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Finding Tim

A Fourth Alternate Reality

by Charlie
With editorial assistance from Dix and John


I'm not quite sure why it fell to me to tell this part of the story, but here I am. Tim that is. Charlie's taking a mini-vacation.

The year was 1977; the year Charlie would become Dean. For various reasons, not much was going on at the university that involved us, particularly Charlie. He was sort of in between: he wasn't Dean, but his presence would've undermined Hamilton, who showed no signs of being ready to hand over the reins of the Law School. Charlie and I decided that it would be better if we skipped town. We did invite Hamilton and his wife for a week at the lake, and they came. We had a good time with them, but not once was the deanship mentioned!

I wanted to catch up with Bill, Sarah, and their boys, Willie and Bob. Willie would be four in the fall and Bob would be two. We hadn't seen them often, and those visits were brief. We encouraged them to come to the lake and they did, for about ten days. It was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends, swim and dive with Billy, and get to know the boys. Almost four, Willie was developing a personality and could carry on intelligent conversations. Bob was just learning to talk, and was demonstrating a sunny disposition.

Both were total water rats. Willie was already a good swimmer and dove fearlessly from the end of our dock. He gleefully entered into Billy's and my water roughhousing and never got upset when he came out on the bottom, which he usually did. However, we got gloriously splashed by Willie often enough that he was happy with the laughs that he got on us.

Bob wasn't yet a swimmer, but he demonstrated no fear of the water, jumping in deep water with the full expectation that Billy or I would catch him. If we didn't and he went in, he splashed around till we picked him up. Billy was obviously right, Sarah, and God, had given him two water nymphs.

Sarah watched all this with delight, and often entered in. She knew that Billy's joy in life would be vested in the aquatic talents of his boys, and she was pleased that that seemed to be their future. She knew that he'd have been happy with any kind of boys, with any kind of talents. But who'd be kidding whom if anyone claimed that Billy, the number one diving coach in the land, wasn't eager to coach his own boys. If you want to know who said Billy was the best coach in the land, I said it. And, by damn, he was.

During those ten days we realized that children were going to affect the sex lives of the Gang. Their presence, in this case the presence of Willie who was old enough to observe his environment, and more importantly, talk about his observations to who knew whom, couldn't help but shape our behavior.

On previous visits - there hadn't been many - Billy and Sarah had simply thrown their suitcases into the master bedroom, assuming sleeping arrangements would logically follow. This time we set them up in one of the two guest rooms, with Willie and Bob sharing the other. We didn't think that Willie would be the least concerned about who slept with whom, but obvious room sharing might very well have led to "show and tell" type storytelling back in Bloomington. We didn't think that Indiana University was ready for stories of Billy, Sarah, Tim and Charlie sleeping together. So, regardless of how we slept, when I awoke at my usual early hour I shooed everyone back to their assigned bed, and Willie and Bob came into our bedrooms about an hour later and found everyone where they belonged.

Most nights after the boys were down Sarah and Charlie would push Billy and me into bed together. They both insisted that we were diving soulmates and simply had to be together. And they clearly meant together sexually, because they spelled it out pretty graphically. I did spend a delightful night with Sarah, while Billy and Charlie did their thing, and two nights we stuffed four into the king size bed.

Lakes don't make good settings for diving boards or platforms. To get the depth you need to be safe you have to be pretty far from shore - too far to easily build a board or platform high enough to meet Billy's or my needs. My usual response to this was to simply swim to keep in shape and practice gymnastics floor exercises, balance beam, pommel horse and parallel bars. At the lake I had a regulation pommel horse, a pair of parallel bars, and a balance beam that sat down on the ground. I could practice everything on it except mounts and dismounts.

But Billy and I wanted to dive together, and we meant competition level diving. I'd assumed that Northern Michigan University would have a pool with at least a 3 meter springboard, but swimming and diving wasn't a competitive sport at NMU and they had no competitive springboards at all. However, with a little checking I found, much to my surprise, that Iron River High School had a good swimming and diving program and had a 3 meter springboard and a 5 meter platform. I called the Iron River High School and was given the coach's name and number. (The world wasn't so caught up in the privacy "thing" back then.) I called Coach Wilson, introduced myself and asked if Billy Carson and I might use their pool one day in the coming week.

Harry Wilson reacted in 1977 just about the way a swimming coach today (2008) might react to a call from Michael Phelps asking if he could practice in the high school pool for a day. Harry's first assumption was that someone was pulling a prank. I assured him not, and suggested that he could call my office at the University of North Dakota and get my summer phone number. He could then call me back and know for sure whom he was talking to. He decided that that wasn't necessary, but he still sounded a little uncertain.

He then asked if he could invite his swim and dive team to come by the pool while we were there. I assured him that we'd be delighted to meet his team, and we'd be glad to work with his divers if they were interested. (Do you know a swimmer today that wouldn't like to "work with" Michael Phelps?)

