We Must Have Syph

By the time I got to my emergency doctor's appointment on Monday, I was ready to throw up. I'd had a pimple on my bits that had turned into a pustulent sore. Pustulence! Right there on my business! And now, thanks to a plot line on the Sunday night medical soap Grey'sAnatomy,a show I greatly enjoy as all the sexy young doctors find time to pout at one another and roll out clever banter before rolling messily into bed, I'd figured out that the disturbing wound was syphilis.

Syphilis!The dreaded scourge of Renaissance Europe! The Spanish Disease! The French Disease! The Venetian Disease! The Santa Ana, CA, Disease!

By the time I went online and looked at images of syph, I was ready to cry and faint at the same time. I discreetly told my boss I was having a health issue and needed to take the rest of the day. Then, since any time I don't tell every single thought that's in my head, I think I'm lying by omission, I told my boss's wife I was going to the doctor because I was pretty sure I had syphilis. But thenI said, "Ha ha! I'm kidding! I don't really think I have syphilis!" I'm pretty sure that fooled her.

Syphilis is very treatable, and I'd caught it—I mean diagnosed it—nice and early, but I was still gonna have to have the "Um, it seems I have syphilis" talk with this one man I like, the man who'd undoubtedly given me syph.

I would have to be really non-judgmental, but that would be the last I'd see of him. I remembered this one boyfriend who angrily told me I'd given him chlamydia,except when I went to the doctor—whoops!—I didn't havechlamydia. Boy, was his face red!

So either this man I like had given me syphilis and therefore would be too embarrassed to ever see me again (which might not be that bad, considering he'd given me syphilis!),or he would go to the doctor and find out he didn't have syphilis, and then I'd be the girl he was dating who had syphilis, or rather the girl he hadbeendating who had syphilis, and when you're talking about syphilis, chlamydia sounds positively adorable. God, I'd love to be able to say it was chlamydia. Prom queens get chlamydia. Old junkie whores (okay, and fabulous gay men—who shouldbeusingcondoms)get syph; it's in a social-disease class all its own. So, really, this talk I was going to have to have was a lose-lose. No good could come of it. I rehearsed it many times in my mind.

Ooh, la la! Romance!

Feet in the stirrups Monday afternoon, I explained, quavering, to the doctor about my syphilis.

"Oh, that's not syphilis," he said, poking at my lymph nodes. "It looks like you cut yourself shaving."

Come to think of it, I hadcut myself shaving. Right in that very spot!

"What kind of razor do you use?" he asked me.

Well, apparently, a razor with syph!

"I don't have syphilis," I told my boss. "It turns out I cut myself shaving."

He was perplexed. "You cut yourself shaving and immediately thought you had syphilis?"he asked, as though that was somehow an unreasonable conclusion to draw. Well, of course. Wouldn't everybody?

I'm not generally a fearful person. I don't think I've ever been afraid for my physical safety in bad neighborhoods, even walking alone at night. And since the tsunamihit, I don't even give a second's thought to terrorism. Our 3,000 or so dead on 9/11were a tragedy, but it sure wasn't Indonesia.

What I'm afraid of is losing the things I love.

I'm afraid of lung cancer, because I love to smoke. I'm afraid of breast cancer, because I love my bosoms. And I'm afraid of social diseases because I've had a tender, decades-long love affair with my cooter. It may not be the best cooter in the world—there are even plastic surgeons in these very pages who would snip it and clip it and stitch it up solid for me in the unholy name of cooter perfection—but it's the best cooter I've got, and it does me just fine. And it's why I don't believe in waxing either: Why would I give my lady pieces such pain?

So why again is the ReverendLouSheldonso afraid of gays? And NealHorsley,the anti-abortion activist who blithely admits he used to fuck (actual) mules—what's he so afraid of exactly? Dude's an OrangeAlertall by hisself!

I would never, ever violate a mule. But I also don't want my parts to fall off just because I like having sex. I'm a 32-year-old woman; it's not like I can helpit.

I might not ever have sex again.

* * *

Unfortunately, I can't not ever have sex again: if I never have sex again, the cynical right-wing elite in this country will have won. And oh, yes, I'm afraid of that. I'm afraid of losing the country I love to an unholy alliance of wild-eyed, bigotty, Handmaid'sTalewack-jobs and a bunch of corporations that bridle the wack-jobs' social bizarrities for their own ends. The breathtakingly evil PriscillaOwens—who, thanks to the Senate centrists' NuclearOption"compromise" is about to sit on our FifthCircuitCourtofAppeals—hasn't just legislated from the bench on abortion, she's also denied just about every case ever brought by a plaintiff against an insurance company, HMO or corporation when a defective product blew up in someone's face, until even AlbertoGonzales,who wrote the memo justifying torture for the military that led to the abuses at AbuGhraib,and who sat with her on the Texas Supreme Court, even heaccused her of an "unconscionable act of judicial activism."

The corporations are happy, the wack-jobs are happy, and in the course of taking away our constitutional right to address our grievances, we'll also be satisfying (for a minute) the unending demands of the burka crowd who are moving this country's discourse so far to the right (you should seesome of the evangelicals' online rantings about transferring ownership of a woman from her daddy to her beau) that ZellMilleris starting to look like the civilized Left. No, sir, I challenge youto a duel!

The FamilyResearchCouncilis speaking out against a possible vaccine for HumanPapillomaVirus—the virus that causes genital warts and is a leading indicator in 250,000 cervical cancer deaths each year—because inoculating against cervical cancer would be a "license" for young women "to engage in premarital sex."

When it came time to find someone to oversee reproductivehealthfor the FDA,we appointed an OB-GYN who won't prescribe birth control to unmarried women.

And abortions are up 25 percent under GeorgeW.Bush,whose cohorts insist sex is only for the married—even though you knowthey only got married because they knocked someone up. (As a quick side note to the sociologists who can't figure out why there's an "epidemic" of spinsterhood among college-educated career women: it's because we're too responsible to ever accidentally get pregnant. I love it when researchers can't figure out this common-sense shit—like when they were mystified as to why small women were so much more likely to be injured by their air bags. Duh. We have to sit really close to the steering wheel to get our feet to reach the pedals! Any car accident is like a gym class, but now the punching bag is fighting back.)

But that's okay, because George W. Bush's abstinence-onlyeducationteaches that condoms fail one-third of the time.

Which is how, come to think of it, I got my syph.

Syph, of course, under George W. Bush, has skyrocketed. Chlamydia too, but chlamydia is just flat-out adorable.

If you don't get chlamydia, the right-wing terrorists have won.



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