TRILOGY ONE - SPIN
Written by Rick Archer, July
is one of my favorite words.
In Basketball, 'spin' on a basketball bounce
pass makes the ball take a weird curve to
magically hit the hands of another player who is seemingly out of
In Billiards, 'spin' allows the cue ball to
magically curve right past all sorts of
obstacles to reach its intended target.
Or the use of proper 'angles' creates other
seemingly impossible shots.
Another word for cue ball 'spin' is 'english'.
I love that! By using clever
'English', you can get out of all kinds of
jams that have nothing to do with billiards
and pool tables.
Are we talking basketball,
billiards or propaganda now?
use of 'Spin'
, 'angles', and 'English' allow people to
mysteriously gain advantages when all hope was lost.
The word 'Spin'
is practically synonymous with Magic and
Houdini-like escapes from all sorts of life
began as a Public Relations term. In public relations,
is term that signifies a heavily biased portrayal of
an event or situation in one's own favor.
involves a selective presentation of the facts and
quotes that support one's position combined with a
sly omission of any facts that "fail" to support
cannot be considered 'lying' per se, it can be
considered a deliberate attempt to skirt the dark
side of the issue while shining the light on the
positive. In other words, a person who 'spins'
basically only tells one side of the story.
is so effective is it puts the burden on third-party
observers to investigate the other side of the issue on
their own. Since most people don't have the
time, the energy or the resources to find the truth,
manipulation of the truth often remains
unchallenged by third parties.
It is a busy world.
Most people say 'Who Cares?' and move on.
That puts the burden of proof directly on the
shoulders of whoever is involved
in the other side of the story. If they don't
speak up, their omission generally
allows the Spin Version to become the last word most
remember on the issue... so the Spin Version or
'Perception' triumphs over what
really happened to become the
accepted account of the event.
Perception may not be the truth, but it sure seems
Spin goes hand in hand with "Perception".
Perception is Reality
- In Life
and Politics, it doesn't matter what the
just matters what people
THE INCREDIBLE POWER OF
In 1986 I received a bitter lesson from my first wife on the
Power of Spin.
The lesson was so painful that I will never
forget what happened.
One day my former wife belted me
three times in the face in front of 24
friends and dance students. The Final
Blow left me bleeding and battered.
I never raised a hand to defend
myself. I never threatened her, I
never struck back, I never cursed her or
threatened her in any way. I had never had
an affair, there were no 'other women'
involved here, there had never been any previous
physical violence between us, nor was I
being paid back for anything horrible I had
done. So what had I done to deserve
We were arguing because I
refused to take some wedding pictures down
from the wall at the studio.
Later through the Magic of Spin, this
incident became my fault. Yes,
according to the
of what happened, I
got what I deserved.
Based on what I have written so far,
I suppose you cannot imagine how this
happened. Well, then maybe you should
read the story. I share my bitter lesson with you
for a specific reason - maybe it will spare the
reader a similar fate someday.
I am writing this story as a warning
to everyone about the
- THE FINAL BLOW OF A MARRIAGE
OUR WEDDING PICTURES
my first wife Pat in November 1984. I met Pat at the
studio. Unfortunately, the marriage only
lasted 17 months. In that brief time, Pat was
a big part of the studio and taught classes there as
As you can see from the picture, Pat was a
lovely woman. It should also be obvious from my
smile that I was very happy as the wedding
approached. We married for
all the right reasons - we were in love.
This particular picture is important to our story. Like
several other photographs you will see, this
picture once belonged to a poster that hung on a
wall at the dance studio. Pictures such as
became the focal point of a very ugly public
argument that took place between Pat and myself at
the dance studio in early 1986.
Back in the days
before the Internet arrived, I used to
pictures of my students
on a wall of the studio.
The tradition began with the 1982 Halloween Party.
A man named Jim Fogo took some great pictures at the
event for his own fun. Then he gave me some
I decided to put the best pictures on a
poster I bought at Texas Art Supply, put on
the plastic cover and hang it up on the wall at the
divorce in 1959, my parents saw each other 2 more
times in 40 years: high school graduation and wedding day. This picture was
part of the disputed Wedding Poster that Pat and I
As I watched my dance students gather
round and laugh, I realized how much they
appreciated the gesture. I smiled with pride.
That was the start of my tradition to make posters for each major studio
I would hang each collage on the wall just like a
third-grade teacher might put up pictures of her own
kids. Each event
resulted in a poster of say 30 pictures. One
poster might be pictures from a Halloween Party,
another might be from a trip to the Winchester Club,
and a third poster from a ski trip. You get the idea.
One important poster on the studio wall contained
pictures from our
Wedding Day. In addition to
pictures of my parents, the poster also contained
pictures of Pat's parents, brother, and
The bulk of the poster were pictures of our
Reception at the studio later the same evening.
It was a big dance party.
The people at the Wedding Reception were my closest
friends at the studio. They were the people I
had met through the dance studio and had grown close
to over the first five years of my dance career.
These pictures were very special to me.
SEPARATION AND CONFRONTATION
Pat moved out
of my house in April 1986. Pat left without
telling me, but truth be told, I was greatly
relieved. We were both very unhappy.
Shortly after Pat moved out,
she decided there was something that was still
troubling her. Figuring an ambush would be a
better way to confront me rather than a simple phone
call, one morning Pat came early to the studio.
