Blaming Arnold

Monopolizing Arnie's time when it was rightfully mine marked Stripes for an early grave. But I quickly learned that revenge belonged solely to Marine drill instructors.

Eyes glued to the back of the recruit's skull ahead of me, I continued to focus through my peripheral vision. I didn't want drill instructors beheading me for looking around in an undisciplined manner before my turn to attack the obstacle course.

Smiling Marine officers ambled up to our platoon taking pictures. What in the world was going on?

A large hand clapped the shoulder of the recruit in front of me. "How ahre dey treating you heah?" a familiar voice asked as cameras clicked.

The Austrian Oak! Arnold Freakin' Schwarzenegger!

Arnold had been my hero since childhood. Mr. Universe, Mr. Olympia, Mr. Cool! My favorite movie was _Pumping Iron,_ and when _Conan the Barbarian_ was released, it was a dream come true for a Conan geek like me.

"You should only do the easy obstacles," Arnie said with a laugh. "Yes, sir!" the recruit replied, then bolted awkwardly toward the first obstacle. Ritualistically painted across his sweatshirt were two red stripes identifying him as a diet recruit. A scarlet letter that screamed "fat body!"

The horizontal log was about chest height. His round little body produced an audible _splat,_ plopping against it like so much Silly Putty. His flesh wrapped around the log in a U shape as he slowly slid off.

Futilely, Stripes jumped again, only to ooze off the obstacle like a ball of slime. Enraged drill instructors barked obscenities until he went around. Utter failure in front of Conan. Horrifying!

Determined not to fail under the red gaze of the Terminator, I attacked the course with all the intensity I could summon. I smashed through the logs, producing clouds of splinters. Steel groaned and bent as I maneuvered over bars, proper technique all but forgotten. I flossed my teeth with the rope-climbing obstacle as fires broke out all over the course. Dominating the final obstacle, I turned to bask in Arnold's approval of my manly conquest. Chest out and head high, I looked to find that Arnold had gone, never seeing me.

Dejection. Despair.

Monopolizing Arnie's time when it was rightfully mine marked Stripes for an early grave. But I quickly learned that revenge belonged solely to Marine drill instructors.

_"You failed in front of Arnold Schwarzenegger!"_ The overwhelming ire and absolute disgust charging this proclamation cannot be reproduced with the written word. Stripes trembled, standing at attention under the scrutiny of all the drill instructors at once.

"What did he say to you? He told you to _attack_ the O course, didn't he?"

"Yes, sir!"

"And what did you do? _Fail in front of Arnold Schwarzenegger!"_

There was no forgiveness for this atrocity. Stripes never graduated boot camp with the rest of us.

In the end, I'm not bitter at Stripes. Time and maturity have revealed the truth: I blame Arnold.

The future governor couldn't spend three minutes to watch his biggest fan _destroy_ the obstacle course? Every time I relive this incident, I actively hate him. After that day, I was never the same.

Next time, I'll just punch him in the liver.

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