Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Virus... of the mouth

I have something terrible and humiliating to inform you all about.  Like 90% of the human population, I have the herpes virus.  Of the mouth.  Being a relatively celibate being until my early twenties, I can easily pinpoint the exact moment it happened to me.  Well, at least the exact month that I became infected.
Let me take you back just a few years.  I was in High School in a very small town.  Everyone knew everyone.  And everyone knew who was sexually active and who was woefully virgin.  As a super Catholic (vice president of the catholic youth group actually) I was proudly, woefully, virgin.  I hadn't really kissed anyone since my kindergarten badassery days.

The high school drama club was called the Thespian Society, and it was a national club, so we could socialize much easier with other outcasts from other schools.  My senior year, I became president.

I was in a lot of plays, ranging from Diary of Anne Frank, to the comedies (my obvious favorites) such as Arsenic and Old Lace (about two murderous old ladies and their nephew who thought he was Theodore Roosevelt [I was the nephew]), and finally the world's worst play of all time: Enchanted April.  The director loved the play, until about a month before we went live, when she joined the rest of the cast on the hate train.

This play was about two housewives who got sick of their boring lives in rainy England, and decided to take a holiday in Italy, where their lives were exactly the same.  Except that a famous actress was sharing their holiday home with them, and she was bitchy and nagging the entire time.  And then their husbands come visit.  That's it.  That's the play.

My part in the play was Mr. Wilding, the landlord of the Italian house.  My character fell in love with one of the wives.  And then he was shut down.  So at the end of the play, he married the bitchy actress instead.

No one needs to see this play.  Ever.

I was actually the understudy of the play.  But two of the actors were caught with alcohol and were banned from school activities.  So I took over Mr. Wilding, and had to learn the lines and blocking from scratch.  Not a big deal, but I had no idea that at the end of the play, there was a big kissing scene.  So on the first run through, the actress "Christina" suddenly moved her face towards mine and I flinched.  It was a pretty noticeable flinch because everyone started laughing.

There were many reasons for the flinch.  You see, Christina was one of the sexually active members of our high school.  She was one of the people with a very prominent cold sore that was always somewhere on her lips.

Eventually, I got over her cold sore and made the ultimate sacrifice for my craft, and kissed her.  She was used to kissing the other actor, who was quite the whore himself, and it was obvious.  Her tongue caressed the inside of my mouth and the outside of my teeth, obviously searching for some major macking out.  My catholic penis actually retracted itself into my body.  I couldn't stop thinking about the herpes.  And I had to repeat the process.  Again and again and again.

Eventually, the play ended, and I was no longer exposed to the cesspool that was Christina's face.  Months went by, and no cold sores appeared.  I was in the clear.  But something peculiar did happen to my face in late spring.  My mouth went numb.  The skin around my mouth felt absent.  This went on for about 3 days, and then it began to burn a little.  Then little bumps crept up and hardened.  So the skin around my mouth had become like an itching, burning canvas.  It was humiliating and gross and I hated it, but I couldn't figure out what it was.  At least for observers, it was invisible.  So it was hell on my face, and I was lucky enough that no one could tell.

I went to my dad's medical clinic shortly after my 4th day of itchy unbearable hell.  The doctor I saw guessed that it was some sort of bacterial infection, and gave me a shot of steroids and some cream to put on the skin to sooth the burning.

I woke up the next day, and the itchy burning skin had CREPT OVER MY ENTIRE FACE.

I approached my dad, who was sitting at the breakfast table, probably enjoying his face, and started yelling.  I'm not the type to yell at their parents, so it caught him off guard.  He looked over my face, and gave me the news.

"Rob, this is either a bacterial infection, or it's herpes.  You were treated for the bacterial infection with a steroid, and steroids will either kill the bacterial infection or intensify the herpes infection.  You have herpes."

I knew what herpes was, and I knew that it was a dormant infection that one has forever, but I also knew that it was cold sores.  "Why isn't it a cold sore then?"  I asked.

"Well... it seems like you react to the herpes virus a little differently than most people." he answered.

Of course I do.

To this day, I have only had 3 breakouts.  They are always the same numbing and then burning and itching around my mouth.  They are awful, and embarrassing, and for that reason, I'm sharing it with the world.

So team, on the plus side, I can never give anyone else this virus, because when I'm infectious, nothing can touch my face without causing me extreme pain.  It's not like I'm going to go around kissing people.

I think I might share a bit too much on this blog.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Was a Kindergarten Badass

In my younger years, I was sort of swimming in all the creativity and energy that I am able to control and use today.  Not to mention that I was a precocious little booger,  and I was able to have full fledged conversations with adults, which not only made them uncomfortable, but they began to think that something was seriously wrong with me.  When I was 3, I wrote the alphabet on the living room wall in pen.  Also, my favorite game was to turn the volume on the TV all the way to 100, run away, and then come back and turn it down to zero.

During this time, my family lived in the slums of Des Moines, Iowa.  Every morning, I would wake up, look at the strikers in front of the Firestone tire factory, look at the strippers leaving their shift at Big Earl's Playhouse, and then watch 3 hours of Darkwing Duck.  That was, unless I was being babysat by our elderly next door neighbor, because they only let me watch 3 hours of Rocky and Bullwinkle.  I think Darkwing might have given her nightmares.