Pat knew I would be there to participate in the
Whip Society dance class. She
obviously had been waiting for me because Pat intercepted me in the parking lot
just as I got out
of the car.
The moment I saw her face, I groaned. From
that look, sure
enough, this was going to be another fight. I will simply say that we fought
all the time.
So, Pat, what is it this time?
As we stood in the parking lot, Pat
explained to me that she was upset about our wedding
pictures hanging on the studio wall. Pat told
me she bitterly resented the pictures on the wall
that showed the two of us displaying 'affection'
towards each other (this wedding picture on
the right was part of the Wedding Poster that Pat objected
Pat said our marriage had been a sham, a
charade. Now that our divorce was imminent, I
had no right to continue to display these disgraceful pictures.
I could see that Pat
was clearly worked up on this issue. I did not know what
brought on this mood; I hadn't seen or talked to her in
However I immediately bristled at the tone of her voice and
her demanding approach. I thought she was completely
out of line, so I said no.
She demanded that I take the
plastic cover off the frame, rip out the offensive
pictures and tear them up so no human being would
ever be reminded of the falsehood of our marriage.
In essence, Pat wanted to erase as many traces of
the existence of our marriage as possible.
This is my long-time friend Carol
Gafford. Carol was one of my guests at the wedding. This picture was part of the Wedding Poster.
stared at the woman in disbelief.
"What gives you the right to dictate to me
what I am going to do in my own studio?"
The argument continued. I told Pat these pictures were important
to me. I added that I paid the rent and that it
was my studio, not hers. Those pictures were property of
the studio. I added she had no right to tell
me how to run my studio or my business or, now that
we were separated, my life either.
My words fell on deaf ears. When Pat
got in a mood like this, I knew from
experience that she was relentless. I
felt like no matter what I said, it was a
waste of time. Pat would never give up
till she got her way.
That said, I wasn't in the mood to give in. She had no
right to tell me what to do at my place of business.
Those pictures were part of studio history.
Pat was not happy at my refusal to budge.
"I object to the pictures of us. We had a
false marriage. I don't want these pictures
hanging on the wall for the world to be fooled into thinking we
actually cared for each other. Take them down,
Rick, or I will rip them down myself."
"If you touch those pictures, I will call the
police. You have no legal right to tell me
what I can or cannot do at the studio. You can
ask, you can negotiate, you can persuade, but you
cannot order me to do your bidding."
Pat disagreed. She wanted her pictures removed
so no one would ever be reminded of our shameful marriage. She
wanted the evidence erased. "I am asking you politely to take the pictures
I shook my head no. Since I had a class to teach,
I started moving toward the studio. Pat
walked right along beside me. Why waste
precious arguing time?
Like always, we went back and forth. I refused
again to take the pictures of our wedding off the
studio wall. Pat told me to rethink that
I told her all of those posters were
important to me because my friends and family were
in those pictures. If she didn't like them,
then don't look.
I added that I wasn't
ashamed of the pictures showing affection between us
in the least. Now
we were on the subject, I told Pat I didn't agree
with her position that our marriage was shameful.
I loved her when I married her.
Joanne Neher and Robert Neighbours
It was true I had my doubts when we got
married, but the optimist in me believed we could
work through our issues. Sad to say, we did
not conquer the demons. But I knew in my heart I had
done the best I could until the fighting wore me
Now I just couldn't take the
fighting any more.
I reminded Pat for the umpteenth time I was sorry our marriage had failed, but that
I was not ashamed that I had married her. If
she felt shame, that was her right, but I had a
right to my feelings too. She had her space and I
had my space. I wasn't going to let her tell
me how to run 'my space'.
I doubt Pat heard a word I said. She did
not care about my position. The moment I stopped speaking,
Pat launched into her
next tirade. For the tenth time, she explained that the pictures
offended her deeply. She demanded that I take
them down if I had even the slightest respect for her
The pictures offended her. Therefore, I should
take them down.
This argument is an accurate snapshot of how much of our
marriage was conducted. Pat would get unhappy about
something and chew me out. Since I usually disagreed with
her, we would argue.
Pat never gave in. Some times I did give in
even when I still disagreed with her. I would
give in for a simple reason - unless I gave in, the same argument would
continue for days.
We never had a harmonious resolution
to a single fight. If she didn't get her way, Pat
would just push harder. The woman had the most
powerful will of anyone I have ever met.
Debbie Crittendon and Alan Brown
Early in the relationship I had
backed down a couple times to appease her, but quickly learned that
got me nowhere. I had a backbone all along; I had
simply been experimenting with ways to make this crazy
Finally I got disgusted with
One day I stood up to Pat on some issue. That is when
discovered I could be just as willful and stubborn as she was.
Once I decided to stand toe to toe with her and fight back,
that's when the sparks began to fly.
And what ended the arguments? Who knows?
Probably another argument. Something new would come
that irritated Pat more and we would switch to arguing about
the new topic.
Since Pat never understood the importance of 'compromise', once I
stopped giving in, our marriage became an endless argument.
WHAT WERE THE
did we argue about? Women at the studio,
The slightest smile at another woman
could be grounds for a week of getting chewed out.
The reader has my absolute word there were no affairs, no girlfriends and no
flirting. There were NO OTHER WOMEN.
That is the absolute truth.
