As springtime rolled around Tim seemed to be getting antsy. He didn't seem to be sleeping as well; I noticed that he was cutting his practice sessions slightly shorter; he took more frequent breaks from his studies. One evening as we spooned together waiting for sleep I asked, "Tim, what's on your mind? You seem to be nervous, perhaps upset."
"Not upset, Charlie. I think it's just that I'm ready to go."
"Yeah. I'm ready for Grand Forks and the University. I guess it's time to contact Prexy and find out what he has in mind for us."
"We've always just assumed that that's where we're going next year, and conversations with Prexy have always affirmed that assumption. But we don't have an offer - at least nothing specific. Well, that's not quite right, Prexy's been pretty specific about having a development position for you."
"You'll be part of the deal; you know that."
"Yes, I do," I replied.
Prexy must've been getting antsy too, because about three days later - before we could initiate any contact with him - Prexy mailed us a large envelope. It was addressed to both of us and inside we found two formal appointment letters. Tim was appointed as Assistant Professor of Education and Vice-President for Development, reporting directly to the President of the University. I was appointed Associate Professor of Law and Assistant Dean of the School of Law. It was pretty much what we expected for Tim, but I was stunned. I was anticipating starting at the bottom rung of the ladder, Assistant Professor, and an administrative appointment hadn't been on my radar screen. Phone calls to Prexy and Dean Fry were in order. We started with Prexy, who was fairly straight forward, "Be sure to send me an acceptance letter. We want to be able to hold you to this."
Tim assured him that it would be in the next day's mail. I said that I hadn't expected an administrative appointment.
"Hell, Charlie. Good professors are a dime a dozen, and the law isn't short of them, as you know. But good, forward-thinking administrators are scarce. That's where both you and Tim are going to be valuable to this university."
"What does Dr. Fry think of being given an assistant?"
"He's eager to have you. Talk to him."
"I will; he was going to be my next call."
"Good. Well, we're looking forward to having you two guys back. When can we expect to see you?"
Tim said, "Early May. I'm eager, too."
I said, "If he's eager, so am I. But this is the first I'm learning that he planned to get there so soon after finishing up here."
"Come when you want. Your appointments start on September first. I can't pay you before that, but you can settle into offices and use your time any way you'd like."
"We'll be there," said Tim. "I can hardly wait."
"I'll vouch for that. He's really been antsy the past few weeks, and it seems to be because he wants to get on with his life as a North Dakotan."
"We're ready," said Prexy.
After we'd hung up, I asked Tim, "Don't you want to spend some time at the cabin this summer? Maybe travel a little? You know, if you're going to be a university administrator, you're going to be on an eleven month contract. This is the last full summer off you're going to get in a long while."
"I know. But I really want to get to North Dakota. Oh, Charlie, am I being selfish? I didn't even think about you. What do you want to do this summer?"
"Go to Grand Forks."
"You're just saying that for me."
"So what do you want to do?"
"Go to Grand Forks."
"Go to Grand Forks."
"I give up."
"Good. I'm glad that settled. But, Tim, later in the summer we need to take at least two weeks to go to the cabin."
"You're right, we'll take at least a couple of weeks off."
We had to settle graduation arrangements. The deadlines that applied to doctoral degrees were somewhat confusing, and we had to decide just what our degree completion schedules would be. Our fellowships and faculty appointments ran through the Winter Term, which ended at the end of April. While we could probably have requested a continuation of the fellowships into the summer, we really didn't want to do that. So we would earn our degrees in the Winter Term. However, while degrees were actually conferred each term, there was a Commencement ceremony only in April and December. If we were going to participate in the April Commencement, we had to have all of our requirements completed by the end of February - almost impossible, and it would leave us with not much to do in March and April - but we'd have to remain in Ann Arbor because of our faculty responsibilities. The alternative was to meet a later set of deadlines which would allow us to officially graduate as Winter Term registrants, but would not allow us to participate in a Commencement program until December. The later deadlines required us to defend our theses before the end of April, but gave us through May to meet all requirements, including making any revisions on the theses which might be requested at the defense. The deadlines didn't make a lot of sense, but there they were. It was clear that we were working on the end of April deadline for our defenses, end of May for all revisions, with a return to Ann Arbor for Commencement in December. However, our personal deadlines were to have everything completed by the end of April. We decided that we should continue to rent the house through May if that was all right with the University (it was), so that we wouldn't be trying to shut down the house at the same time we were finishing doctoral requirements. We also couldn't be sure that some parts of the process might not slip into May.
Working backward, to be finished by the end of April, we had to set our theses defenses for early April, which meant having the final draft to the committee in late March, which meant having complete drafts to advisors by the first of March. It was now January. We were going to work our butts off for the next six weeks. And guess what? The Michigan Invitational Gymnastics Meet was in early February. I wasn't sure just how Tim was going to work through that conflict, but I couldn't imagine him either missing the meet or missing his thesis deadline. He was willing to admit that diving practice was going to have to be sacrificed for about six weeks. He decided that he'd dive only on Sunday afternoons during that period.
