Betty the Spy
"Harriet the Spy"
was one of my daughter Sam's favorite
books (and movie too)
when she was a little girl. "Harriet the
Spy" is the
story about a young girl who peeks through windows and around corners to
watch people in action, then writes down her impressions.
Harriett is quite
Betty and Gary Richardson drove up to Denton, Texas, over the May 15th
Weekend in 1999 to celebrate their son Chris' graduation from North Texas
State. Along with daughter Cindy and
son Mike, Gary and Betty are about to achieve their
life-long dream of putting their three children through college.
What a proud moment this must have been for Betty and Gary!
On the way Betty surprised Gary
by asking him to take a little detour over to Fort Worth.
Curious, Gary asked what was up. Betty told
him she had found out that her
father Bill liked to go Ballroom dancing every Friday night
at the Stardust Ballroom. This has been his hangout for 16 years. Betty
her father once or twice or year to begin with and she has never seen him dance.
Betty whispered to Gary that she has
a secret desire to watch her father in action on the dance floor. One
catch: Betty's Dad doesn't know she is coming. He doesn't even know she is
in town. That's okay with Betty. She wanted to see what her
Dad was really like in an
Gary pointed out that Betty didn't even know if he is going to be there.
After all he had been nursing a hurt foot and hadn't been dancing for nearly a month.
out her father mentioned on the phone he thought maybe he might try dancing
again this week. Gary pointed out that Fort Worth is a long way from Denton
for a 'maybe'. Betty said she doesn't mind. Gary pointed out he will have to
wear a coat and tie. Betty said she doesn't mind. Gary said he doesn't know
how to Ballroom Dance. Betty said she doesn't mind.
Gary was starting to figure out that whatever his excuse would be, Betty
wouldn't mind. She wanted to do this.
So fast-forward to Fort Worth on Friday.
Betty got Ready. She
was very glamorous in her beautiful black sequined
evening dress cut high. Betty always gets compliments on her lovely legs.
And then she put her hair way up the air so she is four inches
taller and added high heels so now she is six inches taller. She
to dance. Gary put on his tie and grumbled a little, but
determined look in her eye decided not to say anything
more. Was Fort Worth Calling? Yes, it
Betty and Gary arrived at 8:30 pm. They found an inconspicuous corner spot at
the Stardust and began to watch for Bill, Betty's father. Gary noticed the
crowd was in its seventies and eighties
and started to feel like a teenager again. Promptly at 9 Bill strode in wearing a sporty light blue blazer.
Gary wondered to himself if the coat could glow in the dark.
This coat was lighthouse kind of bright. The whole
room seemed to lighten a bit. Must have been Bill's presence. Or maybe the
coat had something to do with it.
As Gary watched, it seemed that
was quite popular. He danced every dance. Once he looked over to the
corner where Betty the Spy sat, but she quickly covered her face by looking
down. Gary wondered if perhaps Betty was sneakier than he
Then about twenty minutes after the dance started, a
"John Paul Jones" is announced.
(By the way if any of our readers has a clue why these dances are named
after the famous Naval hero, please let me know,
This is a dance where everyone dances with everyone. As
Gary discovered, here at
the Stardust they don't get in two circles like here at SSQQ, but rather
just trade partners whenever the whistle blows.
Gary gave Betty a nudge. This
was of course the perfect chance to make her move.
wasn't quite ready.
Betty wanted to study her father in action some more. Gary
nudged her again and pointed out there may not be a better chance for some time.
This made sense, so Gary and Betty hit the floor.
Gary was a little nervous
because he didn't have a clue how to Foxtrot.
Furthermore he was worried that Bill might recognize
him so he located himself far enough to hide but close enough to watch.
Okay. Just how far away was
that? About twenty feet.
After five whistles, Betty suddenly ended up in her Dad's arms. His first
remark was, "Oh, aren't
Gary was interested in Bill's reaction.
