THREE IN THE MAGIC CARPET RIDE TRILOGY
Written by Rick
Rick Archer's Note:
written three books about Fate which
cover 70 years of my life.
Simple Act of Kindness covers the immense problems I
faced throughout childhood, high school, college,
and graduate school. In particular, I explain
how the kindness of several key individuals enabled
me to overcome the serious emotional
handicaps caused by my tough childhood. This
book also explains how I first became interested in Fate.
Magic Carpet Ride picks up where the first
book leaves off. It covers a ten year span,
1974-1984, which explains how a series of uncanny lucky
breaks created SSQQ, the dance studio which became my life
Gypsy Prophecy covers an unusual event in
2001 which strongly suggests my marriage to Marla
no way to prove the existence of Fate 'scientifically'.
That said, I believe the unusual events of
my life offer strong empirical evidence to suggest Fate plays a vital role in our lives. I am not alone in
this hunch. Many people report odd events in their lives
which have led
them to wonder if
certain things are meant to be.
point in the Age of Man,
80-90% of Americans believe in God. That
number drops to 50% when asked if they believe in
Fate. After reading my story, I predict it
will be extremely difficult to ignore the
possibility that Fate plays a prominent role in the
affairs of Mankind.
Life can only be understood backwards; but it
must be lived forwards.
-- Søren Kierkegaard
you will meet two versions of myself. I tell
each story from the point of view back in
the days when I was young and stupid. However,
if the story involves a potential example of Fate, my older
self will usually break in to explain what I came to
understand as my life progressed.
I am 70
years old as I put the finishing touch on the
Magic Carpet Ride trilogy. I
have led an unusual life.
For example, in 1977 a job
as a dance instructor fell into my lap. I was
competent at first, but the moment Saturday
Night Fever came along, I was so overwhelmed
by the surge of interest that I found myself woefully unequal to the task.
thanks to a suspicious series of lucky breaks, I was
able to extricate myself from one jam after another.
Despite the uneasy feeling that my continued success
was well beyond my talent level, I created a dance studio known as
SSQQ (short for Slow Slow Quick Quick).
SSQQ was a pretty wonderful place if I may say so.
In fact, there is good reason to believe SSQQ grew
to become the largest
independent studio in the country at the turn of the
I was reluctant to take too much credit. Sure, I had
some good ideas, but who can say where 'Inspiration'
really comes from? In my case, all I had to do
was follow a series of Stepping Stones.
In hindsight, these stones diagrammed a
preordained path called Destiny. Or at least
that's the way it looked to me.
Convinced these stones had been laid out by a Divine
I concluded I was leading a
However, I did not dare tell
people my secret. It had nothing to do with
false pride, but rather a fear of being laughed at.
Who wants to be written off as crazy? But then
something terrible happened, a 2012 failure that
prevented me from resuming my dance career.
Now I was confused. Early in my life, I
believed God wanted me to teach dance, but this
insurmountable obstacle suggested God wanted me to
do something more important. My instinct was
to go ahead and write my story.
As it turned out, I already
had an outline of sorts. During
my life, I kept careful track of every incident that
struck me as out of the ordinary. These events
included those Stepping Stones I referred to.
At the time when I began to write my books, my Supernatural List had
passed 100 events. I
suppose a confirmed skeptic could find
reasonable explanations for 80 of these suspicious events.
However there are 20 very serious events on that
List are extremely
difficult to explain using the rules Science refers to as
'Reality'. The Gypsy Prophecy is one of
years, the totality of
these unusual events has convinced me there is
more to this world than meets the eye. However, the unusual
events do not have any rhythm to their appearance.
I never know when something strange is about to
happen. For example, during my Magic
Carpet Ride, there were 70 events stretched
over ten years. It was these events that
helped me create the dance studio.
however, the unusual events ceased to occur for the
next 18 years. Although
my life continued to have interesting
adventures, during this extended dry spell there was only
curious enough to make the Supernatural List.
