Written by Rick
God, Fate, and
My name is Rick
Archer. I have a story to tell which strongly suggests
that 'Fate' plays an important role in all our
No doubt you ask what qualifies me to write a
book on Fate.
something out of the ordinary takes place, like
everyone else I look for a Realistic
explanation. Normally I find a satisfactory
answer, but not always. Over the years there
have been several occasions when I was unable to
find an answer that made sense using the accepted
Rules of Reality. Born
over the years I have collected
Suspected Supernatural Events. I say 'Suspected'
because absolute certainty is nearly impossible.
Like anyone else, I suppose I could shrug my
shoulders and dismiss one or two incidents as 'just
one of those things'. However, when
dealing with 100 incidents, when
added together, the sheer bulk of these collected experiences
outlines a powerful case for the existence of Fate.
Although I believe we have Free Will, I do not believe we
have complete Free Will. There will be times when the Hidden Hand of God is responsible for
coordinating certain events in our lives over which we will have
no control. It then becomes our responsibility to
decide what to do. I am not alone in this belief.
For the past six million years, man has developed complex
belief systems to explain strange events such as Miracles
that defy what we know to be true about Reality. For
this reason, there are many Religions
which suggest there is an Invisible Man in the Sky who
created the Universe.
am not a 'Blind Faith' kind of person. There was a moment in college
when I very much wanted to believe in God's existence.
However I strongly preferred not
to take someone else's word for it. I wanted proof.
Age 20, I had already observed nearly two dozen situations that
raised an eyebrow. Thanks to a suggestion made by
Swiss psychotherapist Carl Jung, I wrote these events on a List, then continued to add more as my life
progressed. At the start of my career as a dance
instructor, the rate of these experiences increased
dramatically. By the time my List reached 60 at age
29, my mind was made up. I was convinced these
extraordinary events were being orchestrated by a Hidden
Hand beyond my awareness. The following 40 events
served to make my case even stronger.
am not the only person who seeks answers to the Mystery of
Life. Does God exist?
Does Fate exist? If this
subject interests you, I
invite you to
come along and assume the role of Judge and Jury. I
will present the evidence and let you decide for yourself
whether I have made my case beyond Reasonable Doubt.
Life can only be understood backwards; but it
must be lived forwards.
-- Søren Kierkegaard
fortunate to be in my 70s as I write. Without
Hindsight, my books would not be possible. 'Hindsight'
has made it so much easier to put things in
perspective. Many of the events I write about
only began to make sense much further down the road. You will meet two versions of
myself. I narrate the story of each
Suspected Supernatural Event
from my point of view
back in the days when the event occurred.
After I have told
the story, my
older self will frequently break in to explain what I
later concluded via the gift of Hindsight.
books. They are
best described as Saturday Night Fever
meets Urban Cowboy meets
Risky Business meets
Groundhog Day meets Twilight Zone.
A stranger collection of books will be hard to find.
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 deal with the serious
emotional handicaps caused by my tough childhood.
This book tells the story of my first 34 Suspected
Supernatural Events, some of which are flat-out
unbelievable. After reading these
stories, my Readers will have no trouble
understanding why I became interested in Fate.
Magic Carpet Ride picks up where the first
book left off. It covers a ten year span
(1974-1984) which reveals how a series of uncanny lucky
breaks created SSQQ, the dance studio
which became my life work. Covering Events
35-98, during this time
my belief in Fate became unshakeable.
Gypsy Prophecy picks up where the
Magic Carpet Ride left off. Starting
in 1984, the rate of new Supernatural Events came to
a standstill. Over the next 17 years I can only think of
three or four incidents that deserved to make my
List. I was so busy I barely noticed that my
life was actually kind of normal for a while there.
That changed dramatically in 2001.
Gypsy Prophecy tells the
fascinating story of why I believe my 2004 marriage to
my wife Marla
was predestined. From there I go on to tell
more stories of my dance career as well as the
wonderful Love Boat
Era created by Marla.
book I go
straight down the List of
Supernatural Events. Once you walk in my shoes
for a while, you will
have the chance to decide whether I am out of my mind or
onto something remarkable.
we go further, a brief biography would help.
Retired now, I once had a 32 year career as a dance teacher
in Houston, Texas. Back in the late Seventies, I
created a dance studio named
SSQQ (Slow Slow Quick Quick).
We taught social dancing such as Ballroom, Swing,
Latin and Country-Western. At its peak, 1,400 people a week walked
through our doors. Along
the way I helped build a thriving dance community
kept intact by a countless number of close
friendships. Retiring in 2010, I left
behind the legacy of a popular business that taught
roughly 400,000 students how to dance. SSQQ
was a pretty wonderful place if I may say so.
SSQQ was by far the largest dance studio in Houston
for three decades. In fact, there is good reason to believe SSQQ was the largest
independent studio in the United States at the turn of the
Right from the
outset SSQQ was an amazing hotbed of romantic
activity. It seems the moment a man learns how to
properly place a woman in his arms, his new-found skill
increases his charm dramatically. Since women love to be
held, the combination of dance music plus a
journey across the floor in the arms of a gentleman forms
an irresistible magic. In the ancient days before the Internet,
dancing was a unique way to make contact with a
future husband or wife (Hint: it still works today).
Once the spark was lit, a bond
was created that often flourished. Slow Dance leads to Romance
was our motto. I never tire of repeating that phrase. With a legion of energetic
dancers meeting one partner after another in dance
class, my studio became Cupid's playground. With a wide
range of choices, people could pick the one they liked and let
the potent dance chemistry go to work. Countless love affairs were
spawned, many of which turned into serious relationships. The statistic I am most
proud of are the 400 or so marriages that took
place over the 32 years. Rarely did a month
go by without a new marriage. With frequent
parties to support our dance classes, I created a blueprint that made SSQQ the closest thing
to a wedding factory ever designed.
Another interesting feature about my tenure
were 50 successful dance cruises spread out
over a 20 year period. Thanks to a fortuitous
discovered cruise trips and social dancing formed a
potent combination. Once a year large
groups of SSQQ students approaching 200 would dance
the night away on trips around the Gulf of Mexico
and Caribbean. In addition,
we would take an annual destination cruise to exotic
locations stretching from Finland to Australia.
These popular trips were organized by my wife Marla. It turns out that
Slow Dance and Romance is just as effective
at sea as on land. Marla was so good in her
role that I give her
full credit for 10-20 of those 400 SSQQ marriages.
It is interesting to note I met Marla on the 2001
cruise. And how exactly did we connect?
I asked her to dance. Hmm. Pretty clever
line, don't you think? Our highly unusual courtship is
covered in Gypsy Prophecy.
have led a
very unusual life,
at first glance I seem normal
enough. I am happily married, have a
daughter in graduate school, own a house by a lake, and love
dogs. I have never failed to pay a bill and
have no criminal record beyond a speeding ticket.
Were it not for my strange ideas about Fate, I
suppose I might be considered a a model citizen.
However, if you dig deeper, you will find I
have dedicated my life to asking questions regarding
the Mystery of Life.
Following a series of remarkable and quite
mystifying coincidences during college, I became so
unsettled by the improbability of these events that
I began to ask questions. Following two
years of research into Mysticism and Eastern
Religion, I became certain there is more to
this world than meets the eye. Along the way I
developed a longing
to be of service. Due to my interest in
philosophy and psychology, I set my sights on
becoming a therapist. In 1973 I applied to
turns out, I
am the fortunate beneficiary of a fabulous education.
Since my mother was unable to keep a job, a full scholarship
allowed me to attend the finest
private school in Houston. This led to a full
scholarship at an excellent Eastern
university as well as a full scholarship to
attend graduate school in Clinical Psychology. At
the time I thought this would allow me to fulfill my
problem. My elite education could not hide the
fact that I had extreme social and emotional handicaps. I
was an only child who was abandoned by my father and
raised by a dysfunctional mother. A
semi-orphan starting at age
10, I was more or less forced to raise myself.
Unfortunately, I did not do a very good job.
As a young adult, I had serious trouble relating to people my
own age. Indeed, my near-total
lack of dating experience cost me dearly in graduate school. I
had the misfortune to
fall in love with a treacherous woman named Vanessa.
loved me dearly until the night her old boyfriend
knocked on her door.
I ended up with a broken heart.
butted heads with the chairman of the Clinical
Psychology program. Not surprisingly, he won.
gives me no pleasure to admit this, but I deserved
to be thrown out of Graduate School. My professors had me pegged.
In addition to my problems with authority, I was
self-centered, outspoken, prone to sarcasm and
thin-skinned. Good therapists are gentle
souls with stellar listening skills. Since I
had never listened to anyone in my life, clearly I had the wrong personality to be a therapist.