About this time we got a lovely letter from Gene and Ruth, telling us that the Lego blocks had been a wonderful hit with their grandson. Now little Gene was upset that he couldn't go to the local store and buy "red brick." On our next trip to Detroit we slipped over to Windsor and bought a huge pile of "red bricks" and roofing bricks. I think Gene was set for granddaddy gifts for the foreseeable future.
Sweden, like all countries, was represented in the Olympics by a national team. The rest of the time their gymnasts participated on club teams, none of which were as good individually as was the national team. Tor's was the University Gymnastics Club in Stockholm, and they'd not ordinarily have merited an invitation to the Michigan Invitational. However, Tim made it clear that he wanted to meet Tor, and the University Club was invited. Tim was really looking forward to seeing Tor again, and seeing how they compared. I think that Tim was seriously worried that Tor was getting better than he, since Tor probably practiced more.
The University Club sent a six man team. It included Vlad, even though he wasn't one of their top six gymnasts, because they knew that it was through Tor and Vlad that they'd gotten the invitation. Tim and I invited the entire team, and their coach, to stay at our house. Coach Ingvarsen got one of our guest rooms, Tor and Vlad slept with us, and the other four were quite happy to share the other guest room. None of them were gay, and they put two in the double bed and the other two slept on the floor in sleeping bags. They seemed very happy with the arrangement.
Tor, Vlad, Tim and I spooned into our king size bed each night, enjoying each other like long lost lovers - which we were. Tim and I had to admit to each other afterwards that we were both very tempted to try "pushing arse" with them, but they never advanced the idea, and we refrained. There wasn't much else we didn't try.
At the gym Tor took one look at Tim's performances on the various apparatus and announced, "Tim, you're still number one. I can beat you on the pommel horse and I'll push you very hard on the high bar. But you're still number one."
And it was also quite clear that Tor was number two. There were a lot of really top gymnasts at the meet, and they were delighted to have a shot at Tor, who didn't often compete in the United States. They all had their shot, but they consistently missed. Tim took four gold medals, and Tor the fifth - on the pommel horse, ahead of Tim's bronze. They were so close on the high bar that only the tiniest fraction of a point gave the gold to Tim. Neither got a medal on the vault. Final result: Tim - four gold, one bronze, and the overall gold. Tor - one gold, three silver, one bronze and the overall silver. A stunning performance for both of them. People were already talking about the Montreal Olympics three years away.
Tor and the Swedish team had been in the U.S. for just four days. They were heading to Washington from Ann Arbor, then on to Philadelphia and New York, just being typical tourists. Tim and I would've loved to have gone with them, but our theses called, and we realized that we had no choice but to put them on the bus for the Detroit airport and get back to our writing. I think Tor understood that taking even the amount of time that we'd spent with him had been very difficult. He didn't resent the fact that we weren't able to spend more time traveling with him and Vlad.
I was getting pretty sick of Abraham Lincoln. A great president he may have been, and a pretty good lawyer as well. But by this time I had read every word that we had found in the court houses of Illinois - not just his words but the entire case files. I'd read most of his complete works. I'd found enough material to write my thesis - just another name for a book. I'd already talked to an editor at the University of Michigan Press, and they were eager to publish it - Lincoln stuff was selling well right then. It would be with great glee that I put the whole thing to bed following my oral defense.
The defense of a doctoral dissertation is a public event, though most of them take place with no member of the public present - just the doctoral candidate and his dissertation committee. I'd have liked it to be that way with my defense. Several things conspired to insure that that would not be so in my case. First of all, Prexy and Dr. Fry decided to come and watch their new Associate Professor strut his stuff. Second, Tim wasn't about to miss it and he invited the entire Gang. A good many of them showed up - Fred in the usual chartered plane, bringing Prexy and Dr. Fry along with the North Dakota contingent of the Gang. Third, a good many people in the Law School were aware of my quasi-celebrity status, and showed up; I think many of them secretly hoping to see me fall on my ass. Fourth, my editor at the UM Press was there with a few of his co-editors. Fifth, there was a class on Lincoln being offered in the history department that year, and the Professor made it a class assignment to watch my defense and write a critique. Finally, the sports press was curious about an Olympic gold medalist getting an advanced degree in law. As I began to get wind of all of this I went to my advisor and warned him that, much to my dismay, I could count more than a hundred people that were going to make up the "public" at my defense. Since a public of even two was a fairly rare occurrence, he told me that I needed to warn the folks at Rackham in advance. The Rackham School of Graduate Studies, universally known as Rackham, is the overseer of all graduate studies at the University. Dissertations are all submitted through Rackham, defenses scheduled through Rackham, and degrees ultimately granted through Rackham. I went over to the Rackham Building, not knowing just who I should advise regarding my expected "public," and I finally ended up in the office of the Dean of Graduate Studies.
