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Written by Rick Archer, July 2007


"Spin" is one of my favorite words. 

In Basketball, 'spin' on a basketball bounce pass makes the ball take a weird curve to magically hit the hands of another player who is seemingly out of reach.

In Billiards, 'spin' allows the cue ball to magically curve right past all sorts of obstacles to reach its intended target.  Or the use of proper 'angles' creates other seemingly impossible shots.

Another word for cue ball 'spin' is 'english'.  I love that!  By using clever 'English', you can get out of all kinds of jams that have nothing to do with billiards and pool tables.

Are we talking basketball, billiards or propaganda now?  

Indeed, the use of 'Spin' , 'angles', and 'English' allow people to mysteriously gain advantages when all hope was lost.  The word 'Spin' is practically synonymous with Magic and Houdini-like escapes from all sorts of life predicaments.

Spin began as a Public Relations term.  In public relations, Spin is term that signifies a heavily biased portrayal of an event or situation in one's own favor.

Spin typically involves a selective presentation of the facts and quotes that support one's position combined with a sly omission of any facts that "fail" to support one's position. 

While Spin cannot be considered 'lying' per se,  it can be considered a deliberate attempt to skirt the dark side of the issue while shining the light on the positive.  In other words, a person who 'spins' basically only tells one side of the story.

One reason Spin is so effective is it puts the burden on third-party observers to investigate the other side of the issue on their own.  Since most people don't have the time, the energy or the resources to find the truth, a clever manipulation of the truth often remains unchallenged by third parties. 

It is a busy world.  Most people say 'Who Cares?' and move on. 

That puts the burden of proof directly on the shoulders of whoever is involved in the other side of the story.  If they don't speak up, their omission generally allows the Spin Version to become the last word most people remember on the issue... so the Spin Version or 'Perception' triumphs over what really happened to become the accepted account of the event. 

Perception may not be the truth, but it sure seems that way...

Spin goes hand in hand with "Perception". 

Perception is Reality - In Life and Politics, it doesn't matter what the Truth is.
It just matters what people
believe the Truth is.



In 1986 I received a bitter lesson from my first wife on the Power of Spin. The lesson was so painful that I will never forget what happened.

One day my former wife belted me three times in the face in front of 24 friends and dance students.  The Final Blow left me bleeding and battered.

I never raised a hand to defend myself.  I never threatened her, I never struck back, I never cursed her or threatened her in any way.  I had never had an affair, there were no 'other women' involved here, there had never been any previous physical violence between us, nor was I being paid back for anything horrible I had done.  So what had I done to deserve this? 

We were arguing because I refused to take some wedding pictures down from the wall at the studio.   

Later through the Magic of Spin, this incident became my fault.  Yes, according to the
PERCEPTION of what happened, I got what I deserved.

Based on what I have written so far, I suppose you cannot imagine how this happened.  Well, then maybe you should read the story.  I share my bitter lesson with you for a specific reason - maybe it will spare the reader a similar fate someday. 

I am writing this story as a warning to everyone about the
 Power of Spin





I married my first wife Pat in November 1984. I met Pat at the studio.  Unfortunately, the marriage only lasted 17 months.  In that brief time, Pat was a big part of the studio and taught classes there as well.

As you can see from the picture, Pat was a lovely woman. It should also be obvious from my smile that I was very happy as the wedding approached.  We married for all the right reasons - we were in love.  

This particular picture is important to our story.  Like several other photographs  you will see, this picture once belonged to a poster that hung on a wall at the dance studio.  Pictures such as this one became the focal point of a very ugly public argument that took place between Pat and myself at the dance studio in early 1986.

Back in the days before the Internet arrived, I used to hang
pictures of my students on a wall of the studio. The tradition began with the 1982 Halloween Party.  A man named Jim Fogo took some great pictures at the event for his own fun.  Then he gave me some copies.

I decided to put the best pictures on a poster I bought at Texas Art Supply, put on the plastic cover and hang it up on the wall at the studio.

After their divorce in 1959, my parents saw each other 2 more times in 40 years: high school graduation and wedding day.  This picture was part of the disputed Wedding Poster that Pat and I fought over.

As I watched my dance students gather round and laugh, I realized how much they appreciated the gesture.  I smiled with pride. That was the start of my tradition to make posters for each major studio event.

I would hang each collage on the wall just like a third-grade teacher might put up pictures of her own kids.  Each event resulted in a poster of say 30 pictures. One poster might be pictures from a Halloween Party, another might be from a trip to the Winchester Club, and a third poster from a ski trip.  You get the idea. 

One important poster on the studio wall contained pictures from our
November 1984 Wedding Day.  In addition to pictures of my parents, the poster also contained pictures of Pat's parents, brother, and grandparents.  The bulk of the poster were pictures of our Reception at the studio later the same evening.  It was a big dance party.

The people at the Wedding Reception were my closest friends at the studio.  They were the people I had met through the dance studio and had grown close to over the first five years of my dance career.

These pictures were very special to me.  


Pat moved out of my house in April 1986.  Pat left without telling me, but truth be told, I was greatly relieved.  We were both very unhappy.

Shortly after Pat moved out, she decided there was something that was still troubling her.  Figuring an ambush would be a better way to confront me rather than a simple phone call, one morning Pat came early to the studio. 

