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Finding Tim

A Fourth Alternate Reality

by Charlie
With editorial assistance from Dix and John


Tim should be writing this episode; it's his story, and he was the one present at most of the conversations. But I know that if he writes it he'll tell the story in a page or two; he simply isn't willing to toot his own horn. Well, I'm willing to toot his horn, and I've rented a sousaphone to do it with! Here goes.

It was February of 1979. I was in my second year as Dean of Law. Snow was still piled deep on the ground, dry and white, as the first thaws were not yet here - though soon expected. With the thaw we would enter the most awful period of the north: spring. In the rest of the country flowers would start to bloom, walking outside would be fun again, and people's dispositions would improve with the weather. In the north, the change from dry snow to wet snow and slush, the continued lack of flowers and green leaves, and the never ending wind (at least in North Dakota) simply guaranteed a lack of sunny dispositions - everywhere.

Prexy walked into Tim's office with a big smile on his face, not what you expect in February. "It's time," he said to Tim.

"Time for what?"

"A celebration."

"Celebrating what?"


"What do you mean, me?"

"It's time for Dr. Tim, Ph.D. to become the President of the University of North Dakota."

"Charlie and I'll celebrate that, but I think that that'll be the limit of the celebration."

"Bunk. Everybody in this institution is eager to have you be the next president, and they're equally eager to have a celebration."

"As I understand it, the current President has to retire before you can celebrate the new president."

"A minor detail, and it'll be taken care of in the immediate future."

"When do you expect all of this to happen?"

"Your coronation will be in September."

"Kings get coronations. I'll just be installed."

"King Tim. It has a nice ring to it."

"Prexy, will you be serious."


"You're talking about serious stuff. A serious change in life for you; equally big for me; no minor impact on this university."

"Right on all counts. Better for me; better for you; better for the university."

"I'm not at all convinced of the last of those, nor of the first."

"I am. This place is ready for you. Everybody is so kind to me, telling me what a wonderful job I've done, but I'm not stupid. The undercurrent is, 'Hey, old guy, don't you think it's time to move out of the way?' I agree. I've agreed for some time, but we had to get Charlie situated before we could move on you."

"Prexy, I'm overwhelmed."

"That won't do. You can't run a university if you're overwhelmed. Listen, Tim, the secret of running this place is the same as your secret of giving good speeches; you have to build a good team. By the way, I keep getting all kinds of comments about the speeches you give around this state. All good. I think the most frequent comment is, 'Where did you get hold of that kid? Better keep him.' I always answer, 'He found us, not the other way around, and he's planning on keeping us.'"

"You can bet your sweet bippy on that."

"What, exactly, is a bippy? I've heard you use that phrase before."

"I haven't the slightest idea, but it certainly sounds right. Doesn't it sound like something you might like to bet?"

"Have you ever looked it up in the dictionary?"

"Yep. It's not there. I still like the expression."

"I don't think I'd use it in one of your speeches."

"It'd never get past triple-A."

"I hope not."

"I think we've gotten off the subject."

"No, we were finished. I'm just letting you know what's in the wind. You can expect an announcement of my retirement very soon." Prexy started out the door.

"Hey, wait. Let's go to lunch; let me call Charlie and ask him to join us."

"Sorry, Tim. My wife and I are going out to lunch. We're having a very private celebration. This is a moment she's been waiting for for several years. You know Tim, you're lucky. With Charlie as Dean of Law, he'll be as busy as you're going to be. Lizbeth has a hard time dealing with the long hours associated with my job. She married me to share my life, and in many ways she has shared the presidency with me. But the long hours, evening meetings, and the stress of the job have cut into the loving relationship that we'd hoped for when we married. I'm 63 years old now, and I'm looking forward to a happy retirement. Lizbeth and I are really anxious to spend more time together."

"And since Charlie has his own high profile job, one that'll eat up time like the presidency, we may not have the time together that we might like, but neither of us will be sitting at home pining for the other, is that it?"


"Charlie and I already miss time together. I'm very much hoping that it won't get worse. At least the president is more tied to the campus than I've been. I've been traveling all over the state in my development role; I expect to be a little closer to home in the new job."

"There's still a lot of travel involved, and more out of state travel than you've been used to."

"I'm going to look for every excuse possible to bring my Dean of Law along."

