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The Story of the Time Rick Got Slugged in Public at the Studio

   

Rick's Gabfest with Gertrude
Written by Rick Archer, March 2006

Chapter Three: THE EIGHTIES, PART ONE

First Generation

1977 -1979

Saturday Night Fever Disco Era

Second Generation

1980 - 1984

Urban Cowboy Western Era, Winchester Club

Third Generation

1985 - 1987

201 Nights of Dancing, Tom Easley Look-a-Likes

Fourth Generation

1988 - 1997

Studebaker Group, Sharon Crawford, SSQQ Staff

Fifth Generation

1998 - 2000

Millennium - The Daryl Armstrong Experience,  Heartbeat, Swing Kids!

Sixth Generation

2001 -2007

Love Boat

 

"A while back you said there were two answers to my question about how you realized the effectiveness of your studio at creating relationships?"

"Thank you for reminding me, Gertrude. 

I have made a discovery about the ability of dance to create 'relationships' discovery on two different occasions.  Previously I mentioned how amazed I was the first time I actually added up the number of couples that had met through the studio at the end of a single year (1999).

But I wasn't completely amazed.  I have known the dance studio is a veritable marriage factory for a long time.  I simply had never quite grasped  the extent until the first time at the numbers in 1999.

I have known that dancing was pure magic at creating relationships from the very beginning.

To illustrate my point, I need to tell how the SSQQ Social Program developed. 

Yes, Slow Dance leads to Romance. That is an accurate slogan.  Dancing is the premier social skill of all time for touching the hearts of men and women alike.  That is Cupid's Job.

But first you have fill the dance floor with plenty of people for Cupid to work with.  Someone has to throw a party!  I discovered that as part of my 'ancillary role as Cupid's assistant' it is my job to throw the party and make sure lots of people PARTICIPATE.

I discovered this lesson the very first night I ever took my students dancing. 

I have never forgotten that lesson and have used it time and again in my quest to make SSQQ a special place.  Nor have I forgotten that my students appreciate having me organize social events like parties or get-togethers. 

"So tell me the story!"

SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance Magic began one night in August 1977.  I decided to take the First Class I ever taught out dancing as a 'graduation present'. 

Sad to say, before the night started, these students barely knew each other.  That summer I had taught 8 one-hour line dance classes.  Line Dancing meant no one had ever actually 'touched' each other.  For that matter, line dance classes didn't allow for a lot of verbal interaction either.  In fact when I taught I had my back to my students and there wasn't any mirror.  Half the time they couldn't even see my face while I was demonstrating patterns with my back to them.

No one knew anyone.

No one had to suggest I take my class out dancing.  It just seemed like the natural thing to do on the last night.  So after class we all got in our cars and took a ten-minute drive from the Braeswood Jewish Community Center over to a Disco called the Rubaiyat (later the Bullwhip) on the Southwest Freeway. 

I almost immediately realized how helpless they felt in this environment.  It was 20 strangers in the night.  Third graders on a trip to zoo have more confidence than these characters!

They were scared out of their wits when they entered!  Strangers in a strange land.  Figure it out.  If they had had the guts to go out dancing on their own, they wouldn't have signed up for my class. 

No one danced.

Finally I realized it was up to me to get it started.  So I yelled 'Bus Stop', a popular line dance they all knew. 

Shazaam. Those were the Magic words!

Up they popped from their chairs like dance zombies mindlessly following their leader.  They performed the 'Bus Stop' among the safety of the group with me as their fearless leader.  Such courage on my part!

Hey, this was six months before Saturday Night Fever.  Give them some credit.  Even though this was their first trip to a Disco, they were way ahead of the SNF avalanche that would set the dance world on fire.

The 'Bus Stop' broke the ice.  Now I couldn't drag them off the floor.  Vickie Sue Robinson belted out 'Turn the Beat Around'.  Donna Summer cooed 'Ooh, Love to Love Ya, Baby'.  Gloria Gaynor sang 'I will Survive.'  KC and the Sunshine Band sang 'I'm Your Boogie Man'. 

Gee whiz they had fun!!   Oh wow.   You don't think my little bitty heart was going pitter-patter with pride, do you?   I almost had a heart attack with satisfaction.

Ask a drama coach how she feels after the first night of the school play or a basketball coach after his kids win their first game or a third grade teacher after the first class spelling bee.  

These were my babies!   I loved every minute of it. 

I soaked up the joy. 

This was the moment I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  And I had a strong hunch this was what I was meant to do.  

At last I had finally ended the confusion of those awful 'what do I want to do with my life?' years. 

I was 27.  Watching them dance marked one of the happiest moments of my life.  I had just discovered I was born to be a Dance Teacher.

Now that I knew what my new career was, I decided I better pay attention.  So all evening long I watched carefully as the members of the group interacted together and created friendships. Not just boy-girl either, but 'friends'... hey, let's catch a movie together, let's trade phone numbers.  Afterwards every one of my 20 or so students made a point of thanking me for organizing the adventure. Several of them admitted what I already knew.  They told me they were too scared to go out by themselves, but going as a group had made it so much easier. 

I learned from the start that it was my role to create these situations.  I was not Cupid per se, but I was definitely Cupid's assistant. I felt a responsibility to foster events that allowed people to connect.  And dancing was the perfect vehicle.

This was my social work background kicking in.  I had a huge self-esteem problem from all my years of never accomplishing anything of note in my job as a child abuse investigator.  So when these people thanked me at the end of the night, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt I had found my niche. 

I had finally found a place where I could contribute in ways that people appreciated me.

Since then I have always enjoyed my role as 'playground director'.  Each and every day, I am grateful for the role I was given in life. I like to get the party started."
 

THE FIRST GENERATION

"So did anyone get married that night? 
Any other stories your first adventure?"

"No, sorry to say, if anyone got married after the trip to the Rubaiyat, I never found out.  I was only a substitute teacher that summer.  In the fall, the regular teacher came back so that was the end of my time with that group.

However this 1977 summer job led to another teaching job which in turn led to yet another
teaching job.  In November, Saturday Night Fever made its debut.  I was in the right place at the right time.  Soon I was teaching 6 nights a week.  This is how my dance career began.

1978 was an incredible year and so was 1979, but I have no way to illustrate this period using photos.  I deeply regret the fact that I never took any pictures.  Nor was there any Newsletter.  I regret that the first two years of my dance career including the entire Disco Era are little more than a blur in my mind.

However, we did have a First Generation, my term for the 'In-Crowd' back in those days.  You might be surprised to learn I wasn't the leader.  Most of the Group centered around my girlfriend Victoria.  Not only did she teach, Victoria helped developed my business by organizing all sorts of visits to Discos after class and on Saturdays.

I met Victoria in one of the dance classes I taught.  I had started at the Jewish Community Center in 1977. Now in 1978 I returned to become the full-time Disco teacher. Victoria took my Disco Line Dance class in August 1978, .


Victoria
enjoyed my class.  One night she stayed afterwards to talk to me about 'Disco Partner Dancing' like she had seen in Saturday Night Fever.  That is when Victoria discovered I taught other classes at Stevens of Hollywood in addition to my classes here. She said she would like to bring some of her friends over for a class.

Could I teach a group class exclusively for Victoria and her friends? 

I smiled and yes.  Of course!

This led Victoria to organize a group of 20 friends to take lessons at Stevens starting in October 1978.  Victoria had such a good time with her first class, she talked everyone into taking an Intermediate level. Then she turned around and organized a second group of friends who had missed out on the previous try to take a Beginners class as well.

Victoria brought me a lot of business. At one point I was teaching three different classes a week of groups organized by Victoria. Plus she was having fun in the process.  She told me she wanted to get even more involved.  She asked if she could assist me on one or two other nights in addition to the nights when her friends were there.  Of course!  Why not?  This girl was magic!

Over the course of the next few months, I would come to realize the phenomenal "people skills" of this woman.  Never before and never since has there been a woman like Victoria.  She remains to this day the most talented and charismatic personality I have come across in my 30 years as a dance teacher.

The best example of Victoria's remarkable skills took place at our favorite Disco,
The Pistachio Club.  In December 1978, Victoria organized a dance party at the Pistachio Club that drew 300 people!   It was an incredible success.  People had such a great time that in January the size of my dance classes increased by 20%.

1979 was a wild year.  Did I forget to mention Victoria was married?  Hmm. To make a long story short, Victoria and I spent most of this year wrestling with our conscience.  In October of that year, Victoria and I made the worst mistake of our lives - she moved in with me.  She moved right back out a week later.  Then all hell broke loose.

A story I wrote called
Risky Business covers the entire story.

"What about First Generation marriages?"

When it comes to marriages from that time, I don't remember a thing.  The Disco Era is such a blur.  If anyone from 1978 or 1979 ever got married, I don't remember a thing about it.

Nevertheless I do have an interesting story for you. In 2006 I had a very nice experience that is related to your question.

One night in January 2006,  a couple came up to me with a big smile on their face.  I did not know who they were, but I felt like I knew them.  The lady in particular seemed like someone I had once known.

The gentleman stuck out his hand to greet me while his pretty wife smiled.  He said that I had paired them up in a dance class about 30 years years ago in 1979.  It was practically love at first sight. They had gone on to get married the next year.

That's how I met Greg and Susan Broer for 'the second time'. 

Greg and Susan said that the first moment when I had asked them to dance with each other had carried a lot of sentimental value for them over the years.  I was the person they gave the credit to for putting them together. 

In other words, I was their Matchmaker!

I just stared at them. For several moments, I really didn't know what to say. I guess you could say I was flabbergasted.  I was so deeply honored that I was stunned!

Susan and Greg sensed my confusion and continued.  They said they were coming back for more dance lessons and were really happy to see how well the studio was doing here in 2006.

At this point I got my power of speech back.  I started to ask some questions.  First I asked them to refresh my memory.  Would they mind sharing some of the details?