Pat knew I would be there to participate in the Whip Society dance class.  She obviously had been waiting for me because Pat intercepted me in the parking lot just as I got out of the car.   

The moment I saw her face, I groaned.  From that look, sure enough, this was going to be another fight.  I will simply say that we fought all the time. 

So, Pat, what is it this time?

As we stood in the parking lot, Pat explained to me that she was upset about our wedding pictures hanging on the studio wall.  Pat told me she bitterly resented the pictures on the wall that showed the two of us displaying 'affection' towards each other  (this wedding picture on the right was part of the Wedding Poster that Pat objected to.)  

Pat said our marriage had been a sham, a charade.  Now that our divorce was imminent, I had no right to continue to display these disgraceful pictures.

I could see that Pat was clearly worked up on this issue. I did not know what brought on this mood; I hadn't seen or talked to her in several days.  However I immediately bristled at the tone of her voice and her demanding approach.  I thought she was completely out of line, so I said no. 

Pat grew angrier. 
She demanded that I take the plastic cover off the frame, rip out the offensive pictures and tear them up so no human being would ever be reminded of the falsehood of our marriage.   In essence, Pat wanted to erase as many traces of the existence of our marriage as possible.

This is my long-time friend Carol Gafford. Carol was one of my guests at the wedding.  This picture was part of the Wedding Poster.

I stared at the woman in disbelief.  "What gives you the right to dictate to me what I am going to do in my own studio?"

The argument continued.  I told Pat these pictures were important to me.  I added that I paid the rent and that it was my studio, not hers.  Those pictures were property of the studio.  I added she had no right to tell me how to run my studio or my business or, now that we were separated, my life either. 

My words fell on deaf ears.  When Pat got in a mood like this, I knew from experience that she was relentless.  I felt like no matter what I said, it was a waste of time.  Pat would never give up till she got her way.

That said, I wasn't in the mood to give in.  She had no right to tell me what to do at my place of business.  Those pictures were part of studio history.

Pat was not happy at my refusal to budge. 
"I object to the pictures of us.  We had a false marriage.  I don't want these pictures hanging on the wall for the world to be fooled into thinking we actually cared for each other.  Take them down, Rick, or I will rip them down myself."

"If you touch those pictures, I will call the police.  You have no legal right to tell me what I can or cannot do at the studio.  You can ask, you can negotiate, you can persuade, but you cannot order me to do your bidding."

Pat disagreed.  She wanted her pictures removed so no one would ever be reminded of our shameful marriage. She wanted the evidence erased.  "I am asking you politely to take the pictures down now."

I shook my head no. Since I had a class to teach, I started moving toward the studio.  Pat walked right along beside me.  Why waste precious arguing time?

Like always, we went back and forth. I refused again to take the pictures of our wedding off the studio wall.  Pat told me to rethink that position.

I told her all of those posters were important to me because my friends and family were in those pictures.  If she didn't like them, then don't look.

I added that I wasn't ashamed of the pictures showing affection between us in the least. 
Now that we were on the subject, I told Pat I didn't agree with her position that our marriage was shameful.  I loved her when I married her.

Joanne Neher and Robert Neighbours

It was true I had my doubts when we got married, but the optimist in me believed we could work through our issues.  Sad to say, we did not conquer the demons.  But I knew in my heart I had done the best I could until the fighting wore me down.  Now I just couldn't take the fighting any more.

I reminded Pat for the umpteenth time I was sorry our marriage had failed, but that I was not ashamed that I had married her.  If she felt shame, that was her right, but I had a right to my feelings too. She had her space and I had my space.  I wasn't going to let her tell me how to run 'my space'.

I doubt Pat heard a word I said. She did not care about my position. The moment I stopped speaking, Pat launched into her next tirade.  For the tenth time, she explained that the pictures offended her deeply.  She demanded that I take them down if I had even the slightest respect for her feelings. The pictures offended her.  Therefore, I should take them down.

This argument is an accurate snapshot of how much of our marriage was conducted.  Pat would get unhappy about something and chew me out.  Since I usually disagreed with her, we would argue. 

Pat never gave in.  Some times I did give in even when I still disagreed with her.  I would give in for a simple reason - unless I gave in, the same argument would continue for days.

We never had a harmonious resolution to a single fight.  If she didn't get her way, Pat would just push harder.  The woman had the most powerful will of anyone I have ever met.

Debbie Crittendon and Alan Brown

Early in the relationship I had backed down a couple times to appease her, but quickly learned that got me nowhere.  I had a backbone all along; I had simply been experimenting with ways to make this crazy relationship work.  

Finally I got disgusted with appeasement.  One day I stood up to Pat on some issue.  That is when
Pat discovered I could be just as willful and stubborn as she was.  Once I decided to stand toe to toe with her and fight back, that's when the sparks began to fly. 

And what ended the arguments?  Who knows?  Probably another argument.  Something new would come along that irritated Pat more and we would switch to arguing about the new topic. 

Since Pat never understood the importance of 'compromise', once I stopped giving in, our marriage became an endless argument.


did we argue about?  Women at the studio, mostly. 

The slightest smile at another woman could be grounds for a week of getting chewed out.   The reader has my absolute word there were no affairs, no girlfriends and no flirting.  There were NO OTHER WOMEN.  That is the absolute truth. 

But I will admit I did smile at my students when the situation called for it and that included women.

