There was a carnival at the finish of the gay pride parade. Some speeches, some food. There was a tent offering free cheek swab AIDS tests.
Surprisingly it was a popular attraction.
Was this the place you want to find out? I guess they have cancer and cholesterol screening at carnivals, which is comparable, but at least you find out the results long after you’ve digested your churro, not while in the middle of eating it.
“Tracey, why don’t you go get tested?”
Why did Callie say that? She knew that the mere mention of the thought of a glimmer of a chance I had any disease would send me into an anxiety spiral.
She also knew I gave blood all the time. I could be tested and self-servingly philanthropic at once. I would freak out days after each donation; sure, that each phone call was the Red Cross calling with bad news.
Over the years Callie had been amused by my irrational and unsubstantiated health-related meltdowns. Like the time I was seventeen and sure I was pregnant.
“What am I going to do with my baby!?” I cried during my dinner break at the county fair where I worked the lemonade stand and she worked the fried dough shack.
Sure, I was a virgin, and the act in question was some tame dry humping the evening before, but I am the master of the crazy.
I’m pretty sure asking if I wanted to take an AIDS test held the same sadistic entertainment for her as once upon a time telling me I was probably pregnant and better get tested.
That Saturday in 1998 I wanted to stay in bed. Now, I wish I could go back in time and shame the brat who didn’t want to come out from under the covers and spend the day honoring all who were brave enough to come out of the closet.
That and to go back even further to tell a seventeen-year-old virgin to not even think about wasting her lemonade stand money on a pregnancy test.