Greg and Susan told me I had paired them up because they were tall, but the truth is I am sure I am paired them up because they matched each other perfectly.  Even as they stood there talking with me, they looked like they belonged together. They had perfect posture and a gracefulness about them. They seemed so classy together.  I thanked them for taking the time to share such a neat story with me.  I added that I felt very flattered to know I played such an important part in their lives.

Indeed I was tickled pink by the experience.  It is pretty cool to find out you are given credit for such a neat accomplishment!

I was also pleased to hear their story for another reason. Immediately this very attractive couple became living, breathing evidence that SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance Magic had been alive and kicking all the way back in the very first days of my dance career.  In addition, they mentioned a second couple who had also met at my studio and had gone on to get married. 

How about that!

This story has a second chapter.  A month later, a Houston Chronicle named Tara Dooley contacted me about the Valentine's Day Matchmaker article in February 2006.  I immediately told Ms. Dooley about Greg and Susan.  Sure enough, their story made the paper.   Susan was very appreciative.  She sent me this email:

 -----Original Message-----
From: Susan Broer
Sent: Tuesday, February 14, 2006 1:53 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: thank you!

What a nice note about the Valentine's article in the Chronicle!

Thank you, Rick, for you kind thoughts and for putting Greg and me together in the first place.

I'm not very tall (5'6 back then) but I suppose I was by far the taller of the two partnerless females that fateful night.

Whatever your reasons for putting us together, you are truly Cupid's emissary.

Fondly, Susan Broer

Greg and Susan Broer's story shows that there were marriages even in the days of the First SSQQ Generation.  Their story is confirmation that the studio has been helping people connect since its very inception."

THE SECOND GENERATION

"Rick, tell me again what you mean by 'First Generation'?" 

Historians find it easier to explain large stories by compressing them into 'Eras'.  An SSQQ Generation is my term for an Era in the studio history.

I have already apologized for my lack of written and photographic documentation in 1978, 1979, and 1980.  I didn't own a camera and I had not yet learned the importance of a Newsletter.  Furthermore I had no idea that 27 years later I would be writing a story about the events of the day.  Oh well.  The pictures started in 1981.

The Second Generation started in 1981.  In September, 1979, I was told I was no longer welcome at Stevens of Hollywood. It was time to find my own place. 

Fortunately, I had been taking private dance lessons from Glen Hunsucker who, by coincidence, had just moved into a new location on Bissonnet. He had more room than he knew what to do with, so he invited me to sub-lease from him.

My move over to Dance Arts Unlimited on Bissonnet becomes the dividing line between the First Generation and the Second. 

It also became a time when my relationship to Victoria started to fade into the sunset and I began to emerge from her shadow.  Now that I was becoming my own man, the start of Second Generation also marks the time when my Matchmaker skills first became evident.  

Debbie, ???, Rilla, me,
John Cowen, John Campbell and ??? and ???

Oh, one more thing - did I mention I bought a camera?  Here is the first picture I could find from my new location. This early 1981 picture includes 7 students from the First Generation who followed me when I moved from Stevens of Hollywood to Dance Arts. 

The lady holding my arm and her husband next to Debbie were huge Disco fans.  Although I really liked this couple, it drives me nuts that I cannot remember their names.  What I do remember is that they were a huge part of the Disco In-Crowd back at Stevens.  Unfortunately they discovered they really didn't like Western much, so they drifted away.

However four of the people - Debbie Oswald, Rilla Ryan, John Cowen, and John Campbell - became founding members the new Second Generation.  They were close friends of mine for many many many years.

Now that we had a permanent home, I found it much easier to organize parties and events that led to the kind of socializing that my friend Cupid so cleverly takes advantage of.  Once a month, we had a Saturday Dance Party at the Dance Arts. These events were very well-attended.  We had not had parties like this at Stevens.

In addition, our once-every-two-month trips down the street to the
Winchester Club were big hits.  Crowds of 100 people were commonplace.  And the same people showed up all the time because this event was so much fun. 

At the Winchester Club, our group danced hard, we drank ourselves silly (Beer Bust Night), and made total fools of ourselves.  I think I may have gotten drunk once or twice myself.  One time I slid on my butt clear across the floor when I fell down ("Who Greased the Winchester?").

In the picture on the right, you can see my best friend Bob Job and Lee Ann dancing the Western Swing.  We had people enter the Talent Contests, we danced the Cotton-Eyed Joe, and we had the time of our lives.  Winchester Night was a BIG DEAL.  That was the start of our Second Generation right there. 

This was about the time
SSQQ got its name - a very funny story by the way - and the term "slow slow quick quick" became the catch-phrase of the day.  This amusing event gave our emerging group an identity and guaranteed the Winchester's place in SSQQ history forever.

Several students entered the Talent Contest.
Here Caron Ireland wins Talent Night

 Carl Hruska, Margie Saibara, Jim Barrett
 

Jim Garrison, Debbie Oswald,
Jann Fonteno, Bill Stumph

About this time, a lady named Jann Fonteno (in red) volunteered her phone as an organizing device. 

All day long... and in the wee hours of the morning too... people would call her phone number to listen to her recorded message to learn where "The Group" was headed that night. 

Jann thanked me profusely for giving her the honor of hosting "The Message" as she called it.  Jann said the improvement in her social life was exponential.  She said anytime she recognized the voice of a cute guy, she would pick up.  She had some of the best conversations!

I grinned and said she was more than welcome.

After the humorous incident involving the school teacher with 'Slow Slow Quick Quick' written all over her chest, Jann decided to start each message with 'You have reached the Slow Slow Quick Quick Hotline.  Hang on for the latest and greatest of where the Gang is going tonight!'

Soon it became slang for a guy to ask a girl, 'wanna go slow slow quick quick with me tonight?'   It was supposed to mean dancing, but you get the idea, right?

Then Jim Garrison, one of the Waltz Kings, shortened the phrase to "ssqq".  Jann quickly fell into step, renaming her message to the "SSQQ Hotline".  When it came time to put a name on our door, I didn't have to think twice.

Thanks to the convenience of Jann's 'SSQQ Hotline', people began to build their entire social lives around the dance studio.  We became a Singles Group without the need to call it that. 

The joint was jumping.  SSQQ was on fire!

"You said this was the period when your Matchmaker skills began to emerge..."

"Once I got my program established here on Bissonnet in late 1980, I had more free time open up. I began to organize a whole series of events and Jann would publicize them for me.  The turnout was great.  A group spirit began to emerge as students would meet to go out to dance en masse or maybe go to the movies after class, play volleyball at some park, or meet at someone's house for Charades. 

We had a goofy event known as 'Labeling Parties'.  Back in those days, the mailing list had to go out by snail mail.  It was a huge undertaking because an address label had to be placed on every flyer, flyers had to be organized and rubber-banded by zip code, then bundled in a canvas bag.  People would volunteer their houses for a Labeling Party.  First we would label. It took 30 people an hour to finish the job. Then we would have a potluck dinner and play Charades or water volleyball afterwards. 

As you can imagine, this group of people became very close friends.

We had the tightest social network imaginable.  We had a blast every time we got together.  People really started to like each other. 

That's me in the pool getting my shot stuffed by Tom Easley. If you look closely, even though I am getting stuffed, I was smiling!   These were very happy times for me.

It was all buddy-buddy at first.  Then I started to notice that many of my students in this group were beginning to pair off and develop dating relationships.  Since I wasn't dating at all thanks to my complicated relationship with Victoria, I was in a perfect position to watch.

These new relationships seemed vaguely incestuous. To this point, everyone had been like brothers and sisters.  It was funny how awkward it was to break the unspoken barriers.  It isn't always that easy to take things from 'friends' to 'lovers'.

But it was inevitable.  The birds and the bees aren't going to stay locked up forever.

As time went by, more boy-girl friendships began to develop.  First they would date but not call it a date to the others. Then they would admit they were dating, but just as 'friends'.  Then they would get a little more serious and go over the ground rules like whether to be 'platonic' or not, 'see other people or just each other' and all that stuff. 

Eventually like a fire that simmers for a while, then bursts into flame, suddenly one day they began to look at each other in a different way.  This was about the time that platonic stage burned off like a rocket ship dropping off its first payload. Now the rocket moved into warp drive.  The bonfire was ablaze!  Suddenly the entire group started to pair off."

"And how much credit do you give yourself?"

I never have been one to pair people up in hopes something might happen.  That was never my forte, although as I grow older, I find myself putting people nose to nose all the times at my dance parties. But back in those days, I wasn't any good at literally putting a boy and a girl nose to nose.  My focus has always been more on group dynamics than on the individual. 

I concentrate on creating opportunities for large groups to interact, you know, Cupid's Playground Director.  If you stock the pond with enough fish, everybody is bound to catch something.  It was my job to organize parties with lots of people.

I hate Talk Parties.  Not everyone is a born chit-chatter.  I prefer parties where there is a central activity like a 'volleyball party' or a 'charades party' or of course a 'dance party' where the chit chat flows out of the central activity.  And it has to be group participation. Some people love to watch dance competitions, but not me. I prefer to get people out on the floor.  Each and every person needs to PARTICIPATE!!   Don't be passive.  Participate.  That's the secret.

I have always been a born social worker. I love organizing these activities. 

However back in those days I never in my wildest dreams anticipated how effective my studio's group dynamics would be at actually creating relationships!  

Good grief, that blew my mind right there.  So imagine how I felt when they started getting MARRIED!  Holy smokes! People getting married because they played volleyball together or danced together?  Wow!

As I said, the group activities allowed people to get to know each other as friends first.  People let down their guard and let the others see the individual within.  The serious relationships became a marvelous by-product of the interaction.

This group, which included lots of students from a singles group called TGIS at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, became my Second Generation. This was one of the happiest periods of my life.  The people in this group were my closest friends.  We did everything together.

And while I am at in, let me add one more thing.  1981 marked the year of our very first INCREDIBLE SSQQ Halloween Party.  This was not our first Halloween Party - we had events in 1978, 1979, and 1980.  But the 1981 Party was great fun.  And -thanks to Jim Fogo (SSQQ teeshirt below) - there were lots of great pictures."