But I will admit I did smile at my students when the
situation called for it and that included women.
Since I believed strongly that 'smiling' was an
important part of my teaching, this was a no-win problem.
I knew in my heart I was not making a pass at
anyone. I also felt I had the right to show warmth
and friendship to my students. If I didn't
have a heart and care about my students as people,
then I was in the wrong profession. Now I
wanted to be allowed to do my job.
I was not going to give in on this issue. I
bitterly resisted any attempt on Pat's part to
muzzle my ability to smile, laugh, make stupid jokes and
have fun in dance class just because she was
It boils down to Control. No one likes to be
controlled or told what to do. If you are a
kid or a prisoner or in the Army, well, tough luck.
You better do what you are told or suffer the
consequences. But a marriage is supposed
to be built on mutual respect, not 'do it my way or
else'. Let's say you are a car racer and your
new wife says she is very uncomfortable with you
racing cars because they are dangerous. And
you look at her and say, 'But you knew this was
important to me before we married..."
I was a dance teacher long before I met Pat and a
successful one at that. I resented bitterly
being told how to conduct myself in public. I
considered practically every suggestion on this
issue an insult. But Pat never eased up.
We just kept arguing.
enough, not one soul at the studio had any idea how hard we fought.
This was our own private dirty secret. In public
Pat was a charming woman. It was only behind closed
doors that she began to breathe fire.
Over time, our patience with each other grew thin.
Our arguments were civil at first, but 17 months of
arguing about the same thing with no progress has a
way of wearing a person down. I honestly
couldn't take it any more.
Towards the end, the arguments became so ferocious that we both realized
we needed to part before things turned physical.
You know how they say that as time goes by, you start to
remember the good things more than the bad? Wrong.
20 years later, my only enduring memory of
our marriage is that we had one constant argument after another.
I can't even remember where we took our honeymoon. All
I can remember were the fights. Today's Wedding Picture
fight was no different than all the rest. In
my mind, it was just another reason for Pat to argue
Here is my close friend Carole Holmes.
Do you see me smiling? That smile could be grounds
for a week of arguing.
My friends Margie
Saibara and John Varvaro
you have been given the background context, maybe
you can see why I was so determined not to back down
to her today. As we walked down the sidewalk,
we continued to argue... and argue.
Once we entered the studio, Pat immediately began to behave.
I shook my head in disgust. Pat had this
amazing 'Southern Lady' persona that had everyone
fooled. Soft-spoken, sweet, gentle Pat.
What an act! It drove me crazy that Pat got
away with it, but I saw no point in bad-mouthing the
woman to our friends. Let's just get the
divorce and go our separate ways. Besides, I was grateful that the argument was
over for now. Be thankful for small favors.
Now it was time to teach. A year
earlier, my advanced dancers (who by this time were also
had helped me form a group
called Whip Society. I was the guest
teacher today. The people here today were
the same people who were in the Wedding Poster.
Perhaps their presence had something to do with
Pat's bad mood.
After an hour of class, we took a Break.
There was a convenience store next to the studio.
As an excuse to
put distance between Pat and myself, I
went next door to get some coffee. When I came back to
class, I went to a corner of the room to sit on a captain's stool. The
music was playing. I sat alone and watched the dozen couples
practice their moves.
As I sipped my coffee, Pat came over to confront me
again. "Rick, why don't
you ever listen to me? Didn't you hear me the first
time? I am past discussion. I told you to take
the damn pictures down! Now!"
Those were fighting
words. From my captain's chair, we were pretty much
eye to eye so I continued to sit. I glared back at her
in defiance. "No, Pat, I will not take the pictures
down. You can berate me as much as you want, but this is MY
Pat raised her
voice. "Those are my pictures too. I told you to take
them down NOW!"
I lost my temper. Without thinking, I
stood up and reflexively started to throw the coffee at her
in anger. Fortunately
I regained self-control in time to stop the motion.
However, a little bit of coffee
did slop over the side of the cup. A couple drops spilled
to the floor at her feet.
Let me be clear that Pat was not hit by any coffee spill.
I estimate ten drops of coffee fell harmlessly to the floor
at her feet. I imagine one of her shoes had a couple
drops of coffee on it. Although Pat was unharmed, Pat
knew that I had nearly lost control.
at me. "You threw that coffee at me!"
"No, I did not throw the coffee at you. I wanted to
throw the coffee at you, but I stopped. There is a
difference. If I
really wanted to throw that coffee at you, you would
now be drenched with coffee."
Pat grew livid. I could see the hate.
Her posture was reminiscent of a panther tensing
seconds before attack. Pat was poised to
the only one who was angry.
I was angry too. The disgust over an endless 17-month series of
stupid arguments just like this one had robbed me of all
I set the coffee down and turned back to face her.
observed Pat balling her hands into fists. She clearly
wanted to punch me.
A strange idea
crossed my mind. I am ordinarily not much of a
risk-taker, but maybe it was time to take a gamble.
Maybe I could teach Pat a lesson.
"Do you want to hit me, Pat? Okay, here I am. Go
ahead and swing."
That's all the encouragement she needed. With an open
hand, Pat reared back and slapped the absolute crap out of me.
My head spun sideways with the blow. I was
stunned senseless for a moment. But I didn't
fall. After I regained
my balance, I grinned back at her in defiance.
