Sexual promiscuity

Unintended consequences

Unintended consequences 

None of this promiscuity, however, was without other unintended yet completely innocent consequences. At least two of us ended up with a case of HPV or genital warts.

The farmer’s daughter also had oral cold sores, otherwise known euphemistically at that time as “the kissing disease,” but better known now to be the Herpes Type 1 virus…which she was good enough to share with me. Call it by any other name; it’s still just a  sexually transmitted salivary venereal disease of the oral vermicular.

The problem with venereal disease is that like any highly communicable disorder, even the common cold, it spreads by geometric multiplication. It is only linear, for example, if a man goes to a prostitute or a mistress, gets something he then gives to his faithful wife, in which case the train stops at that terminal. Usually so does the marriage. But this was an era when the worst of the STDs was still not enough to kill you and, in most cases, was easily curable. If not, they were simply common “ho-hum” nuisances with little or no attached social stigma. Even the cold sore did not have a known etiology, much less knowledge of how easily it could be transmitted. At the same time a wart was simply that: a wart. So what?

But if the 1960s had been the era of not so free love, it was soon supplanted by the 1970s being the era of crass, casual promiscuity. Nobody knew then that HPV is associated with causing cervical cancer. At the same time nobody really paid much attention to any of the STDs until the early 1980s when having Herpes Type 2 or the genital variety became a widely advertised social stigma, a stigma soon to be dwarfed by the appearance of the potentially lethal HIV virus. HPV and HSV should have been a warning that viral VD was replacing bacterial VD and that unlike bacteria, viruses not only do not respond to antibiotics, but also have a nasty knack of being able to permanently insert themselves into the human genome.

That fact, along with the sudden appearance of the super venereal viruses helped to usher in the 1980s as an era of renewed sexual sobriety and gave great credence to Talmudic scholars who in pointing to the traditional religious proscriptions against fornication had warned the world for centuries as they autistically rocked back and forth in their libraries. Or in taking it directly to the Wailing Wall, they might perseverate as they autistically beat their heads with the holy books or beatific bricks:

  • I told ya so, I told ya so, I told ya so, I told ya so.

I only got “the clap,” once, from a very promiscuous nurse when I was a Resident. She had let it be known that she was on a mission to screw every house officer in the hospital, to wit every house officer in the hospital seemed more than willing to sign on to help her accomplish this odyssey. When it abruptly became symptomatic, I knew at once why they called gonorrhea “the clap.” Whenever I tried to pee, without any premonitory warning it was so horribly painful it I stood straight up on my toes like a ballerina on point, only then to segue immediately into a crude version of Flamenco. I was clomping around in my clogs, holding my hands high over my head, slapping my palms together, clenching my teeth and whining through a sheepish grimace. It also left me with a residual urethral stricture that to this day sometimes causes me to pee with a forked stream reminiscent of the forked tongue lies I had told to put myself in this payback circumstance I so well deserved in the first place.

The Urologist who treated me found the whole thing professionally amusing, adding that if all I got was a stricture, I should consider myself to be lucky and then refused to fix it. He said the cure could be worse than a problem that would serve as a permanent reminder of my wayward habits anyway.

  • White man pee with forked stream. Ha, ha.

You would think that would have taught me the lesson that even nice people can get VD…but no. By the time I had married for the second time in my late fifties and estimate I had sex with perhaps fifty or so “nice” women, one of whom was even “nice” enough to generously share her type 2 genital variety of herpes. It may sound like promiscuity, but for the most part, except for a few insane or widely scattered sexual benders in the 1970s and 1980s, most of my relationships would still be categorized as sequentially monogamous. Some short. Some long. But always in a faithful sequence.

Magic Johnson and Long John Holmes, the former having survived HIV and the later who died of it, who each admitted to having sex with 3000 women or more, would come to serve society as more permanent reminders, as well as being unfortunate yet unwilling icons, of the Golden Age of Sexual Promiscuity.

My brother once told me I was lucky that my dick hadn’t developed gangrene and fallen off. His statement harbored a combination of satire, envy, and truth as well as a premonitory HIV vision of a deadly future to come.

He said:

  • Watch out, Al. If you keep this up you’re going to come down with a bad case of the Faccala.
  • The Faccala? What the hell is that?
  • It’s a VD you can get when you indiscriminately fuck the fish in the fish tank. It started in Rome in 49 B.C. That’s why the Italians dry the things out and salt ‘em down before they eat them at Christmas. “

Don’t give a dose

To the one you love most

(Social Proverb)





Women: Woe-to-men

Women: Woe-to-men 

When I was twenty-one
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for city girls
Who lived up the stairs
With all that perfumed hair
And it came undone
When I was twenty-one

(It Was a Very Good Year: Ervin Drake)

My social life at medical school was a monument to heartbreak, lust, lasciviousness and casual indifference. Chalk it up to youth, arrogance or simply a single-minded ambition to succeed at a career, while first leaving any other ancillary part of life to be last.Doctors, in general, are good at this approach to life, which probably accounts for their extremely high divorce and suicide rates.

When I arrived at school, I was still dating the egg farmer’s daughter but became smitten by a stunningly beautiful, exceptionally sweet woman of Norwegian descent who had the uniquely unusual combination of jet-black hair and deep blue eyes.

