Home Up


No Good Deed Goes Unpunished…
    The Story of Rick’s Confrontation on the Rhine River Cruise


Rick’s Note:  During my 33 year career at SSQQ, I never had a single incident involving jealousy over dancing with another man’s wife. 

So imagine my surprise when I was verbally attacked by a man one morning on the Rhine River Cruise for just such a thing.  

This man’s anger led to an extremely hostile confrontation right in the middle of a morning visit to Cologne with 30 people watching in horror and disgust. 

Here’s the story.



After dinner on the first night of the trip, I wasn’t interested in dancing.   I had a mild headache thanks to the stress of getting lost three different times while driving in Germany and Switzerland.  However, on the way to my room, I did happen to notice that Larry Beyer was dancing up a storm out on the dance floor located upstairs in the Lounge. 

Larry was smiling and confident as he danced a two-step with his wife Phyllis.  I grinned at how happy he looked out there.  Larry was definitely holding court!

What I didn’t know is that after he finished dancing, Larry was approached by Mutt, a short blonde lady, who said her girlfriend Sally really wanted Larry to teach her what he was doing. 

First Larry said no, and then Phyllis spoke up.  “If you want to learn, go ask Rick and Marla for help.  Maybe they can give your friend a private lesson."

On the following night, after dinner my friend Susan and I put together a jigsaw puzzle in the Lounge.  This large activity room is where all the lectures are held during the day.  The Lounge features the bar, the piano, and the dance floor.  As we put the puzzle together, I noticed that three people in particular were dominating the dance floor. 

I thought nothing of them and paid little attention, but in retrospect those three people were Mutt, Jeff, and Sally. 

After Susan and I finished the puzzle, we danced one West Coast Swing to considerable attention and then headed for our respective rooms.  I remember Mutt, Jeff, and Sally were among the people watching us dance.  I suppose that dance with Susan might explain why Mutt and Sally locked on to me.

The following day, Sally, the tall blonde, approached one of the ladies in our group.  Sally asked her to explain who I was and why I was such a good dancer.   Sally then said she really wanted to dance with me. 

The lady in our group said, “Well, then go ask him.  Rick is usually pretty good about dancing with different people.”



A couple nights later our ship docked in Rudesheim.  Viking had organized an evening of fun.  Guests were allowed to board a tractor-pulled choo choo train waiting on the street nearby at 630 pm.  From there, the train took people on a winding path throughout the area and then eventually ended up at a local restaurant.   At this point, the guests had a traditional German meal serenaded by soft German atmosphere music. 

After dinner the band began to play.

Marla and I had skipped the trip because we preferred to eat on board the riverboat.  We knew where the restaurant was and we also knew it was a short ten minute walk from the riverboat.  So after dinner, we walked over to join our friends.  As Marla and I walked into the restaurant to join our friends, we were greeted to a group on the floor high-kicking chorus line style to 'New York New York'.  Smiling at the silliness, Marla and I found a table and ordered a beer.

As we sipped our beer, we watched the dancing for a bit.  To our surprise, the music was more American pop music than German oompah music. 

Soon enough Marla and I were dancing as well.  At this point, the band began playing 'Hava Nagila'.  Marla started dancing the Hora, a well-known Jewish folk dance.  However that didn't last long.  I noticed a short, attractive lady (Mutt) from another table jump out and recreate another high-kicking chorus line except that this time the group formed a circle rather than a straight line. 

The woman caught my eye because I was impressed at how quickly people caught on to the her cue and joined right in.



One night later, after we finished our dinner, everyone from our table went upstairs to the large activity room.  Viking had promised a night of dancing. 

Although the floor was small, the music was good.  Chris, the Viking activities director, turned out to be a singer in addition to his many other skills.

His specialty was Sinatra music.  Well, in my opinion, Sinatra music was Foxtrot music, so out on the floor Marla and I went.  Then came another Foxtrot, then came a waltz, a swing song, and then 'My Way', a well known Sinatra standard.

During this time, I made an effort to dance with every lady in our group. I danced a west coast swing with Cher to 'Strangers in the Night', a Swing with Velma, a two-step with Marsha, another Swing with Joan, west coast with Susan and a Jitterbug with Phyllis.