"Did you like that? Did it make you feel
Everyone in the room stopped dancing. The
music had prevented anyone from realizing Pat and I
were locked in a confrontation over in the corner, but they knew it
now. The group stared at us in frozen horror.
I am not sure if anyone saw Pat hit me the first time, but they definitely
heard it. Plus they could see the red welt where she
had hit me.
I had been angry before, but now I
was livid. Pat was angry. I was angry. Pat
was staring fire at me and I glared right back at her.
to hit me again? Be my guest. Hit me
Pat got her body into it. Pat pulled her hand back, wound up, then slapped
me again with all her force. My face was
turned around by the force of the second blow, but I again stood my
burning face, I
defiant. "Pat, you can hit me just as many times
as you want, but I am still not going to take
those pictures down!!"
invited Pat to hit me for a specific reason
- I had seen an opening. Everyone has
a public persona and a private one.
Pat's public persona was soft-spoken, sweet
Southern girl charm. Throughout our
separation, she had used her Sweet Side to
draw sympathy. I was sick and tired of
being portrayed as the 'Bad Guy' when
nothing could be further from the truth. I
saw this as the perfect opportunity to let
the world know Pat wasn't as sweet as she
pretended to be.
Thanks to my gamble, the dark side of Pat had just
made its public debut. Even though I
was in pain, I was secretly
thrilled! The Mr. Hyde side of Pat had just
shown up. My friends had witnessed the
same angry woman I dealt with in private all
the time. Finally
everyone in the group had seen
how ruthless this woman could be.
Plus I was angry too. Furious. I yelled, "C'mon, Pat, you want some more of me? Come and
Pat was more than happy to oblige. She slapped the
crap out of me for a third time. This time, however, her wedding ring had
gotten twisted on her finger. Now her wedding ring raked
the side of my face and left a deep gash. Blood
immediately ran down my cheek from a five-inch cut.
Why she was still wearing her wedding ring was beyond me,
but the symbolism was fascinating.
shocked people into action. They saw I
was going to keep standing there and let Pat hit me
just as long as Pat wanted to keep swinging.
I wanted the image of the enraged Amazon brutally
slugging a man who would not fight back burned as
deep into their minds as possible.
Once they realized Pat was not going to stop
hitting me unless they intervened, two men came up behind Pat,
gently put their hands on
her shoulders and took her outside to
another room. Pat didn't put up any
resistance. She was shaking. She knew
she was badly out of control. What had she
Meanwhile I sat back down on the Captain's chair.
I was in a lot of pain, but determined not to show
Pat had struck me three times as hard as she could.
I was half-senseless as I sat there with blood
streaming down my face.
Little drops of blood fell to the floor to join the
coffee stains that had started this slapping
incident in the first place. I had taken
quite a beating.
With my bruised and bloodied face, I
looked like Rocky Balboa after one of his prize
fights in the movies.
I was also deeply embarrassed. Without a word
to anyone, I got up and walked out. Big
THE WOUNDED BEAR
For the next week, I was content to remain at
home. Other than leave my lair at night to teach class,
I had no other human contact.
By and large, the people who had witnessed the
slugging incident were not currently taking classes
at the studio. They were advanced dancers
who had taken practically every class I had to
offer. So the current students at the studio
were sealed off from the gory details.
I assumed they had no idea what happened and
preferred to leave it that way.
I showed up at
night, taught my classes, and went home. At
this stage of my life, I was a loner. An only
child, I had long ago learned to nurse my wounds in
solitude. I didn't call anyone nor did anyone
call me. I just sat alone in my living room
wondering how it had ever come to this.
Before the slugging incident, I was filled with regret that I
could never find an amicable way
to put these constant fights to rest. But the
separate grated on my nerves as well. I had
heard that after we separated, Pat had immediately begun currying public sympathy.
I had initially chosen to
let bygones be bygones. But I did not
appreciate having Pat use a megaphone to advertise
our troubles to the world. It was this tension
that led to the fight.
It bothered me that no one
knew what I meant when I said the woman would
not stop arguing. All they saw was poor, sweet
gentle Pat crying her heart out in public.
When it came to our pending divorce, I knew I was
not blameless, but I didn't see any reason why I had
to take all the blame.
the slugging incident had changed the playing field. A
much DIFFERENT side of Pat had been exposed to
public scrutiny. Maybe... just maybe... she
wasn't so sweet after all.
My friends had
seen first-hand just how angry Pat could be.
had been totally out of control. Maybe Rick was right
when he said Pat would
not stop arguing. Maybe Rick was not
such a jerk after all...
Alone in the dark, I had this happy thought to help
ease the pain...
I expected the world would finally
grasp what I had been dealing with in private for
dreams didn't work
out that way. The incident totally
backfired on me. I would soon find out just how badly
I had underestimated Pat.
Shortly after the beating, Pat taught me a lesson in
Spin Control that I would never forget as long as I
While I brooded in silence at home, practically
from the moment she got home, Pat was on the
phone to explain her side of the story to every man and
woman who would take her call and listen.
THE SPIN VERSION OF THE EVENT
Pat passed the word to her girlfriends about how
hurt she was at my refusal to take down the
pictures. Why was
Rick so insensitive? Why couldn't Rick see how
much pain Pat was in over the pictures? Those
pictures hurt her terribly!