Three days later at 8:00 in the morning we arrived at the Iron River Pool, Billy, Sarah, Wille, Bob, Charlie and me. Harry met us, and told us that he'd invited his team for 10:00 a.m. to give us a couple of hours diving alone. We greatly appreciated that, but soon found that we weren't going to be ALONE. Harry, the principal and his secretary, and two janitors found time to come by the pool and "just look things over" for at least an hour. We didn't mind, and they didn't bother us.

While Billy and I dove from the 3 meter springboard, Charlie got in the water below the 1 meter board and stood by for Willie to jump into the pool from that height. This quickly changed to diving in. Bob was quite willing to jump, holding his nose on the way in. Charlie would catch him as soon as he hit the water and push him over to the edge of the pool where Sarah lifted him out. He'd immediately grin and say, "Again, again." He had to wait his turn while his brother would dive. Willie'd get out of the water by himself. After about a half hour of this Sarah was afraid they were getting tired and she had them rest. Harry came over to talk, and expressed surprise at the lack of fear the two boys had of the water.

All Charlie could say was, "It's in the genes. Billy's genes." I think maybe it was.

About eight boys and five girls showed up around ten a.m. eager to meet Billy and me. The divers had been told to bring their suits and they were ready to dive, but didn't really know what to expect. There were five divers, three boys and two girls. The team was larger, but the other divers had been out of town or had other obligations, i.e. summer jobs.

Billy and I decided that the place to start was with a little show. We each did about eight dives, two of them dives high school divers would be working on, and six of the most difficult there are. If you're going to show off, you might as well show your best, right? We thought so. One of the high school boys reacted to one of Billy's dives by saying, "In my wildest dreams I don't even attempt dives like that."

Billy responded, "Then you aren't dreaming the right kind of dreams. So, our goal for today is to get you to attempt that dive."

"You have to be kidding. I'd kill myself."

"We have enough people here for a burial detail. But I don't think we'll need it. Now let's see your best dive."

His dive was fairly simple, but well executed from 1 meter. We had all five show us their best dive. Then their best from 3 meters. Then the most difficult dive they'd ever attempted. Then we took a break and sat with the five divers and listened to their stories. We didn't try to make it private, the swimmers and others gathered around to listen, but we asked them not to make comments.

The divers were a fairly ordinary group of kids. Four would be seniors in the fall and one a junior. They all lived in town rather than in the rural areas around Iron River. Their parents owned or worked in stores, were construction workers, a policeman, and an elementary school teacher. None was able to verbalize why they'd decided on diving, but Billy and I suspected that it was the most common reason of all: you like to do what you discover you're good at doing. All five pretty much agreed with Billy when he said that. Billy allowed as how that was why he'd become a diver. They looked at me. I simply said, "I wanted Olympic medals and diving and gymnastics were my only hope, since they don't give a medal for sunbathing." The kids thought that was slightly funny.

I said, "OK, we want to push you a little. Can you all do a simple front dive with 2 ½ somersaults?"

Three said, "Yes."

"You two, are you willing to try?"

"Yes." Said with some hesitation.

"OK, let's go. Billy, then me, then you three, then you two. You'll do fine."

And they did. The last two dives weren't pretty, but they weren't belly flops either. "OK, once more." A little better. "Again." A little better.

We backed them up to 1 ½ somersaults, and then added a half twist. Just as we had hoped, and had seen in many such situations in other settings, the kids got into the spirit of the thing and stopped worrying about the fact that they were doing dives that they didn't think they knew how to. We ended at 2½ with a full twist. That was pretty close to what Billy had done to start the whole process. All five of the kids were doing dives that hadn't yet gotten to their dream list. Their coach was in a state of disbelief. He said, to the group, "I wouldn't have dreamed of pushing you kids like that. I'm amazed."

Billy said, "Never underestimate kids. And listen up, you divers. You keep working on those dives, every day you can, and you'll be able to do them in competition."

Harry was an interesting coach. He'd never seen me in person, but had seen me on TV and had seen my picture a lot in the sports pages. Our program at UND, clearly the best in the northern tier of Midwestern states (real north, excluding the Lower Peninsula and the Twin Cities), is what had inspired Iron River to emphasize swimming and especially diving. That's why they had installed the 3 meter platform and encouraged their divers to master it. Most high school diving was just at 1 meter, and the kids that worked at 3 meters had to travel out of the UP for competition. They had a special fundraising campaign just to make that possible.

