The next two weeks were S.O.P. - Standard Operating Procedure. I was busy with the activities at the club. Being June, we were booked with weddings, primarily for the dependents of retired officers living in the Memphis area. And, although some bitched and complained about our prices, they knew that they'd never find a better value anywhere else.
S.O.P. continued to include stopping by the pool, mid-morning, to meet my man. He was developing a tan that accented his tight, toned body. And, he had washed his lifeguard trunks several times more to achieve a lived-in look that was very sexy in a natural way. To avoid arousing suspicion, I'd talk to him only briefly before going to the snack bar to make sure the attendant was properly setting up for the day.
The late afternoon splash in the pool was my fun time...and to be near Dave while he straightened up and secured the pool area for the day - I would always get in 20 to 30 laps. By the time he was ready to clean himself up and get ready to go, I would join him in the locker room for a co-mingling shower and tender grope session. The pattern we established occasionally climaxed with a J.O. session. Tempting as it was, we avoided giving in to our more advanced sexual desires. Afterwards, while toweling dry and dressing, we would talk about things couples discuss, including our plans for Fridays at the apartment. With the June wedding receptions, I had to be back at the Club on Saturdays to supervise the staff.
On Thursday, a week before the Carnival Memphis, Mrs. Clifton asked if I would be available for lunch at the Club with Mrs. Crumpt to discuss the details for the following weekend. I suggested that we meet on the patio at 1200. In addition, I mentioned that LTJG DiMarco would be able to join us. Mrs. Clifton thought that was a 'lovely idea', as she described it.
Doug and I met at 1130 in my office.
"How about some coffee or iced tea?" I offered.
"I'll wait until the ladies get here." With the door closed, he asked, "How goes it with Dave and you?"
"Solid." I answered. "We play the politically correct game here at the Club. But, in town it is really good." It occurred to me that I didn't see Doug very often at night. 'Wonder if he and Brent go out a lot?'
"You two seem to have something very special." Doug said this as a matter of fact, rather than a question.
"About as special as it can get. And Brent and you are heading in that same direction...aren't you?"
"Is it that obvious?" Doug asked as he sat up straighter.
"Body language, and the way you two looked at each other when we all were together. It appears he cares a great deal for you, and you seem to return that feeling. You sure you're not more than just friends?"
"I don't know how to get to the next level. There's something holding me back."
"Like fear?" I lowered my voice, "like you may be rejected or spurned?"
"Yeah, Mike, something like that...or...just making a commitment."
"My advice, buddy, is to be aggressive. When you two can schedule some time off, take Brent to some small romantic bistro in town and tell him how you feel. You might be surprised at the response."
Before he could comment, the intercom buzzed. "Mrs. Clifton has arrived, Mr. Cole," Marge announced.
Knowing my voice was going to be heard in the outer office, I said, "Please tell Mrs. Clifton that Mr. DiMarco and I are leaving the office now."
Doug and I came out to the lobby to meet Mrs. Clifton and Mrs. Crumpt.
"Good morning Mrs. Clifton," I greeted. Being correct in protocol, I waited for her to extend her hand. When she did, I shook it.
"Mike, good to see you. You too, Mr. DiMarco." She also offered her hand to Doug. "Please allow me to introduce Louise Crumpt to you both." We both focused our attention on this matronly, fiftyish woman who subtly announced 'old money' in her tailored pink suit with a white Fendi clutch bag I her hand.
Mrs. Crumpt offered her hand to us. Doug and I smiled and individually shook her hand.
"Since it's such a beautiful day, would you like to have lunch on the patio?" I asked. I had reserved the best tables in both the patio and the dining room.
"Louise, why don't we enjoy this lovely day outside?"
"That would be ideal, Liz."
I had never heard anyone call Mrs. Clifton 'Liz'.
As we walked out to the patio, I led the way to our table. There were several murmurs in the crowded, al fresco dining area. Mrs. Clifton smiled and nodded in an almost regal manner as we approached the table.
We had a delightful lunch. The ladies had lemon drop martinis - two rounds each - while Doug and I nursed iced teas. Mrs. Crumpt couldn't have been more gracious. She told us that the five officers needed to be at the Chickasaw Country Club by 7:30 a.m. on Friday the 26th for the press breakfast, in 'your best uniforms'.
"During the summer, Ma'am, that's dress whites," I replied with a nod.
"Ideal for the photographer. Now let me give you some advice: the weekend will be a challenge of endurance and pacing," Mrs. Crumpt advised. "Between the breakfast, club visits, balls, and the final brunch on Sunday morning, you need to remember that you are representing the Navy as Officers and will be escorting young women from the best families in Memphis."
