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Finding Tim

A Fourth Alternate Reality

by Charlie
With editorial assistance from Dix and John


"Charlie, what are we going to do this summer?"

"We should stay right here on campus and push our dissertations forward."

"That's what we should do. What are we going to do?"

"Tim, you always do what you should do. You always do more than you should do. What's gotten into you?"

"It's time for a break. I've been going full speed ahead for twelve years, four in high school, four in college, four in graduate school. Even summers have been crammed full, with just a few weeks as exceptions. You've been working just as hard."

"OK, tell me what we are going to be doing this summer?"

"Charlie! I'm not setting you up. I want your ideas. I just would like to break the mold this summer."

"OK, let's buy Pan Am around the world tickets and see the world. The quick trip to Australia got my travel hormones coursing."

"Around the world?"

"Yes. Around the world. I think the rules on the ticket let you stop just about anywhere you want. Let's find out."

"You're serious?"

"Yes. Of course. Aren't I always?"

"What would it cost?"

"I don't know. It would be a great way to spend some of the money from Felix. I think he'd be delighted to know that he had given us a trip around the world."

"Whom do we talk to?"

"Either a travel agent in Grand Forks or a Pan Am office. There may be one in Fargo. If not, Minneapolis."

"Let's head down to Minneapolis Friday night, talk to Pan Am on Saturday, and have some time with Mom and Dad."

That's what we did. Mom and Dad were delighted to have us visit, and intrigued with the idea of a trip around the world. Dad's first question at breakfast on Saturday was, "What countries are you thinking of visiting?'

Tim said, "All of them."

I said, "There are limits to what you can do with an around the world ticket. We're going to find out."

It turns out that the only limitation on the ticket is total miles. You get so many miles with the basic ticket and you can pay additional fare to increase the total miles available. I completely forget the numbers, but the constraints are pretty simply put: you can't do a lot of north-south traveling, it adds too many miles without advancing you around the world. So, if you go to South America, then you pretty much have to stay south, by going through Africa instead of Europe. If you want to go to Europe and Africa, then you can't do much north-south travel in the Asia and Pacific areas. We would head to Europe, then the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, the Philippines,

Hong Kong, Japan, Hawaii, and home. There were two reasonable alternative routings possible: We could go to Australia instead of Japan, but not both. We could come home through Alaska instead of Hawaii, but not both.

We had four months available, the Michigan summer trimester, April 1 through August 31. We wanted a few days at each end, so we would have a 3½ month trip. We got all of the flight rules and details from the Pan Am office and were ready to plan the trip in the next couple of weeks. Saturday afternoon and evening we spent with Mom and Dad, who invited Hal's folks, and our various coaches for dinner. Nelson Waters, Tim's high school diving coach, and his wife, Rita, whom we had not seen since Tim graduated from high school, were there. So was John Fenton, whose wife had recently died of cancer - we hadn't seen her since Tim's days in the St. Paul Gymnastics Club. Herb and Phyllis Johnson, Hal's coach and his wife, were there, of course - they had become members of the Gang. It was like old home week. Tim was utterly delighted to continue his friendships with these coaches, even though he had seen them fairly regularly through the years. They were intensely curious about his future athletic plans. They knew he was no longer diving competitively, and that he only accepted a few invitational bids in gymnastics. Was he keeping up his diving? How long would he continue his gymnastics?

I don't think that any of them were prepared for Tim's answer. "I intend to maintain my practice schedule indefinitely, and keep up my skills to the present level as long as I can."


"It's fun. I like to dive. I like gymnastics. I like being able to do difficult dives and maneuvers, and I like the idea that I can do them better than almost anyone else."

"Almost anyone else?"

"Billy in diving, Tor in gymnastics. I think both are better than me right now."

Eventually the conversation got off of athletics and we were asked about future plans, what our dissertations would be about, and a myriad of other questions. Herb wanted a run down of all of the Gang members, and the Waters and John were fascinated by that. All were intrigued with the idea that most of us were planning to move to Grand Forks over the next few years.

It wasn't very late when the evening began to break up. The first to leave were the Waters. The Johnsons and the Bruders didn't seem very anxious to go and waited for John Fenton to leave. After he had gone Herb said, "Tim and Charlie, how would you to like to spend the night at our house tonight? The Bruders are going to be joining us. Norman and Betsy, you'd be welcome, too."

Well, we all knew what that invitation was about. Mom and Dad looked at each other and both shook their heads slightly. Dad said, "I think it might be a little awkward with Tim and Charlie there. We'd like a rain check, however." It was clear that the activity mentioned in Norman's letter to the Gang was not just a one night adventure.

It was an interesting night. We were the last to get to Herb's, and everyone was sitting in the living room, clearly waiting for our arrival. Herb let us in, offered us Cokes, which we accepted, and opened the conversation with, "We have been doing some dreaming and we'd like to share our dreams."


Herb continued, "I would really like to spend the night with you, Tim. Ever since that first night when Charlie visited and your folks invited the Bruders and us for dinner, I have admired you. You as a person, and quite honestly,your body. It's beautiful. I haven't thought of it sexually until much more recently. But I'm making up for lost time."

Hazel Bruder said, "Charlie, I have been dreaming of you fucking me for a long time."

"I'd love to, Hazel. Even though I am a gay man."

Tim giggled at that. "Charlie, you've fucked enough women that you don't need to pretend you don't enjoy it."

I asked, "Where does that leave John and Phyllis?"

"In bed with each other. And believe me, they love it," piped in Hazel. "But I am pretty sure that each of them will want one of you two in the morning. Are you up to it?"