Then Pat told everyone how
Rick had egged her on to hit
him, which of course was true.
Somehow in the
retelling of the story, it turned out that Rick had
thrown the coffee
directly at her. Even though Pat avoided
getting drenched by sidestepping the danger, she was
furious at Rick because he had tried to hurt her!
What if that hot coffee had hit her face?
No wonder Pat was angry! Once I began to I taunt her to hit me, that
pushed her over completely over the edge.
Anybody would be provoked to fight back! Rick's
made her hit him!
This entire horrible incident had been Rick's fault.
Shame on Rick.
Now her girlfriends began to spread the word.
WEEK LATER - THE PARTY
Meanwhile I didn't say a word to anyone.
too damn stupid to realize some follow-up
explanation was necessary. I assumed
what had happened was self-evident enough
that it didn't require my testimony.
Besides, non-violence had
worked wonders for Ghandi and ML King, why not me? Was it not apparent to everyone that a
powerful woman had struck a defenseless man with
savage blows three times and cut his face open over
some stupid pictures?
Pat had made a fool of herself,
Imagine my shock when I discovered I was
getting the blame.
I honestly had no idea what Pat had
been up to until a week after the incident. On
a Saturday night, I decided I had stayed
isolated long enough. I showed up at
a non-studio party thrown by a mutual friend. As I walked in, people were avoiding me like the
expected warm greetings and sympathy. Was I
missing something here?
LEARNING THINGS THE HARD WAY
I have always had a
bad habit of learning things the hard way. That has
always been my style. Unfortunately, they call it the
'Hard Way' for a reason - learning things the
hard way really hurts! I was about to receive one of
hardest lessons of my life.
Realizing something was wrong at the party, I pulled one of
to the side. I chose him because everyone else was
giving me the cold shoulder.
This man was clearly upset with me too, but at least he
willing to talk. That's how one of the strangest
conversations I have ever had in my life began. I trusted this guy
and got right to the
point. What the hell was going on?
The man stared at me in bewilderment. He couldn't
begin to comprehend how lost I appeared to be. Was I
No. I said that I had not spoken to a single person since
the incident a week ago. Had something happened I
didn't know about?
His eyes grew big as flying
saucers. His face was contorted with disbelief.
"Where have you been, Rick? Everyone at this
party is furious with you for how you have treated Pat these
past two years. Throwing that coffee at her
was uncalled for."
"What!?!" I was aghast. I could not believe what
I had just heard. All the breath in my body was just
sucked out of me. I was left gasping for air at the
He explained that his girlfriend had been in
communication with Pat all week. His girl friend kept him filled in with
all the gory details. The prevailing public sentiment had
I stared back uncomprehendingly. He continued to
As it was told to me, because I had first provoked Pat with my insensitivity, then
because I threw coffee at her, she was angry enough as it
was. But when I began my taunts, I had
practically forced her to hit me! The incident was now
considered completely my fault, especially since I had gone
"Gone into hiding?"
"You ran out of the building. You must have run
because you knew you were wrong. Since then no one has
seen or heard from you in a week. We assumed that you
were so ashamed of what you did you have been in hiding."
My mouth dropped open. Who comes up with this stuff?
I wasn't hiding. I was minding my own business.
Before I could say another word, my friend asked me why had I been so mean to her.
After all, Pat's blows were only a reflection of her
desperation about how badly I
had treated her over
the course of the marriage.
"Hell, Rick, I would have hit you too!"
badly I had treated her?'
Are you people
out of your minds!?
listed the facts to my friend.
never had affairs, flirtations, or girlfriends.
resented being given the blame for the breakup.
were getting divorced for one simple reason:
could not stop arguing with each other.
didn't raise the wedding picture issue to begin
never hit Pat with any coffee. NEVER.
did I throw any coffee at her. Side-step the
That's nonsense. If I had thrown coffee at
her, she would have been drenched! No one
dodges coffee at three feet. I offered to do an
experiment if he didn't believe me.
- Nor did I ever raise a
hand, curse or threaten her that day. For that
matter, I never laid a hand on her in our entire
marriage. If I had the self-control to
never throw a fist, I certainly had the same
self-control to not throw coffee.
- Pat had slapped a man who put up no
defense as hard as she could three times in a
row. There were witnesses.
HE SAID - SHE
My friend listened to
what I said, then stared back at
me. Now he looked shocked. My
version of the story was so radically at
odds with what he believed had happened that
now he didn't know who to believe.
Finally he spoke up. "Does
anyone know what you just said besides me?"
"No, I guess not."
"You may not like me saying this, but I am
having a hard time believing you after being
brain-washed by Pat's version for an entire
"Why can't you
"Well, for one thing, Pat said you threw coffee at her.
You don't do that to a woman. You do not throw coffee
at a woman... or anyone for that matter."
"I am okay with that. I already told you I did not throw
coffee at her. She was standing three feet from me.
How is she quick enough to dodge an entire cup of coffee?
I started to throw coffee, but stopped immediately. A few drops slopped to the floor after
I jerked my hand back, but there was no danger."
"Interesting. I will tell you this much, now that
I have heard your side of it, at least I
am not mad at you any more. For one thing, you didn't
hit her or hit her back. That's good. Actually,
that's very good. But I am going to have to take your
word for it on the coffee angle. Everybody claims they
saw you throw coffee at her."
