[how Benedict F. Fanon became HIV negative, a brief recap, 2nd installment]
Now, to put the record straight, I love my private physician, he is excellent, great, a combination of affability, honesty and professionalism that always puts me at ease an makes me feel whole and sane after leaving his private practice. And even the one time that I had an HIV/AIDS test done at his lab, I was fine with him but there was just this minute glitter of reproach in his eyes when he told me that it would be better to practice safe sex in the future. I mean, he was perfectly talking in my interest and not at all being an ass about it but [at least in my mind] I saw a tiny shimmer of reproach and that reproach was reflected inside myself: how could I have done this to me? So I just didn’t want to go there for a second test because to commit a mistake once is one thing but not to learn from it and do it over again is…. tragic, the essence of tragedy. I don’t want my doctor to think of me as one of those figures in a Greek play whose life comes to naught due to the rigidity of my psych profile, is the truth.
Thus I decided on the tip given me by a friend: Virolytica. A lab just slightly outside of town where there is a bit more anonymity, where the rent costs a bit less. Luckily, just a 5minute bike ride from where we live. After putting the thing off again and again, trying to rejoice in the ignorance of my status the way I had back when I was a single, I finally got my guts up to go and hopped on my Specialized. It was raining canines and felines but I was so focused on the task ahead that I didn’t even symbolically pry this apart the way I usually would, I wasn’t thinking of ritual cleansing or anything!
The building was a perfectly sterile, small-commerce block with a fitness center in the front. I tried to figure out if and how that could be ironical, something about ‘the body at war’ but was unable to clarify that line of thinking any further. As it turned out, the laboratory was neither par terre nor on any of the upper floors but in the first basement floor, which convinced me further of my hypothesis that HIV/AIDS is a somewhat surreptitious affair in these parts, subterranean even. Why, if you’ve had the audacity of lowering yourself to have an u.s.e [possibly even go down on someone] then, by gosh, you should also have the humility to go down, head bent for forgiveness, to the 1st basement floor, no? The symbolic logic is impeccable. But I didn’t, I went in head held high with a prominent smile to make my message clearly understood: one’s HIV/AIDS status should be no taboo. And this attitude [what was I expecting] naturally was reciprocated by the two staff in attendance.
A female laboratory operator took charge of me, giving me the form to fill out and telling me where to sit my ass down to wait. Not only could one choose a sort of HIV-status nom de plume, one could also choose the option that it wouldn’t be ones private physician who would inform one of the results but instead a staff from AIDS-assistance Republic of S.. So much for my theory.
Shortly the lab lady invited me over into the examination room with its huge, comfortable leather chair, which is a sort of recompense for the obligatory discomfort of the needle prick. Personally, I like to watch how the needle, this sharp shaft of steel, penetrates my skin. There is the odd fascination of guessing how much “pain” it will cause and of seeing an absolutely foreign object violate the boundaries of my self, even if only in the most harmless form. What was much more stimulating than the needle entering my left forearm was the almost manic, ebullient small talk issuing from the laboratory professional. She was conversing with a liveliness that seemed to suggest that she was overeager about putting me at ease with the whole situation, taking an HIV/AIDS test and whatnot but didn’t realize that her mile-a-minute babble conveyed just about the opposite: that here, with blood shooting forth into the underpressured vial and her yapperlapapp, we were moving along the very edges of sanity. So instead I looked at the blood to see if it looked somewhat ‘tainted’ or anything, which it didn’t, which didn’t at all reassure me.
– But you and your siblings and your family, you used to live in the Mount Brahm neighborhood, right?
Caught completely off guard I agree hesitatingly. My gaze has split in two directions at once: outwards I am trying to identify her features more closely, inwards I am trying to match it against a memory from those early childhood days when I was only just being bussed to and from kindergarten in that wilderness called “down town”. But given my awful memory, I can’t match anything and tell the lab lady so.
– Well, we used to be your next house neighbours. We had, we have two daughters: Cyril and Sabine. We were living just up the street from you.
– Yes, yes, now I recall.
Which, by that time, I did, in a state of mild horrification. I hadn’t seen this woman in 25 years and could only imagine what was going through her mind: how quickly time passes, one day you’re watching them learning to ride a bike, the next, you’re giving them an injection for an HIV/AIDS test. Henriette B., she said, as though I might go and add her to my facebook friends list, which, despite her politeness, I most definitely wasn’t. Nevertheless, we had a merry little time of catching up, in as far as one can catch up 25 years in 5 minutes.
[image from http://images2.layoutsparks.com/1/191999/bloody-syringe-red-blood.jpg]