Five - The Odyssey
Story written by Rick Archer
First Published: January 2001
Last update: February 2010
The Curse of Poseidon
Following the 1983 wardrobe malfunction with Judy's dress, I
discovered that I was genuinely spooked by what had happened.
For all my previous problems with performing, this accident got
under my skin in a way much different than the previous problems.
I was actually beginning to believe there really was a Curse!
Although one part of me thought this was ridiculous, another part of
me was turning into a True Believer.
The more I thought about it, the more I was reminded about The
Curse of Poseidon, a tale that had gripped me as a
Fate, Destiny and the Gods
I have been fascinated
with the concept of Fate and Destiny for my entire life.
When it comes to these concepts, no culture was more preoccupied
with the idea than the ancient Greeks. When I was growing up, I spent
several years reading every book about Greek Mythology I could get
my hands on. I learned that the Greeks and their counterparts
the Romans were a superstitious lot indeed.
The Greeks believed they had very little control over their own
lives. They assumed that all their good fortune and all their
bad fortune had something to do with whether the Gods liked them or
not. They believed that all battles were won or lost based on
the favor of the Gods.
Needless to say, any Greek or Roman with an extra coin in his pocket
made sure to build a Temple to his favorite God or Goddess just in
case he needed a favor down the road. It helped to have
friends in high places.
The Greeks believed they didn't have much control over their own
lives. They assumed that The Fates, aka the
Moirae, were in charge of each person's destiny.
Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos
were the three Goddesses who spun the thread of Life. Whatever
happened to an individual during a lifetime was in their hands.
Fortunately, according to legend, even these typically remorseless
women could be placated by good behavior. The major skill was
to always show respect to the Gods. Consequently, there were a lot of
Greek Myths around to remind people not to irritate the Gods.
was an epic poem
written by Homer as a followup to The Iliad. The
Odyssey details the story of the endless series of miseries Odysseus had to face after
the conclusion of the Trojan War. The cruel fate of Odysseus at the
hands of Poseidon, God of the Ocean, serves as the classic example
why no mere mortal should ever mess with the Gods.
Athena and Poseidon were both on the Greek side during the
during the sack of Troy, a Greek warrior violated
the high priestess Cassandra in
the Temple of Athena.
Athena was so angry, she convinced
Poseidon to help her punish the Greeks.
On their way
home, the entire Greek fleet
was beset by terrible storms.
Many ships were destroyed and the fleet was
scattered. Odysseus and his crew were
blown off course as well. This was the start
of a decade-long
series of troubles for the Greek
During his ten year 'Odyssey', the Greek hero Odysseus
had to overcome one terrible crisis after another. Besides the
that first drove his ships off course, he encountered the
mind-numbing Lotus Eaters, the Cyclops, the enchantress Circe, the beautiful but
dangerous Sirens (pictured), the dual monsters Scylla and Charybdis, as well as
Calypso, the sea goddess who held him captive for seven years. These
stories were all part of the wild tale about the adventures of
Odysseus, the ultimate "Cursed" warrior.
amazing Cyclops from the
Seventh Voyage of
The Gods considered the storms punishment enough for the Greeks. However,
Odysseus incurred special wrath. He made a serious mistake that would come back to
haunt him time and again.
Thanks to the storms, the Greeks
were low on supplies. They visited an island populated by huge
monsters known as the Cyclops. Odysseus and twelve men explored the island.
They found food in a
nearby cave. They should have left, but at the urging of a
very curious Odysseus, they decided to stick around and see what a
giant Cyclops looked like. That evening Polyphemus, the
Cyclops who made this particular cave his home, arrived with
his herd of sheep. To keep his herd secure, Polyphemus pulled
a large boulder across the mouth of the cave, thereby trapping the Greeks inside.
Odysseus ordered his men to hide. That would save them.
However, upon seeing this hideous monster, several of the Greeks involuntarily gasped in
terror, thereby giving away their hiding place. Polyphemus was
delighted at this surprise. He immediately devoured two of the
men. Yum. Odysseus, always the clever one, offered the monster
all the wine that he and his men had brought along with them.
Unsuspecting, Polyphemus drank the massive amount of wine to
celebrate, then fell fast asleep.
Odysseus was fairly sure he could kill the Cyclops while he slept,
but what to do about that boulder? Never in a million years
would they be able to move something that heavy away from the mouth
of the cave. Odysseus came up with a clever plan.
In the dark of the night, while Polyphemus slept, Odysseus and his
men prepared a sharpened pole to use as a weapon. When it was
ready, they plunged the pole into the solitary eye of the Cyclops,
permanently blinding him. Polyphemus was deeply wounded, but
not killed. In a rage, he thrashed about the cave looking for
his tormentors, but had no luck catching them in this deadly game of
Blind Man's Bluff.
Meanwhile, it was morning now. The sheep were ready to leave the
cave for their grazing. Polyphemus removed the boulder to let
them out, but he knew full well the Greeks would try to escape.
So Polyphemus deliberately touched each animal one by one as they
passed through the cave entrance to make sure it was a sheep that was
leaving and not a human.
Odysseus instructed his
men to grab the underside of the sheep and hold on tight. This
trick allowed them to deceive the blind Polyphemus into thinking
that only the sheep were leaving. They all escaped.
Now the Greeks made
their way back to their ship, taking many of the sheep with them for
provisions. Once he was safely aboard the ship, Odysseus decided
to taunt Polyphemus from afar with insults. Polyphemus, realizing he had been tricked
again, hurled giant rocks at the voice of Odysseus, trying to smash
the ship to
pieces. However, his attempts were futile. Odysseus
continued to bedevil the frustrated giant with his taunts, but he
made one huge mistake - he told the Cyclops his real name.
This was a bad move. Odysseus had no idea that
Polyphemus just happened to have a very famous father.
Once Odysseus had made his escape, Polyphemus prayed to his father
Poseidon, God of the Oceans. The wounded Cyclops asked his
father to avenge him and punish the man
who had blinded him.
Poseidon was furious at Odysseus for hurting his son. Thus
began the Curse of Poseidon.
Throughout his journey home, Poseidon would make sure that Odysseus
suffered at every possible turn.
To avenge his son, Poseidon spend the next eight years getting even with
causing earthquakes, storms at sea, and throwing horrendous sea
monsters in his path. No matter where Odysseus went, Poseidon
made sure to punish him some more.
Odysseus, once the
darling of the Gods, had now dared
to challenge the Gods. For his hubris, Odysseus was given a painful lesson
that would last seemingly forever - if you anger the Gods, there
will be consequences.
Rick's Magical Mystery Tour
Baby Boomers will recall
that the Beatles took a serious trip inward at a certain point in
their lives. They visited the Maharishi in India. They weren't the only ones
to look inward. The late
Sixties were a pretty strange time. As part of the
Love Generation and the Psychedelic Era, lots of people followed the
Beatles' lead and embarked on spiritual journeys of their own.
I was one of them. Being in college meant I had the free time
to study other things besides my courses.
I spent the better part
of two college years reading every book on
mysticism, occultism, and eastern religion that I could get my hands
on. I suppose that everyone goes through a "Meaning of Life" phase,
but I took it more seriously than most.