In Hindsight, I suppose my
professors were right.
I had long feared there was
something badly wrong with me. Now I had
My dismissal really hurt. Underneath my
prickly personality, I had been serious about my
contribute something meaningful to the world.
Now I was
completely lost. Returning to Houston, I
landed a depressing job as a child abuse investigator.
Taking stock of my situation, what should I
do with my spare time? Should I begin work on
a different career? Or should I work on my
problems with women?
Following Vanessa's betrayal, I was dealing
with a debilitating ten-year problem I referred to as the Epic Losing Streak.
Due to a serious acne problem, I
never had a single date in high school. I was
too ashamed to ask. I
assumed I would do better in college, but instead
failed miserably. Why? Due to my lack of
high school dating experience, I was four years
behind in social maturity. As an example, my
idea of dating was this offered a perfect chance to talk about
myself endlessly. Paying a
heavy price to learn painful lessons the hard way
in my Freshman year, I
gave up dating for the remainder of college. Now I was eight
years behind in social maturity.
In graduate school I decided to
try again. Due to my inexperience, I had no
idea how to guard my heart when a deceitful woman
played me for a fool. So there you have it.
Age 24, I was a ten-year failure in affairs of the
heart as well as a failure in my chosen career.
However, underneath my rough exterior, I was smart
and had a good heart. If I could just lick these
personality problems, I still wanted very much to
contribute in some way. But how does a sick
mind heal itself? How does a person trapped at Rock Bottom get himself back on his
feet? Following graduate school, I knew the sensible place to start was
to find a new career. However my loneliness was so acute, I decided finding a
girlfriend was more important at the moment.
Only one problem. Where do I start to close a
In Hindsight, it was a very bad
idea to put solving my Epic Losing Streak ahead of the career issue. If I had
pursued a new career first, I would have
been seen as marriage material much sooner rather than
later. Instead my
rather silly decision to use dance lessons as a way to
meet women postponed my search for a new career for three
years. Why three years? Because I was a
very slow learner (nor do I exaggerate). The irony of course is that I did not
find a single steady girlfriend the entire time.
So imagine how utterly futile I felt. The Epic Losing Streak
had stretched to thirteen years, I still did not
have a career and my goofy Dance Project had not
come close to solving my acute loneliness.
What an absurd waste of three long years! But here is where things got very
strange. Taking one or two dance lessons a
week for three years, not once did I ever suspect I
was secretly preparing for a future dance career.
Then one day out of thin air a
dance career accidentally materialized. I was
dumbfounded. How is it possible to prepare for
a career without having the slightest idea what is
going on? No doubt my Reader is equally
curious. Wouldn't it be great if we could all
wake up one day and have an incredibly satisfying
32-year career handed to us?
So how did this come to pass?
Following graduate school,
I needed a way to overcome my staggering fear of a
rejection. Paralyzed with doubt and
insecurity, I was at the point where one more
rude dismissal from a pretty girl might just put me away
for a long time. I was so fearful of
rejection, I found myself unable to approach any
girl to strike up a conversation. Locked in my
apartment night after night too fearful to make a
move, that is when
Fate kicked in. One night it occurred to me
that maybe a book
could offer suggestions on how to approach a girl I
did not know.
Once a nerd, always
a nerd, so off to the nearest
bookstore I went. A book with a strange title caught my eye.
The price tag was one dollar. Why so cheap?
It was a used paperback. Curious, I took a
The Mistress Book
promised to teach me how to find a Mistress and
keep her on my own terms. Considering my
miserable track record, this was an impressive sales
pitch. A cursory glance at the book revealed
the author was very bitter towards women.
Somewhere along the line his heart went cold.
Love was for suckers; he would dedicate his life to
female conquest. And so he did if his statistics can
be believed. The stories of his exploits were
so cruel, it was readily apparent why this book had
As for me, I was still reeling from the
pain of Vanessa's betrayal, so I knew where
this man was coming from. Fortunately, my
cynicism was not quite as dark as his. I still
believed there was hope for True Love. Turned
off by the author's misogyny, just as I went to place the
book back on the shelf, I wondered what
year the book was written.
There beside the year of
publication was a very curious inscription. "This
book is dedicated to Vanessa. Who's sorry now?"
Oh my God! 'Vanessa' was the
name of the woman who two-timed me in grad school!
Same Vanessa? Very unlikely, but the
coincidence was uncanny.
A song immediately began to
play in my head. Solitary Man.
How could I ever forget the opening line?
"Linda was mine till the time
that I found her. Holding Jim, loving him.
Then Sue came along, loved me strong. Me
and Sue, that guy too."
The extraordinary 'Vanessa' coincidence
suggested I had found this book for a reason.
Concluding that any man with a grudge against a
woman named Vanessa was a friend of mine, for a
dollar I purchased the book that would profoundly change my
author had a theory. Since women are attracted
to excellence, let a woman see a man doing what he
does best. Put Mick Jagger on a beach, yawn.
Put Mick Jagger on a stage, scream. Made sense, but what I did best was read books.
Not exactly a babe magnet. I could not think
of a single skill I could use to attract attention.
Just then I found a section on the benefits of
"There are certain skills
which on occasion might stimulate a girl to turn
her head in your direction instead of the other
guy who is competing for her. Dancing is
one of them. I won't say everyone can be a
great dancer, but if you put your mind to it, most men can become good dancers.
Given the stakes of the game and the effort
involved as slight as it is, there is no reason
why a man should not learn to become a good (or
at least tolerable) dancer.
is odd about this idea is that very few men have
a clue about the power of dance. Most guys
Asking a girl to dance is the fastest legal way
to get a woman in a man's arms. Dinner,
chocolate, roses, jewelry, cool pickup lines,
give me a break. In certain situations there
is no easier way to meet a girl than to ask
her to dance. But I suggest you learn to
dance first. If you intend to impress her,
you need to know what you are doing ahead of
Given my deplorable state, one
can imagine I was very intrigued by the dance
suggestion. However, based on previous
experience, I already knew I
would have serious difficulty learning to dance.
I never danced in high school. A neighborhood
friend had offered to teach me only to give up
rather quickly. I had been
humiliated in college when I caught two girls
laughing at me behind my back at a mixer dance.
Disgraced, I had not danced again since. Fortunately the author liked to use
anecdotes to explain his various techniques.
The Lost Art of Slow Dance
A knowledge of dance can be very useful because it gives a
man the excuse he needs to approach a woman he doesn't know. For example,
one night I
visited a nightclub and noticed a pretty girl at the bar.
I was still sizing her up when another guy moved
in ahead of me. Always ready to learn something new in
the Art of the Pick-up,
I decided to see if this guy was any better
than me. Sitting close enough to listen in,
the man's opening line was
standard. 'May I join you?'
That was a good start.
I've used it myself. He
had approached her without hesitation, spoke politely and
had been rewarded with
After sitting down,
the man offered to buy her a drink. Although I frown
on this common
technique, this was my chance to reevaluate my
opinion. Let's see if it gets him anywhere. At this point,
Mr. Hopeful latched onto the lady and plied her with
But he wasn't clicking with his conversation. Her body language said she was bored.
nearby, I had made brief eye contact with the woman two times. Now I needed an
opening. When a Sinatra song came on, 'Fly Me to the
Moon', I saw her tap
her foot to the music. That's all I needed to know. Rising
from my vantage point, I
approached with confidence. Sticking my hand out, I asked
her to dance. I expected she would accept
because she seemed to like this song. It turned out I was right.
My competitor gave me a look that would kill, but I could have
immediately went to work. I am a good dancer. I know
what I am doing because I took lessons and because I practice. Sure enough, by the end of the song,
was dancing with her body pressed close to mine. Cheek to cheek
is always a good sign.
She liked the music, she liked the dancing, and she liked
me too. One thing led to another and I suggested we go
have a drink somewhere else. Of course, that would be
my apartment, but I hadn't told her that yet.
luck? Hell no. I am the beneficiary of
much experience. First, no woman can resist Sinatra.
Second, I could tell this gal was looking for a way to ditch the first guy.
Third, those drinks had definitely loosened her up.
She was ripe for the taking. But
the main reason for my success was my dance ability. Experience has taught me that
under the right circumstance Dancing is more powerful than Love Potion #9. Put a woman
in my arms and I will move her with confidence around the
floor. Feeling me hold her, touch her, and guide her
sends the right kind of message. She closes her eyes
and pretends I am Prince Charming. Take my word for
it, Dancing softens a woman. She knows
if a man feels right on the dance floor, he will feel right in bed later on.
first guy did me a real favor by warming her up, so I made
sure to tip my hat as we left. To his credit,
he smiled back. He had been watching me the same way I
had been watching him. Reading his mind, I suspect he
decided to take dance
lessons. Smart man.