At this point I was tired, so I sat out a song.  This gave me a chance to listen to the conversation between Marla, Larry and Phyllis, Sam and Cher.  At this point, the short blonde lady… the one I call Mutt… came over to our group. 

Mutt made no attempt to say hello to anyone else.  She just came and stood in front of me. 

Since it was obvious this woman had come to speak with me, I welcomed her and complimented her on her good job of organizing the Hava Nagila dance from the night before.

The short blonde lady smiled and said she had a favor to ask of me.  She said her girlfriend Sally was a beginner who was dying to learn how to dance like I did.  Would it possible for me to come over and ask her to dance?

I was not happy with this request.  My first loyalty was to my wife, then to the two ladies sitting with us, and then to the half-dozen ladies in our group sitting nearly who had no one to dance with.  So I said 'maybe later'.

The short blonde lady continued to persuade by making it clear this was very important to her friend.  Please??

I said 'maybe later'.

Now the woman upgraded her intensity.  "Please?  My friend is dying to have YOU teach her how to dance."

I could see Marla was upset with this woman.  Not only had the woman shown Marla absolutely no courtesy, Marla was disgusted at the woman’s refusal to take my polite turndown.

As for me, I too was very uncomfortable with this request.  First of all, no one can teach a beginner how to dance in one dance.  Second, there were still over a half dozen women in my own group who had priority.  I had not danced with any of these ladies yet this evening.  They were my choice, not some stranger who couldn’t even ask me herself face to face.

So I politely said, "I'm sorry, but like I said, I am here with a group of friends.  Given our limited time, I really need to dance with the people I'm with."

The woman wouldn't stop.  "Please, my friend really wants to learn."

I must have said 'maybe later' about five times.  I finally shrugged and said, "Okay, okay, maybe later."  However, this time there was something in my voice that conveyed ‘probably’ more than ‘maybe’.

With that vague promise, the woman finally disengaged.

After Mutt departed, our group discussed what had happened.  Marla said how irritated she was at the woman's approach.  Not once had the woman made eye contact with her to ask what Marla thought about this.  Marla thought the woman was rude.  

Now Phyllis spoke up.  "I know this woman.  She did the same thing to Larry on the first night of the trip.  Larry said no and I told her to go ask Rick and Marla and that maybe you could give her a private lesson."

“No way,” I said, "I am here on vacation.  I have no desire to teach some stranger."

Still, the short blonde woman's request weighed on my mind.  To me, it was easier just to dance with the woman and get it over with.



About twenty minutes passed. Now a Swing song came on that no lady at my table cared to dance to.  So I excused myself and said I was going to go over and dance with that lady as requested. 

I got up and said, "Excuse me.  I guess I will get my obligation handled." 

I crossed the room to their table on the other side of the room.   There were three people there... Mutt, the short blonde, Sally, the tall blonde, and some dark haired man who I will call Jeff.  I had no idea who Jeff was with, but I assumed he was with Mutt.

Mutt, the short blonde who had recruited me, was very pleased to see me approach.  I noticed Jeff sitting between the two women, but thought nothing of him.  Since I didn’t see any point in wasting time with formalities, I immediately asked the second lady, the one I call Sally, to dance. 

Had I approached unbidden, of course I would have said something to the man, but I assumed this dance was prearranged and all I wanted to do was get it over with.

At the time, I did think it was odd that the second lady was surprised my appearance.  She acted like she didn’t know why I was there.  However, when her girlfriend Mutt encouraged her to accept, the second lady dropped her reluctance and got up to join me.  Considering how Mutt smiled at me, I assumed this is what I was supposed to do. 

Sally indeed knew little about East Coast Swing.  She didn’t have any idea about the back-step or the rhythm.  Seeing her struggle with the Swing footwork, I switched to another dance I refer to as 'Aggie Jitterbug'.

Aggie Jitterbug is a simplified form of East Coast Swing.  It is easy to lead and requires no prior knowledge of footwork or timing.