"Try us," said Tim.

"We plan to," said Herb.

I'll let readers' imaginations fill in the blanks. The next morning Phyllis got me and John got Tim. Herb and Hazel chose to watch John and Tim instead of doing anything themselves. I'll just say that the older generation was not being left behind by the youngsters.

We got home midmorning after having a very lovely breakfast fixed by Phyllis. Tim asked, "Dad, did you know that invitation was coming?"

"I wasn't sure, but I think I would have been surprised if it hadn't. I know that all four of them have been drooling over the idea of getting you two to bed."

I said, "Dad, does this whole business bother you at all?"

"I suppose it should, but, no, it doesn't. We thought about it a lot. You know our sexual horizons were first broadened by having to deal with a gay son. Then a gay son in love with his camp counselor. Carl wasn't exactly celibate either. Then we had a gay son, in love with an older gay man, having sex with his girlfriend, while the older man both approved and had his own thing going with both a man and a woman. I'll tell you, Betsy and I struggled with all of that. We held to our rule that children have to make their own decisions, but it was tough from time to time. But the more we watched, the more we understood. You guys weren't abusing each other or any of your partners. We could see love in your relationships. I think what impressed us was that you two loved Hal, Franklin, and the rest of the Gang more than a lot of our friends loved their wives and husbands. What was wrong with that picture?

"You know quite a few years went by between our meeting you, Charlie, and our getting that letter from Franklin. Years in which we had grown a lot. Then the Bruders told us that, with your encouragement, they had been sexually involved with the Johnsons. That really blew our minds. That's when Betsy and I had a long talk. We finally decided that you kids had it right. It's love, love, love. We're not ready to write off the incest rules, which is why we didn't join you last night. Oh, I know, we could have paired up to avoid the problem, but it just didn't seem right. But other than that, we are doing everything to put aside our inhibitions. But they do die slowly, as we found out the first night with the Bruders!"

Tim said, "Wow."

Betsy said, "Now, Tim, tell us something honestly. Does it bother you at all to hear your parents talk that way?"



"At first, a little. It's like a teenager doesn't really want to think of his parents fucking. But once I got over that, it just blows my mind that I have such 'with it' parents. You're absolutely wonderful."

"I'll second that," I said.

April was fast approaching. Marty would graduate, and had a summer job in Ann Arbor. We invited him to house sit for us, so that it wouldn't be sitting empty while we were traveling. Tim asked Marty, "What are your plans for the fall?"

"I've sort of been keeping it a secret. I've been admitted to the University of North Dakota Master's Degree program in physical education. I am going to study coaching, and work on my gymnastics under Frank Kesserling."

"I'll be damned. That's wonderful. That's a two year program, right?"


"We'll be back in Grand Forks for the second year. We'll have a year together."

"More than that. I plan to make my life there. I am a member of the Gang, if you remember."

"There aren't a lot of jobs coaching gymnastics in Grand Forks. And Frank has that one sewn up."

"I plan to start a gymnastics club. I won't get rich, but I'll love what I'm doing."

"Well, I have another offer for you."

"What's that?"

"Where are you going to be living in Grand Forks next year?"

"I have no idea, yet."

"I do. Charlie and I have a house. Billy Carson was living in it, but he's moved on to IU. It's empty. It needs a house sitter. You're it."

"You're kidding. I've bummed off you guys enough here."

"This isn't bumming. We've been worried about the house. We'd like you to live there. For the second year there is a little apartment on the third floor. You can move up there when we move back to Grand Forks in a year."

It was settled. The school year, and all of its loose ends, was drawing to a close. We were ready to fly.

Even a trip as grand as going around the world begins with the mundane problem of getting to the airport. Marty solved that problem for us by driving us in our car in exchange for his being able to use it as needed over the summer. I say exchange as if it had been some kind of tit for tat. Actually he would have driven us regardless, and we would have let him use the car regardless, but we thought of it as a sort of exchange.

Marty dropped us off at Detroit airport and we were really off. We changed to Pan Am 002, around the world, in New York, with our first stop London - where we deplaned but did not layover - and then on to Frankfurt. Our plane was the Clipper-Maid of the Seas. A plane which became famous on December 21, 1988, when it was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland. Luckily, in 1973 there were no such incidents.

We had originally thought we might get a one-month Eurailpass to use in Europe. However, when we contacted Tor and Vlad they reminded us that Eurailpass was not offered to Europeans. But they owned a car and would be delighted to join us for a month of car travel rather than train travel!

It was a lovely month. We started by driving on the corridor from West Germany to West Berlin and spent several days in the city. I had been there in 1959 on my trip to Europe. Driving along to Berlin I told the story that I think I most often told of my various adventures on the 1959 trip. I had traveled by train from Hamburg to West Berlin, having bought my tickets from American Express in Copenhagen. They had simply told me that I could get my transit visa for travel through East Germany on the train - nothing else. We left Hamburg and before long stopped at the first station in East Germany (the only stop the train made in East Germany). Engines were changed and guards boarded the train. Two guards, who looked like virtually every stereotype of a Communist guard ever seen on TV, came to the front of the car and made an announcement. About the only word I had understood was visa, but I did get that one. Then they started down the car. The Germans simply showed their German ID cards and that was that. Foreigners, of which there were only two or three ahead of me - the train mostly contained West Germans - produced their passports. The guards would carefully page through the passport, not finding the transit visa. Of course, the transit visa could not be obtained in West Germany, so nobody had one. The guards would get very angry, demanding the visa, almost screaming. Then they would angrily hand back the passport and move to the next person. Thank goodness I hadn't been the first foreigner to be subjected to this. I don't know what I would have done. As it was, my turn came, and I had learned the routine of simply watching the show, and taking back the passport. This continued down the car, and finally the guards passed to the next car. As soon as they had left the car, two people came in the front, smiling very pleasantly, and selling visas for 5 marks each - about $1.25. Ah, the joys of th e cold war. The East Germans were simply making the point that there should have been diplomatic offices of the German Democratic Republic in West Germany to provide visas. But this would mean giving recognition to the East German government, and that was inconceivable in the West.