THE FIRST CALLING: RICK CREATES A DANCE STUDIO
Now that I understood the value of dance skills as a surefire way to break the ice, I
was persuaded to give dance a try despite my
reservations. Unfortunately, just as I feared,
I failed miserably in my first lesson. Although
I believed the
advice in the book was accurate, I was incredibly
discouraged. Quite frankly, if it was not for
the strange feeling that taking dance lessons was a
suggestion sent from God, I would have never
returned. Fortunately, I decided to continue
specifically because I believed God wanted me to.
Besides, this should not take more than a few
months, right? Why not indulge this silly flight
of fancy for a few months, then begin work on finding a career.
This is where God played a trick on me. I was a very slow learner.
Starting in 1974, it took me three years to accomplish what most
people accomplish in three months.
Nevertheless I was
persistent. A turtle can get anywhere if you
give it enough time. Since I was only 24 with no dependents, I figured I would get there
eventually. Sure enough, someone without natural dance
ability can still learn to dance, it just
takes them longer. I was so
preoccupied with this goofy dance project, every
time I thought of beginning the career search, I
would say wait till I get good at dancing, then I
will look. This went on for
year after year after year.
During these three years, I
constantly berated myself for my continuing
procrastination on the career issue. I had
specifically taken dance lessons assuming they would
help me find a girlfriend. Three years had
passed and I had no girlfriend to show for my
efforts. What a colossal waste of time!
At the two and a half year mark, I was a painful dose of
Reality Therapy. Believe it or not, my dance
strategy appeared to have come through for me at
last. Taking a Ballroom
class, I met a girl named Katie. I was in love
at first sight. Since Katie really
seemed to like me, I got my hopes up. One night, Jack, our
instructor, invited the class to join him at a
nightclub as a way to practice what we had learned. Katie instantly turned to me and asked if I wanted
to go. Yes, of course! Planning
meet at the club, I vowed to work up the nerve to ask Katie
out for a date. Unfortunately, my dream failed
miserably. Jack had his
eye on Katie from the start. By monopolizing
Katie on the dance floor, right before my eyes I saw
her switch interest from me to him.
Watching helplessly from the
table as Jack swept Katie off her feet, the words
from the Mistress Book taunted me.
"Since women are attracted to excellence, let a
woman see a man doing what he does the best."
That was exactly what Jack was doing with Katie.
At that moment, I was devastated by a crushing
insight. Until the day came when I
developed a career a woman could respect, I was
doomed to be a continual failure. I never
hated myself more than I did that night. The
thought that I had put dance lessons ahead of
finding a career left me nauseous. At this
point I hit Rock Bottom. Feeling like a total
failure, I was starting to believe I would never
amount to much. Fortunately, my Darkest Day
was nearly over. A few months later, my luck
turned in a spectacular way.
It was May 1977. Imagine my surprise when my decision
to put dance lessons ahead of career efforts paid off in an
extraordinary way. Out of the blue, a dance
career fell into my lap. Mind you, this was
not an example
of someone turning a hobby into a profession.
It was just sheer luck. I was playing
volleyball at the Jewish Community Center when a friend
named Rosalyn Lively walked over. What is she
doing here? I had been taking a Disco
line dance class from Rosalyn for the past six months
at the JCC, so she knew I played volleyball twice a
week in addition to her class. Rosalyn needed
a favor. She had just gotten a
offer to spend the summer in Washington, DC, and
would leave next week. However, Rosalyn
lacked a last-minute replacement for her summer JCC
class. Since after six months of classes I already
knew her patterns, would I mind substituting till
her return in the Fall? Sure, why not?
I was not all that great a
dancer, but I knew more than the people I taught, so
things went pretty well. When Rosalyn returned
in September, I assumed that would be the end of it.
But I was wrong. Out of nowhere another
part-time job fell into my lap. For two months
I taught a modest once-a-week line dance class at an
obscure dance studio. Unfortunately, I was at
best average. At my
final class in December, the class had dwindled to
five students. My boss was so disgusted by the
low energy he
said he was going to cancel the class.
When he gave me the "don't call me, I'll call you"
line, I assumed that was the end. But then
something strange happened.
The day after I was semi-fired,
Night Fever rolled into town. Curious
to discover this unpublicized movie was about Disco
Dancing, I was probably the first person in Houston
to see the movie. You want to know what I
thought? "Gosh, the dancing in this movie
is incredible! Too bad it came along too late
to save my job."
Unbeknownst to me, Saturday
Night Fever began lighting a fire over the
Christmas Holidays. The day after New Year, my
boss called to say I had a class this coming Friday
after all. Voila! I
had gotten a reprieve.
But this was no ordinary reprieve. I knew that
the moment I walked in and discovered 60 students
waiting for me. Not only that, my boss asked
if I wanted to teach a class on Monday and Tuesday
as well. Everything snowballed from there.
By the end of three months I was
teaching three hours a night Monday through Friday. Overwhelmed by the surge of interest, I found
myself woefully unequal to the task.
Fortunately, due to a highly suspicious series of
lucky breaks, I was able to extricate myself from
one jam after another. Despite little
experience and lacking natural ability, I somehow
managed to improve. Lo and behold, this was
starting to look like a possible career. Hmm.
Imagine that. I was Stunned.
Imagine how sheepish I felt the moment
I realized my idiotic dance decision had "Accidentally"
blossomed into a career! Four years earlier,
1974, I had
acted on a suggestion to try dance lessons even
though I knew this was bound to be a major uphill
I had no idea this
silly whim would ever pay off in such a sensational
way. Hey, I was just trying to find a
girlfriend and look what happened!
But then I got very quiet.
Something very, very spooky had taken place.
How interesting that at the exact moment I had
finally become a fairly good dancer, I had been in
the right place at the perfect time to take full
advantage of this powerful new social phenomenon.
To me, the coincidence between the
Mistress Book dance suggestion and
these magical dance opportunities four years later
had all the earmarks of
Ten years earlier during my
search for meaning in college, I had dedicated
myself to a life of spiritual service. With
sadness I assumed my wish to contribute had been
ignored after my
Graduate School dismissal. I could not have
been more wrong. As it turned out, my problems
in Graduate School were a Silver Lining.
Forced to face my problems, I had used the past
three years to grow up a little. Strangely enough, the
I got my act together, this crescendo of Lucky
Breaks began coming my way. Surely this charmed life
I was leading was not an
startling turn of events had
a powerful impact on me. This was the moment
belief in Fate became solidified. But guess
what? There was another surprise.
Not only had my dance lessons led to a career,
at the same time my problems
meeting women evaporated. "Would you care to dance?" The moment
I started to use
love life began to click. No longer
would I lose the Katies of the world to a better
man. This was
remarkable enough, but there was more. Now
that I was gaining confidence around women, I
began to gradually smooth out the rough edges which had gotten me tossed from graduate
I had been teetering on the edge
of a nervous breakdown when I ran across the
Mistress Book. Who would have
ever thought that dance
lessons of all things would become a form of self-healing?
From that point on, I have never
doubted my intuition again. I believe in Fate
lock, stock and barrel.
THE DEEPER IMPLICATION OF EXCEEDING MY TALENT
Right from the start of my dance career, I knew my instant success was
far beyond my talent level. Without those
lucky breaks, I never would have stood a chance. However I was
far too busy coping with one crisis after another to give it
much thought. Facing serious obstacles, every time I
caught a lucky break, I made a mental note think about this more when
things slowed down.
Starting in 1978, I had to survive four difficult years of
constant challenge before I finally reached a place to catch my
breath. I refer to this whirlwind time as my Magic Carpet
Ride. During the strange events of this critical period I
became ever more certain
a Higher Power
was the likely explanation for my inexplicable success.
It was bizarre that a man who could not dance had become the
best-known teacher in the city.
not cut out to be a therapist, I had not accomplished much as
a social worker, and it was increasingly clear I had no
business entering dance contests. So was I
good at anything? To my distinct pleasure, I
was pleased to discover I had a real
knack for teaching dance. I was so good at teaching
right from the start I could not help but wonder if this was
a God-given talent.
seemed strange that while I had no natural ability
at dancing, I had this unusual skill to help other
people learn to dance much faster than I had learned
myself. Feeling a mixture of irony and disgust, if I
had a teacher like me along the way it would not
have taken three years. In a burst of insight,
I realized what was going on here. I was so
painfully over-analytical, I thought about my feet
far too much for my own good. However, after
years of analyzing my footwork to the smallest
detail, I had become unusually good at showing other
overly-analytical people how to make steady
progress. In other words, my handicap had
turned into an asset. Good Luck and Bad Luck
sure had a funny way of being intertwined.
