Arnie Johnson Tribute No. 9: BREAD ROLLS
by Richard Parramint
I had been aware of Arnie Johnson for some years before we met at my first LOG some 15 plus years ago. I would always track him down either standing outside the hotel with a cigarette, or failing that his head buried in the back of an Esprit. We had exactly the same thoughts about Lotus, the finest sports car but sadly not always the best management.
After the penultimate LOG I attended (LOG 38?) my wife, Bob Dance and Dave Minter met up with Arnie somewhere near Atlanta for dinner. You could tell life was not the same after losing his dear wife Cathy, but he had a new friend, a constant companion, his dog. I certainly miss seeing Arnie, it was always a chance for us to bitch about the company that we both loved with a passion ……. I really hope he’s giving the old man some shit in heaven …. assuming they both made it there.
Just a final story …..
As usual I was Emcee for the Saturday night LOG banquet, and it seemed over the years the done thing was to throw bread rolls aimed at me. This particular night a certain Mr. Johnson was sitting on a table to my left, and I was suddenly aware of an ‘incoming’ roll thrown with gusto. I spotted that Arnie was pleased with his throw but suddenly disappointed as I took a step back and the missile missing me by inches, it finished it journey hitting a glass on the opposite table and smashing over a poor unsuspecting lady …. who husband was ‘not happy’. Thankfully after a chat the gent concerned (ex-Marine) was pacified and all was good …… until the next year ……
I met the ex-Marine and his wife again at the reception night, he reminded of the glass throwing incident, at this point he didn’t know it was Arnie who thrown the rol l so together we hatched a plan ….
I went and found Arnie and said I met this ex-Marine who wanted some info on upcoming products ….. so it was like leading a lamb to slaughter. The Marine talked a little about
Lotus and then went on to say it was his second LOG and how he nearly didn’t come back. . .’oh why was that’ was Arnie’s reply ……. .’because some stupid SOB threw a roll that smashed a glass over my wife, and if I ever find out who it was I rip his head off!!!!!’ At which point I interjected and said … oh, that was you wasn’t it Arnie …… if you could have seen Arnie’s face it was an absolute picture. It was like time stood still, what seemed like hours but reality 30 seconds both the marine and I burst out laughing, and seeing the relief in Arnie’s face was great …. but I think he still needed a visit to the restrooms and possibly a cigarette.
We had a chat afterwards and I can’t repeat what he called me …… great times.