We remembered lunch about 2:30 p.m. and we ordered in pizza. Over lunch we heard from the swimmers as well as the divers. After lunch they got their suits on and showed their stuff. They weren't bad, but all Billy and I could do was offer encouragement; swimming coaches we weren't. Then we went back to our serious diving, letting everyone that wanted to watch. We were particularly challenged by the 5 meter platform. It wasn't a height that we dove from much at all, and we didn't have the dives mastered. After a few attempts we got the hang of it, and were able to show off a little. We wouldn't have won a 5 meter competition that day, however. That also explains why we hadn't worked with the kids at that height. It turned out, in fact, that the platform had just been installed in the spring, and the kids were just getting used to it. There had been no competition at 5 meters yet, and probably wouldn't before a year or two. The program was growing. I told Charlie that I hoped we could come back in future summers and see how things were going. Coach Wilson was delighted with the idea.

While Billy and I ended the day diving from the platform, Charlie and Sarah went back to letting Willie and Bob jump and dive from 1 meter. I'm quite certain that Bob was the first two-year old off that board, and Willie was probably the first four-year old. (They were almost 2 and 4, but technically they were 1 and 3 - even more impressive.) Charlie and Sarah found time to swim a few laps with the swimmers - not keeping up. They avoided the diving boards.

Hal and Ronnie's two weeks at Camp White Elk (yes, they always found time for two weeks at camp) overlapped with Billy's visit to the cabin. We took advantage of the good timing to go over to the camp and spend a day and see them. Billy had visited Camp White Elk a couple of times, but didn't have the history with the place that the original Gang had. However, he knew Dick, Jeff and Stanley, and enjoyed the visit. When we arrived Ronnie was sitting under his tree, deep in conversation with two older teenage campers. He noticed us arrive but didn't disturb the conversation. We didn't interrupt and headed out to look for Hal, who was equally unavailable - he was out running with a group of younger boys. We found Dick and Jeff, and sat around talking as we waited for Hal and Ronnie.

We were delighted to hear that Dick had been well accepted into the camp community. Yes, about a dozen campers had cancelled their reservations following the announcement of the commitment. And since then a few nasty letters had arrived and a couple of campers would cancel each spring as they learned about Dick and Jeff. On the other side, enrollment was good and the camp was thriving. From Jeff's point of view, the best news was that Stanley, in retirement, really was able to let go of the reins and allow Jeff to run the place. Dick was the Assistant Director, and spent most of his time managing the facilities, including overseeing the kitchen. He was glad to report that this kitchen did not start at 3:00 a.m. He also reported that a young woman, an older teen, was helping his mother in the bakery.

Ronnie joined us late in the morning. He waited until he had us alone to tell us about his morning conversation with the two boys he was talking to when we'd arrived. They were both gay and in the closet. They had, somehow, connected at camp. One of them knew of Ronnie's connection to Charlie and me, and figured it was safe to talk to him. They'd talked more than an hour, with Ronnie mostly listening. It was clear that they wanted to head into the woods and explore more than the flora and fauna of the region, and Ronnie didn't discourage them. He did point them in a direction where he was pretty sure they wouldn't encounter a running Hal.

Ronnie was pleased when the boys ended the conversation by thanking him profusely for accepting them for who they were. He'd responded by giving them his address and telephone number at home, and encouraging them to write or call anytime they needed to talk. He assured them that he wouldn't tell anyone at camp about the conversation, but did get permission to talk to us about it. That's why he had waited till the three of us were alone together to mention his conversation with his young, gay friends.

In the afternoon Charlie went by the archery range which he'd run as a counselor. The boys shooting were thrilled to have a chance to meet and shoot with an Olympic gold medalist. I was glad to hear from them that Charlie hadn't lost all of his skill with a bow. I was informed by one young boy, "He never missed the gold - wow!" Charlie pointed out that from the 25 yards they were shooting from, bull's eyes weren't difficult.

I said, "Maybe not for you, but they're tough for those kids."

I was pushed onto the trampoline and forced to show off. OK, I'll admit I liked it. Their diving board hadn't improved much since I had been a camper, but I showed off there as well. So did Billy. He was damn good. OK, so was I.

The rest of our summer with Billy, Sarah, and the boys was spent playing in the water of Pike Lake, hiking in the woods, cooking wonderful meals over wood fires by the lake, and generally enjoying ourselves. To make the visit even better we were blessed with lovely weather. The Carson family visit, Hamilton's visit, and the summer, came to an end much too quickly. We found ourselves heading back across Wisconsin and Minnesota to North Dakota. Instead of driving it in one day, we decided to revisit the past. We left Route 2 at Bemidji and drove the thirty miles south to Lake Itaska, the headwaters of the Mississippi. We found the same motel we'd stopped at as we'd set out for Grand Forks in the fall of my freshman year. It hadn't changed much. The owners had kept it up, obviously painting when it needed it (inside and out), and clearly taking some pride in the place. I'm sorry to report, however, that I don't think the mattresses had been changed since our previous visit - at least not the one we slept on. But the stop really wasn't for sleep, and the bed suited our purposes quite well.

I'll have to admit that the sex that had seemed somewhat adventurous the first visit now was more or less routine. Our lives had changed, and we'd grown accustomed to each other. But I don't think the sex was any less enjoyable!

