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THE MATCHMAKER REVISITED:  SSQQ
SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE IN 2009

Story Written by Rick Archer
January 2009

With Valentineís Day rapidly approaching, I am pleased to report that Slow Dance and Romance is indeed alive and well here at SSQQ.  

In 2008, we had 15 Weddings that were either directly attributed to SSQQ or that SSQQ played a significant role in creating.  This amazing total was actually just par for the course.  Over the past 10 years, I have listed 147 Weddings that SSQQ has been involved inÖ and thatís just counting the ones I know about.  There are plenty more, believe me.

2009 has already brought us our first SSQQ Wedding.  Former SSQQ Dance Instructor Leo Skiba married his long-time sweetheart Rebecca Turini in early January 2009.  Leo met Rebecca in 2005 when she took his Beginning Two Step class here at the studio.  Leo promises me plenty of details and a picture!

Furthermore, as I write, there are at least five more SSQQ weddings right around the corner:  Patty Pennington and Guy Hoover, Olga Bochareva and Luis Castillo, Gerry Francis and Amy Adams, Keith Patterson and Penny Gunderson, plus Gus Donnell and Fran Zandstra. 

We are approaching the three year anniversary of my Matchmaker Story about the history of the studioís legendary ability to create positive relationships. 

For those of you who are new to the studio, in 2006
the Houston Chronicle interviewed me for an article they ran on Valentineís Day.  I had a great interview with the reporter that lasted well over an hour, but I had mixed feelings when I saw the story in the paper.  On the one hand, it was a great compliment to see SSQQ given so much credit for creating Romances.  But at the same time I was frustrated because so many stories I had shared with the reporter were omitted for lack of space.

So I decided to write my own story for the SSQQ Newsletter.   While I was researching my Newsletter archives, I realized that I had never completely written the entire story about the studioís amazing role in creating Romance.   Every time I finished one story, another story popped into my mind.  I kept typing away.  One chapter followed another.  The next thing I knew, I had ended up writing a small book on the subject.  I published the
eight-chapter article known as ďThe MatchmakerĒ here on the SSQQ Web Site in March 2006. 

The SSQQ Marriage Factory has been remarkably productive over the years, but you might be surprised I never even realized just how effective the studio was at producing Weddings until the Internet came along.  There were countless SSQQ marriages during the first twenty years of our program, but I never thought to write them down.  That changed when the Internet came along.  1999 marked the first full year for the SSQQ web site.  Every time there was a wedding or an engagement, I now had an easy way to post the information for everyone to read about.  From that point on, when someone like Leo and Rebecca emailed me to report their wedding, it took about 15 seconds to add the item to the Newsletter.

Each month during 1999, I would simply add more wedding reports as they came in (email helped a lot too; it became easy for students to drop a quick post to me). 

One evening late in 1999, I decided to review all the different months.   As I was going over the year, it dawned on me there sure were a lot of Wedding and Engagement notices.  So I started to countÖ 
 

This excerpt is from THE MATCHMAKER, CHAPTER ONE:  DISCOVERY


GERTRUDE  (The Interviewer):  "Rick, when did you first discover how effective your dance classes were at creating relationships?"

RICK: ďI have made this discovery at two different times, but the most dramatic moment came around Christmas 1999.  To start our story, let me continue to talk about the 1999 Holidays.  This is when I totaled up the web site numbers for the very first time.

You see, when I published one or two wedding announcements a month, that was nice, but I was definitely not seeing the big picture.  Then one night I went through the yearís stories on my web site month by month.  When I added up the web site numbers for 1999, I came up with 24 marriages and engagements.  I just stared at this number in shock. 

24 Weddings and Engagements!  Holy smokes!  Wow!

This was the moment when the sheer enormity of what was happening here at SSQQ dawned on me.  24 different couples in the space of a year had made the biggest commitment of their lives and SSQQ had played a major role.  This felt like such a wonderful accomplishment!

I could not believe I had never really noticed this before.  For twenty years, I had always known the studio had a great track record at creating marriages, but that had been more of a subliminal thought. 

The number "24" continued to shock me.  It's sort of like an athlete who sets a record and thinks to him or herself, 'You know, I thought I was pretty good, but I never realized I was THIS GOOD!' ď

All kinds of light bulbs began to explode! 