"Yes, Mrs. Crumpt. We will be a credit to the Navy and the Carnival." I didn't add that Doug and I would probably prefer to jump on the bones of some of the other civilian escorts. The term 'best' was snooty but I understood what she meant.
"The big events will be the Crown and Sceptre Ball on Friday night and the Princess Ball on Saturday night. Before each event, you will be honored at the city's finest private clubs. And, on Sunday morning, the Mayor's Carnival Brunch at the University Club finishes the festivities for the Court," Mrs. Crumpt added.
"Be sure to bring two sets of dress whites," Mrs. Clifton said addressing both of us. "There will be a special laundry service available to freshen up the uniforms in case of an accident."
"I'll see you at the press breakfast, boys. And I'll be sure to introduce you to my husband, Ted, at the Memphis Country Club Saturday evening for the Princess Ball," Mrs. Crumpt concluded.
After lunch, we rose and left the patio. Every move of ours had been watched for the past hour. I bid farewell to the two 'grand dames', and Doug, before I returned to my office.
That was a luncheon for the books. As Mike and I escorted Mrs. Clifton and Mrs. Crumpt onto the patio, all eyes were on us. During lunch, the other guests chronicled every move, noticed every nuance and literally monitored every chew. I was amazed that Mike was able to maneuver in and out of the conversation with such ease. However, as beforehand, I was still nervous concerning the topic of Brent. 'What was I going to do?' I wondered, 'about this guy who is clearly more than just a friend and colleague to me.'
To accommodate the Carnival party weekend, I told Tan Man that I would be out of commission for three days, but that Brent would be able to take up the slack. And, I was training Jim in his new role of escorting gentlemen. At some point, Brent and Jim would have to be brought together and I thought that might be best accomplished the weekend after Carnival.
Early Friday, June 26, Mike and I were up and sharing the head to get ready. We both left in separate cars, having determined that we would both use our in-town apartments through Sunday. I planned to meet Brent Sunday afternoon after all the parties and told him that it would be nice to just have a quiet dinner somewhere. Neither of us were scheduled for work.
I arrived at the Chickasaw Country Club gate at 0715 and noticed Doug was right behind me. After parking, we walked into this very genteel club with its feeling of studied luxury - although this club was looked upon as Memphis 'new money'.
"Makes our Club look like a double-wide trailer," I observed with a chuckle.
"I'll take our trailer any day, Mike," he replied, while smiling to all the guests around us.
I thought we looked spectacular in our 'whites' and noticed that the women were watching us with interest. The civilian guys, the ones who were part of the court, looked with envy at our military bearing. They were dressed in civilian 'black tie'.
'Yes, Sir,' I thought, 'there is something about a uniform that really makes a statement.' Looking around, I spotted our other three officers who definitely appeared relieved to see us. Dr. Don Kriendler, Lt. Barney Bronson, and Ensign John Spelling were drinking coffee together. We had a meeting over beers last week to clarify what we were going to do, and discussed our general conduct during this 72 hour drunken revelry.
"Hi guys," I said loudly as we joined them, "ready to party?"
Everyone hoisted his cup in a symbolic toast mode and quietly murmured 'hellos'.
At the same time, a beautiful young woman in a full-length lavender silk gown joined us. "Hi, Navy, glad y'all could be with us. I'm Vera Crumpt. Which of you is Mike Cole?"
I shrugged and sheepishly raised my hand with a smile and said, "Guilty, as charged."
She walked over, grabbed my hand and said, "Well, Mike, you and I have been paired for the weekend. Mom's told me all about you." She squeezed my hand lightly. "If the rest of you will follow Mike and me, I'll introduce you to the princesses whom you'll be escorting for the weekend."
We had a few awkward and nervous moments. Eventually, the entire group - ten women and ten men - warmed up to each other. The women, mostly college seniors, were wild about the officer contingent, while the young men, also seniors, seemed somewhat standoffish. However, once the local college men found out that we had collectively graduated from Cornell, Brown, Michigan, Southern Methodist, and UCLA, the situation defrosted quickly. In no time, we were one of the boys. Macho male bonding prevailed.
One of the guys, Trevor, kept visually cruising me during the breakfast, but I didn't acknowledge his stares. I had the one love of my life nearby and planned on seeing Dave tonight at our pad.
Doug and I were the unofficial leaders of our group and the other officers took their cues from us. We posed with our princess escorts for the newspaper and local TV channels - we were all smiles, and I gave some acceptable 20 second sound bites for the evening news. After the breakfast, we would begin the partying trek that would end late Sunday morning.
En mass, we would travel by chartered bus. Each club visit's schedule was calculated precisely by transit time, and visitation duration. We would spend approximately 30 minutes at each club. By 2000 both Friday and Saturday, we were to visit ten clubs daily for toasting of the court. On each club visit, we were expected to mingle with the members. The two balls afterwards were the highlight of each evening. "Whew,' I thought, 'all that and the Saturday morning parade, too.'