This dance career was marked by one Silver Lining
When the dust cleared towards
the end of 1982, one day it dawned on me that I now owned the largest
dance studio in Houston. I know it sounds ridiculous
not to have realized this before, but it is true. I
had concentrated so hard on handling my problems
that the Big Picture had eluded me. This major
accomplishment opened the door to a
mind-numbing possibility. Given how those lucky breaks
helped me overcome my lack of talent, I was more
certain than ever before that I was leading some sort of
Now that I
completed my 12 Labors of Hercules, the studio settled into a smooth groove
during the Eighties. I watched with
quiet satisfaction as my studio brought
much happiness to so many people. During this
time I came to believe I had received a Spiritual Calling.
Please do not misunderstand. I do not say this to
boast. Well aware I had
accomplished something well beyond my talent level, I
attributed my success to doing what God had planned
for me to do. I saw myself as an agent asked to
perform a duty. Recalling how I had asked to be of service back in
college, I had a hunch this dance studio was the answer to my heartfelt
prayer. If so, being entrusted with this wonderful
was quite an honor. Filled with awe and more than
slightly bewildered, I
concluded I had found my
mission in life.
Over the years, the studio
continued to grow... and grow... and grow. Trust me, I did not do this
alone. It was incredible to witness the number of people
who stepped forward to help. To me, it was
like they recognized there was a Spirit that
studio and they wanted to pitch in. I rarely
had to ask; more often people simply offered.
With their help, the studio thrived. Ten years passed. Twenty years.
Thirty. Students often complimented me on
creating such a wonderful place. I would
always say thank you, but privately I found it embarrassing to be given so much
credit when deep down I knew I was merely following
a Divine blueprint. However, since I feared
ridicule if I shared my secret, I remained
At the turn of the
Century, SSQQ was blessed with two concurrent dance
trends. The fabulous 90's Swing Era and the Ricky
Martin Salsa Era sent the studio soaring to
unprecedented new heights. Running classes
every night of the week in 1999, roughly 200 people
rolled in every night we opened the door.
We had so many students it was incredible.
1,400 a week! One night a friend of mine surveyed the mob and
shook his head in wonder. "Rick, do you think SSQQ
might be the biggest
dance studio in America?"
I had not
thought about it, but yes, this was a serious
possibility. The moment I realized
SSQQ was quite likely the largest studio in the
I was shocked by the degree of my success. But
then I caught myself. No, this was not 'MY'
success. This Glory belonged to
God. However, deeply fearful
people would be offended by my unexpected
religiosity, I remained quiet and did
Let me honest.
Like most people, I have pride. I have an ego. And yes,
there was a time when I considered myself a guy who
was pretty good at running a dance studio. But
then one day I was taught a very hard lesson.
Following my retirement, I was handed a can't-miss
business opportunity. Without going into
details, I failed miserably. However, there was a
catch. I had failed due to a series of
absurd bad breaks. Whatever could go wrong,
did go wrong. As I licked my wounded pride, it
felt like God had deliberately sabotaged my effort.
Considering I felt God had given me this idea in the
first place, I asked myself why He would pull the
I noticed this failure was the
exact opposite of the start of my career when I
had succeeded beyond my talent due to a series of
lucky breaks. Back when I had no idea what I
was doing, I succeeded despite Vegas odds listed at 1%. Now that I knew exactly what I was
doing, I failed despite a 99% chance of success.
That's when I figured it out. I could have all the talent in the
world, but it was meaningless without God's
I was actually glad to have
received this Rebuke. It gave me a much-healthier
perspective on God's Will. Prior to this I would notice when
an athlete gave all Glory to God during an
interview. That seemed like an odd thing to
say when it was obvious their athletic ability was
superior to all. Now I knew better. God's
blessings cannot be taken for granted. It was a shame I had to learn this
important lesson the hard way, but it was sent for a
reason. I have been very modest about
any achievement ever since.
want to know why I think God rebuked me? Let
me offer a rather curious possibility. Let say
Predestination called for me to one day write a book
about my experiences. In this case, if I was planning to write a book
some day, I needed to get it right. That meant
before I began writing, first I
needed a Divine Attitude Adjustment. No, not
just a little slap on the hand, but rather a
preposterous failure just short of a lobotomy.
Prior to this awakening, I had been planning to write a
memoir which included all the unusual stories from
my dance career WITHOUT MENTIONING THE SUPERNATURAL
ASPECT. In other words, due to my fear of
ridicule, I had no intention of revealing my
conviction about God's role in my success.
came my shocking failure. How was it possible for the
man who once created the finest dance studio in the
country to fail at a comeback attempt with a 99% predicted
chance of success? To me, there could be only
ONE EXPLANATION. God's Will.
So guess what happened next? On the spot, I
began rewriting my book. From this point on, my book was no longer
about me. It was about Fate with God in the
starring role. I believed I had received my
Rebuke because God wanted my book to feature Fate as
honest, I was glad. Although my decision
dramatically lengthened my book, I preferred to come
clean even at the risk of scorn. Nor did I
mind revealing I was nowhere near as clever as I
once thought I was. Rather than feel regret
over my greatly diminished role, I felt relieved.
Content to know I had worked as hard as I
possibly could, I would much prefer to give
credit where credit was due.
Now that I was certain what God wanted me to do, the
words came easy. Perhaps the Reader will see
the irony in this. Up till now I had been
having trouble writing because it was so difficult
to explain my uncanny success using Realistic
explanations. Seriously, one story after
another was a head scratcher. For example, I
taught myself how to partner dance to Disco music.
There were no teachers, no one with professional
training to help. So I hung out in the Disco
for two weeks praying for an answer. Out of
nowhere, seven different strangers appeared from
thin air to give me ideas. They appeared with
such clockwork precision it was like someone had
day I showed this story to a friend who was writing
a book of his own. Do you know what he said?
"Rick, how did a guy who can't dance a lick teach
himself how to partner dance without a teacher?"
Well, that's easy. I had Supernatural Help!
But I could not say that, could I? However,
following the Rebuke, I no longer had trouble
admitting what I thought was the truth. Although it was
weird to write
Lucky Breaks and Coincidence as the secret of my
success, it had been much
harder for me to write anything else. Once I admitted Supernatural help was by far the most likely
explanation, I began to believe writing this book was my
As I was
writing my book, Dale, a friend of mine who is a
Chaplain, explained what a
"God has a plan for each
of us. If we make a
public affirmation of Faith, the
Holy Spirit gives us spiritual gifts that are beyond
our talents and abilities. Anything you do in life
where you are using your spiritual gifts and give
God the glory will give you meaning and fulfillment.
It is more than doing something for a paycheck.
It is empowering
lives or enhancing them somehow,
and the joy that comes with it!"
I saw it, I was blessed to receive a Calling from God. However, I had not counted
on being sent on a mission for which I had so
little natural ability. If my friends had the
misfortune to see me
struggle in dance class back at the start, they would
realize God has a curious sense of humor.
However, once Dale explained the nature of a
dawned on me there might be a Divine purpose for my
struggles. Rick Archer was meant to be a famous Bible Verse come true.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With Man this
is impossible, but with God all things are
-- Matthew 19:26
CHARLES DICKENS AND THE WEIRDNESS OF FATE
regarding a Calling were of great comfort. I had spent my entire career burdened
by the uneasy feeling that my continued success was
well beyond my talent level. Now I understood
that these lucky breaks were gifts meant to help me
do God's work.
However, I was still worried what
people would think. Over the course of my
32-year career at SSQQ, I had received abundant
credit for my work. Only I knew that God was guiding me the entire time.
Surely for me to openly state God's
role would invite scorn.
"Where does a mere
dance teacher get the nerve to speak about
the nature of God?"
To begin with, I am not what
someone would consider a religious person. I
don't go to church and I do not own a Bible.
credentials, I feared people would be offended. However, now that I had received
my Rebuke, my reasons to stay silent had evaporated.
Since my desire to acknowledge the role God had played in
my life was greater than my fear of criticism,
I quickly changed the focus of my book.
Although I was still the central figure, God and
Fate were the new stars. If people wanted to write me off as a kook, let
Before I give my
Testimony, I wish to share a few more details. I am a normal guy, flesh and blood
just like you. I have no psychic ability. I've never
had a vision. I've never been
visited by an Angel. I have no reason to
believe God has spoken directly to me.
Indirectly perhaps, but certainly nothing obvious.
Everything I say is based on
things I have read, things I have observed plus a lot of
guesswork. I definitely feel 'Blessed',
but I do not consider myself a man of the cloth in
any way, shape or fashion. I do not wish to
preach. Instead I prefer a technique known as 'Friendly
Persuasion'. At all times, I want people
to make up their own minds. If I express
myself in a sincere way, hopefully some of my Readers
will be receptive to the idea that we are
guided by forces beyond our awareness and control.