"That's quite a story.  Back up a little and tell me again why you call them 'Generations'?"

"A quick description of the term 'Generation' would be the In-Crowd of the day.  A Generation is a large group of people that connect so strongly with the studio that they make it the main focus of their social life.

Our love of dancing was the activity that bound us all together, but so many friendships were created that people really started to care about the different members of the group.  If someone got sick, everyone would worry about them, get cards together and visit them in the hospital, things like that.  Birthdays were always a big deal.  

It is the same thing as a college dorm or Senior Class in high school or the guys on the basketball team or the guys in Semper Fi.  People who are thrown together for a common reason begin to make connections.  As time passes, the group forms an identity.

All coaches, business managers, and military leaders try to accomplish the "rah rah spirit" in their groups.  Some of the staff meetings at Wal-Mart sound like Revival Meetings the way they chant and holler.  But using pressure or artificial means can backfire, especially if it feels phony or forced. 

However there was nothing external like a team or a fraternity or a training program to fuse these people together.  All they shared at the start was an interest in dance.  The fact that SSQQ Generations form of their own free will is a credit to the studio for giving them the opportunities that helped bind them together. 

In the case of the Second Generation, boy, did they stick together!  Many of the members of this wonderful group stayed with the studio long after they had taken every dance class I had to offer.  I would estimate over two dozen people put in five, six, seven years with SSQQ before finally moving on."


"How do you remember the Second Generation so well when you are clueless about the First Generation?"

"That's easy - Pictures!

The First Generation was the Disco crowd of 1978 and 1979.  They are all gone.  No pictures. Nothing written down.  All I have left is what little I can remember of those days. 

Most of those people burned off when Disco died its early death in Houston thanks to Urban Cowboy

However I do have a lot of pictures from the Second Generation (1980-1983) to help jog my memory. 

The early history of the studio has one name after another of Second Generation people who gave so much of their heart - John Cowen, Linda Ingalls, Chuck Clayton, Margie Saibara, Alan Brown, Rilla and Valerie Ryan, John Varvaro, Diane Stotz, Stan and Pam Clark, Debbie Oswald, Bob Job, Judy Price, Bill Sampson, Penny Post, Jim Garrison, Bill Stumph, Chuck Gray, Risa Beckham, Joanne Neher, Karen Gilcrease, Michael Miles, Terri Box, Doug Humme, Bob and V-Ann Noblitt... The list is endless.  It goes on and on and on.

By the end of 1981, I was alone now because Victoria had returned to her husband.  It took three people to fill her shoes.  Not only did I begin to assert my leadership, but I got help from two women - Jann Fonteno and a lady named V-Ann Noblitt. 

I hired V-Ann to answer the studio phone during the day and to be the studio's social director.  V-Ann was phenomenal in her role.  She was one of the warmest human beings I have ever known in my life.  It has taken me 30 years to grow into my role, but I can say that V-Ann was a natural Matchmaker from the start!! 

Please understand that I have never been alone in my social work activities.  I am certainly not the only person who tried to contribute.  In fact, I can honestly say that Victoria and V-Ann were so far superior to me that I literally can say they trained me.  There was so much leadership back in those days!!  If I didn't organize something, someone else would.

However, first and foremost in 1982 was V-Ann Noblitt.  She was only with us for two and a half years, but she created so many friends that no story of SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance can possibly be complete without V-Ann.

Linda Price, Bob Job, V-Ann, Joanne Neher

V-Ann answered the studio phone and acted as my Social Coordinator at parties and trips to the Western clubs.  V-Ann was the hostess with the mostest.

Starting in 1982, V-Ann became invaluable as a Matchmaker herself.  A born extrovert and something of a social worker herself, V-Ann would talk to people on the phone every day as part of the job. 

Whenever someone new called up about classes, V-Ann made sure to invite them to come see her at Texas the next time our group met.  (Texas was a local Western club that became our hangout after the Winchester fizzled out.) 

When someone new showed up, V-Ann knew exactly who they were.  She went and greeted them, took them around and introduced them to the Group, then made sure to buttonhole a veteran to take the newcomer for a spin around the floor.

You have no idea how much people appreciated V-Ann's help.  Her warmth and natural social skills greased the wheels.  Our Group began to grow by leaps and bounds.  The energy was just phenomenal.

Where Victoria deserves credit for helping to create the First SSQQ Generation, V-Ann deserves the credit for creating the Second SSQQ Generation.  She was much-loved and incredibly popular.

Sad to say, she suddenly resigned in 1984. If forced to guess, I probably burned her out by relying on her too much to run the business.  In the picture below, you can see three of us begging her to stay!!

I don't know the real reason why she left because she never gave me a straight answer, but I promise you I hated to see her go!  I loved this kind and gentle woman! 

There has never been another V-Ann.  Were she to call me up today and ask for a job, I would say, "When do you want to start?  How about this afternoon?"


During V-Ann's time at the studio, the joy flourished.  We did all kinds of wonderful things together.  See for yourself.

1982 - Why Labeling Parties were REALLY popular

1982 - V-Ann and Rick at a studio Sock Hop

1982 - Ballroom Dancing at Melody Lane!

1982 - Sadie Hawkins Balloon Chase!

1982 - Hard at work at a Labeling Party!

1982 - Western Dancing

Charades at my house.  Notice Bob Job sleeping in front. 
He claims he was trying to 'intuit' the answer.

The Winning Charades team. I guessed Bob's intuition worked
after all.  Please note yours truly was on the losing team.

JUDY PRICE


I don't think any story of the history of SSQQ would be complete without mentioning Judy Price.  Judy was a big part of the Second and the Third Generation.  Judy's story goes all the way back to the Winchester Era and the days when I was learning the secrets of the Western Swing in 1981. 

When I moved over to the Bissonnet location in late 1980, I was given two rooms.  Obviously I taught in one of the rooms, but I needed to hire a second instructor for the other room.  The logical choice was my part-time partner and girlfriend Victoria.  But Victoria could not teach every night of the week, so Judy Price became the alternate instructor on many evenings.

Judy had many good qualities.  She was pretty, she was funny, and she was sexy.    She kept her classes laughing all night long with her antics.  She was a good teacher too. Judy was a very popular instructor indeed. 

After Victoria left the studio to patch up her marriage in 1982, I was suddenly free again.  But the girl I had my eye on - Judy P - was in a relationship. This forced me to bide my time a while longer.  It wasn't until late in 1982 that Judy and I began to date.   We had a wonderful relationship that lasted more than a year.

Those were special days at the studio.  We had our Labeling Parties, we played Charades, we had volleyball parties, we had a Jigsaw Puzzle contest, we danced the Jitterbug at Blueberry Hill, we danced the Western Swing at Texas, and we even went Ballroom Dancing at Al Marks Melody Lane Ballroom.  

In particular, Judy loved Halloween.  I fed off her energy.  She was instrumental in helping me make this the biggest event on the calendar each year.  Judy took Halloween seriously. As you can see in the picture, Judy could be pretty spooky.

Judy was best friends with my beloved assistant V-Ann Noblitt.  Both ladies had the ability to make me laugh any time I was around them.  Together they were a perfect hostess team at every event. They were part of many happy times.

Judy helped me become a better dancer.  She played a big part in helping me learn to dance the Western Swing.  This dance appeared out of nowhere shortly after Urban Cowboy hit Houston in 1980. It was all trail and error.  I would figure out a pattern, then Judy would help me figure out how to lead it. 

No story about Judy can be complete without a mention of one of my most embarrassing moments.  Back in those days I was a so-so Ballroom dancer at best. Most of it had to do with not enough practice.  In 1983 I decided to have a Ballroom Dance Party at SSQQ. In a moment of shaky judgment, I decided to also perform at the party.  Well aware of my
performing curse, I was determined not to mess up.  Judy and I practiced a beautiful Waltz routine for 5 months.  That's right : 5 months!  Like I said, I didn't want any mistakes. 

Finally the Big Night arrived.  Although Ballroom Dancing was hardly my forte, I am proud to say Judy and I danced our routine beautifully.  Judy looked stunning. She had bought a beautiful new gown for the occasion. We Twinkled, we Turned, we did Promenades, and we did all sorts of sophisticated patterns.  We looked pretty darn good and received many smiles and much applause. I could tell from people's expressions that they were impressed.

They were impressed, that is, until something went wrong.  The ending move of the routine called for a gorgeous Lunge and Dip. As we entered this home stretch, I figured it was a lock.  Since we had practiced this maneuver many times, I wasn't worried in the least.  Tonight however I was in for a big surprise.

At the end of our routine Judy and I hit the Lunge position, then twisted our bodies into the Dip. We held the Dip with perfect control for several seconds till the waltz music faded.  Then we rose out of the Dip still embraced.

I took Judy's hand and tried to turn her to hit our finishing pose... but she wouldn't budge!   So I tried again.  Again she would not leave my hips!  That is when I realized her cord-like belt had somehow become intertwined around my belt buckle during the Lunge.  We were completely stuck.  Siamese Twins could not have been any closer than Judy and I.  There we stood locked together in an extremely intimate position while 100 spectators roared with amusement. 

I grimaced. So much for my beautiful Waltz.  Finally two students came out on the floor to rescue us. They untied Judy and I to the sounds of thunderous laughter.

After Judy and I went our separate ways in 1984, we remained friends.  Judy continued to teach at the studio.  Judy was a leader at the studio for seven years. 

Judy left the studio in 1987 so that she could begin to teach on her own.  Judy meant what she said - she has been teaching dance in the Houston area for over twenty years.  Today Judy remains one of the best known dance teachers in the city.  Maybe someday I will get lucky enough for her to come teach here again... or at least drop by to visit at the Halloween Party.  I miss her.

 

SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE: WEDDING BELLS RING AT THE STUDIO!

   

Ava King and Doug Humme.

That's Chuck Clayton as Best Man beside Doug and who is that handsome guy on the end?  He seems familiar.


"Did anyone from that Second Generation get married?"

"Are you kidding?  This is when it all got started.  People got married right and left! 