During my two year search, I investigated meditation, reincarnation,
and astrology. I read the Autobiography of a Yogi,
supposedly the true story of a real-life yogi from India.
Wonderful book, by the way. I
studied the predictions of Nostradamus and the predictions of Edgar
Cayce, a modern day mystic who predicted someone would discover of the
remains of Atlantis about now... I am still waiting on
Thanks in part to my Quaker upbringing, I have always had an open
mind when it comes to mysticism. During this same time I
studied the Rosicrucians, the Freemasons, and the writings of the Essenes, ancient Jewish mystics. It was all pretty interesting
I visited séances, spiritual communes, and
saw hypnotic retrogressions where people were hypnotized in able to recall previous
Along the way, I had
several very odd experiences. For example, at one séance, the
lady next to me asked me if I knew "Terry". I gasped.
Terry was the name of my beloved dog who had recently passed away.
Except that Terry had died in my mother's arms back in Houston while I was in
college here in Baltimore. I was
the only person in Baltimore who had any knowledge whatsoever of my
lifetime companion back home. There is no possible way this could have
been a trick. When the lady said the spirit of my dog was
right beside me, I could not help but break down and sob my heart
out. (I am NOT making this up.)
One night in college I took a break
from studying to daydream about what I would like to do with my
upcoming summer. I decided I wanted to be a camp counselor.
It was April. Too late to apply for anything. I wouldn't
even know where to start looking. Oh well. I went back to studying and didn't give it another thought.
One week later I was playing with a kid named Eric at a day care center
where I did volunteer work. Eric's mother showed up with
another lady beside her. This lady was her sister visiting
from Colorado. To be polite, I asked what she did for a living
in Colorado. She and her husband ran a summer camp for kids.
Oh really? Do you have any openings? Yes, in fact we are
interviewing people right now. Would you like to stop by?
That night I got the job. Just like that.
The episode that shook
me up the most had to do with Astrology. I had always scoffed
at astrology. How can billions of people have twelve different
personalities? What utter nonsense. However, when I
delved into it further, I discovered there are things known as birth
charts. As I studied my particular chart, I was surprised at
how accurate it seemed to be. Here's one for you... I have
Neptune and Mercury side by side in the Tenth House... the House of
Career. According to astrology, I am supposed to have a unique
ability to use communication such as WRITING to promote my career.
I like math, so I
learned how to do astrology charts in great detail. I learned
that you can predict things using astrology. I delved into
Progressive Horoscopes. I made a
disturbing discovery - the massive star Antares was located at the same
degree in my chart as the Sun. People with this aspect
are in great danger of eye injuries - Antares turns out the light.
Considering that I cut my eye out with a knife at age 5, when I read
this tidbit I had a serious
attack of goosebumps. Using a mathematical progression,
another accident was predicted to occur in several months.
Since I only had one good eye left, I wasn't very happy about this
On the spot, I decided to quit basketball. After all, it was
my only activity that carried any risk. Why tempt fate?
However, there is so much going on in college that it is easy to get
sidetracked. Since I never had a girlfriend in college, I had
some serious bouts with depression and loneliness. One Friday
night I just couldn't take it anymore ; I had to get out of my room
and do something. Yes, I vaguely remembered why I had given up
basketball, but I had a serious case of the yayas. To heck
with my stupid superstition. You can't let
superstition rule your life. So
I went to the gym to play basketball for the first time in months.
As I played, a rebound went sailing over my head. Just as I
turned my head to go chase it, another man accidentally smashed me right in
the face with his forehead. It was literally a head-on
screamed in pain. He hit me so hard that I collapsed to the ground
with a searing pain across my one good eye. As I fell, I
instantly closed my eyes. This was it. This was the
accident. I was sure of it. I was sick in my stomach
with fear. Blind! For several minutes I just lay on
ground too terrified to reopen my good eye. I knew I had
suffered an injury because someone said I was bleeding pretty bad.
Finally I screwed up my courage and reopened my good eye - I could see!
Waves of relief washed over me. The collision had jammed my glasses
deep into the eyebrow of my good eye and cut me, but my eye was spared.
One of the nurses at the emergency room commented that I was the
most cheerful person she had ever seen that had to get stitches.
What a great attitude I had about my injury. Hmm. Better than being
Afterwards I went home and pulled out my astrology charts.
Sure enough, just as I suspected, the accident had occurred as
Antares was passing over the sensitive part of my astrology chart.
I shook my head in
bewilderment. The implications were frightening. This
felt like "Fate" and "Predestination". I
was meant to have an eye
accident; the astrology chart said so. On the spot, I gave up
astrology. I decided that even if Astrology was
true, I couldn't live my life worrying about something that might
happen to me in the future. It would drive me crazy.
No more astrology. I have never opened an astrology book
since. By the way, this is also a true story.
After my accident, I
began to study every thing I could get my hands on about Fate and
Destiny. I became particularly interested in the Eastern
concept of Karma. Karma
was one of the catch phrases of the day. What goes around comes
around. Everywhere I went, the word "Karma" was being used in
everyday conversations. Good karma, bad karma. Thanks to
the Beatles, everyone on campus was studying eastern religion.
It was the Time of the Season.
When paired with the concept of "Reincarnation", the idea of Karma
made a whole lot more sense to me than the Christian notion of one
life, heaven and hell. For example, in order to get to
heaven, you had to live a good Christian life. It seemed to me
that a child born to a loving Christian home and a disfigured orphan who never
knew any love whatsoever were not being given an equal shot in this
"one life to get it right" system.
But if everyone had several lives to figure it all out, that squared
things with my sense of justice.
I am not trying to disrespect
Christianity here. After all, my entire life credo is based on
Christian ethics. However, when it comes to justice in the
Universe, for my thinking, I was a lot
more comfortable with the idea that humans have free will to choose
good or evil and suffer the consequences over many lifetimes. In Eastern beliefs, the
karmic effects of all deeds are viewed as actively shaping past,
present, and future experiences. Good deeds are rewarded, bad
deeds are punished and you keep coming back for one lifetime
after another till you get it right. Perhaps what we call "Life"
really is just one big Groundhog
That eye accident and
its coincidental link to astrology must
have affected my mind. To my immature college age brain, this
incident was proof that whatever was to be was to be. Que
sera, sera. If everything was
predestined, what difference did it make? Why bother trying?
Sit back and let it happen.
I immediately developed a very passive attitude towards my daily
activities. Like the hippies around me, I figured Live
For Today was as good as any other philosophy to live by.
Fortunately, that didn't last long. The moment I got my first
lousy grade on a test, I decided my new attitude was total bullshit.
Maybe predestination was true, but for me to be effective in life, I
had to pretend that I was captain of my own ship. Thanks to
this change in attitude, I began studying again and pretending I was
in charge in of my own destiny. Smiling with satisfaction over
an "A" on my next test, I knew I had made a much better
choice in my philosophy towards life.
I have lived the past forty years under the assumption that the
harder I work, the luckier I get.
So let's address some of
the questions that might have crossed your mind.
Q - Back in those days, was I on drugs? A - No, I wasn't on drugs.
I had a clear mind if that is what you are wondering.
Other than practice yoga and meditate, mostly I read a lot.