Incidentally, I have an amusing reason to believe I have
permission to write about Fate. I call it the "Dickens Theory".
Charles Dickens was a phenomenally entertaining
writer best known for preposterous plot twists.
In particular Dickens was a shameless,
unrepentant exploiter of Coincidence to
advance his complicated stories. Often criticized by experts for his unrealistic
flights of fancy, Dickens
didn't care. He laughed all the way to the
I were to tell you that some of my stories read like
Dickens on Steroids? My tale about the Mistress Book
should be your first clue. Indeed, I can match
the best Dickens tales Weird for Weird, Coincidence
for Coincidence, Curious for Curious. Like Dickens, I even have a
Ghost Story. However, my Ghost Story really
happened. No doubt Charles is envious.
Dickens lived a rags-to-riches life. His
father squandered the family money and was sent to
prison for his debts. This forced Dickens, age
12, to work long hours in a shoe polish factory.
Due to his suffering at an early age, it is no surprise that hard-to-believe
success tales were a frequent theme in novels such as
David Copperfield, Oliver Twist,
and Great Expectations.
have some fun with this. What would Charles
write if God handed him my story? Let's say Charles decides to write a tale about a dance teacher named
Rick whose success is so utterly improbable it
defies understanding. Charles knows his readers are suckers
for a good Rags to Riches story, so he lays it on
thick. This is not your average 'Boy
makes Good' success story. Not even hardly.
Charles knows his Readers will
expect his story to feature some spunky street kid
with the ability to dance up a storm and win dance
contests. Along the road to fame and fortune,
one imagines a good-looking hunk like Patrick Swayze
or John Travolta. Blessed with abundant
charisma, no doubt our hero will bring pretty girl
friends and envious buddies along for the ride.
Boring. Charles prefers to be original, so
he switches the age-old story around to something totally unexpected. Charles begins by explaining 'Rick
far closer to Quasimodo than Adonis.
Dickens version, Rick is the exact opposite of Patrick Swayze,
the famous dance icon from Dirty Dancing.
One day Rick walks through an
art festival and sees pretty teenage girls
performing jazz dance on stage. Curious, Rick
asks one of the girls who taught her to dance so
well. Rick is introduced to Patsy Swayze,
Patrick's mother. Hoping Patsy can help him
learn to dance as well as those pretty girls, Rick
signs up for her adult jazz class. After a
month of classes, one night Rick shows up early.
Seeing Patsy does not appear to be busy, he invites
her to have coffee with
him before class. Patsy is
delighted. "Gosh, none of my students
ever asked me to coffee before!"
coffee and doughnuts, Patsy and Rick are soon
laughing. But then Patsy goes quiet and gives Rick a funny look.
Concerned, Rick asks, "Did I say something wrong?"
"No, of course not. But you want to know something
strange? You remind me
so much of my son Patrick."
Patrick Swayze is starring in
Grease on Broadway at the time,
Rick has never heard of him. Nevertheless,
is curious about the so-called similarity. "Why do I remind you of
are the same age, same height, same build as my
son. And you both have the same sarcastic,
"Really?" Rick replies. "Gosh, Patrick
must be very funny. Do I remind you
of Patrick's dancing as well?"
grins. "Uh, maybe not."
afternoon Coffee Before Class becomes a regular thing. One
Rick gets up the nerve to ask if he will ever be
good enough to join Patsy's dance company.
sad little smile, Patsy says, "No, I don't think so.
For one thing, you started way too late. What
are you, 26, 27? And to be a performer,
you have to be a natural dancer.
Unfortunately, you lack the right type of brain to
be a natural dancer."
Rick's respect for Patsy, he does not feel insulted. "But I
like my brain! What's wrong with it?"
"My son can
see a move and copy it without a second thought.
You, on the other hand, are so analytical, you just
stand there trying to explain to your feet what to
do next. By the time you figure it out, Patrick would be on to
the next ten moves. I'm sorry, Rick, but
performing at dance is just not in the cards."
hurt by the bad news, but deep down he knows his friend is right.
Patsy was kind enough to help him face facts.
Now what? Rick suddenly has a new idea. "Those
who can, do; those who can't, teach!"
new aspiration is very modest. It would be fun
to teach a Disco line dance
class someday. Even better, maybe one of his lady students
will take a shine to him and put an end to this
abominable Epic Losing Streak.
Dickens smiles. He intends to grant Rick his
new wish, but with a plot twist so bizarre no one will
see it coming. Charles intends to make Rick,
young man who can't dance, become the most famous dance
teacher in the city. No one will ever believe
this. Patsy Swayze has just
made it clear that this poor kid can't dance a
lick. The way Charles sees it, now that the Readers know what a
lousy dancer Rick is, his upcoming overnight success will
come as a shock. "Good start," Charles thinks,
"but let's make this rags to riches story even
more preposterous!" Charles reminds his Readers
that Rick has no social skills. After all, his
grad school professors tossed him out
due to his vast array of emotional problems.
Not only that, his Epic Losing Streak with women now
stands at 14 years! Mr. Lead Foot has not had a girlfriend
since he was thrown out of graduate school four
years ago. He is so shy he avoids talking to
strangers. Not only does Rick cower
from approaching attractive women, he is a moody
loner who hardly fits anyone's idea of a leader. Rick has no
dance ability, a lousy personality, no friends, no parents, no
money, no patron, no confidence. In short, Charles
explains, his woebegone anti-hero
has no business creating a dance studio, much less
one destined for greatness.
Well done, Charles congratulates himself. No one
will ever believe it when Rick flips from zero to
hero. But then Charles pauses. He has
just realized he has made a serious mistake.
In his attempt to paint a dark picture of Rick's
long 1% odds, Charles
has gone too far. "Uh oh," Charles says to
himself, "I did it again. I have written
myself into a corner. How am I ever going to
get anyone to believe Rick becomes the biggest dance
instructor in the city thanks to
Saturday Night Fever?"
thinks it over and grins. "I know what I'll do. I will invent a Guardian Angel who
rescues Rick every time he gets into trouble.
A coincidence here, a lucky break there, maybe someone does
the kid a big favor. Yeah, I can make this work.
All I have to do is blame it on Fate. My
Readers are so gullible, whenever I
say Fate is involved, they believe
anything I say."
do people like Charles Dickens so much? The
guy is shameless! He writes a story about
Charles Darnay who is a lookalike to Sydney Carton
and both men fall in love with the same woman (Tale
of Two Cities). Late in the story, Carton
uses his resemblance as a way to heroically take
Darnay's place at the guillotine. Oh, please.
No one's ever going to believe this! But
they do! The Readers of Charles Dickens
eat this stuff up! WHY? Because deep
down weird things like this happen to everyone every
now and then.
the world is full of people who wonder if there is
more to Reality than they dare think about.
Based on the rampant eerie feelings that permeate
our lives, Charles Dickens takes full advantage.
If he wants to write a book about a graduate school
failure who can't dance and couldn't charm a woman
if his life depended on it, who is going to argue
when this born loser manages to create the country's
biggest dance studio from scratch? A good
yarn, yes, even though everyone knows this kind of
stuff never happens in real life.
it? Sometimes Fact really is stranger than
RICK WRITES A BOOK ABOUT FATE
The story about Patsy Swayze is true. I took
lessons from her for a year and we became friends.
She was an excellent teacher who possessed a heart
of gold. Those
coffee shop conversations really took place and yes,
Patsy actually said I reminded her of her son (with
an asterisk of course).
There is Sense and there is
Nonsense. If Charles Dickens had written about
Patrick Swayze, a young man groomed from birth by
his mother to be a Dance Superstar, no one would be
surprised. That version makes Sense. And
of course my story makes almost no sense at all.
By making the contrast between Rick and Patrick so
startling, Dickens wants to surprise people and made
them hungry for explanations. After all,
doesn't everybody wish they could have life-changing strokes
of luck? The thing is, Charles Dickens does
not have to justify a Coincidence. Nor does
J.K. Rowling. It is all Fiction to them. Prior to
my Rebuke, I wrote my
stories just like the Charles Dickens version.
There was no mention of Fate.
I said I was lucky, but I never said why I thought I
was lucky. Each time I finished a story, I
would shake my head and say to myself, "No one is
ever going to believe this."
is my point. I am well aware my unexpected success makes No Sense at all.
Given that my saga was so 'Weird', I
had great trouble writing the Non-Fate version. I would write a chapter, then
re-read it with a sinking feeling. Considering no
one has any idea who I am in the first place, I have
minimal credibility. Who will ever believe a crazy story like this?
