The Flying Belt

Cliff Williams
Department of Philosophy
Trinity College
Deerfield, Illinois 60015

 
The new buckle gleamed brightly in the noonday sun, brighter than the chrome tables sitting in front of the Mexican restaurant as Randy and I stood in the middle of the parking lot. It was Sunday and I had gone to meet Randy at the café where he works. I knew by the sweat dripping down my forehead that it was definitely not a day to relax outside. We had previously been hibernating in the café’s cool air conditioning, discussing the day’s events, including my newest purchase.
 
“I don’t like standing in front of a classroom full of students with a worn-out belt,” I said. So after church, I stopped off at Wal-Mart to pick up a new one. I set it on the front seat of my car as I headed to see Randy.
 
It’s a sad day when one has to retire a good, old belt. But this one had seen too many days. Despite my generally careless attitude toward attire, I would be embarrassed to stand in front of thirty aware students wearing a belt that had become conspicuously shabby.
 
Randy had a gleam in his eyes as he told me of a new book of poetry by Seamus Heaney he had recently purchased. Knowing my love for poetry, he leaped to his feet and told me he would run out to his car to get the book. I decided it would also be a proper time for me to get the copy of my recently published book so we could share a show-and-tell moment.
 
The heat beat down on our newly-cooled skin as we stepped out of the café and forked our paths, each to his own car. When we reached the middle of the parking lot, I turned toward Randy, who by this time was about a dozen feet from me, and shouted, “Hey, Randy!” He turned around and looked at me with a wondering look on his face.
 
“You want my old belt?”
 
“What?!”
 
“Would you like my belt?”
 
“Okay,” he replied hesitantly.
 
I unbuckled the shabby belt, which I still had on, pulled it out of the loops, and sent it flying. It flapped in the air like a flag on a pole and landed in his hands. He had an astonished but gratifying look on his face. A smile rose from cheek to cheek as he said with a chuckle, “Thanks, Cliff!” He opened the door to his car, laid the belt on the warm seat and, with a smile remaining, closed the door. I took my new belt out of my car and put it on, then strolled back to the café.

Written with Randy Hofbauer