Yea, my imagination is capable of this.  What of it?!
Maybe it was the combination of having a playground bully who harassed me at my house, the slummed setting of my childhood home, and the good-hearted neglect of my awesome parents, who put a lot of faith in my unreasonable maturity, but I turned into quite the badass.  It wasn't until I started school that anyone had noticed my complete disregard for rules.

Before I started Kindergarten, I went with my parents to meet my new teacher.  She was a sweet middle aged woman whose name I can't remember.  This is because within the time I met her and my first day of school, a television fell on her head and she fell into a coma.  This is not even a slight exaggeration.  So my first day, and every day for the rest of the year, we had a long-term substitute, Mrs. Logan, who was fresh out of college.

Within my first 3 months of kindergarten, I had a girlfriend named Jerica.  I don't remember much about her, besides the fact that she enjoyed overalls, thought paper tasted like spaghetti, and said she loved me right away.  So take THAT every future relationship I've ever had.

Jerica and I enjoyed our little bits of rebellion.  We would often pinch ourselves to stay awake through nap time, which was idiotic in retrospect, because how boring was nap time?!  We would also cut each other's hair and smear glue to the insides of our desks.  We were sheer maniacs.  Mrs. Logan never noticed.  She was young, impressionable, and often took bathroom breaks to "fix her contacts" and come out with a strange smell and bright red eyes.  She was awesome.

One day, I decided during nap time to do the ultimate rebellion, and I hatched my plan with Jerica.  When we lined up outside the classroom for recess, we would get in the back of the line, and walk out to recess down the THIRD GRADE HALLWAY.  Completely unsupervised!  We would be kindergarten royalty among those tall geniuses in third grade.

So we set the plan into action and simply turned and walked the opposite direction when the line started moving.  Mrs. Logan noticed nothing, as she often did after a quick contact fixing.  We had started our journey to the 3rd grade hallway.

This is what feeling "on top of the world" looks like.
Unfortunately, the guidance counselor caught us within the first 20 steps of our kindergarten mightiness.

She seemed more concerned that we even thought of breaking such rules than she was that we were unsupervised and prancing down an older kid hallway.  Luckily, she let us off the hook.  She walked us to the kindergarten recess door and released us into the wild, giving us a warning that if she catches us again, we will be sent to the principal.

Well, no guidance counselor of mine is going to dictate the terms of my life!  The next day, I asked Jerica if she wanted to once again taste the glory of 3rd grade.  Her denial was swift and firm, and it was at that point I realized our young romance might not be forever.

I once again got to the back of the line, and walked in the opposite direction.  I knew what it was like to  suddenly be in the 3rd grade, and I'd be damned if I was going to look back.

I learned determination at a young age.

What I had underestimated was how suspicious the guidance counselor was.  Apparently, someone had tattooed "rebel" across my forehead, but it's in a special "Only guidance counselors can read" ink.
Can't read it?  You aren't much of a guidance counselor.  Can read it?  Maybe consider the lucrative career in counseling of guidance.
Needless to say, she was waiting in the 3rd grade hallway, and swooped down on me as soon as I turned the corner.  She took my hand and dragged me to the principal's office.  The principal expressed similar concern for my blatant disregard for rules.  She asked me some questions about my home-life, probably because most kids' in my situation have moms that worked at the stripclub by my house.  When her interrogation ended, she threatened me with a phone call to my parents and sent me on my way.

So now, you're probably thinking, "so what, Rob.  I impregnated a dolphin with tiger semen, and gave it an abortion, throwing the fetus at the head cheerleader during the Homecoming football game.  And that was just my first kindergarten offense."  Well, sorry Reader, my life is not as cool and extreme as yours.  But I did get in trouble again in kindergarten, just one more time.  And the principal DID call my mom.  And it ended in my first ever puberty talk.  At 5 years old.

Jerica and I were in the same daycare class thing.  It was called PAL, but I can't remember for the life of me what that stood for.  Parents Arriving Late?  But whatever it stood for, it was for the kids whose parents couldn't pick them up right away.  Also in PAL was my first ever school bully.  He used to follow me to the urinal in the bathroom and make fun of whatever underwear I was wearing.  He made fun of me a lot actually, and I don't remember the majority of the reasons.  But I learned that OshKosh B'Gosh underwear was NOT the cool brand.

One day, Jerica decided it was time to take our relationship to the next level.  She asked if I wanted to kiss.  Being one to never back down from a challenge, I readily agreed.  We waited until after school during PAL.  We held hands and walked behind the big tree in our schoolyard.  There, we talked about what paper tastes like for the first time of many, and then Jerica turned to me.

Yea, the underwear bully spied my first kiss ever.  He quickly ran to the PAL teacher and told her all the dirty deets.  Except for Jerica's paper-mouth.  That I kept a secret until now.  Seriously, she ate a lot of paper, guys.  It was weird, even for kindergartners.

The PAL teacher quickly marched over to us and asked what had happened.  Jerica started crying, so I had to explain that I was a hormone-ridden 3rd grader trapped in a kindergartner's body.  And I got sent to the principal.

The principal was reasonably distressed that I was back in her office for doing things well beyond my age group.  She called my mom.

My mom wasn't upset.  She was concerned.  She sat me in the kitchen and explained A LOT about the sexual process, and asked me lots of questions.  Why did I do it?  Do I derive pleasure from mouth kissing so soon in life?  Is that any way to treat a lady?  When it was all over, my mom said that Jerica was maybe a little too forward.  Which I think we can all agree she meant:

I'm inclined to believe her.