Neither American Express, nor the people selling the visa on the train, told me to get a round trip transit visa for ten marks, to ease my trip out of West Berlin. That oversight led to another favorite story.

As an eighteen year old kid, just one year out of high school, having been subjected to years of cold war propaganda, I am not sure that I would have gone into East Berlin in 1959, had it not been for that transit visa. However, when I sought to make my reservations to travel to my next stop, Munich, the ticket agent had asked to see my visa. When I didn't have one I was told I had to get it in East Berlin, and I was given the address. I walked to the Brandenburg Gate and found an information office inside the gate building. They pointed me in the direction of the visa office. It took me an hour of wandering and asking questions before I found it in the basement of a closed museum. Not a sign or street number on the door. I entered a dark room, was given a number and pointed down a hall to the visa office It was a large room with about a hundred people in it. One wall had three offices behind it, all vaguely visible through frosted glass. A clerk would open a window in the office to the right and call out about the next twenty numbers. I was in the third group called after my arrival. They collected the application form, 5 marks, and our passports. The passports were stacked and passed to the middle office, where the visas were stamped in the passports. No one seemed to pay any attention to the application, just the 5 marks. When the passports were all stamped, the clerks all took ten minutes for coffee. Then the passports were passed to the left window, and names were called to pick them up. Only then did the first office call out numbers for the next group. The same routine was followed, including the coffee, and I eventually got my visa after more than an hour and a half! Now that I was in East Berlin I explored the city for the rest of the afternoon, enjoying a lovely dinner at a restaurant, at less than half the cost of a similar meal in West Berlin.

Fast forward to 1973. The Brandenburg Gate sat right on the line of the Wall. The wall bulged to put the Gate on the east side, and there was no passage through the Gate. It could not be approached from either the east or the west. We passed through Checkpoint Charlie with no trouble, walked around the city some, had a fine dinner, and returned on the elevated train, which took us to a checkpoint on the border, where we could then board a western train to continue our journey through West Berlin.

The contrast between East and West Berlin was stark. The vastly more successful western economy was juxtaposed against a Communist city that almost seemed to be deliberately poor. This was especially true of the areas near West Berlin, which had significantly large areas that had never been rebuilt from World War II. By 1973 the stories of escapes, attempted and successful, were legion. The failures were all tragedies. It was hard to stare at the Wall and conceive of its meaning. Looking at it from the east, where it represented a closed society, almost a jailed community, was particularly heart-wrenching. Here were Tim and I, who resented the fact that our government told us that we were forbidden to travel to Cuba and China, looking at a Wall which represented a government telling its people that they couldn't travel anywhere! We could only shake our heads in disbelief.

On our previous trip to Europe Tim and I had played the game of having sex in every country we entered. We wanted to play the same game on this trip! We were defeated in the first new country we entered: East Germany. We weren't spending the night; we refused to jam into a toilet stall in a men's room; and we couldn't find a private enough place. We simply weren't going to risk entanglement with the East German authorities, notoriously hostile to gay men, in order to play a game.

Our hotel nights with Vlad and Tor were another matter. It was really very simple. We would pair up a different way each night, and after three nights of trying all possible pairs, we'd all pile into one bed and do whatever we pleased. We stuck to our guns on not fucking, but otherwise anything went, and it usually did. After the first round of four nights, we realized that our favorite pairings were Vlad with me and Tor with Tim. Tim and Tor enjoyed sharing each other. It was sort of the ultimate relationship for the two gymnasts that were determined to be friends as well as competitors. Vlad was simply delightful to be with, and I enjoyed him immensely. He was incredibly sexy, as well as a willing partner in just about anything you could imagine. We decided to expand our round to six nights: Three of Tim and Tor, Charlie and Vlad, separated by the alternate pairings and a four-way. We followed that routine religiously for the rest of the month!

Next stop, Austria. Then Switzerland: Geneva and then Zermatt. We had had the usual tourist dreams of climbing the Matterhorn, but there is too much snow in April and all we could do was look at it. We did some hiking and not too difficult climbing in the area, enjoying our three days, but somehow feeling that we had missed something by not climbing Europe's most famous mountain!

In France we gleefully avoided Paris, but enjoyed spending a little more than a week driving around the countryside of northern France. Then Belgium. We had to see the fountain with the little peeing boy. I would have loved to have gotten a picture of Tim standing next to the boy, with both of them peeing, but we were assured that the Belgians, and their police, took a dim view of such activities! In Amsterdam we fell in love with Rembrandt's pictures, and were delighted to see so many, and especially to see his house all filled with prints and engravings. Back to Frankfurt, our whirlwind tour, and sexy evenings, at an end. We boarded Pan Am 002 headed for Istanbul.