"Like who, for example?"
"Actually, now that you ask, I don't know anyone who saw you
throw any coffee, but everyone assumes you did because
that's what they were told. The
only thing I saw was you taunting Pat to go ahead and swing
away for two punches." He paused for a second. "And I must say you
egged her on pretty good."
My friend went on to say that immediately after the fight, everybody had talked amongst
each other to try to make sense out of the brutal encounter that
exploded out of nowhere. The confusion had been
tremendous. What on earth had caused this to happen?
Everyone assumed at least someone knew what was going on.
The mystery was driving them crazy.
Finally they decided to ask Pat to clear up the mystery. She
had begun to stop crying. After all, they couldn't ask
me - I had walked out of the building. That's when
they got Pat's version of what had happened. Pat's
version had made complete sense at the time.
But now that he heard my version, he admitted there was something he
just couldn't figure out. He simply could not figure out what I was
trying to accomplish by inviting Pat to keep hitting me.
What was THAT all about?
Yes, the vision of Pat
swinging from her heels had definitely made an impression on
everyone. And seeing my face almost do an Exorcist 360
from the force of each blow would be something he would
Why would I stand there and take that kind of abuse, much less
encourage it? What's the point?
I let out a bitter laugh. I filled him in on the year
of arguments. I explained my feelings of
total futility over the arguments. My inability to
ever heal the wounds or find any compromise was driving me
crazy. All that arguing and nothing ever got solved.
I told him I loved Pat in the beginning, but
that she wasn't around the studio that much until after we
got married. Once she realized how some women looked at me at
the studio, she got afraid. Then one night she
thought I was smiling back. That is when she went nuts and read me the
argued about me smiling at some woman in
dance class for crying out loud! For
an entire week, we would go round and round
about some stupid simple gesture that no
ordinary wife would ever give a second
How on earth can someone be so
jealous and so incapable of listening to
reason? Those arguments were torture!
Over a simple smile! How do I make a
living if I have to worry about showing any
human warmth whatsoever?
I tried as hard as I humanly could to
make her happy, but I failed. Okay, I
accept that. But what did I do to
deserve being made to look like a monster in
this divorce? Even before the slapping fight,
Pat was spilling her guts to anyone who will
listen. 'Poor Pat. Look what Rick did
to her!' That is insanity.
I stood there letting her hit me
because I wanted the whole world to see the
angry woman behind the mask."
My friend looked at
me. "Well, I suppose you succeeded to some extent.
Every man I have talked to swears he is never going to get
on her bad side." Then he gave me an ironic smile.
"But if you think you are going to persuade many more people
that this nonsense was her fault, you are sadly mistaken.
You have been convicted, Rick. You are guilty in the
eyes of everyone in our group of mistreating that woman and
driving her to this point."
His words stung bitterly. It wasn't fair! For
seventeen months I had been battered into submission by
constant harangues over a bunch of bullshit and now I was
going to get stuck with all the blame as well. How
could I be so stupid to let this happen?
I felt the
humiliation of total defeat creeping across my soul.
It was too late to
get the truth out now. Pat's version had been in place
for over a week. What was I going to do, call every
person and explain my side of the event?
Who in their right mind invites that kind of punishment?
And what made me think they would take the time to listen?
I was crestfallen.
Thanks to the combination of my silence and Pat's careful
manipulation of the facts, Pat had
successfully spun the
story completely in her favor. People had
already made up their minds. The damage was
What was the use of continuing the fight? My split second decision to gamble
on embarrassing Pat had backfired
far worse than I ever could have imagined. Letting the
woman bash the crap out of me had accomplished absolutely
At my wedding, but no longer my friend.
The humiliation of being
battered senseless in front of my friends was now
compounded by the humiliation of being licked in the
court of public opinion as well. Everyone had
pretty much made up their minds and sided with Pat.
Donna Campbell (pictured) didn't even see what
happened, but sprang to her defense nonetheless. Donna spread the word to anyone who would listen
that I was responsible for the incident. I had
gotten what I deserved.
When I heard what Donna had said, I felt betrayed.
I was astonished - and hurt - that women like Donna
and others in the group had rushed to defend Pat and
help spin the story in her favor. In fact,
Pat's explanation was so plausible that even my male
friends pretty much assumed I had to have to done
something wrong to deserve that kind of punishment.
Hell hath no fury like the wrath of a woman scorned. In the
end, even though Pat had belted me three times
without my laying a hand on her or cursing her in
any way, the
incident was labeled my fault. People
decided Pat was innocent because I had forced her to
hit me. Shame on me.
OF THE STORY!!
In retrospect, I
didn't know it at the time, but I never had
a chance. Pat
loved working the phones; I hated phones.
Pat loved to socialize; I preferred being
alone when I wasn't teaching. Pat
wanted to deal with the pain of
the divorce by talking to friends; I preferred to lick my wounds
Pat's first instinct after
the slapping incident was to explain what
happened; my first instinct was to go home
Worst of all was the fact that I had
no inkling what was going on behind my
back. My shock at the party when I
how badly Pat had turned the tables
against me was akin to having my own private Pearl
Pat had knocked me senseless AGAIN.
What a brutal lesson.
how I learned that whenever you are involved
in any ambiguous situation, you stick around
and talk to everyone who will listen.
