Zoe was actually happy for a change. Things were pretty good with Trent, or so she thought. Plus she had a new friend. A male friend, who was sexy and kind. One who just wasn’t trying to use her for sex. She didn’t understand it, but it felt good. She fucking wanted him though. More than that, she wanted him to want her.
In a change of routine, she found herself checking Fetlife often now, and ignoring anyone other than Zach who wrote her. There was something about the way he talked to her that made her genuinely feel good. He acted like he respected her. Cared about her, even. He called her by name, and sad to say, she didn’t get that often. It was weird how just a few message exchanges could change her perspective.
Life was funny.
“I have a master’s in philosophy”, she wrote him. “I graduated summa cum laude.”
Later that day, he wrote, “That is quite impressive, Zoe. You’re obviously very smart.”
She smiled broadly at that. Zoe was smart, and she knew it. But she hadn’t heard it from anyone else in years. Trent often told her she was stupid.
Hmm. So he was pretty smart, himself. She didn’t expect that from a blue collar worker. Fucking shit workers, Trent called them. He worked in IT, and she thought he was super smart as a result.
That evening he wrote again.
“There’s no such thing as animal ethics.”
She felt frustrated at this.
“Of course there is, silly rigger. I have a degree to prove it. It’s a branch of philosophy concerned with the care and treatment of animals. I’m vegan. I don’t eat meat, cheese, milk, or use animal products.”
“I know,” he wrote back. “You told me.”
Zoe’s memory began failing when she started drinking heavily.
“Yes. But my point is, that’s a misnomer. Animals don’t have ethics. You’re talking about human ethics concerning animals.”
“LOL! I never thought about that.”
“You studied it for, what, six years, and never considered that?”
“Furthermore, the entire field is subjective.”
“But animals have rights!”
“Zoe, humans don’t have rights…”
“Of course we do!”
“No, we don’t. There are no rights in nature. Rights are just something we agree to grant one another. Or try to. Used to? An ideal. Didn’t you study the origin of rights in school?”
“I’m not sure. LOL! I was sort of wasted all through college. I worked hard, though.”
“I’m sure you did. It’s a tremendous achievement. I just wish it amounted to more than what you’re doing.”
“I know. But when Trent’s band makes it…”
“How old is he?”
“Zoe. I hate to break it to you, but he won’t ever have a paying career in music.”
“Because it’s largely a young person’s game. I know a lot of talented musicians. But it’s a hobby for them, generally speaking. They all have day jobs.”
“Trent has a day job.”
“What does he do?”
“Sorry. But that’s not much of a career, nowadays.”
“No. Twenty years ago, yes. But people jumped on the bandwagon, and drove salaries down. Now the remote stuff is outsourced overseas. Networking is glorified cable pulling.”
“You’re just saying that because you don’t like him.”
“No. I mean, I don’t like him. But that’s your business. When I started out, IT guys were making eighty thousand a year, plus benefits. Now it’s fifty, if they’re lucky.”
Zoe was hurt.
“At least he works indoors! He’s not a shit worker like you.”
Zach was hurt.
“Medicine, construction, and farming are probably the most noble professions there are.”
“Farming? That’s not noble. It’s terrible. Animal farming, I mean.”
“Farming is what enabled populations to grow. It feeds the world.”
“Killing animals is wrong. They think and feel like us.”
“That’s true. But are animals more worthy of consideration than humans?”
“Most of them… LOL!”
“Good point. Do you know that plants also feel pain?”
“They do, and even express it.”
“Look it up, Zoe. Relatively new research. But if I say something, it’s usually true, or I don’t say it.”
“People don’t need meat, now. We have lots of other sources for protein.”
“That’s also true. But that’s for the privileged. Regular people can’t afford to eat that way. Plus, people like meat. It’s a personal choice.”
“Subjective. Not empirically true.”
“You’re an asshole.”
“That’s true. I’m sorry. I can only speak honestly. Do you have pets?”
Zoe was expecting an insult in return. A fight. The question disarmed her.
“Yes. A puppy named Roscoe. I love him so much! And two metal kitties.”
“They’re evil! They steal, they love to party. And they’re gay brothers. So metal!”
“Are they fixed?”
“What do they eat?”
“Cat and dog food, silly! Animals can’t survive on a vegan diet. I saw a story about a couple who tried, and their kitty died. So sad.”
“Yes. But you’re telling me it’s somehow ethical to spay or neuter them for your convenience, and feed them animal products?”
“It’s not convenience. We can’t overpopulate. And I can’t raise too many animals. I’m poor. Well, poorish. As for their food, animals eat meat in the wild.”
“Pigs, cows, and chickens?”
“No. But that’s all that’s out there.”
“Your ethics seem rather flexible.”
“I love my babies!”
“People evolved eating meat, too…”
“Well, I don’t. Ever.”
“No. They’re not raised ethically.”
“What if you raised them yourself?”
“That’s actually a good question. A lot of vegans wonder about that. If I had free range chickens of my own, I probably would eat eggs. But LOL! I live in the city, anyway.”
“From a health standpoint, meat is bad. I’ll admit. Beef is radioactive, Chickens are full of arsenic, They’re all loaded with antibiotics and PCBs. Milk and cheese are full of all that too, plus blood and pus.”
“Grass-fed beef are raised on grass grown with radioactive fertilizer, just like tobacco. That’s why they’re bad for you. Polonium-210 and lead-210, ionizing radiation akin to plutonium and uranium.”
“Wow! I had no idea. Do you eat meat?”
“I love it. I confess. But I’m not overly concerned with my health. Regardless of my views, Zoe, I think it’s an admirable stance you’ve taken. It shows real thoughtfulness and compassion.”
“Trent thinks it’s stupid.”
“Not commenting on Trent, but it’s not stupid. And neither are you.”
“Would you eat vegan food?”
“I would. For the right person.”
Zoe got a text. Trent was coming home, with someone for her to fuck.
“Gotta go, Zach. Talk to you later?”
“Of course. Goodnight, Zoe.”
She got in the shower, strangely elated. She was happy Trent was coming home, but mostly she was happy because of the exchange she’d had with Zach. It was so nice to have someone to actually talk to, who understood her perspective.
For a time, things were good. A time measured in hours.