The Visit

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It must seem to my regular readers that I spend most of my time getting medical practitioners to look at my lady bits. I can categorically tell you that this is not the case, however, if it makes you feel better about getting your own private parts checked out, then so be it.

I’ve heard that HIV is on the rise again in young, gay men and although I myself am clearly not a young, gay man, I’m well aware that we are all at risk and that I’m not immune just because I’m a heterosexual female. I also know that it isn’t just HIV that we should be protecting ourselves from either: there are 27 different types of STI that are waiting to latch onto our genitals, so it really is worth spending the time using protection and getting checked out, however old you are and however many sexual partners you’ve had.

If you’re under 18 and reading this, then I can understand that STIs might still be a little bit taboo for your age range. When I was at school, anyone who took a trip to the clinic was there primarily to collect a ton of condoms to throw around in class and if you were caught coming out of one, it was immediately assumed that your knob had fallen off. If, however, you’re old and ugly enough to take responsibility for your dental hygiene and general health, then there’s no excuse for neglecting yourself from the waist down; you should be leading the younger generation by example.

It dawned on me recently that I hadn’t had a test since 2009. Shameful. Four years, and a few sexual partners later, I could have caught something and have passed it onto a bedtime buddy already. A quick debrief of my sexual encounters would tell you that it was highly unlikely that I’d have contracted anything from a list of bright, well brought up, good looking and charming university graduates (not) but it’s not as clear cut as having chocolate on your chin: sometimes it’s too dark or I was too drunk and just because you’re called Harry doesn’t mean you don’t have Herpes. So I took the plunge and got myself booked in last week.

My clinic is the sexual health hub of West London and had been a haunt for most of my health conscious friends and boyfriends growing up, but I hadn’t visited the place in years. And you know what? Not much had changed. The same hushed waiting room was still there: rows of chairs filled with people avoiding eye contact at all costs, an old radio playing the same tracks from 2006 and as I was visiting so close to the festive season, a comforting array of washed out tinsel was strewn decadently about the room. Something that had changed however, was my attitude to getting this done. Instead of feeling ashamed or embarrassed, I felt proud of myself and of the people around me; I’d had a bikini wax and was ready to take on the swab. I did still want to be invisible however, so when I sneezed and a guy said “Bless you”. I thought, “Dude, we’re not waiting for a bus here. I’m trying my very best to be as discrete as possible so could you please just not”.

This was all quickly forgotten when I was told by the nurse that swabs were a DIY job these days. I could’ve jumped on her I was so relieved – and I’m really not that shy about my vagina – so hopefully this will encourage those of you who are a little anxious, to take the leap. If, by some chance, some clinics do ask you to drop your pants, please don’t panic; it really isn’t that bad and it will be over really, really quickly. And to those guys who think they have it worse when it comes to sexual health screenings: woman up. It’s a cotton bud, not a machine gun.

My brother and his mates used to visit the clinic together for moral support. Afterwards, they’d treat themselves to a Nando’s for being so brave. I don’t care what it takes to get yourself checked out; whether you want to have sex with your girlfriend without a condom or if you need to justify getting your Peri-Peri fix that week, make like Nike and just do it. Remember that those who are there to assist you have seen a lot worse (confirmed when my gyno made a cameo appearance treating genital warts on Embarrassing Bodies a while back) while those who are waiting to be seen are only there to look after themselves, just like you.

Yes, it’s embarrassing when you’re about to show your foof to a complete stranger or when you’re asked a long list of questions about your sex life but it really is so important to make sure you’re clean as more serious diseases are found in young people today. Oh, and a little FYI: never respond with “erm… I tried it once but stopped because it hurt” when asked if you’ve had anal sex during your health questionnaire; the nurse is trying to figure out if you’ve been exposed to potential risks, not whether you’re an experimental lover. Just a little heads up, this definitely didn’t happen to me…

I received my “all-clear” text just this morning and I can tell you that the relief of that message far outweighs the 60 seconds of embarrassment in that nurse’s office or the scratch of the needle from a blood test.

Drop your trousers and get it checked.

All of you.

The Hangover

So I woke up on Sunday morning with no headache, panda eyes or need to be sick. Instead, I woke up with an overriding sense of guilt, embarrassment and stupidity. The mother of all hangovers.