Q - Did I have any
visions or mystical experiences? A - No, never had any visions. No burning bushes.
No visits from angels. No visits from ghosts. No
memories of past lives. No ESP experiences. No out of
body experiences. Nothing paranormal occurred whatsoever.
Q - Did I discover any proof of the existence
of ghosts, reincarnation, life after death?
No. I wish I did. My favorite story on the subject is
the pact that Harry Houdini made with his wife Bess. The
famous magician promised that after he died, he would to do
everything in his power to contact her from the other side.
Bess Houdini, the magician's widow, held yearly séances on Halloween
for ten years after Houdini's death, but Houdini never appeared.
I have no direct knowledge of the existence of
life after death. As far as I am concerned, the jury's still
out. I simply try to keep an open mind.
That said, I remain convinced that there is more to this world than
meets the eye. I have encountered so many odd coincidences in
my life that I can't help but wonder sometimes that there is
something going on
behind the scenes. In other words, thanks to my two
years of investigations, I am certain something fishy is going on.
I don't know what it is and I can't prove it, but my gut says there
are some peculiar things going on that are hard to explain.
I wrote a long story about an amazing coincidence in my life that
occurred in my Senior Year in High School. Titled
Maria Ballantyne, I would like to
share some quotes from that story.
MEDITATION ON COINCIDENCE
Coincidence is a small miracle in
which God chooses to remain anonymous.”
“Coincidence is the word we use
when we can't see the levers and pulleys.”
"Coincidences are God's way of
remaining anonymous." Doris Lessing
"When you live your life with an
appreciation of Coincidences and their meanings, you connect
with the underlying field of infinite possibilities."
"The more frequently one uses the
word ‘Coincidence’ to explain bizarre happenings, the more
obvious it becomes that one is not seeking, but rather evading the
real explanation." Robert Shea & Robert
And that brings us back
to Brave Ulysses.
Throughout Homer's Odyssey, I asked myself how much control did Odysseus have over his own
life. If anyone had any control, my money would be on him. After all, Odysseus was a Greek hero. He was a
seasoned warrior who had survived many hand to hand sword fights
during the Trojan War. That meant he had tremendous skill as
well as great courage. He was also said to possess amazing
strength. And, of course, Odysseus was considered by all to be the smartest
and most cunning of all the Greeks.
Odysseus was clearly the most talented man of his time. And
yet, as we read in Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus did not have much control over
his life. He was human. Mortal. Flesh and blood.
Skin and bones. When paired opposite the powers of the mighty
Poseidon, a God, Odysseus didn't fair very well. He was fortunate to survive. For
that matter, legend suggests that Poseidon didn't kill Odysseus just
so he could torture the man some more. Poseidon wanted
Odysseus to suffer a lot. And despite all his impressive set
of mortal skills, suffer he did.
Odysseus never did break
his Curse by himself. In the end, Athena took pity on him. She
asked Zeus to intervene with Poseidon. Poseidon finally
relented and set Odysseus free to go home. The point is it was the
Will of the Gods that sent him home, nothing Odysseus did. At no time did Odysseus ever
appear to have control of his own destiny.
And what about me? I was the victim of a ridiculous string of bizarre accidents.
Six times I had tried to perform, six times I had failed. Six
times I had failed for reasons that I felt were totally out of my
Now I fully admit I am not in the same league as Odysseus.
If Odysseus, the great hero, couldn't outwit the Gods and
break his own Curse, then what chance did an insignificant guy like
me have of ending his own
After my 1983 Waltz
performance with Judy Price ended with the two of us knotted
together like Siamese Twins, I had the weirdest feeling.
actually saying to myself, "The Curse is Over!" to myself out
there on the dance floor at the very end of our dance routine.
Just like Odysseus felt when he foolishly called out his name to the Cyclops, I
felt secure in the knowledge that the Gods were done messing
Every part of our routine had gone perfectly... every pattern,
every turn, every step, every dip and every lunge had come off to
perfection. Not one slip, not one mistake.
Judy and I rose out
of our Twist Dip to a warm and quite sincere round of
applause... only to find out one second later that we were
to endure what had to be the most humiliating ending to a
routine in the History of Dance.
If this had been an
isolated episode, I think I could have shrugged it off as bad
luck and moved on. However, when viewed in light of my
remarkable string of five previous failures, this wardrobe mishap
took on a much different meaning to me. I had literally BEEN ON
GUARD FOR THE CURSE through all the days preceeding our
performance and throughout our dance, and yet IT HAPPENED
ANYWAY. I seemingly had no control over the events.
got under skin in a way that none of the other accidents had.
Everything that had gone wrong before was scary and frustrating, but at
least each time there was an explanation that made sense. Having a
DJ turn off the lights is not paranormal. Having a woman get
karate chopped because she foolishly stood too close to the floor is not
paranormal. On the other hand, this
tangled belt incident, however, was off the charts for "weirdness".
There is "odd", there is "strange", and then there is another level
known as "bizarre". This incident
was truly Twilight Zone quality Bizarre!!
It was ultra bizarre that the string cord got so tightly wrapped
around my buckle. That cord wasn't very long. I have a picture to
prove my assertion. Nor was there any unusual feature about
my belt buckle. Even if the cord did get wrapped around my belt
buckle, it should have slipped right back out. Nor did we do
anything unusual. Judy and I were practically standing still when
the cord must have gotten tangled.
So how on earth did the cord get so tightly wrapped
that all our tugging and thrashing didn't knock it loose?
Seriously, I could not possibly have DELIBERATELY tied a knot that was any more
defied credibility that this little cord got so tight that we could not
pull it loose.
I didn't do any further experiments, but I
imagine I could do that same acrobatic stunt wearing the same
clothes twenty times in a row and never once begin to recreate
what had happened.
Furthermore the timing was equally bizarre. I had just announced
to myself that the Curse was over... only to see it instantly
this event was like something out of Greek Mythology. It was like I had defied the Gods and the Gods
had decided to teach
me a lesson on the spot.
Moving away from the specific tangled belt accident, I next
examined the string of unusual accident that had happened to me.
statistical improbability of my string of mishaps was curious. Sure, things go wrong all the time. That's life.
People slip. People trip. People lose their
concentration. Accidents happen.
However, in a normal world, accidents are not supposed to happen six times in a
row. That defied logic.
most people see it, there are two kinds of bad luck. There
is bad luck you bring on yourself and there is bad luck you have
no control over.
if something happens once or maybe twice and you say it wasn't
your fault, people will cut you some slack and give you the
benefit of the doubt. However, when you ask them to accept
you have had bad luck six times in row and not once was it your
fault, that strains most people's sense of credibility.
here I was with six consecutive examples of bad luck and
claiming to be the innocent victim each time.
the judge. I have
now told six stories. I have related each incident exactly
the way it happened. I have not changed the details or
omitted key information. Assuming I am telling the truth -
which I am - I contend that I was not responsible for one single
accident in the string of mishaps. I say I was the victim
1. Ritz - the DJ turned out the lights and caused
us to lose our way.
2. Spats - a woman pushed me in the back and I hit Susie
in the mouth.
3. Lighthouse - a ceiling fan that we had tested earlier
hit Victoria's foot.
