I just came from my HIV test (I didn't study for it either.). I called my brother afterwards because it turned out to be such a humorous experience, and everyone became such complete and total smart asses—which is why it reminded me of my brother Mac. (And we will always assert that being a smart ass is better than being a dumb ass.)
My family doesn't get the whole "regular testing" thing. For them it's a freak out thing— something you do because there is a reason, and therefore something to fret about. For me and most of my kindred, it's like changing the batteries in the smoke detector. It's just something a responsible adult does every six-months (or, if you are half-responsible, every year). I don't worry about it, it's just something on my list to do around the same time I get my teeth cleaned (making it about every six months and that serves as a good reminder). XYZ gets his done when the clocks change.
Anyway, I had a sore throat recently and went to the doctor. My primary care doc couldn't see me, so I saw another. He asked "Do you have sex with men or women?" (Men.) "When was the last time you had sex?" (Uh...) He mistook for awkwardness what was just flat out unable to remember. Which reminded me of two things: (1) I have GOT to get a better love life; and (2) I just got my teeth cleaned and it's time for a test.
So I made an appointment at an anonymous/confidential center I have frequented before and went after work today.
I waited my turn, met with a counselor, and then he escorted me to the lab for the test. I usually write a check to this agency each year to support the community, and as such always opt for the least expensive test (least expensive for them). I was assured that they are all the same cost now. In the past they have always drawn blood from my arm and I have had to come back in a couple of days for the answers. This time they did a finger prick and the results were back in 20 minutes. As much as I hate having blood drawn, the finger prick is equally dreadful (that is to say, producing dread). But this was no lancet finger prick— they used some sort of plastic snap thingie that was unbelievably fast. The anticipation was considerably worse than the experience, which was as close to painless as one can get and still make one bleed. And there were no pipettes, just a teensy, tiny bit of blood collected by a tiny little loop at the end of a stick, using only surface tension to collect the sample.
So really, if anyone is reading this who has not had a test in a while, go. The process is streamlined and is as painless, physically and emotionally, as it really can be. E-mail me directly if you want to know information on the local, free, and confidential or anonymous services.
Clearly, that's not the funny part.
So, counseling and tests all over, Dave (the counselor) offered and encouraged their range of STD tests. Now I am pure as the driven snow (and by that I mean chains advised), but health tests are always a good idea so I said "sure."
He told me there were two tests: one is an oral swab and one is a rectal swab. He went on a bit before telling me that "oh no, you collect the rectal sample yourself." Well talk about burying the lead! WTF. That idea was much more stressful than the HIV test. But still.
David walked me back to the lab, where we exchanged witty banter with the phlebotomists and then he left me alone. She took an oral swab, which is not nearly as much fun as it might sound. Then she started instructing me as to the rectal swab. She called it by its trademarked name PharmCo Rapid Bunghole Test or some such. I said they should really just call it the PharmCo Eclipse.
"Because it sounds sexier, like a car?"
"No, because you stick it where the sun don't shine."
Yes, she's holding a stick I am expected to insert into my rear and I am doing shtick. Pun intended.
It just went downhill from there.
"It's the only STD test that actually does require a No. 2 pencil. You just have to shove it up your backside..."
The test kit consisted of a small vial with a screw-off cap with foil-seal top layer, and a cotton swap on a long wooden stick. The swab was still in its paper wrapper and she indicated to me how far it should be (ahem) inserted by placing her finger to a point along the shaft. My eyes nearly popped out of my head and I clearly registered alarm.
"Are you kidding me?" (I had the presence of mind, at least, not to ask if she were "shitting" me.)
She clued in. "No! NO! The cotton is on this end! Just an inch!"
"I was thinking, for fuck's SAKE!"
"Okay, there is some glycerin in the test tube and you can dip in it there first. I hear it makes it much more pleasant... I say as if I have not done this too. Now it's very important that you screw the cap on and off carefully. Do not break the foil."
"Oh, so I don't stick the stick into the vial through the foil like it's a juice box."
"No. This is not a Capri Sun."
"Honey, if I go in there and come out with a Capri Sun, I've got much bigger problems. And those require much more expensive tests."
Ultimately I went to the men's room to take my sample. (Yeah, I know, ew. Grow up for God's sakes. This is being an adult.) My primary complaint was that there was no place to hang my coat. Bigger ew.
I returned my tube to the lab. And I'll tell you it's an awkward feeling to walk into a room and talk to people who are fully aware that you've just walked out of another room where you were sticking something up your butt.
I'm just sayin'.
I entered the lab and she asked (somewhat obviously) "All done?"
"Yes, but I don't think it respects me anymore."
"Don't think it will call you?"
"Well, it told me it loved me but I don't think it really meant it... Sluttly little swab."
"It was partly my fault I guess. I suppose if I didn't want it I wouldn't have dressed this way."