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Finding Tim

A Fourth Alternate Reality

by Charlie
With editorial assistance from Dix and John


Prexy and his wife were settled in their new home. Tim took possession of Dakota House the next day. We walked through the entire structure with the head of Buildings and Grounds and one of his assistants. They were quite prepared to do quite a bit of decorating and remodeling for us, and urged us to make suggestions, point out things we'd like changed, repainted, etc. A couple of rooms did need painting, and the wallpaper in one of the bedrooms was, in both of our opinions, awful, and had to go. However, in general the house was in good condition and was way more than adequate to meet our needs. The downstairs was specifically designed to meet the entertainment needs of the university president. Upstairs there was a very private den and a separate TV room, which I didn't think was going to get used much by Tim or me, but was nice to have on those occasions when we did want to watch something on the tube.

In the master bedroom/bathroom Tim found the only serious deficiency in the house: the shower. He simply said, "I want Carl to look at this and come up with a way to put a shower equivalent to our present shower somewhere in here. "Who's Carl?" asked Tom Dick, the head of Buildings and Grounds.

"My brother. He's an architect. And I have the perfect model shower in my present house. One thing Charlie and I are not going to accept in this move is a poorer shower. That's one of our favorite times of day, and we aren't going to compromise."

Dick said, "It may be expensive, but you've made so few other requests that I'm sure that there'll be money in the budget for it."

"If there isn't, I'll find it."

"You seem determined."

"I am, and Charlie and I won't be moving in until the shower is in and approved."

"I'll second that," I said.

Dick called Carl and invited him to visit Dakota House and devise a shower plan. The only way to get the shower we wanted was exactly the same way we'd done it in our present home: turn the adjacent bedroom into a shower and walk-in closet. It was a little bit more complicated in Dakota House, but Carl devised a good scheme, and a construction crew from Buildings and Grounds went right to work. Everything was perfect, except that the two hoses on the hand held showers heads were too short, and we had them get specially made longer ones. That took a week, and we were ready to move in-just in time for the beginning of the second semester.

We'd been considering the question of what was to become of our present house, which we'd determined to keep. That problem was solved one day in early January when Tim got a call from either Murray or Toppy, I can't remember which. They'd definitely decided that they wanted to transfer to UND at the end of the first semester. Since formal application deadlines had passed, they'd called Tim to see if it might be possible to make the transfer at the last minute.

Tim had replied, "Admission is no problem, and I have access to scholarship money (Fred's) that can be directed for you two. Housing is another matter; the dorms are full and have a waiting list. I can't use my office to meddle in that, it would be unfair to some student who would be cut out of dormitory space. Let me think on that problem, and I'll get back to you. But plan to come, we'll solve the problem."

Of course, Tim already had a solution in mind, but he needed to talk to me first. "Look, Charlie, we trade them room and board for care and management of the house. We don't know what's going to be happening here, but you know we, or someone in the Gang, is going to figure out how to put it to use: overnight guests, parties, who knows? But we need it taken care of, and that can be done best if it's lived in. And we know that Toppy and Murray are responsible and capable."

I replied, "Tim, you don't need to convince me. I agree. Invite them."

So Murray and Toppy were invited to live in our house, occupying the master bedroom, and taking care of the house as needed. They were delighted with the idea and accepted immediately, as we were sure they would. We had to warn them against doing too much. "Look, now," we told them, "you aren't maintenance men. At the lake you did a lot of maintenance work, and really put the place in good shape. But you weren't going to school and active in sports or music at the lake. Here, you are. If plumbing needs fixing, it's your job to know that, call a plumber, and make sure it's properly fixed and paid for. But it's not your job to fix it." Of course, we were never really able to make that sink in, and over the time they were there Murray and Toppy did most of the maintenance themselves, including starting a project of completely painting the interior, room by room.

At about that time we learned from Larry that Arnie, Fyn, and Margie were looking for housing where they could all be together. I suggested to Tim that they might like to live in Fritz's old apartment on the third floor. However, I wasn't sure of the implications of mixing the sexes like that, in view of the fact that the landlord was the president of the university. Tim replied, "The extra bedroom on the third floor can be shifted to be part of the apartment by simply unlocking one door that's been permanently locked. The door to the hall from that room can be closed, or left as a second entrance. As long as there are two bedrooms, one for the two boys and one for Margie, I don't think there'll be a problem. Beds could be a problem. I'm sure that those three would like a queen bed in each room, maybe a king. But there's no two-bed sleeping arrangement for that group that wouldn't raise eyebrows. And two twins in one room and a queen in the other would be too obvious a giveaway. The only solution is three double beds, two in the larger bedroom. There isn't room in there for two queens, so they're just going to have to be happy with doubles."

