Monday, August 28, 2006

Chlamydia

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“I believe I have contracted either Chlamydia or Gonorrhea.”

I choke on the cereal that I am standing over the sink eating.

Frenchie is sitting on a stool in front of the breakfast he has just prepared that includes poached eggs, wheat toast and freshly sliced tomatoes.

“You have what?”

I can feel the milk dripping down the side of my face and I’m afraid it will stain the collar of the blouse I just picked up from the cleaners. But I can't move.

The Frenchman cuts through his wheat toast and soaks it in runny egg yolk. He holds the bite near his mouth, pauses, cocks his head to the side and addresses me as if we are discussing football stats and who he thinks will win the Superbowl this year.

“I can’t be certain. I have only accumulated research from the internet, but I have pain while urinating and a white sticky substance at the tip of my penis. This seems to be indicative of Chlamydia or Gonorrhea.”

He pops the bite in his mouth and beams with pride. It's unclear if he’s proud of the delicious fucking brunch he just made or his Encyclopedia Brown Google diagnosis.

I must look like Jessica Simpson being asked a math question, my body paralyzed, staring at him with my mouth gaping open, holding my cereal bowl, my briefcase resting against my leg. I can feel heat running down the back of my suit.

“Great.”

I put the half empty cereal bowl in the sink and pick up my briefcase.

“So I will therefore be needing a ride to the hospital.”

I try to compose myself and respond in a healthy manner. “Okay. Well I’m going into work right now.”

His mouth is still savoring his breakfast. But after he swallows he speaks.

“Just wait. I’ll be done in a moment.”

No, fuck off. You can walk your infected ass to the hospital.

“Ok. I’ll pull the car around.”

And I do. Because driving Frenchie to the hospital is the right thing. And I have no right to be angry. He's not my boyfriend. We haven't slept together. So why am I so angry?

I grumble my way out to the car, refusing to smile at my neighbor standing outside waiting for her dog to relieve himself on my sidewalk. I'm so pissed I don't even notice that it is a gorgeous sunny day with a cool Philly breeze carrying the scent of lilacs up the street from the community garden on the corner. No, I'm not feeling the schmoozy neighbor, lilac scenty thing. I'm feeling the judgemental, irritable, selfish thing.

I met the Frenchman a year ago. We spent the evening of my 32nd birthday exploring the streets of New Orleans. Half way through the night of near hand touches and the kind of conversation that feels like someone is touching every part of your personhood, he leaned over for what I thought would be our first kiss and tells me, "I have a girlfriend."

The words every woman longs to hear. I wanted to slap him immediately. But after throwing a few more rocks into the Mississippi it occurred to me that this might be the first man that didn't want to sleep with me, but rather, talk to me all night until the sun came up. How very different. How very interesting. How very peculiar.

When the sun came up, we promised to stay friends. But their was more than friendship to our connection. And over the past year, we periodically fed that connection with long and heavy phone conversations over payphones from Saigon to Nicaragua. I told myself I was building a friendship. I pretended that I wasn't just his validation that he was still wanted even when his girlfriend wasn't giving him enough attention.

When he phoned in June to say he had recently broken up with his girlfriend, wanted to travel through the states and could he spend my birthday with me, was I wrong to think something might be there?

Granted, we had met but once. So the majority of our late night phone conversations were mostly about him. Okay, so he was unhealthy, reactive, narcissistic and insecure. I was willing to ignore it all. I mean the stage was set for a dramatic love story. One where patience perseveres, friendship melts into romance, from an innocent beginning springs a balanced and loving relationship... cue music, dim lights.

Yes, in my fantasy he was confident and moral and a man of strong character. In my fantasy, he spoke five languages and wanted to partner with me in our mutual quest to end violence and bring about world peace. We were supposed to make friends with the locals in Kosovo and speak Swahili by years end. I was going to write books, take cooking classes, spend my weekends doing food drops into war zones and my nights cuddled up next to him discussing the increase of terrorist measures as a weapon of the weak against the strong. We were going to take eco-tour vacations.

Nowhere in my fairy tale was he coming out of a break up and screwing his way across Central America to punish his ex. Funny, shacking up on my pull-out sofa while he healed up from his latest STD was not in my edition.

Frenchie ducks his beautiful 6’3” frame into the passenger seat of my Hertz rental car. Where I once thought of him driving a Jaguar, I now found him outclassed by the Mazda. His lazy smile reveals that he is ignorant to the fact he’s just shattered my whimsical dream. He pulls a bottle of Evian out of his bag, takes a sip and hands it to me.

“Would you like some water?”

I glance down at the bottle and back at him.

“No.”

“You aren’t going to get Chlamydia from a water bottle.”

I try not to judge. I try not to roll my eyes. I try not to wonder if you can get Chlamydia from a passenger seat. I try not to be jealous that he wanted someone else. I try not to be angry at allowing myself to be lead on. I try to let go of the lost possibilities. I try to remember that it's not his fault that he is not the man I created in my head.

5 comments:

Åsa said...

Sober! I’m so disappointed that the dreamy guy from your New Orleans trip turned out this way! Your dream was so much more hopeful than what he is. I read the book “Shutterbabe” by Deborah Copaken Kogan, and she married a man who ALMOST fit your dream. And that’s a true story, so there is hope.

I hope you kicked the guy out of your house by now. You do not need to be hosting this guy. He can find someone else to take advantage of – or better yet: take his responsibility.

Don said...

He sounds like the perfect man – almost. Handsome, tall, HONEST, not faking his accent, he can cook you breakfast, and he has the means to get himself from Nicaragua to your sofa.

Hopefully he had gonorrhea – at least it’s curable.

Buffy said...

I love the deliberateness of that intro line.

Anonymous said...

yeah


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Anonymous said...

I was just looking for a picture of Chlamydia to put in my slide presentation to a bunch of Family Practice Docs and got sucked in to reading this. I am a 61 year old Gynecologist, married for 33 years to the same woman. We were both virgins on our wedding night. I see women who are having these experiences evey day. I feel I could really encourage them to think in a very different direction with a much greater chance of it working out closer to that dream, but it is so hard to really connect, listen, understand and share a thought in anything like the 30 minutes I can spend. Sometimes I spend an hour and feel like maybe something good transpired, but the cost is the rest of the patients on the schedule are mad at me. Sometimes I just can't find any words. Sometimes there are'nt any. But more often I am just sad then most men are Jerks and have no respect for women. I'm also sad how many women have so little self respect and are willing to settle for Jerks. Most of this would be fixed if women did not sleep with someone in a "not lifetime committed relationship". Causual sex makes men disrespect women and trains them to be jerks, for women it is usually a big hit to their self image.

Paul

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