4. Foley's - slippery pants caused Victoria to fly
out of my arms.
5. Annabelles - Victoria's karate chop nearly broke a woman's
6. Waltz performance - Judy's string belt tangled around my
buckle tied us together like Siamese Twins.
way of expressing how odd these six incidents were is there was not
one performance that was successful in between. They all went bad!
Six performances, six failures. Every time I performed,
something went wrong. I don't know what your definition of
a Curse is, but this string of coincidences met my conditions
I was Cursed!
Every single mishap had a freakish feel to it that gave me the
sense that no matter how hard I tried to prevent it, something
was going to go wrong anyway. Like Odysseus, I had no control in
the outcome. That is especially true for the Annabelles incident and the Waltz performance.
Thanks to the previous four mishaps, in both
the fifth and sixth instances I was actually hyper-vigilant for new problems, but they happened
Of the six incidents, the only incident I felt slightly guilty about was the
Lighthouse ceiling fan accident. In my defense, I had taken two precautions.
One, during rehearsal I had Victoria test the nearest ceiling fan with her toe.
She was unable to touch it. Two, someone turned on those
fans without telling anyone. That's the same thing as
turning the power back on while the electrician is working on a
short... very dangerous, very stupid. Yes, maybe we should have noticed
the fans had just come on. However, we had already eliminated
the fans as a problem so we weren't on guard.
play a game called 'car accident'. Your brother has an
accident. He calls you for sympathy. He says it
isn't his fault and you do your best to cheer him up.
months later, he has another accident. Not his fault.
You offer sympathy again, but to yourself you feel a twinge of
doubt about his story. Two months later, another accident.
Not my fault. Two months later, another accident.
Not my fault. Two months later, another accident.
Not my fault. Two months later, another accident.
Not my fault.
Meanwhile, in your mind, your brother has lost almost all his credibility. At what point do you decide there is no
possible way that anyone could have this many accidents and be
comes to dance accidents, no one can perform six times and have six accidents without being
responsible in some way, right?
And yet here I stand
before the court of human opinion and claim I am innocent.
I was the victim, not the guilty one. I say one
damn thing after another happened and I didn't do a single thing to
cause any of them to happen. That's my story and I won't back down
utter improbability of it all is kind of strange, now isn't it?
tangled dress cord incident was
definitely the creepiest of all the incidents.
To me, someone would physically have to wrap that cord around my
belt buckle to get it that tight. Judy and I had danced apart
for the entire song. It wasn't till the very end that our hips
were close enough to allow something to happen. First Judy
slid her right leg under mine. It seems unlikely a simple
motion like that would cause her cord to wrap around my buckle. Then
I turned my hips and shoulders as we Dipped. That forced Judy to turn
her right foot to allow her own hips and shoulders to stay
parallel to mine. Since our hips were already together, what possible motion would cause her belt to wrap around my
buckle? Besides, I was above Judy. Gravity dictates
the cord should dangle, not creep upwards in my buckle.
Then finally we stood up. Okay, maybe the cord got a stuck
in my belt when we stood up, but how? And how did it get stuck so tight that we
couldn't move? Why wouldn't the cord just slip back out the
same way it
slipped in? There is no logical explanation of course.
It happened, therefore I have no choice but to accept it.
whole incident was creepy beyond creepy.
previous incidents had preceded the Tangled Cord incident,
putting me on guard ahead of time.
I practiced as hard as I could
for my Waltz. That was the only
thing I had control of. We danced just fine.
I was on
the lookout during the entire Waltz performance against a sixth incident,
but it happened anyway.
I had just told the Gods that in my opinion the Curse was over.
In that split second, something went wrong.
the way things went wrong defies the imagination.
blame me for wondering if this entire series of mishaps might actually be a 'supernatural'
event? If it looks like a duck and quacks like a
duck, it is probably a duck. Well, I don't know what
"Curses" look like and sound like, but this felt like a
legitimate Curse to me.
It was in my mind and I believed in it. If you think
getting a string cord wrapped around your belt is a
self-fulfilling prophecy, then have it your way.
I had a Dance Curse.
tangled cord incident was so weird that
it seemed like the best
explanation was that a supernatural being had decided to interfere in
the workings of men. That would have made complete
sense to the Greeks, but to boy like me raised on Science, this
was much too weird.
contemplated what had happened, this had a myth-like feel to it.
I acknowledged I didn't have
control over the Universe.
In a way, the realization that some supernatural being
jerking my chain was oddly soothing to me.
If some vengeful God on Mount Olympus
wanted to keep punishing me for some reason, there wasn't much I could do
about it, now was there? In other words, it wasn't my fault after
I was concerned, this entire series of incidents completely defied
any logical explanation. Each individual incident could be
explained away, but not six incidents in a row. And this Waltz
incident was by far the strangest one of the bunch.
more frequently one uses the word ‘Coincidence’ to explain
bizarre happenings, the more obvious it becomes that one is not
seeking, but rather evading the real explanation."
I decided that this
string of failures was strong evidence that there really is
more to Life than what we see with our eyes. This felt like
Karma, pure and simple. I didn't know what I had to done to deserve
it, but there is was. Accept it, deal with it, move on.
This conclusion actually cheered me up. I had a much different
reaction to the tangled dress cord incident than after the previous mishaps for the simple reason
that I didn't feel guilty any more.
Something had gone terribly wrong,
but since it was clearly out of my hands, I wasn't going to worry about it
any more. In the future, to keep my conscience clear, I would
continue to prepare as hard as I had for the Waltz performance and
simply take my chances.
And if something happened, then oh well, too bad... but it wasn't My
Fault, unless of course someone could explain what I had done
to create the curse in the first place. Taking a cue from my
hero Odysseus, I try to keep my wits about me and cope with each new
problem as it arose. But I wasn't going to blame myself any
longer. What more can a mere mortal
be expected to do when the Gods are angry?
Contest in the Bahamas
After my wardrobe
malfunction in 1983 with Judy Price, I
shut it down when it came to dance performances. I had
enough humiliation to last a lifetime. Plus I had no idea
why Gods mad at me. Why bother trying any more?
From that point on,
my new rule was leave the Dance World glory to other people. No
contests, no shows, no exhibitions for me. I stuck
strictly to dancing for the fun of it.
For example, in 1986, I
went Whip dancing 201 Nights in a row. That meant I was out dancing
every night for seven straight months.
However, not once single time
that year did I attempt to perform. Not once in that time did I
attempt to enter
a contest. I stuck strictly to teaching. When I
danced, I danced for
social reasons only.
Sharon Crawford started taking classes
at SSQQ in 1987. From the very start,
I realized what Sharon had a serious gift for dance. A
lovely, graceful woman with a dancer's long legs, Sharon had looks,
dancing ability, athletic ability, and stage presence all
wrapped in one. So much talent! Furthermore,
unlike me, Sharon was used to performing on a large stage -
football fields! Sharon had once been a Kilgore Rangerette.
became my favorite dance partner of all time. Although I made sure
we avoided "performing" like the plague, we did show
off all the time. It was a fine line between "showing off"
and "performing", but I made sure we didn't cross it. As
long as we didn't announce our dancing ahead of time or ask
people to clear the floor for us, this meant we were just dancing for the
fun of it... and if fifty people wanted to walk and watch us,
that was their business.