"I assume, after all of this explanation, that you don't really think they're going to sleep that way."

"Well, you and I wouldn't, why would they?"

"I can't think of a reason."

"But at some point someone's going to visit that apartment, see the beds, and reach conclusions. We can't control what they think, but with three double beds we can take the high ground."

"Which is?"

"The two boys share a room, and Margie has a room to herself. And they had better keep their things divided that way. I'm certainly not going to make inquiries about how they sleep, nor am I going to get involved in the speculations of other people about how they sleep."

"Isn't all of this silly?"

"Of course it is. But you and I have been very careful about things like this for years-starting with your not even seeing me for forty months. Public image is very important, and we're both in high profile positions."

"Oh, I know. I wasn't questioning the validity of your precautions. But, it is silly."

"Of course it is."

Arnie, Fyn, and Margie thought it was silly as well, but were overjoyed at the offer to live in the apartment, with whatever beds Tim and I wanted them to use. They would've been willing to have three single beds, but clearly appreciated the offer of double beds instead. "These are big boys," said Margie, "they need to stretch out." She got the idea very easily.

It did leave us with one quandary about the house, however. Our offer to Murray and Toppy was room and board in exchange for house maintenance. We were inclined to simply offer the apartment to Arnie, Fyn, and Margie as part of a sort of "full boat scholarship" arrangement to enable their intense diving practice. We decided to simply talk to Murray and Toppy and get their take on our dilemma.

Murray and Toppy, being Murray and Toppy, didn't really see what the issue was. "Look, we have a deal. We'll take care of the house. We're very happy with that deal. If you want to give away the apartment upstairs, well, Hell, it's yours, give it away to whomever you please. We enjoy maintenance work, and will enjoy the responsibility of taking care of the house. The others can spend all day diving if they want, it won't bother us."

Toppy asked, "What about meals? Have you offered to buy their food as you offered to buy ours?"

"Yep, it's a room and board deal for all of you."

"OK, let Murray and I talk to them. It would make sense to run a single kitchen for main meals. They can keep snacks and stuff up in the apartment kitchen, and it may be that they want to do breakfast up there, but we'll eat together and share the cooking. Murray and I can do the buying."

"You're OK with that?"


"Paul sure sent us a pair of winners."

"We think that he sent us to a pair of winners."

Shortly afterwards we got all five of them together and left it to them to work out necessary arrangements for the house. We made it clear to Arnie, Fyn, and Margie, that Toppy and Murray were house managers and would in essence be their landlord. Everybody seemed content with the arrangement, and that never changed. Tim and I both knew that the arrangement was a good deal for both sets of students, but that it was also fraught with potential sources of discontent. It never occurred!

Dakota House was furnished, but we took some of the nicer pieces of furniture with us when we moved. We told Murray and Toppy to fill in furniture gaps with good solid, middle priced furniture, and left it to them to get it. They were good shoppers and, over time, spent much less that we might've budgeted for everything they were responsible for, including food for five persons. We opened a bank account for the house, made them authorized signatories, and told them to pay for what they needed out of that account. When it got low, they brought us an accounting, and we replenished it. We told them a certain amount of "miscellaneous" expenditure was OK, but they kept it quite minimal. They were good managers! More importantly, they really appreciated being trusted, and our trust in them really paid off. All of us knew there was a lesson there.

We thought it was important that Murray and Toppy be settled in the house before the others moved in. We wanted to clearly establish who was in charge of the house, and felt that their being there first was an important part of that. But we had to get the others out of their dormitories at the end of the semester. Luckily, Murray and Toppy were able to get to Grand Forks a day ahead of dorm closing day at UND. If Tim had been able to fiddle with the calendar, he couldn't have given us a better schedule, but even the power of presidents is limited in the face of tradition and bureaucracy. So we had to put this down to either luck or providence, take your pick.

We scheduled our move to Dakota house to be completed on Murray and Toppy's moving day-we were out by noon, and they moved in in the afternoon. We had moved over several days, and weren't moving a whole lot of furniture. Murray and Toppy had a trunk and a couple of suitcases each. Pulling it all off in a day was easy. We invited them to Dakota House for dinner after their move, and we all enjoyed hamburgers from the grill. Yes, cooked outside, in January, in short sleeves-only Tim. He was forgiven all dishwashing responsibilities. We were invited for dinner the next night at our former house, when Murray and Toppy would entertain us along with their three new tenants. We accepted, mainly because we were interested in seeing how this group of five was going to get along together.

