Count on it, he’ll be back!

Arnold in Geneva with Rick Wayne and Joe Weider (left). Judging by their hair, the picture is not of recent vintage.

Oh, the irresistible nectar of schadenfreuede. You’d think Arnold was the first man to land in matrimonial merde, or even the first celebrity. But then, who cares if he is the millionth deer to be caught in the glare of the public headlights? Predictably, his latest predicament is being treated as a phenomenon, as opposed to a commonplace.
Acknowledged news addict that I am, still I did not learn of my friend’s current mortification from the usual electronic or print sources. At any rate, not initially. The news breakers on this occasion were concerned friends of mine who have never set eyes on the living flesh-and-blood Arnold, not that you’d guess from the way they let me know the Terminator had for 20 years or so been secretly shagging the Guatemalan help right under his wife’s nose. There was a familiar ring to their sound: a discombobulating mix of glee, pity and holier-than-thouness. (No such word, you say? Well, now there is!)
“So what you have to say about that?” asked my Looshan informer. Da man rell salop wee!” His early morning call came when I was still in bed and I got the feeling he’d stayed up half the night to be among the first to tell me what he had uncovered about my “bodybuilding buddy.”
“How could your friend let you down like that?” asked another Looshan currently based in Toronto. “Imagine messing up such a wonderful career for pussy?” And I thought, Yeah, imagine that. Absolutely unheard of.
As I say, I had no idea what my callers were raving about until I turned on the TV. Almost all of the hundred or so stations at my disposal—including the very serious Fox and CNN—were spilling the beans to the world about the mother of all indiscretions, and expressing sympathy for poor, poor Maria and the four or five Schwarzenegger offspring, age between 21 and 14.
At first, the commentators seemed to tread carefully. Doubtless they had learned from past experience not to mess with the Schwarzeneggers, what with their umbilical connections to the planet’s most powerful, influential and in some cases— vindictive. Maria and Oprah Winfrey, until this week the acknowledged most important woman in the world (Lady Gaga is the new champ!), had long been bosom buddies. For crissakes, even Vladimir Putin had publicly acknowledged his addiction to bodybuilding, thanks to his skiing partner Arnold.
Ah, but since Arnold’s public apology that seemed to confirm his human frailties, never mind his Terminator image, the media’s long knives have been out in force. Typically, the ubiquitous experts on everybody else’s business save their own are nightly holding forth on Arnold’s deserved punishment, encouraging Maria in a hundred-and-one different ways to take her husband to the cleaners and not follow in the footsteps of “the Kennedy wives who accepted their husbands’ indiscretions as par for the course.”
Then there are the discussions generated by the mindless question,Why do the rich and powerful cheat? As if indeed the poor and powerless remained faithful to their spouses till death did them part. As for my inquiring Looshan friends, let me assure them that there will never be a right time to offer my own take on what Arnold is going through right now, or to say whether it was inevitable. We were friends long before we ever heard of Maria Shriver. Through him I got to know the lady fairly well. We were pretty close when they were courting and obviously I know much more than I am inclined to reveal in these pages. In any event, it’s nobody else’s business.
Not to excuse his behavior, but it may be worth pointing out that Arnold did what he did before he became governor of California—unlike Nixon and Bubba with his famous little blue dress. If Arnold escaped press scrutiny and campaigned for office unburdened by what is now common knowledge, well, as they say, it is what it is. At home in Saint Lucia we coexist with pedophile prime ministers, prevaricating and remorseless MPs, to say nothing of the indicted who insist despite damning evidence that they did nothing wrong. Judging by our morality yardstick, a number of our parliamentary representatives live in sin and procreate in sin—without comment by the church.
For the benefit of the schandenfreude addicts, I will say this: don’t be in too much of a hurry to count out Arnold. He’s had much practise beating the odds. I recall the time in 1987, shortly after he had controversially won his final Mr Olympia contest in Sydney, Australia. At his invitation, we met for lunch at his Santa Monica home to talk over his plans for a show he was promoting in a matter of weeks with his long-time partner Jim Lorimer in Columbus, Ohio. Arnold was concerned that some of the day’s top stars, some of whom he had competed with for the Olympia and who were now his declared enemies, would boycott the event. (He worried needlessly, as it turned out; they all showed up for a shot at the $100,000 prize!)
My lunchtime interview with him over, I picked up my things and as we walked to my car an obviously depressed Arnold placed his hand on my shoulder and said: “As bad as I feel at this moment, five years from now nobody will remember what is now being said about the contest. All they’ll remember is that Arnold won the Olympia eight times!” He proved right on that too.
You don’t come from where Arnold started out and end up taking residence at the governor’s mansion in Sacramento unless you’re made of the right stuff. While some who know nothing of the man exercise their right to be mindlessly critical of him, I venture that after the current dust storm has settled—and settle it will soon enough!—Arnold will turn his attention to the several movie and other lucrative deals that because of his latest troubles have been put on hold. Don’t be surprised when, like Hugh Grant, the English movie star who was caught by the Highway Patrol in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong head bopping in his lap, Arnold emerges at the box-office a bigger-than-ever star.
Like the man said: “Ah’ll be back!” I daresay only a fool would bet
against him.

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