"Good for you."

"Listen, Prexy, you have a wonderful lunch with Lizbeth. I'll be eating with Charlie - unless he has some kind of a lunch meeting. We'll both take the afternoon off, and we'll talk tomorrow morning about what comes next in all of this."

"Leave it to me, Tim."

"No, that's one thing I won't do. I'm not going to let you control the changing of the guard like Hamilton did in the law school. He really one-upped Charlie on that, but it can't work like that for the presidency."

"You're my most wonderful dream, Tim, and my worst nightmare. Have a good lunch with Charlie."

Tim called me as soon as Prexy was out the door. "Charlie, let's do lunch. Take the afternoon if you can."

"What's up?"

"We'll talk at lunch. Can you clear the afternoon?"

"It sounds important, so, sure."

"Good, thanks. I'll meet you at home and we'll take the car. I haven't figured out where."



Tim headed home ahead of me because he didn't want to run into me walking. He wanted to hold his announcement until we were at lunch. He met me at the front door with a kiss, and told me we were headed for the Bar and Grill. I knew that meant East Grand Forks, but I hadn't the slightest idea of why he'd choose the Bar and Grill for this evidently important lunch. I couldn't get anything out of him on the way over, but a little thought about the situation did put my mind on the right track. The Bar and Grill is where Hamilton had taken me for lunch when he told me he was retiring to allow me to become dean. Everything seemed to point to Tim's soon becoming the next president.

As soon as we sat down I looked Tim in the eye and asked, "Are you planning on being called Prexy?"

"Nope, I'll be Tim or Dr. Tim."

"Good. When is it going to happen?"


"Well, Tim, it's your life's dream come true. Are you ready?"

"I think so, Charlie."

"Good. I think so, too. No, that isn't right. I'm going to be just like Dad and tell you what I really believe: I know so."

"Thanks, Charlie."

"You're welcome, and it's true."

"But damn you, Charlie. I wanted to tell you. How did you guess?"

"It's time. But coming to the Bar and Grill was the tip off. Hamilton brought me here."

"I know. You know, there isn't a really good restaurant in Grand Forks, so I thought of this place. I sort of save Jerry's for when Fred's with us."

Mac came over, and I simply said, "Coke and the special, Mac. For both of us."

Hot steaming bowls of bacon potato soup quickly appeared, along with tall Cokes with lots of ice - just the way we like them. The soup was delicious, and we talked very little while we ate it. Our sandwiches arrived, and were grand turkey clubs, with some kind of special orange pickles on them. I asked Mac about the pickles. "They come from Indiana, a place called Sechler's. I get them at Martin's Supermarkets there whenever I drive through on my way home from visiting my sister in Philadelphia. I always bring home a couple of cases. They're quite good, aren't they? I save them for my specials."

"Mac, how do you come up with something so good, and different, every day."

"Only five days a week. I'm not open on weekends. I have about 40 special sandwiches I make, and I rotate them. I try to add a new one every so often - to keep my regulars happy."

Tim said, "I wish I could be a regular; this is great. But I have too many conflicts at noon."

Mac said, "Come by when you can. You're soon going to be the president of that place, aren't you? Can't hurt my reputation if you're seen eating here."

"What makes you think I'm going to be the president?"

"When he was eating here yesterday, Hamilton let it slip that the announcement would be coming soon. Real soon, I guess, right?"

"I'm not exactly sure when," said Tim.

"But it is coming, right?"

"Yes, it's coming, but you didn't hear it from me."

We didn't realize it then, but we learned: Mac's brother worked for the Grand Forks Herald. Among his other duties was writing a weekly column, "Around the Town." It wasn't much more than a gossip column, but it did tend to get things right. Three days after our lunch the column began, "We understand that Tim, Olympic medalist Tim, Tim the Vice-President for Development, everybody's favorite diver and gymnast, and luncheon speaker extraordinaire, is about to add a new entry on his resume: President of the University. Remember, folks, you read it here first. Look for an announcement within a week."

Tim and I had, of course, become Mac's brother's confirming source for the tip Mac had gotten from Hamilton. I'm getting ahead of the story (I do that a lot, don't I?), but the day that the column came out Prexy walked into Tim's office with the paper in his hand. "Have you seen this?"

"No, what is it?"

