Vancouver
2 min

What’s syphilis again?

When having enough sex can be a problem

When I hook up it’s via a virtual burlesque of unlocked pictures, innuendo-laden instant messages and GPS-oriented texts. 

 
When I got the call from the BC Centre for Disease Control saying that I had been in contact with syphilis, I was less concerned with by whom than who knew my phone number? I struggle with it myself.
 
“What’s syphilis again? I haven’t been in contact with it since it was called VD.”
 
I scrolled through my call display trying to figure out who gave my number to the BCCDC when it occurred to me: perhaps I was the one spreading syphilis. 
 
I used to complain about not having enough sex, but now that I am, I realize I didn’t have these problems.
 
The name of someone I euphemistically slept with appeared in the LED display. Figuring it would be easier to tell someone I might have syphilis, I pressed, Talk — since I never dial a phone unless absolutely necessary.
 
“How you doin’?” he purred.
 
“I might have syphilis.”
 
“That’s not the call I was hoping for but thanks for letting me know.”
 
For reference, telling someone you might have syphilis isn’t easier than telling them you do.
 
For once my doctor agreed with me and wasn’t so sure I had it. He sent me away with swab from my mouth and cup to pee in. My luck being what it is, the lab was closed due to a power failure. 
 
Waiting for my test results I remembered a conversation I had with a Radical Faerie. He told me that the guys who died in the first wave of AIDS were the ones who spent a lot of time in waiting rooms of STD clinics. Here I was 20 years later, HIV-positive and waiting for the results of my syphilis test.
 
A week later I called my doctor for the results.
 
“They’re not in,” his receptionist said. “But do you have a sore throat?”
 
“Should I?”
 
“Maybe. The doctor would like to see you though.”
 
Back at his office my doctor said there had been a lab SNAFU and they didn’t do the syphilis test. “But you do have an acute case of strep throat.”
 
“That’s comforting.”
 
At home there were messages from the CDC and my call-display-date looking for the results of my test. I don’t know what was worse: the stress or how horny I was.
 
Another week went by and I got the call from my doctor’s receptionist. “Good news!” she said, her voice trailing off in ellipses.
 
I scrolled through call display once more and pressed Talk. 
 
“I don’t have syphilis,” I croaked. “But you might want to get checked for strep throat.”