We needn't have worried. When we arrived the five kids (well, they were from our perspective; furthermore, as you know, neither Tim nor I took kid to be a pejorative word) were gathered in the kitchen, all working on dinner. Potatoes were being mashed, peas watched so they wouldn't overcook, and the ingredients of a great tossed salad were being prepared and placed in a huge bowl. The smell of beef in the oven was overwhelming. When I started to open the oven to take a look at whatever was making the wonderful smell I almost got my hand jerked off. "No peeking," cried Toppy, and he was really serious. "It's part of the cooking procedure-you can't open the oven until the meat's ready. It's all done by timing. If it's good, and you like it, then I'll share the recipe with you. And you will like it. The only drawback to the recipe is that the whole roast comes out about the same. But I understand that everybody here likes it pretty rare, so that's the way we'll have it."

I'd never heard of cooking beef that way, but he seemed to know what he was talking about. Furthermore, he was the host, and I wasn't about to argue. The two groups had only had a half a day to get to know each other, and they were completely at ease together already. Tim and I winked to each other, happy in what seemed to be the start of a good relationship.

The roast was delicious. Toppy's "no-peek" method of cooking a standing rib roast was perfect. The roast must be allowed to stand at room temperature for at least an hour. Then it's placed, uncovered (salt and pepper but no water), in a preheated 375 degree oven for one hour-regardless of the size of the roast. At the end of an hour turn off the oven; at no time may the oven door be opened-even a crack; hence "no peek." When you're ready to eat, you turn the oven on again at 375 degrees, 20 minutes for rare (red), 30 minutes for medium (pink), more if you like your roast seriously overcooked. Toppy had removed this one at a shade over 20 minutes. It was remarkable: the outside piece was dark on the outside, but bright pink on the other side. From there on every piece was a nice red. The "no-peek" method somehow makes the entire roast the same. So, in this gang of rare meat eaters, we didn't have a stack of pink to gray pieces to try to get rid of before we got to the rare stuff in the middle. I asked Toppy for the recipe immediately, and he was glad to provide it.

Author's note: The recipe is legitimate, and is the perfect way to cook a rib roast-provided everyone can agree on the degree of doneness desired. My family is pretty much like the Gang-we (with a couple of exceptions) like our meat rare.

At dinner we learned that the only conflict that had thus far arisen was over how much work around the place Arnie, Fyn, and Margie were going to do. They were determined that everyone would share the load equally, and Toppy and Murray were equally determined that maintaining the house was their job, and the other three needed to tend to the boys' diving. Tim and I decided to stay out of that one, but later I met privately with Margie and told her that Murray and Toppy were right, that was the deal, and that she and the boys didn't need to feel guilty about it. In the long run, they did their share around the house but left the painting, maintenance, and other major tasks to Murray, Toppy, and workmen they hired on our behalf.

It hadn't taken them long to get on to the subject of sexuality. Given what you know about all of them, especially Murray and Toppy, did you expect otherwise? Murray and Toppy had decided when they came to UND that they were going to be openly gay. They didn't plan any big announcement; they'd just be a gay couple when they arrived, making no attempt to either hide it or show it. When appropriate, they introduced each other as partner which sort of settled the matter. That's how the subject had come up when the five of them had first met. Now that they were settled in and eating meals together, they quickly explored further.

Toppy and Murray admitted to being typical randy teenagers, eager for sex, with each other, and with others when the situation was appropriate. It was a clear invitation to the other three, but it elicited this response from Margie: "We have a somewhat strange relationship. Fyn and I are in love, and plan to be married someday, but probably not until after the Los Angeles Olympics. In the meantime, Arnie's a real part of both of our lives. We decided from the beginning that we had to treat him the same as each other. So we've come to an unusual arrangement. It works for us, and we don't care if it wouldn't work for anyone else. We don't have orgasmic sex with each other at all. We masturbate, often together. We're naked together. We fondle each other, love each other, hug each other, but that's it. If we masturbate first, then there isn't a lot of temptation to go too far, and it allows us to sleep together, in all combinations.

Arnie said, "They don't really need to abstain from sex on my account, but there it is, and they won't discuss changing the rules."

Fyn said, "As to how you two fit in, I think we should start with an understanding that nudity in the house is OK, and it won't bother any of us. That may make life simpler here if we can move around without having to put on a bathrobe every time we leave our rooms. If, in a while, you two want to join our games with the rules Margie just laid out, I think the three of us would be open to that."

Toppy said, "Wow. And wow. You guys both show great restraint and great liberality at the same time. You're going to take some getting used to."

Murray said, "I think I can get used to it."

They passed on to other subjects. It was several nights later when testing began. Murray decided to find out just how open the threesome upstairs was, so just before he went to bed with Toppy, he headed up to the third floor, stark naked. He knocked on the apartment door and was invited in. His timing was perfect, and the three of them were naked in the living room. From their positions, and two semi-hard-ons, it looked to Murray like they'd been jerking off, and he asked, "Masturbating?"