So how did Sally do?   I will give the tall blonde a compliment - Sally followed well.  She made no attempt to guess what I was going to do next, but rather waited patiently for my next signal.  This gave me the opportunity to lead a series of basic Aggie Jitterbug moves which Sally performed well.  This suggested that Sally was not quite the beginner that her girlfriend Mutt had described.

Personally, once I switched to Aggie Jitterbug, I thought Sally did very well.  She was clearly having a good time.  In fact, Sally began to turn it on.  Once Sally realized she was the center of attention in the room, she began laughing and smiling and showing off.  I might add that Sally was a good-looking woman.  As we danced, she looked good out there.  The audience clearly approved of Sally’s effort and clapped for her when she was finished.

The tall blonde woman thanked me and we both walked in opposite directions to our tables.  As far as I was concerned, the favor had been completed.

At that point the song "Another Day in Paradise" came on and I danced west coast with Marla.  Marla danced beautifully.  Our dance together was so much fun that I put the Sally incident completely out of my mind.



The next morning featured a long guided tour through the downtown of Cologne, an important German city on the Rhine.  I was running late.  As I headed for the door, I saw both women – Sally and Mutt – down at the bottom of the stairs.  As I passed by, I expected they would smile and greet me.  Curiously enough they both looked away and gave me no heed.  Although I thought that was rude considering I had done them both a favor, I was in a hurry and didn't stop to talk.

I was the last person to join our group.  The group had just begun to walk as I caught up.  Therefore I trailed the pack a few yards behind as I fiddled with my communication device.  Viking gives us a Quiet Box that allows our guide to communicate with all of us no matter how far away we are.  This allows us to wander around and still hear what he or she is saying.

I was preoccupied with putting the ear piece of my Quiet Box, so I didn’t notice as a tall man – Jeff – walked up on my left.   When he came to my side, I had no idea who he was.  I did not recognize him as the man sitting between Mutt and Sally from the night before.

Now that he was standing up, I noticed Jeff was a big guy.  He was the same height and weight as me and about 20 years younger.

Jeff began by saying, "I have a real problem with what you did last night."

With that, I guessed this guy must be the man who was sitting down.  I continued walking.  To be honest, I thought he was joking, so I answered pleasantly, "Your lady friend danced very well." 

What I expected him to say next was that now his girlfriend wanted him to take dance lessons when they returned home and this was his way of teasing me for putting him on the spot.

I could not have been more wrong.

"You had no business dancing with my wife without my permission!"

I did a double take.  For one thing, I had no idea Sally was his wife.

"You are kidding, aren’t you?"

"Hell no, I'm not kidding.  What you did was completely wrong.  It was rude and inconsiderate.  You had no right to dance with another man’s wife without asking first."

“Hold on there.  You obviously don’t know my side of the story.  First of all, I had no idea you were married.  For that matter, I thought you were with the short blonde woman.” 

I was about to explain I only came over there at the invitation of Mutt, Sally’s girlfriend, but Jeff cut me off.

"Look buddy, you have no manners whatsoever.  Where I come from, you don't go up to a strange woman and ask her to dance when her husband is sitting there.  You speak to me first."

"Well, if you were so upset, why didn't you say something?  I didn't want to dance with her in the first place."

Now Jeff took a step towards me.  He was right in my face.

"You stupid asshole, you really don't get it, do you?   Get this through your thick head... you have no business dancing with another man's wife.  That’s the bottom line here."

I was incredulous.  Jeff refused to listen to a word I said.  All he wanted to do was chew me out.  I could not believe the words that were coming out of this guy's mouth.  I desperately wanted someone from our group to come over and hear this guy just so someone would believe me when I said this guy was completely off base. 

I said, "You aren't listening to a word I've said.  First of all, I had no idea she was your wife.  Second of all, if you have a problem with me, maybe you need to check with your wife's girlfriend and get the facts.  I only came over because I was asked to do so."

"You are wrong.  It doesn't matter, you caused the problem and you need to apologize."

Our voices had gotten loud.  Watching the man open and close his fists, I was certain he was debating whether to throw a punch or not.   Things were heated now.  Even though we were at the back of the group, no doubt our voices were disruptive. 