By May of
1988 Sharon had joined the SSQQ Staff. I can still remember her first class.
Sharon couldn't speak above a whisper.
Sharon was so
nervous that her class had to crowd around her just
to hear what she had to say. However, Sharon
soon got over
her first night
jitters. It was just a matter of time.
After all, Sharon had the strongest dance background and the
most dancing ability of anyone on the teaching staff. In short order, Sharon became one of
the studio's most popular teachers.
Sharon showed her leadership in other ways. In the summer
1988, Sharon organized a
summer trip for SSQQ to
Bahamas. We stayed at a Jack Tar Village.
Sharon had put together a wonderful package.
So inexpensive! Back in those days,
the studio was still small enough that everyone knew everyone.
found out that a couple friends were going, they wanted to go too.
Word of mouth snowballed
the event. We ended up with
over 50 people on board, quite a number considering the
studio was smaller in those days. We looked like a small
army as we got off the plane.
Trip took place in 1988. This wasn't much of a
group picture. I only count 33 people out of 50.
notice Judy Price in the front. Behind her in the
Hawaiian shirt was Jim Ponder, her boyfriend. Jim
and Judy were both long-time SSQQ members dating back to
the early Eighties.
Judy and I broke up in 1984 after a two year
I don't even remember what the
reason was for separating. I always liked Judy a
lot. Still do!
Judy and I were able to stay friends. Judy
continued to teach at the studio till 1989. At
that point, she decided to move out on her own.
Judy Price became a popular Ballroom teacher over
at Melody Lane. I believe as of 2010 she is still
teaching over there.
Thanks to Sharon's preparation and hard work, the group
had a great time during our week's
stay. These 50 people were a close-knit group of friends.
I have written in the past of the phenomenon known as
"Generations". A Generation at SSQQ is a set of
individuals who show up in ones and
twos at the studio, but somewhere along the way become part of a
large group identity. To this
day, many people in
the Bahamas group still
get together socially on ski trips and other events.
In addition, I have written about that famous
SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance Magic. I see six people in
that picture who met their husband or wife at SSQQ (Tom and Margaret
Easley who weren't in the picture should be included in that
category as well). This was
indeed a tight-knit group of people.
On the third night of our
trip, our group had a choice of two
People had to pick between a
moonlight boat ride
complete with dinner and dancing
or a Sock Hop in the Disco which included
a dance contest. Forty six members of our
group went on the boat ride. The other
four picked the Sock Hop.
I wanted to go on
the dinner cruise. So did
(pictured on right). So what stopped us?
The four of us who
stayed behind - Sharon, Janet , Sharon's sister Cynthia, and me -
remained on shore for the sole purpose of
entering a dance contest.
And guess who wanted
to win a dance contest? Me?
No way. I had sworn off dance contests.
We stayed behind because Sharon wanted to enter the dance
contest. I didn't care anymore if I ever won a dance
contest. But Sharon cared.
Sharon cared a whole lot. Sharon wanted to win
the dance contest. Not
only that, Sharon had a lot of energy on this issue.
The problem was that Sharon needed a dance partner. When she
first brought the subject up, I pointed out that there were 20 men in our group capable of helping her to win this
contest. After all, what kind of competition could there
The only people who
could beat her would be in our own group and they were all out
to sea! This would be a slam dunk.
She thought I should be her partner. I scoffed.
Nonsense. I reminded Sharon that I had sworn off dance
contests long ago. Besides, Sharon
didn't really want me. Didn't she know I was still Cursed? Had she
Sharon was like a
sister to me. Sharon had been
my best friend for nearly a year and a half.
She knew all about my Dance Curse. Apparently she was
undeterred by the threat of a broken neck, a split lip, a
wardrobe failure or any other sort of freakish humiliation that
only I could generate. Thanks to the Black Cloud that the Gods of
Olympus made sure followed me
everywhere, any woman who danced with me was taking a real
nonsense. There was no way the Black Cloud could possibly know we
were in the Bahamas. Besides, this wasn't business, this
was a vacation! Surely the Dance Curse would look the
other way just this once.
I smiled at her
persistence, but gently turned her down.
Thanks, but no
thanks. Not this time.
I had previously
discussed the issue with the Dance
Gods on Mount Olympus.
I told the Gods that I had learned my lesson. I had
reassured them this dance contest business wasn't for me.
They didn't have to watch over me any
more because I quit. Finis. Done. Kaput.
I expected that
would be the end of it. Nope. Sharon persisted.
my Dance Curse was a lot of superstitious nonsense.
She couldn't a grown man believed in crap like that. I
grinned. Tell me what you really think, Sharon.
Sharon continued. Sharon pointed out that for the past year, she and I had been
dancing practically every Sunday night at Wild West. She
reminded me that any time the Whip music came on, she and I had
moved right next to the railing so that half the people in the
club could see us dance. Now wasn't that performing?
After all, people lined the railing just to get a better view of us.
And not one time had the Dance Curse manifested itself!
I asked Sharon if
there were other dancers on the floor. Well, yes, but they all
cleared the area for us.
I asked Sharon if we
practiced any routines ahead of time. Did we choreograph
our patterns? Sharon said we didn't
have to. She knew every move I knew. All I had to do
was to do was lead it. I smiled. Sharon was right
about that. We were such good dance partners that she
could follow anything I led without any hesitation.
Furthermore it was true
that Sharon and I appeared in front of large crowds each week.
In a way, she was probably right about that too. I justified
it as "showing off", not performing.
Then Sharon asked about our recent Dirty Dancing Crash Course.
We were up on a stage, for crying out loud!
Well, yes, we were up on a stage. It was easier for a large
crowd to see us demonstrate the patterns that way. However, we
didn't perform up there, now did we?
Sharon was getting
exasperated. I was trying to wiggle out of this and she wasn't
going to let that happen. That's when Sharon decided to play
her trump card.
Sunday night I get out there and dance with you. That
helps your business. I get up on a platform and show off
Dirty Dance moves. That helps your business. I
volunteer in your Advanced classes when I am not teaching
myself. And now I busted my butt to organize a trip for 50
people here in the Bahamas and I didn't make one single penny.
I even paid my own way. So I think when I ask for one
simple favor, the least you could do is cooperate!
Don't I deserve to have you do one crummy favor for me!?"
Sharon had never raised
her voice to me before. I had to admit she had made her point
So I threw in the towel. No dinner dance for me tonight.
was all about Sharon. I was just going along for the ride.
Was I apprehensive about the Curse? Definitely. But I
had warned Sharon and she said she didn't care.
Oh well, if we are going to
do this, we should at least practice some. Sharon agreed, so we
scheduled time for later that afternoon.
As we parted, Sharon
turned around and said, "Besides,
Rick, what can possibly go wrong?"
I shuddered. I
couldn't believe Sharon had said that! Like
Brave Ulysses, Sharon had just challenged the Gods. Before I
thought we could sneak past, but now they were on alert. I had a
bad feeling about this.
This picture is from our
1988 Dirty Dance Crash Course
That line was caused by the
I didn't mind granting
Sharon her well-deserved favor. She was certainly correct on
all the issues. One, we danced beautifully together in public
all the time. Two, I definitely owed her a favor.