Since I believed strongly that 'smiling' was an important part of my teaching, this was a no-win problem.  I knew in my heart I was not making a pass at anyone. I also felt I had the right to show warmth and friendship to my students.  If I didn't have a heart and care about my students as people, then I was in the wrong profession.  Now I wanted to be allowed to do my job.

I was not going to give in on this issue.  I bitterly resisted any attempt on Pat's part to muzzle my ability to smile, laugh, make stupid jokes and have fun in dance class just because she was uncomfortable. 

It boils down to Control.  No one likes to be controlled or told what to do.  If you are a kid or a prisoner or in the Army, well, tough luck.  You better do what you are told or suffer the consequences.   But a marriage is supposed to be built on mutual respect, not 'do it my way or else'.  Let's say you are a car racer and your new wife says she is very uncomfortable with you racing cars because they are dangerous.  And you look at her and say, 'But you knew this was important to me before we married..."

I was a dance teacher long before I met Pat and a successful one at that.  I resented bitterly being told how to conduct myself in public.  I considered practically every suggestion on this issue an insult.   But Pat never eased up.  We just kept arguing.

Oddly enough, not one soul at the studio had any idea how hard we fought.  This was our own private dirty secret.  In public Pat was a charming woman.  It was only behind closed doors that she began to breathe fire.

Over time, our patience with each other grew thin.  Our arguments were civil at first, but 17 months of arguing about the same thing with no progress has a way of wearing a person down.  I honestly couldn't take it any more.
Towards the end, the arguments became so ferocious that we both realized we needed to part before things turned physical. 

You know how they say that as time goes by, you start to remember the good things more than the bad?  Wrong.  20 years later, my only enduring memory of our marriage is that we had one constant argument after another. 

I can't even remember where we took our honeymoon.  All I can remember were the fights. Today's Wedding Picture fight was no different than all the rest.  In my mind, it was just another reason for Pat to argue with me.

Here is my close friend Carole Holmes.
Do you see me smiling?  That smile could be grounds for a week of arguing.

My friends Margie Saibara and John Varvaro

Now that you have been given the background context, maybe you can see why I was so determined not to back down to her today.  As we walked down the sidewalk, we continued to argue... and argue.

Once we entered the studio, Pat immediately began to behave.  I shook my head in disgust.  Pat had this amazing 'Southern Lady' persona that had everyone fooled. Soft-spoken, sweet, gentle Pat.

What an act!  It drove me crazy that Pat got away with it, but I saw no point in bad-mouthing the woman to our friends.  Let's just get the divorce and go our separate ways.  Besides, I was grateful that the argument was over for now.  Be thankful for small favors. 

Now it was time to teach.  A year earlier, my advanced dancers (who by this time were also my friends) had helped me form a group called Whip Society.  I was the guest teacher today.  The people here today were the same people who were in the Wedding Poster.  Perhaps their presence had something to do with Pat's bad mood.  



After an hour of class, we took a Break.  There was a convenience store next to the studio.  As an excuse to put distance between Pat and myself, I went next door to get some coffee.  When I came back to class, I went to a corner of the room to sit on a captain's stool. The music was playing. I sat alone and watched the dozen couples practice their moves.

As I sipped my coffee, Pat came over to confront me again. "Rick, why don't you ever listen to me?  Didn't you hear me the first time?  I am past discussion.  I told you to take the damn pictures down!  Now!"

Those were fighting words.  From my captain's chair, we were pretty much eye to eye so I continued to sit.  I glared back at her in defiance.  "No, Pat, I will not take the pictures down. You can berate me as much as you want, but this is MY studio!" 

Pat raised her voice.  "Those are my pictures too.  I told you to take them down NOW!"

I lost my temper.  Without thinking, I stood up and reflexively started to throw the coffee at her in anger.  Fortunately I regained self-control in time to stop the motion.  However, a little bit of coffee did slop over the side of the cup.  A couple drops spilled to the floor at her feet.

Let me be clear that Pat was not hit by any coffee spill.  I estimate ten drops of coffee fell harmlessly to the floor at her feet.  I imagine one of her shoes had a couple drops of coffee on it.  Although Pat was unharmed, Pat knew that I had nearly lost control.

Pat glared at me. "You threw that coffee at me!"

"No, I did not throw the coffee at you.  I wanted to throw the coffee at you, but I stopped.  There is a difference.  If I really wanted to throw that coffee at you, you would now be drenched with coffee."

Pat grew livid.  I could see the hate.  Her posture was reminiscent of a panther tensing seconds before attack.  Pat was poised to strike.

Pat wasn't the only one who was angry.  I was angry too. The disgust over an endless 17-month series of insane, stupid arguments just like this one had robbed me of all patience. 

I set the coffee down and turned back to face her.   I observed Pat balling her hands into fists.  She clearly wanted to punch me. 

A strange idea crossed my mind.  I am ordinarily not much of a risk-taker, but maybe it was time to take a gamble.  Maybe I could teach Pat a lesson. 

"Do you want to hit me, Pat?  Okay, here I am.  Go ahead and swing."

That's all the encouragement she needed.  With an open hand, Pat reared back and slapped the absolute crap out of me.  

My head spun sideways with the blow.  I was stunned senseless for a moment.  But I didn't fall.  After I regained my balance, I grinned back at her in defiance.

"Did you like that?  Did it make you feel good?"

