Last week, I went in for another round of regular STD screening. I recommend that anyone who’s sexually active do this, of course, particularly before taking on a new lover or when a lover’s partner status has changed. In polyamorous relationships, it seems like basic common sense.
It will probably never win any awards for fun things to do; I don’t see Carnival Cruise Lines adding it to the featured activities on any of their vacation packages, for example. Generally, it’s one part filling out paperwork, one part having a needle inserted in one’s body in a non-erotic context, and one hundred and fifty-seven parts sitting in a waiting room playing with one’s smart phone or, barring that, staring at a crack in the linoleum that looks just a bit like Richard Nixon’s face.
And listening to the person behind the counter answer the phone.
It’s the phone part that was, for me, interesting enough to warrant a blog post. Now, mind you, whenever she answered the phone, I could only hear one part of the conversation, so what was going on on the other end of the line is a matter of pure conjecture. Still, on one occasion, the conversation (or at least the bit of it I could hear) hit a wall, to such an extent that if it were a scene in a movie I was writing a snarky review of, I would say that the dialog…wedged. It’s one of the few occasions I can think of dialog wedging in real life.
The conversation seemed to be going so well at first, until it hit the wall. It went something like this:
“Good afternoon, how can I help you? [pause] Yes, you need an appointment to come in. [pause] I have an opening at 11 AM on Friday. [pause] Later? Sure, no problem. I have another opening at 4 PM Friday, how does that sound? [pause] Okay, great. What will you be coming in for? [pause] Normal screening? No problem. Are you male or female? [pause] Okay, and are you under 24 years old? [pause] No? Okay, great. Are you having any symptoms? [pause] No symptoms, just checking. Right. Have you ever had sex with another man? [pause] Sex. With another man. [pause] Yes, that’s right, have you ever had sexual intercourse with another man? [pause] With a partner who is also male. [pause] Have you had a sexual partner who is a man? [long pause] Have you had sexual activity with a partner who is male. [pause] Yes, sex. With a man. Have you had a sex partner who is a man. [long pause]”
At this point, I was called in for the sticking-with-needles bit, so I never learned if that conversation eventually unwedged itself or not. I do admit, however, that there is a bit of me, deep down inside, that suspects that if the question poses that much of a puzzler, the answer is likely something along the lines of “Yes, but I don’t want to admit to it.”
I suppose there are many take-home lessons that could be learned from that. For me, the one that seems most obvious is “this is one of many reasons it’s stupid to shame folks based on who they have sex with.”