Herpes simplex is something to stress about
Sexual education in this country must be in dire straits. Honestly, the wayward glares, pantomimed vomiting effects and comparisons of my mouth to the battlefield at the bloody siege of Khe Sanh by Vietnam War veterans I endure each time I suffer a minor coldsore breakout make me realize that most people associate herpes simplex exclusively with promiscuous behavior. In reality, many factors can contribute to an Oral Herpes episode: stress, increased exposure to the sun, viral infections, facial injuries and eating foods high in arginine, such as chocolate, peanuts and walnuts.
With so many variables present in a herpes incident, I donít understand why my sexual habits come into question every time my lips erupt into an ulcer-ridden swamp of bacteria. The truth is, Iím not a slut — Iím just really stressed out about all of the guys Iíve been hooking up with.
Iíll admit, Iím no saint — Iíve led guys on, kissed on the first date and even been host to more trains than Grand Central Station. I donít understand why people automatically associate my herpes blemishes with an unrestricted attitude toward sex, though. The other day, for instance, a guy I was about to hook up with — John? Jason? Jimmy? — asked me how many of his fraternity brothers I had been with because I had a blister on my upper lip. I was so offended by his ignorance that I turned the videocamera off, scratched my number off his bathroom wall and took a cab to Fourth Street to drown my sorrows in free flirtinis. Under that kind of stress, anyoneís lips would look like the expanses of post-meltdown Chernobyl.
I canít tell you how many times Iíve been offended by people assuming Iím promiscuous because my mouth looks like a reject from Picassoís cubist period. A few weekends ago, after the Ohio State game, my new out-of-state friend and I were pulled over while driving home drunk. The cop started chuckling as soon as he arrived at the driverís side window, which I assume had something to do with the cold sore I was quickly developing. Either the zippers in Ohio are exceptionally
jagged or my new friendís í86 Tercel couldnít handle the sharp turns on I-35N, because Iíve never cut my lip that badly before. Either way, that cop had no right to insult me with his presumptuous laughter - or the inappropriate reenactments with his baton.
Where do people get the audacity to think Iím any less scrupulous than the girl next door? Like theyíve never taken on three guys at once in the Littlefield fountain. Or at their seventh grade roller-skating party. Or for a little bit of money.
Iíve done tons of good deeds to get people to change their minds about people with oral herpes. However, the social stigmatization continues, despite the countless hand jobs given to veterans, the disabled, and elderly people. With all this charity work, plus juggling the eight guys Iíve been simultaneously dating, can you really blame me for being stressed?