Now some other guy came over and put his hands on me and pushed me way.  He said, "Hey mister, you need to step away.  You are bothering the other guests."

Now I had two men to deal with.  I said to the other man, "This is none of your business.  Furthermore I didn't start this.  Why don't you speak to this other guy and see what his problem is?"

The second guy refused to budge.  He was having far too much fun shoving me.  However, now his wife came over and grabbed his arm.  In a nanosecond, the guy was gone.  Good grief.

Once I got the second man out of my way, I turned back to my accuser.  I said, "I understand that you angry at me, but I think you need to take that anger and turn it on the woman who created this situation in the first place.  That woman manipulated this entire problem and you are unwilling to accept this."

"Don’t give me that.  You were the one who started this, not her.  You are the one who was rude enough to ask my wife to dance asking for my permission.  You owe me an apology."

I replied, "What world do you come from?  How is it possible that you don't get that I was set up by the first woman?"

He refused to back down. Since much of this conversation was said in loud voices, at this point anyone in the group who wished to listen could hear what was being said.

Now we were joined by someone else.  Marla had been up in the front of the group.  She had heard the loud voices.  Once she realized it was me, she immediately came back to check on what I had gotten myself into this time. 

Marla asked me what was wrong.

I replied that this man was upset with me for dancing with his wife without his permission.

Marla’s eyes grew large.  She muttered, “Oh no, you’ve got to be kidding!!”

Now it was Marla's turn to be incredulous.  She pivoted sharply and told the man I never wanted to dance with his wife in the first place.

Jeff was shocked at Marla’s intervention.  Here was this woman half his size lighting into him.  He actually took a step back.

I couldn’t help but grin.  Once Marla took up the fight, I stepped away.  I knew this guy was in trouble now.

Marla pointed out this entire problem had been created by the first woman.  Marla said this other woman was highly out of line by interrupting our group and refusing to take no for an answer in the first place. 

The man refused to listen.  He kept insisting this was my entire fault.  Now Marla grabbed his arm.  She was mad that he was brushing her off and she shook his arm to get his attention.   I was shocked… I have never seen Marla get physical before with anyone and that includes me.

But there she was shaking that arm up and down to get the guy to shut up!

"Look, mister, you aren't hearing a word I say.  You are angry at the wrong person."  

Marla glared at him to be sure he was listening.  Then she continued.

"Your wife's friend was highly inappropriate.  She came over and insisted to my husband that her friend was dying to have my husband teach her friend to dance. Rick only went over there to do a favor."

"I agree that woman was wrong, but the blame goes mostly to your husband.  I expect an apology from that woman AND from your husband."

 He paused, then grumbled, "You should know that a man does not ask a married woman to dance without asking the husband's permission first.  There is no excuse. If you want to help, why don’t you go tell your husband to apologize to me?" 

And then he walked away.

At this point, Chris, the program director, walked up to see what the problem was.  Marla was very upset, but she explained to Chris what had happened.  I simply watched.  Chris nodded.  He said the best thing to do would be for me to join another group. 

Marla and I agreed.  I am pleased to report that several other people from our Texas group decided to switch groups as well in support.  They didn’t want to be anywhere near that guy.

I walked with the new group for a while, but I couldn't get into it.  I was too upset.  I told Marla I was going back to my room. 

When I reached my room, I realized I was still carrying Viking's large red umbrella.  So I went back downstairs to return it.  As I got to the lobby, I saw both women… Sally and Mutt… leave the ship together.  I assumed they were going shopping.  The tall blonde and the short blonde never saw me.  As they walked up the ramp, they were arm in arm and laughing about something. 

I considered tracking them down and confronting them about their nasty little game, but then thought the better of it.  As unstable as this guy was, anything I said to the women would be twisted to inflame Jeff more.

To my surprise, in that moment, I actually felt sorry for my accuser.  Who would want to be stuck on this boat with these two women?  Just having this woman as his wife was punishment enough for Jeff.



It took a couple days for the facts to roll in, but there reports of several angry arguments coming from their stateroom.  In addition, on the final night of the trip, Jeff was overhead barking in public to his wife, “No dancing with anyone else tonight.  Do I make myself clear?”