Our Royal Court really had a blast and The Crown and Sceptre Ball at the Peabody was a huge success. Except for Bill, from Vanderbilt, everyone paced their drinking on Friday. The whole weekend was to promote Memphis commerce, but we five were promoting the Navy.
Early Saturday morning, we regrouped at the Chickasaw and were bussed down to the start of the parade. After the color guard, represented by the Navy and Marine Corps, an open car carrying the King and Queen of the Carnival led the way. Next was the Princess and Court float. We were all staged in couples on both sides of the float with the princess and her escort at the top. The parade had the usual mix of business themed floats, marching bands, and equestrian units. We tossed beads to the crowd - now, that was a real crowd pleaser.
We got back to the bus after the parade and made our way to the second day of club hopping. 'Vanderbilt Bill' had recovered and was friendly, but mellow. The plan was to end up at the Memphis Country Club around 1800 to catch a breather for a couple of hours. The locker rooms would be available for us to freshen up. We were all mindful that the Princess Ball started topside in the club at 2000 with a formal procession, dinner and dancing.
We arrived at the statelier Memphis Country Club - this was definitely 'old money' - and l discovered that the committee had conveniently staged changes of clothes and toiletries in the member locker rooms. The women had use of a team of beauticians and makeup artists. The guys could take advantage of the Jacuzzi, pool, steam and shower rooms to relax. Most of us would shave again. The club had provided swim trunks that we could use.
I turned to the Navy contingent and said, "Guys, let's strip down and put on some trunks. That pool is too tempting to turn down."
"Great idea. I'm with you," Dr. Don said. While he was a little on the short side, he had good Navy bearing. His schooling at Brown had taught him poise and confidence that made up for any height challenge, and fortunately, his princess was one of the shorter women.
"Are the rest of you coming?" I yelled in a friendly, but challenging manner.
Almost in unison, the group replied, "Hell, yeah!" At that point we went over to the table to find a pair of trunks that fit. They were Body Glove jammers. 'Sweet,' I thought as I noticed a sign saying that the trunks were ours to keep, compliments of the club.
Mike and I had lockers next to each other. "I can really use a short swim, Jacuzzi and steam," he said. "This young body of mine is beat."
As he stripped down to his briefs, I leaned over and whispered, "Your young body looks better that most of these guys," I winked and continued, "but be careful, champ. Some of those college dudes have been checking you out."
"Looks are all they get." He smiled and winked.
I undressed and casually rotated to check out the strangers and the other officers. Not a bad looking group. We were all trying not to be conspicuous with our glances at each other. However, guys always have to compare.
"Don't look now, but Trevor from the university is cruising you big time," Mike said softly as he moved closer. "Good luck and don't get caught."
"In your dreams," I replied as I playfully swatted his butt. I pulled up my trunks, secured the locker and turned to see Trevor walking by with his eyes riveted on me.
"Y'all coming out to the pool, Doug?" he inquired with a soft Tennessee accent and smile.
"You bet, but I'm thinking of a little Jacuzzi time first."
"That sounds good, I'll meet you there," Trevor tossed back, as he walked into the wet area that led to the outdoor pool. He was a good-looking man. Probably 21 and about Brent's height with a clean, smooth, lean build. His blond hair was conservatively cut.
"Doug, your tongue is dragging," Mike said as we walked out together. "You planning on sampling the local goods?"
"Naw, I'm just going to play him a little. It's good for the ego." I didn't mention that Trevor might be a possible recruit...just not for the Navy.
Mike laughed and lightly squeezed my arm.
Outside, there were plenty of towels for us. At 1830, on the last week of June, it was still daylight, with a late afternoon sun.
"I'm going to try the pool." I'll see you in the Jacuzzi in a few." Mike ran and jumped in with some of the group. Six of the guys were already in the middle of good-natured horseplay and splashing.
I walked over to the Jacuzzi and eased myself into the hot bubbling water. "Hey Trev, or, do you prefer Trevor?" Trevor was submerged except for his head.
"Either way. I think with you, Trev sounds just fine."
"Trev, it is." I sat down opposite him and scooted down. 'This guy is very friendly,' I thought as my gaydar pinged away. The forceful jets of water pulsated on my back and massaged the muscles. "We haven't had much time to talk with all this group partying. All I know is that you're at the University of Memphis. I think you know I graduated from UCLA a couple of years ago?"
"Good school. What was your major?"
"What else, in Hollywood? Filmmaking. I plan on getting into the 'industry' as a production assistant when I get out of the Navy at the end of next year. How about you?"