One day my
daughter Sam almost drowned. Sam was only 3
when she mysteriously sank to the bottom of a
swimming pool at the exact moment I turned my back.
It was quite a coincidence. Fortunately a
friend spotted her and dived in for the rescue.
Other than that, for 18 years, nothing else
was weird enough to raise my eyebrow.
changed dramatically in 2001. Out of nowhere I
new flurry of highly suspicious events.
Gypsy Prophecy is a story that
Predestination, Coincidence and a phenomenon I refer
to as Cosmic Blindness. This extremely unusual
tale explains how my marriage to Marla was foretold well in
Eve, 2000. Sunday evening.
begin with a reference to a serendipitous Door which opens
at the perfect time. In this case, the Door to the
Gypsy Prophecy was simply left unlocked.
Our story began on Christmas Eve, 2000. Around 6 pm
favor I had done for a religious group known as the Quakers
backfired in a very odd way. At 5 pm the phone rang. My wife Judy answered the
phone and frowned. Someone from the Quaker
Meeting was calling to say the door to our dance studio had
been left unlocked. Judy hung up and looked at me.
"The door needs to be locked."
This odd little
mistake changed the course of my life.
I was raised a
Quaker (also known as 'Friends').
day my mother explained the Live Oak Friends
Meeting was having trouble
financing a new meeting house. I was well aware of the
ongoing headache. I was six years old
when my parents
moved to Houston in 1955. The local Quaker Meeting was a
collection of nomads who wandered from location to location.
In 1995 the Quaker Meeting had
located an affordable property in the
Heights area of town. Even better, famed artist James Turrell, like me born a Quaker, wished to
beautiful Light ceiling he had created. However, the members were badly
strapped for cash. The dream of owning this very
special Meeting House
seemed just beyond their reach.
I immediately saw an
opportunity to pitch in.
The kindness of people I met
through the Houston Quaker Meeting had
rescued me from a rough childhood on several occasions.
This was my chance to return the favor.
I told my mother my dance studio remained empty on
Sundays until 4:30 pm. Why not let the Quaker Meeting use my
studio for free and stop paying rent
at their current location?
The Meeting accepted
my offer in a flash.
By the time the Millennium
SSQQ Dance Studio had doubled as the Quaker Meeting
House for several years while their new home was being
built. As it turned out, the Quakers loved the
studio. Quaker service involves quiet meditation.
They believe if one can silence their mind, they open
themselves up for God's inspiration. For that reason,
the privacy and absolute silence of my dance studio was
perfect for their needs.
Although I had a
soft spot for my Quaker friends, not once did I attend
Sunday Meeting held at the studio. The demands of running the studio were
so great that Sundays were indispensable as my only chance to
get some rest.
last thing I wanted was to be back at the dance studio on my
day off. Knowing these people were trustworthy, I
gave them a key. This
me to stay home on Sunday mornings.
Quakers were gone by 2 pm. However, in the year 2000, Christmas Eve and Sunday coincided. Since there were
no dance classes scheduled on Christmas Eve, the Quaker Meeting
had the studio to itself all day long.
There was a
business meeting at 10 am and then the group held their traditional
Christmas Eve candlelight service at 11 am. Next up was a sumptuous Potluck
dinner with an extended social gathering to follow.
was a splendid celebration. Good tidings, comfort and joy
was excited because their new home would soon be ready.
Naturally they stuck around longer than usual to enjoy
the warmth of the day and expectations of the future.
To be honest, I don't even know who forgot to lock the door.
What I do know is this harmless mistake initiated a chain of
events which led to the
Prophecy', one of the three most remarkable Supernatural
events of my
So what went
wrong? The person with the key had
absent-mindedly left the premises without locking the door.
Two people who had stuck around for an extended chat made
the discovery a half hour later. Uh oh.
