We Lose
Home Up Letters to Editor The Houston Press

The Sad End to the Shaggie Story plus:

  • 2004 Update

  • 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.

Rick Archer

2008 Update

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!


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 prominence.

Now, for the rest of time, my antagonists - Stephen Huzar,
Tobin Boenig, Mark Zietlow - 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 story.

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.

Imagine having 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 institution?

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 Marathon Race. 

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.

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Monday, September 06, 2004 9:09 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Aggie, shAggie, Forbidden Word, Jitterbug, Bah Humbug... I need to learn the Charleston!

Mr. Archer:

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,
Rana B
Sacramento, CA

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 Shaggie Saga! 

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 Carolina!!

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!!
Rick Archer




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