about two weeks in July.
Our plans for moving in during the third week of September were perfectly OK with her. We arrived at the house and this time Warren held the car door, and accompanied all three of us into the house, unlocking the door to allow us to enter. Alice looked around as if seeing the place for the first time. She spoke to Warren, "Warren it's perfect. Thank you."
"Yes, ma'am. It seemed appropriate. Most of this is from storage, but some is from the summer house."
Alice looked at us and said, "The house was filled with the most awful antiques - the same period as the house - early Nineteenth Century. Simply not fit for young men. You'd be constantly worried about breaking them, even if you liked them. Most were terribly uncomfortable. I was glad to have an excuse to change them. The Smiths will be delighted; they have two children."
I said, "You changed all the furniture? For us? That wasn't necessary."
"Necessary? Of course not. But it needed doing. Warren's terribly good at this sort of thing, and it kept him out of trouble the last couple of days."
The furniture was solid, contemporary and completely down to earth American. No Frank Lloyd Wright, Eames, or Scandinavian influence. It would suit us perfectly.
Warren said, "We put a king size bed in the master bedroom on the third floor. There was a double, but we thought you two might like a larger bed. We couldn't get a queen up the stairs, but you can actually get the three pieces of a king into places you can't get the two pieces of a queen. With the house only 15 feet 9 inces wide - inside it's less than 15 feet. It makes the master bedroom pretty crowded. I hope it's the right choice for you."
"Absolutely," I said. "We'll take a king in a crowded room any day."
Alice said, "Warren, show them the house. I'm going to sit here rather than climb all the stairs."
"Here was the living room divided into a front and back half, both furnished in the same style. There was a sofa in the front and a game table for four in the back half. The stairs were ahead as you came in the front door. There was a tiny guest bath - basin and toilet only - in the back corner - obviously added recently. The second floor contained a magnificent dining room, with a table for 12. It and the kitchen - to the rear - filled the entire floor. The kitchen looked like the 1930's, but the appliances had been upgraded, and included a dishwasher - thank goodness. The next floor up was the master bedroom and bathroom - the entire floor. The bathroom was in the rear. In fact all of the water ran up the back of the house, so the guest powder room was under the kitchen, under the master bath, under the guest bath. This created a problem on the fourth floor, which held two bedrooms. The rear bedroom had its own bath, the front bedroom did not. The occupants of the front bedroom had to go through the rear bedroom, the master bedroom, or down to the powder room on the first floor. For this reason, that room was made up as a sitting room, rather than a bedroom. It contained a nice desk, as did the master bedroom. It was move-in ready for us. All we needed were our clothes. Warren showed us completely furnished linen closets, dish cupboards, utility closets, the works. The basement was unfinished, with extensive storage - much of it locked - and utilities. The laundry was in the basement as well.
It took our breath away. We could no more have afforded to live in a place like this than we could have afforded the first Pam Am flight to the moon. We returned to the living room and Alice. She said, "I trust you like it. If anything needs adjusting, just talk to Warren. He's Mr. Make Things Right, and is wonderful at it. Later at lunch she told us that we had to find something for Warren to fix or change about the house at least once a month. It kept him busy, but also he loved the house and would like an excuse to visit and putter every once in a while.
We left to pick up Sally Clark, and then proceeded to Halverstam's. Mrs. Clark was very gracious and pleased to meet us, or so she assured us. She asked Alice, "What do they call you, Alice?"
"Alice. And they're Tim and Charlie."
"Please call me Sally, gentlemen."
Alice said, "I'm afraid that I think of them as boys rather than gentlemen. They could be my grandchildren."
"Alice, I'm sorry dear, but these boys could be your greatgrandchildren."
"Hush, Sally. We don't think about things like that."
"You don't. I have a touch of reality."
"Don't tell these boys. There's nothing even slightly realistic about either of them. Preposterous is a better term."
In Halversham's bar Alice and Sally knew everybody, talked to everybody, introduced us to everybody, and saw to it that everybody would be talking about who was dining with Alice Roosevelt Longworth that day - and she didn't have Mrs. Chief Justice in mind. It was quite a performance, and seemed totally natural and conversational - even though everybody in the room knew exactly what was going on. And they also knew that they'd be totally compliant with her wishes. It was going to be fun to talk about this lunch. "You won't believe who Alice Longworth was dragging around today." "How did Alice ever get in touch with those Olympic kids, Tim and Charlie?" "I'll can see a Roosevelt party on the horizon!"
Sally wanted to know our life histories, and every possible detail of the Olympics. Alice had heard much of it, but listened carefully and delightedly while Sally asked question after question. Sally insisted that she wanted to see Tim dive and exercise at the earliest opportunity in Washington. When would he be performing?
"I don't dive competitively any more. I imagine that there may be an exhibition sometime this year, somewhere in town. I'm not eligible for NCAA competition, so I won't be part of the University of Maryland gymnastics team. I don't know whether there'll be any major Gymnastics Federation event around Washington. There may be one in Philadelphia that I could compete in. I simply don't know my schedule for the year."
"You let me know when I can watch you," Sally said.
"And me, too," said Alice. "Simply let Warren know."
Sally said, "The Chief hasn't met you. He's jealous of me. You tell Sherm to bring you over to the Court building this afternoon, if you're available."
"I don't know about Judge Wilcox' schedule, but I can be there."
"Tell Sherm that I'm speaking for the Chief. Come. He's to bring his new clerk and that new clerk's partner."
