Last year my partner announced to me that I had herpes. "Look" she said, pointing downwards in the general direction of, er, well you know, "You've got Herpes".
(For younger readers, Herpes is thing that people used to get before really serious killer diseases came along, stuff that kills you, or at the very least makes bits fall off. For older readers of a gentle disposition, look away now, we're not going to be concentrating solely on facial cold sores.. )
Sure enough, there was a small red mark on the affected, er, region, and I stuttered that I didn't have any idea what it was.
"You've got Herpes" she repeated helpfully, not expanding on the hidden subtext that suggests one has been playing away from home. Which one hadn't.
We were standing in a bedroom in Paris, me examining myself, she repeating the mantra "You've got Herpes". Paris wasn't quite as romantic that visit.
Back in the UK, I went for a test, which amounted to nothing as the small mark had all but gone. The doc assured me, without even examining me, that all was well. "You don't have Herpes" he said, slightly less dramatically than the partner's affirmed statement.
Back home, my partner declared resolutely "You've got herpes". This didn't really help. But we managed to amble along for a while without discussing it or, ahem, bringing the subject up.
So a full year later, a little lesion appears and I shoot off to the clinic, the Sexual Health Centre and I am attended to immediately. A very gay man takes me into a consulting room where there is a woman sitting, a female colleague who's come to watch. I am slightly flushed.
We discuss what's happened and he says I almost certainly don't have Herpes but I need to be examined. I drop my trousers and, er, undergarments, and he examines me closely, rolling me around in his fingers like a rissole with potatoes (attached). The woman comes forward for a closer view, takes her glasses off, and studies me intently. With my help they eventually find the tiny lesion and we return to something approaching normality as I am allowed to pull my clothes back on. We don't discuss the fact that I've just let a gay man play around with my undercarriage (he actually used the word 'kit') while a not unattractive woman homes in for a closer look. I am still slightly flushed.
I agree that I should have the full monty, a Herpes test and everything else thrown in, syphillis, gonorrhea, HIV and myxomatosis, which I may have caught from my partner's rabbit. In the meantime he suggests that I don't have Herpes at all. "If you've got anything," he says, "It's Herpes One." I can hear the partner now "You've got....etc" and he explains that herpes down there (Herpes Two) is definitely NOT what I've got and Herpes One, the one that produces cold sores around the mouth is what I may have, if anything at all. It amounts to zilch but will be enough for the partner to make her declaration.
I have to give samples and am ushered into another room where there is a nurse standing. A very attractive blonde nurse who is alone. With me. And we discuss right away, sex, and my 'kit' and my sexual history, and activity. and what has happened and she asks me to strip and she plays around with me and she takles a swab sample and I am going RED. There is a RED ALERT and I'm thinking 'this is all my partner's fault'. And then I get to put my trousers back on and turn a slightly less red shade of skin colour. And then she explains to me how I might have got Herpes One where Herpes Two is normally found and we discuss for a few moments Oral Sex and I'm all sweaty......aaaaargh!
I give the other samples and am sent on my way, having just been handled by a gay man and a very attractive blonde.
Not a bad day all round when you add it all up. Plus I don't appear to have anything.
"Not even Herpes!"