"Read 'Around the Town,' the first item."

Tim read. "Well, they got it right, but how did they get it?"

"I have no idea."

Tim wasn't able to read Prexy. Was he upset, angry, cool? He just appeared neutral and calm. Then Prexy said, "Well, we have two choices: prove him right and let him have his scoop, or prove him wrong by delaying the whole thing a year. What do you think?" Prexy said this in a flat tone that didn't give Tim any clue to his state of mind.

Tim hoped to avoid falling into a trap. "It's your call, Prexy."

"No, I think it should be your call. You have to live with the long term results of this. Making him look a fool makes an enemy. Giving him his coup increases his stature, and his clout."

Tim really didn't know where to go with this and didn't answer.

"Well?" said Prexy.

Tim hesitated, and said, "Prexy, I still think the timing of your retirement is your call. I can't make it."

Prexy sat down in one of Tim's comfortable chairs. He stared at Tim. Then he burst out laughing. "I can't hold it any more. You looked so funny trying to come up with an answer to that question."

"You set me up!"

"I sure did. It's not very often that I get one up on Tim boy. You didn't see me, but when I read that column I roared with laughter. You can't keep anything secret in this small town, and you shouldn't even try."

Tim began to giggle a little. "I guess I see the humor in this."

"I can even tell you where you ate lunch the other day."


"I'll bet you and Charlie ate at the Bar and Grill after our little meeting?"

"How did you know?"

"I was right, then?"


"Tim, in a small town you have to know everybody. Mac's brother Connie writes 'Around the Town.' If you want to feed Mr. Conrad Stelling, columnist for the Grand Forks Herald, get overheard at the Bar and Grill. But a word of warning, never feed them a false rumor. If you get caught doing that just once, then the communication channel goes dead, forever. And never trust Mac to keep a secret."

"You're not mad that this leaked?"

"Hell, no. We'll both get calls from other reporters within an hour. We'll invite them over and give them the story. I'll make sure that the Student has a reporter here as well."

"You had me good, Prexy. I really wasn't sure how to answer."

"It was mean, but fun. You're a tough nut to get one up on."

Our lunch was concluded at the Bar and Grill, and I asked Tim what he'd like to do in the afternoon.

"Take a long walk in the snow, with you. Let's drive up along the river and walk the low path. We'll even wear coats."

As we walked along I asked Tim, "What're you thinking?"

"You're not even willing to offer a penny to find out?"

"OK, a penny for your thoughts."

"The river's beautiful, isn't it?"

"Yes." I knew that if I let him, he'd eventually really share with me."

"I love walking in the snow."

"You want to take your shirt off? It's not that cold."

"That had a different purpose, Charlie."

"I know."

"Do you think if you took your pants off, you could get a hard-on in this weather?"

"Yes, I could. We've proved that in Canada."



"Am I too young for this job?"

"Are you having second thoughts?"

"Of course."

"You know, Prexy wouldn't be making this move if he didn't think you were ready."

"What do you think?"

"I think my little superkid can do anything he sets his mind to."

"Do you really believe that, Charlie?"

"I really do, Tim."

"I'm not really a superkid."

"An awful lot of people, including me, disagree with that."

"I'm scared," said Tim.

"Tim, I really know you love me when you're willing to share this kind of innermost fear with me. But also know that I love you, and would never lie to you. I know you're ready for this job, because I've seen you tackle, successfully, a long series of tasks, from the easy to the impossible, and achieve an extraordinary success record. But you know that. I've also seen the man inside the superkid. He's strong and kind and smart. It's a combination that can't be beat."

"Thanks, Charlie. Without you next to me I simply couldn't do this. Never leave me."

"You never leave me, Tim."

"I won't."

"Neither will I."

"OK, Charlie, let's go back. We'll stop by the grocery store and get a couple of really nice T-bone steaks, an inch and a quarter thick, and grill them in the back yard - the snow be damned."

I sat in our living room looking at Tim out at the grill. He was in his usual short sleeves and didn't seem in the least bothered by the fact that it was 17 degrees out, with a decent wind - God knows what the wind chill was. He'd insisted that he wanted to handle the grill alone. My job was to get baked potatoes and corn ready, and they were. I watched him toss the steaks on a platter, close the grill, and head inside. He said, "We should feel guilty about steaks like these. Each one would provide meat for a whole village in Africa for a week."

