For two adults in a stable, closed relationship, the word “herpes” comes up in our house just a bit too often. Does this happen to anyone else? (For gawdsakes, someone please pipe up here….) Let me give you some back story before you call the Center for Disease Control with an anonymous tip and my address.
Five years ago my husband complained of back pain. Night after night I was roped into checking his back to see if I could see anything wrong with it. He finally trooped off to the Chinese medical center (the only doctor in San Francisco that will take new patients with one day’s notice) for a check-up. I got home that night and this was the conversation we had:
Nomad Papa: I’ve got herpes.
Me: WHAT!?!?! Is there something you need to tell me?
Nomad Papa: Um yeah, but I just told it to you. I have herpes on my back.
Me: That doesn’t even make sense. You can’t have herpes on your back. You get it “down there”.
Nomad Papa: That is what the doctor said. I’ve got herpes zoster.
I rushed over to google it up and discovered that herpes zoster was the medical name for shingles. He had fancy chicken pox, not some scrummy disease that I was likely to get. In good kid fashion, I immediately rang up my mom to tell her that my husband had herpes. “Mom, he has herpes. Herpes zoster.” “That’s shingles you idiot.” (I hate it when she can one up me without having to use google as a resource.)
Fast forward a couple of years and you land on this scene. Imagine me, frantic with a crying child in my arms, waiting at the door for Nomad Papa to come home.
Me: Addy has herpes.
Nomad Papa: Herpes zoster?
Me: No. Look! I think she has a cold sore. She obviously got this from you. She is going to have this for the REST OF HER LIFE. Do you have anything you want to tell me?
Nomad Papa: Yeah, I’m pretty sure that isn’t a cold sore. It’s more likely related to the pound of chocolate she ate the other day.
Seriously people, what kind of mom thinks her one year old has herpes? This is what happens when you a)marry a foreigner who b)uses words like herpes around the house.
We went a long stretch without using the word and just when I thought we were finally in the clear, my husband pulled it back out last night.
Nomad Papa: I’ve got herpes on my mouth.
Me: Is there something you want to tell me?
Nomad Papa: Yeah, I’ve got herpes and I think I got it from my girlfriend I dated right before you.
Me: What the hell is wrong with you. It’s probably a zit.
Nomad Papa: No, I’m sure it is herpes. I should email her.
Me: What would you say?
Nomad Papa: Dear X, How are you? I recently got herpes and I thought of you.
So now I’m faced with a dilemma: do I put the kabosh on the email plan in the hopes of finally eradicating the word from our household diagnosis vocabulary OR do I encourage him to the send the email for pure entertainment value? Enter your votes now!