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Finding Tim

A Fourth Alternate Reality

by Charlie
With editorial assistance from Dix and John


I have to follow up on one story, even though it's not really related to this chapter. As they knew they would, Phil and Franklin got a call from Sid in early June. He was very matter of fact. "You guys and I have a date. You can't put it off any longer. Are you free tonight?"

Franklin had answered the call, and said, "Yes, Sid, we're free."

"How about 8:30 at Gangland?"

"It's a date, Sid."

He and Phil looked at each other and laughed. "How long has he been waiting for this?"

"Almost two years. He's going to get it good tonight."

"I think you mean that we are."

When they entered the code at Gangland they got the 30 second delay that indicated that someone was there ahead of them. It was, of course, Sid. He was laying naked on the bed, his black body looking quite spectacular against the white sheets. On the table next to the bed was a picture of Kyle and Ronnie doing 69; it was the one that was on the roll of film taken for the portraits. Sharon had had a good time shooting that.

Sid smiled and looked at them. "Take off your clothes, please." He was a man in control.

Phil and Franklin did as they were told.

Sid said, "I would like one of you to fuck my ass and then I'd like to do 69 with the other. Would take be OK?"

"Sure, Sid. You've earned it. But where is your diploma? No diploma, no sex."

"You really mean that? You know I've graduated, but you'd make me go home and get the diploma."

"We would indeed."

Sid picked up the picture and underneath it was his diplmoa. "Now, get your clothes off."

They did. Phil said, "Sid, I don't remember fucking being part of the deal."

Sid said, "Please!"

Franklin said, "Sid, are you sure? Wouldn't you like to save that?"

"I have saved that. Please, one of you has to love me, and fuck me tonight."

Franklin, by this time naked, said, "OK, Sid. If that's what you want, that's what you get." He lay down beside Sid while Phil looked on. They very gently made love, hugging, kissing, fondling, and a little sucking. Then Franklin lifted Sid's legs in the air, lubed his ass well, opened him gently with his fingers, and said, "Are you ready?"

"Oh, God, yes."

"I'm big, think you can handle it?"

"Try me."

Franklin entered him slowly. Sid moaned a little, but said, "Keep going."

Franklin did, slowly and steadily. His pubes hit Sid's cheeks and he backed out a ways, then shoved in again, slowly."

"Harder, please, harder."

Franklin gave Sid what he wanted, thrusting in and out, in and out. It wasn't long before he exploded into Sid and fell on him, hugging him tight. They lay there a while until Franklin softened and withdrew.

Sid said, "Oh, God, that was wonderful. He lay there a while and then said to Phil, "Are you ready?"

"Sure, are you?"

"Yes. I want you on top of me."

"Sid, I'm so much bigger than you. I'm heavy."

"You can't hurt me on this soft bed. Get on me, suck my dick, and ram that thing down my throat. I can take it."

He could and he did. Franklin sat there watching in amazement. It didn't take long for Sid to come in Phil; Phil took a little longer - he hadn't just been fucked. As Sid climaxed he put both hands on Phil's buns and pulled him hard into his face and mouth. That was all it took to push Phil over the top and he shot his semen straight down Sid's throat."

The three of them lay on the bed a while, and then got up and showered together. Franklin said, "Well, Sid, is that what you have been dreaming of?"

"It sure as Hell was."

"Are you satisfied?"

"No, I hope we can do it again from time to time. But don't worry, I know that I need to find my own partner. And right now I don't know whether I'm looking for a boy or a girl. Tonight taught me one thing: I could be happy with a boy. But I think it's going to be a girl."

"Good for you, Sid. Keep your eyes open. He or she's out there."

The spent the night in the bed together. The fondled each other quite a bit, but that was it. They showered together again in the morning. Phil and Franklin offered to suck Sid in the shower, but he declined. "For now, guys, I just want to remember last night. It was fantastic. Thank you."

Franklin and Phil dropped over the next night and told us the story. Tim said, "You knew it was coming. I'm glad he got a year of college under his belt before he had that experience. I trust you enjoyed it, but perhaps not quite as much as he did?"

"Oh, so true. It's hard to beat your first time."

Sue, Hal and Junior, now almost ready for his second birthday, were having dinner with us one evening. After we had served dessert Sue seemed a little at a loss for words.

Tim said, "Something on your mind, Sue? You look like you're trying to say something."

Hal said, "I think she is. You know, Sue, these are our dearest friends. You can tell them anything."