I was thunderstruck.  For the rest of their lives, these 24 couples would hold my dance studio in their thoughts as the place where it all started.  This was quite an accomplishment!  I felt like I was being told, 'Rick, this is why you are here.' 

I got goose bumps all over.  I got chills.  At the exact moment when I stared at 1999's list of 24 marriages and engagements for the first time, it was like a Yogi's moment of Enlightenment.  To me, this was like God saying, "Rick, this studio is your duty." 

I admit this was the moment when I started to wonder if there was a divine hand guiding the studio. Now if you are a skeptic, this mysticism stuff must be hard to swallow.   Mind you, there weren't any white lights, burning bushes or angels playing harps in the background.  Nevertheless, to me, this realization carried the same importance as a religious awakening.  For the first time, I felt like the studio had an importance that transcended dance lessons.

There have actually been several times where I have noticed the studio has a glow about it that defies explanation.  I have always felt like SSQQ is 'charmed' in some way.  If you know anything about the history of the studio, you might be surprised at the unusual number of lucky coincidences over the years that have helped the studio grow.  

Indeed, the early part of my dance career was marked by one lucky break after another.  It often seemed like sheer Magic.  Now for the first time, I felt like I had been put in this spot for a reason.  Most people wander around their whole lives asking the question, 'Why am I here?'   Not me.  In an instant it became clear I had a role - I believed I was destined to help the studio create relationships.

GERTRUDE: "Why were you so surprised at that total?  I mean, surely you had some inkling."

RICK: ďYou might wonder why it took twenty-two years of business for this reality to sneak up on me, but it isn't really difficult to explain.

You see, SSQQ is a dance studio. I get paid to teach dance lessons.  For twenty-two years, I was running a dance studio.  I saw myself as a businessman.  I spent a lot more time writing articles on Policies and Refunds than I did on 'Romance'.

But now it was quite possible I was missing the point.  I had discovered a pretty serious clue that suggested I had been put in this role because I had a special talent to help people connect. 

The studio was contributing to 2 marriages a month and we weren't even trying!!   Good grief!  What would happen if we tried?? 

That's when I decided to try a little!

During 2000, I took my Matchmaker role very seriously.  I wrote articles like this one, I paid close attention to the SSQQ Newsletter, and I got involved with as many people's lives as I could. 

At the end of the year I added it up.  We had 32 couples get married or announce engagements.

I had thought Ď24í was a number for the ages, but just one year later that number had grown.  2000 was the finest year in the history of my studio.  The energy was unbelievable.

At the end of the year, I wrote an article titled "Millennium Romance 2000".

This was the story where I first announced to the world about my hunch that SSQQ was the 'Romance Center of Houston'.  I was so proud of my studio I could burst! ď

GERTRUDE:  "Have you ever checked out your claim about being Houston's Romance Center?"

RICK:  "Well, Gertrude, maybe that's something you could do for me.  Perhaps you could contact our friends at the Houston Chronicle. I imagine the Chronicle would have the resources to do a better job than I could. Plus maybe be a little more objective in the process. 

Tell them to do it by the numbers. I have the studio's facts and figures published in bold print.  Anyone in the contest should be expected to do the same.

Even if SSQQ didn't 'win', it would not diminish the studio's accomplishments in any way.  We are still going to be up there.

To me, itís just like the old line about Earl Campbell.  Houston Oilers football coach Bum Phillips once said, "Earl Campbell may not be in a class by himself, but whatever class he's in, it doesn't take long to call roll." 

If SSQQ isnít Houstonís Romance Capital, we are still definitely high on the list. Ē


(
Rick Archerís Note:   Many of you might be in a position to help me evaluate my claim that SSQQ is at Houstonís forefront when it comes to creating relationships. 

It is fun to boast, but deep down
I suspect Houstonís large churches would give SSQQ a run for its money.  Surely Lakewood Church or Second Baptist would easily eclipse our totals.  But then on the other hand, maybe they don't keep track!

In addition, perhaps some of the dating services here in the city might make similar claims.  SSQQ averages 25 weddings and engagement announcements a year.  If you can think of a location that can match that total, please let me know.  dance@ssqq.com
)

 


THREE YEAR UPDATE ON THE SSQQ ROMANCE LEGEND

I wrote my first SSQQ Romance article in 2000. Titled Millennium Romance 2000, this was the article where I first suggested SSQQ was Houstonís Romance Capital.