As I said earlier, people within the Group stayed friends for about a year, then slowly but surely they started to pair off.  Once a few people broke ranks and began to date, that set off a tidal wave of dating. 

We were pretty incestuous for a while - many people dated two or three members of the group before finally settling on the right person.  I will spare you the details, but there were touchy feelings.  Let's just say it was just like a small college where people played musical boyfriend - girlfriend for a period there.  Ding!  Time to rotate!  Who's Next?

After a year of Dating Frenzy, 1983 was about the year the weddings started.  I think the first ones to get married from within the group were Pam Silverblatt and Stan Clark (see their picture below.)  I knew these guys really well.  Pam's father was my doctor and Stan sold me all my audio equipment. 

Another couple I remember well was Doug Humme and Ava King (pictured above).  I was one of Doug's best men in the wedding.   Doug Humme and his best friend Chuck Clayton (one of Doug's Best Men) were members of the TGIS Young Singles Club.

Both guys started lessons with me in 1981 and immediately became charter members of the Winchester Era.  Chuck, Doug and I were good friends. Further down the road, Doug met the lovely Ava King at the studio and married a year later.  I have lost track of this couple, but I heard they had children and are doing well.

I knew Liz Bashaw and John Varvaro well too.  Liz Bashaw was (in my opinion) the prettiest girl at the studio and John Varvaro played Bridge with me every Sunday.

Oran Russell and Gloria Wright were another gorgeous couple.  

Here, I have an idea.  Let me dig up one of the old Picture Posters we used to have hanging at the studio.  Hmm. Okay, here we go. 

Here are some of the weddings from the Second Generation:

  1. Doug Humme and Ava King
  2. Bob Job and Louise Campodonico
  3. Stan Clark and Pam Silverblatt.
  4. Donna David and John Campbell. 
  5. Julia Olkin and Juan Meza. 
  6. Fred Piser and Mary Shiflet
  7. John Varvaro and Liz Bashaw. 
  8. Bill Stumph and Diane Huber and moved to San Diego. 
  9. Tom Meinecke got married to someone from TGIS and dance class. 
  10. Oran Russell and Gloria Wright
  11. Jean Butler and Paul Gillette
  12. Chuck and Laurie Gray. 
  13. Keith Hinkle and Judy Hoffman.
  14. Yung Wallace and Vanessa
  15. Sandy MacRae and Victoria Langham
  16. Pam Thomas and John Goode
  17. Michael Miles and Terri Box
  18. Gary Krzywicki and Linda Scherer
  19. Jon Monteith and Linda Wade
  20. Yung Wallace and Vanessa Holstein
     

I have one more thing to say - many of these people were my best friends.  My work and my personal life were one and the same.  I was their leader... yes... but I was also part of the group.  I was proud to witness the results of the close-knit group I had weaved together with lots of help from people like Judy Price and V-Ann Noblitt.

This was the Era when I began to notice that SSQQ was something of a marriage factory.  On the surface, maybe the marriages listed above doesn't seem that many, but you have to understand that the studio was about one-tenth the size it is today (and of course those numbers are under-reported). 

So even though our wedding numbers were small relative to the modern era in the 2000s, our tight-knit group still managed to produce a phenomenal number of marriages. 

This was SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance Magic at its very best."

Liz Bashaw, John Varvaro

Oran Russell, Gloria Wright

Keith Hinkle and Judy Hoffman

 

Linda Scherer and Gary Krzywicki

From: Linda Krzywicki
Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 3:05 PM

Over the past several weeks, I've been reading with interest your various stories, including those on Romance.

SSQQ was very important to our relationship.  Back in the Eighties, my husband Gary and I met at Whip classes and probably were acquainted for about a year before we talked at an SSQQ Valentine's party.  A few weeks later during Whip class, he mentioned that his brother's fire station was going to Eddie's ballroom.  I replied that my Sunday school class was going there on the same night. 

Then Rick said rotate.  We separated.  Since there were many people in the class, it was a while before we could resume our conversation.  Gary was thinking, drat, am I going to have to find someone else to go with me?  And I'm wondering, was he going to ask me to go with him.  We got things cleared up when we got back together.

A week or so later we had what I call our pre- first date.  While we both went to the St. Patrick's Day Party separately, we spent the whole night dancing together.

On Saturday we went to Eddie's ballroom and danced all night till the band stopped.  It was a great first date.  Neither of us dated anyone else and we spent every weekend together.

A year or so later, Gary proposed on a SSQQ trip (put together by Judy Price) to the Cayman Islands.  We were scuba diving.  I'd hoped he'd propose during the trip but days rolled by.  Finally at the end of one boat dive, he motioned me to the sandy bottom beneath the boat, knelt and pulled out a ring (a small gold heart). 

As we got on the boat, we noticed the crew in turmoil.  An older man and his wife had run out of oxygen during their dive.  He was blue.  They scrambled to radio in an emergency and get all the divers on board.  We sat quietly watching the drama unfold around us.  As we sped toward the beach and the waiting ambulance, I'm wondering if Gary just asked me to marry him, and he's wondering if I said yes.  Again we got things cleared up, but we didn't tell anyone on the trip.  We waited until the after trip picture party and let someone discover it from reading a "dive log" in our picture album.

We continued to take a few classes, but planning the wedding took up a lot of time.  Friday nights were spent going to different restaurants to pick a place for the rehearsal dinner.  Dance classes became fewer and farther apart 

Now twenty years later, we're back at SSQQ taking lessons again.  I wish we hadn't waited so long to come back.

Thank you Rick for having such a wonderful dance environment.

Linda Kryzwicki
February 2010

 

Here is a picture I am proud of: 3 SSQQ Couples side by side. Terri & Michael Miles, Donna & John Campbell, Pam & Stan Clark
 

Jean Butler, Paul Gillette

 

Bill Stumph, Diane Huber

 

Victoria and Sandy MacRae

Julia and Juan Olkin

 

BOB JOB

Louise and Bob

Bob the mad wizard

Bob Job and Joy Schodorf

Aubrey Passafuma, Louise Campodonico,
and Robert Job

"So whatever happened to all these people?"

"Of the fifteen couples I listed above, I have lost track of every single one of them.   Twenty years is a long time.  If they live in Houston, they never come by the studio.  I think it would be nice if some of them would stop by to check in from time to time.

In a way, their disappearance is somewhat disconcerting.  It is crazy to be so close to so many people and have them leave.

Have you ever had a best friend who completely disappeared from your life?

It happened to me.  My buddy Bob Job was transferred by Shell to the Netherlands with his lovely wife Louise sometime in the late Eighties.  That is when I completely lost track of him.  Every now and then there would be a rumor that Bob had been in town, etc, but I never knew how to get in touch with him.

Bob Job has a big place in SSQQ history.  He is best remembered in SSQQ lore as the guy who helped me decipher the secrets of Western Swing back in late 1980. 

Urban Cowboy had sparked an unprecedented amount of interest in Western dancing here in Houston in July 1980.  Thanks to Urban Cowboy, Disco had died an instant death here in Houston. Left with nothing better to do, most Disco guys had turned in their polyester dance shirts for boots and rolled with the tide.  However, boredom set in very quickly.  Twostep and Polka were pretty easy dances to learn compared to what they had been doing to Donna Summer music.  Pretty soon, all those ex-Disco guys started finding ways to double turn girls to a western beat.

That's when a new dance sprouted up before our very eyes.  It had no name, but it was definitely an improvement on Twostep.  Bob and I called it "Disco on the Run" and we made a bet which of us was going to figure it out first.

Truth be told, I never figured the secret out.  Fortunately, a guy named Herb Fried, who was a friend of Bob's, showed me the secret one day and put me out of my misery.  That's all the help I needed.  From that point on, I worked furiously to put together a system of dance patterns that I could use to teach this new dance.

With Bob's help, we cooked up the Pretzel, the Rope, the Wild West Shuffle, the Y-Pattern, the Lariat, and the Dishrag.  Do those names sound familiar?  Those names go all the way back to 1981 when Bob and I put the finishing touches on the new dance.  However, we had one more problem. We decided 'Disco on the Run' was not a very catchy name.  it probably wasn't very marketable. So we decided to call it Western Swing. 25 years later, the name still sticks.
History of Western Swing.

No story about Bob is complete without a mention of the role he played in the wildest Halloween Party in studio history - the infamous 1981 Halloween Party from Hell.  Bob single-handedly wasted over 50 people by getting them drunk as a skunk.

Dressed as the Mad Wizard with a cloak and a conical Magician's hat, Bob certainly looked the part as he hovered over his Witch's Cauldron carefully stirring his strange brew. Adding to the magic was the smoke that emanated from the Cauldron.  Bob had added dry ice to give his work the eerie appearance of mixing a Wizard's Potion. The illusion was very impressive!

Bob's Magic Punch was the place to go if you didn't bring your own stuff and wished to become chemically altered. There was a long line as many of us availed ourselves of the delicious punch. Yum Yum Yum rhymes with Rum!  It tasted great!
  What we didn't know was that Bob had spiked the Punch liberally with Ever Clear.

This is a good story that just happens to have a wild surprise ending.  When you get the chance, definitely go read the story about the
Halloween Party from Hell.

My guess is that Bob and Louise met in 1983.  My memory is no longer 100% reliable, but it is my recollection that they had a stormy off-and-on relationship.  I believe Louise was reluctant about commitment.  They broke up several times only to eventually get back together.  I believe they went together six years before finally getting married in the late Eighties.  

One day around 1989, Bob contacted me to say that his company Shell was transferring him overseas to Holland. He and Louise would be gone for at least a year, possibly longer. 

At some point in the Nineties Bob and Louise did return to Houston, but I don't recall ever seriously connecting again.  It was aggravating to me because people kept seeing Bob and Louise out dancing, but I had no idea how to contact them.

The longer I went without seeing Bob, the more frustrated I got.  Finally I found a way to deal with my frustration - I would write about Bob!