Sue blushed a little. "I don't know whether this is embarrassing because it's sexist, or because it's critical."

I cut in. "This is getting interesting. Sexist and critical. Any other hints?"

Tim said, "I think she's going to tell us that men aren't very good housekeepers. Right?"

"Oh, God, Tim. Thanks. Yes, that's right. This wonderful house is beginning to look a little shabby. It lacks a woman's touch; her critical eye."

Tim said, "Damn right that's sexist. Trouble is, it's also true. Why don't you give us a tour of our house and make your point. But mind you, the tour's going to end in the bedroom, and Charlie and I are going to be very sexist up there."

It didn't take her long. Windows needed washing. The main pieces of furniture were regularly dusted, but the tops of pictures and windows made your fingers black as you rubbed them. We found an old envelope buried in dust behind the sofa in the living room. White woodwork was showing black marks we couldn't get off, and in places paint was beginning to peel. Upholstery needed cleaning, as did rugs. Sue didn't have to point this stuff out, once pushed to look, we could see it all ourselves. Up in the bedroom, Sue almost beat Tim to being naked, as she suggested an inspection of the shower while Hal entertained Junior. Sure enough, mildew was in all the corners. The shower heads needed cleaning to make the water flow straight - women who worry about getting their hair wet are particularly sensitive to that one.

As we got out, and the two of us dried Sue, she asked, "Are you convinced?"

"Yes. Are you ready to spend the next hour with three sexist men who intend to take out their male chauvinism on the only female in sight."

"Oh, God, yes. But Junior has to get to sleep first."

She was up to the challenge.

The challenge of the house was more daunting. The next morning Tim cut his diving practice a little short and came back to the house for breakfast with me and then a tour of the outside. The exterior white paint was in fairly good shape, but we agreed that if we painted it now the prep work would be fairly easy. If we put it off very long, it'd begin to peel and the prep work required before painting would be extensive. The landscaping needed upgrading. In fact, we'd never really had the time to worry much about the yard except for getting local teenagers to keep the grass cut. We both had to get to our offices, so we agreed to meet for lunch - just the two of us - and map out a plan.

As we ate lunch, we decided that we were no longer poor students, and that a lot of the work was going to have to be contracted out. In particular, we decided that we weren't going to be landscapers or painters. With those two large tasks farmed out, getting the house in tip top shape was manageable for the two of us. Well, it turned out to be the three of us. When Lenny heard our plans, he insisted on participating, "Look, I've been freeloading in that apartment for four years now. Just because I've all but moved out doesn't mean that I shouldn't help you guys clean up the mess that I helped create."

We started by getting in a good painting contractor recommended by Fred. His name was Whit, and he looked the house over and said, "Look, we can talk about this room by room, woodwork here, walls there, ceilings in some rooms and not others. I don't recommend that. Do the whole thing, top to bottom, wall to wall. Next spring do the outside the same way. It'll cost a little more in the short term, but in the long run it'll cost you less."

Tim asked, "How long will it take you to do the inside?"

"I'll bring in a four man crew plus myself. If you get out of the house, we can move furniture, cover everything, in one day. We can prep everything in two days. Three days for the walls and ceilings, three days for the woodwork and trim. One day's grace. Two weeks total. Start on a Monday, end a week from Friday. Ten percent discount for every day we miss the deadline."

Before Tim could open his mouth, I said, "Deal."

Tim pointed out, "You haven't even heard a price, Charlie."

"OK, name a price. Fred says you're honest."

"It's simple. I pay my crew fair wages. There will be five of us for ten days, that's fifty days, 400 hours, $ 4,000. Paint and materials will cost another thousand. I add 10% for my profit."

Before he did the math and gave us a total, Tim said, "$ 6,000 and you have a deal."

Whit said, "It'll come to $ 5,500, not $ 6,000."

Tim said, "Split the little extra five ways if all goes well."

Whit said, "We have a deal. When do I start?"

"How soon can you be ready to go?"

"Three weeks."

"Then start three weeks from Monday. We'll move out over the weekend and get all of the small stuff out of the way. We'll count on moving back in two weekends later."

Whit and his crew were fantastic. Whit stopped by on Saturday to talk about what we should get out of the way and what we could leave for them. We packed up table knickknacks and the like in boxes Whit furnished and put them in the garage. We hadn't figured on messing around with closets, but Whit had, and so we emptied those into boxes. Whit had plenty of wardrobe moving boxes and hanging clothes from the closets went into those, but they were just left in the middle of the adjacent bedroom. We packed up what we'd need for two weeks and headed out the door Sunday in the late afternoon.