The next morning we were off to Grand Forks, another summer behind us. Nothing but hope and pleasant anticipation in front of us. As I remember it, the main topic of conversation that morning for Charlie and me was to express our realization of how lucky we were. Here we were ages 31 and 37 and we both had already had a lifetime's worth of joy, adventure and experiences. How could we ever have been so lucky? And on top of all of that, we had found each other, and the world had accepted us. Oh, God, we really knew that we'd been especially blessed.

We came back to a population explosion. We'd known Sharon was pregnant, and soon would be having the baby out in California. Likewise Nancy, who would give birth shortly thereafter. Then we heard that Amanda and Paul were expecting their first about Christmas. Wow, the third generation of the Gang was really upon us.

Franklin and Phil invited us over for dinner one evening. I don't believe that the evening was planned just to be able to tell us this story, but Franklin did enjoy telling how they'd gotten one up on Sid. He had already told us about how Sid had gotten him to take off his clothes up in Gangland - thinking that Sid wanted something in relation to the planned portraits. Well, as expected, in early September Sid had arrived at Phil and Franklin's one evening; he was looking very eager.

"What's on your mind?" asked Phil.

"Sex." Sid didn't mince words.

"With whom?"

"You and Franklin."

"Hmm. Let's see. We told you that we didn't think it was appropriate for us to have sex with a high school student."

"Right. And now I'm a college student. I started classes this week."

"But you didn't graduate from high school, did you?"

"Not yet. I get my diploma this June after they get my first year college transcript." He thought a minute, and then continued. "Oh, no. You wouldn't."

"So, Sid, you're still on the rolls of Central High School, right?"

"But I'm a college student." It was sort of a wail.

"But you're also a high school student, and we aren't going to have sex with a high school student."

"Oh, shit. I have to wait a year?"

"Only nine months. We're getting even for the way you tricked me into taking off my clothes," Franklin had said.

"I feel like ripping them off."

Phil said, "I think you might have a little size problem there."

Franklin had said, "Sid join us for dinner. Even if you had graduated from high school in June, there's still a big age difference. It really will be better to wait until next year. But you bring your diploma by and we'll promise you one big dick up your ass and another down your throat."

"I'm going to hold you to that."

"Don't forget the diploma."

Franklin had continued to us, "Frankly, I'm glad. I know he's of legal age, and he certainly has the maturity. And he has so much money that nobody can suggest that motive. But I'd still be uncomfortable. I hope by next year I won't feel that way, because he's not going to let us off the hook."

Charlie and I laughed about the whole thing. "Look, Franklin, the Gang gave up worrying about age differences between adults. Remember Fred and my mom, and then with Marty. The Gang parents are involved with everybody. Don't be shy about Sid. But I think you're right: a year will be better."

After dinner the four of us went up to their bedroom. It'd been a while since we'd taken them on, and we were looking forward to it. Phil sat down on the bed, slipped his dick out of his fly, and said, "Are you guys sure you wouldn't like this up your asses?"

I looked at Charlie, and he looked back. It sure was tempting. And it certainly wouldn't do anybody any harm. Maybe just once we'd like to try it. Charlie knew what I was thinking, but he said, "No, Phil, I think we'd rather have that thing rammed down our throats."

And it was. And so was Franklin's. Then we found ourselves pushed together on the bed, with Franklin holding both of our dicks in his huge hand. His rubbing brought us both very quickly, and the evening ended in a big group hug. We were sent home for the night, because they knew how early I'd be up in the morning, and Phil and Franklin had no interest in being awakened at that hour. When we got home we talked about whether our "rule" really made sense. Our conclusion was that it certainly didn't, but we'd follow it anyway. It worked for us.

On October 18, 1977, Sharon had gave birth to a baby boy, Kevin Roland Littleton. The name had been a matter of great concern and debate: Sharon was married to Ronnie, so he would have to carry Ronnie's surname, Littleton. That left Kyle out, and he was as likely to be Kevin's biological daddy as Ronnie was. They couldn't keep the whole thing private and use the name Kyle, so they compromised by using the initials K and R. As Ronnie explained this over the telephone, he wondered out loud how long it would be before he was trying to explain it to Kevin, and what Kevin would think of it. Only time would tell. We were glad that the opening of the Institute of Advanced Physics had allowed them to move to Grand Forks before the baby arrived.

Three weeks later we got the news that Tom and Nancy's expected baby seemed to have some abnormalities. With the birth imminent, Nancy, with Tom at her side, was flown by air ambulance to Minneapolis, and taken directly to University Hospital in St. Paul where an outstanding neo-natal unit would be standing by at the birth. Their little girl, Noreen Bethany Grayson, was born two days later, November 5, 1977. She was, so Tom informed us by telephone, a beautiful little girl on the outside, but her insides were simply put together wrong. Her small intestine was connected to her anus, her large intestine to nothing, and her esophagus and stomach were malformed. She went from the delivery room to surgery, and eight hours later hadn't emerged. It was then that Tom had found the time and strength to telephone us and give us a report.

