That Herpes Kind of Girl

I don't know about you, but I keep waiting for my life to start. I keep thinking there is some moment, some proverbial seeing of the light on the road to Damascus that will overcome me and I'll have found a purpose and clarity to end my stupid ennui.

Then it finally hit me.It's herpes. I've been waiting for a case of herpes to change my life.

Don't get me wrong, I am not making fun of sexually transmitted diseases. I have great reverence for the area by which we all have to live, and the healthier it is, the better. But I was watching yet another day trundle on by, surfing channels, when I saw this commercial for herpes. There's this chick who looks depressed, talking about herpes, but when her doctor recommended whatever-product she was hawking, her life took off. Now she's out on the road in her SUV, white water river rafting, just living it up with other disaffected and ironic 20-somethings.

Couple days later, I saw another commercial. Where do they get these women? They're young, very attractive, have nice, athletic bodies with supple, pouting breasts, and they've got herpes! But that's not stopping them at all! They're taking their Herpe-A-Nex or Herp-A-Way or whatever the name of the pill is and they're getting on with their life.

I don't think they did these things before getting herpes, so they took a real downer of a malady and turned it into something to emulate. Sure, they could have sat back and wallowed in their depression or anger or what not, but instead, they took their medicine and decided to live life to its fullest. Sojourns in an SUV along the flat roads of America. Hiking, camping outdoors, boating, hanging out with friends -- who wouldn't want this kind of life? Who wouldn't want to trade in a boring 9-5 existence for some fun, some companionship?

So I have to find someone with herpes so that I can get the medicine and start living. I called an old girlfriend of mine, Kristy, and asked her if she had herpes and could we have sex so I could get it.

"Fuck off, asshole," was her response and she hung up.

So I called another old girlfriend, Delia. "I don't want to hook up again," I explained hurridly on the phone. "I just want to know two things: do you have herpes and if you do, would you consider sleeping with me?"

"Robbie, what are you drunk? Is this a joke? Why do want herpes?"

"Haven't you seen these commercials with these skinny white bitches getting herpes and going out getting all sorts of exercise and fresh air?"

"Well, what about the skinny white assholes who probably gave it to them? What is it with these commercials, anyway? Why is it always women who are suffering with STDs and made to look foolish and irresponsible?"

"Yes, I know, I know: the moral judgement of STDs, contraception, pregnancy and pre-marital sex is always on the women, never the man. Do you have 'em"?

"Fuck off, asshole," was her response and she hung up.

Undaunted, I set up a coffee house meeting with Caryn, of whom I can say that I was starting to believe she was The One. But, as is always the case, things started to unravel after having those thoughts. She met me one evening (the place was brimming with 20-something angst) and we had a pleasant conversation for about twenty minutes. I figured that leaping straight to the herpes proposition was what turned off Kristy and Delia, so we did the small talk thing but I could feel the pressure building up. I needed to know if this time, she was The Herpes One.

"What? You want to know if I have herpes and will sleep with you?"

The whole time she said that, her mouth did not lose its O-shape. "Look, I know it sounds weird but I'm so distressed about my life. I need something. I need to feel alive."

"So you're going to feel alive by having a sexually transmitted disease? What is this? You know that herpes is incurable, don't you? Robbie, are you dying or something and want one last hop in the sheets? You can come up with better material than this."

"No, I'm not dying or anything. Other than dying to have a real life of outdoor activity with a purpose. These chicks in these commercials -- they seem so empty and down when it starts but once faced with a potential disaster, they find a medical solution and embrace life. Come on, it's not a commitment or anything. Besides, you were always a little, you know, 'friendly' even when we we're going out. Surely you have something."

"All right, that's it. Why does every guy invariably start thinking that the last girl he dated is a bitch, or a whore? Is it to make himself feel better? I dumped your ass because you were one with the roving eye, not me. And I'm seeing someone right now, so it's out of the question."

"It's just twenty minutes! Probably more like ten because I really want this! No telephone calls or anything afterwards!"

"Good-bye, Robbie."

So, there I was. Bereft of probably the only thing that might give me purpose and make me feel better. When you want something, you can't get it, and when you aren't looking, it sneaks up on you. Go figure.

It was right then that I heard her voice: Christine. Christine Alvarez who, interestingly enough, had been my rebound relationship after Caryn. Didn't last long, but it was enough. I looked up, smiled and pulled out the chair for her to sit.

"I'm pregnant," she said.