"Tim, I don't need a guilt trip, I need the salt and pepper."

"Here. No guilt trips. But let's say a prayer of thanks for the good fortunes that have blessed our lives. You know, we've never gone to church, but that's because of a disagreement about sexuality, not because we don't believe in a God and the importance of living a good life."

"Tim, there is a God that has blessed us beyond anything we could possibly deserve. I don't feel guilty eating these steaks any more than I think you should feel guilty for earning gold medals with a body that's as much a product of good fortune as our ability to buy these steaks. But we have an obligation to the world to try to make it better - for everyone. My prayer is simple, Dear God, don't let us forget to give back more than we receive."

"I love you, Charlie."

"I love you, too, Tim. Let's eat these steaks before they get cold."

They were delicious and guilt-free.

"Charlie, when are we going to tell the Gang?"

"We either tell them now, and that means calling all of them, and ask them to sit on it, or we wait until it's public and then call them all."

"I think I vote for waiting. I think it's only going to be a few days. Then we can call everybody, and we won't have to ask them to keep quiet. I do have to call my parents this evening though."

Betsy's reaction to Tim's announcement that evening on the telephone was, "Oh, Tim, that's so wonderful. It's everybody's dream come true. Tim, have you thanked Charlie?"

"Thanked, Charlie? I thank him every night for loving me, but what exactly do you have in mind?"

"Tim, you know you wouldn't be where you are without Charlie, and especially without his willingness to be number two to your number one."

"We're equals, Mom."

"In your relationship, yes, I believe you're equals. But count Olympic medals. Compare the title President with Dean of Law. Down the list. Charlie's had to have extraordinary generosity to handle his relationship to you, and a different, but equally powerful, ego. He needs it to be stroked, and tonight is an important night."

"You're right, Mom. Thanks. Hell, Mom, you're always right, and I'm so lucky to have you."

"Well, we do know that you've passed the teen years if you're willing to admit that your mom's right."

Norman was, by this time, on the line, and he simply said, "Your mother's a very wise woman, Tim. She's right. Charlie's going to spend the next decade, no decades, as Dean to your Presidency. I know he'll be comfortable in that role, because I know Charlie. But he deserves to have you acknowledge that you understand and appreciate the sacrifice he's making. He could've been dean of Harvard Law if he'd made up his mind to, or one of the leading attorneys in Washington."

"Thanks, Dad. I know all of that, but I needed a reminder, today of all days."

"It's easy to focus on yourself, son. Thank you for listening. I love you."

"I do, too," said Betsy.

That night in bed Tim said, "Charlie, I want to share the phone conversation I had with my parents." He repeated the conversation as close to word for word as he could remember it. "Charlie, I'm going to have to admit that I'm afraid that I would've gotten through this day without thinking of all that. Mom and Dad are absolutely right, I owe you a lot, if not everything. And I take it for granted all too often. Will you forgive me?"

"Oh, Tim, there's nothing to forgive. We're equals, in this relationship, and I think in Prexy's mind as well. We can't both be President, but we're going to be a team. I know that, and I don't have to be told, or thanked. Whether I could've become dean of the Harvard Law School is questionable, but I'd rather be your dean in Grand Forks than somebody else's dean in Cambridge."

"Charlie, you're absolutely wonderful. It's completely true that I wouldn't be where I am without you."

"And I wouldn't be where I am without you, so we're even."

"No we aren't. Your dick's bigger than mine, and I want to feel it inside me."

"Up your ass or in your mouth?"

"I'm going to chew on it tonight. Roll over."

I did, and he did. He didn't even try to shield his teeth! But he wasn't rough and soon I was coming like Vesuvius. Then he moved up and straddled my chest and fisted himself until he shot all over my face. It ended in some very messy, but delightful, kissing.

Well, the decision not to tell the Gang right away got us in trouble. All of the local Gang, which was almost the whole Gang, read it in "Around the Town." Tim's phone rang off the hook with questions, and complaints of, "Why didn't you tell us?" You can't win. Eventually we were forgiven by all, and Tim was congratulated on the forthcoming appointment, even though it would be a while before it became official.