"You are seriously expecting more than a hundred people at your defense, including newspaper reporters?"
"Are you sure your ego isn't somewhat overestimating all of this?"
"Well, you can check with Professor Wilson about his Lincoln class assignment; I only know about that third hand. You can talk with Mr. Gifford at the Press, but I'm pretty sure he and some of his colleagues are coming. President Edison of the University of North Dakota is coming with a dozen or so others from Grand Forks. I've gotten four calls from sports reporters, from here, Fargo, Minneapolis, and Sport Illustrated. It'll be more than a hundred, and 150 wouldn't surprise me."
"It'd surprise me, and everybody else at Rackham. It'd be absolutely unprecedented. We couldn't get 150 people to come and watch Albert Einstein defend the theory of relativity."
"Count on 100, minimum."
"We'll have to move the defense to the Rackham auditorium. We've never done that. I hope we don't run into a scheduling conflict. And I guess you'll have to add one more to your list - I'm going to have to be there. And I hate watching dissertation defenses."
The thing took on a life of its own. Once the word was out that the defense would be in the auditorium, people started asking, "Why?" People weren't coming to hear me, or witness the defense, but to see the crowd and find out what all the fuss was about. I warned my advisor what was coming, and he talked to the other members of the committee. It was agreed that we would meet the evening before in a private session. At that time all of the nitty-gritty that had to be part of a defense was taken care of - mostly going over the dissertation in detail for grammatical errors, footnoting corrections, and other minor stuff. My advisor indicated that any substantive issues needed to be held for the public defense, but at least this way the "public" wouldn't have to spend a hour or so watching us dot eyes and cross tees. Not even Tim was invited to that session. It went well, and it was very clear that I was going to be facing a congenial group the next morning.
There was one unusual aspect to that meeting. My thesis, and Tim's, had been typed on an IBM Mag Card Typewriter, which Tim and I had leased from IBM. Unless you had access to a main frame computer, it was essentially the only form of what we now call word processing available at the time. Theses go through revision after revision as different people read and comment. The amount of retyping that's required is massive. At the end it was the custom to pay a typist about $2.00 per page to type the final copy, and often there was enough editing of the draft presented at the defense that a second professional typing job was required. And, of course, no professional typist is perfect, so after each new typing job a complete proofreading job was required. The Mag Card Typewriter allowed you to record your typewriter keystrokes on a magnetic card just the size of the traditional paper punch card. It could record fifty lines of eighty characters each - about one page per card. My thesis was spread over more than 250 of these cards, and it took almost an entire day to sit at the typewriter, feed in the cards, and type it out. But it took a week to send a draft to a typist, and then you had to proofread. It was a vast improvement.
It was also a very new technology that IBM had had much more success selling to business than to academia. That's partly because most of the administrative offices in universities had access to main frames and had word processing available. Most professors, except in the sciences where computer usage was common, didn't have it available. Not one of the members of my committee had experience with word processing, and were amazed both that I was using it, and with its power. A good part of my pre-defense meeting centered on the word processing of my thesis. And, having the entire thing recorded on magnetic cards made it easy to handle final revisions, and to deliver a useful copy to the University Press, which also had a Mag Card which could read my cards.
The pre-meeting over, I was ready to defend in the public arena the next day. About thirty members of the Gang crowded into our house that night. I don't know who slept where or with whom, except that Tim and I wanted to be alone. We didn't dare hog the king bed, but slept in one of the guest rooms where there was a double. The defense was scheduled for ten the next morning. Tim and I slept late - 7:00 a.m., got up and ate a breakfast which had been fixed by several members of the Gang, and headed off to main campus, leaving instructions for everyone on how to get to the Rackham building. Tim had seen to my clothes: one of my Washington suits, a new white on white dress shirt which he presented to me as a gift along with a new necktie (not pre-tied), perfectly shined shoes which he'd taken to a shoeshine place two days before, and a new, beautiful leather briefcase, which was a gift from Fred. No graduate student at Michigan had ever looked better - at least that was Tim's opinion, seconded by the entire Gang.
We met with my advisor at 9:30, just to make sure of a few last minute details, and then the three of us walked over to Rackham. My advisor said, "I think I'm more nervous than you are, Charlie. A group this size is unprecedented for a defense."
We met the rest of the Committee in the lobby of the auditorium, and the eight of us walked in together, my advisor leading, and me bringing up the rear. Right in the middle of the front row were Presidents Edison of North Dakota and Rogers of Michigan. Around and behind them were more than 200 people. The Graduate Dean met us at the front of the auditorium and said to me, "Well, Mr. Charlie, your attendance estimate was off by about 100%. Of course, my estimate was off by about ten thousand per cent. I guess I'm not the first person that didn't take you as seriously as I should've."