"I came to ask about dinner plans for the week."

"Bullshit, you did. You came to test our sexual boundaries, admit it."

"OK, that was part of it."

"That was all of it, right."


"So go get Toppy, and join us."


Toppy had been hoping for some kind of invitation and was ready. In fact, he was good and ready, and won the ensuing circle jerk. "OK, so what did I win?"

"You get to watch us finish, and then you can sleep with whomever you'd like."

"I'd like to sleep with Fyn."

Fyn said, "Fine, but we have something going on here that we need to finish."

They did, and Margie took a towel and cleaned up each boy as he finished. She said, "OK, Toppy, take Fyn into one of the bedrooms to sleep. The three of us will sleep in the king size bed downstairs. Remember, you can touch, but you can't push too far."

That became their pattern a couple of nights a week; the rest of the time they kept to their own rooms. One variant in the pattern sprang up: Arnie, Fyn, and Margie liked to watch Toppy and Murray have sex, and Murray and Toppy found they liked an audience.

Murray liked to keep me posted on what was going on in the house, from sex to maintenance, so Tim and I knew pretty much what their sex lives were like.

We wondered how long it would be before the rules changed. We also wondered what would happen if an additional person moved into the house, since we'd been thinking that it might be a good place for Nate, our gay quarterback, to live when he arrived in the fall. I asked Murray and he said, "It's your house, you decide who lives here. But since you asked, I'd like to talk to Toppy and the upstairs bunch before I answer." That was certainly reasonable, and Tim told him so.

The answer that came back was, "Sure, we'd like to expand the circle. From what you've told us about Nate, he'll fit right in. If it turns out that he wants to play around, we'd be more than willing. If he doesn't we won't push. We'll make the house friendly for him in either case."

None of us knew it at the time, but Murray had just given the household a name, "The Circle." For this group, eventually, Circle took on the same meaning that Gang had for us.

We invited Nate to live in our old house when he arrived in mid-summer for early football practice. He eagerly accepted. We'd let him cross the sexual bridge with the five who were already there when he arrived. We didn't expect a problem.

Life at the university was always exciting. Tim was constantly getting new ideas, testing them out first on Prexy and me, and then on others-faculty, staff, trustees, and students. He realized that his first year was a year for planning, not making a lot of changes, and he followed that philosophy. And so the first academic year in the reign of Tim came to an end. Tim wasn't certain how much impact he'd had on the campus in that first year, but he learned what the university community thought of him at graduation. As President he would lead the academic procession. There was no precedent as to where I would be: with Tim as the Chancellor, or leading the Law School faculty. We decided that I should march with the law faculty, and that's the way we lined up. Just before the procession started, several of the senior members of the faculty came over to me and said, "We think you should march with Tim. They didn't give me much choice, almost pushing me forward in the line. I took a place right behind Tim, but was pushed up, "Next to Tim, Charlie."

And so, in we marched, right behind the flags, scepter, and faculty mace. As soon as we came through the door in the back of the field house the entire audience was on its feet clapping. They kept it up until we'd made it to the front and taken our places on the platform. Tim and I both had tears streaming down our faces. This community, our community, was determined to give back to us the love and support we had tried our best to give them. Clearly we had succeeded.

It didn't end there. After the awarding of diplomas, the president of the senior class came forward to make the traditional presentation of the class gift to the university. As he came forward, a large frame, covered with a sheet, was wheeled out on the platform. The senior class president took the podium and asked, "Sid, will you come forward?'

We'd seen Sid sitting with the senior class and wondered what he was doing there, not a senior and sticking out without a cap and gown. We were about to find out. The senior class president spoke, "Dr. Tim, the class overwhelmingly voted that our gift to the University of North Dakota would be a portrait of our new President. We immediately thought of Sid to paint it. He tells us that he's already painted two major portraits of you: One was sold in New York, and he won't tell us where the other one is. He was delighted for the opportunity to do a third. We wanted this to be a surprise, so he's worked with photographs and sketches. We would like this to hang in the entry to this field house, an appropriate place for the portrait of the only university president in the world who holds Olympic medals in two sports from three different Olympics. Sid, would you unveil the portrait, please?"

Sid walked over and drew back the curtain from in front of the huge frame. It wasn't a portrait; it was a huge triptych, with three larger than life size panels. The middle showed Tim in his magnificent green academic gown, marching down the football field at his inauguration. The left panel showed him at the start of a dive, having just left the platform. The background made it clear that the location was the Mexico City Olympics. The right panel showed him flying through the air above the high bar at the Montreal Olympics. They were absolutely magnificent. The audience was again on its feet, this time cheering Sid as much as Tim.