I wrote my second SSQQ Romance article in 2003.  This was the year that SSQQ was involved in 34 weddings and engagements, our highest one year total.   People were getting married right and left.  In fact, in November 2003, three different SSQQ Instructors each got married on the same day!  This amazing coincidence inspired me to write Love Story 2003

My Matchmaker Story came out in 2006.   

If you follow the progression, this means I have written stories on SSQQ Romance in 2000, 2003, and 2006.  So now it is 2009, high time for a three-year update on this fascinating recurring story.  

However, I have a problem.  Considering how much I have previously written about the studioís great accomplishments, it is difficult to come up with a fresh angle.   So for this update, I have decided to discuss the pitfalls of Looking for Love. 

We all know that Romance carries Risk.  Who among us hasnít been hurt?   But we donít like to talk about it. Nevertheless, the difficulties of finding Love are definitely a subject worth discussing. 

I have three interesting anecdotes to share with you.  Mind you, the names and the details have been altered to avoid embarrassing the participants.  They were kind enough to share their personal thoughts with me, but asked that their identities be shielded.

 

SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE IN 2009:  THREE PERSPECTIVES

PERSPECTIVE 1 Ė DAVID COMMENTS ON THE VIRTUES OF 'SLOW BUT STEADY'

In early January 2009, I wrote a lengthy story about the courtship of Mara Rivas and Bruce Hanka.   I pointed out that Mara and Bruce actually knew each other very well for three years before they decided to date.  In my story about them, I teased that the Texas Twostep may start on the Quick Quick, but these two started their Romance on the Slow Slow.

One of the Newsletter readers picked up on the patience revealed in the Bruce and Mara story.  I received this very kind thank you note from a man I will call David in response to the Bruce and Mara article:

From: David
Sent: Friday, January 16, 2009 6:53 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Thanks for verrrrrrry helpful advice

ďHi Rick, I have been taking lessons there at SSQQ off and on for maybe 12 years now.  I feel a little silly telling you the following so I request anonymity.  But I do want to tell you this because this advice was so very helpful at least to me.  Also, given the many tedious complaints you get, I thought that some encouragement is something you greatly deserve.

The extremely helpful advice was in your January 2009 Newsletter Issue Two where you went into great detail about how people at SSQQ often get to know each other sloooooooowly. 

This was a great revelation to me.  Perhaps I had bought into the "love at first sight" myth too much, or maybe I was assuming that others were operating that way.  I have known people who do operate that way.  But I finally figured out what wasn't working well, as I tried SSQQ again ...  and again ...  and again ...  as the years went by.

I was trying to see if "interpersonal chemistry" was there on much too short of a time scale.  Now I am thinking more on the timescale of a year or more as per your article.

So I have found that thanks to your advice, attending SSQQ is much more fun.  It's amazing what a difference that one idea of advice has made.  Maybe I am the only one who was so clueless about this, but I am glad to know I have at least 15 more months to try again, ha ha.Ē

RICK ARCHERíS REPLY:

Love at first sight does occur, but it can be deceptive.  I still have nightmares about my first wife.  On the other hand, my third wife Marla is a marvelous human being and she too was 'love at first sight'.  So I am batting 50% on the 'love at first sight' angle. 

My second wife was a woman I got to know here at the studio over the course of time.  For the most part, I believe the marriage was a success. The marriage lasted ten years, produced a great child and brought the studio to a new level of prosperity.  So the 'slow but steady' approach has its value too.

In the case of my friends Bruce and Mara, I asked Bruce point-blank when the shift occurred inside that transformed Mara from 'friend' to 'lover' after three years of knowing her.  He smiled and declined to answer the question.  Smart guy. 

All I know is that Bruce and Mara seem to be very solid. Slow but Steady definitely seemed to work for them.

I have little doubt you will find the lady you are looking for.  It may be love at first sight or it may sneak up you.  Keep smiling and be patient.

I do have one more piece of advice - don't settle for less.  Love is REAL.

My relationship with Marla has proven this.  I did settle for less once and still regret it.  Wait until you find the right girl.  It is possible to find a companion who is your best friend in the world.Ē


DAVID REPLIES:

ďThank you, Rick, for taking the time to reply in detail and with the examples too.  I appreciate your encouragement and compliments.

