The Sad End to
the Shaggie Story plus:
Letters to the Editor
"Mr. Boenig, with all due respect, do you people
at the Licensing Office realize you are making Texas A&M the laughing
stock of the entire State of Texas?"
On April 18, 2000, I wrote a final letter
to Tobin Boenig over at A&M. From the start, this entire
incident played out like a parody of a bad Aggie Joke. I never
received a reply to this letter nor to the
reply I sent Mr. Zietlow.
In retrospect, there certainly was an
amazing amount of effort expended over an unbelievably meaningless event. The
absurdity of it all was not
lost on me for a moment.
Eight years later there have been no further developments. My dance
studio continues to teach the Forbidden Word Jitterbug crash course
about once a year to classes consisting of perhaps 10 people. We
advertise the course as "Shaggie Jitterbug", but no one ever bothers to
ask about the bizarre name. The students thoroughly enjoy learning more
about this cute little dance and go home blissfully unaware that this
class was once the centerpiece of a colossal tug-of-war struggle between
mighty Texas A&M University and humble little ssqq dance studio.
Just in case you are keeping score, for the record, A&M won this battle.
Even to this day I continue to tremble in fear at the very thought of
ever mentioning the Forbidden Word again on my web site. You never
know when a creepy TAMU web crawler might stumble across an inadvertent
inclusion of the Forbidden Word and lead zealous guardians to my
doorstep brandishing a HUGE LAWSUIT!
THE PYRRHIC VICTORY
But Texas A&M's victory was at best only a Pyrrhic one.
(A Pyrrhic victory is so called after
the Greek king Pyrrhus, who, after suffering heavy losses in defeating
the Romans in 279 B.C., said to those sent to congratulate him, "Another
such victory over the Romans and we are undone.")
Oddly enough, life threw me some revenge. Back in the year 2000,
not much was known about Search Engines. We were all still pretty
new to this thing known as the Internet.
Since then, however, Google and other search engines have grown in
Now, for the rest of time, my antagonists - Stephen Huzar,
- will have their names linked with this nonsense. No matter how
far they progress in their professional career, a simple Google search
will alert someone in their office about their role in this absurd
For example, in 2008, this story came up first on a search for Stephen
Huzar. My guess is he has considered changing his name, perhaps to
Steve Huzar. Nope, that doesn't do any good. This story pops
up first for that name too.
In 2008, this story was on page one for Tobin Boenig. Let's see
what happens when we use 'Toby Boenig'. Oh, too bad. This
story is the first thing that appears under that name.
What about Mark Zietlow? Mr. Zietlow
fares better than Huzar or Boenig. I couldn't find him on Google
until Page 4.
I gather Mr. Zietlow has been promoted several times.
From the Internet, "Mark H.
Zietlow is the managing shareholder in Butzel Long's Holland, Michigan
office." So obviously he has done well despite all the nasty
threats directed at me many years ago.
These three men have achieved a dubious sort of immortality.
Google is the gift that keeps on giving.
this ridiculous story following you around like a ball and
chain for the rest of your professional career.
While A&M may have successfully gagged me (or is
the term "gigged me"?), this
article remains on the Internet year after year as a perpetual
embarrassment to anyone remotely connected with the Forbidden Word
nickname here in Texas.
For example, University of Texas Alumni groups (e.g. HornFans.com) love
to resurrect this story on occasion. In their minds, this story
stands as an eternal memorial to (I need to be delicate here) a certain
lack of vision shown by their sworn enemies.
People constantly stumble on this article via Google internet searches.
They find themselves shaking their heads in astonishment after
reading this testament to the near-sighted behavior of three people (Huzar,
Boenig, Zietlow) who clearly over-reacted to a harmless situation.
Not one of them ever bothered to simply phone me or email me to discuss
the problem. If they had contacted me, they would have realized I
like Texas A&M graduates and have a genuine respect for their alma
mater. For that matter, I was once married to an A&M graduate.
What else do I have to do to prove my appreciation for this fine
But no, the friendly approach was never considered. Instead they
threatened to sue me. Not only that, they insulted me too (e.g. "my
blatant act of greed"). In all, I received four different
ugly threatening letters over something this ridiculous.
I wonder if Stephen Huzar (or does he go by "Steve Huzar"?) still gets
teased about his involvement in this incident. I would imagine he
has developed an odd sort of cult fame at this point. For example,
type "Stephen Huzar" into google and take one guess what pops up first.
Yes, the sordid Shaggie Jitterbug Saga is still Mr. Huzar's major
cyberspace claim to fame, completely obliterating more positive
accomplishments such as finishing #3000 in the recent 2004 Houston
I also wonder if any of these three men ever realized how silly this
story makes their beloved University appear to people here in Texas and
even around the country?
The following story is a perfect example of the power of Google in
action. Notice the date. This letter came to me FOUR YEARS
after the incident occurred. At random, I receive letters such as this
out of nowhere from time to time.
Sent: Monday, September 06, 2004 9:09 PM
Subject: Aggie, shAggie, Forbidden Word, Jitterbug, Bah Humbug... I need
to learn the Charleston!
Today's Internet search consisted of finding fact and fiction relating
to the 1920s. I was honestly searching for ideas to incorporate into the
20s Christmas party I am organizing for my company. I thought it would
be a fantastic idea to learn and then teach the Charleston to my
coworkers and bosses as part of the evening's fun....
As Internet searches often do, my search went terribly random and I
found myself at your site. Two hours later, I have read the entire
Shaggie Saga and wish I had the power of pen and prose that you possess.
How's this for irony? In one week, I will land in Aggie land - College
Station to be exact. After reading the saga, I now have two missions for
my otherwise unremarkable trip to visit my granny; 1) To wear my
University of California at Davis Aggies sweater as much as possible,
and 2) To meet my new hero (that would be you) and let him teach me as
much Charleston as I can learn in one sitting.
How far is Houston from College Station and might I schedule a lesson on
September 15 or 16?
Have a colleague in Sacramento I should find?
Thank you kindly,
Judging from the
sentiments of this kind lady, the Shaggie Jitterbug Saga has a
real chance at immortality. I am beginning to wonder if this
story could become a major motion picture!?!
Maybe I will have the chance to turn the tables and become famous!
Don't laugh. If the Positively True Adventures of the
Alleged Texas Cheerleader can make it as a movie, this
modern-day David versus Goliath story isn't that
much of a stretch, now is it?
Hmm. Al Pacino? Michael Douglas? Robert Redford?
Matt Damon? Jean Claude Van Damme? Russell Crowe? Anyone of
those guys would probably represent me well.
And like Erin
Brockovich, maybe I can get a bit part in the show?? Maybe a
little dance move in the background? Whaddya think??
By the way, did you notice Rana from Sacramento called me her "new hero"?
Yeah, famous martyrs through history - Thomas Beckett, Prometheus, Spartacus, William Wallace ("Braveheart"), and now me!
Is my ego is out of control? Maybe a little.
"Without regard for personal safety, Sir Rick stood his ground and
bravely defied the Mighty TAMU Monster!"
And just think, I might
even get to make some money from Rana's serendipitous discovery of the
Did you notice she asked me for a private Charleston dance lesson?!
I could get rich!
But I better be careful...
Maybe I need to consult with a lawyer first.
After all, I could be
opening myself up to a lawsuit from the city of Charleston, South
Burn me once, shame on TAMU,
Burn me twice, shame on me!
Don't ever say I haven't learned my lesson!!
Thanks for reading my story!!