DOO-do-do-do-do-DO-do-DO … The obnoxious ring tone wakes me up. I glance at the clock on my nightstand: 8:15 a.m. Who the hell calls me at 8:15 a.m.? Obviously no one I know. I pick up my phone, silence it, and look at the caller ID: 405 area code. Must be a telemarketer. He leaves no message.
Getting ready for work, I remember that my cousin's area code is 405, and he lives in Oklahoma. It might've been him, but he usually leaves a voicemail, and the caller ID didn't say his name, like normal. I'm not too concerned, so I shrug it off and head for the office.
Two hours later my phone rings again, alerting the whole hive of cubicles. DOO-do-do-do-do-DO-do-DO … My cellmate Trina shoots me a glance. "Yes," I want to say, "I am that cool that I need the whole office to know I have a social life." It's not me she's mad at. The woman on the other side of our wall is almost never there to answer her phone, which explodes thrice daily into the chorus from "Poker Face."
It's the 405 number again, and this time I'm going to answer it. I silence the ringer and make for a neglected conference room. "Hello?"
"Homer?" His voice is mildly familiar. "It's Evan. I met you on Thursday night?"
Evan and I spent Thursday night having repeated drunken sex in his hotel room, and now he thinks I might not remember him. "Hey, Evan! How are you?"
"I'm okay," he replies simply. "I'm okay."
This is bad. For starters, Evan doesn't live in Chicago, and we shared what I understood to be a one-night encounter, your standard business trip sex: a relationship that usually ends when you leave the gentleman's hotel but sometimes lasts as long as until his flight home. Either way, the expiration had passed. Secondly, when someone says, "I'm okay" during meaningless pleasantries, it generally means mayday.
"How are you?" His voice is forced.
"Oh, I'm good," I start, then adlib with some boring details from my weekend, pretending I'm not getting more and more worried over why he might be calling.
"That's cool, that's cool," he echoes, then, "Is it possible to have gotten an STD from you?"
Yeowch. "Um, not that I know of. Why?"
"Well, um, I feel kind of funny and there's some inflammation around my... "
"Oh." I think back to Thursday night. It consisted of our having sex exactly three times, in which he was the top, twice using protection, once using nothing because I was a ) stupid, b ) drunk, and c ) self-destructive. The third, most risky interlope also lasted the longest, of course, giving any diseases ample time to make a new home in either one of us. "Well I don't have any symptoms," I say honestly. "I feel fine."
I don't tell him that it's been more than six months since my last STD screening, and I certainly don't mention that I probably did a thing or two in there that would warrant a new one. "Did you go to the doctor?"
"No. Listen, I can't talk right now. Can I call you later?"
"Sure," I agree, annoyed. Even people with healthy anxiety levels freak out a little when someone calls them, presents them with a problem they may have caused, and then hustles off the phone. "Can we talk tonight?"
"Yeah," he hurries. "I'll call you later. Goodbye."
I stare at the flashing call time: three minutes and forty-one seconds. In my five years of slutting around, this is actually the first time someone has presented me with the STD thing. When I consider the territory I've covered, I don't know if I should thank God or alert the editor of Modern Science. Diseases were something I used to fret over steadily, going to the doctor when I had virtually no reason to, but in the end it was always psychosomatic. I felt guilty about having so many one-night stands and told myself I deserved an STD of some kind, even when there wasn't one. I wonder if Evan is going through the same thing.
I certainly hope so, because the reality is I don't know this guy at all, and there are a lot of crazies out there. In my five years of slutting around, I've also managed to avoid any dangerous hangers-on. And while they might be rarer than herpes, there are no pills to keep them at bay. I could be in for a doozy.
I walk back to my desk. This is going to be a slow day.
Homer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org