Within a week Prexy had announced his retirement effective September first, and called a special meeting of the Board of Trustees to receive it and begin a search for a new President. The trustees met in closed session to consider the search for Prexy's successor. Prexy wasn't there, but, of course, Fred was. Fred had no qualms about telling Tim and me what had gone on. "Listen, guys, it's a done deal. The debate, which went on for a while, was on whether Tim should be appointed immediately, a committee should be appointed to meet with Tim confidentially and report back to the board, or a full blown search should be undertaken. There was such strong support for Tim that the few that felt a full search should be started were completely outvoted. The strong sentiment was that it wasn't fair to other potential candidates to pretend to undertake a full search when, in reality, the trustees were only looking for Tim. Acting precipitously by voting that day was also rejected. In the end a subcommittee of three was appointed to nominate a "Presidental Candidate Committee" which would be composed of trustees, faculty, staff, students, state government officials, residents of Grand Forks, and the people of North Dakota. That group would meet, and would be authorized by the trustees to either commence a full search or meet with only a single candidate if an obvious candidate presented him or herself. The resolution didn't mention Tim, but it was quite obvious who they had in mind.

Within a month the committee was in place. Fred was invited to be a member, but responded that he felt he had a conflict of interest because of his close friendship with Tim. There were four students on the committee: the President of the student government, the lead diver on the aquatics team, Prince, and a graduate student that Tim really didn't know. Just exactly how Prince got selected we aren't sure, but it looked to us like the "fix" was in. Prince became, after the fact, our informant as to what had gone on in the committee.

Essentially, at their first meeting they'd all said something like, "Why are we here? Hasn't it already been decided that Tim's going to be the next president of this university?" They finally decided that it was their job to see if there was any reason not to proceed in that direction. They spent about a month talking to a lot of people trying to find anything bad about Tim. The tone of their questions started rumors that the committee was out to get Tim and sabotage his appointment. Tim heard those rumors but, correctly, decided there was nothing to them. After about a month of this the committee invited Tim for an interview. They spent a whole day with him, in a most cordial conversation. The conversation essentially revolved around what his plans were if he became president. Tim's expansive views of the future of the University of North Dakota could make an enthusiastic believer out of anyone. The next day the committee met and voted, unanimously, to recommend Tim's appointment to the trustees. Another special meeting of the trustees was called, the report received, and Tim invited to meet with the trustees. He shared the same optimistic vision of the university with the trustees and they voted unanimously to appoint him as the next president. A hastily called press conference announced the decision to the world that afternoon. Dr. Tim, currently Vice-President for Development, would become the 9th President of the University of North Dakota on September 1, 1979.

Word circulated around the campus very quickly. When Tim and I walked home from campus we were greeted at our house by a group of about twenty students in the front yard, all eager to cheer Tim and offer congratulations. Tim spoke to the group, thanked them, and then came on inside. A little later we heard a noise in the yard and went to the door. The crowd had grown, and Tim's wave was met with a cheer and the cry of, "Speech, speech."

Tim came out and said, "You don't really want to stand here in this wind and try to listen to a speech."

"Yes, we do," someone shouted.

Another cheer.

Tim stood on the porch and asked, "Can you people in the back hear me?"

"Sure we can," came from the back of the crowd, now amounting to more than a hundred.

Tim said, "OK, here goes. Let me share a little of my vision of this university as I shared it with the trustees earlier today. This is a fine educational institution, but it's too little known and too little recognized. We can expect UND to grow in stature and recognition as we add new programs, new buildings, internationally known new faculty, and increased research. We want to reach out to the entire state of North Dakota with our skills and services, while doing everything possible to improve the life and studies of the students on campus. This cannot be accomplished by a president, but only by the entire university community of faculty, staff, and students. Are you willing to share this journey with me?"

The crowd gave an enthusiastic, "Yes."

"Then go home and eat dinner, and I'll eat mine."

A laughing and cheering crowd began to disperse. Tim waved a while, but soon came inside, and we did eat dinner, even if it had gotten cold.

Tim's major concern on campus for the next few months was the Development Office. He knew that in September he'd be leaving that office, and there was no obvious successor for him. He considered it a critical position in the University, and wanted to undertake a national search for a really top flight person - one who could sustain the momentum he had established. He had, after all met his $10 million per year endowment goal in each year but the first. This level was far in excess of anyone's expectations (except Tim's), and no one was confident that it could be sustained. Tim would be looking for someone who had both that confidence and the skill to pull it off. In the meantime, he had to get the office working so that, come September, it would require only a small part of his time.