Tim and I walked over to look at the paintings up close. We realized that in the audience were familiar faces: me, his coaches, the Gang, Prexy, and many, many others. Sid had taken liberties with who was actually in Mexico City and Montreal, in order to include so many people important to Tim. Five faces appeared in all three panels: the five people Tim had identified in his inaugural speech as being the five most important people in his life: me, his parents, Carl, and Prexy.

Then the class president was again speaking. "Sid refused to take his usual commission for these paintings, so I'm pleased to announce that the funds raised for the gift will be contributed to the University Endowment Fund to initiate the President Tim Scholarship Fund. It will open with a gift from the Class of 1980 in the amount of $ 47,543.75. We're still trying to figure out who gave us the seventy-five cents." That got a laugh, and another standing ovation.

When we got home that night Tim said to me, "Charlie, how often am I going to have to endure maudlin scenes like that this afternoon?"

"As long as you remain the most popular university president in America. Tim, they love you, and they're determined to show it. Expect it often, and usually when you least expect it."

"Did you know any of this was coming?"

"I didn't have the slightest clue. I didn't even catch on when they came and got me to march at the head of the procession with you. But it was clear that when we walked through the door of the field house, they were ready. The word was out to stand and cheer."

We eventually learned that at a meeting of the senior class it was determined that they were going to use the graduation ceremony to honor Tim-and to a lesser extent me. The class president had been told to talk to Prexy and "work it out." We'd just seen the results of what they'd worked out. I thought they'd done a really good job. Despite his protests, Tim did too.

Summer was upon us. I said to Tim, "I have a great idea for what to do with two weeks this summer."

"What's that?"

"Let's you, me, Phil, and Franklin, invite all of the next generation of Gang members to the lake for two weeks. I think it's time for them to get to know each other, their uncles, and the lake cabin. And their parents would all like a break."

"Great idea. Let's see. How many are there?"

"Fourteen, and one in the oven."

Tim responded, "Wow. I know they have been popping pretty rapidly this past year, but I really hadn't realized there were that many. And I'm impressed that you could pull the number out so fast."

"I've been thinking about this project for a few days."

Readers, I have to apologize to be springing five new births on you all of a sudden. But the recent chapters have been involved with Tim and his inauguration, and the Gang has taken a back seat. It would seem that either something in the water inspired a lot of people to pursue parenthood all at once, or else some drugstore in Grand Rapids got a shipment of defective condoms. In fact, there was a conspiracy afoot. The girls pretty much decided that it would be very nice if most of the third generation Gang were about the same age: they could play together, be babysat together, grow up together, and maybe, just maybe, continue some of the friendships of their parents into the next generation. They'd all tossed their pills at about the same time. I hasten to note that the pills were tossed only after discussion with their partners!

Kara was first to pop, bringing Cameron into the world on September 9, 1979, even before Tim's inauguration. He'd be called Cam, and legally Jim was his father, but nobody knew whether Jim or Andy was his biological father.

On October 21 of the same year Sue brought forth Thomas Bruder. Sue wanted to name him Tom, or Thomas, in honor of the Gang's Tom. She knew the story of the "new Hal," having heard it many times, and knew that Tom was the instigator of the plot to create the new Hal. Hal had suggested that the name might come from her side of the family. Sue thanked him for his willingness to do that, but said that Hal had given her new life after she was raped, and she wanted to honor the man that had given him new life, which had enabled him to pass it on to her. Hal didn't try to argue. However, both of them got in the habit of calling little Tommy Bud and it stuck. He was Bud all his life.

The ladies took about a half year off, but on March 30, 1980 Sharon gave birth to Rhoda Kay. Again, the father was unknown, but Ronnie was the legal father, and Rhoda shared the initials of both Kyle and Ronnie.

It had been a race, but Rhoda won it. Just behind was Carol's son, Norbert-to be called Bert. Norbert was named for Carol's grandfather, as Nelson before him had been named for Carl's grandfather. He was born April 3, 1980. All concerned were glad than neither Kay (as Rhoda Kay would be called) nor Bert were born on April Fools' Day.

Just to complete the report on the Gang's reproductive activity: Nancy was pregnant, due in the fall. Judy and Jerrry were trying, as was Amy, with both of her men.

Tim thought about my suggestion for the summer and asked, "Just how many of the fourteen do you have in mind? Wouldn't it be a good idea to leave the ones in diapers for their mothers?"

"There's a pretty big gap between Tom and Nancy's Noreen, who'll be almost three this summer, and Paul and Amanda's Nettie, who'll only be one and a half. I was thinking of breaking it there, which would give us nine (if they all come) ranging in age from almost three to almost seven."