Talk about a miserable marriage.  Why those two people were still together remains a mystery to me.



In my opinion, Jeff was possessive and insecure.  No doubt his wife resented his attitude, but rather than protect him from his weakness, Sally decided to deliberately exploit his weakness instead. 

There was no doubt in my mind this dance had been orchestrated between Mutt and Sally in a deliberate attempt to push his buttons.  They went out of their way to provoke him in perhaps the most cynical way they could think of. 

When Jeff confronted me, I had been under the assumption that Mutt was the responsible party.  After all, Sally had been so surprised.

Now I knew better.  Sally had set this up herself as a deliberate way to anger her husband.  This whole dance thing was one big act.

For starters, Mutt had never said a word to me that Sally was married.  The way she explained it to me, Sally was the free agent.

By getting her friend Mutt to ask me to dance, Sally had set it up perfectly.  To Jeff’s eyes, the best dancer in the room had just made a beeline for his good-looking wife without any regard for him.

You know what?  Jeff had a point.

I had no meant to be discourteous, but from his point of view, I could see how he had been fooled at the time as to what was really going on.

Now while Jealous Jeff fumed in the corner, Sally had the chance to show off.  Strutting and preening, Sally showed everyone in the room just how pretty she was and talented on the dance floor.

Truth be told, the two women were very slick.  Sally knew she herself could not do the asking because then Jeff would know what she was up to. 

For this stunt to work, Sally had to make it look like she was completely shocked over my arrival.  Imagine that some stranger would have the nerve to come over and ask her to dance! 

Then she played hard to get.  Sally only ‘gave in’ after Mutt encouraged her to accept her offer.

Meanwhile Jealous Jeff was so flabbergasted he didn’t know what to do.  Anything he did would cause a scene, so in a sense he was helpless. Now Jeff had no choice but watch the show.  He went nuts once he saw his wife prancing and preening before a captive audience.

As for me, I was a patsy.  I absolutely never saw this coming and did not have my guard up.  At the time, I was just as fooled by this act as Jeff had been. 

I don’t think Jeff had any idea what was really going on until after he confronted me.  And that makes two of us.  I had no idea those two women were playing me till now.

In a way, Jeff had a good point.  Ordinarily I would have no business going up to a married woman who was a stranger to me and asking her to dance without speaking to the husband first. 

So yes, from Jeff’s point of view, I can see why he considered my behavior was rude.

If he wasn’t such a jerk, I would indeed apologize to him for my inadvertent role in his drama.   

That said, Jeff was wrong to refuse to listen to my explanation.  He refused to accept my word that I had no idea I was walking straight into a deliberate trap.  Every time I tried to explain how I had been set up, Jeff cut me off and began to harangue me further for my lack of manners.

The bottom line is that two very nasty women had played me. 

What makes me angry is that after Jeff confronted me, neither Mutt nor Sally made any attempt to apologize.   They knew what they were doing from the start and didn’t have the slightest conscience whatsoever about using me as a pawn in their evil little game.

Yes, no doubt Jeff has made his share of nasty moves as well, but that doesn’t give either woman the excuse to deliberately involve a third party like me in their games.  What if Jeff had decided to take a swing at me?  What if he had hurt me?  Would either woman have apologized to me then?

In my next Newsletter, I will begin sharing my book A Simple Act of Kindness with my Newsletter readers.  In this book, I will explain how a series of people stepped up when I was a boy to rescue me from a childhood of misery. 

It is fortune that these people came to my aid because I was definitely headed in the wrong direction.  Without their help, I could have gotten into a lot of trouble.

That said, this world is full of evil people.  An alternative title for my riverboat confrontation story could easily read A Simple Act of Meanness

Deliberate acts of rudeness and disrespect have the power to make us all grow cold and less caring to the outside world.  Rather than make the world a friendlier place, people like me learn the hard way that we have no choice but to keep our guard up wherever we go. 

One would in the Polite Society of the river cruise that the caliber of people would prevent such things from happening.  Apparently not.

As far as I am concerned, there is far too much meanness in this world.





SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