Vancouver
2 min

The love bug

Fessing up about herpes

Credit: Xtra West files

I’ve lost a few things to sex: an elbow-length glove, a hat, underwear, a button off my pants, a coat-check ticket, my wallet, my virginity, my continence, and, I’m sorry to say, my clean bill of health.



After my last drinking binge, I went to the STD clinic for a messy case of gonorrhea. The nurse noticed the small tear on my dick (“from the guy who pulled too hard,” I told her).



She called the doctor in for a private viewing of my genitals, which under any other circumstances would have felt flattering. He instructed the nurse to swab the tear. A few days later, the clinic phoned to say the increasingly painful sore was herpes.



Oh, how I missed the days of crabs.



The nurse said I was lucky I’d contracted HSV-1, the cold sore kind, which was a mere kitten to the symptoms of HSV-2. I cried a tsunami of tears, picked up some literature, bawled some more, and called a friend.



“I’ll never have sex again,” I wailed. To his credit, he tried not to laugh at the idea that Cookie LaWhore would never ride again. To my great good fortune, I did.



But when I jumped back in the saddle, having anonymous encounters in peep shows or parks or an occasional bedroom, I debated whether to tell whichever stranger about my sorry sores.



Of all the men I’ve kissed, none have ever admitted to getting cold sores and no one has ever whispered the acronyms HIV or STD. Anonymous sex renders us speechless; rarely do a trick and I talk while cruising.



Following the etiquette, I haven’t mentioned my parasitic pets, though I’m careful not to let lovers pat them either. When I’ve suspected a breakout, I’ve stayed home.



Unfortunately, though, sometimes they come crawling out of hiding without causing any visible signs (which is why thousands of people spread herpes, the love bug, without knowing they’re infected).



If I’m having regular sex, I tell the lucky person that I haven’t always been so fortunate. One potential steady stopped calling and answering the phone. Another said he’d kill himself if he ever caught the bug. A third, an HIV-positive lover, squeezed me in closer under his arm. He’d come out as positive on our first date. I spent weeks mustering the courage to admit I was a viral sanctuary. When I finally fessed up, my fear felt silly in comparison to his candour.



I’ve lost a number of things to sex and gained herpes as a lifetime dependent. I live through my fear of being labelled “dirty” and keep what really matters to me: a clean conscience.



* Miss Cookie wishes more people would share their sex lives with her instead of asking for even more details about hers.