"Dean, you have no idea how much I wish that your attendance estimate had been correct."
He laughed. "Celebrity has its disadvantages."
"I'm well aware of that."
"Well, I think we should get on with the show. I have no role here. Your advisor gets to do the honors."
Normally the audience, if there is one, consists of one or two people and they're simply ignored and allowed to sit in the room and watch. That wasn't going to work in this situation. My advisor introduced himself, the Committee, and suggested that evidently I needed no introduction. That got a little laugh. He then went ahead and introduced me anyway - as Mr. Charlie. That brought a protest from one of the students in the Lincoln class who had no idea who I was, and thought that the lack of last name was to provide anonymity. I fielded that question, saying that, thanks to a court in North Dakota, my full legal name was simply Charlie. My advisor cut off a question about "Why?" saying that the audience were not participants in the examination, only witnesses.
He turned to me and said, "Mr. Charlie." That was the first time in our relationship that he'd ever called me "Mr. Charlie," but I understood the reason for his formality. He continued, "Why don't you begin by outlining your research, your methodology, and your conclusions."
That took an hour, with many interruptions. The most time consuming ones came from the two "outside" (i.e. outside of the Law School) members of the Committee who were relatively new to my research. They wanted to know all about my searching in Illinois for Lincoln legal papers. While that wasn't really a part of my doctoral research, it was probably the most fascinating part of what I'd done. And there was no way to keep a Committee member "on subject" if he or she choose to roam with their questions.
My conclusions were fairly straight forward: Lincoln was a pretty good lawyer, but not a legal genius. He seemed to believe that the pursuit of truth and justice was a higher calling than winning in court. He took a rather passive view of the role of the courts. I was able to cite extensive material from his writings to defend these positions, and in particular, was able to point out missed legal opportunities that supported my conclusion that he was a good lawyer, but not a genius.
Most of the questions were softballs that gave me an opportunity to show off what I knew of Lincoln, Illinois courts in the second half of the 19th century, and 19th century legal theory. It all went quite well.
My view of the work was that it was a solid dissertation, but only worth publishing because it related to Lincoln, and in general not worthy of any kind of exceptional praise. I am quite sure that my advisor agreed with that critique. However, faced with an obvious celebrity, two university presidents and two deans of law expressing interest in me, and more than 200 spectators, he decided that I'd presented a superlative research project, worthy of considerable praise.
Tim, whose appraisal of my work very much mirrored my own, was barely able to avoid bursting out laughing at that. Tim came up on the stage right after the defense ended and summed up the whole affair in one word, "Bullshit."
"But wonderful bullshit," was my reply.
The Graduate Dean came up to us, congratulated me on my defense, and then turned to Tim. "Mr. Tim, I understand that you'll be defending your dissertation in about two weeks. Should I be expecting another three ring circus like this one?"
Tim said, "I think so. I understand that the UM Marching Band is going to perform at half-time." This was said with a completely straight face, and I wasn't sure that the Dean understood he was joking!
I picked up where Tim left off and said, "I think we should schedule it for the Stadium, his fans are legion."
The Dean looked from one of us to the other and finally smiled and said, "You guys are too much. But I think I'll tell my staff to schedule it in this room."
Prexy and President Rogers came up and offered congratulations. Prexy said, "I'm glad I already have a signed acceptance letter from you. This might go to your head and you might decide you want to teach at Harvard."
"Not a chance. Tim would kill me. It's Grand Forks or die."
Franklin came up and said, "I could read Tim's lips when he spoke. He's right, of course. You're a class A con man. What a snow job."
I said, "Wait till you hear Tim. He's going to be worse."
We headed back to our house, overfilling the first campus bus to North Campus. There we were treated to a catered lunch, courtesy of Fred. It was a victory meal, regardless of whether the whole thing was bullshit. We had a wonderful meal, and invited everyone back in two weeks for Tim's show. Fred assured us that he already had the plane reserved!
Thanks to the fact that I had an editor at the UM Press working with my manuscript, I had only three trivial corrections to make as a result of the defense - actually the private session the night before. Those were taken care of the next day, the dissertation submitted to Rackham with all of the required signatures, and my work was done. In four weeks I would officially be Dr. Charlie, but I would not get to march in a Commencement and get my doctoral hood until December.
Tim's show was pretty similar to mine. There was no class assigned to watch, but quite a few coaches and fellow athletes were there, and a larger contingent of sports reporters. His "public" was just a few more than mine.
Tim's dissertation provided some significant insights into high school and college teaching methodologies, but more of that as I tell of his coming time at the University of North Dakota, when he put his insights into practice.