At first Bill was
clearly pleased to have such a young and pretty lady to dance with.
But after about ten
seconds had passed, Bill's
expression changed to a frown. Now he clearly
had begun to look at her intently. Then
Bill said, "You know, you
a lot like my daughter."
"Oh really?" replied Betty, smiling at him. With her hair up, she had
changed her normal appearance quite a bit. They danced the Foxtrot some more. Bill didn't take his eye off Betty
for a moment.
Then Bill said, "You really do look a lot like my daughter. I have two of
them, but you look a lot like one of them."
What's her name?"
"Oh really?" Another smile from Betty.
"Is she pretty?"
"Why yes, actually she is very pretty."
danced for a minute more. Bill ignored the whistle
to change partners. Betty just continued to quietly dance and smile. Sometimes
she looked at her father, sometimes she watched the other people. She didn't
want to make this easy for her obviously flustered father. Finally Bill asked, "By
some chance are you
Yes I am!" Betty announced with a grin.
Almost at that moment, the whistle
blew again. This time Betty
deliberately separated to dance with
a new partner, leaving her father
standing there flabbergasted. Fortunately some
woman grabbed Bill to get him moving again. Betty watched her father Bill finish
the song out of the corner of her eye.
He was in a trance.
Bill was still in shock even when the song ended. In a daze, he walked over to
his table. Gary and Betty followed him waiting to be
greeted. Unfortunately Bill's social graces
were temporarily lost. He just
sat there speechless. He appeared to be stunned. The lion wasn't used to
being followed to his lair. Finally another gentleman sensed Bill's shock and
decided to help by pointing to some extra chairs
and inviting them to sit down. Betty and Gary joined Bill at the table.
Not much conversation ensued. Bill was quiet. Fortunately the music rescued
the awkward situation as Gary asked Betty to dance.
minutes after the initial encounter for Bill
to finally snap out of his shock and
began to show his natural warmth. Bill started to smile.
Now he introduced Betty and Gary to everyone in the building.
Everybody thought Betty's trick was precious and loved
meeting her. And since there were several more women than men, Gary was
immediately put to work keeping the extra ladies busy. For the rest of
hour party, Gary and Betty danced nearly every song.
Gary wasn't really interested in spying. He was more worried about not knowing
how to Ballroom Dance. The Orchestra played a lot of Big Band music. He was greatly relieved
discover his Twostep could pass as a Foxtrot.
Once that he got his dance confidence back,
found he was quickly becoming quite popular!
One 80-year old lady about 5
feet tall in a red dress called him "Sonny". This lady couldn't get enough
of Gary! One time on another
John-Paul-Jones the red dress lady elbowed another woman
out of the way to get another dance with him! Gary complained that the women
were fighting over him so much they tired him out. I
tried to feel sorry for him until he mentioned he had led a
Twostep move called, "the Big Bad Wolf Step." Well, to these women, that is
like throwing a match on dry timber in the forest. Gary never sat down
again. He danced the night away!
also found out his Swing dancing worked just fine. And a Waltz was a Waltz
was a Waltz. His only insurmountable obstacle was a Rumba. One lady even
tried to teach him how, but Gary's hips didn't move quite the right way so
as a public service he sat back down.
Then came a Polka!
Not George Straight, but a Lawrence Welk Oom-Pah
Polka. No matter. But Betty and Gary didn't
dance the Polka. Instead they decided to try the Whip
instead since the speed of the music was about right.
clearly worked better
than Gary's! And they worked just fine in front of Daddy no less!
Gary smiled when he remembered he
could still outrun her father if necessary. Everybody was watching and they
started to clap! Bill's eyes rolled out to the edge of his nose... is this
really my little girl?
Fortunately, Bill took it the right way. He said to Betty after she got off
the floor, "I have never in my life seen anything like that in my life. You
are a great dancer, young lady!"
I imagine Betty the Spy smiled.
It was fun to be Daddy's
little girl again. She had way too much fun that evening.