From my own experiences I have gotten to a modified thing I call "cuteness at first sight" but I don't get too excited until I can learn more about those invisible personal values. Thanks for the assertion that the mythical love is real and worth carefully waiting for, no matter when or how it appears. There are so many women in your studio who can inspire feelings of "cuteness at first sight".

The tremendous practical benefit of your "sloooowly" advice was how it changed my timescale of expectations. Somehow I had inadvertently been thinking that if "the magic look" didn't happen between me and someone after a few cycles around the dance class or a practice night or two, I might as well give up for the time being. "A year" rather than say, 10 seconds, is a much more realistic timeframe in that situation and frees one up to just have fun.

Thank you for all your work in supporting social dance and have a great day.Ē
 

PERSPECTIVE 2 Ė CALCULATING KATE: 
DIVERSIFY YOUR SEARCH!!

A recent report on CNN said the downturn in the economy seems to put more of a premium on finding relationships.  Their expert listed several reasons. 

One, all the bad news is tough to take without companionship.  The need for security makes singles more desirous of finding a relationship.  I think they may have a point.  I would go crazy with worry if I didnít have Marla to calm me down or cheer me up.  I canít tell you how many times we will hear more bad news and one of us comments, ďWell, at least we have each other.Ē

Two, loneliness is a powerful incentive to get out there and look for a friend.  People without jobs have to be climbing the wall.  They canít stand being at home all day and then continue to be alone at night as well.  So every evening becomes a chance to get out of the house and search for Romance.  Might as well get something accomplished!

Unfortunately, no one ever said Love is easy to find. 

As I reported last month, there is a lady (Kate) here at the studio who told me the smart approach to finding Love requires throwing a wide fishing net. 

Kate consistently counts on four venues in hopes that one of them will pay off.  First, she is a member of a Houston dating service.  Second, she is a member of an Internet Dating Service. Third, she goes to every professional meeting she hears of.  Kate says she goes more to look for new men than actual business reasons.  If there are no prospects, she quietly disappears at the first break and moves on to a night of Western dancing at a club.  She says she changes into her dance shoes, but that she couldnít care less if she dances in business clothes. 


Fourth, Kate takes at least one dance class a month here at the studio just to scout out each new rookie class.  Just because a guy can barely two-step doesnít mean he isnít cute.  And she makes sure to come on all three nights just to be sure Mr. Right doesnít slip through her fingers.
Kate reports she isn't sure which venue is going to pay off, but so far she has come closest here at the studio. 

It is a little scary to meet a woman as calculating and relentlessly thorough at pursuing men as Kate, but she does seem to have this down to a science.

I asked her why she didnít include ĎChurchí in her list of places to meet men.  She replied that she isnít particularly religious, but now that I mentioned it, she would give it some thought!

I recently had the chance to speak to Kate again about her Romance Project.  I asked her what she thought of Internet Dating Services.  After all, I know of at least five SSQQ couples that have met through the Internet.  Kate rolled her eyes and took a deep breath.  Kate said she was currently down on the Internet because it all boils down to looks.  Just so you understand, our lady Kate is quite attractive although she might stand to lose a pound or two.  I guess she will forgive me for saying that.  The point is, Kate has more than enough looks to play the game.  Kate went on to say something like this:

ďMy frustration with the Internet Date Sites is that the guys make every decision based on the picture.  I could be a doctor or a brilliant writer, but if I donít look like a super-model, my profile will get only a flicker of attention.  I should know.  After a particularly long drought, I substituted my current picture with one from college.  The following week my email lit up like Washington DC on the 4th of July!  

All these guys want is a picture!  Even more pathetic, except for the rare handsome guy, they all put up their own touched-up pictures.  How about truth in advertising?  I have wasted at least three evenings of my life with guys who didnít even vaguely resemble their picture.

Furthermore, a lot of these profiles are nonsense.  Half the men I contact or who contact me have put more time into writing their Internet profile than actually reading a book to make themselves interesting.   Frankly, I have come to the conclusion I have just as good a chance of meeting guys in bars than online.  The bars may also be a beauty contest, but at least it is an honest contest!  And itís cheaper too!

The sad thing is that men forget that someoneís looks can grow on you.  The last guy I was serious about was so-so good-looking, but the more I got to know him, the better he looked. 

