Part 20 – Love in the Time of Viagra

This is a serial about love and awakening. Previously: After many weeks of no sex with Billy, I decide I’m ready. To see all posts in chronological order, Click Here.

What’s it like to go for AIDS tests at a public clinic when you’re over 50? We’re about to see. I know that I’m clean, and Billy believes he is, but I don’t trust that because he’s had unprotected sex with two other women since his divorce. If I’m asking him to get tested, it seems only fair that we both do it together.

As we drive to the County Health Department, Billy asks why the test will take an hour. I say they’ll probably ask questions and try to educate us about safe sex.

“What! I’m not going to answer personal questions,” he says.

Please don’t be rude, I say, nervous, knowing Billy can be a wild card.

“I’ll tell them I’m just there for the test. That’s it.”

We’re the oldest people in the waiting room—by decades. They give us forms, asking for name, address, phone and social security number. That stops me. “I thought the test was anonymous.”

The attendant, Sheree, says, “It’s confidential, but not anonymous—where you just have a number. No one does that kind of testing in this area.”

I glance at Billy. He wanted anonymity for insurance reasons. “Are you OK with this?”

He hesitates. Sheree says, “You can say your name is Donald Duck, or whatever. We don’t ask for ID unless you want a paper copy of the results.”

“We don’t,” Billy says, and we sit down to work on the forms. He puts “Tom” as his name, saying, “It’s a good cowboy name.” I write “Jane.” He puts “Hayden” for his last name. I put “Fonda.” I start to sign the release and he says, “Don’t sign your real name!”

I was doing it by reflex, so I tear up the release and ask for another.

Moments later, a beefy, hirsute man with a thick Slavic accent calls out, “Tom and Jane?” We walk toward him and he holds out his hand. “I am Bojan.” He says he’s from Bosnia. “I know you are couple, but I am government, and rule is: One test at a time. Who goes first?”

“Tom” says he will, and I excuse myself to use the restroom. When I return to the bench outside Bojan’s office, I hear the two of them laughing hysterically behind the closed door. That’s a relief, Billy’s not being rude.

Then Bojan sticks his head out. “Tom would like to share his results with you.”

I walk into the room and he shows me a small plastic strip on the table with one line in blue. “Is negative,” Bojan says. I throw my arms around Billy.

“Test is 98 per cent accurate,” Bojan adds.

“What?” Billy says, in mock indignation. “I didn’t come here to get a 98 per cent chance of getting laid! I want 100 per cent.” He gestures toward me. “I was 98 per cent sure I didn’t have AIDS last weekend and she wouldn’t go for that.” Bojan laughs.

“I accept the test results,” I say.

Billy points to a grimy macramé peace sign on a necklace hanging on the wall. “See,” he says, “I knew that peace sign would bring me luck.”

Bojan tells me it was a gift from a client who didn’t have money for the test but he gave it to her anyway. “She take off her necklace and ask me to keep it. I say, I am government, I am not allowed… But she say, if I don’t take it, I will assault her.”

I’m puzzled, then say, “Do you mean… insult her?”

“Yes, insult her.” The peace signs looks creepy and germ-ridden.

Billy leaves the room and Bojan starts down a list of questions, checking off my answers on a clipboard. “Have you had sex in last 3 months?”

“Yes.”

“Sex with man?”

“Yes.”

“Sex with woman?”

“No.”

“Sex in anus?”

“No.”

“Sex through hole?”

I start to laugh. “Sex through hole? Like, glory holes?” When I’d written a book about Rock Hudson, I learned that at gay bath houses, there were holes in the walls of adjoining rooms and men could stick their members through the hole and wait for… glory.

“Yes, glory hole.”

“I can’t believe these questions. Did you ask Bi… I mean, Tom, all this?”

“Yes. He make jokes for answer.”

Bojan pricks my finger and after a minute, we see the same blue line as on Billy’s test result. “You are fine,” he says.

Billy and I leave the office holding hands. This is love in the time of Viagra, I think. We’re certified by the health inspector, good to go.

But when we return to his McMansion in the pines, there’s an awkwardness, and it feels like we’re do-si-doing around each other.

TO BE CONTINUED


PENIS FINDER CONTEST WINNER
Thank you all for the fantastic comments! It was so tough to choose a winner, I had to enroll five judges to reach a consensus.
AND THE WINNER IS….
Harry Tucker
FOUR-WAY TIE for second: Samantha, Gini Maddocks, Gordon, and Beauregard
Check them all out.

Harry, please send your address. And choose one of my books.


This blog is based on a true story, but names and identifying details have been changed to protect privacy.


