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

Chapter One:

Gertrude smiled. "When did you first discover how effective your dance classes were at creating relationships?"

I have made this discovery at two different times, but the most dramatic moment came during the 1999 Christmas Holidays. This is when I totaled up the web site wedding and engagements announcements for the very first time. 

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

24 Weddings and Engagements in one year!  Holy smokes!  Wow!

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

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

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

All kinds of light bulbs began to explode! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's when I decided to try a little!

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

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

2000 was the finest year in the history of my studio.  The energy was unbelievable.

At the end of the year, I wrote an article titled "Millennium Romance 2000".  This was the story where I first announced to the world about my hunch that SSQQ was the 'Romance Center of Houston'.  I was so proud of my studio I could burst!

It wasn't just me either.  I had matchmakers all over the studio.  Every time someone would announce an engagement, my instructors would fight amongst themselves to take credit!  

Of course Rachel Seff (Koenig) claimed every one of them.  I think she should be called 'Yenta'. She loves introducing people and making things happen.

In that way, she is much more aggressive than I am.  Rachel is my role model.

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

Well, Gertrude, maybe that's something you could do for me.  Perhaps you could contact our friends like Ms. Dooley at the Houston Chronicle. I imagine the Houston Chronicle would have the resources to do a better job than I could. Plus maybe be a little more objective in the process.  Just do me one favor.  Tell them not to do like it the Houston Press does and have people phone or email in their votes. That's a popularity contest.  Any huge church group with the ability to "get out the vote" could win easily.

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

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

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

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

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