Asia! Well, there are two problems with that exclamation: First, we'd been to Japan, so this wasn't our first visit to Asia. Second, we weren't in Asia. Ataturk Airport, and the major part of Istanbul, is on the European side of the Bosphorus. We spent our first night in European Turkey, technically Thrace, as the Turks use the term. The next day - Anatolia. Despite all of the wonderful sights to see in Istanbul, the next morning we were off to Asia - continental Asia. The Bosphorus Bridge was almost finished - to be the largest suspension bridge outside of the United States. We got a wonderful view of it as we crossed the Bosphorus by ferry - landing on the Asian side. It was a thrill for both of us. We walked around, had lunch, looked at Europe from Asia, and headed back.

My story could easily be a travelogue, but instead I will ask you to assume that at each place we saw all of the things good tourists are supposed to see. Remember Tim's trip to London, if you don't believe that we saw all the things tourists are supposed to see! I am going to try to highlight the trip in a more personal way, and certainly the thrill of our first steps in Asia was part of that.

Next up, first steps on the continent of Africa. But it was different. We had flown from Istanbul to Cairo. Cairo is in Egypt, which is in Africa. But it is really in that huge region known as the Middle East, the Arab World, or more properly the Middle East and North Africa. What most people think of when they think of Africa is sub-Sahara Africa, and we didn't go there. That would have to wait for another trip.

Cairo - a huge city, one of the largest and oldest in the world. The Pyramids - probably the most talked of tourist attraction in the world. Yes, we visited; yes, we rode a camel; yes, we wondered about the Sphinx. In the usual fashion as soon as we set foot near the Pyramids we were accosted by a horde of potential guides wanting to show us around. We were torn between a desire to have someone actually tell us about what we were looking at, and revulsion at the way we were being solicited. (We would get used to it as we moved through the tourist sites of Asia.)

All of a sudden a young man, about sixteen we guessed, cleanly dressed in casual European clothes, stepped up to us and said, "Mr. Tim. Mr. Charlie. I recognized you from the sports magazines. I would be honored to be your guide today. I will accept whatever fee you believe is fair at the end of the day."

You could have knocked over either one of us with a feather. His English was wonderful, completely British, and his smile engaging. Much to the disgust of his competitors, he got the job. His name was John. He was an ethnic Greek; his family had emigrated from Cypus to Cairo just before he was born, so he had been born in Egypt. His father ran a souvenir shop in Christian Cairo. John was fluent in Arabic, Greek (which he spoke at home), English, and French. Tim and I could only claim English!

He showed us around Giza - the home of the Pyramids - and then took us back to Cairo in a taxi; we stopped first in his home area - the home of the Copic Christians, where he led us to the beautiful churches and monasteries of the area. We stopped at his father's shop, where we were introduced, given tea, and invited to "look around." We did buy a perfectly lovely Copic Icon of the Holy Family, which still hangs on our wall. John took us to a great, cheap, local restaurant and then back to our hotel, the Nile Hilton. He offered to continue to guide us the next day, and assured us that if we would check out of the Hilton the next morning, he would take us to a much more interesting hotel at less than half the price. We accepted.

We met him the next morning and were taken to a little hotel in the Christian quarter where, indeed, the price was less than half, the ambiance both pleasant and "Middle Eastern," and the proprietor most solicitous. Then we were off on the first of two full days of sightseeing with John. We were amazed at his knowledge, his ability to impart it in other than a memorized speech, and his willingness to stop when it was clear that we had heard all we wanted to hear about something. I always reached that point before Tim, and John quickly learned to take his queue from me, or we would be at one place all day.

At dinner the next evening John got talking about himself. He was in a French high school and hoped to go to the American University of Beirut. The problem with that plan was that it was illegal to export money out of Egypt, and that meant that all or most of his tuition would have to be exported illegally - he would be allowed to export a small sum each year, but it would not cover tuition, must less the cost of living in Beirut. Of course, smuggling was very common, and there were all kinds of methods, but it was still a problem. If it couldn't be solved, he would go to the American University in Cairo. In either case, he would get an American education in English - which is what he wanted. He wanted to emigrate to the United States, but expected that he would have to settle for Canada, as the wait was much shorter.

He was also gay. After a lot of conversation, John had decided that he could trust us. It turns out that the reason he recognized us was that we were gay. Reading about American sports heros was a casual interest, one he followed mainly to make his conversation with American tourists more interesting - and more likely to generate larger tips (really fees, as he used the "pay me what you think I am worth" line with everyone, and it paid off well). When he read that we were gay, our pictures went on his wall. He told us that he often just stared at our faces and wondered what it would be like to meet us. Then one day, there we were, walking out of a bus toward the Pyramids. A dream come true. He told us, "I was sure that I could be your guide; no one else recognized you."

Tim replied, "When you walked up and said, 'Mr. Tim. Mr. Charlie,' we were flabbergasted."

"What's this flabbergasted; I don't know that word."

I think it was the first word we had used that fooled him! He knows it now.

Being gay in the Middle East is a strain. Publicly it is completely condemned, and the punishment can be severe. On the other hand, with women kept covered and/or unavailable, homosexual sex among young men is quite common - but it ends with the young men entering into arranged marriages and leading heterosexual lives. So John could have a homosexual encounter very easily, but there was almost no chance of developing a long-term or loving relationship. Even with the boys he fucked or sucked, it was taboo to talk about love.

John's problems were not like Sid's; they could not be solved with money or any kind of a quick fix. We could only hope that if and when John made it to North America that he might find a partner whom he could love and who could love him back. When it was time to go we started to pay John his "fee," which we had calculated very generously. He refused to accept it, and told us to keep it for him. When he got to the American University in Lebanon he would write and ask us to send the money there. That was one of the ways that he would use to get funds to Beirut to pay his tuition. He father did that with many foreign customers, and would do more once John was in Beirut. We exchanged addresses, kissed him goodbye (in the privacy of our hotel room), let him escort us to the airport, and we were off to Beirut.