Then came the Rebuke. All Glory must go to
God. The moment I put aside my flimsy
Realistic Reasons to justify my overnight success
and simply admitted I had Cosmic assistance,
my book became so much easier to write.
My stories were still weird, but at least I felt
better offering the explanation that I held to be true.
books contain a lot of strange stories. So
many, in fact, that I developed a sneaking suspicion that God made my life
Weird on purpose. If so, what would be the reason?
Perhaps God wanted
to make my story
so Unbelievable Readers would begin to wonder.
If Rick is telling the truth, then maybe there
really is a Hidden World. As for miraculous
good luck, while it is hard to believe in Miracles,
sometimes it's harder to believe in anything else.
what I find to be the most Unrealistic aspect of my
How do we
explain the success of a man who rises to the pinnacle of his
profession despite no natural ability and no
experience at a career magically dropped into his lap?
I assume everyone has heard the term 'Chosen
Profession'. Many people spend their youth
preparing for a career which best reflects their
interests and natural talent. A kid who likes biology
become a doctor. A kid who is good at math
studies to become an accountant.
Given his talent and nurturing background, it makes complete sense that Patrick Swayze became a
star. But does my story make sense? No.
I had no interest and no talent.
a man without dance skills or people skills succeed
in a business where looks, ability, charm, and
confidence are a pre-requisite? Look at my
track record. I
was a failure as a therapist. I was abysmal as a social worker. I was so bad
during my first dance lesson, I was one inch from
quitting. The only reason I continued was my
deep-seated belief that God had sent me the
Mistress Book dance idea on purpose. Over the next
three years, my improvement was glacial at best.
When Saturday Night Fever hit, I was
no great shakes as a dancer and totally
inexperienced as a dance teacher. If you could
have seen me, you would agree
I was the least likely person on
earth to succeed. Everything was so
stacked against me, Vegas Odds gave me a 1% chance
of keeping my demanding job for more than a month.
I became the best known Disco teacher in Houston.
In fact, following the debut of Saturday Night Fever,
I was the ONLY DISCO TEACHER IN THE CITY
FOR THE ENTIRE FIRST MONTH.
You know what I say? I say this entire story is Weird.
The state of being ridiculous
or wildly unreasonable. Illogical,
inappropriate, arousing amusement or derision,
unsound, unreasonable, incongruous. Having no
rational or orderly relationship to human life.
Utterly and obviously senseless or untrue.
Silly, ludicrous, nonsensical, laughably foolish or
false. Contrary to all reason and common
The start of Rick's Dance Career.
were the odds that someone like me would be the only
Disco teacher in Houston on the day Saturday
Night Fever hit town? I pegged the
odds at one in a million. Where does that statistic
come from? In a city of a million-plus
inhabitants, if I was the only Disco teacher in
Houston for the first month, that made me one in a
million. Despite my lack of talent, the lack
of any competition tilted those 1% odds for success
strongly in my favor. Charles Dickens would be hard pressed to come
up with a Weirder Story.
One-in-a-Million start to my dance career the
strangest thing to ever happen to me? No.
Two years later,
the EXACT same thing happened again.
Not only that, the circumstances were even Weirder
than the first time. Once again, for an entire
month, I was Houston's only
Country-Western dance teacher. No doubt
the Reader imagines that this time my good fortune made sense.
After all, since I was a successful Disco teacher, naturally I
saw a new trend on the horizon, visited a few
Western dance clubs and prepared for a smooth transition.
Only one problem. That is not what happened.
I resisted becoming a Western dance teacher with
every fiber in my being. Not only did I become
a Western dance teacher against my will,
I was the ONLY
WESTERN TEACHER IN THE CITY
entire first month. And now for the
punch line. I did more to popularize Western
Dancing in Houston than anyone else.
someone is curious how this came about.
This story is so amusing perhaps you would enjoy a tantalizing preview. It is
September 1979. My Disco classes have dwindled next to
nothing due to the looming threat of Urban Cowboy.
My love life is screwed up [what's new?], my dance
career is facing extinction, and I am incredibly depressed.
So you say,
if Disco is on the rocks, why not teach Western dancing?"
Forget it! I hated
Country music with a passion and I had never been Western
dancing in my life. I had no idea what it even looked
like. Most of all I hated Western because
Urban Cowboy had caused the demise of the
one thing I held dearest, teaching Disco. Furthermore, due to the worst mistake of my life, I had
just lost Jennifer, the girl I wanted to marry.
With Disco likely to die sometime around Christmas,
I had no will left to fight for my dance career.
My entire identity had been wrapped around my
success as a Disco teacher. An Epic failure in
Love, a failure in Graduate School, a failure as a
social worker, the only success I
had known since college was teaching Disco. To lose it thanks to
a stupid country-western dance movie was more than I could
take. I was one step from Rock Bottom.
Adding to my misery, something
strange was going on here in Houston. For
reasons no one seemed to know, John Travolta's
decision to film Urban Cowboy here in
my hometown had stirred up interest in Western
Dancing for the first time in history.
Although the movie's debut was a year away, Discos
were closing and reopening a month later as
Western dance clubs. No one could
figure out why John Travolta of all people is
filming a movie about country-western dancing.
Whatever the reason, the Houston media hyped
John and his weird movie as the biggest thing to hit town since popcorn and the
Astrodome. In the midst of all this nonsense, I
Legend has it
that several wealthy
Houston socialites received a mysterious tip over the summer
of 1979 from their friend
Oscar de la Renta. In a hush-hush whisper, the famous
fashion designer told the ladies that Urban Cowboy Western
fashions were about to hit Houston in a very big
way. Thanks to John Travolta's
reputation, Oscar expected to sell a lot of fancy C&W outfits.
since this tip arrived a full year
before the actual 1980 debut of the movie, Oscar
added this was supposed to be a big secret.
Excited to be taken into Oscar's confidence, the
women were determined to get ahead of the trend.
Let's be the first! So they head over to
and Neiman Marcus, Houston's leading fashion
stores. The ladies like what they see and buy
out the Western section. Now what? The
women need an excuse to show off their new clothes.
Why not hold a charity gala at their country club
with a Western theme? What a great idea!
However, a problem develops. During the planning stage, one day someone asks an
"Do any of you ladies know
how to Western dance?"
"Uh, no," her friends reply.
"We thought you did!"
The women all stare at each other
They have just discovered that no one... Repeat...
no one has the slightest idea what Western dancing
looks like. Haunted by visions of an empty
dance floor as the band plays, the women panic.
"We need someone to teach us!"
The ladies call around.
Not one dance studio has a single person who knows
how to teach Western Dancing. Hmm. Why
not call Rick? He's a Disco teacher, but maybe
he knows how or knows someone who can help.
My phone rings. I
feel an instant revulsion when I realize what the
woman wants. She's out of luck. I have
already vowed I will never teach Western in a
million years. Note to Reader: don't ever say Never
The problem is, I am going to be
out of a job soon. My Disco classes have
dwindled to a trickle during the ugly countdown to
extinction. So I ask a delicate question. What
does it pay? The lady expected at least 50
people would join the class at $5 a lesson for 8
one-hour classes. Running the numbers in my
head, that adds up to $2,000.
I gasp. That was a
lot money back in those days. For example,
more money than I made in an entire month at my social work
Only one problem. I have
never been Western Dancing in my life. I have no idea what Western dancing looks like.
But how hard can it be?
I'll just get a teacher, right? Wrong.
The moment I accept, I get on the phone and begin
calling around. To my dismay, I
discover the same thing those women had discovered.
There was not a
single Western teacher in the city! And why
that? I later
learned there was no money in it. The
dancing was so easy to learn that demand was
non-existent (except for these fashion-crazed
There was another reason.
Believe it or not, dance teachers can be snobs.
Compared to the glamour and sophistication of Disco
dancing and Ballroom, Country-Western dancing struck
these elite professionals as akin to taking a mud bath with
pigs. Given that every self-respecting dance
instructor in the city had animosity
towards anything to do with Country, no professional dance teacher was willing to stoop low
enough to show interest in it. My guess is
they would have changed their mind if they had
gotten as far as inquiring about the price tag, but
the fact remains is at least a half-dozen people
turned it down before they got to me.
So why did I
accept? Because I was ignorant. Because
I was so totally clueless about Western dancing that
I had no idea what a waste of time it was.
Everyone else turned this job down because they had already
heard the dancing was so simple no one could
possibly find 8 hours of material. Why bother? Meanwhile I
spent two days trying to track down an
instructor with no luck. It's looking pretty
grim on my golden dance career. Turn out the
lights, the party's over.