Tom's parents and Nancy's parents were at the hospital with Tom and Nancy. Norman and Betsy, John and Hazel (Hal's parents), and Coach Herb and Phyllis, were standing by, as well as providing lodging for Tom, and his parents and parents-in-law. We were all set to head down to Minneapolis ourselves when Dad got on the phone and told us to stay put. "We have enough support here now, don't need more, don't need extra people to feed and house. Trust us, we'll take care of things and keep you posted."

It wasn't that we didn't trust Dad; it's just that you feel so helpless when you're so far away. Five hours later another call came: surgery was over, Noreen was doing as well as could be expected; she would live. They could repair a lot, but she would have intestinal problems at least into adulthood, and maybe all her life. Her brain wasn't affected, nor anything external (except her anus). We breathed a collective sigh of relief, and did the one thing we could do from Grand Forks to support the folks at the hospital in St. Paul: we called all of the Gang to let them know what was going on. Told not to telephone, as it would be too much of a strain on Tom and Nancy, the Gang all sent cards. Lots of cards. As Noreen's hospital stay stretched into weeks, and then almost to two months, they counted 237 cards just from the Gang. They were carefully placed in an archival storage box, and Noreen has them today, I'm pretty sure. At least if she doesn't she is smart enough not to have told the Gang - or anyone.

Nancy was determined to breast feed Noreen, but couldn't while Noreen was still in the hospital. That meant that Nancy had to keep her milk flowing with a breast pump, bringing the milk daily to the hospital. At first, Noreen couldn't have anything by mouth, so the milk was donated to other babies that needed it. After about three weeks, Noreen was able to take about half of Nancy's milk. Soon she was able to feed once, and later twice, a day from Nancy's breasts. When, after seven weeks, she went home, she was able to feed normally from Nancy's breasts.

Noreen would face several more surgeries before she was ready for school, but except for the fact that she'd never be able to completely control her bowels, she was able to live a normal life. It did mean that she wore a diaper until kindergarten. Then her bowels were controlled by giving her an enema every morning before school and diapers at night. About age twelve surgery allowed a collection bag to replace the diaper, and by college they'd developed surgical techniques for replacing the anus. It did mean a lifetime of daily care for a part of the body that most of us don't even want to have to think about. Tom and Nancy faced all of this with great grace, reminding us of the comment their doctor had made after the surgery. "The surgical techniques we used today simply weren't available two years ago. If Noreen had arrived then, we could have done nothing but keep her pain free until she died of starvation."

Author's note: The essential facts of Noreen's health problems are true and follow those of the son of a good friend of mine.

We had the Gang Christmas at our house. All of the Grand Forks Gang were there, the six from the twin cities came, as well as the four from California. Frank and Adele joined us in Grand Forks as well, eager to spend some time with their grandchild. Noreen got out of the hospital in St. Paul on the day before Christmas Eve, and Tom and Nancy, along with all four of their parents, headed to Grand Forks. On Christmas Eve we got a telephone call from Tina; she and Merle were in the Fargo airport; Merle was renting a car as she spoke, and they were heading our way. Was their a place for them to stay? She was chastised for even asking the question!

The only Gang members missing were the Michigan contingent: Paul and Amanda in Ironwood and Jeff and Dick in Detroit.

Let's see: There were 48 in the Gang, and four were missing, that made 44. Nancy's parents made 46. We couldn't leave Lenny out since he was still living with us in Felix' old apartment, so he made 47. We couldn't include Sid without his family, so that added three more - 50. Prince made 51. Sid wanted to invite him, but his family had their own plans. He decided to have Christmas morning with his family, including a dinner about 1:00 p.m. Then he joined us for our big dinner at 3:30. He said he ate light at both dinners, but it didn't look like it to me!

Where were we going to put fifty-one people for Christmas dinner? For that matter, where would we open presents? With all those people would there be room for a tree? Charlie didn't seemed worried. "Don't worry, Tim, we'll all fit, we'll have a grand time.

We did. We can squeeze 20 into our dining room, which is disproportionately large for the house. We got a table for 12 into the living room, put 9 in the downstairs hall, and 10 in the second floor hall. We gathered at eight in the morning to exchange presents (by rule, kept very small), sing a few carols, and receive cooking assignments. Turkeys, potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, were all handed out with cooking instructions and everybody was told to arrive back with hot food at 3:30. The food was all piled into the kitchen, everyone helped themselves, and found a place at one of the tables. Three times during the dinner Charlie told everyone to pick up their plates and silverware and move to a different table. That mixed us all up and we all got to have some time at a table with almost all of the rest of the Gang. It worked out well. Dessert, which we'd all prepared a day ahead, consisted of the most wondrous array of pies you've ever seen. Of course, by the time we got to the dessert, we were all so stuffed we couldn't really appreciate the pies. We didn't care.

