Herpes and Me


The stage is a Casino Royale themed office Christmas party, luckily it is not my office. There are cocktail waitresses, table games, catered food as far as the eye can see or the stomach expand, a party band, lights and lasers and cheers from the crowd as 21 is hit at the Black Jack table. Oh and there is an open bar. The bartenders pour drinks the way I give out blow jobs to strangers, generously. 

I had no intention of setting a record at the bar or anything, but then again I often act without intention.

My companion and I enter the room and take it in. I survey my surroundings and notice two things: 1. The casual attire my friend promised me is nowhere to be seen. The women around me are dolled up in their best cocktail attire, stiletto heels and grandma's pearls. I, on the other hand, have just come from work and am sporting what I categorize as business pajamas. 2. I scan the crowd for another uncomfortable person looking awkwardly out of place, but instead I see a living god. This man stands among the party goers like a Greek statue in a garden. Firm, sculpted, smugly hovering above it all. 

Surrounded by funny, interesting people, more food than I can imagine and enough fun to fill a whole weekend, I instead spend my time trying to figure out if he is with the male friend he stands next to. You know, with him. Clearly I need fuel for such an investigation, so drink after drink slides down my throat into the belly of the beast. I, or the drinks, decide he is not only straight but unattached. My logic? Non existent.

Auto pilot is on at this point, and I make jokes and small talk with my friend's coworkers. The hours draw on (hours, minutes, who knows? To be honest I have no idea how long I've been at this party) as I stalk my prey from across the room. Learning his movements and looking for any sign of weakness I can later use to capture him. He is a cunning foe and offers no evidence that he is, indeed, a person and not one of Michelangelo's subjects. I am not concerned nor deterred, for I have a secret weapon! My suave charm. 

I stand near his table with a group consisting of new friends brought together by one common principle, being drunk.

He motions for the exit! My chance is slipping through my fingers! The time has come to unleash the secret weapon! With the grace of an elephant, I slyly stumble to catch him. Like musical notes, the words flow from my lips. Something to the tune of, "Are you leaving? Because I was going to hit on you later." Yep. Nailed it. 

Don't worry, he's just going outside to the alley to smoke pot. Classy.

Dancing, drinking, drinking, dancing, you know how parties go. Confidence is built up (AKA ability to see myself is gone), and I'm ready to make my move. I'm afraid I don't remember the exact conversation we had since my brain was now effectively swimming in a pool of champagne and gin, but I'll tell you what I do remember. He's a chef who is newly single. He makes it clear that he does not spend his nights lonely. (I didn't see it then, but I surely do now, he is arrogant, detached and actually pretty rude. All perks of being incredibly good looking I suppose.) Strategically ignoring these less than ideal features, I put my horse in the race and say something to the effect of "Well, there are 7 nights in a week" and give him my networking card. Because you definitely want a guy like this who you basically just told you have no problem being one of many girls who will come and have sex with him whenever he snaps his fingers to have your networking card. Awesome. He musters up the energy to more or less snort his awareness of my offer, and I turn to leave (better get out while I'm ahead, right?). I immediately realize my group of new best friends is no longer standing there! I have been abandoned. I already started walking in this direction, so I can't turn around and pass by him again. I would look like an idiot (this scenario is a really dramatic problem in my drunk, predator brain by the way)! Cleverly I decide to hide out at the bar for a bit so I look normal (to fill you in, he likely doesn't even know I'm not standing next to him anymore let alone which direction I went). I must look flustered because a bartender asks if I'm all right. I find it crucial to divulge the details of my awesome pickup lines followed by the outright humiliation of having to walk past him again in such a short time (can you imagine?!). She is sympathetic in humoring me and asks which guy it was. I turn to point him out and practically put my finger through his eye socket all the while saying something like, "that crazy hot guy right there..." and almost stab him in the face. Wide-eyed I turn back to her and bury my head in my hands. She, being awesome, finishes a drink she pretends to have been making me and grants me my escape. Either I pulled it off super well or he had already forgotten me. I make my way across the large room back to my long lost besties and continue to drink the beverage in my hand. Insert blurred vision of a sloppy photo booth montage here complete with props and costumes and someone's husband feeling me up. The office party has come to an end. I made it through the whole night with only a bruised ego and the known fact that I would be unwell tomorrow. Everyone says their goodbyes and we say farewell with hugs, but then the groping husband enthusiastically proclaims that we should go to a bar instead of going home! Obviously the best idea we'd heard all night. To the bar we go. But not just any bar. The bar in the building my CEO lives in. Excellent state for my respected boss to see me in! This thought quickly jumps ship and I dive in with it. 

(The events that take place at this bar are loosely strung together the following week through the fuzzy memories of myself and the friend who took me to the party)

The order, as far as I understand it with no perception of time, 1. Waiting in line for the bathroom, I come up with a fabulous idea! I should definitely make out with my friend! Clearly a great start to the evening's next chapter. And so I do. I remember being pleasantly surprised by his masculinity and confidence. Positive reinforcement for the drunk brain. 2. I decide I have had way too much to drink and need to make myself throw up to get it out of my system. And so I do. Bow in front of the bowl, shove finger down throat, you know the drill. Yum. Rinse mouth out with water, rejoin the party. 3. Talk to tall, possibly Indian, man in what I believe to be a red shirt in the hall leading back from the restrooms. Conversation topic? Good question! 4. I look up into a mirror (yep, I'm back in the bathroom again) to discover, to my shock and confusion, that I am having sex with the elusive, hot, chef. I quickly become aware of and flippant about the fact that there is nothing between us. No modesty, no clothes, and no condom. Part of my brain goes UH OH! but it is quickly stifled by the powerful beast inside of me. Insert raunchy public bathroom sex stuff here. Oh but add in weird comments from him about being all powerful and wishing we had cocaine. 5. I'm in my car driving home (the scariest and dumbest decision of the night). Moral of this story: public restrooms are to blame. They can't be trusted.

Moving on.

The next day some things start coming back to me: 1. I don't remember his name. 2. I do, however, remember where he works, and in a flash realize it is the same place that many of my old coworkers now work, and he has my full name and photo on my damn networking card! 3. There was absolutely no attempt made at using a condom.

My stomach sinks. I'm in recovery at this point and should know better by now. And I do, but those thoughts were too busy being drowned to remind me. Worried, I make a plan to go get tested immediately. I learn a new and interesting piece of information. You can't get tested right away. The infection/disease needs time to fester before it will show up on any test. Well great. I can feel it growing inside of me. I wait. The fear spreads over me. The time comes, and I go have my tests done. Many of the results come back immediately and are told to me by a borderline racist, gray-haired nurse. The rest will be phoned to me in a few days. More waiting. I get the call and I'm all clear! Euphoria envelops me. I'm all clear! Happy ending, right? Well, that isn't the end. Turns out, that clinic (and many others) doesn't test for herpes. What?! Back to that sinking stomach scenario. So I go to a different clinic and get tested for herpes directly, right? Wrong. The story doesn't end there. But let's take a little break and learn about this sneaky virus that affects over 50 million people in America but isn't tested for.

This article is a couple of years old but offers a clear view of some pretty scary statistics! Sadly, the numbers have not improved since this was written.

Herpes Statistics: How Common is Genital Herpes (HSV-2)

Spoiler Alert: I don't have herpes!