Just as I am about to
call back and turn down the job, I have a flashback.
an old girlfriend named Joanne who had been to Gilley's
once. Joanne is the only person I know who has
ever been to a Kicker Club. Maybe she knows
something. Only one problem. Joanne doesn't
like me anymore. A few months ago a group of Disco Mean Girls
ganged up her one night and
sent her packing in tears. I have not see her
since [note to Reader: Is this story starting to
sound Weird yet?]
But Joanne is my Last Chance, so I call
her anyway. Sure
enough, Joanne is still
angry because I did not stand up for her at the time. "No!"
she shouts over the phone. "Hell, no!"
I am about to hang up when
I remember a secret. Joanne
She is so poor she cannot even afford a phone in
her apartment. After much begging
plus an offer to split the $2,000 50-50, Joanne finally
relents. Now the story gets even Weirder.
Joanne is a natural dancer. As Patsy Swayze
pointed out, natural dancers have no idea what their
feet are doing. Yes, you guessed it, when I
meet Joanne later that day, she has no earthly idea what her feet do nor can
she explain what I need to know.
But I am desperate, so we begin a highly frustrating
game of Blind leading the Blind. Although I
said Country dancing was ordinarily easy to learn,
it was extraordinarily difficult to learn because I
was an admittedly slow learner, I did not know what
the dancing looked like and I lacked a proper
for 3 hours at a time, I was forced to use the
Braille Method to figure out what Joanne's feet were
doing. Each week I learned barely enough to
teach the upcoming class and then it was back to the
drawing board for more. I despised every minute of this ordeal. I hated teaching the
country club class, I despised learning the moves,
and the music drove me up a wall.
But here's what was sneaky about this process. Completely against my will, I had been forced to
learn how to teach C&W.
enough, Disco dies a miserable death over Christmas. What should I do,
go look for a new job or
give Country-Western a try? As much as I hated
Western, my decision boiled down
to Mysticism. I believed God had moved a
mountain to make me learn how to teach Disco and now
He had moved another mountain to force me to learn
how to teach Western. I was not happy about
this, but who am I to turn my back on God's Will? So I gave in and publicized a class at the studio
January 1980. To my surprise, 100 new students
showed up. Every one of them thanked me because
until I stepped up, they had
been unable to find a single Western teacher in the
city. I was BEWILDERED! How
is this possible? Why am I the only
ONLY WESTERN DANCE TEACHER IN THE CITY?
Didn't this same thing
happen to me once before with Disco? WHY ME!?! It
Weird the first time, but now it was Weird to
So I ask
myself, "What are
the odds of this happening?" Oh, probably the same as
Disco, somewhere around one in a million. I confess I
don't know how to calculate the math. Do I add
one million plus one million and get 'One in Two Million'?
Or do I multiply and get 'One in a Trillion'?
It doesn't really matter. Let's just say my success
was more improbable than any rags to riches story Charles Dickens ever
wrote and leave it at that.
Do you see my point?
I have never been Western Dancing in my life.
I have no qualified teacher to help me. I have no idea what Western dancing
looks like. I am too depressed to visit a
Kicker Club. Nevertheless, thanks to one Lucky
Break after another, overnight I have accidentally become
best-known Western dance teacher. This is Weird. Why was
this opportunity given to me, a man who never
asked for it and clearly did not deserve it? Why not
someone who grew up in the country
and already knows how to dance?
So let's fast-forward 40
years. I have sold the studio and I am
enjoying retirement. My friends and I are on a cruise trip to the Greek Isles.
One night I notice my
friends at the dinner table have gotten more than
tipsy on too much Greek wine. When someone
shares a strange experience they had recently, that
gives me an idea. Everyone is in a really good mood
plus their guard is down. So I ask my friends
a loaded question.
"Tell me the weirdest thing
ever happened to you."
My friends have some good
stories. However they are pretty tame compared to mine. Not one ghost story. Not one ESP
story. Not one story of Telekinesis. Not
one life-changing Coincidence. Not one
Miracle. Not one near-death experience.
Not one example of Precognition. Not even one
absurdly Weird story. Considering I had
thought-provoking examples of every experience, it dawns on me that my life
is different than most, probably
much different. Why have I been allowed
to experience so many improbable events?
Hmm. Maybe because God wants it that way.
Maybe because God wants me to write a book about
Fate, in which case I am going to need some Weird
material. If God sends me enough wacko yarns,
maybe someone will actually believe me when I claim
it all comes down to Fate.
There's more to this story.
Someone challenges me to share a Weird Story of my
own. They have no idea who they are dealing
with. So maybe I'm a little drunk too because
I hit them with a doozy. In my Senior year of high school,
the Oscar-winning movie The Graduate
caught my fancy in such a serious way that I wrote an
18-page Senior thesis. I never
had a date in four years of high school and I felt
inferior to my wealthy and quite attractive classmates
the entire time. That explains why this
Graduate story about
an underdog who climbs his way out of mediocrity
captured my imagination. As one might recall, in the
movie an older woman named Mrs. Robinson seduces the
young man and toughens him up.
Thanks to my evil former
girlfriend Vanessa, I was in the midst of a long dry spell on the day I run across the
Mistress Book. The Epic Losing Streak
now stood at ten years with no hope on the horizon.
As I stare at the pretty woman on the back cover of
the Mistress Book, I think to myself,
"Gee, wouldn't it be nice get a
Mistress of my very own?" I think of Mrs.
Robinson from the Graduate and fervently wish I could find a knock-out
like her to build my confidence.
Four months later, some older gay
men at my apartment project bet me money that I will refuse to strip and swim
naked in the swimming pool. Mind
you, I have never done anything like this in my life,
but I'm in a strange mood that night. So I take the dare. It was nighttime, so how
much can they see? And do I even care?
So I get in the water first, take off the bathing
suit and start swimming. Naturally the men
razz me. They're mad because they owe me $10
and they can't see much in the twilight.
to the far end of the pool, I notice a woman sitting
alone. Drinking a glass of wine in the gloom,
she appears very amused by my stunt. Ten
minutes later I begin exchanging banter with the
gay guys who bitch and moan they didn't get their $10 worth.
It is all in fun. Although I am not gay, I
like these guys and appreciate their raunchy sense
of humor. As I listen to them complain, the
woman comes over and introduces herself.
Before leaving, she discretely touches my hand and
whispers, "By the way, I live in Apartment 16."
climbs the steps, I tremble at the implication.
Do I dare? An hour later when no one is
looking, I knock on her door. She lets me in.
She is 50, I am 25. Believe it or not, I have
just landed a Mistress of my very own.
And yes, thanks to an ex-husband, her name is Mrs.
Robinson. Our once-a-month love affair
would last for three years until Disco initiated the
next stage of my life.
we can all agree this story is definitely Weird.
But is it true? Yes. It is completely
true. All these stories are true. So have
I convinced you yet that my life has been Weird?
Mind you, my Mrs. Robinson story is just the tip of the iceberg.
I do not know if my stories will persuade anyone to
believe in Fate, but one thing for sure, the time
will come when you will
have no trouble seeing why I came to believe in Fate. You may question whether my observations
accurate. That is your right. You
may not agree with my conclusions. That's okay. However, I dare you to dispute the fact
my stories are just plain Weird.
So Weird in fact that a master story teller like Charles Dickens might
But Charles shouldn't feel too bad. After all,
the poor guy had to use his imagination.
COINCIDENCE, CHANCE, AND GOD
At the very heart of my
contention that Fate plays a major role in our lives
is Probability. It is very Probable that
Patrick Swayze will one day use his extraordinary
dance ability to become a movie star. It is
very Improbable that Rick Archer will overcome a
complete lack of dance ability to create the largest
dance studio in America.
Carpet Ride, and A Simple Act of
Kindness contain over 100 Coincidences
and hard-to-believe stories. I explain how Bad Breaks turn
into Good Breaks, how unexpected interventions helped me escape Rock Bottom,
and how all sorts of wishes came true.
In addition, there are incidents involving ESP,
Precognition, Prophecy, Premonition, three Near-Death
experiences, Telekinesis, Astrology, and Ghosts.
Plus Abundant Weirdness. As I have said, I have lived a very unusual
So, is this
enough to build a
case for the Existence of God based on
when it comes to the question of God's Existence,
there will always be Doubt. Not everyone agrees that God exists.
Or Fate for that matter. There are
far too many people who live by the code that Seeing
is Believing. To them, blaming the Mysteries
of Life on
an Invisible God is sheer folly. Perhaps Science will
someday evolve to the point where we can
fingerprints on the Hand of God, but that day is not
have uncovered an interesting way to reveal God's
presence. Why not use 'Coincidence' and
other suspicious situations as a way to detect God's
subtle interaction with Man?
A great number
of people have described Coincidence as "a small
miracle in which God chooses to remain anonymous."
Although most Coincidences are meaningless, some are quite profound.
