Written by Rick Archer 



God, Fate, and Circumstantial Evidence


My name is Rick Archer.  I have a story to tell which strongly suggests that 'Fate' plays an important role in all our lives. 

No doubt you ask what qualifies me to write a book on Fate.  When 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 in 1949, over the years I have collected 100 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. 

I 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. 

I 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

I feel 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.


I have written three 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.

A 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. 

In each 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.


Before 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 Millennium. 

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 experiment, I 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 SSQQ dance 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

Although I 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 graduate school.

As it 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 desire to contribute something meaningful.


Only one 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.  She loved me dearly until the night her old boyfriend knocked on her door.  I ended up with a broken heart.

I also butted heads with the chairman of the Clinical Psychology program.  Not surprisingly, he won.  It 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 confirmation.  My dismissal really hurt.  Underneath my prickly personality, I had been serious about my desire to 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 ten-year gap?

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 much 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 long 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 woman's 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 look.


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 been returned.

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 life.


The 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 social dance.


"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.

What is odd about this idea is that very few men have a clue about the power of dance.  Most guys are fools.  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 time.

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 a smile.  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 three drinks.  But he wasn't clicking with his conversation.  Her body language said she was bored. 

Sitting 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 cared less.

I 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, the woman 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. 

Was this 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.  

That 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 had just decided to take dance lessons.  Smart man.




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 last-minute 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, Saturday 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 struggle.  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 Predestination. 

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 exact moment I got my act together, this crescendo of Lucky Breaks began coming my way.  Surely this charmed life I was leading was not an accident. 

This startling turn of events had a powerful impact on me.  This was the moment when my 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 those magic words, my 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 school. 

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. 




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.

I was 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. 


It 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 after another.


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 had helped me overcome my lack of talent, I was more certain than ever before that I was leading some sort of charmed life. 

Now that I had 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 studio 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 permeated the 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 quiet.

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 country, 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 my job.


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 rug out. 

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 crazy 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 sanction. 

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. 


Do you 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. 

But then 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 the important message.

To be 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 sent them. 

So one 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 about 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 Second Calling.   

As I was writing my book, Dale, a friend of mine who is a Chaplain, explained what a Calling is.

"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!"

The way 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 Calling, it 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 possible.” 
    -- Matthew 19:26




Dale's words 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.  Lacking religious 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 them.

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 occasionally guided by forces beyond our awareness and control. 

Incidentally, I have an amusing reason to believe I have God's 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 bank. 

What if 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.


Charles 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.

So let's 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 Archer' is far closer to Quasimodo than Adonis. 

In the 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 has ever asked me to coffee before!"


Over 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?"

Patsy smiles.  "No, of course not.  But you want to know something strange?  You remind me so much of my son Patrick."

Although Patrick Swayze is starring in Grease on Broadway at the time, Rick has never heard of him.  Nevertheless, Rick is curious about the so-called similarity.  "Why do I remind you of your son?"

"You are the same age, same height, same build as my son.  And you both have the same sarcastic, smart-ass personality."

"Really?" Rick replies.  "Gosh, Patrick must be very funny.  Do I remind you of Patrick's dancing as well?"

Patsy grins.  "Uh, maybe not."

Friday afternoon Coffee Before Class becomes a regular thing.  One day Rick gets up the nerve to ask if he will ever be good enough to join Patsy's dance company.

With a 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."

Due to 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."

Rick is hurt by the bad news, but deep down he knows his friend is right.  At least 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!

Rick's 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. 

Charles 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, the 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. 

Aha!  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?" 

Charles 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."

So why 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. 

I think 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. 

Or does it?  Sometimes Fact really is stranger than Fiction.




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."

And that 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. 

My three 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.   


Here is what I find to be the most Unrealistic aspect of my saga.  

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 hopes to 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.

How does 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. 

And yet overnight 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. 


ABSURDITY.  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 sense

Example: The start of Rick's Dance Career.

What 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. 

So was the 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 for the entire first month.  And now for the punch line.  I did more to popularize Western Dancing in Houston than anyone else. 


No doubt 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, "Hey, Rick, if Disco is on the rocks, why not teach Western dancing?"

No way!  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 was despondent. 


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 larger-than-life reputation, Oscar expected to sell a lot of fancy C&W outfits. 

Mind you, 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 Sakowitz 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 awkward question. 

"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 and gasp.  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 to anything.


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, that was more money than I made in an entire month at my social work job. 

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 was 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 socialites). 

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.  I remember 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 is poor.  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 teacher.

Each week 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. 

Sure 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 starting in 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 was Weird the first time, but now it was Weird to Infinity.

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 Houston's 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 slightly 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 that 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. 


Swimming 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.

As she 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.

I think 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 are 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 get jealous.  But Charles shouldn't feel too bad.  After all, the poor guy had to use his imagination. 




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. 

Gypsy Prophecy, Magic 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 life.


So, is this enough to build a case for the Existence of God based on Circumstantial Evidence?   Unfortunately, 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 identify fingerprints on the Hand of God, but that day is not here yet. 

Nevertheless, I 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 sorry now?

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. 

Impressive, the 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 require ten. 

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.  The 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 ghosts, ESP, premonitions, and 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 importance of Coincidence as a way to peek into the Hidden World. 

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 Coincidence.  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 the book(s).

Back 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 Apostles who wrote about those miracles.  Unfortunately, jaw-dropping Miracles have become few and far between in the ensuing 2,000 years. 

God apparently 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. 

Since these 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 in my life offer strong empirical evidence to suggest Fate plays a firm role in our lives. 

So how 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 automatically grow. 

In 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 'Number' will 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 something 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. 

Connecting the 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 that belongs to you and you alone. 

For me, the existence of Fate implies a Divine Order to the Universe.  While I believe in Evolution and the laws of Natural Selection, I cannot imagine a phenomenon as complicated as Fate can happen by accident.  





Coincidence  2001
  The Gypsy Prophecy


Lucky Break

  Crossroad Synchronicity:  Leap of Faith from 3 years earlier becomes validated.
Rick is shocked to discover he is in the Right Place at the Right Time when SNF arrives. 
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.


Wish Fulfilled
  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. Robinson.


Coincidence  1974
  Discovery of Vanessa's name in the Mistress Book convinces Rick to buy the book that changes the direction of his life


Lucky Break
Cosmic Blindness
  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.


Coincidence  1955
  Rick's sudden impulse to play an arcade game saves Rick and his father from Death at the Stock Car accident

How many Supernatural Events are necessary to reveal the Invisible Hand of God?



Chapter TWO: 


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