"Where do you plan to sleep nine little kids?"

"I've got an idea. We'll clear all of the furniture out of the middle bedroom and get foam mattresses and fill the floor from wall to wall. We cover the whole thing with rubber pads, then flat mattress pads, then a huge fitted sheet that we can easily make out of four fitted queen size sheets. A stack of soft, flannel blankets and plenty of pillows, and we toss 'em all in."

"Boys and girls all together?"

"I'm surprised to hear that question come from you?"

"We, and more importantly, their parents, have to think about how we're going to pass on our sexual mores, and in particular what sexual mores we intend to pass on."

"I think you're right on that. Let's extend two invitations: First, for the nine kids to come to Michigan this summer for two weeks. Second, for the parents to get together and talk about the sexual issues involved-not just for this summer. Those kids all play a lot together. They sleep over. Sexual issues can't be avoided. And we need to have Billy and Sara involved in the conversation. We ought to try to get them up here for it."

"We have to talk to Phil and Franklin first. We need to find out if they're willing to play uncle for two weeks of their vacation."

Well, Phil and Franklin were delighted with the idea. They were like us, happy as gay men with their partners, but unable to set aside the urge to be a parent. Being uncle to the children of the Gang was the next best thing. The last week of July, first week of August were set as the dates-those being the most likely to bring fair weather. When we invited the children, through their parents, eight sets of parents expressed utter delight at a two week vacation without responsibility for children; or, in the case of those with a newborn, with responsibility only for the little one. In addition, they all expressed appreciation for the opportunity to talk about sexuality with the rest of the Gang. Billy and Sara were particularly delighted to be invited for that conversation, because they felt pretty isolated in Indiana when it came to people they could have meaningful conversations with about sex. Being the parents of the oldest child of the group, they knew that they would be facing sexual issues first. Billy called Tim and said, "How about if the four of us head up to Grand Forks the last week in June? We can dive and talk. Maybe we'll find time for something else as well. You're going to really be impressed with Willie's diving; Bob's as well."

"Wonderful; you'll be staying at Dakota House. It's a step up from our old house."

"We loved the old one, but we're game to try something new. The boys will love it, I'm sure."

One evening Tim said to me, "You know, Charlie, we should include Sid in these sexuality conversations as well. He's a member of the Gang and is certainly going to get married and have kids. His kids'll be part of this group, even if they are younger. He should be in on the conversations."

"We should ask him. I wonder how serious his relationship with Cathy Garver is?"

"I think it's pretty serous. He dated Cathy a while ago when they met as art students. After running into some nasty reactions to their interracial dating they stopped. But they decided, 'To Hell with that. If we want to date, we'll date.' I don't think they've had any trouble recently."

Tim continued, "I told Sid, 'If you even have even the slightest trouble, I want to know about it; and that's President Tim talking, not your friendly Gang member Tim.'" He told me that he hoped we'd never have to have that conversation."

"I told him, 'But don't you fail to let me know if there's ever a problem, even a slight one.' He promised he wouldn't.

I decided to talk to Sid when I next saw him. I asked, "How serious are you with Cathy? How much have you talked about sexuality with Cathy? Would you like to bring her along when the Gang talks about their kids and sexuality?"

"I'd sure like to, Charlie. We're talking about getting married. We talked a lot about sex. She's a little shy about talking about it. I think hearing the Gang talk about it would be good. It'll shake her up a little, but I'll prepare her. You know, I'm a member of the Gang. That's mighty important to me. I'm really honored that you guys invited me. It's one thing to take pity on the little kid on the Mall trying to make a living selling newspapers, and quite another to invite that kid to be a part of a close family like the Gang. I really think that I might have to rethink marrying Cathy if she didn't fit into the Gang. But, I love her because she is the kind of girl that I think will fit in."

"Does she know about your adventures with Phil and Franklin?"

"Not by name, but she knows the basic facts."

"And she could deal with that?"

"I think so. She says it doesn't upset her."

"You accept that, right?"

"She's like you guys. She tells the truth."

"I think she'll fit in. Bring her along if she'd like to come. But be sure to tell her what she's in for."

Billy, Sara, Willie and Bob arrived the last weekend in June. Within thirty minutes of their arrival at Dakota house Tim, Billy and the two boys were headed for the natatorium. They came back in time for dinner, which Sara and I had fixed while we were catching up on life in Bloomington and Grand Forks. Tim came rushing in and said, "You can't believe Willie and Bob. They dive at ten meters. They go off the high springboard. And they're good. They're better divers than anybody at this university except Arnie and Fyn. And they dive in tandem as well!"