First came the story about the History of Western Swing.  Then came the story about the Halloween Party from Hell.  Then came a story the Winchester Club.  And the final touch came when I wrote about Bob and Louise in the original Matchmaker story (2006). 

You know what?  I secretly hoped Bob would run across one of these stories and get in touch with me.  And guess what?  One day it worked!

On Halloween Day 2006 (nice timing!), Bob sent me the email below."

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Job
Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 2:37 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Halloween message for Rick Archer from Bob Job

Greetings, Rick!  As usual around this time of year, I fondly recall your 'Halloween Party from Hell'.

Louise and I are now safely ensconced in our log home atop a mountain northwest of Ft. Collins, Colorado. After we'd been here a couple of weeks, the dancers found us. I guess the Archer two-step we do still catches as much attention as it did 25 years ago when you and I practiced your new moves late at night in the Sears' parking lot.

If you ever get nostalgic about Ft. Collins, please come by for a visit. We've got a comfortable guest suite and some beautiful sunrises and sunsets to show you. (I might even let you win a game of chess.)

Sincerely, Bob Job

(NOTE: Bob sent pictures of his beautiful house. To read more about Bob and Louise, click here)


"Other than Bob and Louise, does anyone else ever check in?"

"Well, by a very strange coincidence, recently I did manage to connect to another friend from the good old days.

Besides Bob, Chuck Gray was my other chess buddy back then.  Chuck was by far the most aggressive player I have ever met, constantly sacrificing one piece after another to further his attack.  I remember winning more games than I lost, but I never had any fun because Chuck always made me play defense.  Yuck! 

Chuck remained a bachelor during the flurry of marriages in 1982-1984. 

However around 1984, he met a pretty brunette at the studio named Laurie.  A couple years later, Chuck was headed down the marriage aisle himself.

I lost sight of him at that point.

I knew Chuck was a therapist back in those early days, but I didn't know much about his work.  Imagine how surprised I was to learn that Chuck was a cousin of John Gray, author
of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (1992).

The mid-90s was about the time I realized Chuck had become a
famous therapist in his own right here in Houston.  I laughed because my last memory of Chuck was playing chess and volleyball plus dodging women during our goofy balloon chase events.  He was a regular guy then, but now he was famous.  Wow!

In 2000, Chuck Gray indirectly played a big part in a new Chapter of my life.  I met my wife Marla on the 2001 SSQQ Cruise.  During our conversations on that cruise, I discovered Chuck had recently played a major role in Marla's life. 

You see,  back in 2000, Marla had been going more than slightly crazy trying to figure out what to make of her boyfriend's stories.   She suspected her boyfriend of 5 years had been misleading her, but wasn't sure.  Marla was very confused.

Have you ever heard of the movie Gaslight?  This story tells how a man systematically drives his wife mad with lies and strange events that make no sense.  At this point, Marla had listened to so many stories, she didn't know what to believe any more.  Her gut told her one thing, but she had no proof.  

One day Marla noticed an ad on relationships put in the paper by Chuck Gray. The ad mentioned Mars and Venus and how hard it was for men and women to understand each other.  Marla thought to herself, 'That's for sure!'

So Marla went to Chuck for some advice.  He helped immediately.  Chuck helped Marla figure out what was really going on and help her regain trust in her instincts.  Things started to make sense again. Soon Marla was able to let go of a lot of anger.  As Marla began to calm down, interestingly she also began to lose weight.   Best of all, she began to get her confidence back.  

Marla saw Chuck for about six months. Along the way, Chuck gave Marla two interesting pieces of advice.

As she regained her confidence, Marla discovered she was itching to throw the boyfriend overboard.  To her surprise, Chuck advised Marla NOT to break up with her boyfriend just yet.  Chuck's first piece of advice was that since she had some unfinished business with the man, Marla should not behave impulsively.  It was better that she find out what the truth was on some key issues before moving on.  So Marla stayed in the relationship.

Chuck and Laurie Gray then

Chuck and Laurie Gray now

The second piece of advice was particularly interesting.   One day in November 2000 as they were wrapping things up, Marla mentioned to Chuck how much fun she had been having taking dance classes at SSQQ.  She had met a couple cute guys and was thinking of going out with them.  Chuck warned Marla to be careful.  He said that she was still very vulnerable. Chuck went on to add that SSQQ had many predatory men.  Until Marla learned how to protect herself from further deceitfulness, she was walking wounded and could easily end up picking the wrong guy and getting hurt again.

Heeding Chuck's advice for the second time, Marla remained with her boyfriend and avoided dating anyone from the studio for another 10 months.  However Marla did decide to exert some independence.  She signed up to take the August 2001 SSQQ cruise... by herself. 

When I met Marla on that cruise, it was love at first sight for both of us.  As we shared stories, Chuck's name came up almost immediately.  You can imagine how both of our jaws dropped with surprise when we discovered we both knew him. 

I had to smile - my old chess buddy had been a huge help to this lovely woman.  As I listened to Marla talk about her conversations, I found myself nodding with approval at what Chuck had said every step of the way.  I was proud of him! 

Marla and I were inseparable from the moment we connected.  We were married in 2004.  We kept expecting to run into Chuck one day so we could thank him together.  Finally one day in November 2006 I told Marla enough was enough.  Why not just email him?  Here is what Chuck had to say:

-----Original Message-----
From: Dr C Gray
Sent: Saturday, February 17, 2007 2:54 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Chuck & Laurie Gray

Congratulation and best wishes, Rick and Marla!

Thank you for your thoughtfulness in giving me the update. It is indeed a small world!

I am extremely pleased to read of the happiness of both of you. Keep it up! Based upon the extensive report on the SSQQ website, it appears you had a wedding cruise you will not readily forget. I was also pleased to see some other familiar faces from the past.

Congratulations also on the website. Rick, you've always had a talent for combining art and prose. I am impressed.

Laurie and I have been happily married for almost 20 years now. Although we had already known each other for a few years, I first asked Laurie out after an SSQQ party. Rick, you have my eternal thanks. We live in Sugar Land and have two delightful daughters, 13 y.o. Cheryl and 7 y.o. Valerie. Both are so smart, sweet, sociable, and attractive that they both please and humble us.

Laurie devotes her time to taking great care of all of us, volunteering for things like being a Girl Scout cookie Mom, and helping out at my expanding clinic. For the past few months she's been getting much more than she bargained for at the clinic with a fulltime administrator out 90% of the time with a back injury. Laurie has coordinated everything masterfully as we seek a temporary replacement who may become permanent.

The clinic still sends clients to SSQQ, and we still get positive reports. Thanks for being there.

Hey Rick, give Marla a big hug for me!

Chuck Gray

It really is a small world after all, now isn't it?"

THE THIRD GENERATION

Phyllis, Linda Ingalls, John Elitsky, Donna David
Do see V-Ann trying to poke into the picture?

"Besides your friends Chuck and Bob, what do you suppose happened to the rest of the Second Generation?"

"That's an interesting question. Let me think for a moment.  The married people left.  For example, Michael  and Terri Miles, Stan and Pam Clark, Doug and Ava Humme all moved on to start families.  But  the rest of the people stayed on to became the Founding Fathers of the Third Generation. 

There were two events that separate the Second Generation from the Third Generation.  The first event was the Going-Away Party for Phyllis Goldberg.

Phyllis Goldberg was a very popular lady at the studio.  In fact, Phyllis was so popular we actually had to have two going-away parties for her - one party attended by her fiancÚ Dave and one without her fiancÚ Dave. 

Yes, that's Phyllis being attacked with whip cream by Tom Easley and yours truly during a Surfside Beach organized by Tom. Several other men also helped.  Uh no, jealous Dave was not at that particular party, I assure you.

Dave lived in Florida.  He flew up for Phyllis' second Going Away Party.  I think the group picture below was taken at a Texas Tumbleweed.  I don't remember the details, but Dave was suspicious of all of the men the moment he met our group.  Perhaps details of the Beach Trip had filtered down to him in Florida, but if Phyllis had a brain, I doubt it. 

Truth be told, I don't remember a single indiscretion on Phyllis' part the entire time I knew her.  But I do remember a lot of guys had a big crush on Phyllis because she was warm, pretty, out-going, and sexy too.  We did not like losing her to some guy from Florida, believe me, and Dave didn't make things any better by running his Alpha Male number at the Texas Tumbleweed. 

As I have said, the Second Generation was where the SSQQ Marriage Factory first began to crank 'em out.   There are 10 people in the picture below who met their spouses at SSQQ.  And as you might imagine, there were MANY love affairs in this group as well that were also significant even if they didn't end in marriage.  

What a phenomenal group of people. They were my best friends."

1984 - Phyllis Goldberg's Goodbye Party. The Second Generation becomes the Third Generation

Top Row: Louise Campodonico, Jim Ponder, Jean Butler, Bob Job, Tom Easley, ???, Phyllis Goldberg, Craig Mason, Michael Miles,
Margie Saibara,  ???, Claudette (black hair), ???, Chuck Clayton at far right holding the dollar bill.

Second Row: Rick Archer being attacked by balloons, Aubrey Passafuma, Pam Silverblatt, Katherine Hipps, ???, Risa Beckham, Carol Gafford, Phyllis Goldberg's fiancÚ Dave in red, Tony, John Elitzky, and Judy Price reaching for the dollar bill (Chuck always knew how to excite women)

Bottom Row:  Mark Olsen, Donna Repka,  Stan Clark, Phyllis Rosenbaum, John Campbell and Donna David.

 

"What was the second event marking the transition?"

"What happened was I got married to a woman named Pat in November 1984.  It was doomed from the start. 

Before the wedding, all sorts of things were going wrong in our relationship.  I had a bad feeling about this adventure.

One of my favorite movies is "The Man Who Would Be King" with Sean Connery and Michael Caine.  Through a goofy chain of events, Connery becomes King of an isolated fictitious country known as Kafiristan.  The priests of the valley think he is the divine reincarnation of Alexander the Great. 

One day Connery spots the most beautiful woman he has ever seen and decides to marry her.  He's the King. He can do whatever he wants, right?  Wrong!  The priests say forget about it.  A Divine King may not marry a mortal. 