Beirut was on the verge of civil war, and certainly we felt the tension in the city. But the war had not begun, and the beauty of the urban gem at the eastern end of the Mediterranean shown brightly. The American University of Beirut has a lovely campus in western Beirut. The geography is a little unusual, and from the university campus, on the shore of the Mediterranean you actually look north, not west. An oasis of green trees, and charming buildings with orange tile roofs, the campus clings to the side of the hill overlooking the water. Classes are all in English, but the language we heard spoken as we walked around the campus was Arabic. There were quite a few Americans on the faculty, but very few American students. Americans were not enrolled as undergraduates except for groups of Junior Year Abroad students. Some of the graduate programs enrolled Americans, as appropriate. We introduced ourselves to several American teachers, and soon connected with a charming young woman who taught English as a foreign language to special students who qualified for admission in all ways except for their English language skills. She showed us around the campus, and gave us tips on what else to see in Beirut. We were told that we should eat at Uncle Sam's - a restaurant and cafeteria near campus - and in fact we took her there for dinner. This was her second year teaching at the university and she was having a ball.

We took time to see some of the sights of the country, including Baalbak, the wonderful Roman ruins in the valley that runs north and south down the middle of the country. The trip to Baalbak took a full morning, and in the afternoon we continued on to Damascus, Syria. We visited "the street call straight" where Paul was taken after his conversion on the road to Damascus - as the story goes. Then off to other tourist sights including one of the most interesting markets we would see on our trip. Called a souk in Arabic, it was miles of covered walkways (a modern American mall is tiny by comparison), with stall after stall of tourist goods, spices, tinware, candles, rugs, you name it. The commerce of a continent all jumbled together. We knew we couldn't buy much because of limitations of what we were willing to try to carry the rest of the way around the world, but we did buy a lovely tablecloth of traditional Damascus brocade.

Our next stop was Iran. We landed in Tehran, toured the sights fairly quickly, and on the advice of friends in Washington, soon boarded a night bus for Isfahan. Isfahan, just about in the middle of the country, is a huge oasis in the middle of the desert. It's slogan, which rhymes in the Farsi language, is Isfahan - half the world. Not quite, but it is lovely. The mosques of blue tiles are magnificent. The bazaar goes on forever, and is virtually a city unto inself. We stayed at a little hotel near one of the major bridges in town. It was run by a young Armenian man; very personable. The family home, where he lived with his parents was in a garden behind the hotel. We were invited to visit and see their Armenian library and collection of manuscripts. They were in the process of smuggling them out of the country a few at a time, as they feared for the future of the country - quite rightly it turned out.

The next stop was Persepolis - the grand ruins of the royal capital established by Darius I and eventually sacked by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. I'll have to be honest, it is very tempting to say, "If you've seen one ruin, you've seen them all." That is, of course, very unfair and stupid. But when you see a lot on a fast trip, they tend to run together in your mind. But Persepolis has one fascinating feature - perhaps one of the more interesting examples of graffiti in the world: Scratched in the rock of one of the royal buildings near the entrance is:


New York Herald


My memory is a little unclear regarding the date: Stanley worked for the New York Herald after the Civil War. He was in Iran before the Herald sent him to Africa to look for Livingstone in 1871. So 1867 is pretty close to the correct date. Somehow the connection to Stanley - a known figure from the previous century who had actually scratched the name we saw in front of us - seemed stronger than the connection to Darius of 2500 years before who had merely ordered the building of these structures.

Next was India - first Bombay, then New Delhi, then Madras. As we rode the bus from the airport to our hotel we saw hundreds of people sleeping in the median of the divided road. I don't think we ever really got over either the numbers of people or the poverty. No question there is great beauty in India, who cannot be awed by the Taj Mahal? But my images of India are of numbers and poverty.

The image of Thailand that I retain is traffic gridlock in Bangkok. Almost 24 hours a day. It seemed that if one more car was added to the fleet everything would come to a halt. You could almost walk faster than a taxi could carry you, and, in fact, we did walk whenever we could.

We were not recognized in Iran, India or Thailand. As such, we were typical tourists, seeing the sights. We had neither the time nor the opportunity to meet people on a personal level and get to know them. We knew from the beginning that that would probably be the case in most of the places we visited, and we just accepted it as the penalty for moving so fast. But if you are going to go around the world in very close to the storied eighty days, you aren't going to see with much depth or insight.

That changed in Singapore - our southernmost stop on the trip. Tim had met a young Chinese gymnast from Singapore at the Munich Olympics. The young man, Jin, was a pretty good athlete - particularly good on the rings. He had sought out Tim mainly to talk about the rings, and in particular Tim's extraordinary success at holding the T-position and the inverted T. Tim had shared Frank's insight about concentration, but wasn't sure that that had helped Jin. However, they had become friends, and exchanged letters from time to time. Tim mentioned that he would be visiting Singapore, and we were immediately invited to stay with Jin at his apartment. He met us at the airport, and told us that we would be entertained that evening by a whole host of gymnasts that were eager to meet him. At dinner that night, in a private dining room at a large hotel, some of the gymnasts actually were interested in me, and a couple remembered that I had won an Olympic medal of my own. However, the focus of attention was on Tim. He was invited to join them at their gym the next afternoon, and, of course, he accepted.

After dinner we went home with Jin, and we were joined by his coach, who had been the coach of their Olympic gymnastics team. The talk was mostly personal, rather than technical gymnastics stuff, for which I was very grateful. They wanted to know why we were in Singapore, where else we had been and where we were going next. There were all kinds of questions about our lives in the US. Finally the coach got around to the delicate subject of our sexuality. "You two are...lovers?"

