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?