Tim woke up the day after his defense, said goodbye to the Gang that was again staying with us, and announced, "I'm going diving; I'm way behind in my practice schedule." With that he was out the door and spent the rest of the day at the pool. I dropped in on him at lunchtime, bringing him a sandwich and a Coke. We sat by the pool and ate together. I said, "What of all of this are you going to miss? You're going from a very large university, in a small city which is really part of one of the major urban areas of the country, to a small university, in a medium sized town, not even close to anything that could be called urban. There're less people in all of North Dakota than in the city of Detroit, not counting the urban area around it. What will you miss?"
"Not one God damned thing."
"I don't believe it."
"A myth of the city is that with more people you get more friends, colleagues, and associates. That the fact of more diversity in the broad community means more diversity in your little social grouping. That a large city around you changes a lot of things in your day to day life. OK, I'll admit Detroit has professional athletic teams to root for - we never attended a game. Michigan has huge, profitable automobile manufacturing plants - we only drove by, and then only a couple of times. It has good museums - we visited once. There are a lot of Black Americans in the Detroit urban area, including quite a few students here - we know almost none. We'll spend more time with Sid and his family in Grand Forks than with Blacks here. The fact is, almost all of our lives are spent with a fairly small group of close friends, colleagues and co-workers. We'll have just about the same size group in Grand Forks as we have here or we had in Washington. I'll admit that in Washington that group included some pretty important people, but so what? Did that really make them more interesting or fun to be with? I'm ready for North Dakota because I like it there, they seem to like me, and I think I can make a difference there. I can't argue that small is better than large, but I don't buy into the idea that large is better than small. But the law of inertia, what you and I have thought of as the elephant in a puddle rule, does mean that we can change things more easily in Grand Forks. I'm ready."
"I'm ready too, Tim. I'll have to admit that I'm not totally convinced of your arguments, but I'm not unhappy about moving to Grand Forks. It was a nice town to live in, and it'll be a nice place to work in."
"You're sure, Charlie? I don't want to drag you someplace you really don't want to go."
"I know you don't, Tim. And I wouldn't let you. It'd be the beginning of the end of our relationship. But I'm eager to try Grand Forks. And I know that if it doesn't work - for either of us - you'll be willing to move on."
"I would. You know that Charlie, don't you?"
"Yes, I do. I love you, Tim."
"I love you, Charlie. Are you going to get in the pool with me this afternoon?"
"Nope. I have nothing to do this afternoon, perhaps for the first time in years. I intend to work very hard at doing it."
"You know you're in for a bad afternoon, don't you?"
"Maybe if I kept it up for a few days. But I'm going to enjoy this afternoon."
I took the bus up to main campus and walked over to the UGLI. My library time was spent in the vast collections of the main graduate library, but the UGLI was more conducive to actually enjoying books, rather that doing research. I picked up a science fiction novel by Isaac Asimov. I had read his collection of short stories, I, Robot, in high school, and a further collection in college. Now I had the first novel in his Foundation series in my hand. I didn't realize it at the time, as I sat down in a comfortable reading chair to spend the afternoon reading, but I was embarking on a long term love affair with one of the most prolific writers of our time.
I'd told Tim where to find me, and about 5:15 he walked in, looking almost shriveled after his whole day in the water. He looked more relaxed and content than I'd seen him in a long time. What a nice read can do for me in an afternoon, an afternoon of intense diving can do for Tim. To make things even better, Judy had joined him that afternoon, and they had dived together for about three hours. "She's really getting good, Charlie. Billy should be glad she's a woman and won't be competing with him."
"I doubt that Billy's worried. Does Judy know you're comparing her with Billy?"
"Yes, she does. She's damn good, and I believe in telling people honestly how well I think they're doing."
"How old is Judy?"
"Nineteen or twenty, she's a sophomore. Why are you asking?"
"How is it that you know the answer right off the top of your head?"
"Great minds think alike."
"What do you think? Is her mind running in the same direction?"
"I think so. She's as much in love with me as she is with diving?"
"She doesn't think she can get you, does she?"
"No. I think she's like Tina. She isn't looking for a mate, just a wonderful friendship."
"A wonderful, sexy friendship, you mean?"
"That remains to be seen. Care to chaperone?"
"Well, I'm taking her to dinner tonight. You can join us."
We took the bus back to North Campus, changed, and drove down to pick up Judy at her dorm, just barely making the appointed time of 7:00 p.m. Tim looked much younger than he was, and anyone seeing him pick up Judy in the lounge of the girls' athletic dorm would've assumed they were contemporaries going for a date. Tim was introduced to one of Judy's friends who made exactly that assumption, saying, "Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
Tim never missed an opportunity and responded, "What wouldn't you do? Be specific."
The girl was too embarrassed to reply; she grinned and retreated. Judy just chuckled. She said, "If she is to be believed, there isn't much she wouldn't do."
Tim, never the shy one, said, "How about you?"
Judy, even less the shy one, said, "I sort of thought that was the subject of tonight's discussion. Isn't that why we have a chaperone tonight?"