"Yes. I guess that is the right term."

"I have had a few homosexuals on my teams. I feel very sorry for them. Homosexuality is not accepted in Singapore. I was surprised when one of my gymnasts told me a few years ago that he was homosexual. It was a great compliment that he trusted me enough to tell me. After that, one or two others told me as well, after being told I was safe by the first one. A homosexual in Singapore takes a risk when he talks to another man about being homosexual. It makes it very difficult for them to find friends or lovers like themselves. Life is good in Singapore if you fit the mold. For others it can be very difficult."

He continued, "You two have been very open in the press about being lovers. You cannot be here. It is good you are staying with Jin. Staying together in a hotel could raise questions, particularly if someone had read about you in the international press. In Singapore you must be careful."

We took his warning to heart, but I don't think it was needed. The subject did not come up again, and after the warning we had received, we certainly did not bring it up.

Tim spent most of the next day at the gym, showing off. That's unfair to Tim. He was pushed and urged to perform, and I can't blame him for doing the best he knew how. But that wowed them, and he was cheered after every performance. He worked with the young Singaporean gymnasts as much as he could that day, but not much can really be accomplished in such a short time. Nevertheless, I could tell that it was a thrill for them to work out with Tim!

The next day we got a grand tour of Singapore, including a private boat tour through the harbor. Except in Singapore it is a harbour. Our host on the boat was the father of one of Jin's fellow gymnasts; he had a good position in the harbour administration, and had a private boat he could show us around on. The tour was followed by a seafood lunch that you couldn't believe. Tim and I didn't recognize half of what we ate, but it all tasted delicious.

That night was our last with Jin, and we talked long into the night. Jin was hoping to visit the United States, and we encouraged him to try to visit us in Michigan if he came in the next year, or in North Dakota, if he came later. He and Tim promised to continue to write to each other.

Our next stop was Hong Kong, where we were again simply typical tourists. Then to Japan, where we were not. We were treated as athletic royalty in Japan. We had been to Japan once before, for gymnastics Worlds, and had made a couple of contacts that we had thought it would be fun to follow up on. Our letters, or at least one of them, had made their way to the Japanese Olympic Committee, and it was the Committee that hosted us in Japan. The V.I.P. treatment began in Hong Kong as we boarded Japanese Airlines for the trip to Tokyo. We were seated in First Class, which we certainly hadn't paid for, and treated wonderfully by a most attentive stewardess, who asked for autographs in return! In Tokyo we were met with a limo on the tarmac, swept through a special customs shed, and taken to a traditional Japanese Inn just on the edge of Tokyo where we would be staying for almost a week. We had been asked in advance what kind of accommodations we preferred, and eagerly chose the traditional.

We had a delightful room, small by American standards, but large by Japanese. It overlooked a delightful private garden, in which we could walk, sit on a bench, or sleep. The host/manager of the inn, who spoke excellent English, explained that the only thing that we really needed to understand to be good guests in his inn was the concept of the Japanese bath. In America we use the bath to get clean. In Japan, one soaks in the bath after one is clean. Since you are clean, via a sponge bath and a spray, before you enter the water, the water stays clean, and others may use it. In the private bath attached to our room was a typical bathtub, square and deep. We could step into it, and sit with the water up to our necks. However, there was only room for one at a time. Elsewhere in the Inn was a more public bath, for guests only, that had a community pool. It took a while to get use to the idea that we all bathed together naked. (There was no staring and certainly no sexuality.)

The banquet that night, at a hotel closer in to Tokyo proper, was fantastic. We seemed to eat forever. And then people spoke forever. We were welcomed by, it seemed, every athlete in Japan. Most, but not all, spoke in English. The Japanese was translated. Tim's response was translated into Japanese. Thank goodness the food was good, because the speeches were horrible. You can only say "Welcome" so many ways, and "Thank you, it's good to be here," doesn't allow for much variation either. However, everybody seemed to have a good time; there were smiles all around. Tim would be in the hands of the gymnasts the next day, the divers the next, and would be toured around Tokyo the next three. Then it would be on to Kyoto and Hiroshima (the two cities we had indicated we'd like to see), back to Tokyo, and off to Hawaii. Whew; it almost went by that fast.

The contrast between the gymnasts and the divers was startling. The gymnasts wanted to perform for Tim and ask him for his opinions of their work and suggestions. They were much less interested in watching him perform. That was all right with Tim, and he gave as much help as he could. However, the Japanese gymnasts tended to want to argue with Tim, explaining how they did things in Japan, rather than trying to absorb whatever wisdom he might have been able to give. Tim is very patient, and the day wasn't all bad. But, on the whole, it was somewhat frustrating.

The divers, on the other hand, just wanted to see him dive. They virtually took him through the entire dive book. In fact, it almost became a game to see if they could pick out a dive he couldn't do. (They couldn't.) There were constant questions, and they eagerly listened to his replies - often taking notes. He did get them diving some; and some of them were really quite good. I don't think that he saw a match for Billy, but a couple were coming very close. However, they never seemed particularly interested in his comments on their diving; they preferred to watch him and ask questions.