For example, the Mistress Book
was so repugnant that I was about
to discard it. At the last second, for reasons
I will never know, a thought popped into mind.
I became curious to know what
year it was written. A quick peek caused me to discover the author had dedicated his
book to a woman named Vanessa with the inscription "Who's
Since I had a
considerable grudge against my own Vanessa, I was
convinced this was an omen. Little did I
imagine the book's dance suggestion would create a
career, cure my shyness around women, and lift me
from Rock Bottom following my grad school dismissal.
In other words, finding this obscure paperback was the most important
Lucky Break of my life.
Doubters will say, but with trillions of human
interactions, there is bound to be a significant
Coincidence every now and then. "You can't
expect us to believe in God and Fate just because
someone gets lucky once in a while!"
Let's face it,
if we try hard enough, we can find something to
doubt on any issue, any piece of evidence. I
once read an article in a scientific journal
regarding God's Miracle of parting the Red Sea.
An expert suggested an earthquake in the nearby
Sinai Desert had caused a tsunami in the Red Sea. And the Jews
just happened to be walking by at that fortuitous
moment when the water receded to cross over from Egypt. Hmm.
You know what I think? Some people just don't get it.
Okay, so maybe
my Mistress Book Coincidence or the Red
Sea Miracle is not enough proof of God's existence
for some people. We didn't see it happen, so
why believe it? Each person has a different
threshold when it comes to Doubt. Some may
require five Miracles to be persuaded, others may
It is human
nature to wish for indisputable evidence, but I don't think that can be
achieved. That said, through the use of
Circumstantial Evidence, I think a strong case can
be made for the Existence of Fate (and, by
inference, the existence of God).
So you ask,
"Okay, Rick, what do you intend to do?"
I suggest we
throw Paint on the Invisible Man. I got this
idea from the excellent 2020 movie Invisible
Man. A woman's bitter ex-husband has
invented an Invisibility Cloak and is using it to
terrorize her. In one remarkable scene, she
throws paint on him as he climbs a ladder to the
attic. There he is, bright as day.
Earlier I mentioned
spending two years in college
researching the Meaning of Life.
Swiss psychotherapist Carl Jung was the only
Western scholar I knew who possessed public
credibility on the subject of Mysticism.
Jung's mother was said to have spoken with
the dead. Her embrace of the
Supernatural formed the basis of her son's
controversial ideas. Dr. Jung
suggested paranormal events such as
precognitive dreams might turn out to be
natural events for which science has not yet
advanced far enough to comprehend. In
particular, Jung strongly emphasized the
Coincidence as a way to peek into the Hidden
Jung believed if we knew
the truth about how perfectly the Universe is constructed, we would
realize no one but God could possibly organize the phenomena of our
world in such a profound way. Nothing is happenstance in
Jung’s world. He claimed that
most people do not realize
the significance of
He postulated that Coincidences are indicators of an invisible
network which connects everyone and everything. Jung theorized
humans subconsciously transmit ethereal information which other people
receive telepathically in the back of their mind.
Consequently events like random meetings in the supermarket might
not be as random as people think.
Carl Jung had a
suggestion. Keep track of
all Coincidences. Jung was
convinced if people would pay better
attention to these mysterious
events, they would see their world
in a much different way. If we
could somehow gather all these
seemingly random coincidences
together, we might just see patterns
known as 'Synchronicity' emerge. I decided to take his advice and keep
careful track of every coincidence or situation that
felt improbable to me. This was the start of
my List of Suspected Supernatural Events.
As one might gather, as my List
grew, so did my certainty that Carl Jung was right.
Over time my interest in Coincidence solidified my belief in Fate. But
if I shared my List, would it have the same effect on others?
Well, there's only one way to find out. Write
when Jesus Christ walked the earth, Miracles such as
walking on water, curing the blind and raising
men from the dead convinced many
people of his credibility as Son of God. For the past two
thousand years, the Holy Bible has been the all-time
best-seller because people trust the word of the
who wrote about those miracles. Unfortunately, jaw-dropping Miracles
have become few and far between in the ensuing 2,000
chose to become increasingly subtle following the dramatic
days of Jesus. However, that does not mean God
closed shop. He continued to orchestrate
Fate without anyone's notice. It is my theory
that God spaces his Coincidences so far apart
that people get distracted and forget about them.
For example, I have listed 100 experiences stretched
out over 70-plus years. That averages out to
little better than one per year. If I had not
written them down the moment they occurred, I would
have forgotten half of them.
events are random and rare,
there is no 'scientific'
way to prove the existence of Fate.
Nevertheless, I think many people nurse a strong
suspicion. Various polls estimate 50%
of Americans believe in Fate. Some are
totally convinced while many others are very curious.
Personally, I believe if people kept better track of
their own unusual events, a lot more people would
agree there is more to 'Reality' than
meets the eye.
Fortunately, I have done the work for you.
I did not do this for a paycheck,
I did it because this is a message that must be
shared. I contend the overwhelming number of unusual events
my life offer strong empirical evidence to suggest Fate
plays a firm role in our lives.
exactly do we throw Paint on Fate? I suggest we paint by
the Numbers. If I
can surround Fate with enough details, a pattern
will begin to take shape. Will Two incidents
be enough? No. Three? Probably
not. How about Four? No. What
about Five, Six, Seven, Eight? No.
However, as the number of Events add up, a rough outline
begins to form.
As people age,
many suspect there is something very fishy about the way
their lives have unfolded. Things
happen that feel like Fate, but the person lacks
enough evidence to be sure. One smart approach is
to keep an eye out for unusual situations like I did
and watch as your own List grows. Once the Picture
starts to take shape, your curiosity will
my three books, I have described the extraordinary details
behind a series of Suspected Supernatural Events. In
2001, my List crossed 100.
Can 100 Supernatural Events throw enough Paint on
the Invisible Hand of God to be persuasive? What
be enough to convince
you that Fate exists? My own Number was 60.
I was not 'All In' right off the
bat. Faith came to me gradually one event at a time. It started when I
was 5 with a near-death experience that was
prevented in a very mysterious way (#2). When I was
18, an important woman who had never met me came out of nowhere to rescue me
from suicidal depression (#21). When I was 28, a
future career as a dance teacher was created by the
Mistress Book (#35). Then Mrs. Robinson came along (#41). It took a while, but the day came
when my List of incidents was so high I
finally grew tired of looking for Realistic explanations.
While it is difficult to
believe in Fate, I had reached the point where it
was harder to believe in anything else. 60 events
were 'Enough' to justify my unshakeable Leap of Faith. Ever since I have
been a Firm Believer. But why stop at
60? I reached 100 in 2001 with more added since. At this point, every time
crazy happens, I just yawn and add it to the List. I don't even worry about it anymore.
My mind is made up.
But what about you?
What do you suppose your
Number is? I believe many people have a growing suspicion, but
not enough 'Dots'
to make up their mind once and for all.
Perhaps if you read about my experiences, you will be
persuaded to examine your own life more carefully.
Do not be surprised as the curious events you once dismissed
as no big deal begin to
assume greater importance.
Dots is the same thing as throwing Paint on the
Invisible Man. At some point the sheer
totality of these odd experiences will throw a blanket over this elusive
phenomenon known as Fate. Of course someone will speak up
and say my List of Events proves nothing. For
some people, no total will ever be good enough.
We each have our own threshold before we are willing
to say Enough is Enough. I say make up your
own mind. This is a decision
to you and you alone.
For me, the
existence of Fate implies a Divine Order to the
While I believe in Evolution and the laws of Natural
Selection, I cannot imagine a phenomenon as
complicated as Fate can happen by accident.
RICK ARCHER'S LIST OF
SUSPECTED SUPERNATURAL EVENTS
Crossroad Synchronicity: Leap of Faith from 3 years earlier
Rick is shocked to discover he is in the Right Place at the Right Time when SNF
Courses a la Carte Spotlight Effect
makes Rick the best-known Disco teacher in Houston.
The Surprise Factor makes Rick the
One in a Million Dance Teacher.
The Mediocrity Effect and Lost Years Preparation makes Rick unusually effective
right from the start.
Swimming Pool encounter with Gloria who was in the right place at the
right time. Considering Rick's fixation with 'The Graduate', he
finds it very strange to be seduced by an older woman named Mrs.
of Vanessa's name in the Mistress Book convinces Rick to buy the book
that changes the direction of his life
Mrs. Ballantyne fails to notice Rick at SJS for 9 years only to
magically appear during the most serious crisis of his life. Their
ensuing conversation in the grocery store parking lot gives Rick the
hope to carry on.
Rick's sudden impulse to play an arcade game saves Rick and his
father from Death at the Stock Car accident
Supernatural Events are necessary to reveal the Invisible Hand of God?
PROPHECY, book one