Everyone in the room stopped dancing.  The music had prevented anyone from realizing Pat and I were locked in a confrontation over in the corner, but they knew it now.  The group stared at us in frozen horror.  I am not sure if anyone saw Pat hit me the first time, but they definitely heard it.  Plus they could see the red welt where she had hit me.

I had been angry before, but now I was livid.  Pat was angry.  I was angry.  Pat was staring fire at me and I glared right back at her.
"You want to hit me again?  Be my guest.  Hit me again!"

This time Pat got her body into it.  Pat pulled her hand back, wound up, then slapped me again with all her force.  My face was turned around by the force of the second blow, but I again stood my ground.

Despite my burning face, I remained defiant.  "Pat, you can hit me just as many times as you want, but I am still not going to take those pictures down!!"

I had invited Pat to hit me for a specific reason - I had seen an opening.  Everyone has a public persona and a private one.  Pat's public persona was soft-spoken, sweet Southern girl charm.  Throughout our separation, she had used her Sweet Side to draw sympathy.  I was sick and tired of being portrayed as the 'Bad Guy' when nothing could be further from the truth. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to let the world know Pat wasn't as sweet as she pretended to be.
Thanks to my gamble, the dark side of Pat had just made its public debut.  Even though I was in pain, I was secretly thrilled!   The Mr. Hyde side of Pat had just shown up.  My friends had witnessed the same angry woman I dealt with in private all the time.  Finally everyone in the group had seen how ruthless this woman could be. 

Plus I was angry too.  Furious.  I yelled, "C'mon, Pat,  you want some more of me?  Come and get it!" 

Pat was more than happy to oblige.  She slapped the crap out of me for a third time.  This time, however, her wedding ring had gotten twisted on her finger.  Now her wedding ring raked the side of my face and left a deep gash.  Blood immediately ran down my cheek from a five-inch cut.  

Why she was still wearing her wedding ring was beyond me, but the symbolism was fascinating.

The blood shocked people into action.  They saw I was going to keep standing there and let Pat hit me just as long as Pat wanted to keep swinging.  I wanted the image of the enraged Amazon brutally slugging a man who would not fight back burned as deep into their minds as possible.

Once they realized Pat was not going to stop hitting me unless they intervened, two men came up behind Pat, gently put their hands on her shoulders and took her outside to another room.  Pat didn't put up any resistance.  She was shaking.  She knew she was badly out of control.  What had she done?

Meanwhile I sat back down on the Captain's chair.  I was in a lot of pain, but determined not to show it. 

Pat had struck me three times as hard as she could.  I was half-senseless as I sat there with blood streaming down my face.  Little drops of blood fell to the floor to join the coffee stains that had started this slapping incident in the first place.   I had taken quite a beating.  With my bruised and bloodied face, I looked like Rocky Balboa after one of his prize fights in the movies. 

I was also deeply embarrassed.  Without a word to anyone, I got up and walked out.  Big mistake. 



For the next week, I was content to remain at home.  Other than leave my lair at night to teach class, I had no other human contact.  By and large, the people who had witnessed the slugging incident were not currently taking classes at the studio.  They were advanced dancers who had taken practically every class I had to offer.  So the current students at the studio were sealed off from the gory details.  I assumed they had no idea what happened and preferred to leave it that way.

I showed up at night, taught my classes, and went home.  At this stage of my life, I was a loner.  An only child, I had long ago learned to nurse my wounds in solitude.  I didn't call anyone nor did anyone call me.  I just sat alone in my living room wondering how it had ever come to this.

Before the slugging incident, I was filled with regret that I could never find an amicable way to put these constant fights to rest.  But the separate grated on my nerves as well.  I had heard that after we separated, Pat had immediately begun currying public sympathy. 

I had initially chosen to let bygones be bygones.  But I did not appreciate having Pat use a megaphone to advertise our troubles to the world.  It was this tension that led to the fight.

It bothered me that no one knew what I meant when I said the woman would not stop arguing.  All they saw was poor, sweet gentle Pat crying her heart out in public.  When it came to our pending divorce, I knew I was not blameless, but I didn't see any reason why I had to take all the blame.

However, the slugging incident had changed the playing field.  A much DIFFERENT side of Pat had been exposed to public scrutiny.  Maybe... just maybe... she wasn't so sweet after all.

My friends had seen first-hand just how angry Pat could be.  Pat had been totally out of control.  Maybe Rick was right when he said Pat would not stop arguing.  Maybe Rick was not such a jerk after all...

Alone in the dark, I had this happy thought to help ease the pain...

expected the world would finally grasp what I had been dealing with in private for the past seventeen months.


But my dreams didn't work out that way.  The incident totally backfired on me.  I would soon find out just how badly I had underestimated Pat.

Shortly after the beating, Pat taught me a lesson in Spin Control that I would never forget as long as I lived.

While I brooded in silence at home, practically from the moment she got home, Pat was on the phone to explain her side of the story to every man and woman who would take her call and listen.


Pat passed the word to her girlfriends about how hurt she was at my refusal to take down the pictures.  Why was Rick so insensitive?  Why couldn't Rick see how much pain Pat was in over the pictures?  Those pictures hurt her terribly!

Then Pat told everyone how Rick had egged her on to hit him, which of course was true. 

