The question staring me in the face was serious and pressing: how was I to blossom forth as the egregious slut that I was obviously destined to be, but without killing myself — and/or somebody else — in the process. After all, one man’s meat was another man’s poison…
What in the name of Charles Nelson Riley’s curly mustache was a boy supposed to do?
But giving up sex altogether was simply out of the fucking question. Quite literally. And so was living a life of paranoia and terror.
Unfortunately, PrEP wasn’t even yet at twinkle in Big Pharma’s greedy little eye, and those nasty little dick-balloons and their repulsive “reservoir tips” were the only even slightly successful armor in the battle against HIV infection. It seemed as if I was doomed to a life of love wrapped in repulsive rubber, suffering forever a simulacrum of satisfaction — forever.
But ironically at this point, my pathological loathing of condoms (gah! — wear a condom) became a moot point — at least as far as my sero-discordant domestic situation was concerned.
Whether it was because of my own bone-crushing fear of the virus that was having an endless dance party in my boyfriend’s blood (and maybe my own blood now, too, for all anyone knew), or his seemingly endless parade of illnesses (cough, cough, sneeze, sneeze… TERROR!), or only even just a natural process of “growing apart”, my boyfriend and I suffered a terminal case of “Lesbian Bed Death”.
Our sexual activity slowed to a crawl. Then a drizzle. Then a non-issue. Sorry, not tonight darling, I have a headache. (Which technically was true. I had a constant caffeine-withdrawal-induced migraine caused by abandoning my delicious and prolific coffee addiction cold turkey for health reasons, which really did nothing to assuage my fear that I had seroconverted as was going to drop like a stone pelican any moment. But that’s really beside the point… ) After several months of this, the inevitable happened, and we went our separate ways.
So I soldiered on. I still wasn’t ready to face a test, so I focused all of my energy on my manic wheat-grassing, my burgeoning yoga mastery, my Chinese herb-swallowing, my terror that I actually had the virus, and my juicing and juicing and juicing, juicing, juicing… But emotionally, I was still trapped in a lesion-covered nightmare, terrified what might be lurking in my blood, eating me from the inside out — and the relentless awareness of it never escaped me for a moment.
And the months rolled by… juice, juice, juice. Yoga, yoga, yoga. Fear, fear, fear.
And then suddenly I was HIV negative again. Boom. Just like that.
I finally got tested. By “accident”…
I went to my friendly, neighbourhood MD for some simple blood work—general blood work, you, understand out of sheer passive-aggressive curiosity to see how “things were going” without actually getting another HIV test. Also, I adamantly explained to my dear MD that, “DON’T YOU DARE TEST ME FOR HIV, DAMMIT… OR ELSE!”
“Everything looks great, Adrian”, she said. “And… you’ll be glad to hear that your HIV test is negative…”
My what? The HIV test I demanded that she not give me?
“But, um, I told you I didn’t want the HIV test, though,” I mumbled, lamely.
“OH! I’m sorry,” she said. “That must have been a mistake at the lab or something. But, well, yeah. You’re negative.”
She knew my story. She did this on purpose. And I was negative. Negative! God bless her lying, conniving little heart. Negative.
I was really out of the woods. It was official this time. All of that worrying, all of those nightmares, (all of that JUICE!), and now it was all over. It felt like I‘d suddenly won every beauty contest in the world AND the Irish lottery — twice. I leapt off of the examination table, threw my arms around her, and hugged her so hard that I could have been charged with assault.
So I was single, negative, and back in the game. A real, honest-to-god sex life was sure to follow. So I made a dubious pact with myself — a strategy, a dos-and-don’t’s list, a delicate moral compromise — to keep me that way.
I would eliminate all of the most high-risk activities from my sexual repertoire. I would snip and twist my sexual proclivities like a bonsai tree into something I could live — and possibly survive — with.
To be continued…