However, Sharon was wrong to disrespect the Curse. Something
could very easily go wrong. Sharon loved to do acrobatics.
All acrobatic moves carried a risk factor.
Take Michelle Collins
(pictured on left) for example. That's is the Flying
Flip she is demonstrating. Dancing with me at Wild West one night, I
threw Michelle way up in the air doing the
Chattanooga Choo-Choo acrobatic stunt. I tossed Michelle so high that her face was
easily three feet above mine. She wasn't used to being that high.
Apparently I used more strength than most guys.
When Michelle came down, she landed wrong.
Ouch! Michele broke her ankle.
Once Judy Price hit the back of her head doing an acrobatic stunt.
Fortunately it wasn't me. Her partner simply dropped her doing
some stunt in another room at the studio. I heard the thud and
went to check it out. Judy was just sitting on the floor in a
stupor. She was dazed from the blow.
Another time a different guy lost control of Judy and she went flying
across the floor until she thumped up against the wall. When I found her, she was sitting on the floor dazed
from her blow. Acrobatics definitely carry an element of
physical danger. Fortunately both times Judy was okay, but she
had some bad bruises to show for her accidents.
Even Sharon Crawford
made mistakes. One Sunday night in 1989 Sharon
talked me into entering a dance contest at Wild West.
Minutes before the contest, Sharon
suggested we try the
Slingshot. I had taught
Sharon a new variation on the move the day before. I told her we
should probably practice it a couple times. So there we were
practicing over in the corner just moments before
the start of the contest. We hit the move
perfectly twice in a row. Sharon was so pleased she insisted we use it in the
So our performance began.
Unfortunately, instead of jumping on Beat 4
like she was supposed to, Sharon
jumped on Beat 3. I
wasn't set and totally lost my balance. Completely out of control, I
fell and landed face down in a highly compromising X-rated position. The crowd went wild with
laughter. They were thoroughly amused. We did not win the contest
and I got teased all
night long. Was it the Dance Curse again? You decide.
As you now know, mishaps
like these have
throughout my career with alarming regularity.
Nor was Sharon immune to bad accidents either.
That picture of Frank
Sinatra and Ava Gardner demonstrates an acrobatic move we called the
One night Sharon
and I were conducting one of our weekly
impromptu dance sessions
at Wild West. As usual, we were showing off the Whip.
As fifty people watched from the sidelines, I spun Sharon
sharply five times with my left hand. Then I suddenly dropped
Sharon to my knee doing the Death Drop. Sharon
winced in pain. I had not braced her fall enough. My
mistake came when I failed to support Sharon's body properly with my
right arm. As she fell, I let too much of Sharon's weight hit my
knee. Sharon cracked her rib as she crashed against my
In dance, accidents happen. If anyone should know, it
would be me. Thanks to my fear of the Curse, I was worried
that tonight's performance might see Sharon get hurt.
Now that I had agreed to dance with Sharon, all my memories of
the Dance Curse came flooding back in.
I had not performed in public since the Waltz incident five years
earlier with Judy Price. I had learned my lesson loud and clear - don't
tempt Fate! As you remember, the Waltz mishap had seriously weirded me out. As silly as it sounds on paper, I had actually
begun to believe there were supernatural forces at work here.
Okay, go ahead and laugh. But I took the Dance Curse seriously.
No matter what I did, every time I performed, something went wrong.
If you believe it's
true, then it has the power to affect you. I had
definitely begun to wonder what would go wrong this time.
Another ceiling fan? Another wardrobe malfunction?
Another split lip? What would it be this time?
I was on guard against everything.
And yet at the same
time, to be honest, I felt invulnerable. I figured at this
stage in my dance career, I could handle just about anything but
Sharon getting hurt. That was my only real concern.
Okay, so Sharon had
twisted my arm into confronting my Dance Curse head on.
Perhaps the Gods on Olympus would give me a pass since this was
her idea, not mine. Now that was a comforting thought.
were going to do things my way. Sharon and I were going to
practice every acrobatic move we would use tonight and make darn
sure we had our act down cold. That way, if something went wrong, it
wouldn't be for lack of practice. Sure enough, Sharon and
I practiced all afternoon. I even have a picture from our
practice session. That's a back flip
we are doing in the picture. Sharon was quite an athlete.
I was surprised at all the weird thoughts that started to come
up. Not only was I still worried about Sharon getting hurt, I
began to worry that there might be another explanation for the
I thought about it
some more. Maybe there was a Curse on me for a reason. I really hadn't done anything evil that meant I
deserved to be punished
over and over again.
Or had I? Maybe my performance problems were related to
bad karma from my three year affair with Victoria back in the early
Eighties. That was a
troubling thought. Then I remembered all the chances that
I had taken during my Fake It Till You Make It years.
Maybe I had gotten lucky so many times in my early gambles that
this Dance Curse was the way the Universe was evening out my luck.
No one can be as lucky as I was all the time.
I told Janet the
stories of some of the previous incidents. Janet scoffed.
This stuff was all in my head. Don't be ridiculous.
Nobody cares about this hill of beans dance contest in
Remotesville, Bahamas. Get a grip. If I wanted to
make Sharon happy, then that was all the motivation I needed.
Quit worrying. Keep it simple. Just get out there
and do a good job. You practiced hard and you know what
you are doing. So whatever happens, happens.
I listened to what Janet said.
Yes, fate did seemingly intervene in the
Ritz performance and the Clear Lake dance
contest and all the others, but maybe the Gods didn't care any more.
Or maybe my Dance Demons were just a
figment of my imagination. Or for that matter, hadn't I been
punished enough? Maybe I had completed my allotment of
punishment. This was all just idle guessing. The
problem with Dance Curses is that no one ever emails you when
they are over.
That's when I told Janet I had another issue. My
conscience had started to bother me again. I was wrestling with
the same issues about dance competitions that I had back in 1979
when I busted my girlfriend's lip at Spats down in Clear Lake.
I realized I still had mixed feelings about showing
off. It was a no-win situation. If I danced better
than someone else, well, what have I proved? I am professional dancer. I am supposed to be
better! And why am I even competing against amateurs in the first
place? My mind raced to a scene from a favorite movie.
Here I am doing
We had fun in the Bahamas.
In the Hustler, Paul Newman got
his fingers broken for shooting pool
against people who weren't even remotely in his league.
But Janet replied this wasn't hustling. I wasn't dancing for money.
Besides, Sharon was right. This stuff was all in my head.
Besides, my previous fiascos like the Ritz and Clear Lake were almost ten years
in my rear view mirror.
Janet suggested that
surely the Dance Gods would see that I had not
asked to be in the contest. Instead I was entering for the noblest
of reasons... because it takes two people to Jitterbug and Sharon deserved to
have her favor honored.
Janet was right. I wasn't
hurting anybody. This
was for Sharon, not me.
If I accidentally won a dance contest, I would
give all the credit to Sharon. Who
the heck on Mount Olympus would notice, much less
care? I would do it for Sharon. I figured this
noble sentiment would soothe the
Dance Gods. They would see that my intentions were pure and
remove the Dance Curse.
