While on the phone I proceed to tell Quinn about these pesky outbreaks of genital herpes I get every now again on my lower back and hips. I tell her this as a deterrent, in case she wants to have sex with me. Although Quinn was born three months almost to the day after I was, back in good ole 1973, she is far too old for me. See, I don't go for girls in their forties. I'll maybe make an exception for a dame in her early thirties, provided she has never been married and has no kids. Few that I have met have met what I think is a rather modest set of criteria. Girls in their twenties are hit or miss. Many of them are immature, and most are still sowing their wild oats. Which is why I am partying on the phone with Quinn, but only partially. I also really like talking to her, and not only because she doesn't judge me for my condition, which I contracted at some point when I was also sowing oats.
Quinn of course proceeds to tell me about her own STD history, which is rather storied, involving as it does not one but two conditions, and more than one case of one, and neither of which I have had, and both of which have been cured. Aren't I lucky I convinced you not to have sex with me, I say. Quinn's reply is that she had been with a carrier of HSV and is virus free. I wish more people knew that the chances of contracting this condition even while having unprotected sex is quite small, provided there are no active lesions. And here had I never opened up about this tarnished trophy of my less than illustrious past, I'd never have heard of her own skeletons, and clearing the air ended up bringing us closer. But not close enough to have sex. Been there done that with Quinn. Over twenty-five years ago, and it was fun, so why mess with that memory? As Sade sings, it's never as good as the first time, so it must be true.
My belief that secrets are made to be revealed was reinforced when I met a guy at a party over the weekend. This was a real party, at my brother's house. Peter and I were talking about farts, which is what straight males sometimes do as a form of bonding. Peter shared that certain culinary indiscretions indulged in over the weekend had left him feeling bloated and gassy. And so he was spending Sunday on a fast. The parties my brother throws have a lot of delicious finger foods, so not a good place to test one's willpower. I asked whether while in bed with his girlfriend and their dogs Peter had let out a few inadvertent toots and blamed it on the pooch. I asked not because I believed he would ever do such a thing, but because when I was with my girlfriend Shannon, back in 2002, I used to fart beneath the covers like crazy and then scream at her adorable little chihuahua, Adidas, to cut it out.
I didn't realize such shady behavior is so widespread until Peter tells me that of course he did this and doesn't everyone? So you see, what you do has likely been done many times by many different people. Unless you're something like a serial killer or a pedophile or both, you can trust that even your deepest, darkest secrets are shared by many members of the general population. So breathe a sigh of relief. And if you have herpes, whether you know it or not, you're one of about one in five American who do. So get over it, and get over my having it. Can we have sex now?
Truth be told, I'm still doing the celibate thing and loving it. Partly to increase my focus while I meditate, and partly to save my sperm rather than lose hundreds of millions of those little critters per pump. A vasectomy allows a guy to ejaculate without losing these precious sex cells, but I for one wouldn't want to undergo a procedure which leaves me sore down there for months and makes procreation an impossibility. I like to keep my options open. Celibacy is nice, but I always reserve the right to change my mind.
And I have changed my mind, regarding work. I used to think that I never wanted to hold another job for as long as I live, but this morning I had a stunning realization that I was put on this Earth for the express purpose of helping others write their life stories. I have some experience in this regard. A few years ago I helped a former high school buddy of mine, Jeff, to write his memoir in which we treated his struggles with rheumatoid arthritis en route to his heroic ascent to the top of Mount Everest. Alas, our book, which we entitled Walking with the Goddess (title mine) didn't sell but I loved the process of bringing the pages into existence. I took raw material that Jeff, who is not a writer, had composed, and then, writing in the first person, as Jeff, I fleshed out his story, first by asking my friend hundreds of questions about his motivations, fears, hopes, dreams, etc. It was like being part therapist part private investigator, but I wasn't tailing some woman he thought had cheated on him. I was plumbing the depths of his soul!
Since then I've had several friends ask me to co-write an account of their lives. There's my friend Steve, who suffered a debilitating car wreck and went on to become a medical doctor before succumbing to drug addiction. Real roller coaster, that one. And my friend Michael, who is a successful real estate developer with a catchy five-point plan for success. And my dad's lovely wife, Sylvia, who recently had a dream that I'd help sire her success story. There's also the cousin who used to be in adult film with her sojourn through Sodom, but only when the time is right (read: her kids are all gwown up). My dad is currently writing his own memoir and has been stuck on the preface since February. If I didn't think it would bruise his ego I'd offer to help him see this book through to completion, but he's a proud man who likes to do things himself.
I've generally declined these proposals, because the timing hasn't been quite right. For most of the last year I have been too in the throes of coping with my mother's death from cancer, which occurred last August, to devote my energies to someone else's drama. And I'm still coping. But as we near the year anniversary that she left her body, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And I'll pass through to the golden other side by making my mother's life story the first book of the kind I write. This book will be my fulfillment of the request she made to me in the last month of her Earthly existence. And it will provide a nice culmination to what she designated as my year of mourning.
If things go well I may be the next Andrew Morton, who has written a few best-sellers of this kind on subjects ranging from Princess Diana and Madonna to Monica Lewinsky and Angelina Jolie. Morton got a seven-figure advance for his work on the queen of pop, but I'm not doing this for the money. Sure I'd need some monetary compensation, but I enjoy hearing about another person's life, and by asking questions help them see the connections between even the most seemingly unrelated experiences. And the realization that results is that each life is perfect and part of the grand design. People gravitate to me as writing partner in part because I am a writer, in part because I am a medical doctor who for a time considered psychiatry as a career, and also because they feel they can reveal their deepest secrets to me, as I so often reveal my own.
You see each of us has a great story to tell. This may not be the case on the surface of many seemingly humdrum lives, but once you scratch the surface and connect all the dots you wind up with a grand tapestry which, like a snowflake, is fantastically intricate and uniquely you. Okay I feel like Jerry Mcaguire with his office manifesto.
But if you need someone to help you understand your story, sure you can visit a therapist, but come to me and we'll leave no stone unturned. You'll come away with the greatest story ever told, and for less than the average shrink's fee. Of course we'll call it something other than The Greatest Story Ever Told, which has been done before, and rather well. One thing is for sure: before it's all through, we'll pull out the Christ in you.