Thatís one reason why I like the studio so much.  This is a place where someone can definitely get better looking over time.  Plus I have discovered the more a guy improves as a dancer, the better looking he gets!

The direct experience of a man is completely missing online.   You canít hear the guy speak, you donít know what it will be like to dance in his arms, you donít even know if he can dance even when he promises he can!   The way these guys write, they all think they are Mario Lopez (from Dancing with the Stars).  Oh Please!  I have learned the hard way that men tend to overestimate their abilities in their profiles and their emails.

Whatever it is that connects people is missing in an email.  It is kind of a Cyrano de Bergerac thing.  You can fall in love with his writing, but then you find yourself completely empty when you finally meet him.  I sit there over coffee listening to him babble and I think to myself, ĎHey, do me a favor and introduce me to the guy who writes your email!í

I suppose I am just in one of my cynical moods.  After all, I still check my email every night the moment I get home then hit the Internet to go over the profiles again in case I overlooked a nugget. 

But there is a part of me that longs to meet a guy here at the studio and see if some chemistry develops.  I so much prefer the studio to Western bars.  After all, even if I donít meet a guy I am interested in for a while, I still like the dancing, I like the exercise, and I sure as heck enjoy seeing my friends.  No trip to the studio is ever a waste of time.  Plus the men at the studio are such gentlemen.  I like that. ď

PERSPECTIVE 3 Ė HARRIET THE SPY: THE WALLS HAVE EYES!

Another woman, call her Harriet, said she loves the studio for an unusual reason Ė Harriet likes to spy on men.   Harriet makes a point to study men when they donít know she is watching.  Harriet said the biggest single mistake of her life was to fall for a smooth-talking guy.  He turned out to be all Flash and Dash, but very little Substance.  He also managed to break her heart in the process.  

Harriet openly admits she is more suspicious than the average girl.  But her experience was so incredibly painful that it literally took her a couple years to shake it off.   After getting two-timed, Harriet decided her new philosophy towards men is Ďactions speak louder than words.í    Harriet was determined not to let her guard down again until she was certain what her guy was made of.   SSQQ seemed just right for her.  Harriet realized she felt safer meeting men at SSQQ over the C&W clubs because she found it so much easier to conduct surveillance.  You think I am kidding?  Keep reading.

Whenever Harriet would meet someone at the studio, she would immediately check the studioís web site.  Harriet would google his name to see what he has been up to at the studio in the past.  Then she would comb through all the old Halloween pictures and cruise pictures to see who was in the pictures with him.  If she recognized someone, she would make a point to talk to them about the guy.  Harriet would also check with her network of girlfriends to see if her prospect had any previous studio dating violations or if there were any vague suspicions she should know about.  Harriet told me the men at the studio would be shocked if they knew how carefully they are profiled!


One particular guy, call him Hank, passed her SSQQ Guy Check back in 2003.  Harriet dated Hank for nearly a year, but she never grew comfortable with him.  From the start Harriet made it a point to watch her man like a hawk.  She especially liked to watch when Hank didnít realize she was watching.  She thought the studio was perfect because she had two or three angles to take no matter what room Hank wandered into.  Maybe Hank was super-attentive and warm in her presence, but how did he behave in another room when she wasnít around?   

Harriet had quite a few tricks up her sleeve.  She would make it a point to go out on the sidewalk, knock on the Door to Room 5 and persuade someone to let her in during Break so she could sneak on Hank from behind.  Harriet said this way her boyfriend would never have a clue what angle she might be watching from.   Other times Harriet would simply hide in the crowd during Break and watch through the openings between the people standing around in Room One. 

Another popular Harriet move was walking suddenly through a door when Hank didnít expect her.  If he was talking to a woman, she looked to see if he had a guilty expression on his face when she surprised him with her entrance.  Sometimes he did, sometimes he didnít.  

Harriet had one move in particular that she liked to use.  She would deliberately come to the studio late for class.  But rather than enter the room, she would peek through the door.  On more than one occasion, she noticed Hank appeared to have wandering eyes when he didnít know she was there.  