He did talk with AAA, along with Lenny and April, about their futures. He assured them that their work would increase in September. The Office of the President would have significant demand for their efforts, and so would whoever succeeded him as Vice-President for Development.

One day in May Prexy came into his office and said, "We have to think about your inauguration."

"I want to make a big deal out of it," said Tim.

"Honestly, Tim, that's not like you. You usually play down your successes, and we have to create celebrations behind you back. What gives?"

"I don't need a big deal for me; this university needs a big deal for it. We need to feel good about ourselves, and a big celebration is exactly what we need. We want to invite the public universities of the country, no - the world, to come and join in. And I want it to be a celebration of public education. I'm tired of the Harvards, Yales, and Princetons, grabbing the limelight as regards higher education. Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and, yes, UND, are just as good if not better, and the world needs to hear that. That's going to be the theme of my inauguration in September."

"You really believe that, don't you?"

"Damn right. My education here, at Maryland, and at Michigan was absolutely top flight. Harvard couldn't have done better. Well, I think Georgetown would've been better than Maryland, but that's off the record. And just ask Charlie about UND Law compared to other schools. And he spent two years in Washington, surrounded by lawyers from the top schools, and he made them all look like country hicks. Everybody agrees that UND Law educated the best Supreme Court law clerk in a century. Just ask the Chief Justice."

"And that's your message to the world, next September."

"You bet."

"Am I going to bet my bippy?"

"Only when you find out what it is. Then let me know."

"There's another thing, Tim. I'll be retiring September 1, and I'll stay around a month or so to answer your questions and smooth the transition. Then I intend to disappear and let you run the show."

"Are you thinking of leaving town; I hope not."

"No, Lizbeth and I are going to live in Grand Forks, at least for a while. Our friends are here; that's particularly important for Lizbeth."

"Your friends are all in this university community, Prexy."

"Yes, and I'm going to have to keep my distance. You don't want me around. People would still come to me with their problems, instead of going to the new guy."

"That's the conventional wisdom, isn't it? Get the old guy out of the way so he doesn't cause trouble?"

"Not just cause trouble. I'd never do that. But the entire community has to begin to look to you as the leader; that's harder when the old leader is underfoot."

"I'm not buying it. I intend to get the trustees to appoint you President Emeritus effective September 1. It's going to be a paid position. I want you in my old office down the hall. We've been a team for four years; Hell, we were a team back when I was a student. I want that to continue. You know more about this place than I'll learn in years. Why would I want to lose that valuable knowledge; the insights you've gained in years of service? You aren't going to undermine my authority; I'll have to earn my own authority by being a good leader. I'll be a better leader with you nearby."

"Tim, a lot of people think you're wrong on that. They're going to tell me that I should get out of town, not just out of my office."

"If for personal reasons you wanted to leave town, I wouldn't argue. But you've made it clear that you want to stay in town, and so does your wife. I know you want more time with Lizbeth, but believe me, if you're around the house all day everyday she'll get tired of you fast. I expect you in that office down the hall on a regular basis, but on a schedule that works for you - and Lizbeth."

"You really mean that, Tim?"

"I don't just mean it, I insist."

"Thank you. You know, it's nice to be wanted."

"I know, Prexy. When I first visited this campus a dozen years ago I felt wanted. It was a good feeling. I still feel wanted here, and I want you to feel the same way. The place will have a new president. I'm going to do things differently. I believe that I think bigger and more expansively than you do."

"You can say that again."

"I believe that I think bigger and more expansively than you do."

Chuckling, "Thank you."

"I'm only going to be able to do bigger and more expansive things because of the foundation you built. And I need someone reminding me to keep my feet solidly on the good North Dakota ground. I think we're going to make a good team. But remember, and you can bet your sweet bippy that I will, come September first, the final decision moves from your shoulders to mine. I'll never hesitate to make decisions - even when you disagree; because if I do, I might as well resign; my effectiveness will be at an end. Will you join me on this journey, Mr. Prexy Emeritus?"

"Yes, Tim, of course."