After all, curses have been removed before!
"After 18 failed nominations in a row for her role as Erica
on All My Children, it came as a
complete shock to both Susan Lucci as well as the viewing
audience when she finally won an Emmy in 1999. When Lucci's name
was announced, the audience erupted in a standing ovation that
lasted several minutes. The actress began to sob
uncontrollably, bringing nearly the entire auditorium to tears
So obviously Curses don't have to be permanent, do they?
Now my mind entered
a dark space. I refused to tell Sharon
or Janet, but I still wanted to win a
dance contest. Wasn't there enough
mercy to allow me to win one stupid crummy dance contest
and get it over with? Despite objecting
strenuously to entering this contest based on that "fairness"
hang-up of mine, deep down my Ego still burned for one simple little victory just so I could say I
won a dance contest. This might be
the right time. The omens were good
because entering the contest this time had been someone else's idea. I was
participating not for my own glory, but as a "favor" to a wonderful
This had a real Disney feel to it. Maybe the Gods would look
the other way.
Now that I had
admitted the truth, I shook my head in disgust. I wished I
didn't want to win that contest so much, but I did. That was bad
karma for sure. Something was bound to happen. I
just knew it. Just let me dance and don't let Sharon get
hurt and don't let her clothes fall off... or mine either for
So What Were
Our Chances of Winning?
If we were going to enter
this competition, we might as well go ahead a win it. What
were our chances of winning? Despite my misgivings, I took
stock of our chances. Even though
I had truly resisted participating in this contest, I
intended to dance my best and "get it over with". I
decided that now that I had agreed to do this, I
intended to win and get the monkey off my back.
I did not
I was taking this
contest seriously. I wanted to avoid having her feel any
I was 38 years old. I was at the very peak of my dancing ability.
Unlike 10 years ago, now I
could lead. Oh boy, could I lead!
In 1986 I had gone Whip dancing
201 nights in a row.
After this incredible amount of practice, I
had quietly taken my place amongst the best dancers in Houston.
Sharon was a
to her innate grace and perfect timing, Sharon was a joy to
watch. Sharon was
an excellent acrobat.
Sharon could do
anything - back flips, lifts, drops, dips. The woman was
fearless. For that matter, Sharon was knockout
good-looking. No woman in Houston had more beautiful legs than
Sharon. With her long legs and her great figure, Sharon cut such an imposing figure
out on the floor that we had a
nickname for her - The Whip Goddess. Sharon liked the
nickname so much she used the idea for her Halloween costume
Furthermore, Sharon and I danced well together.
Sharon knew every one of my moves and
followed me perfectly.
Our favorite spot
was Wild West. Whenever we danced at Wild West,
Sharon and I would
receive the ultimate compliment
would line the railing four deep to watch us.
I would throw Sharon into the
air or slingshot her between my legs and hear
the oohs and aahs of the crowd
as they gasped with delight. We put on quite a show
That evening, Sharon,
Janet, Cynthia and I waved goodbye as our 46 friends sailed off into the sunset.
As the boat sailed off in the distance, I smiled. The only
true competition we might have had would be from our friends.
that they were all conveniently out to sea getting drunk, it was
clear sailing for us.
At this particular moment in our lives, the two
of us were trained, experienced
professional dancers at the
top of our game. If
it had been important to me, I have no doubt Sharon and I could have entered any
dance contest in Houston and done very well. Here, hmm,
would say we were 100 to 1 favorites to win.
I could not conceive
any way we could lose this.
I was in a very strange mood. Bring it on.
The Contest is About to Begin
The four of us
headed over to the Disco. As we waited for the
contest to begin, we checked out our potential competition on the dance
floor. To be honest, the dancing was pretty lame.
I rolled my eyes. Tell me again why we are doing this?
Every time my conscience began to bother me, I
reminded myself I was doing this for Sharon.
Sharon and I danced a little before the contest, but
I held back. Nothing fancy. Just warming up. Sharon whispered
to me she was worried that if we showed off too much, no one
I decided Sharon had a good point. I stuck
to Beginning Swing moves just to stay loose. This was the Big
Contest! Let's play every angle and be on guard for threats!
The pressure was so intense, in fact, that I was getting sleepy.
That's right, I took a nap while we were waiting. Janet
nudged me back to consciousness. The Sock Hop
contest was about to begin.
During my nap, my
Sharon had been doing her homework. She
told me in this
contest each couple would dance separately. This made
me feel better - at least Sharon was in no danger of some moron hitting
her in the back (a bad memory from Clear Lake nine years ago).
Plus I knew they could blindfold me and I could still dance better than
anyone here (Memories of the Ritz). I checked out Sharon's
outfit for strings. Good, no strings attached. I checked out
Sharon's outfit for slippery stuff. Nothing slippery. Sharon
had worn a simple dress and a simple top. Her clothes seemed okay
to me. I looked up for ceiling fans. There were none
directly over the floor. All the spectators were seated. No
one was in any danger of a karate chop.
There was no immediate external threat that I could see. Short
of a lightning bolt from Zeus, the coast was clear. At the thought
of Zeus, I frowned. Were the Gods watching?
I noticed the crowd had
somehow gotten noisier during my nap. I asked Sharon about it.
She said a whole group of people from Fort Worth had just flown in that
day. Apparently most of them had just finished dinner and had come
to the Disco to watch the contest. There were about forty people
knocking down beers over there. As I watched them hootin' and
hollerin' over in the corner, I was reminded that our own band of crazies
were conveniently offshore on their dinner cruise. At least I
wouldn't have to put up with my friends teasing me to death or needling me to
pick on someone my own size. This was just the way I liked it.
I was ready.
In fact I was mad!
I had spent most of the day reviewing in my
mind the half-dozen miseries of the past. As I thought about
it, all the indignities and
frustrations came welling up again. The memories
of my past failures and humiliations whistled in my mind
like the Sirens taunting the lost Odysseus as he
wandered lost and lonely around the Mediterranean Sea. It was time to set things right.
I set my jaw. These
people were in for a show.
We were the first couple. Sharon and I walked on the floor to pleasant applause.
Since Sharon and I had not danced seriously
earlier in the night,
no one knew what to expect. Our act was a total surprise
to everyone but Janet and Cynthia.
At my request,
the DJ put on the 50s classic At the
Hop. For our
starting move, I spun Sharon 15 times and ended it
with the spectacular Death Drop. Sharon plunged sharply to the
floor only to come to an instant stop on my
The audience gasped in disbelief. For a second they thought Sharon was
going to hit the floor. Well, scaring them was the whole
idea. They had no idea I had Sharon under
control! I think we had their attention now. Who are
did a Slingshot. This is a move where Sharon shoots through my legs
with her body
parallel to the floor, then comes back
and flies into an aerial way above my head. Sharon almost touched the ceiling as she
stayed suspended for
two seconds in midair.
People's mouths were hanging open.
Shock and Awe swept the crowd.
The degree to which their jaws dropped is the perfect example of why
Sharon and I did NOT belong in this contest. We had clearly beamed
down from another planet.
But here we are. Why not give it our best
Now that Sharon had figured out how serious I was, she grinned. We were
dancing just like we did at Wild West when 50 people would line the
railing to watch. It's Showtime!