"Would it be all right for Christopher Elvins, his present clerk, to come along?"
"I don't see why not. But why?"
"I'm very uncomfortable about all the fuss being made over me while I'm not yet even employed by Judge Wilcox. I don't think the future clerk should be out with Judge Wilcox on a formal call without the present clerk. Besides, Chris's been very good to both Tim and me."
"I'm impressed by your consideration, and your sense of protocol. Of course he should be included."
The conversation remained lively through the hour. Sally was a fount of knowledge about the non-legal aspects of the courts in Washington. I learned the kinds of things that it would take the average neophyte more than a year as a judge's clerk to accumulate. I couldn't believe my good fortune. And an invitation to call on the Chief Justice of the United States as well! Hell, it wasn't an invitation, it was a command performance.
Alice was content to let the conversation flow. She was clearly basking in reflected glory, and enjoying every minute of it. She'd made it clear from the beginning that the purpose of this luncheon was to be seen. Seen we were!
After lunch Tim and I were dropped off at the Circuit Court Building, and we walked up to Judge Wilcox' chambers. His secretary let Tim and me in. I was fairly bursting to tell him about Mrs. Clark's invitation - it was really more of an instruction or order - to have Sherm call on the Chief Justice this afternoon with Tim, Chrissy, and me. I expected Sherm to be startled by that, but he wasn't in the least. "Charlie, there's no way Chief Justice Clark was going to have his wife come home this evening talking about my new clerk that he hadn't met. I've already got my calendar cleared. Let's go."
It isn't a long walk from the Circuit Court Building to the Supreme Court Building and we were soon climbing up its impressive front stairs. Once inside, Sherm identified himself to the guard at the entrance to the non-public part of the building and soon we found ourselves in the outer room to the chambers of Chief Justice of the United States Hiram Clark. We were shown in and Justice Clark came across the room, straight to me, shook my hand and in a booming voice said, "So you're Sherm's new clerk that everybody is buzzing about, including my wife. I understand that Sherm hired you on the spot when he interviewed you. You must be good. I hope you can live up to your advance billing."
"I'll certainly try, sir. I'm really very pleased to meet you. I'd like to introduce my partner, Tim. And I'm sure you know Christopher Elkins, Judge Wilcox' clerk."
Justice Clark was quick on the trigger. Even though I'm quite certain that he had never met Chrissy, he said, "I know Christopher well. Good to see you, Christopher."
"It's good to see you as well, Mr. Chief Justice."
Then Clark turned to Tim and said, "And you would be the man with all the gold. I'm very pleased to meet you. Do I call you Tim or Mr. Tim?"
"Either, sir. But I really prefer just Tim. I'm honored to meet you, sir."
"I know that this is going to sound like the pompous East Coast, and I suppose it is, but Charlie - that's your whole name, like Tim, isn't it?"
"I don't believe that I've ever met anyone from the University of North Dakota School of Law. Welcome to the foreign country called the District of Columbia."
"Thank you sir. I'd like to extend the compliments of Dean Fry of the University of North Dakota Law School." I handed the him one of Dean Fry's cards. "Whatever legal talents I have that inspired Judge Wilcox to hire me as his clerk, are completely the responsibility of Dean Fry and the school he's guided for about twenty years."
"I suspect that you may put the school on the map."
"It's already on the map sir, it's just that you people out here in the East can't read the part of the map past the Mississippi River without bifocals, and you're too proud to use your bifocals."
This was met with a good laugh. He turned to Sherm and said, "A sense of humor and guts enough not to be intimidated by high office. I think you have a winner, Sherm."
"I hope so. Actually, I'm pretty sure so."
The conversation quickly turned to the Olympics, and Tim fielded most of the questions, although I was given a chance to answer some. Finally, the Chief Justice turned to Chrissy and asked, "Christopher, what're your plans for next year?"
"Private practice, sir. I'm from Boston and I may return there to practice. But I'm also thinking of Chicago and San Francisco. I'm going to have to make a decision fairly soon."
"I can't believe that a recommendation from Sherm won't get you any position you go after. Good Luck."
The conversation quickly wound down, and soon the four of us were walking back to Sherm's chambers. Sherm said to Chrissy, "What's this about Chicago or San Francisco? I thought your life was all predetermined."
Tim said, "I was thrilled to think you were opening yourself to new ideas, Chrissy."
Sherm said, "Do I read this correctly? Going to Chicago, or anyplace other than Boston, would be accompanied by some level of coming out?"
"Yes. Tim and Charlie have gotten me thinking."
"How does your father fit into this?"
"I've pretty much made up my mind to tell him, and pretty soon. How he reacts will have a lot to do with what I do next year."
Sherm said, "Would you like me to go with you to Boston?"
"Sherm, that's a really generous offer. But I think that this is something I need to do by myself. If I get tossed out, I may need some real support, but I hope it doesn't turn out that way. I really do thank you."
"You can have whatever time off you need."
Tim said, "Chrissy, Charlie and I'll support you any way that we can."
"Thank you both. That sounds trite, but I really mean it. Your support really means a lot to me."
It wasn't long before our trip ended, with two flights back to North Dakota. The stop in Minneapolis gave us about two hours with Mom and Dad who drove down to the airport to have a chance to visit. Our goodbyes in Washington were accompanied by our insistence that Chrissy call us immediately and tell us how his trip to Boston went. He promised.
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