I met her at a party that I was reluctantly dragged to by George, a Chinese student in my dorm who had come from the University of Minnesota.  Although I was not in a party mood, he said he knew some girls from back home who were working in Boston and wanted me to meet them.

George had the interesting distinction of having made his tuition money by working on Alaska King Crab fishing boats. Despite the fact of this being considered one of the world’s most dangerous jobs, George said the worst part after having survived the raging seas on the fishing trip; was then having to fight off the snarling fangs of wild Alaskan dogs when walking home. He said the trick was to wrap your left arm in a thick towel, then hold it out for the dog to grab. After the dog took the baited arm, you then killed the dog by slitting its throat open with the heavy fish filet knife you kept in your right hand. Jim Bowie didn’t even have it that bad when he explored the North American wilderness.

When I met this woman,  we had such an immediate rapport that although not sleeping together until a few weeks later, we did spend the entire weekend at the apartment where the party had been held. However, it must have been a bad omen for the future of the relationship because my Italian grandmother died that weekend; leaving everyone at home was hot under the collar because I could not be located until the following Monday when I then heard the horribly tragic news.

Somehow, even though she was already cold and blue, according to some family members I had still managed to insult the old lady.

Can you believe it? Grandma died and nobody could find him.

  • Yeah. Poor grandma.
  • Right. He must think that being a prima donna medical student is more important than grandma dying.

It really didn’t matter. She was dead and had no money. Otherwise, the hypocrites would have used my absence  against me in the disposition of her Will. Aside from having to attend the funeral  I also had the unpleasant task of having to announce the death of our relationship to the farmer’s daughter I had left behind at home.

She did not take it well at first, but recovered quickly enough, started dating a Harvard student, moved to Boston and stayed in his apartment. She then tracked me down and we continued to periodically see each other when he was not around or away somewhere. She tried to tell me they were “just good friends,” but I wasn’t  that stupid. To me, it was just free pussy and her guilt or not was her own problem. In fact, they were lovers and later got married.

This was screwy. I was cheating on my new girlfriend with my old girlfriend who was cheating on her new boyfriend with her old boyfriend. To make matters worse, I had good reason to believe that my new girlfriend had sex with her old boyfriend one weekend when he came through town on his way to being shipped out to Viet Nam. She had ended their relationship before she moved to Boston but in holding out a bit of hopeful despair he had enlisted in the army. This is the desperate ploy of “maybe if you think I might die soon, you’ll be sorry and take me back.”

She told me she was letting him stay at her place for two or three days and was going to let him know about us as being more of a final, formal, definitive goodbye. Maybe I was paranoid or simply jealous, but I thought her bedsheets told a different tale when I snuck into her apartment the day he left after she went to work.

To me, they looked like the ones that medieval Royal families hang over the parapets to prove to the peasantry that the Princess and the Prince have indeed consummated their marriage.

I suppose for her it might have been the alternative age-old guilt trip played out as: “I do feel sorry for you and if you happen to die in the jungle you’ll have something nice to remember me by, but I really don’t love you anymore, so here is your good-bye fuck.”

Perhaps it was true. And perhaps not. It didn’t matter to an immature, jealous hypocrite, because not only was it all incredibly screwy but it was also hectically schizoid to say the least, as I began to forget what story I had told to whom or when. I was beginning to drive myself crazy by seeing one woman in Cambridge, then jumping on the MTA to run out to Brookline to see the other one; all on the same day while thinking I had to sexually satisfy them both. Big ego. Bigger sex drive. Big cheater. Bigger bastard.

This is where the cover-up excuse of having to study in the library had its greatest utility as it was also a time before cell phones, GPS devices or e-mail searches could easily ruin the best of alibis. But being in my prime, I could easily orgasm three or four times a day; leaving the only real issue my ability to keep my stories straight. Those were the days! Now I couldn’t get an erection even if I could find the little devil. But at least that keeps me out of potential trouble.

However, over the period of about a year my old girlfriend became more committed to her new boyfriend, then ended our affair when she announced their engagement; while over the same period I was completely trashing my relationship with my new girlfriend. My personality had combined cocky arrogance with condescendingly mean-spiritedness, all topped off with a tincture of casual indifference.

I thought that women were a dime a dozen and that if necessary, she could be easily replaced. However, in short order, I found out the hard way this was not to be the case when one dark, gloomy day in November she dumped me rather abruptly, almost to the day my grandmother had died the year before.

It had rained. Then it had poured.  Then came the great deluge; and when the flood finally receded, along came the great drought. Both women would probably have made wonderful wives and seemed on equal footing as potential soul mates. That was the problem: indecision. But trying to find replacements for either of them was virtually impossible because I had failed to realize that on the scale of one to ten, I had let go or lost two elevens.

Indecision, indifference and a bad personality had left me no better than a lonely Noah, grounded on the summit of Mt. Ararat, sitting at the tiller of a large barge that had become grounded.

Mathematically, trying to juggle two women at the same time computes to: Two minus two = None


It’s a lesson too late for the learnin’
Made of sand, made of sand
In the wink of an eye, my soul is turnin’
In your hand, in your hand.

Are you going away with no word of farewell?
Will there be not a trace left behind?
Well, I could have loved you better,
Didn’t mean to be unkind.
You know that was the last thing on my mind.

(Tom Paxton)