The Gang was ready for us, having been tipped off by Fred about our plans, and our need to get out of the house for two weeks. On Saturday, Franklin, Andy, and Fred took us to lunch. After a nice meal Franklin said, "OK, here's the deal. You guys have two options: You're going to spend the next two weeks moving from house to house. Everybody's eager to host you, and they all have dubious motives. I know that Phil and I do, at least. The question you two have to decide is whether you want to stay as a pair as you move from house to house, or split up and bounce around one by one."

I did some quick arithmetic, counting houses. If you didn't count our house, and you figured Andy and Jim as a single house, the original Gang now occupied five houses. Four of the original eight had their parents living in Grand Forks. Carl, Jerry, Fred, Bill and their partners had separate homes; that made a total of thirteen. We'd be out of our house twelve nights, but could easily extend that to include the final Friday, which would mean moving back on Saturday; in fact, that would certainly make more sense. I had, at first, thought that counting houses would help us decide whether to split up or stay together, but the perfectly matched numbers were no help. I looked at Tim, and he didn't seem to have any strong opinion, so I said, "We're together all the time. I think splitting up might be fun."

Tim said, "I'll go along with Charlie."

Franklin turned to Fred and said, "You owe me ten dollars."

Tim said, "If anybody knows us, its Franklin. He's seen through the two of us since the first summer in Michigan. Franklin, why did you even bother to ask us?"

"That's how I made the ten bucks out of Fred."

I said, "Fred, betting Franklin on something like that is a sucker bet."

"I like being a sucker. It's another word for angel."

Andy said, "We have a schedule made out. You both move from house to house every night. Charlie, you start tomorrow night with Jim, me, Amy and Kara. Tim, you start tomorrow night with Peter and Norma. Each morning your hosts will tell you where you're spending the next night. Gentlemen, charge your libidos."

What a two weeks! It went very much the same for both of us at each house. Andy and company set the tone the first night. "OK, Charlie. You're the guest. We'll play your game, by your rules."

I didn't think that was fair, and I told them so. They'd have none of it. My refusal to make specific requests was simply met by my being taken to their huge bed, stripped naked in as erotic way as possible, and laid on my back. They took turns sucking me in the most delightful way, assuring me that that would continue until the obvious conclusion unless and until I requested something different. I almost lost it before I asked them to stop and let me watch them play. I said, "I'd like to see how you'd have played tonight if I hadn't been here."

"Watch out, Charlie. We might've just gone to bed and gone to sleep."

"Not you four."

"Yes, us. Sometimes, at least."

"OK, rule that scenario out and choose another that's realistic."

They did, trading off from time to time, and ending up with both of the girls holding hands, riding the boys cowboy style. As soon as they finished, they came and got me, put me back on the bed and continued sucking me in turn. I decided that that was a pretty nice way to end the evening, and I let them finish me off. Andy almost brought me, but just as I was ready to go he yielded to Amy, who got a mouthful almost instantly. She kissed me and made sure that I got a good taste of myself. The other three followed, and they all got a taste. I said, "That was wonderful. I assume that we're going to try to sleep five in this bed. I'm really more gay than straight. I'd like the two boys cuddled up next to me, and you two girls on the outside."

It was crowded in the bed, and before long Kara and Amy slipped out and went to another bed, leaving me with Jim and Andy. It was a lovely night.

Tim and I usually ate dinner and breakfast with our hosts. Well, Tim was often up and out before his hosts were up, but I ate with my hosts. We ate lunch together and compared notes. Each of our adventures at each house were fairly similar. There was great emphasis on letting us decide the evening's activities, and great effort to give us pleasure. One lunch in the second week Tim said, "I'm scheduled to go to Fred and Marty's tonight. I wonder what might be in store?"

I replied that I'd been there the previous week and nothing special had happened. Marty and Fred had both said that there'd be no sex unless I told them what I wanted. I'd opted to watch Marty fuck Fred, and then they both sucked me. Marty had seemed to relish fucking Fred, from the rear, and had used his hand to give them a mutual orgasm.

Tim said, "I'm betting it'll be very different tonight. We'll see."

