News from Home 23, Part II
4/26/2006 (updated 4/26/2006)

Governor Swarzenneger was punctual as usual for his elocution lesson. We spent the hour working on election friendly phrases. Like ‘union representation’ and ‘migrant worker’, but it is an uphill slog. Is it possible to have too much confidence? Sometimes I feel like I’m teaching Jackie Collins the finer points of the prose of Joseph Conrad. Arnold’s self-confidence is such that he believes he’s great at everything anyway, and it’s hard to convince him otherwise. Only when I resort to the tape machine does he hear the flaws in his tortured delivery. At the end of what felt like a fruitless lesson (but Georgio said he sounded like Roger Moore), Arnold pulled out a creased and scruffy piece of paper from his inside pocket, and grinned. “What do you think of this?” he said. It appeared to be a child’s drawing, executed in rather smudgy pencil, resembling a bunch of ill-defined spiders’ webs. What seemed most paradoxical about it was the Great Seal of the Governor of California on the letterhead.

“Errrmmm”, I said.

“Don’t you get it?” said Arnold, who loves a bit of a riddle. “It’s what you asked for – the plan for the minigolf hole!”

I looked again, refocused, and tried to see some logic in the hesitant lines. I was shocked that this could be the work of an adult – I was thinking the child in question was aged about 3. Finally the thing started to make some sense. I saw some mental purpose behind the ragged scrawl, and like Champollion before the Rosetta Stone, I began to decode…and when I had figured the thing out, it was rather good. I asked Arnold what the spiral shapes represented.

“Springs”, he said. “I call it ‘Total Recoil!’ The balls are sucked down by gravity” (he exaggeratedly rolled the ‘r’ – he seemed to love this word) – and then shot out – a bit like a pinball machine, ya? The balls shoot at the mouths of the bad guys –the ones from my movies – Terminator, Conan, Predator– but only one mouth comes out near the final hole. Clever, ya?”

I said it was ingenious, and seemed not too hard to build. I would have McSweeney start pouring the concrete immediately. The Governor seemed genuinely chuffed, and stuffed a couple of Romeo y Julietas into my top pocket. “Until the next time”, he said menacingly, only the slightest of winks revealing his wonderful grasp of irony.