"I'm studying business management and marketing. I'll probably go into sales with some blue chip company. Probably computer software."
"That's a good growth area." I leaned back and stretched out, closing my eyes. Soon, I felt my feet and calves being stoked by Trev's feet. Keeping my eyes closed, I returned the favor.
"Doug, am I reading this right?"
I opened my eyes to see him slowly moving around closer to me. He had a curious expression. Looking around and finding us alone, I responded, "Come over here next to me. I'll let you know how right you are."
Trev moved around the circular Jacuzzi and stopped within a foot of me as his eyes concentrated on the path leading from the pool to the Jacuzzi. He reached over and placed his hand on one of my thighs. His grip was strong. Moving upwards, he stopped at my crotch and brushed his hand slowly across my hard cock, which was hanging to the left.
"Oh fuck, sailor, that's a big one," he said as he started stoking me.
"Be careful, Trev. The last thing we need is to shoot a load here." I reached over and discovered his excitement. His length and girth underneath the trunks were impressive, also.
"Yeah, you're right. How about getting together next week sometime for a beer?" Trev asked.
"That would be cool. How about Wednesday evening for an early get together."
"Fine. Where shall we meet?"
"Backstreet? Say 7:00 p.m.?" I decided to use civilian time so as to not confuse the appointment.
"Deal," he replied, with a shit-eating grin.
"Just out of curiosity, I'm not competing with some boyfriend stashed away somewhere, am I?" He didn't realize I was only curious in a business-sense, trying to avoid any complications.
Chuckling, Trev replied, "No, just a girl who's a great friend. She's always available when there's a fraternity party or dinner with the folks."
"Okay. Just checking. Listen, as much as I would like to continue this, I think we better calm down so we can go back and get cleaned up. No sense in starting talk."
"Ah hear ya." He slowly released me and moved back to his original position. Just then, Mike joined us.
"Hi guys. I'm going to jump in here for a few minutes before getting cleaned up," Mike said as he walked down the steps into the Jacuzzi.
"I'm going to go back and shower. How about you, Trev?"
"Yeah, I've had enough time in this human caldron," Trevor replied.
"Save some hot water for me." Mike nodded and sank down into the pulsating water.
We climbed out and returned to the locker room. Once inside, phone numbers were exchanged.
At 2000, the entire Court was refreshed. The women had been coiffed and made-up beautifully and the guys had cleaned up as well. I was going to be observing Trev closer, especially his social skills - the smell of bonus money was in the air.
Our Court made a grand procession, with fanfare, into the club ballroom. The Memphis Country Club was the pinnacle of local society, the place where the old money congregated. Each of us was announced as we entered the room of 600 guests. Then, each couple proceeded to the head table area to be received by Mr. And Mrs. Ted Crumpt.
"From Germantown, Miss Lynn Greenhaw, and her escort from Millington, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Douglas DiMarco," was announced. We came into the ballroom to polite applause and walked up to the head table area. Mike and Vera had just been seated.
"Mr. DiMarco, it's good to see you again. And Lynn, you just look beautiful," said Louise Crumpt. "Allow me to introduce you to my husband, Ted."
As I offered my hand I looked at Mr. Crumpt's face and immediately recognized him. His eyes became larger with an expression of fear for one fleeting moment. "Mr. Crumpt, it is a pleasure." He shook my hand and greeted Lynn like another daughter. I was sure all the families knew each other very well.
"Mr. DiMarco, enjoy the evening with our young ladies," Mr. Crumpt replied, as he recovered from the initial greeting.
"Thank you, Sir. I know I will," I politely countered. My mind wandered back to February when I had known Mr. Crumpt as 'George from Nashville.' Now I knew why the Tan Man had insisted that I entertain 'George' at my apartment. 'Hell,' I thought at the time, 'for $1500, I'd trust Tan Man's judgment on safety and the client's honesty.'
Midway between courses, I excused myself and looked for the men's room. I got Mr. Crumpt's attention. He understood. As I walked back to the lobby, I turned to verify that he was following. I waited until he arrived in the lobby by the men's room door.
"Ah, Doug, this is awkward," he said, in a low tone.
"No reason to be. This is a party. I left 'George' back at the apartment."
"I hope you understand why I prefer secrecy in my after hours enjoyment."
"May I call you Ted?"
"Absolutely." He nodded affirmatively.
"Ok, Ted. Bottom line is that we spent an evening together that we both enjoyed. As you are aware, our firm is very discrete and honorable. We're about building trust, and your secret is completely safe."
"Are you certain?"
"Count on it, and I hope that we get together again. But in the meantime, let's party!" I shook his hand and we both smiled.
"I'm looking forward to the next time."