It's fun to tour a country as a V.I.P. Every site we approached they were ready for us; we never stood in line. As far as we could tell, an admission was never paid. We moved around the city by limo; the same in Kyoto and Hiroshima. Everyone seemed delighted to meet Tim, and sometimes me, guide him around, bow a lot, not talk very much, get autographs and photos - it seemed an infinity of photos - and say goodbye. I'm not sure just how good a tour of Japan we got - certainly our hosts intended to put the country's best foot forward and they did. One thing became a game for us in downtown Tokyo - trying to spot a man who wasn't in a dark suit with a white shirt. We saw a tiny number of blue shirts, virtually never a sports coat or sweater, and rarely ever anyone except an obvious workman without a coat and tie. A more homogenized society it is hard to imagine.

We were given a limo ride to the airport, but since we were flying on to Hawaii on Pan Am we had to wait in the lounge like the rest of the economy passengers and squeeze into economy seats. Funny, Tim never seemed to understand the frustrations of normal sized people with the cheap seats on airplanes!

We had five days in Hawaii. We were in a nice, but not fancy, beach hotel on Waikiki, and decided to tour the city and island on three days, and relax on the beach for two - we wouldn't try to get to any of the other islands. The first day we slept late (about 8:30 if you can call that late; talk to Tim), ate a quick breakfast and headed to the beach. We swam, walked the beach, and lay on towels. Tim hadn't had a chance like this to work on a tan since his summers in high school; he loved it. The damn kid didn't burn; he just turned brown. I did tease him that I didn't think he was going to be able to avoid a white butt.

"Are you daring me to strip?"

"I don't think so."

"Too bad; I could have blamed it on you if I had gotten in trouble." His suit, what there was of it, stayed in place.

In the early afternoon we were walking along the beach, staying in the hard sand just at the water's edge, and moving pretty briskly. Two guys ran to catch up with us, and fell in alongside of us. One said, "You're Tim, aren't you? And you're Charlie?"

I decided that this warranted a stop for a reasonable conversation. "Yep, that's who we are. Who are you two?"

"Lee Kramer, and this is my partner Ab, Ab Simpson."

Ab extended his hand, saying, "Ab is short for Abner. It probably should have been Abe, but I've always been Ab. God, we're pleased to meet you two."

Well, anyone who had recognized us would know we were gay, but it isn't very often that we got introductions that open. We shook hands all around. Lee motioned to a spot on the beach where they had two little beach chairs and a pile of towels. "Would you like to join us on the beach?"

"Sure," said Tim, speaking, correctly, for both of us. We walked over to their spot where they insisted that we sit in the two chairs and they threw out a couple of towels for themselves. Tim asked, "Are you guys from Hawaii, or on vacation like virtually everybody else on this beach?"

"We're from San Francisco. We spend two weeks here every summer. Swim, work on our tans, relax, do the bars some evenings. We love it."

I said, "I guess the San Francisco explains why you are so comfortable introducing yourselves as partners."

"No. That's just us. We're originally from St. Louis, where we grew up together. Our being partners explains San Francisco rather than the other way around."

"The Midwest was a little stiffling?"

"Just a little. You guys have always been from the Midwest. Don't you find it stiffling?"

Tim said, "Not really. But there is nothing like Sports Illustrated and Time covers to smooth the way. People have to choose between being upset about our sexuality or pleased to meet a celebrity. The celebrity usually wins. It gives us an unfair advantage over the average gay, but we don't refuse."

"Don't feel guilty, either. Every time you two move in a new circle you make it easier for those who follow. Progress is made in a lot of ways, and you two have done a lot just by being yourselves."

"How did you happen to recognize us?"

"Oh, Hell. We watch all the good looking guys walking the beach. Usually they're with girls. So two lookers like you two, alone, get noticed. One we had our eyes on you, ID-ing you as Tim and Charlie wasn't hard. You guys were moving fast, we had to make up our minds pretty fast that we were going to try to talk to you."

I said, "I'm glad you did. We really haven't met anyone in Hawaii, we're glad to have someone to talk to. Are you guys ready for lunch?"

They were. They knew a little snack bar near the beach where we could go in our swim suits. We needed shirts, and ours were back in front of our hotel, but they loaned us theirs and wore beach jackets themselves. Tim looked a little funny in the oversized shirt, but we were fine. We enjoyed lunch, and joined them for swimming and sun in the afternoon. Tim and I needed to cover up, so we all walked along the beach back to our hotel where we had caps and jackets. We agreed to meet for dinner, and soon we split up for the afternoon. Tim and I had been sufficiently baked that we went inside and actually took naps - unheard of for us.

Lee and Ab had a rental car, so they picked us up and took us for a nice dinner somewhere downtown - we wanted to get away from Waikiki. At dinner we learned a little more about Lee and Ab. They were both computer engineers, and both had worked for the Xerox Labs in Palo Alto until about three months ago. Then Ab had moved to a little start-up game company known as Atari, located in Sunnyvale - not too far from Palo Alto. They lived in San Francisco, but the commute was getting to them - almost an hour each way, and they had to travel early to avoid the rush. They were thinking of moving either to Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, or someplace in between.

Tim and I were pretty unfamiliar with computers, and certainly with electronic games - we had never even heard of Pong. Ab assured us that we would before too long, and he was right. As far as we knew, Xerox made copy machines. Both Lee and Ab assured us that Xerox was one of the most advanced small computer laboratories in the country. Ab said, "One of the reasons that I left is that I don't think they really have any idea how to market what they are developing. Nolan Bushnell at Atari perceives the salability of computers. He's an amazing guy to work for."

This little note is out of chronological order, but this is the place to share it. On our return home Tim and I decided to do a little gambling. We had been impressed with Ab and his comments about Atari Corporation. We didn't have a lot of money, but we had inherited some from my mother and Felix. So we decided to take a chance on Atari and invested about $25,000. By the time we sold out in the late 1970's our retirement was secure. Fred would see to it that we never lacked for money, but thanks to Ab, we never needed to worry about money again.