Somehow in the retelling of the story, it turned out that Rick had thrown the coffee directly at her.  Even though Pat avoided getting drenched by sidestepping the danger, she was furious at Rick because he had tried to hurt her!  What if that hot coffee had hit her face? 

No wonder Pat was angry!   Once I began to I taunt her to hit me, that pushed her over completely over the edge.  Anybody would be provoked to fight back!  Rick's hurtful words made her hit him! 

This entire horrible incident had been Rick's fault.  Shame on Rick.

Now her girlfriends began to spread the word.


Meanwhile I didn't say a word to anyone. 

I was too damn stupid to realize some follow-up explanation was necessary.  I assumed what had happened was self-evident enough that it didn't require my testimony.

Besides, non-violence had worked wonders for Ghandi and ML King, why not me?  Was it not apparent to everyone that a powerful woman had struck a defenseless man with savage blows three times and cut his face open over some stupid pictures? 

Pat had made a fool of herself, right?  

Imagine my shock when I discovered I was getting the blame.

I honestly had no idea what Pat had been up to until a week after the incident.  On a Saturday night, I decided I had stayed isolated long enough. I showed up at a non-studio party thrown by a mutual friend.  As I walked in, people were avoiding me like the Plague.

I had expected warm greetings and sympathy.  Was I missing something here?


I have always had a bad habit of learning things the hard way.  That has always been my style.  Unfortunately, they call it the 'Hard Way' for a reason - learning things the hard way really hurts!  I was about to receive one of hardest lessons of my life.  

Realizing something was wrong at the party, I pulled one of my friends to the side.  I chose him because everyone else was giving me the cold shoulder. This man was clearly upset with me too, but at least he seemed willing to talk.  That's how one of the strangest conversations I have ever had in my life began.  I trusted this guy and got right to the point.  What the hell was going on?

The man stared at me in bewilderment.  He couldn't begin to comprehend how lost I appeared to be.  Was I playing dumb?

No. I said that I had not spoken to a single person since the incident a week ago.  Had something happened I didn't know about?

His eyes grew big as flying saucers.  His face was contorted with disbelief.

"Where have you been, Rick?  Everyone at this party is furious with you for how you have treated Pat these past two years.  Throwing that coffee at her was uncalled for."

"What!?!"  I was aghast.  I could not believe what I had just heard.  All the breath in my body was just sucked out of me.  I was left gasping for air at the shock.

He explained that his girlfriend had been in communication with Pat all week.  His girl friend kept him filled in with all the gory details.  The prevailing public sentiment had completely turned against me. 

I stared back uncomprehendingly.  He continued to speak.

As it was told to me, because I had first provoked Pat with my insensitivity, then because I threw coffee at her, she was angry enough as it was.  But when I began my taunts, I had practically forced her to hit me! The incident was now considered completely my fault, especially since I had gone into hiding.

"Gone into hiding?"

"You ran out of the building.  You must have run because you knew you were wrong.  Since then no one has seen or heard from you in a week.  We assumed that you were so ashamed of what you did you have been in hiding."

My mouth dropped open.  Who comes up with this stuff?   I wasn't hiding.  I was minding my own business.  Before I could say another word, my friend asked me why had I been so mean to her.  After all, Pat's blows were only a reflection of her desperation about how badly I had treated her over the course of the marriage.

"Hell, Rick, I would have hit you too!" 

'How badly I had treated her?' 
Are you people out of your minds!?

Rat-a-tat I listed the facts to my friend.

  •  I never had affairs, flirtations, or girlfriends.  NEVER.
  •  I resented being given the blame for the breakup.
    We were getting divorced for one simple reason:
    We could not stop arguing with each other.
  •  I didn't raise the wedding picture issue to begin with.
  •  I never hit Pat with any coffee.  NEVER. 
  •  Nor did I throw any coffee at her. Side-step the coffee?
    That's nonsense.  If I had thrown coffee at her, she would have been drenched!  No one dodges coffee at three feet. I offered to do an experiment if he didn't believe me.
  •  Nor did I ever raise a hand, curse or threaten her that day.  For that matter, I never laid a hand on her in our entire marriage.  If I had the self-control to never throw a fist, I certainly had the same self-control to not throw coffee.
  •  Pat had slapped a man who put up no defense as hard as she could three times in a row.  There were witnesses.

My friend listened to what I said, then stared back at me.  Now he looked shocked.  My version of the story was so radically at odds with what he believed had happened that now he didn't know who to believe.

Finally he spoke up.  "Does anyone know what you just said besides me?"

"No, I guess not."

"You may not like me saying this, but I am having a hard time believing you after being brain-washed by Pat's version for an entire week."

"Why can't you believe me?"

"Well, for one thing, Pat said you threw coffee at her.  You don't do that to a woman.  You do not throw coffee at a woman... or anyone for that matter."

"I am okay with that.  I already told you I did not throw coffee at her.  She was standing three feet from me.  How is she quick enough to dodge an entire cup of coffee?  I started to throw coffee, but stopped immediately.  A few drops slopped to the floor after I jerked my hand back, but there was no danger."

"Interesting.  I will tell you this much, now that I have heard your side of it, at least I am not mad at you any more.  For one thing, you didn't hit her or hit her back.  That's good.  Actually, that's very good.  But I am going to have to take your word for it on the coffee angle.  Everybody claims they saw you throw coffee at her."

"Like who, for example?"