You’d rightfully assume that I’d text somebody I shouldn’t have, as did I, so the first thing I did was to check my sent items. Empty. Next was my twitter and even facebook feed. Nothing. And then it dawned on me. I had an argument with one of my best friends, leaving in a huff without my shoes and for no good reason at all. These are the nights you will sadly remember, with the people you don’t want to forget.

This culmination is a rarity in my drunken life. I am a nice drunk, a happy drunk, a pleasure to be around. Or am I? It seems as though everyone assumes that they’re a barrel of laughs after a few glasses of wine, but I’ve always believed that your attitude after dark, all depends what’s gone on during the day and sometimes, the tequila haze squiffs your memory of how well you behaved on the dancefloor.

Speaking of which, it’s been a long time since I’ve woken up feeling stupid. Let’s say roughly six months (basically, however long it’s been since I graduated on that sunny day in July). During my university years, waking up next to my housemate’s cheese, various messages of ‘LOL’ and embarrassing stories were just part of a night out. We’d all congregate the morning after on the stairs outside the bathroom, inform one another of how many jaagerbombs we’d managed to bolt, how many guys we’d kissed and try to work out whose knickers had been left on the sofa. We’d then hang our heads in shame; head to McDonald’s searching for a cure and then repeat the following evening. We wouldn’t think twice about what crimes we’d committed the night before. Instead, we’d laugh and repeat. Four times a week.

Now that I’ve left the shire, it has somehow become less acceptable to run through the streets chanting crude verse, drinking six shots of tequila and snogging your best mate for a laugh. Despite being far more unknown in the big city, you just feel a little bit stupid running around in a toga. But why? Surely the limitation to only a weekend’s worth of drinking should mean that we go even more mental than we did during those three years? But it doesn’t. Instead, we all seem to have grown up a little. Until the next reunion that is.

But despite being happy about being freed from that oh so special need to retreat back under the duvet, is it so bad that I’m craving a night of guilt-free debauchery where the VIP area is accessed exclusively by an expired student card?

The train to Exeter leaves in an hour.

I’ll pack the Neurofen.

The Drink.

What is it about going for a drink that is just so much better than dinner?

Whether it’s a first date or a final date, a gin and tonic or a cold peroni is always better than munching on a salad or a burger. It’s obviously because it takes the edge off, but the only problem is, in this day and age, nobody really goes out for just the one. When you propose to go out for drinks, we are all now prepared for the worst. Girls must always bring ample make up in order to make the transition from ‘after work drinks’ to party time in Shoreditch and guys must always opt for shoes rather than trainers, just in case.

And with all this drunkenness flying about, anything can happen. You can drop a glass, poke your date in the eye, fall over and the ‘going-home-together’ rate sky rockets. Albeit slightly risky, some drinks dates can end up in two people being far more honest than they would normally be with the person sitting opposite them, resulting in something that neither might have expected.

The only problem is, when you finally meet up with them sober, their cute drunken behaviour might actually turn out to be a reality… I think the hilarity of a drunken date however, is well worth the risk. Keep knocking back those southern comforts because even if it’s not fun for you, for those of us at the next table who are partially sober, it really is a treat.

And anyway, the next round’s on me…

The Gold Rush

As I celebrated my 22nd birthday on Saturday evening in a lovely pub surrounded by friends, I was informed of a little something that guys at university have thought up at a time when I really thought it couldn’t get any worse. They have coined a new phrase: “The Gold Rush”.

You know the feeling when you’ve sat through your final seminar and you start to see light at the end of the tunnel and think about all the fun that is to ensue post-exams? Me too. However, I have been looking forward to not studying, sunbathing and taking part in all day and all night drinking once again. I guess people had other ideas about their final term at university. Guys across the country have apparently labelled the final forthcoming summer term celebrations as, “The Gold Rush”. They’re basically referring to themselves finally seeking out the girls that they’ve always wanted to (for want of a better word) shag and, well, shagging them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all up for a little summer loving but I just cannot for the life of me understand why these guys think it will be any easier for them to score with the girl that they haven’t got with because of a little bit of sunshine if they’ve been trying for the last three years? Maybe if you stopped naming having sex with someone, you might be more successful?

I, for one, will be steering clear of anyone who looks like an eager pioneer this summer. And girls, so should you.

Final note: To the guys who “invented” this apparently seasonal affair: It’s available all year round. If you have the chat, that is.