Tim was so excited by the boys' diving he could hardly stand still. The two boys stood there with big grins on their faces. They knew Tim was, with the possible exception of their father, the best in the world, and this kind of praise was exciting. Billy tried to bring Tim down to earth. "They aren't going to be upset about the Moscow Olympics being cancelled. And Los Angeles isn't in their cards either. But in eight years, look out Olympic world!"

I asked, "How much pool time do these kids get at ages 4 and 6?"

"Every day before school, and two or three days after school. Before school it's at the university with me. After school it's at the 'Y'. They have a pretty good coach there. They can walk there together from school on days when they're both free. It works out pretty well."

I asked Willie, "Do other sports tempt you, or are you just a diver?"

"I love trampoline practice sessions with Dad. He says that I ought to try gymnastics. There's a program I can get into in the fall. I'm thinking about it."

"You're going to be another Tim."

"Oh, gee, Uncle Charlie, I hope so. That's my biggest dream."

"You came by that dream honestly, Willie. That's your father all over. And look where it got him." I turned to Bob, "What about you, Bob?"

"I love diving. I'm a good swimmer too. I think I might like racing. I don't know."

Billy said, "He's a complete water rat. Who knows what he'll get his gold medal for?"

"But he will get a gold medal, right?"

"He's a Carson. Enough said."

Before the week was out Willie and Bob had become somewhat of a sensation at the university pool. They wanted to be there all the time, with Tim if possible. When Tim couldn't be there, they went with their parents. When the Gang got together to talk, which was, after all, the point of Billy and Sara coming to Grand Forks they went to the pool in the care of Arnie and Fyn, who were only too happy to take them. School was in summer term, and most of the aquatics team was gone for the summer. But there were still plenty of people around the diving pool, and watching these two kids, ages 5 and 7, well almost 5 and almost 7, flying off the ten meter platform was quite a show. Word got around campus, and by the end of the week they had a pretty good audience. And they were really hams-they loved showing off. Tim thought it was a riot.

There were seventeen parents, four gay uncles, along with Sid and Cathy in the group that sat down to talk about sexuality and their children. We'd invited Paul and Amanda, even though their first child was too young to join the group in July at the lake. But the week didn't work for them, and since their baby was only six months old, they didn't ask us to try to change the date. The living room at Dakota House was large for entertaining and held us all. We gathered when we could, and in the week we managed to spend just over 40 hours in that room. The discussions were, at times, pretty intense.

All of the parents had a lot of shared concerns. One of the biggest we dubbed the "Show and Tell Syndrome" or STS. That was the fear that what they saw and heard at home would be repeated in school, if not in Show and Tell, in some other forum. STS was a particular fear for the threesome and the foursome, neither of which was "out" in regard to the actual relationships between them. But the rest felt the same concern, and we knew that we had all embraced sexual norms that could upset some members of the community, including teachers and the parents of playmates.

Everyone was comfortable being naked around their kids, and expected this to continue. But what about other kids, particularly other children of the Gang? They were a little young for that issue to have arisen, but it certainly would at the lake in the summer, as regards the four uncles-all of whom were used to being naked around the cabin when they felt like it.

A pretty crucial question was what kind of sexual relationships might develop among the next generation of the Gang? Were these going to be encouraged, or discouraged? If we were going to allow/encourage/not discourage nudity and/or sexual activity among the group, how would we explain that this permission didn't really apply to outsiders, whose parents might be offended, or perhaps go ballistic?

Language didn't present much of an issue. All were pretty much in agreement that the parents shouldn't use the traditional swear words, or sexual words, around the kids. The kids would learn them soon enough, and hearing them from their parents would only serve to make them comfortable using them in contexts where they shouldn't. At some point they had to know that their parents used those words and that they weren't all that bad in appropriate contexts. But the teenage years seemed to be the time for that lesson.

We couldn't avoid, and didn't try to avoid, the question of the importance of monogamy. While the entire Gang, except for Tina and Merle, had decided that open sexual relationships were acceptable, each of the couples, and three and foursomes, had struggled with the question to a considerable extent. While all had decided that they were comfortable with sexual activity beyond their partners, all expressed a certain amount of unease with the decision. All had various limits, exemplified by Tim's and my unwillingness to fuck or be fucked by other men. Our willingness to fuck women, even anally, was chuckled over, and we didn't even attempt to justify it logically. A number of the couples had decided to limit their sexual activity to each other and the Gang. They didn't try to justify that logically either, but we all seemed to understand the reasoning behind it.

We wondered why this was such a troubling issue. We concluded that, even though we'd rejected a lot of the morality of the society around us, particularly its condemnation of homosexual sex, we couldn't help but be influenced by it. We recognized the widespread hypocrisy in the society, in which monogamy was extolled and then ignored; where premarital sex was both condemned and widely engaged in. But we couldn't avoid being influenced by the norms the society extolled.