That is what the 6 pm phone call was
about. When Judy hung up the phone, she turned to me
with a frown. She said I needed to go to the studio
and lock the door.
was very irritated, but not at Judy. Suffering from extreme burn-out, this mistake
meant I would have to take an unwelcome trip
on a day when I did not wish to be anywhere near the
studio. I was resting in the comfort of my home only to
be forced to waste an hour of my day thanks to someone's
dumb mistake. I
immediately began griping over the inconvenience.
were my responsibility, it was my job to go. As I
vented my frustration, without warning Judy
abruptly grabbed her keys and walked out the door. Shocked, I stared at my
9-year old daughter Sam who in turn stared back at me.
We were both taken aback. After several moments of silence,
Sam asked, "What is Mom so upset about?"
I shook my head. I was
just as confused as Sam. Our words
had not been heated. Yes, I was
irritated, but I wasn't angry at Judy.
Nor did I expect Judy would handle the problem.
I had no idea why she decided to go instead of me. My instinct
mood was much darker than the moment
called for. As it turned out, I was right.
hour later, Judy returned. She
got right to the point.
"I want a divorce."
marriage to Pat was short-lived, a year and a cup of coffee.
I met Pat in 1984. She was an
interesting woman. I could write a book or I
could write a few paragraphs. Let's settle for
paragraphs and save the book for another time. On paper,
our marriage was perfect. Pat had a lot going for her.
Attractive, very talented. However, Pat had one fatal
flaw. She liked to argue. In my opinion there was nothing to argue about. We
had money, health, good jobs, and security.
We didn't drink, smoke, gamble or cheat. So what was there to argue about? Well,
Jealousy for one.
Which was unnecessary because I only had eyes for my lovely
wife. However Pat didn't trust me. In her mind,
thanks to the countless women at the studio who
flirted with me, it was just a matter of time. Infuriated by
this needless bickering over Pat's persistent fear that I
would stray, the tension became insurmountable.
It was a shame
this marriage failed. Due to an incident in my past, I
was strongly opposed to infidelity. My father had an affair with
the office secretary when I was 8. Desperate to
marry his mistress, Dad insisted on a divorce. Mom said
no. The ensuing year of arguments drove me crazy.
I was so upset that my performance in the 4th Grade was
abysmal. My father was really angry at me.
Since he was a genius, how was it possible to have such a
stupid son? They took me to a psychiatrist to have me
tested. The psychiatrist suggested a very unusual
solution... put the kid in a private school where he will be challenged.
My father flipped out. No way he was going to spend
that kind of money! Besides, if I could barely pass
4th Grade in public school, I was sure to flunk out at St.
John's, the toughest school in the city. Forget it.
with my father for a year, my mother made a Devil's Bargain.
If my father would pay the expensive St. John's tuition
for three years, he could have his divorce.
Bad news for me. Dad quickly forgot I existed. My new stepmother was an evil woman
who drove a wedge between us. I saw the man four hours a year for the
next nine years. Basically I exchanged my father for a
good education. In a way, I lost my mother too. She
became a nervous wreck who couldn't hold a job. At age
9 I was forced to begin raising myself. I didn't do
Here is my
point. The consequences of my father's affair turned me into an emotional cripple.
Thanks to my dance career, I eventually overcame my
childhood handicaps. But I was still bitter
about the cheating incident that ruined my childhood.
This explains why I swore
to Pat I would
never do something like that to her. But Pat refused
to trust me, choosing instead to nag constantly. It is
one thing to stray and be punished for the transgression, but I
deeply resented being punished for something I had not done. I
tried to appease her at first, but grew weary of Pat's
constant vigilance. Finally the day came when I
refused to further tolerate tongue-lashings. I told
Pat to knock it off, but she defied my request. This
is when the sparks flew. Since neither of us was willing to bend, the only solution was give up. One night I came home and Pat was gone.
For the record, I never strayed. That is not who I am.
I married Judy.
During our ten year marriage, we raised our precocious
daughter Sam and built SSQQ into a behemoth. Judy
played an impressive role in the studio's phenomenal growth.