"And I think you should still be called Prexy. We're all used to that. I'm going to be Tim or Dr. Tim, I guess sometimes President Tim, but not Prexy. That's reserved for you."

"I'd like that, Tim."

"Good, so would I. Why don't you and Lizbeth join Charlie and me for dinner tonight. Come by about seven."

I made my speciality, sweet and sour pork tenderloins. It's pretty easy to make: you heat vegetables in an electric skillet - bean sprouts, string beans bamboo shoots, water chestnuts - whatever floats your boat. That's put on a large platter (preferably huge and round - set in the middle of the table) on top of a bed of rice. On top of that are either boiled (my preference) or roasted (Tim's preference) pork tenderloins, all covered with a sweet and sour sauce (which is just a commercial sauce, stretched with pineapple juice, sweet pickle relish and juice, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar). It's all served on the one dish, and everyone helps themselves. Easy and delicious.

At dinner Prexy asked Tim, "OK, Tim just what do you have in mind for your inauguration?"

"I think the two of us should sit down and work it out. I just don't want to be left out of the planning."

"You lie, you little twerp!" This coming from the president of a state university!

"What do you mean, I lie?"

"Charlie, help me here. Can you believe that he doesn't have it all worked out in his head? Any meeting with me would simply be to let me think that I was planning the whole thing while he put all the ideas and details in my head."

"You've been around him pretty long. Is that the way he operates?"

"Are you telling me he doesn't do that with you?"

"Certainly not!"

"He doesn't do that with you? Are you serious?"

"I mean, 'Certainly, I'm not telling you he doesn't do that with me'." I turned to Tim, "Tim, tell him yours ideas. Don't spare the details. And don't pretend you don't have the whole thing worked out in your mind."

Tim just grinned. "I guess I can't put anything over on you two."

Prexy just groaned.

"OK, here goes. Any big academic event begins with an academic procession. We invite representatives from every public university in the country, and a lot from overseas. We encourage the major public university in each state to send its president, the rest will probably be represented by alumni that live in this area. We go through all of the various recognitions and ceremonial stuff that's needed, and then get to the two major speeches. I'd like Clark Kerr, the former President of the University of California to give theinaugural address, and then I'm going to give a major acceptance speech. We do it in the largest venue on campus, which if the weather allows is the football stadium. Afterwards we feed all comers - the university and the town - to a huge barbequed pork dinner. This is followed by an inaugural ball in the stadium, or in several venues if the weather is bad. It'll be a week day, and school will be cancelled the day of and the day after - we want to make the students happy, and I don't think that'll disappoint the faculty either.

One detail: I'm not going to march in the academic procession in my blue robe, which says University of Michigan loud and clear. I think we need to create a president's robe for UND. The official colors are green and pink, though the athletic teams use the green with white or black rather than the pink. I think the president's robe should be green, with a special hood in pink. The current president will have the hood fringed in white and past presidents in black. When we march in you'll wear a green robe with the pink and white hood. I'll wear the green robe with no hood. Of course, the robe will have the three bars indicating a doctorate. At the time of the official inauguration you'll remove your hood and place it on me. Later, after my speech, the President of the Trustees will announce your appointment as President Emeritus and I'll put the black fringed hood on you."

Prexy said, "And will you wear your Olympic medals?"

"Plural?" asked Tim.

"Yes. One from each of the Olympic Games you were in."

"Do Olympic medals belong in an academic procession?"

"Who cares? Everybody loves looking at those medals. The whole community shared in your successes; share the medals."

"OK," said Tim. "That's a reasonable explanation."

"Do you think people will really get all that symbolism?" I asked.

"Some, yes; some, no. But it is important, and sends a message. Actually two messages."

"And those would be?"

"First, I am of this university and proud of it. Second, Prexy continues in importance on this campus."

Prexy said, "I'm not going to argue with any of that. I will ask how you expect to pay for it."

I said, "You never ask Tim that question. He always finds the money, and never wants to hear money problems given as a reason not to do something he thinks is important."

"I almost forgot that."

Tim said, "Who'd like dessert?'

Lizbeth said, "Living with this young man must really be a circus, Charlie."

"Sometimes literally. But he is loveable."

"I'll bet."

Tim winked at Prexy and said, "Don't go there."

"I wouldn't dream of it."