He did see. When Tim arrived Marty took him aside and said, "Tim, Fred isn't going to say so, but he's in a masochistic mood this evening. He's going to tell you the same thing he told Charlie, 'No sex until you tell us what you want.' Please answer him by saying, 'Marty and I are going to treat you pretty roughly, OK?' If he says, 'OK,' then the game's on. He won't say 'OK,' unless that's what he wants."

That's exactly the way the after dinner conversation went, and Fred did, indeed, say, 'OK.'

Tim remembered Marty's story of their S & M before, and wondered where this would go. He also realized that Marty was hoping that he, Tim, would take the lead. Tim had picked up his cue.

"Come on, Marty, let's get this guy upstairs. Fred was fairly roughly pushed upstairs onto his bed, and Tim and Marty fairly ripped his clothes off him. Tim pushed his legs up into the air and told Marty to hold them, while he spanked Fred - pretty hard and until his butt was quite red. Then he worked on Fred's right niple, first with fingers, then lips, then teeth, and got Marty going on the left. Then they took turns sucking him, being pretty sloppy about their teeth.

Then Fred was told to suck Marty, and every time Marty felt a tooth he'd signal Tim, who would spank Fred. That was likely to shake him and give Marty reason to send another signal. Spank! Then Tim got out the ice, his major addition to Marty's previous efforts. Fred went wild tossing his body around and throwing off the ice. Marty said, "We'll have to tie him up," and they did. Then more ice. Fred got tape over his mouth so he couldn't scream. More ice.

After about ten minutes Marty lay on top of Fred, ice and all. He pulled off the tape and hugged and kissed him, with a load of ice between their crotches. "Think you can stand it till it melts?," Marty asked.

"God, no," said Fred.

Tim started removing the ice, and Marty continued to hug and kiss Fred. Soon the ice was gone and Marty and Tim were taking turns sucking Fred, who came very quickly once the ice was gone. They untied Fred, who immediately hugged Marty, and then Tim, thanking them both. Then he said, "It's payback time. Neither of you get an orgasm tonight, and you both sleep on opposite sides of me. No jacking off, either. They both obeyed.

The next morning Fred and Marty were up in time to give Tim a nice breakfast before he headed off to the gym for gymnastics practice with the few team members who got there at six in the morning. Fred opened the conversation about the night before. "Thank you, Tim, for joining with Marty last night. You make a pretty good sadist."

"I couldn't do that to Charlie, no matter how much he asked for it. But Marty had told me about your previous adventures, and I decided I could play. I really can't believe you liked that."

"I don't think I really liked it, but it gives me an amazing sexual thrill. It's kind of like the hypersensitivity in your dick after an orgasm. You know how you sometimes have to beg Charlie to stop after you squirt. And if he doesn't, or takes his time, it's almost more than you can stand. But it is a thrill. That's the way I felt last night. The ice was incredible. I didn't think I could stand it, but it was almost disappointing when it was gone and I was just hugging Marty. But then when you sucked me I just exploded. Wow. What a night. Sorry for what I did to you two. Did you jack off, or do anything together after I slept?"

"You told us not to," said Marty.

"Do you do everything I say?" asked Fred.

"Absolutely," we both said together.


"You really liked that?" I asked.

"I really did. I could've said, 'Stop' and you would've."

"Marty had you gagged for a while."

"That's because I was screaming with the ice. He knew I didn't want you to stop."

"I have a hard time believing the whole thing."

Fred said, "Admit it, Tim, you had fun."

"I guess. Yeah, it was fun spanking you, and using the ice. I don't know, it still bothers me."

"Well, I only get in those moods about every six months or so. Now that I know that Marty knows about ice, it may be a lot longer."

When Tim and I compared notes at lunch a day later we weren't sure what to make of the whole thing. Tim said, "Well, we sometimes like tying each other up, and our motel games are just mini versions of the same game. I'm content to let Fred and Marty make up their own rules, and I'm certainly not going to criticize them for those rules. And, at least this once, I didn't mind playing.

"I guess if I want a turn I'll have to use you as the punching bag instead of Fred," I told him.

"Dream on, buddy. Not a chance. It's not my game."

"Nor mine."

Some of the other evenings were pretty exciting as well. Actually, I think they all were.

