"Meinhard!... What is it you have there?"
Looking up with the expression of a dog caught in the garbage can, Meinhard shrugged, sheepishly wishing he had seen the teacher's approach sooner. How quickly things deflate. Moments ago every boy in the class stood around him, staring in awe at the stack of magazines he had smuggled in to school. Now, those same friends have scattered, leaving him caught red-handed and even more red-faced.
It really sinks in on the walk home. His father Gustav will be furious. As the local head of police, his two troublesome sons have caused him regular embarrassment. This time will be different though, and Meinhard knows it. He has crossed a line. His already strained relationship with his disciplinarian father will be forever changed. In an attempt to impress his friends, he violated his father's privacy and nosed through his personal belongings. Things culminated after lunchtime, when his teacher confiscated his secret collection of Busty Frauleins Monthly. Now his normally short-tempered father was likely to go ballistic!
And Meinhard was right. One isolated childhood mistake forever changed his relationship to his father. Where he had once been the favorite child and his younger brother Arnold had been the neglected one, from that day forth, Meinhard was to be constantly driven to excel, just to achieve a small measure of the approval that his brother received as the new favorite child in the Schwarzenegger home. This one mistake changed both his life and his brother's, but what ripples would alter the lives of countless others?
Time is a chain of events, each one affecting and leading to the next. Our future is determined by the subtle effect each pivotal point has on the next event. In the study of causality, this is often referred to as the butterfly effect. The butterfly effect is a classic example used in describing chaos theory - "A butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil might cause a hurricane in the Caribbean." As outrageous as this may seem, quantum physics seems to bear it out. The chain of events of even the most minor event ripples outward, interacting with every thing in its path. There is mathematical evidence that every possible reality, each fork in the road, has been played out in a different universe, along a different timeline. This fictional article describes how one such simple childhood event would have dramatic repercussions throughout the bodybuilding world.
While in our timeline, Joe Weider used the marketability of the charismatic Austrian to dominate the bodybuilding and supplement markets, the variant timeline was very different. Realizing that the battles with Hoffman and the power-hungry young John Balik would be stalemates at best, Joe left the bodybuilding aspect of his company to be run by ex-circus strongman Dan Lurie, whose WBBG organization (the Weider Bodybuilding Guild) battled fiercely with NABBA abroad and the AAU domestically.
Lurie's influence on WBBG judging was subtle but the effects were significant. With a preference for hairy, bulky ape-like physiques (like his own), Lurie effectively delegated the aesthetic and smooth-skinned Frank Zane to footnote status. Three-time Mr. Olympus Mike Mentzer and his two-time Olympus-winning brother Ray both retired at the top of their game. Mike went on to complete medical school and was joined by Ray (a physical therapist) to operate the Fountainhead Sports Medical Center.
This is not to say that Joe Weider did not reach great levels of personal success. His love for bodybuilding and business are just focused in another direction. Weider Bio-Tech, a research company free to progress due to President Dole's support of stem cell research, demanded Joe's full attention.
Weider's greatest triumph was the completion of the ultra-secret Sandow Project; a technological wonder in which the research team of Feliciano, Wright, Antonio and Lowery, operating with nearly unlimited funding unlocked the secrets of the myostatin gene. 2001 was a landmark year for Weider Bio-Tech. The first subject, Joe himself, was a fearless guinea pig of the research. In his mid-70s, and a shredded 375 pounds, Joe became the ultimate product endorsement, winning an unprecedented string of victories. Starting with the AAU Mr. America title, Joe goes on to capture the NABBA Universe and the sport's two greatest pro events - the Sergio Oliva Classic and the Mr. Olympus. Shares of Weider Bio-Tech stock soar, making him easily the wealthiest man on the planet.
Also successful, Dr. A. Scott Connelly went on to develop and market a proprietary protein component called metamyosin. All the subjects of the first field tests reported improved muscle tone, noticeable loss in bodyfat and a shinier coat. Mut-Rx became a sensation, despite the fact that Connelly refused to release any of his data on the formula. Through a well-run distribution plan (assisted by aggressive product placement on popular Animal Planet TV shows and endorsements by a Westminster Kennel Club "best in show" winner, Mut-Rx soon rivaled the top specialty dog foods of the day. Connelly's sale of Mut-Rx to Eukanuba (a division of the Proctor & Gamble Company) allowed him to retire a very wealthy man.
Bill Phillips was also seemingly destined for success in any timeline. He went on to become the assistant manager of Golden Glow, a tanning salon in his hometown of Golden, Colorado. The fact that his brother Shawn owned the salon may have explained his rise in the competitive local tanning field.
Young Meinhard Schwarzenegger went on to represent Austria in the 1972 Munich Olympic games, dominating the decathalon event. He translated his newfound fame to product endorsements and, from the money earned there, into a promising business career. He has gone on to become one of the wealthiest venture capitalists in the newly-unified German marketplace.
Meinhard's brother, the unambitious Arnold Schwarzenegger went on to compete recreationally in local powerlifting events in Italy, where he worked as foreman for the Columbu Masonry Company. He served as the sidekick to (and the butt of numerous good-natured jokes) by his boss, popular athlete and local figure Franco Columbu.
The recall of California Governor Gray Davis was followed by a turbulent three-month gubernatorial reign by ex-child actor Gary Coleman. Elected as more of a statement against bureaucracy than anything, the stressed politician fell victim to a crippling heart attack. Deputy Governor Todd Bridges immediately stepped in and his tough, clean sweep policy, lead to thronging crowds chanting the famous "Don't Mess with Willis!" cries at public events. After being elected to two terms on his own merits, Bridges leads California to a new level of economic prosperity and opportunity.
With whispers of his political machine driving on to a nearly unstoppable presidential bid, Bridges prepares to unleash his secret weapon - endorsement by box office superstar Lou "the Terminator" Ferrigno.
If modern quantum physics theories hold any validity, we reside in but one of an infinite number of universes. In fact, each decision we make is played out in a separate timeline; a separate and distinct line of causality within the multiverse. Throwing aside belief in destiny or fate, this is just but one unlikely but possible outcome to a subtle but pronounced change, like the flap of a butterfly's wings.