Coming late gave Harriet another idea.  She decided to use her girlfriends as spies.  One night she had a business commitment.  Harriet made it clear to her boyfriend she would not make it to the studio that night, but she didnít mind if he went to class as usual.  Meanwhile she recruited a girl friend to watch Hank instead.  The girlfriend reported back that she had noticed Hank engaged in a long talk with another woman during Practice Night complete with smiles and minor yet significant touching.  Plus they danced several times together.  Apparently since he was certain she would be gone, when the catís away, the mice will play.  Little did Hank realize the walls have eyes! 

I asked Harriet why she thought all this was necessary.  She frowned and said that from the start, there was just something about Hank she didnít trust.  So she decided she was going to watch him like a hawk and see if she could discover something that would prove her instincts were right.

Harriet said she did some serious crying after that Practice Night flirting incident.  She was so depressed that she dreaded going on the SSQQ Cruise.  She and Hank had signed up to go two months earlier.  Now Harriet didnít have her heart in the trip, but at the same time she didnít want to throw her money away either. 

Unfortunately Harrietís misgivings were well-founded.  The 2003 SSQQ Dance Cruise did not go very well.  They had been talking about Harriet moving in, but Hankís behavior during the cruise made her too skeptical to ever accept his offer.   For one thing, Hank was unusually hard to find on two occasions.   In addition, Harriet was upset when she realized he deliberately did not tip his dining room waiter to save a few bucks. 

When they got back on shore, things were never the same.  They gradually drifted apart.  About a month later Harriet decided to just call it quits.  She heard he hooked up with a new girlfriend not much longer after. 

Harriet made it a point to say that despite her constant vigilance in their eight months together, she never once caught him doing anything overtly wrong.  But there were all those little signs like the night he flirted with another woman during Practice Night.  Her gut refused to trust him. 

The straw that broke the camelís back came during the cruise when Hank went MIA on two different occasions.  Both times Harriet conducted a full-ship search, but over an hour of searching failed to locate him.  As she put it, sure itís a big ship, but there were a lot of open areas.   Not only did she conduct her search on every level, not one girlfriend reported seeing him either.  And then it happened a second time!  

These disappearing acts took a serious toll on her.  Never once did Harriet confront Hank because she didnít want him to know she was suspicious, but at the same time she was convinced something was wrong.  Harriet said she was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt the first time, but the second time was just too much.  She said that unless Hank was in some restricted crew area, she couldnít imagine how he escaped her search.  She even went down to the Infirmary looking for him!  

After that, Harriet said her heart told her to move on.  She said she had no regrets.  She has learned to trust her gut instincts.   

I listened to her story without interrupting her.  She seemed pleased to get it off her chest.  But when she finished, I asked her why she didnít simply confront the man after her ship-wide search came up empty.  I said thatís what I would have done.  She frowned and said she wanted to, but she did not want him to ever know that she suspected him.  If so, Hank would be twice as much on guard and that much harder to catch.

I pointed out that she had missed a perfect opportunity.  Harriet had him pinned down!  Yes, maybe Hank would have come up with an alibi, but he would be talking himself right into a trap.  After all the places Harriet had looked and all the spare eyes that were also on the lookout, if Hank was up to no good, he would have had a difficult time coming up with a convincing lie.  I mean, letís face it, the only way to effectively disappear is to go into a cabin!   So if he was playing cards, then he would say so.  But if he was up to no good, then he would have to pretend to be in a lounge or a shop.  Since Hank had no way of knowing Harriet had already eliminated all those possibilities, if he tried to fib, he was almost certain to trap himself!  Really, his only chance would be if he had asked a buddy to provide an alibi in advance, but most men arenít that smart.

Thatís when Harriet gave me a rueful smile.  She said she was pretty sure she already knew the truth, but she simply didnít have the guts to face Hank with it.  After the pain of her two-timer man many years ago, Harriet figured she didnít want to ever get that close to the pain again.  So after the cruise, she simply more or less moved on.   It was just easier for her that way.  Fortunately, Harriet had never let herself fall in love with Hank.  If her first experience had taught her anything, it was to guard her heart till she was sure it was safe to let go.  So Harriet came out of the relationship hurt, but relatively intact. 

Harriet finished her story by complimenting the studio.  Harriet said she appreciated the chance to research her prospects in advance.  She said having doors everywhere makes the studio an easy place to covertly study behavior.  In addition, taking classes over time allows her to get a pretty strong intuition about people that would never be possible in a bar setting.  Bars are too random; here at the studio Harriet knows the schedule of every guy she has her eye on. 

