It’s not unusual to receive an e-note from a Saint Lucian prime minister, whether he’s at home or off-island. Sometimes it was a bit of news a particular PM wanted me to publish; sometimes a joke he wished to share, more often than not at my expense. And once in a while it would be about something insignificant someone had said on a Roro-TV show that an unnecessarily disturbed PM wished me to correct. So when on Wednesday afternoon, while I was busy preparing this week’s Writings On The Wall, my laptop signaled a new missive from our current prime minister I figured I’d complete the paragraph I was wrestling with before checking it. But then a second soon arrived from the same source, and I figured there might be something urgent in the first. I stopped writing and opened it to confront the mysterious line: “Your old friend says hi, and wants you to know he’s waiting for you at the gym!”
I wondered who would dare call himself my friend yet not know it had been a very long time when last I fingered a dumbbell. Seven years, at least. You bet curiosity got the better of me, especially since our prime minister was (surprise! surprise!) off-island again. I called his cell and to my utter amazement he chirpily answered. I inquired as to where he was this time, and I think he said: “Paris. I’m attending a climate-change conference.”
“And who is this old friend of mine to whom you refer?” I asked, fully aware that my pal Serge Nubret had a long time ago passed. Serge was born in Guadeloupe but lived most of his adult life in the City of Lights.
Our PM chuckled: “Arnold! Obviously, you haven’t seen the picture I emailed you.” I had not but quickly remedied that as we talked. “He’s also attending the conference,” the PM went on, “and when we were introduced I said I was from the same place as Rick Wayne. And Arnold said: ‘Ah, yes of course. Ricky and I were training partners for a long time but he is no longer a bodybuilder; he’s a writer!’ ”
I imagined him saying “he’s a writer” in the same tone he reserved for “pencil-neck reporters” who’d written unflatteringly about him. And I thought, typical Arnold wit—as if he were himself the current Mr. Olympia, not a full-time celebrity and sometime Trump pincushion.
“So what’s with the thumbs up?” I asked the PM.
“It’s for you, Rick,” he laughed. “Arnold says he’s waiting for you at the gym.” Another inside joke meant for my informed ears only. And again I thought: “Well, it wouldn’t be the first time one of us failed to show up as promised at some gym, whether in Munich, Santa Monica, London—or Paris.”
As for the rest of my conversation with the PM, that’ll hold until a more appropriate time. Hint: It wasn’t about anything that just then he was especially eager to pursue!