"Actually, now that you ask, I don't know anyone who saw you throw any coffee, but everyone assumes you did because that's what they were told.  The only thing I saw was you taunting Pat to go ahead and swing away for two punches."  He paused for a second. "And I must say you egged her on pretty good."

My friend went on to say that immediately after the fight, everybody had talked amongst each other to try to make sense out of the brutal encounter that exploded out of nowhere.  The confusion had been tremendous.  What on earth had caused this to happen?  Everyone assumed at least someone knew what was going on.  The mystery was driving them crazy. 

Finally they decided to ask Pat to clear up the mystery.  She had begun to stop crying.  After all, they couldn't ask me - I had walked out of the building.  That's when they got Pat's version of what had happened.  Pat's version had made complete sense at the time. 

But now that he heard my version, he admitted there was something he just couldn't figure out.  He simply could not figure out what I was trying to accomplish by inviting Pat to keep hitting me.  What was THAT all about?  

Yes, the vision of Pat swinging from her heels had definitely made an impression on everyone.  And seeing my face almost do an Exorcist 360 from the force of each blow would be something he would never forget.

Why would I stand there and take that kind of abuse, much less encourage it?  What's the point?

I let out a bitter laugh.  I filled him in on the year of arguments.  I explained my feelings of total futility over the arguments.  My inability to ever heal the wounds or find any compromise was driving me crazy.  All that arguing and nothing ever got solved.

I told him I loved Pat in the beginning, but that she wasn't around the studio that much until after we got married.  Once she realized how some women looked at me at the studio, she got afraid.  Then one night she thought I was smiling back.  That is when she went nuts and read me the riot act.

"We argued about me smiling at some woman in dance class for crying out loud!  For an entire week, we would go round and round about some stupid simple gesture that no ordinary wife would ever give a second thought to!

How on earth can someone be so jealous and so incapable of listening to reason?  Those arguments were torture!  Over a simple smile!  How do I make a living if I have to worry about showing any human warmth whatsoever?

I tried as hard as I humanly could to make her happy, but I failed.  Okay, I accept that.  But what did I do to deserve being made to look like a monster in this divorce?  Even before the slapping fight, Pat was spilling her guts to anyone who will listen. 'Poor Pat. Look what Rick did to her!'  That is insanity.

I stood there letting her hit me because I wanted the whole world to see the angry woman behind the mask."

My friend looked at me.  "Well, I suppose you succeeded to some extent.  Every man I have talked to swears he is never going to get on her bad side."  Then he gave me an ironic smile.  "But if you think you are going to persuade many more people that this nonsense was her fault, you are sadly mistaken.  You have been convicted, Rick.  You are guilty in the eyes of everyone in our group of mistreating that woman and driving her to this point."

His words stung bitterly.  It wasn't fair!  For seventeen months I had been battered into submission by constant harangues over a bunch of bullshit and now I was going to get stuck with all the blame as well.  How could I be so stupid to let this happen?

I felt the humiliation of total defeat creeping across my soul.  It was too late to get the truth out now.  Pat's version had been in place for over a week.  What was I going to do, call every person and explain my side of the event?    Who in their right mind invites that kind of punishment?  And what made me think they would take the time to listen?  

I was crestfallen.  Thanks to the combination of my silence and Pat's careful manipulation of the facts, Pat had successfully spun the story completely in her favor.  People had already made up their minds.   The damage was done.

What was the use of continuing the fight?  My split second decision to gamble on embarrassing Pat had backfired far worse than I ever could have imagined.  Letting the woman bash the crap out of me had accomplished absolutely nothing positive.

Donna David-Campbell. 
At my wedding, but no longer my friend.


The  humiliation of being battered senseless in front of my friends was now compounded by the humiliation of being licked in the court of public opinion as well.  Everyone had pretty much made up their minds and sided with Pat. 

Donna Campbell (pictured) didn't even see what happened, but sprang to her defense nonetheless.  Donna spread the word to anyone who would listen that I was responsible for the incident.  I had gotten what I deserved.

When I heard what Donna had said, I felt betrayed. 
I was astonished - and hurt - that women like Donna and others in the group had rushed to defend Pat and help spin the story in her favor.  In fact, Pat's explanation was so plausible that even my male friends pretty much assumed I had to have to done something wrong to deserve that kind of punishment.

Hell hath no fury like the wrath of a woman scorned.  In the end, even though Pat had belted me three times without my laying a hand on her or cursing her in any way, t
he incident was labeled my fault.  People decided Pat was innocent because I had forced her to hit me.   Shame on me.



In retrospect, I didn't know it at the time, but I never had a chance.  Pat loved working the phones; I hated phones.  Pat loved to socialize; I preferred being alone when I wasn't teaching.  Pat wanted to deal with the pain of the divorce by talking to friends; I preferred to lick my wounds in private.  Pat's first instinct after the slapping incident was to explain what happened; my first instinct was to go home and regroup.

Worst of all was the fact that I had no inkling what was going on behind my back.  My shock at the party when I found how badly Pat had turned the tables against me was akin to having my own private Pearl Harbor.
Pat had knocked me senseless AGAIN.  What a brutal lesson.

This is how I learned that whenever you are involved in any ambiguous situation, you stick around and talk to everyone who will listen.  Do not leave the scene of the crime until you are certain that the people whose opinion will decide the winner and the loser in this event have heard YOUR SIDE OF THE STORY.

