Prophylactics prevent penile pain

by Dave Roberts

Out of consideration for those of you who may be reading this over a meal, I would suggest you skip this article until you’ve sufficiently digested everything before venturing any further. Those readers with weak hearts or delicate constitutions in general may wish to avoid it entirely. Still with me? Okay, but don’t say you weren’t warned. I went to get an STD test recently. Yeah, I know, I’m a big dirty ho-bag. Seriously though: It was unlikely but, given the occasional questionable choices in companionship I’ve made at the end of more than one alcohol-soaked evening over the years, not outside the realm of possibility that there might be some nasty little critter with an intimidatingly long name creeping around down there, so just in case I decided to get the full battery. Afterwards I had an epiphany: Forget about abstinence-only education and telling kids they’re going to burn in hell for all eternity if they let the naughty parts do what naughty parts like to do outside of deity-sanctioned marriage. I can probably head off a whole lot of unwanted pregnancies and burning sensations for thousands of impressionable teenagers just by describing the procedure. For you sensible and sober readers out there with sufficient morals and restraint enough that you’ve never had a reason to get a gonorrhea/chlamydia test, it goes something like this: the doctor takes a swab and – after apologizing profusely in advance and trying not to wince as he does it – inserts it three centimeters into your urethra, which is even more painful than it sounds. Three centimeters doesn’t seem like a lot (or anything really when you’re used to inches and feet and have no mental feel for the metric system, as I used to before getting the test) but it’s about the diameter of a half-dollar, the length of a cigarette butt, the circumference of a dry-erase marker. Googling it told me that it’s also the body length of your standard yellow-jacket wasp, which is appropriate since that’s about what the swab feels like when it’s inside you. Once the doctor has it up there, and providing you haven’t passed out, he has to (I assume he has to; he’d damn well better have had to, with no other possible worldly option available) rotate it, and then leave it in for the longest five seconds of your life. I’ve had chronic nerve pain for half my life because of an enzyme deficiency that in effect is similar to having arthritis in all the joints in my body. Until it was diagnosed and properly medicated when I was 21 (it’s very rare and way down on the list of things doctors think of when they encounter someone with severe joint pain) I was stricken in agony every time a storm front approached. One night during a particularly vicious episode when I was an undergrad I consciously and with much deliberation beforehand chose to wet the bed for the first time in over a decade, much to the understandable chagrin of my roommate, because it was far preferable to the extreme discomfort it would have taken to drag myself to the bathroom and back. Having a Q-tip unceremoniously shoved up the holiest of holes made me wistfully nostalgic for that night. I would rather be on the receiving end of a shark attack than go through that again. I would rather be mounted by a gorilla with no appreciation for the subtleties of foreplay and no inclination to cuddle afterwards or even buy me dinner than endure that test even one more time. Ironically, while I had no physical symptoms beforehand, it stung like hell every time I went to the bathroom for the next 24 hours. Why, oh why for the love off all that’s good and right in the world, you may well be asking yourself, am I bringing your lunch back up for revenge by detailing this awful and thoroughly jarring event? The answer is simple: I’m doing it for the children. If even one teenager is horrified enough by my tale of weenie woe to take the proper precautions against those diseases, and the far more serious HIV and hepatitis, not to mention the lifelong condition of involuntary parenthood, then maybe it will have been worth it. They should describe this test in graphic detail, with color pictures or preferably video, alternating close-ups with reaction shots of the test subject’s clenched face, in every sex-ed class in America. It is my hope that the prevalence of teen pregnancy and HIV infection would plummet, but I’m also aware that very little can dissuade teenagers from having sex, given the opportunity. If you’re listening, teenage Triadians, at the very least use a condom; for the love of God use a condom. Incidentally, I’m clean on all counts.

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