**By TC Crumpton **
Heading nowhere in Anthony’s 68 Mustang, Anthony gripped the steering wheel tightly. I knew something was awry when our curvy road cruise ended with a detour back to town.
“Where are we going?” I questioned. Trouble brewed behind his long dark lashes. “We need to talk.” In the 3 ½ months we’d been dating, I nor my friends and family could find fault in Anthony’s character. The consensus; he was crazy about me. I knew that no matter how it seemed, people change their mind. If you are not prepared, you may as well just plop your ass right down on that track and wait for the train to hit you.
“Shoot.” I held my breath. “You remember last week when I told you I zipped my “jumbles” in my pants and went to the doctor?” I vaguely remembered the specifics. Fresh relationships lend their ears to the exciting and new, avoiding the mundane details of everyday life. “Yeah, when we couldn’t….” I smiled. Anthony frowned. “Well, that was kind of a lie.” “Kind of?” He drove faster with the disdain in my voice.
“It wasn’t a zipper issue.” This was a different kind of train. “Well, what is it?” He became more solemn, refusing to look me in the eye. “You may not want to see me anymore after I tell you.” “Are you pregnant?” I joked to ease the tension. “I have herpes,” he spouted quickly.
I exhaled a sigh of relief. My dad’s girlfriend and my aunt had herpes, not to mention 50% of the population. “How long have you known?” I asked. “Since Friday, I’ve just been feeling disgusting, and worrying that I may have given it to you. I’m sorry.”
“Do you know how you got it?” He explained that he had a feeling but couldn’t be sure. “I understand if this is too much for you. Pease get tested and let me know the results.” ” He whipped his wheels into my driveway.
“I figured you would want some time to think.” “Just drive.” I insisted, placing my hand in his. “I hate that you have herpes, but you are not disgusting.”
The monkey wrench thrown in the midst of infatuation taught us a bit about who we were, the kind of relationship we wanted, and a lot about commitment.
I visited my gynecologist the following day. Dr. B explained that Anthony’s physician diagnosed him through a viral culture derived from a skin sample during an outbreak. However, at that time there was no test for herpes in the absence of an outbreak.
Nine years and two kids later, Anthony still has herpes. I don’t. We continue to pay close attention to our bodies and each other. We take necessary precautions, and abstain from sexual activity during outbreaks. Anthony’s recognition of the problem and his willingness to share it with me regardless of the outcome was a far greater testament to his character than his STD.