Thanks to her tireless work with the Swing, Salsa and Ballroom
programs, SSQQ was
teeming. At its peak, 1,400 students
streamed through our doors every week. This amazing
total is why I believe SSQQ had become the largest
independent dance studio in the country.
I was proud
of Judy. She had personally built the SSQQ Swing
program into something special. We had been recognized
two years in a row as the finest Swing program in Houston.
One would think with this kind of success, our marriage would be
solid. Unfortunately, there was a fatal rift that never healed. The problem started in 1998
when I fired
a Swing instructor named Carnell. I
discovered he was teaching at a competing dance studio
behind our back. Even worse, Carnell had the nerve to
openly persuade SSQQ students to come check out his class at
the other studio. I had never encountered a more
serious case of disloyalty. Carnell knew full well I had a
rule against teaching for other studios, but did it anyway.
Six months later,
Carnell created a major
scandal by accusing us of racial discrimination. I was incensed. This had
nothing to do with skin color. Carnell knew
quite well the reason I dismissed him was treachery, not race. I would later
fire a white country-western instructor for the same reason.
rumors about our so-called racism flying throughout the Swing Community, something had
to be done to restore our reputation. Since none
of the students at
SSQQ knew the true story, I wanted to write an article
to explain the situation. To my dismay, Judy said no.
Do not say a word! Judy was already
upset by the wide-spread hostility emanating from the scandal and feared the
added publicity would make things worse. I hate to say
it, but Judy was right. It would definitely have
worse before it got better. However, we had to fight back! To
say nothing would allow this lie to remain unchallenged.
While Judy and I argued
over which direction to take, Sam was hiding in
her room and crying. When I realized how upset Sam
I was mortified. Oh my God, I was subjecting Sam to
the same horror
my parents had
inflicted on me. As a child, there were many nights I fell
asleep crying out of insecurity while they fought.
I vowed never to put
Sam through a similar nightmare. So much for good
intentions. Ashamed of myself for losing my temper,
gave in to Judy's wish. What
choice did I have? Judy had created the Swing program,
so I felt she deserved the final say. But that doesn't
mean I agreed with her decision. Judy and I were a
house divided. Making matters worse, the fall-out from
the scandal spread like poison. Every bone in my body
screamed to fight back, but I honored Judy's wish and kept
silent. Over the next two years, we lost half our
Swing students to HSDS, the competing program.
Although Judy's booming Salsa program more than covered the
loss, I was unable to forgive.
What a shame. Judy was a good person, a good mother
and a good business partner. She worked hard to build the studio
and deserved much of the credit for the studio's success. Despite
our differences, I felt a deep
gratitude. However, try as I might, I could not accept
her decision to allow this traitor to damage our reputation
and our studio.
ensuing Ice Age, we drifted apart.
Neither of us were particularly happy, but
the relationship was cordial enough. I was a 'stick together for the good of the child'
type, so divorce was not on my mind. However, the moment Judy
asked for the divorce, I instinctively realized she was
right. The wound caused by Carnell
had festered for two years and I could not imagine how we
would ever heal the rift.
Judy, I will agree to
the divorce if I can have
joint custody of our daughter."
Judy nodded her
assent. "That seems fair."
Divorce is one
thing, but abandonment is far worse. Recalling how my
father's abandonment had broken my heart, when Sam was born, I promised
to be a better father to Sam than my father had
been to me. So much for wishful thinking. At
this point, I wasn't doing much better than my own father.
My guilt over the impending divorce was overwhelming. I was upset that Sam
would suffer the same consequences of a broken home as I had.
Overwhelmed by an
encompassing sense of failure,
I needed to be
alone to lick my wounds. So I grabbed my keys and
drove to the studio for sanctuary. As I unlocked the
front door, it crossed my mind that if I
had driven here two hours ago like I should have, I would
still be married. Talk about irony!
Christmas Eve alone in this empty
building. Not my idea of fun.
With nothing to do, I had plenty of time for
reflection. I'm not sure sitting here in the gloom was a good idea.
