by Bridget Ford
Let me tell you a story; it's not too long.
I'm a teacher, and - like most of my students - over break in December I made some questionable decisions. The worst decision I made was blowing off a New Year's Eve date with my truly remarkable sexytimes companion. Although I rescheduled our rendezvous for the best of reasons – retribution, public shaming, glamorous success – I still regretted missing out on some middle-of-the-night exploits with a handsome fella who is so straight with me that when I bitch about my gyno (“Stirrups!”) he makes me feel better by saying, “Girl, I just got checked for all the STDs on the planet, and it involved my butt.” As a neurotic -phobe of just about everything that involves both sex and illness, this was just about the best line of seduction I'd ever heard: “I'm clean.”
So when the opportunity arose for me to drive 200 miles in the middle of one frigid late January night purely for sex, I showered and shaved, covered my newly smooth ladybits with some ironic leopard print, and got in my car, knowing that I was going to be tired as hell for work come Monday. Hopefully my students would be too tired themselves to notice my exhaustion; it would be awkward if they asked what I did over the weekend.
Now, it's probably important to mention that my high school sex ed teacher – Mrs. T. - warped the everliving shit out of me. I was convinced for years that I was going to be that percentage. I was going to be the statistic of pretty girls that get herp or clap or whatever else was around, no matter how careful I was. I'm not sure anybody had even heard of HPV back then, even though I assume now everyone has it. Anyway, in my incarnation today as a sexually liberal hypochondriac, hearing those two special words from this fella meant only one thing: he was clean, I was clean, I was on birth control, and goddammit, I was about to have condom-free sex to see what it's like, because I could, and I sure would show Mrs. T. that sex without blisters or bugs or babies is completely possible.
Could do it, did do it, and flash forward a couple weeks to the placebos in my pill pack. First placebo. Nothing. Second placebo. Nothing. Third placebo: my period is officially MIA and I start having nightmares every time I fall asleep.
Nightmare #1: I'm at a K-Mart with my childhood best friend. Her kid, my godson, is sleeping in the next room. I think I'm pregnant. She gets me a pregnancy test; I pee on a pile of powder and it turns green; she tells me that green means I'm nine months in and I go into labor. My mom comes and helps with the delivery. I wake up drenched in sweat.
Nightmare #2: I'm at a bar because I've just discovered I'm pregnant and decided to abort the fetus; at this point, what's a drink really gonna do to me? I order whiskey on the rocks from the bartender, who I realize is my boss. Just as I go to drink it, my grandmother walks over and shouts, “You can't have that! You're having a baby!” My boss takes away my drink. I wake up in blind panic.
Nightmare #3: They are all planning my baby shower. They never left me alone long enough for me to go get an abortion. Now it's too late. The kid is real-person levels of developed. I'm fucked. I wake up convinced I'm knocked up and I immediately contact my best friend.
I tell her everything.
She tells me: last time her period was late, even though she also uses multiple methods of birth control, and even though she rationally knew, actually, that there was no scientific way she could be preg... she went on Amazon and ordered a bulk pack of pregnancy tests. We're science nerds: we love pH strips and dixie cups of pee, and hovering over our bathroom experiments with stopwatches and looks of deep concern.
In the middle of the night, I order. A few dozen, to get the best deal; I could have gone to the pharmacy, but what if I ran into one of my students? Or my boss? Besides: free overnight shipping with Prime. I fall asleep confident that I'll know in a few hours if I'm knocked up, and if I am, my girl will fly out and hold my hand during the abortion.
I sleep dreamless. I get up and go to work. Pencil skirt and pantyhose, high heels and chalk on my fingertips. Between classes, I go to the bathroom. Bam. Period.
In class, my students are needy. I'm in a great mood, though, because I'm bleeding and I have a back ache, and my womb is being a good bitchy landlady and evicting its tenant.
An hour later, FedEx arrives with my bulk package of pregnancy tests. I nab it from the post office on campus (delivered to work for convenience) and as I hustle my unmarked hussy products to my office, a male student comes up behind me and begs for a few moments of my attention. His paper about the mafia has some issues; can I help him reconstruct his thesis statement? Hey, Prof, you got a package! Is it something cool?
Sure, hunny. It's cool.
Later that night, I text my fella: “Hey, I thought you should know: I didn't have to abort your fetus. I was getting a little worried there for a few days.”
He laughs. He accepts my own personal brand of crazy, which is good because otherwise I wouldn't get naked with him and work out the logistics of busting through the barriers of the psychological damage Mrs. T. did to me as a teenager. He's probably judging me just a bit that I still have dozens of pregnancy tests I don't need, stashed in my bathroom closet in case I get late-night insane again, but that's okay. There's something weirdly soothing about having a Ziploc full of strips that can tell me all about my human chorionic gonadotropin levels. I'm a nerd. A sexy, crazy nerd.
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