Connery defies the priests and orders the girl to marry him anyway.  Well, immediately the omens turn ugly.  Crops fail, birds fall dead out of the sky, locusts appear out of nowhere.  Obviously this is one marriage that should not happen.  The forbidden marriage was Connery's downfall in the movie.

I also had bad omens leading up to the wedding, but I ignored them.  Stupid me.  The marriage was a disaster.  The marriage lasted barely more than a year.  We divorced early in 1986.

At the end of the marriage, I hit rock bottom.  Here is the story.


I met Pat in April of 1984.  Yes, she was a dance student, but I barely knew her. 

We met by accident one night when I passed her on the sidewalk of a Disco.  I was leaving, Pat was arriving.   Pat recognized me and stopped to say hello. 

I had not recognized her as she approached on the sidewalk.  In her makeup and dance clothes, Pat's appearance was dramatically different from the shy girl I had seen once or twice back at SSQQ.

Tonight Pat was a knockout, the kind of woman who takes your breath away.  As you might imagine, I stopped in my tracks.  We chatted for a moment.  I asked her if she wanted some company in the disco.  She replied that she would enjoy that.  So I did a U-Turn and followed her right back into the club. 

That started a whirlwind romance. 

Two months later Pat accepted my offer to come live with me.  I had never actually lived with a woman before, so this was a pretty big step for me.  I was certain that I wanted to marry her, but maybe it would be wise to get to know each other better. Pat agreed.

So we moved all her furniture and possessions into the house.  The next day I came home to find Pat on the couch crying. 

She explained to me that she was going to have to move back out.  She had spoken to her parents about her decision to move in with me and they did not approve.  They told her to move right back out and she had promised them she would.

I raised an eyebrow.  Pat was a grown woman who had finished college and had already been married once previously.  She had never seemed like Daddy's girl to me.  What was with this sudden obedience to her parent's will?

We talked it over for an hour.  Pat mentioned that if we were engaged, things might be more acceptable to her parents.  Now I raised my eyebrow for a second time.  This was a very curious suggestion.

I had two thoughts cross my mind.  The first thought was that I intended to marry this woman eventually when I invited her to come live with me.  So getting engaged was not something I was opposed to. 

The second thought was that I had discovered there was a dark side to Pat.  Her previous husband had been unfaithful.  Ordinarily I would respect her privacy and not even say such a thing, but since infidelity became the dominant issue that caused our relationship to fail, it must be included.

Pat's first marriage had left her with emotional scars on this issue.  I was deeply sympathetic.  It was my hope that as Pat grew more secure in our relationship, her fears would subside.  But I had no assurance.  That was why I wanted to spend time with her and learn more.  However Pat's suggestion had effectively fast-forwarded my personal timetable. 

On the surface, Pat would fit into my life perfectly. 

Pat was a graceful, natural dancer.  She had been on the drill team in high school and picked up dances like the Whip and Western Swing effortlessly.  We matched perfectly for height.  When we danced together, we looked terrific.

Pat showed tremendous interest in the studio.  An elementary school teacher by day, she looked forward to becoming a part-time dance teacher as well.   

Best of all, Pat was becoming popular at the studio.  She acquired one new girlfriend after another.  I had not seen a group of friends comparable to hers since the days when Victoria ruled the studio.

On the surface, Pat would be a perfect wife for me.

Therefore as I mulled over Pat's proposal, I decided to accept.  But I knew full well that I was taking a big chance due to her demons.  We were moving things along much too fast.  I believed things would work out, but there were no guarantees. 

In addition I also felt manipulated.  My gut said she was using a sneaky ploy on me and I didn't like it one bit. 

But since I intended to marry her anyway, it was something I could overlook.  I was willing to accept the added risk of moving forward my timetable

However, since we were doing things on her terms, I told myself that I would refuse to feel guilty if things went wrong.  In other words, I knew I was taking a big chance.  If things didn't work out, I would not hate myself for heading to the Exit Door. 

Now does this story sound like a good omen to you?  No, of course not.  With 20-20 hindsight, obviously a long courtship would have prevented the mistake we were about to make.  We would have discovered we were totally incompatible ahead of time. 

But thanks to Pat's clever let's-get-engaged maneuver, we didn't have that luxury.

We were engaged two months after we met.   Four months later we were married.  Seventeen months later it would end. 

This is my long-time friend Carol Gafford.
Carol was one of my guests at the wedding.

Carol got married to another friend of mine,
Rick Mullet, in November 2006

During my marriage to Pat, most of the Second Generation stuck around to merge with my newer dance students to form the Third Generation group. 

Unfortunately a few people decided to move on.   Remember those bad omens I mentioned?  The most serious bad omen was the loss of V-Ann Noblitt.  One week after my wedding, my wonderful friend V-Ann quit.  

To this day, I still don't know exactly why she left.  I only know I regret losing her.  If forced to guess, V-Ann burned out having to run the studio almost single-handedly while I ignored everything to pursue Pat.

From the moment of our wedding, Pat and I started to argue.  We fought constantly.  We argued morning, day, and night.  In my opinion, our arguments were always about nothing.  Pat and I were two of the most clean cut people on the planet.   We didn't cheat on each other, we didn't have money problems, and there was no domestic violence.  We didn't have gambling problems, health problems, alcohol, drugs, pornography, whatever.
 
Nevertheless we found things to quarrel about, mostly over women at the studio.  We developed a mutual case of mental illness the moment we were married.  We were rarely happy. 
Our marriage was a relationship in which one person was always right, and the other person was a husband.

I do not recall initiating the fights.  Pat would bring something up and we would discuss it.  I soon discovered there was no such thing as compromise.  It was give in or keep arguing.  Since the arguments were always about things that didn't matter, in the beginning, I would deliberately back down and agree to do things Pat's way in exchange for harmony.  However my capitulations did not end the arguments.  Pat would simply find something else to worry about.

Soon I found myself disgusted with being the one who gave in all the time.  I decided if it didn't do any good to give in, at least my self-esteem would improve if I stood up for myself.  I decided if she couldn't love me, at least she would learn to respect me.  Now the quarrels became epic battles. 


From my point of view, the main problem was that, in my opinion, Pat had a case of the green eyes.  Like I mentioned earlier, in Pat's defense, Pat had been treated horribly by her womanizing husband in her previous marriage.

With these demons haunting her, Pat was determined this wasn't going to happen again.  She watched my every move with careful vigilance.  Pat suspected me of chasing various women at the studio or she suspected various women of chasing me. 

Either way it was my fault.

At first I did everything in my power to reassure her that nothing was wrong.  Like Pat, I had been cheated on back by my girlfriend in graduate school and still carried my own share of demons from the experience.  So I was no stranger to the pain of infidelity. Furthermore I understood clearly how sensitive she was on this issue. 

Consequently I was extremely careful to avoid doing anything that might upset Pat.  But once I discovered that there was no end to her distrust despite my kid glove treatment, I rebelled at the constant pressure.

I did not appreciate getting chewed out on a regular basis for something I didn't do.  I did not chase women, but her insecurity led her to believe that I might which justified her non-stop vigilance.   She justified her constant surveillance and questioning by saying an ounce of prevention would prevent future problems.

Her constant scrutiny crippled my effectiveness at the studio.  I treaded hot coals whenever she was around.  I quickly became paralyzed with fear if she caught me even smiling at a female dance student in the middle of dance class. 

 My friends Pam and Stan Clark
This attractive couple met at my studio. They were
one of the first marriages credited to SSQQ

I assume that Pat had her reasons for believing these things, but for my part let me say this: As God is my witness, I never went near a single woman.  Not one time.  Nevertheless I took constant heat on the issue and I hated it.

After six months of these never-ending arguments, I was fed up.  Although I understood the underlying demons that caused her to behave in this way, I couldn't take it any more.  I began to fight back against her tongue lashings.

Now all hell broke loose.  Pat was astonished that I was standing up to her toe to toe.  She had not realized that I had been giving in up till now just to keep peace in the family.  Unfortunately, Pat just fought even harder.


THE INFAMOUS HONEY INCIDENT

A good example of our struggles was the 'Honey' incident. One night at the studio a female student had tripped and fallen.  As I helped her off the floor, she was in tears over her inability to keep from losing her balance while double turning. 

She was scared to try again.

I sympathized with the lady and tried to reassure her. I said, "Honey, it's okay.  Calm down.  Lots of women have the same problem with their turns. Let's see if we can figure out what the problem is."

Pat overheard the conversation.  She didn't like what I said one bit, but decided to save it for later.  That night Pat began a three-day fight over my use of the word "honey".

"That was an inappropriate word, Rick!  You were encouraging her. Where I come from, that is a word of affection.  You were leading her on, giving her the wrong idea that you were interested in her."

"No, Pat, I wasn't leading her on.  I was calming her down.  There is a big difference.  If I were to use the word over and over again, you might have a point, but in this situation the one-time use of the word 'honey' was a term of warmth and compassion for someone who was struggling.  I meant nothing by it, you have my word, so help me God."

This is a picture of my parents.  My wedding day was the first and last time they saw each other in 30 years.


In my opinion, that would be enough for an ordinary woman to give me the benefit of the doubt. 

However Pat didn't agree with my explanation.  Pat thought I was wrong. 

But I didn't think I was wrong.  Nor was I going to back down, even though I thought this was the stupidest reason for a fight yet. 

So we proceeded to argue day and night for three days over 'Honey'.  Round and round, over and over again. 

Pat was relentless in her determination to convince me that what I had said was wrong.  This kind of language was never to be repeated again.

Meanwhile I was equally determined to stand up for myself.  I told her in my mind I knew I had done nothing wrong.  However I did apologize for the use of the word 'honey' in the sense that I was sorry it had offended her.  I also said I would do my best not to use the term again. 

You would think that would end the argument, right?  Well, it didn't.   Pat intended to make me see that my behavior was unacceptable and I should be ashamed I had said 'honey' in the first place.  The argument continued.