My evening, and Tim's subsequent one, with Jerry and Judy are worth mentioning. Except for his early fling with his brother and Franklin just after he turned eighteen, Jerry was very straight. Well, he'd had a very strange interlude with Bessie, Franklin, and Phil following his first sexual experience with Bessie. As he'd told us that story, he'd said, "I really don't know what got into me when I said I'd fuck Franklin while he fucked Bessie, but I did. Then one thing led to another." Since then he'd been completely straight.

I visited Judy and Jerry before Tim, so I had no clue as to how the evening would play out. Jerry met me at the door and gave me an unexpected kiss as I came into their apartment. The dinner table was set for three, and they were ready to eat. Jude was already asleep in her crib. The conversation at dinner was about their lives, Jude, their future plans, Jude, their trip to Kalamazoo, Jude, how grateful they were to Tim for getting Judy to Grand Forks, Jude - well you get the picture. After dessert we all carried the dishes to the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher.

Just as soon as everything was done in the kitchen, Judy said, "Jerry, take off your clothes."

Without hesitation, standing right there in the kitchen, Jerry stripped naked and stood, in sort of quarter profile, letting Judy look at him - well, both of us were looking at him, believe me. She stared for a little while and then said, "Charlie, isn't that the most magnificent figure you can imagine? It's only comparable to Michelangelo's David."

Well, that's exactly what I thought of Tim, and handsome as Jerry was, I wasn't going to concede anything. I said, "Well, you have to remember I'm in love with Tim."

"I understand, but I'm in love with Jerry."

What amazed me is that Jerry didn't seem at all bothered by our talking about him in this way. I did notice that he was just beginning to get an erection. Judy noticed that, too.

"He doesn't get hard from my looking at him, so it must be you that's arousing him, Charlie."

"I thought he was straight."

"He thinks he is, but he's had a couple of interesting flings the other way."

Jerry spoke for the first time since his clothes had been taken off. "I don't know what I am. I thought I was straight, but I have pretty nice memories of a couple of experiences with Franklin and Phil. Will you make love to me tonight, Charlie?"

Judy said, "Charlie, we've talked about this, and I'm cool with it. Will you let me watch?"

I didn't think that needed an answer. I just turned to Jerry and said, "Jerry, please help me take my clothes off."

He did, and then we walked together into their bedroom. I seduced Jerry in the most gentle, romantic, erotic, sensual way I could imagine. His responses were certainly not those of a straight male. When he was fully spent, laying on their bed with a mixture of his semen and my semen spread over his chest and face, he smiled and said, "That was wonderful. Thank you, Charlie. I think I'm ready to be a full member of the Gang now. I wasn't before."

Judy said, "I am, too. But Jerry had to really find out who he was."

I said, "Tim has always argued that almost everyone is at least a little bit gay. Jerry, next week you need to seduce Tim instead of waiting for him to seduce you."

"I'd love to try."

Tim reported that he was pretty damn successful. As the year went on others in the Gang reported some wonderful evenings spent with Jerry and Judy.

The two weeks ended. Saturday morning we went back to our freshly painted, but totally turned upside down, house. Lenny met us there. All three of us had cleared our calendars for a week, and planned to spend the week putting the house back together, cleaning everything that hadn't been painted, and generally making it shine like it hadn't since the day it was built.

A week later on Saturday evening we were done. Tim and I stood in the downstairs hall and looked at the house. Lenny was sitting in the living room, near the fireplace. It looked wonderful. Tim said, "Now what?"

"Now what, what?" I responded.

"We need to show it off."

"To whom?"

Lenny spoke up, "To the whole God damned world, or at least all of it that you can squeeze into here."

Tim said, "Let's have an open house. All day. Tons of food. Tons of people. Tons of fun."

I said, "Slow down, kid. Just what do you have in mind?"

Lenny said, "If I know that kid, slowing down isn't one of the things he has in mind."

"I know, but you can't blame me for trying, can you?"

"Why bother?" asked Lenny.

Tim said. "An open house; start at ten - no nine - in the morning until late at night; people can come whenever they want; plenty of food on the dining room table, changing from brunch, to lunch, to afternoon snacks, to dinner. We'll invite the world. A lot of it will come. How many people do you think we could entertain in a day?"

Lenny said, "For the community open house I attended in one of the historic towns near home, they sold about a thousand tickets. Most people went through the main houses, and they were only open six hours. Of course, people will stay longer here, but you're going to be open twice as long. I'll bet a thousand people could visit in a open house that started at nine and went all day."

I said, "What do you think, Tim, shall we do it?"

"I was already planning the menu," said Tim.