After dinner Lee and Ab invited us to visit a couple of gay bars they knew in Honolulu. We were assured that the fact that we didn't drink wouldn't be held against us, and that we'd leave if either of us was uncomfortable. So we headed off to our first experience at a gay bar. Dark. Noisy. Not in the least appealing. However, not in the least threatening either. Simply a form of entertainment that Tim and I weren't attracted to, gay or straight. Lee and Ab danced a little, but soon realized that Tim and I were more bored than intrigued, and we left. We didn't bother with the next one, as we were assured that it would be more of the same. We drove back to our hotel, and Tim invited Lee and Ab to come in with us. The hotel bar was quiet, had comfortable seats and a nice hors d'oeuvres bar served all evening. We sat and talked for quite a while. Lee and Ab had gone to school together in Clayton, Missouri, an upscale suburb of St. Louis. They had been in the same class in grades 1 to 6, and shared a lot of classes in junior and senior high school, where they had both been whizzes at math and science. They spent a lot of time together, and were able to talk to each other about everything. That included sex. When Lee had heard older boys talking about jacking off he asked Ab what he knew. Nothing. They experimented and soon they knew! But that led nowhere for several years. Finally, in their senior year of high school, when neither had a girl friend, they had talked about the possibility that they were homosexual. Lee had said, "Back in eighth grade when we wanted to find out about masturbating, we experimented. I think that might be the thing to do now." They did. Neither one knew a thing about what gay men do, but they had hands and dicks and figured it out. It wasn't much later that they discovered that mouths worked as well. It was years before they t ried fucking.

This story was told with ease and no discomfort. Clearly, they were used to an environment in which sex was not a forbidden topic. Because of our experiences with the Gang, it was just as easy for us to be open and forthright about sex. For all of us, it was unusual and exhilarating to find new friends with which we could talk on this personal level so easily. They were intrigued with some of the stories we told about the Gang, particularly about the successful three-way and four-way which the Gang encompassed. They had known two trios that had tried three-ways: one group of three men, one a man and two women. Both arrangements had ended with bitter recriminations in less than a year.


"Our trio is into their fourth year and I would guess that they will make it forever. They really love each other."

"Wow. That's extraordinary," said Lee, and Ab concurred.

Tim finally took the conversation in the inevitable direction; we had all just been waiting for someone to make the first move. Tim seldom waits very long. "OK, let's be frank. Do you two want to come up to our room?"

Lee said, "I thought you'd never ask."

I said, "Look, there is one thing we need to get out in the open. Tim and I have had very little sex outside the Gang - some but not much. We aren't experienced in the sort of wider gay community. We have been told, again it is outside of our experience, that many gays are only interested in anal sex. That fucking sort of defined gay sex. So, let's get it on the table. Tim and I only fuck each other. Just about everything else is fine, but we don't fuck."

Ab said, "Wow, you guys are able to be frank, aren't you? Well, I think we can be equally honest. We don't go to gay bars to pick up partners. It can be dangerous. A lot of disease is floating around. Some pretty rough characters, too. We have a group of friends in San Francisco that we often screw around with. And, yes, that usually means fucking. But, as far as I am concerned, your invitation is to do something different. That excites me rather than puts me off. It might be fun to get beyond, 'Top or bottom? Back or front?'"

 Lee said, "I'll second that. Finish your Cokes and let's head upstairs."

Tim and I gulped, and we were off.

It was a funny night. Lee and Ab admitted that fucking was about all they did. And they were pretty much in a rut. Ab was usually the top, and they almost always did it face to face. About this point in the conversation Tim stripped off his clothes, pushed Ab down on the bed, and said, "Come on, Charlie, help me strip him."

Tim gave him a hand job and soon there was cum all over his belly. He asked for a towel to wipe it up, and immediately Tim figured out the game of the evening: Lee and Ab weren't used to playing with cum. Tim said, "No towel, let's play. Lee was push down belly to belly on top of Ab and soon they were both sticky. I jacked off Lee to add to the pile. Tim got up and straddled Ab and jacked himself off, aiming for Ab's face, and hitting his target. I'm not sure who took care of me, but soon I was contributing to the pile.

We laughed, played, jacked each other off for what seemed like most of the night. We slept without cleaning up, repeated a lot of it in the morning, and then took turns in the shower - one guy showered and the other three washed him, and later dried him. Lee and Ab insisted that they hadn't had as much fun in years. "We did that kind of stuff - just the two of us - as seniors in high school. We've been too sophisticated since then. You guys are a trip. What fun."

Ab said, "True, but somehow I don't think we could convince our San Francisco friends."

"Their loss."

We spent most of the week with Lee and Ab. They knew Hawaii and showed us around, driving their rental car, while we paid for the gas. The next night Ab said, "Oral sex tonight." No mess, but lots of fun.

The next night I said, "I want to watch you two fuck, and if you want you can watch us." Neither pair learned much, but we had a good time. We had two more nights, and I have honestly forgotten how we spent them, but certainly together. It was quite an end to the trip.

We would have enjoyed stopping in San Francisco on the way home, but Lee and Ab would still have been in Hawaii, and we had reservations for a direct flight to Detroit - the end of the trip. They took us to the airport, saw us off, and we both agreed that we needed to get together sometime, probably in San Francisco.

Marty met the plane, and kept us up most of the night asking questions about the trip. He invited himself along for our trip to San Francisco, whenever that would be!

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