Saturday, February 15, 2014

Oh No! Herpes on Vacation.

I was minutes away from our rendezvous point – Penny’s All American Café in Pismo Beach.  The word “rendezvous” has never in my life been as appropriate as this moment. 

My lover – we’ll call him Alphonse as he has an equally delicious French name – was coming from the San Francisco area. I was driving from Los Angeles. This would be our final few days together before he completes his three-month United States road trip and heads back to his life in Canada. I represented one of the many great things that happened to Alphonse in California. I felt just as lucky to meet him.

Alphonse and I have fantastic chemistry and many things in common. If we’re not making love, we are talking. I haven’t seen him in weeks. And in just two minutes, we will embrace on the sidewalk like in a romantic movie and begin our lover’s holiday.

Until. My GPS says one more minute. At a stoplight I adjust my rearview mirror to put on some lipstick. And then I noticed something I really didn’t want to notice: a sore spot in my mouth. I’m a sex-positive woman. I know what I know and I can’t un-know what I know. That sore spot is probably a cold sore. A cold sore is a polite way of saying herpes – the pesky virus that I’ve had since I was a kid. A cold sore means that I’m capable of spreading herpes to others by sharing utensils or a glass or kissing. Fuck.

Alphonse and I have had our talk about STDs. Each of us has been tested in the past six months. I – as I typically do – shared with him that I have oral herpes. What I can’t remember in this moment is if he has oral herpes, too.

I am two blocks from the café and I park. I call Alphonse on his cell. He says, “I’m here! Where are you?”

“Can you remind me – do you have oral herpes?”

“What? Where are you?”

“I’m a minute away; just answer - do you have oral herpes?”

“No. What’s going on?”

“I have a cold sore. When we see each other, I can’t kiss you.”


“We’ll work around it; now will you get your tiny butt to this café right now?”

We had our sidewalk moment – awkwardly kissing each other on the neck rather than the lips. 

I had a wonderful time with Alphonse – hanging out on the beach, long talks, hours of intimacy and big breakfasts in the morning. We worked around my cold sore - no problem.

                                   We hung out on the benches overlooking the sea at this park.

I’m proud of myself for handling this herpes thing with clarity and integrity. If I chose to “forget” that the cold sore meant what it meant, I may have given Alphonse oral herpes. If I went down on him, I could have given him genital herpes as well. A horrible thought.

Herpes is common and nothing to be ashamed of. What helps is to understand it and communicate with one’s sexual partner about it. Through our Pismo Beach experience, I learned that Alphonse was adaptable and compassionate. I also learned that my vulnerability was in good hands.

I leave you with with a top notch educational herpes video from the sexologist, Dr. Lindsay Doe.

                                          Who knew herpes could be so darn cute?

1 comment:

  1. It's too bad you didn't have acyclovir with you. It works wonderfully on oral herpes too. In fact, taken on the first tingle you feel, it kinda peters out and may not even break out at all. Also you could have given it to him and he would have been even more protected! It's great stuff :)