Who to invite? All of the faculty. All of the university staff, and the trustees. Every student we knew by name. All of the aquatics team. All of the gymnastics club. All of the law school graduate students and graduating seniors. The Gang. As many of their friends as we knew. And on, and on. We mailed 3, 321 invitations, after an addressing party that involved most of the Gang and most of a weekend.

We yearned for Felix and his mastery of the kitchen, but even he couldn't have handled this on his own. Fred, of course, knew just the right caterer, a man from East Grand Forks. When he heard the scale of the job he said that he had a good friend in Fargo who he would recruit to help. Those two, plus 14 employees between the two of them, kept a feast displayed on the dining room table all day long, and long into the night. We'd agreed to shut down the food at midnight, but it was, in fact, almost one before they'd removed all of the food and drink.

Drinks were simple. The Coca-Cola bottler agreed to set up two fountain drink stations on our porch with Coke, Tab, Sprite and plain water. When he learned that that was all the drinks we'd be serving, he decided that with the publicity he could get from Tim and Charlie serving Coke products, he could give us the whole setup at no charge. Tim and I have never been shy about our liking for Coca-Cola and were glad for this mutual aid. In today's world an endorsement like that would cost Coca-Cola thousands, and no athlete's agent would ever let it go for free. Tim and I were delighted with the free drinks and it never occurred to us to ask for an endorsement fee!

The big day, a late fall Saturday, arrived. The weather was cold but sunny, and there was only a slight wind, a huge gift in North Dakota. We had no idea how many people would stop by the house for our open house, but we were pretty sure we were ready for them: the house was perfect, the food looked sumptuous, and the drinks were ready to flow forever. We'd borrowed six bar stools with backs from Jerry's. We set two up in the living room, two in a corner of the dining room, and two in the hall. We'd decided that there was no way we were going to stand through the whole thing, and we planned to sit on the bar stools and greet our guests. We hoped that with us sitting and the guests standing guests would move on fairly quickly and that no individuals would try to monopolize us. However, we were ready. The alternate pairs of bar stools would allow us to get up and excuse ourselves at one place and move to another to talk with other guests.

Members of the Gang agreed to help out for the day. Somebody was always on duty greeting people at the door, and asking them to sign a guest book. Another tried to look out for us and come to our rescue when somebody started monopolizing us. Then we'd hear, "Tim, Charlie, I think you're needed in there." That was our cue to excuse ourselves and move.

By ten minutes of nine a few people had gathered on the front porch. Tim and I went out to greet them and were surprised to find Prexy and his wife in the early bird group. We greeted them, and they told us that they wanted to be sure not to miss anything exciting. We assured them that had they arrived in the afternoon or evening they wouldn't have missed anything. "Don't worry, Tim," said Prexy, "We'll be back again both afternoon and evening. There's no telling what kind of plots are going to be hatched at this affair, and I have to protect my flanks." We all chuckled, but I sensed an element of truth in the remark.

We'd had made for the occasion a guest book that had exactly 25 lines per page. The door greeter made sure that each individual signed the book, no "Mr. and Mrs." were allowed. The pages were numbered, so that we could see at a glance how many people had been through. By ten in the morning the count stood at more than a hundred. We'd guessed too low on the number that would arrive that early, and we were running out of brunch items. Calls went out, and the caterers were asked to speed up the transfer of new food to the house.

At 11:30 Franklin was greeting at the door. He caught our attention and signaled us to join him at the front door. There was now a line outside, waiting to get in. And the house was getting full. People weren't leaving at a sufficiently fast pace to keep the crowd from building up and slowing new arrivals' entries. Sharon joined us at the front door and sensed the problem immediately. "Don't worry. Amy, Kara and I'll keep people moving."

They did. Very kindly they moved around and suggested to people that if they'd seen the house and had a chance to chat with us for a while, then perhaps they'd be willing to make room for others? I don't think that anybody was offended, at least I hope not

Then we realized that we'd made one huge mistake! It'd never occurred to us that we should put "No gifts" or some similar warning on the invitations. There was a pile of gifts stacking up near the downstairs hall fireplace. When I saw them I asked Jim if he and Andy could get them out of the way - and out of sight. We didn't want people that hadn't brought gifts to think that they should have! The were stuffed in our walk-in closet on the second floor. Later, as the party wound down, we completely forgot them. The next morning I stumbled over them as I was hunting new clothes for the day. By the time we got them all opened we'd counted 172 gifts. Oh, shit, I thought, that means 172 thank you notes, and 172 problems of, "What're we going to do with this?" Luckily, eight of the gifts either had no card or lost theirs, so we only had 164 thank yous to write.

