Inter se pugnantia


Inter se pugnantia (in’-ter-say-pug-nan’-ti-a): Using direct address to reprove someone before an audience, pointing out the contradictions in that person’s character, often between what a person does and says.


He stood there in front of our friends trying to convince them to become vegetarians—blabbing on about slaughterhouses and cow farts, Tex came off as a true believer in meat’s right to die of old age instead of being butchered and eaten by people, slopping their bread in the sentient being’s warm blood, calling it “juices” to make it less disgusting, or not disgusting at all. Tex would pound his fist on the table, making the salt and pepper shakers dance, and making the meat eaters tremble, knives and forks almost vibrating in their hands. Tex was a powerful presence in the fight against meat’s consumption—against the protein-stuffed gluttons populating Western Democracies, and ruining the world. There were militant vegetarians gathering around Tex’s words. There was a bovine liberation movement brewing.

Then, I had dinner with Tex. He ordered Sweetbreads, Porterhouse Steak, and liver and onions, and a side order of pickled oxtails. Tex told me the only things on the menu for “sissy” vegetarians were mashed potatoes, bread and ice water. He laughed like he thought he was being funny. His behavior blew me into another galaxy. I couldn’t speak. I was angry. I was shocked. But more than anything, I was confused. As the foremost proponent of vegetarianism in the northeast US, he was also a meat-man: hacking away at the dead things steaming on his dinner plate, forking bite-sized chunks into his mouth, chewing them with his mouth open, and swallowing them down into his horrible stomach. An undeniable betrayal of everything he says he stands for. What a liar!

My bread and potatoes were delivered to the table just as I was about to say something to Tex. I asked the waiter to bring me a glass of water and was about to dig in when Tex lifted his fork over his head and stabbed in into our table. “I see that look on your face,” he yelled so loud that other diners looked at us. ‘It says, hypocrite, liar, despicable human being.’ He told me he has a rare disease that forces him to eat meat or die. It is called “veganomilymeatanemia.” It afflicts people born on airplanes, the back seats of taxis, and cruise ships. It is so rare, that basically no body knows about it. He said, “I was born on a Carnival cruise ship off the coast of Freeport. Before I was diagnosed, I almost died. My mother thought she was doing me a favor by feeding me solely strained carrots and peas. I was thin and had hair growing out of my nose. One day, my mother was taking me on a walk in my stroller. We passed a street vendor selling kabobs. I smelled the grilling meat and went wild. I struggled violently against my stroller’s restraints, freeing myself, and escaping to the pavement. I bit my mother when she tried to pick me up. I broke a record for the five-foot crawl and pounded on the vendor’s stand with one hand, while I pointed to my mouth with the other. The vendor understood me and came around front with a cooked beef cube between his fingers. I grabbed the meat and stuffed into my mouth. The second the juices ran down my throat, I felt stronger and the hair fell out of my nose. Meat saved my life.”

I listened compassionately to his story. It was a lot to digest. He begged me to keep his secret so he could continue to fight the good fight for vegetarianism. I agreed, but still there were a lot of anomalies I needed to iron out. It was time to go. A limo pulled up out front and Tex got into it. It had Texas license plates that said MEAT, huge steer horns mounted on the hood, and a horn that made a mooing sound when it summoned Tex outside.

Like I said, I had a lot of second thoughts. I couldn’t find Tex’s disease on Google. Was he a spy? Why did he invite me to eat with him? Why did he confide in me? Why was there a man wearing a cowboy hat following me?


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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