Frank and Adele announced that they'd be staying a while in Grand Forks to go house hunting. Frank was taking early retirement and they were eager to get to Grand Forks now that Ronnie and his family were settled in in Grand Forks. Walter and Curtis, who'd now been in Grand Forks about a year working at decent, but uninteresting, jobs, announced that they were going to start their own business: Paper Management, Inc. They were going to purchase a warehouse and provide document storage, microfilming, and other paper management options, including secure destruction, i.e. shredding. Such services weren't available in North Dakota and they expected to serve most of the eastern half of the state.

Merle and Tina announced that they were finished in Europe and would be moving to New York. Tina's first book was out for the Christmas market and was doing well. Merle was hoping that he could replicate his modest successes in Europe in New York. Sid assured him that if he, Sid, could sell his paintings in New York, certainly Merle could. Merle replied to that with, "I've seen your stuff Sid, especially those wonderful portraits I saw in Gangland yesterday. I'm not in your league."

Sid said, "If not now, you will be. Being in this Gang simply makes failure impossible. They don't permit it."

I was glad that the comment about Gangland hadn't been made at a table where Nancy's parents were sitting. However, April picked it up. Later she got me aside and said, "I suppose that I'd be better off not asking about this Gangland. Right?"

"Right. I'm sure that Sid would tell you if you asked, but he'd have to get our permission first. We'd let him, because we know we can trust you. But you really don't want to go there, April. You want to stick with your images of the portraits sold in New York."

"I trust you, Tim."

"You know, April, Charlie's mother always told me to rumple the sheets. The expression came from the first time Charlie and I stayed at her house. She knew we slept with each other, but didn't want to deal with it. So when I left the guest room at night to join Charlie, I was to 'rumple the sheets.' It didn't mean that she was naive, simply that she didn't want to deal with that aspect of our lives. Over the years she got past that, but 'rumpling the sheets' gave her time. Sid's a wonderful boy, and I know for a fact that he's not doing anything immoral. But, as I'm sure you're aware, he's not living by the same rules you grew up with."

"'Rumple the sheets?' I'm going to have to remember that. So when Sid stays out all night I should tell him to 'rumple the sheets'?"


"I think Sid and I are going to have a little talk about sheets."

"Wonderful, April."

"I don't know. The rules around my house were pretty simple back in Washington. I thought when I moved to the Midwest things would get more conservative. I didn't reckon on this Gang."

"I guess not."

"Don't get me wrong. You guys are the best thing that ever happened to my family. But you do need getting used to."


"And forever. Hey, this was a great party. Thanks so much for including me, and the girls. I know they had a ball. You know, Tish was visiting her cousins in Detroit at Thanksgiving. Without thinking she started talking about Tim and Hal. Well, when her cousins figured out she was talking about THE TIM and THE HAL, you'd have thought the world was going to end. And the idea that she called you by your first names; well it blew her cousins' minds."

"What else would Tish call me?"

"Her cousins didn't think of that, and Tish didn't ask a silly question like that. She had simply said that she was going to have Christmas dinner at Tim's house. Hal would be there. And Charlie. And several other Olympic medal winners. Oh, yes, she has a couple of books she wants to get all of you to autograph to send to her cousins."

"We'll be glad to." And we were.

Lenny was having his second Christmas with the Gang. However, this gathering was much larger than at Norma's house two years before. Lenny had just kept doing his job for Development Consulting without ever discussing a contract, term, or anything. He'd stopped looking for an acting job, and had just settled into a routine. He continued to live with us, but was on the road around North Dakota more than he was at home. He frequently slept with us, but never imposed himself. If he and I were together on the road, we always bunked together. Once in a while Charlie'd have business in Bismarck, and Lenny liked to arrange to be there when he was.

Sex with Lenny was fun. He'd completely come to terms with his size, and in fact found that talking about his little "toy," as he called it, and making a fuss over the little thing, actually heightened the erotic moment. He enjoyed having a fuss made over his little "toy." It was easy to get into the spirit of the game. Playing with his dick with fingers and tongue was fun, and he enjoyed it immensely. We liked to play a game of seeing how long he could hold out without having an orgasm as I fiddled with him. He could hold out much longer if I didn't talk, but if I accompanied my tickling with comments like, "Where's the little thing hiding? I think it grew a millimeter. I wonder which ball is littler? That hole's so tiny I don't think the cum can get out," then he couldn't hold back his orgasm at all. Interestingly, he wasn't at all deficient in the amount of semen he produced. He liked to capture and measure it, and then measure mine, and more often than not he produced more than I did.

