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.