Except for the Gang, all of whom that were resident in North Dakota or Minnesota came, the best represented group was the university staff. We'd invited them all, cooks, gardeners, security guards, housekeepers, maintenance personnel, secretaries, librarians, lab techs, all of them. Such an invitation was unprecedented. Usually they were the invisible little people who simply made the campus work, but were completely ignored on occasions like this. Oh, sure, there was a big Christmas dinner for them, and a spring party. But it was for the "staff," which certainly didn't include the "faculty." OK, sometimes the librarians and the lab techs got included with the faculty, but the security guards? Never.

Added to the unusual nature of the invitation for the staff was the fact that many of them remembered Tim's insistence that they get their full share of the faculty and staff endowment bonuses. While that incident with the trustees was several years old now, a number remembered it, and all of the lowest paid members of the staff continued to benefit from it. Tim was the unquestioned hero of the staff, and this open house simply added to his glory. And they showed up in droves, dressed to the nines for the occasion - far better than the faculty and students were dressed. Tim loved them for it.

We hit the 1,000 mark just before 6:00 p.m. Having caught on that our estimates were low, we had asked the caterers to increase the amount of food to the extent that they could. They amazed us by their flexibility.

By the time the last person signed the guest register it was 10:45 p.m., even though the invitation had been for the time period 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Some that came in after ten were late arrivals, but most were standing in line at the door by ten and simply had to wait until there was room to come in. We didn't have people cleared out until about 1:15 a.m.

Prexy did make three appearances, but his wife only made two. He came alone in the afternoon, and then they both came back and had roast beef sandwiches for dinner. Prexy didn't monopolize our time, but took the occasion to chat with trustees and faculty. Tim was glad for the chance to meet staff and faculty that he seldom saw. For me it was a good time to chat with the older law students in an informal atmosphere.

Tim got a kick out of greeting the aquatics and gymnastics teams. A few members of the teams had been to our house before, but for most it was a first visit. They, more than any of the others, oogled our Olympic medals that hung in a display case on the wall of our living room. The collection of one Time and twelve Sports Illustrated covers on the wall in the dining room was missed by almost no one. I'm not sure that anyone believed us then, or now, but they were never hung to show off. We truly enjoyed the memories that they brought back, and we liked them where we could see them. But if you were visiting the house for the first time, they did seem to hit you square in the face.

Overall we rated the entire day as a huge success. One thousand, six hundred and thirteen people signed the guest register, and the Gang members that greeted at the door all assured us that no one got in without signing. Prexy had had to sign three times and his wife twice. OK, I guess that means that it was 1,610 people, but who cares? There may've been a few other duplicates as well. It turned out to be a wonderful day, and a good move politically at the university, but that isn't why we did it. We truly enjoyed sharing our home with the community that we'd grown to love. I think that most of the people that came through our house that day understood.

It cost us a fortune, even with the free Coke and generous discounts from the caterers. But we were doing very well financially, and we didn't even have to dip into Fred's pockets to pay all the bills, though you know he offered.

My tenure as Dean of Law was going well. I spent the first year making no changes and listening to everyone - especially students. There's a dangerous tendency at all schools to seek the opinions of faculty but not of students. This is true at all levels of education, but my law students were more likely to have their voices heard than undergraduates. As you move down the ladder students are less and less likely to be heard. How often have you heard of a elementary school principal seeking the opinions of the students? But they know what they like to eat for lunch, whether they like longer or shorter but more frequent play periods, whether gym first thing in the morning suits their bodies, and all sorts of things about their life in school that they should be consulted about. Find me an elementary principal who cares about this, and I'll show you a happy, and effective, elementary school.

The two greatest concerns of the law students at the University of North Dakota were interesting, and the more I talked to students the more these two things came up: First, they wished the prestige of the school matched what they considered its quality to be. Most truly believed that they were getting a good law education, and weren't pleased that so many judgements would be made about them based on the prestige of the school rather than its quality. When you consider that I'd overcome that obstacle only by drawing upon my contact with a former president, a contact earned by my partner, not me, I was fully sympathetic. It was one of my frustrations as well. I promised to work on it as dean, but I assured them that I had no magic bullet to solve the problem, and they should feel free to share their ideas.