"Go where?" Lizbeth asked?

"That's for pillow talk tonight, honey."

Lizbeth said, "Charlie, I couldn't possibly eat dessert. This meal has been wonderful."

I said, "You have to eat dessert. Tim's made something called Angel Pie - a different, and more fattening, kind of lemon meringue pie. You'll love it. We first ate it at a restaurant in Minneapolis called the Western. Tim begged the recipe from them."

Angel Pie is light and fluffy because it's made of whipped cream - one layer flavored with lemon and the top layer pure whipped cream. Ah, to die for. Perhaps also to die of, if you eat enough. We all had small pieces, and there was enough left for Tim and me for lunch the next day.

We soon realized that we were going to be very busy in Grand Forks that spring and summer. Tim was determined to begin his presidency at full gallop, he didn't want a period of time in which the university idled while the leadership changed. He expected Prexy to vacate his office on August 31, and he planned to move in the morning of September 1 and be functioning by noon. It never occurred to either Prexy or me that he might not meet that schedule.

That meant that we weren't going to spend much time at the lake during the summer. One night as we were drifting toward sleep I mentioned the coming summer's availability of the cabin to Tim, "You know, we aren't going to be using the cabin much this summer. We need to make it available to the rest of the Gang. It shouldn't be sitting empty."

Tim said, "For openers we should make it available to Sue, Kyle and Sharon while Hal and Ronnie are over at camp."

"You know, some additional baggage would go with them, namely Junior and Kevin."

"I'm just getting used to the idea that there's another generation of the Gang coming on. You know that Junior will almost be three and Kevin almost two. That's a great age for the lake."

"I'm sure that Ronnie and Hal have their weeks at Camp White Elk scheduled, let's invite their families to use the cabin those two weeks."

"Good idea. What about the rest of the summer? Do we want people around when we're there, or would we like time alone?"

"How about both? We'll have one week alone, and one week when we invite everybody in the Gang who is free to join us. Who knows how many might make it?"

Tim said, "I don't want to do the two weeks in a row. I'd rather be away from the university two separate weeks."

"That's fine. But I have a question, Tim."

"What's that?"

"Now that you're going to be president, are we going to lose our summers?"

"I hope not, Charlie. This summer is special. I really need to be here to get ready for the fall. If I'm going to fall on my ass in this job, it'll be in the first three months. That's when I have to really start things moving. People are expecting a lot, and if I don't give them quite a bit right away they're going to lose faith. My God, Charlie. Can you believe that I was appointed without their even doing a search? They only talked to me. In future summers I want to really take some time off to be with you, either traveling or at the lake."

"But you're smart enough not to make any promises, right?"

"Charlie, I'd quit this job before I'd lose you. If you really thought that we couldn't combine our love and our jobs, it would be the jobs that would go. But I think we both are determined to have both jobs and each other. Sometimes one eats up more time than the other. If I could wait your damn forty months, you can wait through this summer. And I'm giving you two weeks. You gave me exactly one weekend in those forty months, and that was thanks to Mom and Dad."

"You win; you win. I'm never going to live down those forty months, am I?"

"Hell, no. They're always going to be my ace in the hole."

Our two weeks that summer were special. Our week together was in late June. When we arrived Tim ran into the cabin ahead of me. As I entered he hugged me and said, "Charlie, this is your week. I won't push to run, dive, exercise, get up early, or all the other things that take away from our time together. You lead."

He meant it, too. We slept late (well, late for Tim); we got up by 7:30 every morning. But we had leisurely breakfasts, relaxing swims, slow walks in the woods, and lots of time for lovemaking: in the cabin, in bed, in the lake, in the woods.... You get the picture. We took several long drives, visiting our favorite spot on Lake Superior, where we swam and did other nostalgic things. For me, it was a perfect week, loving and relaxing. Tim swears he enjoyed it, and I think he did. But I always understood - without him ever saying a thing, or even hinting - that it was at my pace, not his. He gave himself away on the last evening: We lay on the lake shore. It was warm and we were completely comfortable laying there naked, with our feet extended into the water. He leaned over and jacked me off, very gently and very slowly. He smeared my cum on my face and then kissed me deeply. "We go home tomorrow, Charlie. It's time to get back. We need to set an alarm tonight."

I knew the vacation was over!

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