By my own standards of what sort of behavior was right and wrong, I had not acted inappropriately.  I knew in my heart that I was not making a play for this woman and I resented Pat's lack of trust.  Furthermore she had not accepted my attempt to make peace.  So now we went to war. 

I saw this as a battle that would allow me to win the right to conduct my dance classes as I saw fit. 


I told her if Pat didn't ease up, she would not be welcome in my classroom ever again.  She didn't appreciate that threat at all.

Neither side ever gave in.  In chess terms, we had a stalemate.  In human terms, same thing. 
Our marriage was being strangled to death by exactly this kind of madness.  I was sick with foreboding.  This fight was another very bad omen.

My friends Roger Ebel and Mary Wright

THE PICTURE OF A NAKED WOMAN

Another great fight revolved around a picture of a naked woman in a magazine.  The picture on the left shows the magazine in question.  The magazine was not mine.  I believe one of 4 people - Jim Fogo,  Fogo's girlfriend Mary, Bob Arnold, or Roger Ebel - had brought the magazine.

The picture in question was more "Freak Show" than Playboy. The woman in the picture had breasts so large they went down to her knees.  I admit the picture interested me, but it was more curiosity than anything else. 

It was a 'joke', something to roll your eyes at.  Why make a fuss over it?  But Pat didn't think it was a joke.  When Pat found that this magazine had been making the rounds of the studio, she confronted me & asked if I had seen it.

"Yes, Pat, I saw it.  Not only that, someone took my picture looking at it."

Pat said, "I have a problem with you openly lusting at this pornography in front of other students.  It is disrespectful to me and it lowers other people's opinions of you.  It makes it obvious that you enjoy looking at pornography."

Those were fighting words, especially when Pat added she did not believe me when I said I did not bring the magazine.  This incident started another long argument.   There had to be more to life than fighting over this!

Over time, I grew more and more bitter over these stupid fights about nothing.  A dance teacher must be allowed to socialize.  And I was old enough to look at a picture of a naked woman without having to ask Pat's permission.

In the end, her unfounded fears about infidelity were crippling me.  I was tired of being punished for the evils of the previous guy.  I had done nothing to deserve this kind of treatment and I was sick of the abuse.  


THE FINAL BLOW

By the time the marriage ended in April 1986, I was a complete basket case.  The constant fights had taken their toll. My self-esteem was in the gutter and I was depressed out of my mind. 

In the end, the final blow was a "Final Blow".

One afternoon, I was humiliated in front of my closest friends when Pat decided to slap me in the face three times in the middle of a dance class.  The third slap left blood streaming across my face. 

This bitter fight involved a collage of our wedding pictures that hung at the studio.  Back in the early days of the studio, we had a long hallway at the entrance.
This hallway ran perhaps 100 feet till you got to the reception area. 

I enjoyed hanging pictures of my students on the wall of this hallway.  Each event resulted in a poster of say 30 pictures. One poster might be pictures from a Halloween Party, another might be from a trip to the Winchester Club, and a third a ski trip.  You get the idea.  I would hang each collage on the wall just like a third-grade teacher might put up pictures of her own kids.  I estimate at this point that I had 20 different frames in view along the hallway.

I am a born teacher.  That is my calling.  I was just as proud of my own adult students as a Third Grade teacher might be of her kids.  Not only that, many of my students in those days were also close friends of mine.  The studio was my life.  Judging by the pictures I have included in this Matchmaker article, I ask that you believe me when I say my pictures have always been important to me.

Our wedding was in November 1984.  Pat moved out of my house in April 1986.  She left without telling me, but truth be told, I was greatly relieved. 

Shortly after Pat moved out, one morning Pat came early to the studio. She knew I would be there to participate in the afternoon Whip Society dance class.  Pat intercepted me in the parking lot as I got out of the car.  She obviously had been waiting for me.  The moment I saw her face, I groaned.

Sure enough, it was another fight.  Pat explained to me that she was upset about our wedding pictures hanging on the studio walls.  Pat bitterly resented the pictures on the wall that showed her and I displaying 'affection' towards each other  (this wedding picture on the right was one of the pictures that Pat objected to.)  She said our marriage had been a sham, a charade.  Now that our divorce was imminent, I had no right to display these disgraceful pictures.


I could see that Pat was clearly worked up on this issue.  She demanded that I open up the frames, rip out the offensive pictures and tear them up so no human being would ever be reminded of the falsehood of our marriage. 

I did not know what brought on this mood; I hadn't seen or talked to her in several days.  However I immediately resented her tone of voice and her demanding approach.  I thought she was completely out of line. So I said no. 

I told Pat these pictures were important to me.  I added that I paid rent and that it was my studio, not hers.  Those pictures were property of the studio.  I added she had no right to tell me how to run my studio.

Pat disagreed.  She wanted her pictures removed so soon no one would remember our shameful marriage.

Pat and I walked side by side toward the studio. I refused again to take the pictures of our wedding off the studio wall.  I told her those pictures of us were part of studio history. Many of my friends were in those pictures she wanted removed.   

I said I was sorry our marriage had failed, but that I was not ashamed of marrying Pat.  Nor was I ashamed of the pictures in the least.  In fact, I said, I took great pride in every picture that hung on the wall. 

My friends Debbie Crittendon and Alan Brown

My friends Joanne Neher and Robert Neighbors

I told Pat that the pictures were part of my career, not hers. I insisted that she had no right to interfere.

Pat didn't like my answer one bit.  She reiterated that the pictures offended her deeply.  She demanded again that I take them down if I had even the slightest respect for her feelings.

You have just been given an accurate snapshot of how our marriage was conducted.  Pat would get unhappy about something and chew me out.  I usually disagreed with her.  Like I said, early in the relationship I had backed down a couple times to appease her, but learned that got me nowhere. 

We never had a harmonious resolution to a single fight.  If she didn't get her way, Pat would just push harder.  The woman was relentless. 

But you know what?  I was just as powerful as she was.  Once I decided to stand toe to toe with her and fight back, that was when we entered the next stage of the relationship.

 Now the arguments became so ferocious that we both realized we needed to part before things became violent.  Oddly enough, not one soul had any idea how hard we fought.  This was our own private dirty secret.  At the studio, Pat was a charming woman.  It was only behind closed doors that she began to breathe fire.

And what ended the arguments?  Who knows?  Probably another argument.  Something new would come up that irritated Pat more and we would switch to arguing about the new topic.

You know how they say that as time goes by, you start to remember the good things more than the bad.  Wrong.  Twenty years later, this is my only enduring memory of our marriage: One argument after another. 

I can't even remember where we took our honeymoon.  All I can remember were the fights.   And today's fight was no different than all the rest. 

No, this was not Betty Ford. 
This was my close friend Carole Holmes

My friends Debbie Crittendon, Keith Hinkle & Judy Hoffman

On this wedding picture issue, I was twice as determined not to back down to her.  Since Pat never understand the meaning of the term 'compromise', we proceed to argue... and argue... and argue... all the way down the sidewalk in very loud voices.

Once we entered the studio, Pat had to behave.  In conjunction with my friends, I had formed a group called "Whip Society."   I was the guest teacher that day.  All of our friends - the whole gang - were there.

After an hour of class, we took a Break.  I went next door to get some coffee, then came back to class to sit on a captain's stool in a corner. The music was playing and a dozen couples were practicing.

As I sipped my coffee, Pat came over to confront me again.

"Rick, why don't you ever listen to me?  Didn't you hear me the first time?  I am past discussion.  I told you to take the damn pictures down!  Now!"

Those were fighting words.  From my captain's chair, we were pretty much eye to eye so I continued to sit.  I glared back at her in defiance.  "No, Pat, I will not take the pictures down. You can berate me as much as you want, but this is MY studio!" 

Pat raised her voice.  "I told you to take the pictures down NOW!"

At this point, I lost my temper.  Without thinking, I stood up and reflexively started to throw the coffee at her. Fortunately I regained self-control in time to stop the motion.  However, a little bit of coffee did slop over the side of the cup and spill to the floor at her feet. 

Let me be clear that Pat was not hit by the coffee spill.  I estimate ten drops of coffee fell harmlessly to the floor at her feet.  I imagine one of her shoes had a couple drops of coffee on it.  Although she escaped harm, Pat knew that I had nearly lost control.

Pat glared at me. "You threw that coffee at me!"

"No, I did not throw the coffee at you. I wanted to throw coffee at you, but I stopped.  If I really wanted to throw that coffee at you, you would be soaking wet now."

Pat grew livid.  I could see the hate.  Her posture was reminiscent of a panther tensing seconds before attack.  Pat was poised to strike.

Pat wasn't the only one who was angry.  I was angry too. The disgust over an endless 18-month series of insane, stupid arguments just like this one had robbed me of all patience. 

"Do you want to hit me, Pat?  Okay, here I am.  Go ahead and take a swing."

That's all the encouragement she needed.  With an open hand, Pat slapped the absolute crap out of me.   My head turned sideways with the blow and I was stunned senseless for a moment.  But I regained my balance and grinned at her in defiance.

"Did you like that?  Do you want hit me again?"

Everyone in the room stopped dancing.  The music had prevented anyone from realizing Pat and I were locked in a confrontation, but they knew it now.  The group stared at us in frozen horror.  I am not sure if anyone saw Pat hit me the first time, but they definitely heard it.  Plus they could see the red welt where she had hit me.

I had been angry before, but now I was livid.  Pat was angry.  I was angry.  Pat was staring fire at me and I glared right back at her.

"You want to hit me again?  Be my guest.  Hit me.  Go for it!"

Pat pulled her hand back, wound up, then slapped me again with all her force.  My face was turned by the force of the second blow, but I again stood my ground.

My face was burning, but I stood defiant.  I told her she could hit me as many times as she wanted, but I still wasn't going to take those pictures down.

I stood there letting her hit me for a specific reason - I had seen an opening.  Everyone has a public persona and a private persona.  Pat's public persona was soft-spoken, sweet Southern girl charm.  But in private she wasn't happy unless we were arguing about something.  I was secretly thrilled!  My friends had just witnessed the woman I dealt with in private.  A new side of Pat - the REAL Pat in my opinion - had just made her public debut.

