Untitled Excerpt: Herpes

I lie in bed online-shopping for hours, so long my legs go numb, scrolling through small outfits that fit small girls like small condoms. I could wear them as toe rings, assuming I’d eaten no salt that day.

“What are you looking at?” asks my husband. “Nothing.” I lie.
He joins me in bed, rolling my fat dog across the duvet. “Are you looking at dream hair?”
“Maybe.” I sort of lie.

I scroll through a slew of natural blondes. My soul crumbles – quite like the apple crumble I’m now craving, but can’t eat, ‘cause now I’m on Keto.

I don’t mind the unattainable, it’s fun to pretend. Men do it with porn and perky- breasted women — I do it with blonde scalps and clothing meant for the flat-chested.

My hair is blonde but not luscious. Oily roots grasp my forehead while my supposed “bangs” escape outwards, shaped like the letter S sideways. There is not much I can do. If I brush it, I look like a composer. And I pay a lot of money for it to even look like this.

I remember how much weight I’ve gained and start to cry. I wail at my husband and then my dog Tina. Tina understands: she’s “overweight,” according to science. I think she’s gorgeous and just curvy like me but her vet, Dr. Bunni, insists on diet food. Tina is a chihuahua-pit bull and snorts like a pig, and her treats are literally pieces of celery.

Unlike Tina, however, I don’t lose weight easily. I don’t have the luxury of pre-measured kibble provided in a shiny bowl every morning, and my husband refuses to cooperate with this desire.

My lips felt like Coachella. I had never looked worse. My hair looked like a lampshade and my chin was sausage pizza, which according to Chinese face mapping, means I’m having gynecological problems. This is true: I had a miscarriage! So by now I’d endured a month of ruthless vaginal bleeding, and just learned I have cervical polyps. And I already had herpes. For my uterus, Mercury is always retrograde.

Speaking of herpes, it’s probably time to tell that story.

Prior to the official diagnosis, the nurse practitioner at Bard College Health Services said my genital warts were mosquito bites. So that’s a good depiction of the state of sex ed in Upstate New York. She did eventually realize her mistake and called me that weekend to let me know — I had just dyed the tips of my hair turquoise green for the “holiday,” and was drinking a Mike’s Hard Lemonade atop the toilet at 10am. I wasn’t sad, or even surprised, it was more like: I’m a pretty big slut, of course I got herpes. That’s statistics! Plus the guy I was seeing at the time was really supportive: He didn’t get mad and drove me to pick up my Valtrex prescription, then we got day- drunk and blacked out at his Saint Patricks Day party where he held up me for my first — and only — keg stand, for which I wore questionably small shorts… with a raging herpes outbreak that he was very fully aware of. Yet his face was contently buried in my crotch keeping me afloat so I, herpes queen, could chug cheap beer upside down — that I would profusely vomit within seconds anyway. Now that’s a real feminist ally.

Unfortunately, he passed away this past February. And I strangely, abruptly stopped vaginal bleeding when I heard the news. I wonder if my uterus will ever stop killing things.

STD Silver lining though: He may physically be gone, but I’ll always have a part of him with me. Since, quite like grief, herpes is incurable. So from now on, each time I feel that itch in my crotch— I’ll know its him having come to say hello.