Do not leave the scene of the crime until
you are certain that the people whose
opinion will decide the winner and the loser
in this event have heard YOUR SIDE OF THE
was as clear as day to me that I had not
thrown any coffee.
But after being knocked senseless, it never
occurred to me that no one had seen what
happened except Pat and I.
Only two people on earth knew what the truth
was about that coffee - Pat and myself.
Had I stuck around to let people ask me
questions, I would have cleared up all the
confusion right there on the spot.
And this story would have had a much
sure YOUR SIDE OF THE STORY is heard as soon
see my reputation is at stake, My
fame is shrewdly gored."
speaking to his comrade Ulysses after being fatally wounded by Paris at
the gates of Troy. Once considered invincible,
it hurts Achilles to acknowledge his own mortality.
for me, there was no question that Pat's
arrow had found my Achilles Heel. Hmm.
I guess she proved I wasn't the only
'Archer' in the family. I had been
completely and utterly vanquished in the
Arena of Public Opinion.
I quickly left the party. I couldn't face these people
any more. As I drove home, the humiliation coursed through my
mind and body. I physically ached from the realization
had made me look foolish and cruel.
I found myself spiraling into a deep, dark depression.
People no longer
respected me. My self-esteem had
been shattered. My pride was deeply
wounded by the embarrassment.
Worst of all,
my friend had predicted, my friends had
turned against me. They were my friends before they
were Pat's friends. Now I was the Bad Guy.
It was one thing to
fix a leak, but it was impossible to fix a
dam break. Among my former circle of
friends, word of what Pat
said had spread like wildfire. No one stood up for me
because even the people who had witnessed
what had happened were no longer sure of
what they had seen. Her version
of the events planted enough doubt in their
minds that even my closest friends were
Yes, there was coffee on the floor.
That they knew. But no
one had seen me throw it.... and no
one had NOT seen me throw it.
No one had even been looking.
Maybe I did throw the coffee and Pat had
jumped back to avoid it.
And yes, they had seen me taunt Pat
to go ahead and hit me. There was no
doubt about that either.
Furthermore, no one had a clue what
the fight was really about. People
were totally baffled over what could cause
venom of that magnitude. Only my
friend who had taken the time to listen had
a rough idea.
While some people
reserved judgment, others jumped onto Pat's Bandwagon
wholeheartedly. A good example was Donna David. Donna had met her husband John Campbell at my
studio. She had taken dozens of classes from me. Donna
had been to my wedding. But obviously this wasn't
enough to create any loyalty to me.
Furthermore Donna had not been at the studio to see a thing
that happened. But, like many people who swallow
Spin hook, line
and sinker, Donna was too busy to dig for the truth.
She definitely did not bother to call me to hear my side
of the story.
Instead, Donna became a ringleader for Pat's Propaganda Club.
At the party that night, I heard Donna was Pat's biggest
defender. All week long, Donna had worked the phones
relentlessly in Pat's favor.
Nor was Donna alone; she was just the most vicious.
My friends Risa
Beckham and Jim Ponder
I was astonished - and deeply hurt - at the number
of people who had once been my friends that now rushed to defend Pat.
These people knew me, but I got not one
single benefit of the doubt.
A woman had belted a man 3 times over wedding pictures.
The man did not threaten her, did not raise a hand
to attack or to defend, did not call her names, nor
did he curse her in any way. Nevertheless the
incident was labeled his fault. Everyone felt
sorry for Pat. Poor Pat. Look what Poor
had to deal with. Rick asked to be hit.
Pat didn't want to hit him. All Rick had to do was take down some pictures.
Rick forced her to hit him.
Poor Pat? The irony was astounding. This
woman had beaten the crap out of me, then magically
turned the event around to make me look like a
complete fool. Now that was impressive 'Spin'
to be sure.
Pat wasn't 'poor' anything.
With Pat's Spin Machine in full gear, her
interpretation of the events stood unchallenged as
the Public Version of what had happened. Pat emerged from the smoke a complete
And what about me?
I felt like a complete fool that I had not mounted
any kind of defense. I was a private person in
those days and totally unprepared for this kind of
Soon my shame
turned into depression. I was in some of the
worst pain of my life.
loser. I was at the lowest point of my life.
The divorce was
quick. Two months maybe. Each night was an ordeal.
Every night I was barely able to go to the studio and teach.
It took my
face weeks to heal. Every night that I went to the
studio, the bruises and cuts came along with me as a purple
reminder of my shame. I would notice students in dance class staring at me
when they thought I wasn't looking.
I suppose they had a right to wonder what the heck had
happened. After all, the left side of my face was totally black and
blue with a long scab that looked like a dueling scar.
Actually, I guess it was a dueling scar.
a few rays of sunlight in my gloom. Thank goodness for
the studio. I took solace in the fact that
only a very few people at the studio knew what had happened. While I grappled with my self-esteem problems and
my sense of
studio was my only contact with people. I could
function there because I didn't think people were laughing
at me behind my back. It was the
only thing that kept me going.
My other ray of sunlight was Pat's total disappearance from
my life. I suppose now that she had her revenge, there
was no reason to stick around. Without any further
goading to contend with, at least I was allowed to heal in
THE FINAL BLOW
I was now completely alone.
Pat's Spin Control had essentially built a wall
between me and every one of my friends.
