On Sunday night, Arnold Schwartzenegger shared a video on Twitter demonstrating how to properly execute social distancing.
He pleaded with his fellow Californians to remain home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, reminding them that people over the age of 65 are encouraged to stay home and saying, "We don't go out, we don't go to restaurants, we don't do anything like that anymore here. We just eat with Whiskey and with Lulu. We have a good time, we get entertained."
Whiskey and Lulu are his two beloved pets who feature in the video as they eat from his hands. Presumably, Schwarzenegger expects other Californians to follow his model and remain "sane" with the help of entertainment provided by pets and loved ones. In his case, however, those pets seem to provide more of a diversion than your cat—even if you remembered to hoard a lifetime supply of laser pointers. Nothing quite so ordinary would do for the former California governor. No, the pets he is currently sharing his home with are a miniature pony (Whiskey) and the tiny donkey (Lulu) that he puts in headlocks while laughing maniacally—a knife block visible over his head, as if it appeared in a thought bubble. When Whiskey tries to break Arnold's hold, the star of Last Action Hero admonishes her by saying, "No biting. You've got to get along," but how long will that rule protect them from his ravenous appetite as quarantine-madness takes hold?
You're probably familiar with the phenomenon that can arise in situations like this. As isolation eats away at people's sense of reality, cravings for food that they can no longer have begin to take hold. Soon an individual begins to picture their companions as giant slabs of talking (or neighing) meat. With those thoughts making Arnold's mouth water, how long will it be before he attacks Whiskey and Lulu with a frying pan or a giant wooden mallet? How long will it be until twittering birds are flying circles around their heads while lumps suddenly swell through their manes? How long before their spirits are ascending to heaven on newly-sprouted wings, playing tiny harps?
It may be hard to imagine that the man who played the gruff but soft-hearted hero in Kindergarten Cop would ever resort to eating his pets—after all, his usual diet has been "99% vegan" for a while now. But those habits are a lot easier to maintain when Southern California is functioning as its usual mecca for vegan and vegetarian cuisine. As Arnold says in the video, "Forget about all that." When all those fancy plant-based restaurants close shop for the Coronavirus crisis, will he maintain his composure, or will Whiskey and Lulu join the 1%? What happens when he's spent a week subsisting on the same carrots and oats that his adorable, vulnerable pets enjoy so much? He may find himself missing the taste of Beyond Burgers. Or maybe he'll remember his childhood in Austria and the melt-in-your mouth savor of Pferdeleberkäse—a popular horsemeat pâté. And if he's craving something from Chipotle, will he perhaps recall that "burrito" is just the Spanish word for a little donkey?
At this point you probably think this seems like a bit much. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not the cold-hearted villain he portrayed as Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin. Nor is he a barbarian, like the one he played in Conan the Barbarian. And Whiskey and Lulu have been his regular companions for some time now. Last year he posted a series of videos in which he biked alongside Whiskey as part of a morning fitness routine. Then in February of this year the Internet delighted at the sight of him bringing both Whiskey and Lulu into work. They are comfortable going anywhere with him. They happily eat carrots out of his hand and only struggle a little when he wraps his sagging yet powerful 72-year-old biceps around their necks…
There is a term in the jargon of nature survivalists known as "stocking the fridge" that involves sharing your food with wild animals so that, when lean times come, you will have a ready source of unsuspecting meat. Whiskey and Lulu will never see the end coming. As the quarantine continues with no clear end in sight, how long will it be until Arnold begins to see Whiskey and Lulu no longer as essential members of the family, but as Expendables? There's no way to be certain, but if you find yourself in quarantine, picturing your cat as a rotisserie chicken, shake the image from your head and say a little prayer for Whiskey and Lulu.