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The Dating Project | ‘The Test’

Our fling was a few weeks old when the Magician uttered the three words every woman is guaranteed to hear at least once in her lucky life.

Magician: I hate condoms.
Me: So get an AIDS test.

Younger men are wonderful in all sorts of ways, but they are not experienced. I knew everything when I was 25, but really I was only a few boyfriends into what would become an apparent lifetime of sleeping around. Having lived through it in real time for myself, I understand that my role is to put some miles on the kid, gently and with kindness.

Me: Look, there’s a clinic two blocks away, we can both get a blood test and results in 15 minutes. Let’s bounce those rubbers!
Magician: Is it expensive?
Me: Insurance covers it.
Magician: Will my parents see the bill?
Me: Your parents will see you used your insurance, but not why.
Magician: I don’t actually know what my health insurance is.

He was so young and immortal; he had never used his health insurance before. I stretch every morning and take an ibuprofen just to walk at a treadmill desk.

Magician: They sell HIV tests in drug stores, don’t they?

The next day he went to buy the test at his local pharmacy. The box had blue medicinal packaging and a tight security ribbon.

Pharmacist: I can’t get the anti-theft device off. And this is the only box we have.

The Pharmacist struggled with the security tape for a few minutes while a line of customers gathered behind the Magician.

Pharmacist (*into microphone*):  Manager, please come to pharmacy. Manager to pharmacy, please?

Soon after, the Manager arrived and could not remove the security band either.

Manager: Sir, could you please come with me to the front of the store?

They walked together through the long maze of store aisles, the Magician following obediently.  Another employee attempted to rustle the security tape into submission.  It would not budge. Yet another cashier tried, to no avail.

Manager: It says we have one more in stock. I think that means the one in the display.

In the window of the store there was one last lone HIV test. The Manager climbed into the window, stepping over sale items — toothpaste, dishwasher detergent, canned beans — and arrived at the far end where the holy grail sat, the key to condom-free sex blessedly unsecured by anti-theft devices.

On his way back out, the Manager knocked over a pyramid of toilet paper while a crowd of people stopped and stared at the man, AIDS test in hand. He emerged triumphant from the window and handed the box to the Magician.

The Magician thanked the Manager. I could not be more proud of the boy.

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