Everyone felt sorry for her in the divorce.  Maybe it was time for everyone in the group to see exactly what kind of a person this woman REALLY was.  

 So I yelled, "C'mon, Pat,  you want some more of me?  Come and get it!" 

Pat was more than happy to oblige.  She slapped the crap out of me for a third time.  This time, however, her wedding ring had gotten twisted on her finger.  Now her wedding ring raked the side of my face and left a deep gash.  Blood immediately ran down my cheek from a five-inch cut.   Why she was still wearing her wedding ring was beyond me, but the symbolism was fascinating.

The blood seemed to shock people into action.  They saw I was going to keep standing there and let Pat hit me just as long as Pat wanted to keep swinging.  They also realized Pat was not going to stop hitting me unless they intervened.

So two men came up behind Pat, put their hands on her shoulder, and gently pulled the woman outside to another room.  Pat didn't put up any resistance.  She was shaking.  She knew she was out of control.

Meanwhile I sat back down on the Captain's chair - by coincidence a birthday gift from Pat six month's earlier.  She had struck me three times even though I had never raised a hand in self-defense.

There I sat with blood running down my face.  Little drops fell to the floor to join the coffee that started this slapping incident in the first place.  

With my bruised and bloodied face, I looked like Rocky Balboa after one of his prize fights in the movies.  I had taken quite a beating.

Although certainly I was not blameless, I expected the world to finally understand that Pat was an incredibly angry woman.  She had been completely out of control.  But it didn't work out that way.  To my amazement, the incident totally backfired on me.

I had deeply underestimated Pat.  After the beating, Pat taught me a serious lesson in spin control that I will never forget.

Pat got on the phone to explain her side of the story to every man and woman who would listen.  Pat passed the word to her girlfriends about how hurt she was at my refusal to take down the pictures.  Then her girlfriends spread the word.

Why was Rick so insensitive?  Why couldn't Rick see how much pain Pat was in over the pictures?  Those pictures hurt her terribly!

Then Pat told everyone how I had egged her on to hit me, which of course was true, but somehow in the retelling of the story it turns out that the coffee had hit her.  Drenched with coffee, no wonder Pat was so furious!  When I taunted her, that pushed her over the edge. 

Meanwhile I didn't say a word to anyone. I thought what had happened was self-evident enough that it didn't require my testimony.  Non-violence had worked wonders for Ghandi and ML King, why not me?

I assumed it was apparent to everyone that a powerful woman had struck a defenseless man with savage blows three times and cut his face open.  Pat had made a fool of herself, right?   Wrong.

Imagine my shock when I discovered I was getting the blame.

My friends Margie Saibara and John Varvaro

Was I missing something here?

Have you ever heard of learning things the hard way?  That has always been my style, sad to say.  I would have to add this event turned out to be one of the hardest lessons I have ever been forced to learn 'the hard way'.

I discovered the prevailing public sentiment was that the incident was my fault.  As it was told to me,  because I had provoked her first with my insensitivity, then by hitting her with coffee, and then with my taunts, I had practically forced her to hit me!  Why had I been so mean to her?  Her blows were only a reflection of her desperation over how badly I had treated her.

How badly I had treated her?  Are you people out of your minds!?

I didn't move out of the house without a word.  I didn't raise the picture issue to begin with.  Nor did I ever raise a hand, curse her or threaten her. Nor did I hit her with the coffee.  I simply refused to take the pictures down which I believe was my right.   When she didn't get her way, Pat decided to take her anger out on me physically. 

But these minor points were lost in translation.

Donna David-Campbell. Not my friend.

It turned out letting the woman bash the crap out of me had done no good.  The  humiliation of being battered senseless in front of my friends was now compounded by the humiliation of being licked in the court of public opinion by her lies.  I found myself spiraling into a deep, dark depression. 

Several women in the group sided with Pat.  Donna Campbell (pictured) didn't even see what happened, but sprang to her defense nevertheless. Donna spread the word to anyone who would listen that I was responsible for the incident.  I had asked for it and I got what I deserved.

When I heard what Donna had said, I felt betrayed. 
I was astonished - and hurt - that women like Donna and others in the group had rushed to defend Pat and help spin the story in her favor.  Thank you for your support, Donna.

Beware the wrath of a woman scorned.  In the end, even though Pat had belted me three times without my laying a hand on her or cursing her in any way, t
he incident was labeled my fault.  Yeah, that's what happened. Pat's hand was up in the air and Rick bashed his face against her hand 3 times!  Shame on him!

I felt like this incident made me look like a complete fool.  My pride was deeply wounded by the embarrassment.  Meanwhile it took my face weeks to heal.  Every night that I went to the studio, the bruises and cuts came along with me as a scarlet reminder of my shame. 

I would notice students in dance class staring at me.  I supposed they had a right to wonder what the heck had happened.  After all, one side of my face was totally black and blue.

I guessed I could have used a few PR people on my team, but not one person that I can remember bothered to call.  Not one person.

These people had been my friends for years, but no one offered to help.  No one.  

Donna David had met her husband John Campbell at my studio and had taken dozens of classes, but obviously none of this stopped her from working the phones in Pat's favor.  With friend's like these, who needs enemies? 

My friends Risa Beckham and Jim Ponder

Donna wasn't alone; she was just the most vicious.  I was astonished - and deeply hurt - at the number of women who rushed to defend Pat and help spin the story in her favor. 

A woman had belted a man 3 times over some pictures.  The man did not threaten her, did not raise a hand to attack or to defend, did not call her names, nor did he curse her in any way.  Nevertheless t
he incident was labeled his fault.  Everyone felt sorry for Pat.  Poor Pat.  Look what Poor Pat had to deal with.  Rick asked to be hit.  Pat didn't want to hit him.  All Rick had to do was take down some pictures. 

Poor Pat?  The irony was astounding.  This woman had beaten the crap out of me and magically turned the event around to make me look like a complete fool.  Pat wasn't 'poor' anything.  Pat emerged from the smoke a complete victor.  

Meanwhile it took my face weeks to heal.  I felt like a complete fool that I had not mounted any kind of defense. 
Soon my shame turned into depression.  What a loser.

The divorce was quick. Two months maybe.  Each night was an ordeal.  Every night I was barely able to go to the studio and teach.   I felt so humiliated.

It was the Final Blow.  I could not understand why I had been left out there to dry by my friends.  I felt abandoned.  I felt like a leper, an ugly pariah.  "

"Did you ever take down the Wedding Pictures?"

"Funny you should ask.  Yes, actually I did take down the Wedding Pictures, but not for the reason you might think.   I figured at some point either Pat or one her girlfriends would take the pictures down themselves and destroy the collage.  Then I would lose the pictures forever.  So I took the pictures down to protect them. 

Interestingly, this action also became part of the spin.  'Rick realized his mistake and took down the pictures.  Too bad he didn't come to his senses sooner...'

I have published most of the original pictures as part of this story.  As you can see, most of the pictures were not about Pat, but rather my own family and friends. 

Was I right to insist on leaving the pictures up?  Or did Pat have a right to demand that they come down?

I suppose the readers of this story can decide who was right."
 

"Okay, Rick, pretend that Pat were to read this article some day.  What would you say to her?"

"I would tell Pat that she should be ashamed of herself for turning my own friends against me, for speaking ill of me behind my back.  We had our problems, but I never did anything cruel to deserve what she did to me.

Pat had a right to be disappointed.  But she did not have a reason to take revenge.  I never deliberately did anything  to hurt her.

I would ask her what particular satisfaction the revenge gave her. 

Rather than end our marriage with dignity, it was more valuable to her to humiliate me and damage my reputation as a decent man.  Pat shamed me before every person I cared about. 

I
would say that even though twenty years have passed, I still think Pat was wrong about the pictures.  The people in those pictures were my parents and my friends.  These pictures were important to me.

Furthermore, like it or not, our marriage was a part of studio history. 

For a brief time, Pat was a big part of my life and my studio.  She had no right to order me to sweep our marriage under the rug.  It's my life too; I have the right to tell my story and the story of my studio.

I will say one other thing - I would tell Pat she taught me a valuable lesson about defending your reputation. 

This article stands as evidence that I have learned to speak up in the court of public opinion.  In this regard, I am in her debt."

 


"What do you suppose Pat would say to you?"

"Unless her nature has changed, the Pat I knew would undoubtedly dislike and disagree with everything that I have said. 

Unfortunately for Pat, I am no longer a fool.  I have told my side of the story and I stand by every word I have written as the absolute truth of what happened.

Now that I have finally come forward and told my side, I would love to hear Pat's side of it.  She could tell her side of the 'Honey' incident, she could tell her side of the pornographic picture incident, and she could add some more details to the Triple Slap episode.

Pat can write me any time she wants.  Looking back, she won the battle twenty years ago.  But it was easy then - I didn't fight back.  Let's see how her tale would fly this time.  And she can get all her friends to write in too.  Maybe Donna David has some more to say.  She had a big mouth then; let's see if she still does today.  

By the way, there were at least 20 people there that day of the Final Blow, at least six of whom are still in my life.  If anyone doubts my version, ask them.  Tom Easley, Margaret Easley, Carol Gafford, Mike Fagan, Ted Jones, Margie Saibara. 

If anyone else would like to comment, please do. 
dance@ssqq.com

As long as you see no rebuttal in this space, that lends credence to my version.  If I have printed lies, then surely let someone speak up and challenge my story. 

In the meantime, don't hold your breath waiting for a challenge.  As God is my witness, I have told the truth of what really happened that fateful day and in that marriage." 


(Rick Archer's Note: In 2007, I published a second version of this story as part of my series on
Reputation   The second version focused on the reasons why the Slapping Incident completely backfired on me.)


Our next story covers how Rick Archer reacted to his divorce and humiliation by embarking on a wild adventure.   Please read The Eighties, Part Two

 

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