Cold Sore War

Illustration by Bob AulWe were both bored with our respective love lives and were looking for fun elsewhere (read: outside marriage). Before the clothes came off and anything got started, I told you I had genital herpes, and I even told you that I couldn't make any guarantees you wouldn't get it, too. I also said it was my understanding that the virus could be spread only if I was having an active outbreak. I've since learned that professional opinions differ on this. As for me, if indeed I've had outbreaks, they've always been so insignificant that I've never been positive I was having them. I guess you—or I—should have consulted one of the more up-to-date websites. Be that as it may, my herpes didn't stop us from doing what we had our hearts set upon. We jumped in the sack and had a terrific—if relatively short—time. For traditional intercourse, we ALWAYS used condoms. We were a little less regimented with oral sex. Our original plan called for a weekly or semi-weekly rendezvous. Why then did we let our emotions get into the fray? Why did you start calling me a whole bunch of times—multiple times per day in some cases—and doing stuff as ballsy as calling me on weekends? When your spouse was in another part of your house? Remember that time your spouse was getting something out of a drawer only a few feet away from you when you were talking to me, and you temporarily disguised our conversation into professional-speak consistent with your occupation? As soon as your spouse returned to the back yard, we resumed our illicit conversation. Where did you learn such sneaky tactics and how to execute them so flawlessly? The bells should have started going off for me at that point. And why did we allow ourselves to fall in love with each other? Talk about dumb! Oh, yeah, I recall that you denied all that "love stuff" later, but remember: it wasn't ME who took time off from work and drove across the LA basin—both ways—in rush-hour traffic just for a few hours of "getting one's needs met." Remember when we rendezvoused three times in one week? What was THAT about? Was it just lust? Or were there real feelings involved? You'll have to tell me because, as usual, I'm confused.

Now, if I'm to believe you (no easy task considering your checkered history of questionable credibility), you're now telling me that you've contracted the virus and (a) you now hate my guts, (b) you no longer want anything to do with me and (c) I've ruined your life.

If you can tell me nothing else, please tell me what I sprang on you by surprise. Oh, that's right: in one of your telephone lectures, you told me that being honest with you at the outset just wasn't enough. I should never have allowed us to end up in bed. In your book, I guess we should have never let it progress beyond the initial rendezvous for coffee at Starbuck's. I'm sure you remember: that was where you attempted to conceal from me for as long as possible the fact that you were married.

You and I were/are a normal, male-female heterosexual couple. After running this obstacle course, is it any wonder some people choose to be asexual? They opt not to play a game that is this complex and, as we've seen, where mind games and power plays approach the absurd. I think I'll join 'em.


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