 

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5 thoughts on “Part 20 – Love in the Time of Viagra

  1. Debbie

    Sara,

    I went back to your first blog post recently to refresh my memory about your meeting with Billy – I had forgotten that he told you that he had never felt “truly loved” by any woman. I may have mentioned this before, but that seems like such a “red flag” when you're about to embark on a new relationship- has Billy told you anything about why previous relationships ended? I know most of us don't want to dwell on the past, but it's definitely helpful to find out what our prospective partner may (or may not) have learned from previous partners. Just curious…

    Reply
  2. Beauregard

    The problem with Viagra at our advanced age and single situation is that it is pretty disappointing to spend the money only to learn it has expired before you find a woman…

    As for the tests, while I waited in the linoleum floored, folding chair public room at the health department among a myriad-ethic audience, a young man with Rastafarian hair and multiple piercings burst from the private area and proudly shouted

    I ain't got nothing!

    punching his fist to the ceiling.

    He gave me hope.

    Then I went to meet with this kindly white haired gentleman in a white coat who was some puzzled to find a man about his age before him.

    He brusquely commanded me to drop trou, took a look and touch, then said, wait a minute. He stepped to the door and said, I have some nurses in training and invited in two young women I would have been pleased to meet under other circumstances and without further ado invited them to check me out, pointing their hands to the correct places and telling them not to be shy, a problem he had obviously overcome.

    I'm not sure of everything they did, each in turn, because I was looking at the florescent light overhead.

    I guess I should appreciate getting three exams for the price of one.

    My result was the same as the Rastafarian, but I sneaked out, silently.

    Reply
  3. Barbara Joe

    I’ve been enjoying reading your blog. When we “fall in love” or “in lust,” as the case may be, all our hormones and pleasure centers in the brain are activated, so that it is similar to addiction. It overrules common sense or any long-term vision. Of course, sex is a normal physical drive and who knows what triggers our attraction toward a particular guy, but it certainly can be powerful! Often, if the man is totally unsuitable for us, if we stay together for a while, then, when brain chemistry settles down and we become more acclimated to each other, we may change our mind and seek out someone new to give us that initial thrill and shot of endorphins again.

    So your question with Billy—and the question any of us would have with a guy like him—is: Can a zebra change its stripes, can a leopard change its spots? Can a man married and divorced a few times (I forget how many in his case) with a pattern of having multiple partners stick with one woman over the long haul? Is he now working overtime to convince you that he can be faithful just to conquer you—by saying that you are the “one”— or does he really mean it? Or maybe he does mean it at the moment, but may change his mind later on? Then again, perhaps he’s getting older with his testosterone levels falling somewhat and he’s already had myriad adventures with women, so he really is ready to settle down with one, with you, not necessarily in marriage but in monogamy, and do the sometimes messy work—in sickness and in health—of a committed relationship. So, it’s a gamble, with a potentially big payoff and a potentially big downside if it doesn’t work out. That’s true of any love affair. But usually when you are caught up in it, you are willing to take that chance, even if, objectively speaking, the odds are poor. And for perpetuating the human race, it’s a good thing than sometimes emotions override common sense. Presumably, you actually already know the outcome of your Billy story and are keeping us in suspense, giving your readers short episodes to keep us going, like the newspaper serials of old.

    Reply
  4. Hilary

    I, too, was once completely and utterly addicted to a “Billy the Bad.”

    Then a friend annonymously dropped off Halpern's book… and I saw myself, big time.

    EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING, Halpern said was ME… down to the very real, physical aching, and feeling like nothing unless HE as with ME.

    The addiction was with someone I'll call “George the Gruesome,” a many-times married, extremely good-looking, functioning alcoholic journalist and columnist. God, was that combination romantic!

    In fact, I was so besotted by him — we met when I was 15 and he was 37! — that *I* decided to become a journalist, too! (And have been a successful one for decades now… which only made things more complicated!)

    We were on and off for more than 20 years… through a couple more marriages on his part!!! Can you believe that while those betrayals hurt, I still saw him? Still slept w/ him? Gave up potential relationships with really really GOOD MEN?!!!! What can I say… except…Those are years that I'll never get back.

    That was a very long time ago… I'm now 54, happily married to a man who I LOVE, who adores me, loves the daughter I adopted as a single mom (I'm a late bloomer — I was 43 when I adopted her) and most importantly, doesn't make me nuts. I feel like I have a life with him, not a life trying to be a part of him.

    Does this make sense?

    Yet…yet… yet.. I know where my addiction lives, I dream about him an average of once a month, and last spoke to him about 5 years ago.

    He is now on Wife Number 4.

    “I think of you constantly,” he said then. “The worst mistake of my entire life was not marrying you.”

    ARRRGGGHHHH!

    Now it's the age of social networking and not long ago, a friend who knew me when I was in the throes of the addiction asked if I wanted to add him to my Facebook account. I said NO!!!! Let sleeping dogs lie!

    Sara, I know you won't listen to me, but truly, I have been through what you've been through… but for a much, much longer period of time.
    I am a long-time admirer of yours and now, I have ony four words for you:

    RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!!!

    All the best,

    Hilary

    Reply