The second concern was interesting: Students didn't like the disconnect between the bar exam and their education. Why shouldn't they be fully ready to take the bar exam right after graduation, instead of it being the norm that they'd then embark on a several month course of study and cramming in order to pass the bar exam? There was either something wrong with the exam or with their educational program. In general I had to agree, but I usually didn't point out that I'd taken the bar almost immediately upon graduation and passed it with flying colors. In my mind I had to think that perhaps the problem was, at least in part, a lack of serious attention to studies by most students.

That was, in fact, a common complaint of the faculty - that students weren't as serious about their studies as the faculty thought they should be. Upon questioning, however, most faculty members were willing to admit that the same lack of seriousness characterized much of their undergraduate and law studies. Phil Anderson, who had experience teaching at Georgetown, insisted that North Dakota students were no less serious about their studies than Georgetown students. In fact, he argued that there was a considerable tendency for students at the prestige schools to coast, because they expected the prestige of their degree to carry them into their first position, at least. More fuel for the complaints of UND students about the unfairness of law school reputations!

I believed that the establishment of the various speciality law centers we were planning would increase the visibility, and therefore the prestige, of UND Law. Hamilton Fry had the first, the Center for the Study of Polar Law, up and running. There were four legal scholars on the staff, all with half-time teaching appointments in the Law School. There were plans for the establishment of a Journal, the creation of fellowships for advanced study at UND, and plans for a symposium on Antarctic territorial claims, to be held simultaneously in Grand Forks, London, and Canberra. The television connections, especially considering the time differences which meant delayed broadcasts as well as simulcasts, were complex, far in advance of their time, and set UND up as a world leader in scholarly teleconferencing.

One evening at dinner as the conference was approaching Tim asked, "OK, Charlie, be honest. How much of all of this exciting stuff being planned for this Antarctic conference is Hamilton, and how much is Charlie?"

"Do I have to answer that?"

"Only in the privacy of this dinner table. And it won't go beyond this table except, of course, to the other 46 members of the Gang."

"That's really private."

"Totally. So answer the question."

"Hamilton's really good at execution. It made him a good dean, and he had the sense to seek creative ideas from his top faculty and others. He isn't creative. We go to lunch. I float ideas. He's good at picking out the good ideas from the not-so-good. He runs with the good ones."

"When have you had a not-so-good idea, Charlie?"

"Daily, as you jolly well know. But I have, I think, the good sense to listen to others and drop the no-so-good ideas and pursue the good and better ideas. Hamilton's pretty good at separating the two."

"You and he are working together pretty well, aren't you?"

"Yes, we are. We'll see how it goes next year when I start thinking about making changes. This is the year of listening, and Hamilton's high on the list of people I listen to. But, except in the realm of the new Center, I sense that Hamilton was pretty happy with the school as it was. I hope change doesn't upset him."

"He knew he was buying into change when he advocated for you as dean."

"We don't know the extent to which he thought that was a wonderful idea, or whether he was accepting Prexy's judgement as to where the school ought to go."

"What do you mean?"

"We know Prexy wanted you. They had to find a place for me. Dean of Law was a good niche. We don't know that Hamilton was given much choice."

"Don't you believe it. Prexy would never have foisted you on an unwilling Law School. Hamilton was strongly for you, and the faculty was behind him. Don't ever believe anything different."

I was silent.

"Charlie, are you selling yourself short?"


"Charlie, talk to me. You don't believe any of that shit, do you?"

"No, I guess not."

"You'd better not. If I can't set you straight I'm going to let Prexy loose on you."

"Don't you dare repeat any of this to Prexy!"

"I will if I have to. I don't want to hear you selling yourself short again. OK?"


"Say it like you mean it."


"Charlie, don't be this way. What's the matter with you? Surely I'm not hearing self-doubt from my Charlie. My rock. My Olympic medal winner. My lover. The smartest man I'll ever meet. My Supreme Court clerk. My Lincoln scholar."

I started to laugh. "OK, Tim. I get the point. I don't know what's gotten into me this evening. I guess I really do believe that I earned the dean's job and that I'm not riding on your coattails. But when you live with a guy with the size coattails you have, Tim, it's hard not to believe that you aren't being carried along on them."

"Believe, dammit, believe."

"OK, Tim. I really do believe."

"What do you believe?"

"That I earned my job."

"Damn right. And you go on believing it."

I guess I do.

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