The alarm screams at 7:54 AM, tearing me out of dream in which I was awkwardly going back to my high school prom. I am already not a fan of this day.
I do my best to get up and into the shower without falling asleep and slamming my head against the tile wall. Running downstairs, gulping a few spoonfuls of cereal and grabbing my keys, I make it out the door just in time.
The rain and 45 degree day seem fitting. As does the a**hole who cuts in front of me and then stops short to stare at a dead squirrel in the middle of the road. I’ve forgotten how much I hate driving. Going back to New York will be a blessing in one big, public transportation way.
Snagging a gynecologist appointment at home was a stroke of luck, but as I pull into the familiar parking lot, I can’t help but feel the pre-visit jitters. It’s not that I’m afraid of those stirrups and cold metal speculums, I’m just not happy to see them. Ever.
My name is called before I can even begin to read an article in US Weekly, and my height and weight are taken in the middle of the hallway, a nurse assuring me—before I can start to hyperventilate—that their scale is about five pounds off.
My impossibly nice and cheery doctor knocks on the door and pokes her head in, smiling when she sees me clad in that paper smock and sheet which always makes me feel like something serious is about to happen. Something seriously un-fun.
We make small talk as I shift uncomfortably on the table and try to stop staring at the stirrups. Gotta keep the old peepers away from her small rolling table of tools and torture devices as well, least my blood pressure rise as she tries to take it.
Finally, she asks me if there’s anything I want to talk about. I breathe in, doing my best to seem adult and secure and oh-so-totally confident. Well, I say slowly and casually, I was wondering if I could get tested today. You know…for everything.
Tested? She raises her eyebrows. For VD’s?
Yes. I say, not sure if smiling is appropriate here. For those. All of them.
You’ve been using condoms, right? All the time?
I know this is standard questioning, and I nod vigorously as she smiles and starts to write something down, but I can’t help feeling immediately guilty. I mean, of course I use condoms. Never leave home without them. But…I’m sure I could have been safer. Somehow.
Are you monogamous?
I shake my head and watch her check off another box. It never bothered me before, the whole sex-without-love thing, but sitting in this office strewn with 1-800 numbers to call if you’re pregnant or suddenly stricken with disease, I start to feel a little…insecure.
Alright, she looks up and smiles. We’ll have you tested for Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Hepatitis, Herpes, and HIV.
Each name sends my stomach flip flopping. I try not to think about the fact that a few of those diseases are still a mystery to me as my doctor tells me to lie back. I try not to think about that damn speculum. I try not to think about Syphilis, and how for some reason I imagined no one but prostitutes from the 1800’s got it. And I really, really keep my mind away from the idea of HIV.
Once everything is all said and done (and I can stop pretending to relax while something cold and metal is jabbing my cervix), my doc cheerily tells me to go down to the lab for blood work. I’ll mail you the results, she says, unless…there’s something wrong. If there’s something I call my patients. Personally.
I make a mental note to wish for a postcard instead of a call.
Driving back from the appointment, 5 vials of blood lighter, shoulda beens and coulda beens bounce around in my head. It occurs to me then that all the wishing and praying in the world isn’t going to help me if something really is wrong, and that nothing is worth the fear of disease. I turn off the highway and make a pact with myself. No more sex without love.
Giving up something that was so-so for a perfect sexual conscience? Not the hardest decision I’ve ever made. Besides, once I meet and marry Jake Gyllenhaal, I’ll be able to have ample amounts of both.