 It was as clear as day to me that I had not thrown any coffee. 

But after being knocked senseless, it never occurred to me that no one had seen what happened except Pat and I. 

Only two people on earth knew what the truth was about that coffee - Pat and myself. 

Had I stuck around to let people ask me questions, I would have cleared up all the confusion right there on the spot.

And this story would have had a much different outcome.  

 Make sure YOUR SIDE OF THE STORY is heard as soon as possible. 



"I see my reputation is at stake, My fame is shrewdly gored."

Said by Achilles
, speaking to his comrade Ulysses after being fatally wounded by Paris at the gates of Troy.  Once considered invincible, it hurts Achilles to acknowledge his own mortality.

As for me, there was no question that Pat's arrow had found my Achilles Heel.  Hmm.  I guess she proved I wasn't the only 'Archer' in the family.  I had been completely and utterly vanquished in the Arena of Public Opinion. 

I quickly left the party.  I couldn't face these people any more.  As I drove home, the humiliation coursed through my mind and body.  I physically ached from the realization
this incident had made me look foolish and cruel.  

That night I found myself spiraling into a deep, dark depression. 
People no longer respected me.  My self-esteem had been shattered.  My pride was deeply wounded by the embarrassment. 

Worst of all,
exactly like my friend had predicted, my friends had turned against me.  They were my friends before they were Pat's friends.  Now I was the Bad Guy.


It was one thing to fix a leak, but it was impossible to fix a dam break.  Among my former circle of friends, word of what Pat said had spread like wildfire.  No one stood up for me because even the people who had witnessed what had happened were no longer sure of what they had seen.  Her version of the events planted enough doubt in their minds that even my closest friends were confused. 

Yes, there was coffee on the floor.
 That they knew.  But no one had seen me throw it.... and no one had NOT seen me throw it.
No one had even been looking.  Maybe I did throw the coffee and Pat had jumped back to avoid it.

And yes, they had seen me taunt Pat to go ahead and hit me.  There was no doubt about that either.

Furthermore, no one had a clue what the fight was really about.  People were totally baffled over what could cause venom of that magnitude.  Only my friend who had taken the time to listen had a rough idea.

While some people reserved judgment, others jumped onto Pat's Bandwagon wholeheartedly.  A good example was Donna David.  Donna had met her husband John Campbell at my studio. She had taken dozens of classes from me.  Donna had been to my wedding.  But obviously this wasn't enough to create any loyalty to me.

Furthermore Donna had not been at the studio to see a thing that happened.  But, like many people who swallow Spin hook, line and sinker, Donna was too busy to dig for the truth.  She definitely did not bother to call me to hear my side of the story.

Instead, Donna became a ringleader for Pat's Propaganda Club.  At the party that night, I heard Donna was Pat's biggest defender.  All week long, Donna had worked the phones relentlessly in Pat's favor. 

Nor was Donna alone; she was just the most vicious.

My friends Risa Beckham and Jim Ponder

I was astonished - and deeply hurt - at the number of people who had once been my friends that now rushed to defend Pat.

These people knew me, but I got not one single benefit of the doubt.  

Repeat: A woman had belted a man 3 times over wedding pictures.  The man did not threaten her, did not raise a hand to attack or to defend, did not call her names, nor did he curse her in any way.  Nevertheless t
he incident was labeled his fault.  Everyone felt sorry for Pat.  Poor Pat.  Look what Poor Pat had to deal with.  Rick asked to be hit.  Pat didn't want to hit him.  All Rick had to do was take down some pictures.  Rick forced her to hit him.

Poor Pat?  The irony was astounding.  This woman had beaten the crap out of me, then magically turned the event around to make me look like a complete fool.  Now that was impressive 'Spin' to be sure.

Pat wasn't 'poor' anything.  With Pat's Spin Machine in full gear, her interpretation of the events stood unchallenged as the Public Version of what had happened.  Pat emerged from the smoke a complete Victor.  

And what about me?   I felt like a complete fool that I had not mounted any kind of defense.  I was a private person in those days and totally unprepared for this kind of public scorn. 
Soon my shame turned into depression.  I was in some of the worst pain of my life. 

I was a complete loser.  I was at the lowest point of my life.

The divorce was quick. Two months maybe.  Each night was an ordeal.  Every night I was barely able to go to the studio and teach. 

It took my face weeks to heal.  Every night that I went to the studio, the bruises and cuts came along with me as a purple and scarlet reminder of my shame.  I would notice students in dance class staring at me when they thought I wasn't looking.  I suppose they had a right to wonder what the heck had happened.  After all, the left side of my face was totally black and blue with a long scab that looked like a dueling scar.   Actually, I guess it was a dueling scar.

There were a few rays of sunlight in my gloom.  Thank goodness for the studio.  I took solace in the fact that only a very few people at the studio knew what had happened.  While I grappled with my self-esteem problems and my sense of betrayal, the studio was my only contact with people.  I could function there because I didn't think people were laughing at me behind my back.  It was the only thing that kept me going. 

My other ray of sunlight was Pat's total disappearance from my life.  I suppose now that she had her revenge, there was no reason to stick around.  Without any further goading to contend with, at least I was allowed to heal in peace.



I was now completely alone.  Pat's Spin Control had essentially built a wall between me and every one of my friends.

