Action-film-loving grandma cultivates fine appreciation of Arnold Schwarzenegger

January 16, 2013 

I saw my first R-rated movie when I was somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 years old.

It was “Predator.” I watched it with my grandma.

Her name is Gaile, but, on account of her affinity for action movies — especially those starring Arnold Schwarzenegger — we mostly call her “Grambo.” The license plate on her gray Honda sedan proclaimed the moniker to all on the road behind her; the people at the DMV were even nice enough to put a “1” after it, to distinguish her from and rank her above all the other Grambos driving in Wisconsin.

She had been babysitting my sisters and I. Apparently we did something worthy of reward, so she plunked us down and put her pre-rewound VHS into the player. We watched in amazement as Grambo cheered her Arnie on, reveling in the wake of carnage he left as he hunted down “that no-good SOB.”

Some time later, she used “Kindergarten Cop” as evidence of comedic timing and railed on the Academy for shortchanging Arnold’s performance in “True Lies.”

Since then, though I’d never claim to love Arnold myself — my love of Grambo, and thus, the things she loves, notwithstanding — I’ve always appreciated the guy.

Yet for just a simple appreciation, it’s kind of odd how often he has popped up in benchmarks of my life. Consider, since my first viewing of “Predator”:

• In my final mischievous-for-the-sake-of-being-mischievous acts of middle school adolescence, a friend and I made crank calls to various community businesses. Using what? A sound-board filled with clips of Arnold’s garbled Austrio-English dialect.

• High school civics classes expanded my awareness of government beyond Washington. What was used as a real-life, in-the-news lesson to teach state legislation and recall elections? The Governator’s successful challenge of Gray Davis in California, of course.

• Sure, I had seen “Super Size Me,” but I didn’t really appreciate the art of the documentary film until I got on a bit of a kick in college. What was the film that inspired me to later track down “Don’t Look Back,” “Grizzly Man” and “Hoop Dreams”? “Pumping Iron” with Mr. Universe, Arnold Schwarzenegger. (In addition, Arnie’s off-hand “Milk is for babies; when you grow up you have to drink beer” was repeated more than a few times.)

• Writing headlines has been my job for the better part of three years. Among the ones that stand out most? Schwarzenegger, Shriver separate; paternity of 13-year-old lovechild confirmed

This weekend, Schwarzenegger makes his big-screen comeback (looking past smaller parts in both “Expendables” movies) in “The Last Stand.” Seeing as how this is his biggest turn in the news in a year and a half, I’ve kept my eyes open to reflections in my own life. The premise of the film has something to do with age, drug cartels and Johnny Knoxville — so at this point I haven’t quite made any connections.

If nothing else, I could always show it to a 5 year old that I’m babysitting.

Andy and his family are aware that Arnold Schwarzenegger did not star in “Rambo,” but if you had a grandma who loved violent action movies you wouldn’t care either.

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