Charlie and I had invited Phil and Franklin to join us one evening when Lenny was home. We'd told them about Lenny, and all three were eager to explore each other. Explore they did. Phil and Franklin occupied one end of the bell curve and Lenny the other. The word they had in common was abnormal. Charlie and I just took them up to our bedroom and sat down in chairs to watch. Franklin started the ball rolling by picking up Lenny and tossing him on the bed, where Phil promptly stripped him naked. They'd been tipped off by me that Lenny was turned on, not off, by jokes about his penile size, so they started in. Phil said, "Franklin, he doesn't have a dick."

"Yes, he does, but you need a microscope."

Phil, pretending to use a microscope, "Oh, yes, here it is. I think it's hard." (It certainly was.)

"No, no. If it was hard it would be bigger. Tickle it and make it bigger."

"I'm trying." (He was.) "I can't make it bigger."

I said, "Show it the model, Franklin, maybe it'll get ideas."

Franklin pulled his out of his fly. I don't think Lenny was really prepared for the size of the thing in front of him. "My God," he said.

Franklin said, "Phil's is bigger. Let's pull his pants off and let you look."

They did. "My God," again came from Lenny.

This went on for a while, with good give and take: "Don't you two get tired hauling those things around? How much do they eat?"

This led to physical teasing, then sucking.

The evening ended with Phil saying, "Lenny, get your clothes on, Franklin and I are going to take you home. You're a keeper." Lenny did, and they did. Charlie and I were convinced that this was done to give Lenny an ego boost. Lenny thought so too. Regardless, it was an ego boost for Lenny. Phil swears that wasn't his motivation. He also didn't tell me what they did at their house that night.

Late that spring of 1978 there was a change in Lenny. He lost interest in sex with the Gang. He no longer was looking for a roommate in Bismarck. He was home in Grand Forks less. He tended to work out of Bismarck, which worked fine for his job, as it was much more centrally located in the state than Grand Forks. One evening at one of the rare dinners he ate with us he blurted out, "Guys, I'm in love!"


"Sal Wordlaw."

"And just who is Sal Wordlaw?"

"Sal Wordlaw is the most wonderful person on earth. Handsome, smart, in love with Yours Truly, and most important of all, intrigued with having sex with a toy."

"OK, but who is he? What does he do? Where does he live?"

"He's a clerk in the legislative offices in Bismarck. I don't know what the Hell he does there; pushes papers mainly. He's busy as Hell when the legislature's in session, and has plenty of free time once they clean up the mess after the session. He lives in a nice apartment in downtown Bismarck."

"Is he out?"

"It's not a big secret among his friends. His boss knows. But no, he's not real public about it. Even with Tim's example here at the University, most gays in North Dakota, especially in government and teaching, are circumspect about being out."

"What're your plans?"

"I stay with him when I'm in Bismarck, and I'm working more and more out of Bismarck. Beyond that, we don't have plans. I'd like to invite him over here to meet you guys, Phil and Franklin, and the rest of the Gang. That's why I'm telling you tonight."

"Anytime, Lenny."

Anytime turned out to be about two weeks. Sal came to visit with Lenny for the weekend. He was a little shy about sharing the apartment upstairs with Lenny. He admitted that it was the first time in his life he'd gone to bed with another man (or person) and had anyone else know about it. Before, it'd always been secret from everyone. We assured him that he was safe with us, and sent him up to bed with Lenny.

The next morning, over breakfast, we got to know him a little more. He'd known he was gay as far back as he could remember. That had led to a fairly isolated high school life with no dating. He'd gone to college at the University of Illinois at their Navy Pier campus in Chicago. There he'd met gay friends, on and off campus, and had had a very positive college experience. About half way through he'd decided to come out to his parents back in Minot, North Dakota. That'd been a rough Christmas vacation, but his parents had decided that they loved their son more than they cared about his sexual morals, which they could never really accept. It became the unspoken elephant in the room, but they all got along. Slowly, as Sal had gotten on with his life, first at the university, and then in various civil service jobs in Bismarck, the size of the elephant in the room diminished. His parents finally got so they could ask Sal questions about his life, and could accept answers like, "John and I are going to take a trip to Yellowstone together this summer," without showing shock or displeasure. But they couldn't handle open conversations about his sexuality or his partners.

Sal had, in fact, thought he was in love with John, but John couldn't return it. John wasn't of the temperament to be monogamous, and moved on. Luckily for Sal, he moved on to California where partners were easier to find - and lose. As Sal put it, "Out of sight, out of mind." Not long after that Lenny came into his life. He was introduced to Lenny through a legislative aide that Lenny had cultivated in the course of his work for me. The aide wasn't gay, he was just passing Lenny on to another contact. It didn't take Lenny and Sal long to figure out that they both were gay. They avoided sex for a while, and just got to know each other. Finally one night at Sal's Lenny came out of the guest room with only his undershorts on and walked into Sal's bedroom. "It's time."