Well, it was pretty obvious to Tim where tonight's discussion was headed. Since I'd been waiting in the car while Tim went into the dorm to get Judy, I hadn't heard their conversation. After we got to the restaurant we both went to the bathroom together and Tim repeated the conversation to me. "Just so you know where things are headed."
We had a lovely dinner. We talked about diving, growing up in Kalamazoo, Minneapolis, and Indianapolis, life in the athletic dorm, and her studies at Michigan - she was a chemistry major, with serious plans to be a research chemist. We decided to skip dessert, but got refills on our Cokes and her apple juice. As she got her third glass of juice, Judy said, "OK, last summer while you two were heading around the world, Marty told me a little about this Gang of yours. It's time to fill in the details."
"It's a long story."
"Do you want to tell it here, or take me back to your house. I don't think my dorm lounge is the right place."
"Let me tell you about the summer Charlie and I met. Then we'll head to our house and we can attempt to complete the story before the night runs out."
It was 1:00 a.m. before Judy ran out of questions. Judy thought for a while about everything she'd heard. "Wow. You guys're something else. And I can't believe that you shared all of that with me."
"You've heard me talk about love and support. I can't pretend to give you the love and support that you need and also keep secrets from you. We trust you. Where you decide to go with this story is up to you. We do ask that you not share it beyond the members of our Gang."
"None of this would be new to Marty, would it?"
"No. He's been pretty well initiated into the Gang."
"You said that a lot of the Gang were here for both of your defenses?"
"Did they all stay at your house?"
"Did Marty come along on those trips?"
"And you all had one big sleep fest?"
"No, Charlie and I wanted to be alone those nights; the rest of the Gang was spread all over the house."
"And for the rest of the group those nights were one big orgy?"
"We'd never us that word. It suggests that sex is the basis for the relationships. Sex is always secondary. Love-in is a better word."
"Are you sure that Marty wouldn't think of it as an orgy?"
"I hope not."
"So where does this all leave me? You know, Tim, I could fall in love with you."
I said, "Don't forget, he's gay. There's straight in him, but he's gay. To which I can only add, 'Thank God',"
"Can I spend the night tonight?"
Tim said, "We thought you'd never ask. You'd be crossing a line. Are you sure it's one you want to cross?"
"I've wanted to cross that line ever since we kissed that evening in your dining room."
"Judy, are you a virgin?"
"Technically, yes. But my high school boyfriend and I went pretty far in our petting and playing. For tonight, at least, I'd like to keep it that way."
"Good for you," said Tim. "We'll respect that."
"You'd better not respect anything else."
Tim took the hint and was almost instantly naked. "Show me just how far you went with this boyfriend of yours."
I said, "Why don't we go upstairs to our bedroom?"
Tim said, "Both of you. Leave your clothes here."
I wondered how comfortable Judy was going to be undressing in our living room. She didn't seem fazed. She slipped out of her dress and slip, and removed her bra and panties with little hesitation or embarrassment. Then she turned to me and said, "Your turn, Charlie."
I took the hint, dropping my clothes in a heap on top of Tim's. We all headed upstairs. When we got there Judy asked, "Is this supposed to help my diving?"
Tim said, "Boy, would I get in trouble if I was quoted as saying, 'Have sex with me, it'll make you dive better'."
"That isn't what I meant."
I said, "There's a real chance that a deeper relationship with Tim, and me as well, will provide a form of love and support that will help you do well in other endeavors."
"Mumble, jumble. But I guess that's as close to a, 'Yes,' as I am going to get, isn't it?"
"It's closer to a, 'Yes," than you would've gotten out of me," said Tim.
"Since you aren't going to drive your dick into me, let's see how far you can get your tongue in."
We picked her up, carried her to the bed, and let one thing lead to another. She was an enthusiastic patron of oral sex, and we had a very good time. She admitted that nothing we did was new to her; she and her high school boyfriend had explored virtually all of the options for oral sex. The only thing new was having two tongues working on her at the same time. We assured her that sometime in the future we'd let her try to suck two dicks at once.
As we drifted off to sleep Judy asked, "Does this make me a Gang member?"
"No. But it opens the door to your meeting the Gang."
"Can I suck Marty?"
"That's up to Marty. He's gay, you know."
"That didn't seem to slow you two guys down."
"I don't think it'll slow Marty down very much either. Try him and see."
"Where? We both live in closed dorms."
I said, "We'd invite you here, except that we could be really criticized if it got out that we were letting you use this space for sex."
"What about actually having sex with me in this space?"
"We'd just as soon that didn't get out either. But I think it'd be better if you and Marty just used a motel. Better yet, a hotel in Detroit."
"I understand. Tim, what am I going to do next year? You're going to be off in North Dakota. Where do I get the love and support you tell me I need, and the coaching I know I need, when you're there and I'm here?"
