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Hey, you. Hope you’re well. Sorry to bother you, but… my doctor just called me to tell me that I have the clap up my ass… You should go get tested. Sorry. Take care.
When I receive it, this text message gives me the same sensation I get when riding the Leviathan during its first drop, minus the fun and the souvenir picture. I’m experiencing intense vertigo and I have the impression of having three hundred little purple imps clutching at my guts with their clawed and insatiable hands.
You’re fucking kidding me.
The text is from a guy I met at Piknic Électronik, with whom I had a three-week fling. I quickly think back and comb the details of the sex we had. He was the one who did most of the penetration. Always with a condom. I remember licking his anus a bit. He ate mine like a juicy watermelon before taking me from behind. We also gave each other blowjobs, obviously without a condom. Sorry to all the sexologists and sex educators out there, but I honestly don’t know many people who actually use a condom to suck dick, banana flavoured or not. Sue me.
I reread the text. Then, I read it again. And again. I lie on my bed and stare at the dusty light fixture in my Villeray apartment. Gonorrhea. It sounds so bad. It’s as though the guttural gravity of the “g” followed by the silent “h” makes it take on the form of a poisonous, purulent, deadly mushroom. Oh, hell no.
With a name like that, I’m sure my penis is going to turn into caramelized cauliflower in a few days.
I pull myself together and do what any young adult my age would do in the same situation: I type “gono” into Google’s search bar.
“Gonorrhea is the second most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) and is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhea. Gonorrhea can result in infertility. Commonly known as ‘the clap’, gonorrhea is transmitted through oral, genital, or anal sex with an infected person.”
I tell myself three things:
1) I’ll never be able to memorize that devil word’s spelling.
2) Never type “gono image” in Google again.
3) Neisseria gonorrhoeae would be a fucking awesome drag queen name.
It ranks second among STIs. That means that what is happening to me isn’t rare or obscure. Well, I’m sure glad to be having a “common” experience, for once. I read on.
“When a person has symptoms, they usually appear 2 to 7 days after contracting the bacteria.”
“Symptoms of gonorrhea can include:
I don’t feel any of that, but at that point I’m focusing so hard on my crotch that I’m starting to imagine a burning sensation in my urethra. And the more I think about it, the more it burns.
Fuck, shit, fuck. Somebody call 911, because clearly, I’ve got Pompeii in my dick.
“In Canada, Gonorrhea can be treated with free drugs, and the treatment completely cures the infection.”
Hallelujah. As someone who firmly believes in the virtues of a little pill, I’m relieved to see that my sentence is settled with good old pharmaceutical drugs.
I snap out of it. In the past few weeks, I’ve been dating a new guy I like very much and with whom I’ve had a lot of sex. Technically, he should also get tested… The thing is, I really don’t want to scare him off. When you’re trying to befriend a feral cat, you don’t want to frighten it by making big, sudden movements! I don’t want to turn him off with my STI ordeal… I don’t want him to think I’m dirty…
It’s too much. I start crying. I bawl so hard, my nose is as red as a baboon’s ass.
Girl, get a grip.
I muster my courage, decide to skip my Philosophy of Literature class in the afternoon, and text my new flame to see if we could meet up “for something urgent.”
When I arrive at his place, I tell him about the “gono imbroglio” while crying. I tell him that I’m not really the type who sleeps around and that it’s the first time something like this has happened to me. His maturity was disconcerting. Together, we booked an appointment for me for the following morning at a clinic near my university, and he even offered to accompany me if I wanted to. It was so relieving to share the weight of my worries with such a handsome guy.
It’s weird, but it’s as if the authenticity and the administrative intimacy of what had just happened had turned us on and we started making love on his fuchsia couch. I penetrated him with a condom as he presented his hungry ass to me. We went to bed early, because my screening appointment was at 8 a.m., just before my date with my mother at the book fair.
Everything was so simple at the clinic. I was asked a few questions about my health and my sex life. “How many partners?” “How often?” “With or without protection?” “Sexual orientation?” Then, they inserted Q-tips into different orifices and took a blood sample. The doctor told me that there were so many cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia lately that she was prescribing me antibiotics to treat them before we even got the test results back. Easy, breezy, beautiful.
I go to the pharmacy with my prescription, a young pharmacist with a Dora the Explorer hairdo hands me my medication and warns me of possible nausea. I don’t listen to everything she says, because I’m suddenly distracted by my phone vibrating in my pocket.
“Hello? I’m at the station. Where are you?”
Fuck. My appointment having been delayed, my mom is now waiting all alone at the Montreal train station. She traveled all the way from the Eastern Townships to check out the literary kiosks at Place Bonaventure. I pop my pills and hop on the subway.
I arrive almost an hour late at the station. I don’t want to tell my mom about my gonorrhea misadventure, so I lie and tell her that the subway had broken down.
We then head to a small Vietnamese restaurant famous for their delicious shrimp pad thai. But now, I’m starting to feel funny. It’s not the shrimp in my stir-fry that I find funny. Throughout the meal, I barely listen to my mom who comments on my pale complexion and tells me I “don’t look too good.”
We pay the cheque and head to Place Bonaventure. I’m starting to feel super queasy and to have an awful headache. At this point, I’m just dying to lie down on the floor, right in the middle of the book fair, and set up camp there for eternity. My mom is a little worried by my condition and wonders out loud if I might have a stomach bug.
As we line up for my mom to have her latest Marie Laberge book signed, it’s suddenly too much: I feel an overwhelming urge to throw up. As mom is next in line to see the great novelist, I run over to the trash can near the Québec Amérique book stand.
Here I am, hurling all of my pad thai next to Guylaine from Trois-Rivières swooning over her illegible Michel Tremblay dedication.
My mom exits the line (she never got to meet her favourite novelist because of me) and demands that I explain my condition. I burst into tears and tell her everything in a single breath. Guy at a show, gonorrhea in the butt, clinic, pill, nausea. She rubs my back. I’m so scared she’ll think that gay guys are promiscuous. It’s clearly not my two straight brothers who would have ruined his beautiful day with the clap up their asses.
She tells me she understands and that I need to rest. We cut our visit short, though not before stopping at the Noroît editions kiosk where she buys me a collection of poetry by Geneviève Amyot. I put my mom back on the bus like a little baked potato in a foil wrapper. Poor thing. All this way, only to have our moment interrupted. She kisses me and tells me she loves me. I love her too. Our “ruined” moment brought us a lot closer, though.
On the subway on my way back home, my eyes skim a poem and I cry softly as I think about the goings-on of the last 24 hours.
“I will be a consoling lullaby, so good
I will make them blue rooms
Boxes of all kinds
Large, hard antique eggs to lean
into to listen to the sea
To listen to the sea”
Gonorrhea in the ass, for goodness sake.
Oh, and by the way, the clinic never called me back, which means that I probably wasn’t infected! It’s always better to get tested for peace of mind, right?