Then there was the question of whether sex without love was appropriate. Not necessarily true romantic love, but at least the kind of love that existed within the Gang. Somebody pointed out that that might be a good rule for adults that have established loving relationships with spouses, partners, and perhaps good friends, but what about experimenting teenagers? Did we really expect them to develop loving relationships before they played around, at whatever level they might play around?

We soon realized that we weren't going to solve all of these problems, and that we probably wouldn't all come to the same conclusions about them anyway. But what could we accomplish this week?

We decided one thing quite easily. It was important for the Gang to know what the rules were in the other Gang families. We needed to know each other's rules so that we could respect and reinforce them.

With regard to the young kids, continuing as they grew up, we felt that they needed to be comfortable with each other, and that meant playing together, sleeping together, and being naked together, just like brothers and sisters do. We didn't see STS being a problem: by the time they were old enough to find nudity something to talk about, they'd be old enough to be told that some things are only talked about in the family or Gang. At the same time they all agreed that the uncles didn't need to be worried about being naked in front of the kids, but shouldn't be sexual with each other in front of the kids. Nakedness for convenience, as the natural way we slept, and so forth, was OK. Nakedness for the purpose of sexual arousal should be kept in the bedroom, or well off the beaten track. The uncles all agreed.

Those were really the only issues that had to be settled before the big two weeks at the lake, but we talked on and on. Norman's comments about the south forty acres and the back seats of cars were repeated often. Everybody seemed eager to take his advice. All envied the open relationship that Tim and Carl had had with their parents growing up, and all seemed determined to use it as a model for their own kids. But Billy said, "I don't look forward to the first conversation I have with Willie about masturbation."

Carl said, "If you have the kind of open communication with Willie and Bob that you say you're going to try to develop, then masturbation shouldn't be any more difficult a subject than how big their allowance is going to be. After all, it's us, not them, that find it difficult to talk about sex, masturbation, vaginas and penises."

Hal chimed in with, "And we're going to expect them to be able to talk to their girl and boyfriends about those things before they do anything about them, right?"

I said, "That's Tim's rule, and it's a damn good one."

Someone asked, "Is damn one of the words we aren't going to use around the kids?"

I said, "I guess it is."

Cathy hadn't said much. Now she said, "I've never been in a situation where sexual issues were talked about like this-not in my family, not with friends-girl or boy, not in class. Sid and I have talked some, but nothing like this. This is a mind expanding conversation, like I was high on drugs or something. Tim, what is this rule of yours they're talking about?"

Tim said, "I tell everyone who's thinking about sexual activity with some one, any level of sexual activity, that if they can't talk about it they shouldn't be doing it. Specifically if they can't talk about dicks, clits, cunts, balls, and tits then they shouldn't be playing with them, and if they can't talk about sucking and fucking with someone, then they shouldn't be sucking or fucking with that person."

"Wow. That's a good rule, but a tough one. Now I think I know why Sid and I had a couple of kind of difficult conversations a while back."

"We don't need to know the details."

"You all seem pretty comfortable talking about the details of your relationships."

"Point well taken, but we still don't need to know the details."

Sid got up and walked over to Cathy, bent down, and kissed her. She kissed him back with enthusiasm. He said, "I love you."

"I love you, too, Sid."

"Marry me."

"I thought you'd never ask."

A loud cheer went up, and Sid and Cathy looked up, seemingly surprised that we all had heard the conversation. Sid stammered, "I got carried away. I was so proud of Cathy, I just had to tell her I loved her. One thing led to another. Oh, Cathy. Thank you. Thank all of you."

Franklin said, "Cathy, I think you just joined the Gang. That means two things: First, pull your pants down, we need to number you. I think the next number is 49, right Gang?"

"That's right, said Sid. Believe me, I know the count very well. Cathy, stand up." She did, and he very gently undid her slacks, pulling them down, and then her panties. "Don't be shy in this group. Bend over and moon them."

She did, and Franklin put a big four on her left bun, and a big nine on her right. Sid pulled up her clothes, and kissed her again.

Cathy said, "What's the second thing?"

Sid needs to paint your portrait for our portrait gallery?

Sid said, "I've already painted it."

Cathy said, "Not that one!"

"Yes, that one. Wait till you see the gallery. I guess it's OK to take you over there tonight. It is, isn't it, Carl?"

"She's a Gang member now. She has the buns to prove it. Take her over whenever you'd like. And you can do more than look at the portraits. Everybody, Gangland is off limits tonight. Agreed?"

We all agreed.

I would love to have been a fly on the wall when Sid showed her Gangland!

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