"Yes, it is," said Sal, and threw off the covers, exposing a very hard, average size penis.

Lenny knew that this was the moment of truth. Would Sal still love him with what seemed to him to be the smallest dick in the world?

Lenny lay down beside Sal and started to talk, thinking to prepare Sal for his size before Sal saw it. Sal put his fingers to Lenny's lips, indicating, "Don't talk." Lenny obeyed. Sal slowly pulled down Lenny's shorts, didn't hesitate a moment when he saw Lenny, and took him in his mouth. Sal never said a word about Lenny's size until the next morning when Lenny brought the subject up.

Sal had listened for a while, and then said, "Who gives a rat's ass about the size of a dick?" And the subject was closed. Lenny was head over heels in love, and so was Sal.

By the time of their visit to Grand Forks, Sal had figured out that Lenny was comfortable with his size, and in fact liked to talk about it. It was his way of dealing with a fact he couldn't change. Sal was always kind about it, but learned to join in the joking. It'd be quite a while before Sal could really be comfortable teasing Lenny about his "toy," but he came to terms with it, and with Lenny.

They considered themselves partners, but decided that they'd maintain two separate addresses. Charlie and I were glad to have Lenny continue to use our house with its upstairs apartment as his legal residence, but we saw less and less of him. He always stayed with Sal in Bismarck. Every now and then the two of them would stay with us.

Sal finally got up the courage to take Lenny home to meet his parents. He was introduced as a "roommate" but his parents understood the euphemism. Sal's old room from high school was now the guest room and had twin beds. Sal and Lenny were put together in that room without anything being asked. When they went to bed they were sure to "rumple the sheets" of the second bed, but they slept together. The next morning things finally fell into place. Sal's mother was alone with them in the kitchen, having fixed them both a nice breakfast. After some hesitation she asked, "You only used one of the beds last night, didn't you?"


"Thank you for answering honestly, Sal. You're in love with Lenny, aren't you?"


"Do you hope to spend your lives together?"

"Yes, Mom."

Then she turned to Lenny and asked, "Do you love Sal, Lenny?"


"Are you going to take care of him forever?"

"Yes, ma'am."

She thought for a long while and then said, "Lenny, please call me, Mom."

"I'd love to, Mom."

"Sal, it's going to take your father a while to get used to this, but he will. Leave that to me. By next Christmas, he'll want the both of you to call him, Dad." It actually happened at Thanksgiving.

They decided that they wanted to live together; that for Lenny to maintain a home in Grand Forks was silly, and undermined who they were. They found their own unique solution. They bought a house on the edge of Bismarck in an area built up in the late 1960's. The house had a mother-in-law apartment, that had a separate address, 1567A. They left the two mailboxes on the door, 1567 for Lenny, and 1567A for Sal; stopped worrying about whether they should refer to each other as "partner," "roommate," or "friend" (which was the term they generally used); and lived happily ever after as next-door neighbors. Once inside, no vestige of the separate apartment remained.

We'd been about ready to invite Lenny to be the next Gang member, but his move to Bismarck rendered that moot.

Phil and Franklin did get an invitation to visit Sal and Lenny. The phone call had been pretty specific, bring your equipment and leave your inhibitions at home. They'd had a pretty wild time introducing Sal to the world of supersize - a phrase that McDonald's was just unleashing on the world. But only once. The four had agreed that it had been fun, but that that'd be it. Charlie and I got a similar invitation. We accepted, as Lenny was a really nice young man and we couldn't refuse him. That evening at dinner he readily admitted his intent. "Look, Tim, I'll be perfectly straight with you. Well, maybe perfectly gay. I have a hard time looking at Sal, knowing that I have had the unique privilege of having sex with Tim and Charlie, the Tim and Charlie of Sports Illustrated, Olympic gold medals and top level university administration. It's not fair that I've had that thrill and he hasn't."

I didn't let him finish. I walked over to Sal and said, "Would you like to see a pair of Olympic dicks? They aren't much different from other dicks."

"Oh, my God, yes," said Sal.

"And I suppose you'd like to do other things than look at them?"

"Oh, God, yes."

Charlie says I had my clothes off, right there in their living room, before Sal finished his sentence. I told Sal, "Let your imagination run."

By this time Charlie was naked, and Lenny was leading the three of us up to the bedroom. It was quite an evening, and nobody got slighted. As we finally drifted off to sleep, Sal summed up for the evening, "That was a once in a lifetime experience. I'll treasure the memory. Lenny and I'll treasure the memory. Thank you both."

In fact, it wasn't a once in a lifetime experience. They were good fun, never pushed, and were in and out of Grand Forks every now and then. They usually stayed with us, now in a guest room on the second floor, and joined us in bed if we invited them. We liked playing with Lenny's "toy." I guess that was a put down for Sal, but he never took it that way. He'd simply say that he did, too, and he got to do it every day.

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