Not only had my wife had left me, she had taken all
my former friends with her. Not one person
that I can remember bothered to call during my dark
nights of the soul. Not one person. It
reminded me of a line from a country-western song,
"My wife ran off with my best friend and I miss
My isolation made
Thanks to my friend's explanation, at least I understood
why no one had rushed to my defense, but I still had
trouble accepting it. I had been left out there to dry by my friends.
I felt abandoned. I felt like a leper, an ugly
After I learned the
devastating news at the party, I did take down the Wedding Pictures, but not for
the reason you might think. I figured at some
point either Pat or one her girlfriends would take the
pictures down themselves and destroy the collage. Then
I would lose the pictures forever. So I took the
pictures down to protect them.
Interestingly, this action also became part of the spin.
'Rick realized his mistake and took down the pictures.
Too bad he didn't come to his senses sooner...'
As you have seen,
I have published several of the original pictures as part of
this story. These were all people - including Pat - who were important to me.
Although I resented Pat's decision to impose her censorship
on me, I still liked being to see her beauty and her smile.
In the beginning, we had been very much in love. I
wanted to preserve that memory; I guess she felt just the
Was I right to insist on leaving the pictures up? Or
did Pat have a right to demand that they come down?
I suppose the readers of this story can decide who was
lost this battle. Every close friend in the
world I had was related to the studio. With my
reputation as a decent human being in total shambles,
relationships that went back for years had been damaged if
The Final Blow was the irony that every person whose
Wedding Picture I had fought so hard to keep up on the wall had been
ripped from my life after all.
Fortunately, there were no other long-term
consequences from this ordeal. It helped that
the only one who was actually hurt was me.
I doubt I lost many students at the studio.
Like I said earlier, the studio itself was pretty
insulated. I am sure people heard rumors, but
realistically since I was the only victim and my
studio was still a good place to learn to dance,
they didn't really care.
Pat disappeared from my life, people began to forgive and forget.
I did lose some friends permanently, but in time the
rest began to welcome me back in the fold. There
were a lot of people out
there who had been through a divorce of their own. They knew that things are not always very pretty
despite the best of intentions.
My biggest problem was finding a way to overcome my pain.
I have never felt so much pain in my life.
Fortunately, Life did throw me a safety net. An old friend - Dancing - came to my rescue.
Dancing literally saved my soul.
It is a marvelous story of redemption if
you wish to read it -
If an event
like this were to ever happen again, I would not
waste a single second posting my side of the story on the
Pat had a right to be disappointed.
Heck, I was disappointed too. But I didn't see
any reason for her to take revenge.
We had our problems, but I never did anything cruel
to deserve what she did to me. Yes, there were
arguments, but there were no affairs, no physical
violence, nor any threats of that nature.
We were very happy at the start, but over time we
found out how incompatible we were. Since we couldn't get along,
it made sense to separate. Was that a
reason for Pat to shame me before every person I
end our marriage with dignity, it was more valuable
to her to humiliate me and damage my reputation as a
liked it or not, our marriage was a part of studio
history. Those pictures were part of my career. She can't erase the past that easily.
For a brief time, Pat was a big part of my
life and my studio. She had no right to order
me to sweep our failed marriage under the rug.
my life too; I have the right to tell my story and
the story of my studio. Too bad she didn't
like how our marriage turned out, but that's life.
Deal with it
like an adult, not a thug.
Pat taught not only me a valuable lesson
about defending your reputation, but now thanks to
this story, she has taught you the same lesson.
delivered one of the most important lessons I have
ever learned - stand up for yourself or suffer the
article stands as evidence that I have indeed learned to
speak up in the court of public opinion. In
this regard, I am in Pat's eternal debt. She
taught me well.
Experience is a
Comb that Life throws you after you have already
lost your hair.
What a shame I
didn't have this knowledge 20 years ago back when it
would have done me some good. Let my ordeal
serve as a first-hand example of that piece of
By the way, out of the 24 people present on the
day of the Final Blow, five of them are
still active in my life. If anyone doubts my version
of the events,
go ask them yourself.
Tom Easley, Carol
Gafford, Mike Fagan, Ted Jones, Margie Saibara.
If nothing else, I imagine they can confirm that
Pat's clothing was completely free of coffee.
“Those who are
willing to be the most ruthless always
pacifists always lose, because the
anti-pacifists kill them.
Fight back or lose.
The meek do
not always inherit the earth.
Sometimes they are eradicated first.
This is the lesson of the Holocaust.”
- Author of Quote Unknown
Perception is Reality
- In Life
and Politics, it doesn't matter what the truth is.
just matters what people believe the truth is.
Note: You have read a new
version of this story written expressly to explain
the concepts of Spin using my own personal
experience as an example.
The original version
contained more background information about what
Rick and Pat fought about. If you are curious,
Click here for the
TRILOGY TWO -
Harvest Moon Ball
We have completed my
story about Spin Control. Now we turn our
attention to Smear Campaigns.
At one point in time, SSQQ had a complete monopoly
on Swing Students in Houston. However, in the
space of just one year, another organization
effectively shoved us into second place using a
That was a very big turnaround. This
incident taught me the hard way what happens when a
Smear Campaign is left to stand
I would like to add one thing. If you thought the story about
Spin Control was interesting, in my opinion
Harvest Moon Ball
is even better.