Toronto
3 min

That’s not cum in my mouth

The people you meet at Hassle Free

Credit: Xtra files

We got our BA, our MA, our PHD. Big, (PH)ucking (D)eal. We got a great gay co-op. Finally, a living-room, a room in which to live, and have a brain haemorrhage and die and rot, uninterrupted by our neighbours who are far too “gay co-op” to ever complain about the smell of “ethnic cooking.” We fell in love. It wasn’t the Leonard Cohen song we thought it would be. It wasn’t even a lesser sea shanty. It was a knock-knock joke.



Knock, knock.



Who’s there?



Fix the fucking doorbell, you nutless, glorified roommate.



Yes, life’s wondrous passages have only left us agog with disappointment, debt, scratched CDs and ugly bedding, haven’t they? What is the only thing that has never disappointed us (all right, besides cigarettes; I get mine on prescription from my doctor, whose wall plaque credo says “First, Do No Harm. I Love it When Babies Die!”)?



The only thing that has never not delivered, the thing that makes us giddy with a sense of life, fully lived? Those two, pretty, constant consonants: VD!



I got a back alley blowjob last week. Now I’m certainly not the kind of ill-informed bonehead who judges a person’s sexual sanitation based on their appearance or intimate banter. I’m not like my friend Lancelot, who says that you can only get hepatitis from people who say they “want to take it slow,” because that means they need time to figure out how to give you hepatitis.



Still, in this instance, I should’ve known better. The guy kept begging me to cum in his mouth, and when I said I didn’t think I could cum, he said, “What about pus, then? White and milky is white and milky. Pus me!”



Yesterday I went to the Hassle Free. There were a lot of people in the waiting room. Men of all shapes and sizes and conspicuous area codes. And everyone was reading magazines that all seemed strangely tell-tale. I briefly bickered with an elderly man over a dog-eared issue of Martha Stewart Living With AIDS, then resigned myself to staring at the ceiling, peenie burning.



I always get the same doctor when I go to the Hassle Free. I’ve had the clap a lot. My STD journal entries read like an audience teleprompter for Deaf American Bandstand: clap, clap, clap, clap. So it’s a kind of homecoming, when I come back to the Hassle Free.



Does the Hassle Free doctor feel the same way, about me? Is he just a pubic hair away from inviting me over for dinner, in which everything will be served, unnervingly, “au jus” (or, as he would pronounce it, “Ohhhhhhhhhh! Juuuuuuuuussss!” like an anti-Semite with an erratic memory?). I’d like to think that’s the case. City living can be so cold and lonely, even with VD.



Anyway, as it turned out, I didn’t have VD, just a bit of local irritation (that I didn’t have VD, godammitt! Kick and punch!). But the doctor did advise me to get a syphilis test. He said that syphilisis raging out of control in Toronto, that virgins have it, that children are bringing it to school for show and tell. He said that syphilis is enjoyinga comeback not seen since Tina Turner, and her Syphilitic, Private Chancre.



When I heard the news about syphilis, I did what we’ve all done when we’ve heard this news: I began to dance the twirly, disco fever/demonic possession dance that Linda Blair did in Exorcist II: The Heretic, and eventually passed out in an ether of nostalgia.



You see, I was far too young to enjoy the last big wave of syphilis in the mid-to-late 1970s. The closest I came to the glory of pre-AIDS gay debauch was the time I ate half a tub of Crisco when I was four. My mom and dad sure did give me a lickin’. That tub of Crisco was supposed to feed all of us that night, so mum and dad licked me to lap up any remnant Crisco that might have smeared my face and cardboard playsuit.



God, how I wish I could’ve been a part of the gay scene in the ’70s. I wouldn’t even have had to have been a gay scene kingpin, cavort with Patient Zero, feel love or mighty real or even my own legs. Yes, I’d be happy just to sit at my Church St hot dog cart, a homophobic, quadriplegic asshole, forever carping about being smack-dab in the middle of the bun and weiner metaphor, secretly anointed by the sight of blithe clones, eating their meat with relish.



My only hope for communion with the hot past is syphilis. Mind you, I am mindful of the fact that syphils, left untreated, can lead to insanity or even a career retrospective at the Art Gallery Of Ontario. I don’t want syphilis forever. As Diana Ross said every time she found out she was pregnant: “I just want it for a little while, when it’s cute and quiet. Then I’ll get rid of it.”



When I came to at the Hassle Free, the doctor was patting my hand and offering me juice. “Do you want some juice?” He said. “Some Ohhhhhhhhh! Juuuuuuuuuuce?”



‘Tis the season of dreams made real. Mighty real.