Even advice columnists were naive once

LaRue for the Lovelorn

Posted: Thursday, November 04, 2004

Got a problem with your love life? Ask LaRue for advice at asklarue@hotmail.com

I'm about to make light of a serious subject, but bear with me. There is a point to it.

So I'm all of 18 years old and I'm in college at the time of this great adventure, fresh out of my parents' protective bosom. I meet a boy. He's handsome. A fellow theater major. And he makes my heart go WOOOWEE. I'm crazy for this fella, right, and I think, "Oh, LaRue. This could be the one!"

I think this until I see Mr. Wonderful sucking face with my friend ERIC at a party.

Some say I should have known by his penchant for musicals or the fact that, ya know, he had dated boys before. But I say, hey, I'm an equal opportunity lover and the heart wants what the heart wants. So what if he wanted to wear my dresses on occasion? He's hot!

Anyhoot, I'm of course crushed and do the only thing a strong, independent girl of 18 can do in this situation: I call my mom.

"Momisawjovonkissingthisboyericandhowcouldhedothattomeiwascrazyabouthimand ... ."

Loosely translated, "Mom, I got the broken heart and I want sympathy."

But the wires got crossed somewhere in all the weeping and all she heard was.

"He kissed a boy? You mean he's gay! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO YOUR FATHER AND I! You could get the AIDS. I saw it on the Dateline."

Now to be fair, my mother is a VERY open-minded woman and does not normally make broad generalizations about anyone, whatever their sexual preference.

But this was her baby we were talking about. This was also at a time, when people, even wonderfully intelligent women like my mother, knew very little about HIV and AIDS. Homosexuals were wrongly, very wrongly, being blamed for it. Incidentally, I can't say with any certainty that this news item actually appeared on the television news show Dateline. My guess is it didn't, but at the time my mother watched a lot of Dateline and attributed many of her facts to it. If she thought monkeys floated on the moon, chances are she'd say she'd heard it on "the Dateline." This was at a time when there was a lot of fear.

A lot of fear that led to a lot of misconceptions and to one of the most humiliating experiences of my life.

So after my mother stopped crying she told me I must go get an HIV test pronto. Now, at my college the only place to go and get such a test was Planned Parenthood. Great. I was raised Catholic and, other than not eating meat on Friday's during Lent, they drummed it into us at school that Planned Parenthood was bad. For whatever reason, I didn't even know, it was just bad and we should never go there. So, now, I'm on my way there saying a steady stream of Hail Marys hoping the clinic doesn't get bombed while I'm in there and I die in the place.

I'll skip ahead.

I'm in the clinic filling out a form about my sexual history (short list for me at the time) and I have no idea what half the questions even mean. I've given a fake name which the nurse has to call three times until I realize she's talking about me. I go into the room where the test is to take place and there sitting before me is the counselor I'm supposed to tell all my most intimate secrets to. He looks like he stepped off the cover of GQ.

So, Studley Doright starts asking me why I'm there. I immediately start crying and blabbering about how I met this boy who kissed another boy and I really liked him and sure maybe I should have known he was gay by the pictures of Judy Garland on his wall but I hardly thought I deserved seeing him kiss a boy and now my mom - cause she saw the Dateline - wants me to have an AIDS test and I'm Catholic so this is very hard for me and had they received any bomb threats lately.

He looked at me sympathetically and said he understood and would be gentle. So he asked the first logical question I had heard since the whole debacle began.

"How many times did you and this boy have unprotected sex?"


"We didn't have sex."

"Oh. OK. Well did you have oral sex."

"OH GOOD LORD NO! MY GOD MAN! I'm a virgin." What did this cute creep take me for anyway.

"Did you share a needle?" He was grabbing at anything at this point.

"I certainly did not. I don't do drugs."

He was sincerely flummoxed.

"Why are you here?"

"We, we, we, kissed." tears again

He tried really hard not to laugh. And needless to say after he explained to me that we would have had to exchange about a gallon of spit between us (and no even if you kissed a lot it's still not gallons) even then it wouldn't really be a threat.

Here's what I learned from that ordeal. The most dangerous disease is fear and fear often stems from the things we don't know. The things we don't have the facts about. After that, I made it my business to know. I looked on the Internet. I asked doctors. I read pamphlets. I get tested every six months. It's scary for sure.

But not as scary as thinking the AIDS boogeyman is waiting for you behind every kiss or hand you hold. It's not as scary as what happens when we fear people who have a different lifestyle. So kids, moral of the story, get tested and take a step toward finding the cure for fear.

Got a problem with your love life? Ask LaRue for advice at asklarue@hotmail.com

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