Christmas had been a time of many bitter moments during my childhood. Sure enough, throughout the night
the ghosts of Christmas Past dropped
by to torment me. Gee, now I can add the memory of getting
divorced on Christmas Eve to my growing list of Holiday Horrors.
There is no way
to wallpaper a divorce and disguise the ugliness.
As I sat alone in the dark,
I could not recall
feeling more miserable. Not only had I failed in two marriages, I had let my
daughter down. So much for that good
old Christmas Spirit.
SKI TRIP REVELATION
Despite my intense
depression, life must go on.
As word of my separation made its way through
the grapevine, one day early in January my
friend Tom Easley gave me a call. Tom
and I went all the way back to the days of
the Winchester Club in 1981.
Tom loved the studio so much that over the years he
place his second home. Tom met his
lovely wife Margaret at the studio in 1987.
They were married the same year.
Tom got right to the point. "Hey, Rick, I need a favor.
I want to go
skiing at Lake Tahoe with the gang, but I need a roommate
on short notice.
heard a rumor you might be available."
"What about Margaret?"
"Margaret doesn't want to go this
year. Why don't you come with me
invitation to go skiing was a real blessing.
I needed to get out of town and nurse my
wounds. How funny that Tom should come
to my rescue again. Tom had also been
there to save me when my marriage to
broke up in 1986.
Although I was the only newcomer on the
trip, I was not a stranger. In
fact, I was the Founding Father. Half
the people in this group of 40 had
participated in the annual ski trips I
organized back in the Eighties.
After I handed off the responsibility in
1988, the ski group had continued their
January ski tradition all the way to
As I looked around, I was amazed at all the
familiar faces. Virtually everyone had met at
or invited a friend to join the trip.
Tom and Margaret had met at the
studio. The same could be said for
Charlie and Beverly Roberts, Gary and Linda Kryzwicki,
Doug and Sharon Hollingsworth, Irving and
Sharon Carter. Five SSQQ marriages on this trip! And one divorce, me. But let's not
think about that.
The roll call didn't stop with the
married couples. Ted Jones, Margie
Saibara, Dan Taft, Ken Schmetter, Michele Collins, Tom Edens,
and Jim Ponder had originally met at the
Thanks to good times and
shared adventures, over the years this tight-knit group had formed deep and
lasting friendships. In addition to
the annual ski trip, they saw each other
year-round at dance parties, birthday
parties, and holidays.
It gave me goosebumps to
observe how happy these people were to reunite here
in Lake Tahoe. I was reminded how
much they cared about one another.
Grateful to be
invited back into the fold, their warmth
helped soothe my wounds considerably. I could not
help but notice how this trip had turned into the SSQQ version of the Big
Chill. I noted with
quiet satisfaction that my days as
'Leader of the Pack' had been
responsible for helping this group connect
in the first place.
But that pride also carried great regret.
Sad to say, during the Nineties, I lost
touch with most of these people.
My daughter Sam had been too young to
ski, so I turned my attention to my family and ignored my
Here on the ski
slope I was dealing with
a strong sense of loss because I missed these people. Thank goodness
my former friends had kept this tradition going without me. Every day I skied with
people who met through SSQQ. I focused on the
immense good will created by the dance studio over the
was like old times. The week I
spent with the group was a shot in the arm
because it reminded me of what I could accomplish again if I
could just get my head screwed on right.
I was dealing
with keen regret.
The close ties I helped create back in the
Eighties were less evident at SSQQ in the Nineties and I had
no one to blame but myself. Back when I was single in the Eighties, I used my freedom to organize
activities. However, once I became a father, I lost my
edge and withdrew. In the Nineties I would rather spend my time with Judy and Sam than go dancing with the gang.
I wondered if there was a way
to instill this special spirit to the current generation at
the studio. Now that I
was free again,
maybe there was something I could do to invoke
Magic of the Eighties into the Millennium.
PART ONE: THE GYPSY
LOVE IS BLIND