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Card Warp and the Seven Year Itch

June 8, 2011

Get ready for seven years worth of too much information crammed into an autobiographical note concerning this last week or as I call it, card warp and the seven year itch. Like the media wanting their next boldly ironic story, I’ve got an itch to scratch.

While waiting on my prescription at the Howard Brown Center I noticed a peculiar man speaking at the desk, “Tell them they have to call [the day before] to remind me about my next [therapy] appointment.” Here I sit; here he comes. His name is Duffen. “You want to see a magic trick?” I answer, “sure.” He says something like, betcha this doesn’t happen often, to which I reply, “Actually, this is probably about the third or fourth time in the last year that a complete stranger has walked up and offered to show me a trick.”

Anthony Weiner's business is blown out of proportion.

With all the spectacle in the news this week, I can’t help but wonder how a little, humble life like mine fits into such a highly regarded tapestry. I mean, with all the important news taking spotlight such as the Sarah Palin/Paul Revere tour and Anthony Weiner’s Weener being slung around how can any headlines hope to compete?

I shan’t even try but nonetheless, following Weiner’s style I feel compelled to put it out there. Last week on Wednesday before winding up at Howard Brown, I decided to do a little two birds with one stone investigating. Shortly after my 30th birthday I got an awful itch under my skin, quite literally. At first, this rash was small and mostly on one side of my stomach but after about a week it started claiming its territory. I rationalized, considering all truths and possibilities inluding the common heat rash, shingles, reviewed images and descriptions of STI’s, you know, enjoyable homework. More than anything, this break out made me recall a previous trip to the medical center when I attended the University of Memphis. My body had had an allergic reaction to a new detergent; however, I didn’t know this and neither did my practicioner.

What is the next target for the Palin tour?

Palin's next tour target impossible to determine.

During the gunpoint examination I was asked a number of questions regarding my behaviors one of which concerned “recently changed detergent” to which I answered yes. Yet, the question of obvious gravity came up after I was aksed, “Are you sexually active?” “Yes I am.” Responding openly and honestly to “with men or with women” changed the entire disposition of the clip-board lady in question. “With men,” I answered. “Oh,” her face dropped noticeably “well, have you been tested for HIV?” My heart stopped as if at gunpoint. “No,” I replied very stricken with newfound doubt. I had been pretty promiscous from my own understanding of partner count but I also read enough to know about then “safe sex” and considered myself at low to minimal risk. Long story short, convinced by her severity I got an HIV test which the lab somehow lost leaving me in two very dark weeks. I wasn’t one to miss class and yet during this time I truly believed they had my results, I was positive and they didn’t want to break the news. At the lowest point, I was bedridden for three days only getting up to vomit and occassionally eat a saltine cracker or two which was all I could keep down. Managing to make it in to see the dean, Bob Heatherington and explain my absense, he offered comforting counsel and a friend’s number who was living with HIV. Thank you for that moment Bob. Finally, I got the call to “come in” and I knew that was it. A nurse delivered the news, “you’re o.k.” and I immediately collapsed into tears while she held my head pressed against her stomach. In the end, my mind made me sick. Now, back to the investigation.

Originally I had made an appointment with a local clinic while a gracious receptionist told me about a GLBT youth resource that would see me for free. Thinking back to my college days lead me to check this place out. Typically, they only see people under 25 years old but thankfully I took a suggestion to lie about my age. The practicioner was a lovely, friendly woman and the place ran rather well from what I could tell. When I got in the room, I sat and explained I had diagnosed myself with scabies or Sarcoptes scabiei, occasionally and colloquially called the seven year itch. She listened as I explained my symptoms, all of which lined up with my theory with the exception of the non-linear lines of what I perceived as “bites.” We agreed it best to test for syphillius and gonerhea, chlamydia and HIV while I was there (as I typically do once a year, since the first scare). Permethrin was prescribed and off I went to Howard Brown.

“You like that one? That one’s called the card warp,” me new acquaintance explained after having finished a front side back side illusion that left me tickled and pleased. As we waited we got to talking briefly and he shared part of his life including the fact that he had performed for many famous people including Justin Timberlake and Bjork. “She loved my magic and she ate my mash potatoes.” “Wow,” I said, “I just love her music.” “Nick Taylor,” the clerk called. The man gave me his card and we wished one another well and I went on my way to cleaning the carpet, washing the laundry and all the other needed cleansing tasks.

One week has passed and I still feel in the dark. Where the seven year itch is concerned, sometimes two weeks can pass before the symptoms settle. Nonetheless, I feed my own suffering. I wonder if I have been misdiagnosed or if I could have some eczema rash or a mild form of psoriasis caused by heightened levels of stress or, in other words, if once again my mind is making me sick. Much to my dismay, I’ll probably end up with some overpriced medical bill to find out just that. Two weeks will tell. One down, one to go.

We as people continually allow our own shame, guilt, or severe stress to manifest into something that affects our physical body. At least Catholics have confession as some form of self-healing and even our politicians are learning not to lie about their weeners. How do I fit into this week’s news worthy news? Well, I’d call it a transparent fit. While I may not like the fact that so many people subscribe to following Palin around in her Ameripimp Bus it has brought some common sense light into the media. When faced with the truth, Weiner finally admitted to his faults while Palin stood by her remarks that almost all news coverage reveres as laughable.

In this day I want truth. I want to face the truth about what is wrong in my life, what is wrong with our political leaders and what is wrong with our world. In facing these truths we can all see that the “wrong” is simply judgement from our self-imposed status quo. While Weiner’s conduct may not receive applause I doubt it inhibited his performance as a Rep. for New York. And while most know and say Palin “got the story wrong” the more pressing matter is that she failed to own her mistake. The long and short of both these stories is that a man choosing to be honest suffers political attack while a woman embracing flagrant spin gets more attention than she deserves. We witness time and time again people that will not only lie to us but to themselves to avoid an embarrassing reality.

To those who follow politicians blindly, don’t be so rash.

With greater transparency we will all be able to see through these illusions on into the next seven years without an itch to scratch.

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