No Good Deed Goes
The Story of Rick’s Confrontation on the Rhine River
During my 33 year career at SSQQ, I never had a single
incident involving jealousy over dancing with another man’s
my surprise when I was verbally attacked by a man one
morning on the Rhine River Cruise for just such a thing.
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.
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.
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!
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
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."
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.
nothing of them and paid little attention, but in retrospect
those three people were Mutt, Jeff, and Sally.
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.
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.”
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
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
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.
caught my eye because I was impressed at how quickly people
caught on to the her cue and joined right in.
later, after we finished our dinner, everyone from our table
went upstairs to the large activity room. Viking had
promised a night of dancing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
blonde lady continued to persuade by making it clear this
was very important to her friend. Please??
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.
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."
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
vague promise, the woman finally disengaged.
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
short blonde woman's request weighed on my mind. To me, it
was easier just to dance with the woman and get it over
I ASK THE
WOMAN TO DANCE
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
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
by saying, "I have a real problem with what you did last
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
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
I did a
double take. For one thing, I had no idea Sally was his
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."
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
you were so upset, why didn't you say something? I didn't
want to dance with her in the first place."
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."
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."
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.
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
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."
"What world do you come from? How is it possible that you
don't get that I was set up by the first woman?"
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.
me what was wrong.
that this man was upset with me for dancing with his wife
without his permission.
grew large. She muttered, “Oh no, you’ve got to be
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
shocked at Marla’s intervention. Here was this woman half
his size lighting into him. He actually took a step back.
help but grin. Once Marla took up the fight, I stepped
away. I knew this guy was in trouble now.
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.
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.
she was shaking that arm up and down to get the guy to shut
mister, you aren't hearing a word I say. You are angry at
the wrong person."
at him to be sure he was listening. Then she continued.
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
"I agree that woman was wrong, but the blame goes mostly to
your husband. I expect an apology from that woman AND from
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
And then he
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
confronted me, I had been under the assumption that Mutt was
the responsible party. After all, Sally had been so
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
starters, Mutt had never said a word to me that Sally was
married. The way she explained it to me, Sally was the free
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.
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.
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
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.
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
played hard to get. Sally only ‘gave in’ after Mutt
encouraged her to accept her offer.
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.
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.
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.
line is that two very nasty women had played me.
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
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.
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.
this world is full of evil people. An alternative title for
my riverboat confrontation story could easily read A
Simple Act of Meanness.
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
As far as I am concerned, there is far too much meanness in