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Aug 31

Weldon Reed: Richard and the belly dancer | Living – Cleburne Times-Review

Back in the 1980s my buddy Herb (the geology teacher) and I were planning a wilderness class to the Grand Canyon. We were going to be taking 28 students, and the class began filling up fast. We always went to the Canyon the day after the spring semester ended and arrived back in Fort Worth the Sunday before summer started.

Thus these lucky students could earn four hours in geology, three hours in wilderness literature and one-hour P.E. credit for a 17-day trip between semesters. We would spend four to five days hiking the Canyon rim to rim and three more days hiking down into Havasu Canyon. These students were in for a treat.

One of the students was an older man named Richard. He was ex-Army and probably in his 50s. He was in good shape and had no problems with the hiking. Plus he rode shotgun for Herb for you city slickers, that means he sat in the front passenger seat.

Boy, was he a dandy addition to the group! For one thing, he was an early riser. Now Herb had appointed various students to be captains for a particular day, which meant, on the travel portion of the trip, they were responsible for getting up before everybody else, getting the coffee pot full and percolating, heating enough hot water for hot chocolate and setting out the milk and cereal. Well, Richard voluntarily took over that chore for everybody, thus endearing himself to everyone.

In addition, he was pretty much a Handy Dan. If a backpack had something broken on it or had lost a pin, Richard could always solve the problem.

Also he was always in a good mood, smiling, even after hiking 6 to 8 miles with a 50-pound pack on his back while the younger students were moaning and crying.

Clearly, Richard had believed Herb and me when we had forewarned them that this trip would include arduous, physical activity.

On the actual backpacking days Herb placed us in cook groups of three or four, and the members of that group would divide the meals that each had to carry. There would be about four breakfasts, lunches, and suppers (for you Yankees, supper is always the evening meal; it is not called dinner).

Herb treated me well because he put Richard in my eat group, and just like on the travel, Richard took over the meals, which was fine with me. When it comes to meals, I will readily admit that I am lazy, and I appreciated Richard taking that chore over. Of course, the backpack meals were not all that ornate anyway.

For breakfast, you just heated water for the instant coffee or hot chocolate and that delicious, yummy instant oatmeal. Then you had that appetizing granola bar. I vowed that back in civilization I would never eat oatmeal or granola bars, and I have kept that vow.

The lunches were something light and easy to carry, like crackers some sort of spreadables or Cheese Whiz and a box of raisins. For supper it was mac and cheese or fried Spam, or instant eggs with tortillas. Oh, well we all needed to lose weight anyway.

Speaking of losing weight, there was a woman on the trip, probably in her mid-20s, who had mentioned to me that back on campus she had taken a belly dancing class to shed a few pounds. Now on the South Campus we did have a heck of a belly dancing teacher. If you walked by her classroom down in the gym, you would always see four or five guys peering in the door.

After we had returned to campus, Herb would have a show-and-tell party at his house about two weeks later to give everyone time to get their pictures developed and for me to finish reading and grading their journals and assigning grades for the literature part of the course.

Belly Dancer B.D. hereafter had asked Herb if she could perform at the gathering, and Herb said, Sure.

So after the meal was over and everyone had showed their pictures, Herb said B.D. was going to demonstrate what she had learned in her belly dancing class. So she started a record of this exotic music and came out of one of the bedrooms wearing a belly dancng outfit with a long, bright-red sash in her hands. Then she began twirling around the room. Now bless her heart she had all the moves down pat, but, unfortunately, she still needed to lose a few more pounds. Thus the performance was not really seductive or alluring.

She posed in front of Herb, placed the red sash around his neck, and danced in front of him. Afterwards, she did the same thing to me. Now my wife and Herbs smiled and thought nothing of it.

Then she moved over to in front of Richard and his wife, repeating the performance. I believed I noticed smoke coming out of Richards wifes ears but thought nothing about it.

Now coming home from the Canyon trip, Herb had told Richard about the Gran Teton trip coming up in July, and Richard had said Herb could count on him coming along again. The party was now breaking up, and Herb and I stood at his front door, telling everybody good bye.

Richards wife just grimly nodded at us as she stepped through the doorway, and then Richard said to Herb, Just notify me when that Teton class to Wyoming starts meeting in June, and Ill be there.

Oops! Richards wife whirled around and snapped, Well just see about that! Now I see what goes on on these trips.

Sure enough, on our first meeting in June, there was Richard.

Now Herb told him, Richard, I dont want to cause any disharmony here between you and your wife about this trip. We would love to have you but not if its going to pose a problem at home for you.

No, Herb, Richard stated. I gave you my word, and Im a man of my word. The wife will just have to understand.

When we left on the Teton trip in July, poor Richard called home at every gas stop with a pay phone, but his wife refused to answer all his calls except one, when one of his C.D.s had matured and she needed to know what to do about it. To this day Herb and I wonder how that incident ended.

Weldon Reed is a Cleburne resident who recently returned to his hometown. He can be reached at weldon.reed@att.net.

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Weldon Reed: Richard and the belly dancer | Living - Cleburne Times-Review

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