Clinics are so depressing. It's like they’re just waiting for you to die. While you’re waiting. They’re waiting, and we’re waiting, and why can't they at least play good music, maybe a DJ and a dance floor, they could easily fit a disco ball over there in that corner by the fake flowers. What about real flowers in gorgeous bright ceramic vases, art covering the walls, brighter colors instead of gray and beige, something celebratory because we’re here to take care of ourselves, right? What about comfortable sofas and herbal tea and healthy food and maybe something to read besides pamphlets about STDs?
What if STD clinics were like cafés where you could meet people and sit around and read the paper or a book, what about a library or free massage or acupuncture or hugs? It just seems like they could do better than sterile beige office carpet and uncomfortable hand-me-down gray office chairs and a few boring advertisements for safe sex. What about velvet, they need some velvet in here — maybe makeup lessons, a reading group, we could even read Kevyn Aucoin if people don’t really want to read, what about a dj-ing workshop, I would love a dj-ing workshop. Art supplies — what about art supplies?
I'm thinking about bringing all this up with the clinician, but then they call my number and Avery’s still holding my hand and I’m thinking about art supplies — oh, collage, the STD clinic would be such a great place to make collages, wouldn’t it? It wouldn’t even cost anything. Everyone could just bring in discarded magazines and cut them up and get to know one another that way. It would be so much fun. Avery’s squeezing my hand tighter and they call my number again so I look down, oh, that’s me, and I kiss Avery on the lips.
Another sterile room, fluorescent lights, and this blonde woman in a powder blue cardigan with pearly buttons asks me what I would do if I tested positive. I have nothing against powder blue cardigans, and especially not powder blue cardigans with pearly buttons, I mean I have a lavender one just like that but I think it looks different on me than on her. And maybe it would look okay on her too, if it wasn’t for the strand of pearls around her neck. Real pearls. I think.
Those pearls, I want to say. Those pearls are really too much. What are you trying to say with those pearls?
What would you do if you tested positive, she asks me again.
Honey, I’m thinking, I would jump off a bridge. Can you take me to the highest bridge? I need a ride. Oh, you didn’t drive? Then at least give me directions, okay?
I want to say that I would go out and do so many drugs that I wouldn’t even know my name. “My name is Luka. I live on the second floor. I live upstairs from you. Yes, I think you’ve seen me here before.”
But instead I say: I don't think I'm going to test positive. I've been pretty safe. I tested negative 8 months ago, and I haven't done anything really risky since then.
What's really risky to you, she asks.
Getting fucked without a condom.
Is that all?
Fucking without a condom, but I haven't done that either.
What about oral sex?
I don't use condoms for oral sex, but I don't think oral sex is that risky.
There's always a risk. Condoms can cut down on that risk.
I wasn't nervous before, but now I am. Is she going to give me my results?
Do you have any questions for me, she asks. Oh, she adds, like she just thought of it, and she looks down at the paper just to make sure, and then she says: you tested negative for HIV. Thank you for coming in today. Do you have any questions for me?
Back in the lobby, now I'm nervous, waiting for Avery, until he comes out with a smile and I know everything's okay. I can't believe how hot it is in this waiting room, I'm totally covered in sweat.
Outside, I'm so grateful for the freezing air, and Avery says the guy who gave me my results was really hot. I would come back just to see him.
Great, maybe you can ask him to teach you how to use a condom.
I'm sorry — I didn't ask you.
I'm fine. I mean I'm negative.
What should we do to celebrate?
Well, you can fuck me on the bathroom sink.
While your sugar daddy is home?
No, probably not. I need to get contact lens solution. Are you hungry?
Mattilda, I'm never hungry. The only things I eat are cookies and Doritos.
What are you take some Marinol? It's good for sleep too.
I know, I know — you’ve told me that like ten times; you’re the fucking advertising salesman for Marinol. But it makes you black out. I don't like blacking out.
It worked for Sean. She's the one who gave me the idea.
You did not just say that.
Oh my God you're right, you’re right, I did not just say that. Do you want to get cocktails?
Now you're talking – that's what worked for Sean.
At least we can joke about it.