Sharon turned it on too!
I felt her afterburners kicking in! The rocket is ready to
lift off.... We're
heading to the Moon, baby!
Next up was the Flying Flip followed
by the Back Flip.
This exciting move had me throwing Sharon over my
back and my head. The
audience gasped again as Sharon flew up in the air and landed with ease. The girl can even fly!
spun Sharon 15 times. Then
I scared everybody with the Death Drop. Next I had thrown
Sharon in the air. Then in quick succession came the
Slingshot, Flying Flip, and Back Flip.
By my count, Sharon had
upside down half a dozen times and we were only getting started.
What next? Why not add a little sex appeal?
The movie Dirty Dancing been released not long ago. Sharon
and I had developed a crash course with patterns
based on the movie.
It was time to Dance Dirty. So I sat
on my leg and held her firmly as she leaned away
from me and
arched her back.
I swept Sharon off her feet.
She clung to me with as I shifted her one way, then the
Sharon was so flexible her head was nearly touching
the floor. We drove them wild with our wickedness.
were clapping now. This was fun to watch! Once they decided I wasn't going to kill my
beautiful partner, they started to enjoy themselves. Then
I switched to
the Whip, a fairly wicked dirty dance in its own right. Sharon worked her hips in every provocative way she
was capable of... and she was quite capable.
We added Sugarfoot,
then Spin Tunnel, Flying Flip,
Rope Turns. I pulled out the entire bag of
tricks. None of it was rehearsed, but it wasn't
necessary. I could lead these moves to perfection.
Sharon matched me step for step. We were incredible.
Best of all,
Sharon didn't get hurt. Nothing evenly remotely went
wrong. We were flawless.
Sharon and I hugged. We had just put on the best display
of dancing in our lives.
Sharon and I left the floor to
applause. When we got back to our seats,
Janet gave me a big
kiss and said she was proud of me. I was very happy.
No one was laughing at me, no one was hurt, Sharon and I were
great. So much for the stupid Dance Curse! I was so
relieved to finally get that monkey off my back. Finally! Now I
could sit back and relax.
Now that the pressure
was off, I was curious to see Couple Number Two. There was
no Couple Number Two. Hmm. The Emcee kept begging
more people to enter. No one budged. Hmm.
Obviously we had intimidated the entire crowd. Tough.
Works for me. I wanted this to be over.
After a long pause, to my surprise, I saw two people get up and
trot out on the floor. It was a couple from the
Fort Worth group. I think someone
actually pushed them out there.
were two drunk people who could barely stand up, much less
dance. They did
the Twist very badly for three minutes
to Louie Louie.
While the rest of the audience stared in polite silence, the
Fort Worth duo
were obviously a big hit with their friends. While they
waddled around out there, their
friends cheered for them like they were the hottest
performers since Elvis.
After the dubious Twist performance, no
one else seemed interested in competing. So that was it.
Emcee asked one
more time for more performers, then gave up. The room had just seen the strangest
dance competition imaginable. It was the Texas Twisters
against the Second Coming of
Patrick Swayze and Baby.
The suspense was killing me.
Surprise! The Winner of the
Rick and Sharon
The Emcee announced that
the audience would decide the winner.
and me to stand up first.
Sharon and I got a nice round of
sincere applause. We smiled and waved, then
sat back down.
Then he asked our fellow Texans
to rise. Suddenly the Fort Worth Forty
erupted as if the Dallas Cowboys had just
won another Super Bowl. They stood up,
whistled, hooted, stomped their feet, and cheered like banshees for
their two heroes. It was Bubba Power
Supreme! Let's hear it for the Underdog!
The Emcee was caught off
completely guard. He had never expected something this
ridiculous and he didn't know what to do. Rick and Sharon had
won the contest, but the audience had chosen the Twisters. The
Emcee had a big frown on his face. Well, it was his own fault.
He had left the voting to the people with poor manners and now he
wasn't happy with the result. He seemed to be wrestling over
what to do. Should he overrule the Bubbas or should he honor his
own rules? Finally he walked over to the Fort Worth
handed them their trophy.
Fortunately... or unfortunately depending on how you
want to look at it... our own gang
of friends was not
there to back us. Had they been
here in the room, the evening might have gotten very interesting, perhaps even
ugly if the Bubbas had tried the same trick. But as it stood,
the Fort Worth Forty
outnumbered everyone else in the room by a two to one
margin. Sharon and I were badly beaten by the Applause Meter.
I suppose this group thought they were being funny.
They had played a joke on us. As Wilt Chamberlain once said, no one cheers for the tallest player. The Fort Worth Forty clearly
had no business being in that contest. We didn't belong here. We needed to be taught a lesson. I
imagine their sense of fair play had been violated
by the miraculous appearance of two professional
dancers. They decided to deliver a Fort Worth brand of Jack Tar Justice. It was
their way of breaking Fast Eddie Felson's knuckles for hustling in the
The four of us silently left the room.
We had been humiliated. The Curse had struck again.
Final Reflections on the Curse
seven failures... each one for a reason so surprising that I never saw
The failures even occurred when I was on guard - Annabelles's with
Victoria, the Waltz Performance with Judy, and now even the Bubba
Breakdown in the Bahamas.
Like Odysseus, my role model, I contend that in this area I had no
control over my own destiny. No matter how much I prepared,
things went wrong anyway.
I suppose most people
will simply dismiss the whole thing as silly. Since no one got
hurt other than some deeply bruised feelings, the string of seven
mishaps can be shrugged off by the casual observer as a bunch
of odd coincidences.
Everyone has the
right to their own opinion. As for me, in my opinion, this
string of problems was real proof to me that there is more to this
world than meets the eye. There was an unseen hand of some
sort operating here.
My 1988 defeat in the Bahamas dance contest didn't bother me very
much. I dismissed the Texas Twister Incident as
a bunch of rude, drunk people who ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Sharon and I didn't do anything to deserve to be treated like that.
We put on a very entertaining dance exhibition. That was
the extent of our crime. But you know and I know there are
ugly people in this world and the sooner we get used to it, the
As for performing, the incident with Sharon in the Bahamas
had a liberating effect on me. I realized I didn't need
external applause any more. I knew I was a good dancer; my
self-respect came from within.
As long as no one got hurt, I could probably handle anything
else if the Curse struck again. I had been humiliated so many
times that nothing could possibly hurt more than what I had already
been through. All I needed to do was train properly to clear
my conscience if something did happen. If the Curse took me
down again, oh well, I'm only human.
One year later I tried
again. In 1989, Saint John's, my former high school, asked me to
perform for an alumni function at the school. I asked Margie Saibara, one of
my favorite dancers, if she would help me. She said she would
be glad to try, Curse or no Curse. Margie even sewed the "SJ"
onto our red sweaters as our costume.
We did great. No problems, no slipups, no humiliation, no
nasty surprises. Encouraged, I asked Margie to repeat our
dance a couple months later at the 1989 SSQQ Christmas Party. Again we performed without
Just like that, the
Curse was gone. Poof. As long as I live, I
will never understand why I had to suffer through seven
embarrassments. However, as Nietzsche pointed out, that which
doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
I have never had a problem since.... knock on wood.