"You're good, Judy. You can stand on your own."
"I'm going to transfer to the University of North Dakota."
"Your swimming coach would kill me, if he thought I was stealing you."
"My swimming coach is a man, UND has a woman. My coach has resented me working with you. My swimming coach looks out for himself and the team, not me. You've never done or said anything that wasn't designed to be in my best interests. If I just want to be on a winning college team, I'm better off in Michigan. If I want an Olympic medal, I'm better off with you in North Dakota. You can't deny that."
"I'll let you get out of town and then I'll announce my departure."
"No, you and I will go together to President Rogers and explain the situation."
"President Rogers? You can just walk in an get an appointment with the President of the University?"
"Any student can, I'm sure. But Charlie and I were personally recruited by President Rogers, and we owe him a personal explanation of your plans."
President Rogers was both understanding and appreciative of our talking to him personally about Judy. He told Judy that she should always make decisions with her own best interests foremost. Universities were, after all, here to serve the students, not the other way around. He sounded very much like Prexy talking to Billy. He did say that Judy shouldn't expect that kind of reaction in the athletic department. She should have her UND acceptance in hand before she said anything to anybody. I assured her that she could have a UND acceptance in a matter of days; I had the inside track to both the athletic department and the President of the University of North Dakota.
After the meeting I asked Judy, "What about your parents? What're they going to think of your heading off to the wastes of North Dakota?"
"I've already discussed it with them. They were shocked that I was thinking about the Olympics, but completely supportive of me trying to pursue it. They're OK with North Dakota, as long as I'm sure that that is right for me."
"What would they think of our adventures in bed the other evening."
"They didn't bat an eye."
That certainly startled Tim. He replied, "I think it's time to meet your parents."
"You and Charlie come home with me this weekend."
"OK. I think I can speak for Charlie."
Saturday morning we were off. It's only a couple of hours to Kalamazoo, and we were there by eleven in the morning. Judy's parents greeted us warmly, and invited us to an early lunch, "You must be hungry from your drive. And I'll bet you didn't get much breakfast."
I said, "We usually don't get much breakfast, and we didn't have time this morning. Tim had to cut his time at the gym short in order to get home and changed to be ready for our trip."
"The gym? This morning? How often do you do that, Tim?"
"Every day, except some Sunday's - either the gym or the pool."
"Judy tells us that you have her on a similar schedule."
"She has herself on that schedule. But I suggested it."
Judy interrupted. "Look, at least let me introduce you all. Tim, Charlie, these are my parents, Sally and Salvatore Freeman. Mom, Dad, this is Tim and this is Charlie. Doctoral candidates, Olympic gold medalists, and my best friends on campus."
"I guess we got ahead of ourselves. Come in and eat," said Sally.
Her father said, "Nobody calls me Salvatore, not even my parents. I don't know where it came from, we aren't Italian. I think they'd just seen some Italian movie, I'm not sure. Everybody calls me Steve."
"Steve? How do you get Steve out of Salvatore?"
"You'd have to ask my kid brother. He started it when he learned to talk, and it stuck."
"Glad to meet you Steve. And Sally."
"The same. We've heard a lot about you two."
"Apparently a whole lot."
"Judy doesn't have many secrets from us, at least we think she doesn't. Who can tell about secrets? You don't need to be embarrassed. Judy told us a while ago where she hoped the relationship was heading. When she called that morning she was so excited she could hardly talk. We finally got the story out of her. Anything that could make her that happy can't be wrong. We're glad she's happy. We hope it doesn't lead to a fall, but she assures us that she doesn't have any unrealistic expectations about you two. She also says that she wants to follow you to the end of the earth. That right?"
I said, "It was her idea. But if she wants Olympic medals, it's probably the best move."
"Tell us about this Gang. At least I think that's what Judy called it. She says she's only met one other member, a kid named Marty?"
Judy said, "Maybe we should eat first."
It was a nice lunch, full of questions. At one point her father mused, "You know, Judy's high school boyfriend, Judson, was a really nice boy. He's at Kalamazoo College. He wanted Judy to go there, but she chose Ann Arbor. Actually, I think the swimming coach made the decision for her. She and Judson decided not to have a long distance romance."
Sally said, "We see Judson every once in a while. He asks about you, Judy. He has a new girl, and I think they're engaged. I had some regrets when I heard that; I liked Judson. But you have a new life, girl. Enjoy it."
"I will, Mom. I haven't had time for romance since I got to Michigan, and certainly since I started practicing with Tim. Things won't change soon. But Mr. Right's out there somewhere. Maybe at the Montreal Olympics. Maybe diving for Canada. Number two right behind Billy." She turned to Tim, "Wouldn't it be something if that's how it worked out?"
"Don't make book," I said.
A good amount of the afternoon was taken up with stories of the Gang. Steve and Sally were fascinated. Steve said, "Are you saying that since Sally had you last weekend, we could have you this weekend?"