Harriet says she hasnít dated anyone seriously since that 2003 cruise, but she has a lot of men friends here and she is always hopeful.   

Harriet asked me to say one more thing.  She is convinced that men who take dance classes are a special breed.  She has noticed it often takes a man several months to get the hang of leading plus learn to match his footwork to the rhythm of the music.  Some guys really struggle to get the hang of it; she admires them for their determination to get it even though it is so hard.  Harriet has a theory that any man who stays with it has a type of persistence that is usually absent in creepy guys.  

If picking up girls is their goal, there are many far easier and faster ways to go about it than learning to partner dance.  In her words, ĎCreepy Guys donít have that kind of patience!  Men with a one-track mind aren't going to waste their time on dance lessons. For that, Liquor is always Quicker.í 

Harriet is convinced that learning to dance makes some men more perfect than others.


Rick Archer's Note:  Harriet is a real person, I promise you.  We have had our share of odd characters, but Harriet was definitely one of a kind.

I understand that my friend Harriet was pretty gun shy about getting hurt again and did some weird things.  That said, you have to understand that her story is the extreme, not the norm.   I think she was so deeply hurt and so totally blindsided by the first love of her life that she was bound and determined never to be fooled again.  I think even Harriet would agree that for this period of her life, she went slightly nuts.  But in Harriet's defense, I never saw her do a single mean thing.  She was eccentric, but she was also harmless.

I am happy to report that Harriet's Spy Days are over.  Harriet is now happily married to a man she met on the Internet.  Go figure.

This was a story I wrote some time ago.  Then I put it away because I decided someone was bound to recognize her.  Now since she is no longer at the studio, I feel comfortable telling her unusual tale at last. 

THE HEART IS A
LONELY HUNTER

When you read these peopleís stories, it sounds like it's a jungle out there. 

Who can forget the old C&W song 'Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places'

When it comes to Romance, everyone knows there is risk involved.  People do get lonely and sometimes that clouds their judgment. 

L
oneliness drives them to let down their guard and trust the wrong person.  Thatís when they end up getting exploited. 

Let's face it, wherever you go, you take your chances. 

The Internet of course has long been the refuge of bald-faced liars  (Please read my article on Internet Deceit

And everyone knows the Bars are full of dangerous players. 

Furthermore,
as we can gather from Harrietís poignant story, now we know that even SSQQ isnít completely safe from danger in the affairs of the heart.  Yes, there are predators at SSQQ too, but fortunately, these people are few and far between.

Harriet's story notwithstanding, I am confident that SSQQ is a remarkably safe environment.  The vast majority of the people who visit the studio are remarkably decent people. 

Furthermore, I make a concerted effort to keep the playground safe.  I will be the first to admit that some creepy people visit this place from time to time.  Fortunately, thanks to the very powerful social network that exists here at SSQQ, the serious Creeps get identified very swiftly. 

Something happens.  One person talks to another.  They compare notes.  Or maybe two different people email me about an incident and I make the connection.  A simple email to me begins the evaluation process (yes, I keep it discrete).  If I think a line, I usually just warn people.  Other times I quietly ask people to move on  (in 2008, the total was 3 men and 3 women). 

This is a side to the studio I prefer to keep under wraps, but rest assured I am not kidding when I say I keep an eye out.

Yes, there are creeps everywhere and, yes, SSQQ is not immune.  However, as minefields go, at least SSQQ is a much safer playing field than most. 

In fact, SSQQ has such a good reputation as being a Ďsafe placeí that many Houston therapists actually recommend dance lessons here at the studio for some of their clients.  A lot of people see therapists during a divorce or a breakup.  After their client has regained some of their confidence, therapists suggest the studio as a safe place to get started again.

That is a high compliment indeed.  And we do everything in our power to make sure their confidence is not betrayed.  The studio is a happy place because people know they can let their guard down and relax.  And why not?  There is a remarkable absence of meanness.

Love at first sight or slow and steady, either way there are plenty of interesting people to meet here at the studio. 


It may take a while to find someone, but you certainly canít beat our track record.  As the constant stream of couples dancing their way to the Wedding Altar indicates, Cupid certainly seems to have a field day when he visits SSQQ.

   
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