Home Up Interlude



Written by Rick Archer


Prior to his death in 2018, the great physicist Stephen Hawking revealed that he was an atheist. 

Dr. Hawking said, "I believe the simplest explanation is that there is no God.  No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. 

This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either.  We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and, for that, I am extremely grateful."

Dr. Hawking was an extremely tactful man.  Known to be on good terms with the Pope and other religious leaders, Hawking added an interesting caveat. 

"That said, it is impossible for science to prove there is no God."


Although I happen to be a great admirer of Stephen Hawking, I have an interesting story to tell which directly contradicts his statement above.  I think my life experiences offer a compelling reason to suggest there is a Divine Power and that our lives are guided by Fate.  Given the wild twists and turns of my life, I think any reader would be fascinated by the utter improbability of some of these events.

However, I do have a problem.  Nobody has ever heard of me.  One day an acquaintance made a comment.

"Rick, what is the purpose of your book?  Best I can tell, it is an autobiography, but that genre is usually restricted to famous people.  So I assume you are famous, right?  Unless you find a way to become famous, no one is going to read your book."

Painful as it is to admit, the guy had a point.  Considering I am relatively unknown, who is going to bet on a dark horse like me against a renowned physicist?  I think we can all agree I am facing a formidable opponent.  In fact, I shudder to see the Vegas odds regarding the Stephen Hawking - Rick Archer debate on the existence of God.  That said, in the spirit of Goliath versus David, I think I have a very good chance of winning this showdown. 


So who am I and why do I think my book is worth reading?   Before we get too far, let's establish my Underdog credentials.

•  I was an only child.

•  At age 9, my parents divorced.

•  I was quickly abandoned by my father.  After he married his mistress following the divorce, he forgot about me.

•  Following the divorce, my mother went off the deep end.

•  My unstable mother lost job after job.

•  Since my mother could not pay her bills, we were frequently evicted.  I had eleven homes in nine years. 

•  Due to moving all the time, making friends wasn't easy, so I became a loner.

•  To deal with her loneliness, my mother spent three nights a week in bars looking for men.

•  I spent a lot of time alone.  With no relatives or family friends to lean on, I was forced to start raising myself.

•  I was the poorest kid in my school from the Fourth Grade lasting through Twelfth Grade.

•  I was the ugliest kid in my school from the Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade.  A bizarre case of acne fueled by a lymph gland infection was responsible.  The fact that the condition was left untreated resulted in extreme disfigurement. 

•  I did not have a single date during high school.  Due to my disfigurement, I shied from any girl who came near.  A classmate referred to me as a 'Creepy Loser Kid'.  Sad to say, those harsh words would haunt me for many years to come. 

•  My lonely, difficult childhood explains why I was a social and emotional cripple when I began Graduate School.

•  Deciding a cripple riddled with emotional problems had no business becoming a therapist, my professors told me to leave.  Despite excellent grades, I was tossed from graduate school. 


Okay, I guess my Underdog credentials are sufficiently established.  Here I am at age 24.  I have been devastated by being dismissed from graduate school.  I am on my own with no money, no job, no career, no parents, no friends, and no confidence.  I am lost. 

Does this sound like a guy who intends to make a strong case for the existence of God?  Well, look at it this way.  Some people might conclude it would take a miracle to turn this guy around.  Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. 


For reasons that left me baffled, after all my misfortune, suddenly I became lucky.  Ridiculously lucky.  After a while, I grew suspicious and started marking down each curious moment.  By the time I was 32, I had a List of  80 events that suggested a Hidden Hand might have been involved.  Thanks to all the weird stuff, I went on to create the largest independent dance studio in America.  

From 1978 till 2010, I ran SSQQ (Slow Slow Quick Quick), a very unusual dance studio which caught on in a major way here in Houston, Texas.  SSQQ became Houston's largest dance studio in 1981.  By the Millennium, we were the largest in the country. 

Okay, you know the clichι.  You've seen Saturday Night Fever and Dirty Dancing, so you know exactly how my road to success was paved.  So maybe I didn't have the best of homes, but of course I had plenty of moxie and talent.  I was a hungry, ambitious kid who learned to dance on the streets.  I developed a huge following.  I used my skill to win a big dance contest, then parlayed my street cred into a job at a dance studio. 

Yawn.  Show some imagination!  We've heard this before, right?  With a wink, we know I will turn out to be a good-looking hunk like Patrick Swayze with lots of girlfriends and plenty of envious buddies who tag along to catch my leftovers.  I am slick with the ladies, quick with the quip, and fast on my feet.  I'm on fire!    

Well, guess again.  That ain't me, babe.  In reality, I was closer to Quasimodo than to Adonis.  In a curious twist, I was the exact opposite of Patrick Swayze.  And how do I know this?  Because Patrick's mother Patsy Swayze was my best friend for a year.

Patsy Swayze was candid enough to tell me the truth... when it came to talent, I was no match for her son.  In fact, after a year of taking her adult jazz class, I wasn't even good enough to join her dance company.  Patsy really liked me, but she knew I was too hopeless as a dancer to make the necessary improvement.  In the kindest way possible, Patsy suggested I turn to a different direction. 


Without a doubt, I was highly unlikely to succeed as a dance teacher.  When one takes into consideration my handicaps, I had no business creating a dance studio... much less the most successful one in the country. 

And yet that is what happened.  A social cripple with no charm and no dance skills went on to create the largest dance studio in America.  Although this is the truth, it seems impossible.  How on earth did I ever climb out of this hole? 

Shortly after being thrown out of graduate school, one day I wandered into a book store.  I discovered a curious little $1 paperback with a persuasive passage on the value of dancing as a way to meet women.  I already knew I had no talent for dancing, but I was desperate.  Reeling from acute loneliness, I was forced to consider 'Dance' as a way to escape my debilitating fear of rejection.  I certainly had no idea those dance lessons would change my life in such a profound way. 

I contend that 'Fate', or 'Providence' if you prefer, played a direct role in this strange turn of events.  I have a favorite Arabic saying that suggests if something is meant to be, God will move two mountains to make it happen. 

In my case, that is exactly what I believe... God moved two mountains.

Now let me go one step further.  There is a part of me that suspects my initial ineptitude was deliberate.  I believe it was my 'Destiny' to be buried as deep as possible under those mountains.  In that way, I would have the most unlikely success story imaginable just to make my point more clearly. 

Indeed, my rise from mediocrity was so implausible, I bet even Dr. Hawking would have been curious to see how I pulled this off.  

I have not exaggerated my predicament.  Following my graduate school failure, I was a seriously damaged kid.  Furthermore I faced long odds learning to dance.    My confidence was shattered, I had no direction and there was little fight left in me.  If you will grant me the honor of reading my saga, you will realize my self-assessment is accurate.  I had only one thing going for me. 







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