Not only had my wife had left me, she had taken all my former friends with her.  Not one person that I can remember bothered to call during my dark nights of the soul.  Not one person.  It reminded me of a line from a country-western song, "My wife ran off with my best friend and I miss him."

My isolation made me miserable.  Thanks to my friend's explanation, at least I understood why no one had rushed to my defense, but I still had trouble accepting it.  I had been left out there to dry by my friends.  I felt abandoned.  I felt like a leper, an ugly pariah.

After I learned the devastating news at the party, I did take down the Wedding Pictures, but not for the reason you might think.   I figured at some point either Pat or one her girlfriends would take the pictures down themselves and destroy the collage.  Then I would lose the pictures forever.  So I took the pictures down to protect them. 

Interestingly, this action also became part of the spin.  'Rick realized his mistake and took down the pictures.  Too bad he didn't come to his senses sooner...'

As you have seen, I have published several of the original pictures as part of this story.  These were all people - including Pat - who were important to me.  Although I resented Pat's decision to impose her censorship on me, I still liked being to see her beauty and her smile.  In the beginning, we had been very much in love.  I wanted to preserve that memory; I guess she felt just the opposite.

Was I right to insist on leaving the pictures up?  Or did Pat have a right to demand that they come down?

I suppose the readers of this story can decide who was right.

The Wedding Pictures aside, I totally lost this battle.  Every close friend in the world I had was related to the studio.  With my reputation as a decent human being in total shambles, relationships that went back for years had been damaged if not ruined.

The Final Blow was the irony that every person whose Wedding Picture I had fought so hard to keep up on the wall had been ripped from my life after all. 


Fortunately, there were no other long-term consequences from this ordeal.  It helped that the only one who was actually hurt was me.

I doubt I lost many students at the studio.  Like I said earlier, the studio itself was pretty insulated.  I am sure people heard rumors, but realistically since I was the only victim and my studio was still a good place to learn to dance, they didn't really care.

Once Pat disappeared from my life, people began to forgive and forget.  I did lose some friends permanently, but in time the rest began to welcome me back in the fold. There were a lot of people out there who had been through a divorce of their own.  They knew that things are not always very pretty despite the best of intentions.

My biggest problem was finding a way to overcome my pain.  I have never felt so much pain in my life.  Fortunately, Life did throw me a safety net.  An old friend - Dancing - came to my rescue.  Dancing literally saved my soul. 

It is a marvelous story of redemption if you wish to read it - 201 Nights


If an event like this were to ever happen again, I would not waste a single second posting my side of the story on the Internet.

Pat had a right to be disappointed.  Heck, I was disappointed too.  But I didn't see any reason for her to take revenge. 

We had our problems, but I never did anything cruel to deserve what she did to me.  Yes, there were arguments, but there were no affairs, no physical violence, nor any threats of that nature.  

We were very happy at the start, but over time we found out how incompatible we were.  Since we couldn't get along, it made sense to separate.   Was that a reason for Pat to shame me before every person I cared about?

Rather than end our marriage with dignity, it was more valuable to her to humiliate me and damage my reputation as a decent man. 

Whether she liked it or not, our marriage was a part of studio history.   Those pictures were part of my career.  She can't erase the past that easily.

For a brief time, Pat was a big part of my life and my studio.  She had no right to order me to sweep our failed marriage under the rug. 

It's my life too; I have the right to tell my story and the story of my studio.  Too bad she didn't like how our marriage turned out, but that's life. 

Deal with it like an adult, not a thug.


Pat taught not only me a valuable lesson about defending your reputation, but now thanks to this story, she has taught you the same lesson. 

Pat delivered one of the most important lessons I have ever learned - stand up for yourself or suffer the consequences.

This article stands as evidence that I have indeed learned to speak up in the court of public opinion.  In this regard, I am in Pat's eternal debt.  She taught me well.

Experience is a Comb that Life throws you after you have already lost your hair. 

What a shame I didn't have this knowledge 20 years ago back when it would have done me some good.  Let my ordeal serve as a first-hand example of that piece of irony.

By the way, out of the 24 people present on the day of the Final Blow, five of them are still active in my life.  If anyone doubts my version of the events, go ask them yourself. 

Tom Easley, Carol Gafford, Mike Fagan, Ted Jones, Margie Saibara. 

If nothing else, I imagine they can confirm that Pat's clothing was completely free of coffee.

“Those who are willing to be the most ruthless always win.  The pacifists always lose, because the anti-pacifists kill them.  Fight back or lose. 

The meek do not always inherit the earth.  Sometimes they are eradicated first.  This is the lesson of the Holocaust.

-  Author of Quote Unknown

Perception is Reality
- In Life and Politics, it doesn't matter what the truth is.
It just matters what people believe the truth is.

Note: You have read a new version of this story written expressly to explain the concepts of Spin using my own personal experience as an example.

The original version contained more background information about what Rick and Pat fought about.  If you are curious, Click here for the complete version



We have completed my story about Spin Control.  Now we turn our attention to Smear Campaigns. 

At one point in time, SSQQ had a complete monopoly on Swing Students in Houston.  However, in the space of just one year, another organization effectively shoved us into second place using a Smear Campaign. 

That was a very big turnaround.  This incident taught me the hard way what happens when a Smear Campaign is left to stand unchecked.

I would like to add one thing.  If you thought the story about Spin Control was interesting, in my opinion Harvest Moon Ball is even better.

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