"In your dreams, Daddy."
I said, "This evening, why don't we send Tim and Judy up to her room, and I'll join you two?"
Judy said, "My mind is reeling."
Tim said, "Judy, I think for a good many years you have underestimated your parents. Look at Charlie, a gorgeous piece of horseflesh. You wouldn't deny that to your parents, would you? Charlie, stand up. Take off your shirt and show off that body of yours."
I was really embarrassed, but Tim kept pushing. I did stand up, and did take off my shirt. I'll admit that with my continued weight training I had a very fit body. Not much hair on my chest made me look younger than I really was. I was embarrassed to have Sally - and Steve - staring at me. Sally said, "I'm really looking forward to tonight."
That afternoon we got a tour of the town and the two college campuses - Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University. Steve and Sally took us all out for a nice dinner and we came back to their house, full of anticipation of a most unusual night.
It turned out that Steve and Sally were avid game players. When they heard that we'd played Go with Jim and company, they got out their set. We insisted that we'd only played once or twice, but they went over the rules with us again, and we were off. It was Steve against me, and soon another board was out and it was Tim against Judy. Sally seemed very content to watch. Tim and I were beaten badly, even with Sally making suggestions as we went along. We learned a lot about the game; knowledge that I wasn't sure we'd ever need, but it was fun. Then Sally got out a Monopoly set and announced that we were going to play strip Monopoly.
Judy said, "Mom," stretching the vowel out in a pained voice.
Sally said, "Judy, after your stories about your night with Tim and Charlie, and their stories of the Gang, you can't be embarrassed by my suggesting strip Monopoly."
Clearly Mom was wrong about that!
Tim said, "Well, I'm not embarrassed. What're the rules?"
"Simple, when you go bankrupt you turn in all your clothes to the bank. If we didn't have our evening pairings all set, then the winner would get his choice of all the naked flesh. In our case, the winner will just get to feast his or her eyes and then head off to bed as planned."
"Mom, have you played this before?"
"The Sanders and the Quoits. Sometimes all six of us."
"And I thought the question of secrets only applied to me. It seems you have pretty big secrets of your own."
"They aren't secrets. You never asked and there never seemed to be a reason to talk about it. Tonight there was. Now, I think we should play one of the short forms of Monopoly, so it won't last forever. We can't play the timed version, you don't go bankrupt. But, we can deal out most of the properties to start. That cuts the time way back."
We dealt out three properties each; none of us got a complete color group. I was the first to get one, and soon I was winning. But that just invited the rest to gang up on me, and soon I was bankrupt, and quite naked. In wiping me out they'd fed Sally and Judy color groups and that led to first Steve and then Tim going bankrupt. We now had three naked men watching the two women battle it out. Judy was clearly losing, and a final visit to Park Place did her in. She turned in her clothes with some reluctance. She was intimidated by her parents being so willing to be sexually involved with Tim and me. Comparing notes afterward, Tim and I thought it was kind of funny. Here was Judy, who'd been completely forward with us, taking a back seat to her parents!
Sally said, "OK, you four. I get to look. I think I even may touch a little. Stand up here. We stood up in a line, Judy very reluctantly, but her mother made it clear that she was one of the losers and should stand with the rest of us. She started with Steve, tickling his balls and then squeezing his dick. Tim and I got the same treatment. Then she said, "Charlie, you play with Judy a little, you aren't going to get a chance tonight." I stroked her clit a couple of times and that was it. Tim took Judy by the hand and they headed off to bed. Sally, Steve, and I made our way to their bedroom. Steve said, "Judy says you like to suck. How about sucking me and fucking Sally?"
"Boy, you two don't mess around."
"Oh, yes, we do," said Sally. "He's only talking about the end results, I hope a lot more happens first."
It did. Steve and Sally, it turns out, led a pretty exciting sex life with two other couples, the Sanders and the Quoits. There'd once been a fourth couple, but they'd divorced. The man had stayed part of the group until he had a new partner, but she wasn't into swinging. So it was the Freemans, the Sanders, and the Quoits. Most Saturday nights. They all swung both ways, so Steve as well as Sally were ready for sex with me. Nothing was off limits for the three couples, but I held my line.
Sally said, "As I understand your rules, you're willing to fuck my ass, just not Steve's."
"Right. Our rule is that we don't fuck other men."
"OK, we're headed toward you fucking a woman's ass, not a man's."
They were experts. They knew where they were headed and they brought me right along. Soon I found Steve exploding down my throat, and then me fucking the daylights out of Sally's ass, guided and pushed by Steve. Then our tongues fought for access to her cunt. Steve's won, but we soon traded off. When Sally came I thought the bed was going to collapse, but it held up, and so did I. What an evening! It turned out that Tim was fucking Judy's ass at about the same time I was fucking her mother's.
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