While I was at dinner tonight, a text came through from an hysterical girlfriend. "HE JUST TOLD ME HE HAS GONORRHEA", she wrote. Since I knew my friend to be on a first date with "him", I felt her pain. That's quite a matzoh-ball to drop on date numero uno. But I can hardly say the revelation itself unnerved me.
Sorry, this is NY. We've all heard medical histories before. And as someone who has lived in several other major cities, let me tell you - they don't say 1 in 5 people has Herpes for nothing. That actually seems to be statistically correct. When you consider that those are just the ones who are aware that they have it, then you start to see things in quite a different light.
In this light, I think that this fellow - the one who startled my buddy so - was actually refreshing. This kind of thing SHOULD be stated at the very onset, before anything has happened. In fact, it greatly reduces the risk of infecting others. In this gentleman's case, after treatment, it won't even be an issue. It's hard enough to meet someone honest in NYC - let alone someone who is this up-front. So I texted back: "give him a chance". I meant it.
Here's the thing - our friends have or have had STDs. By now, we should all just know better than to think ill of anyone who does. The world is full of people who’ve had multiple sexual partners and never contracted squat. And it’s also full of people who’ve had just a couple and caught a case of bad luck.
I know better. I know all too well that even the incurable - big, bad Herpes - is extremely common, and by practicing safe sex, and being extra careful during outbreaks, it can be an initial non-issue. Popular prescription drugs, if taken properly, can further suppress symptoms. Not so scary. Having said that, I get the stigma attached - I do. Names like "the Clap" don't help; but life isn't all neatness and ease. Just get over it.
In any case, if you fall in love, you fall in love, and then it won't matter to you at all. The beginning of love is a smack in the face. It finds you whether you are looking or not. One moment you’re enjoying your brunch. The next moment, you’re singing REO Speedwagon songs and wishing you could live in each other's pocket. It all gets largely out of your control, so it’s wise not to fool yourself into thinking you have any control over it. Sometimes you have to be with someone with an STD, because life is unfair like that. But that's love, and all I have to say to that is: may we all be that unlucky.