Normally when I begin to feel the telltale itch of a fever blister coming on, I take a moment to shoot my high school ex-boyfriend an angry e-mail that goes a little something like this:
Thanks again for the nasty lip herpes, you pervert. If I’d have known that I’d carry a crusty reminder of you smack dab in the middle of my horseface at varying times for the rest of my life, I highly doubt that I would have ever climbed into the backseat of that big sexy blue boat of an Oldsmobile you had. (Well, I would have at least thought twice about it.) Whatever shit you passed on to me isn’t dainty, either. It wallops my entire face for anywhere from two weeks to a month. How’s a girl supposed to cheat on her husband looking like this? Not even the guys who live in trailers want a piece of this. And I can’t even cover it up. (Have you figured out anything that hides these things, by the way? E-mail me back with tips if you don’t mind.) I don’t know which is more jarring—the bubbles situated just above my upper lip in varying shades of red reflecting the different stages of the outbreak, or the ghostly-white concealer—the only kind that even comes close to matching this pasty skin—used to cover it up. And for real, dude, I think you and I both know that this equine face doesn’t need any help being jarring. It’s also really hard to yell at my kids because every time I open my mouth too wide, the sore cracks again and starts bleeding all over the place. You’re an asshole.
Blessings to you and the wife!
Just in case he makes it to the end of the e-mail, I add my blog link so that he can see what a totally successful unpaid, unpublished blog authorette I’ve become.
This year, though, instead of (only) sending him an e-mail, I’m also going to give him accolades on this blog (so, at least, like, 3 people will read about the good that he’s done) for giving me the lip fungus. Because you see, my peeps, I’m making a name for myself as a walking public service announcement (The More You Know, bitches) for teenagers thinking about skanking out with their boyfriends. I’m getting to that age where some of my friends have older kids, and I’m frequently used as an instructional tool, a sort of PSA warning teens about the dangers of making out.
Screw peanut allergies and robotic babies that scream all night: There’s just something about a fever blister seeping pus that’s more effective in teaching teenagers a lesson.
Just the other day, an anxious friend called me because she’d overheard her 14-year-old talking on the phone about kissing a boy. “Shay,” she said, voice full of hope, “is that fever blister still attacking your face? Could you come by?”
“Sure thing,” I replied, grabbing my props and hopping into the car.
When I got there and the daughter laid eyes on me, that 14-year-old snarl turned immediately into a gasp. I could see the panic in her eyes as I walked closer.
“You wanna look like this? Do you?” I screamed at her.
“Do you mean the face in general or that thing on it?” she asked, confused and backing away.
That question gave me pause, especially since I had to ponder for a moment whether “that thing” referred to my monstrosity of a nose or the canker. Little smartass.
“Go ahead,” I continued, walking her way and puffing out my lip so that she thought I was going to touch her sleeve with it. “Make out with your boyfriend. Let him kiss all over your face!”
“No!” she yelled as she turned, tears in her eyes, and ran straight into her mother’s arms. “I’ll never make out with anyone. EVER!”
But I wasn’t finished yet. “Come on,” I said, popping up over her mother’s shoulder as they hugged it out. “Touch it. Swipe a finger across the crusty bubbles and feel your future.”
“Mom!” she screamed, huddling further into her mother’s arms. (Her mom thanked me for this a few days later. Apparently it was the first hug she’d gotten in months. See? Bringing families closer together, one outbreak at a time.)
I grabbed my props—a tube of Abreva and a stick of concealer—from my purse and threw them at her. “You’ll be needing these,” I sneered. “They’re a high school herpes simplex type 1 carrier’s BFF’s. You won’t have any other friends, so use these like the skank you’ll be known as. And another thing—“
“Alright, Shay, that’s enough!” her mother interjected, just as I was about to get into my Campho phenique bit. (“Consider yourself LUCKY, you little wannabe slut. They didn’t make Abreva in its cute little blue easy-to-hide tubes when I was a high school make-out whore. Do you know what I had to carry to school? Do you? Campho phenique. That’s right, in a bright yellow tube that screamed I have lip herpes. Campho mother-effing phenique!”)
I stopped suddenly and raised my shoulders in a shrug, surprised. “Oh. You think? You think that did it? Because I have more material…”
“NO, Shay. No. Just go,” said my friend, hugging her daughter even more tightly as she wiped away her tears.
“Oh. Well. Alright then. Have a great night, you guys. See you later!”
I steered clear of the Campho phenique stuff, but I couldn’t help but throw in a few more bits about lip herpes as I left their house—anything to help a friend, you know? I’d walked all the way out to the car before remembering that I had left my Abreva and concealer on the floor of their living room, and trust me, I can’t go anywhere without those. They’re a grown-up herpes simplex type 1 carrier’s BFF, too. When I got inside, the daughter was in her room, in bed for the night even though it was only 6 PM. My friend quickly pulled me aside.
“Holy shit, Shay, do you think maybe you went a little too far?”
I waited, because obviously there had to be more. Where was my thank you? My bit of effusive praise? But it never came.
“I mean, seriously,” she continued, “did you have to spit on her face on your way out the door and scream, ‘Now you’ve got the virus, you little skankster, now you’ve got the virus!’?”
Hm. As far as I recalled, I hadn’t brought a damned satisfaction survey for my friend to fill out upon completion of my performance. But I didn’t say anything, because I’m always looking to improve my public service game. I furrowed my brows, momentarily lost in thought. “Was it too much, you think?”
“A little bit,” she said, nodding.
“Damn. I just added that part, and I really like it. I think it brings a little punch of extra drama, something to really get the point across. You really think I should I take it out of the routine?”
Without even a moment’s hesitation, my friend nodded furiously. “Yes. She ran to her room with a bottle of bleach and a dishrag. I’m going to have to go pry it from her hands as soon as you leave.”
I shrugged. “Well, it’s a work in progress, you know? Things that work for some teens don’t work for others…”
My friend tells me that anytime she takes her daughter to a Pampered Chef or Tupperware or Thirty-One party, her daughter will not get into the car without first making sure that the “friend with the herpes” will not be there.
Um, excuse me, drama queen, they’re actually lip herpes. Big diff. (No offense to you ladies out there with crotchal herpes, of course. I just like my writing to be specific.)
So because I can be so helpful in bringing families back together (and maybe one of these days I can even start making a few bucks in public speaking appearances—especially if I am lucky enough to catch a nasty case of the crotchal bumps), I won’t even be mad at my ex-boyfriend for what happened when I tried to go out for sushi with my friends the other night. Apparently my fungus was making the other diners uncomfortable.
“Um, ma’am,” said the waitress who was tasked with throwing me out, “the other customers keep complaining that they’re simply not hungry anymore when they look at that thing on your face…what is it, by the way?”
I sighed in frustration. “A fever blister.”
“On your forehead?” she replied.
“It’s a powerful strain,” I muttered.
“Well, if you’ll notice,” one of my friends interjected helpfully as she gingerly adjusted my chin so that she could better do her demonstration without actually touching the crust, “it starts on the top of her lip and goes in one continuous trail up to her hairline…”
I couldn’t fault the waitress for signaling to the other servers to come and see. Not one person I’ve ever encountered has witnessed a thing like it. They all gathered around, peering at my face, pointing and asking questions about when I’d contracted the virus and if all outbreaks were this bad. (They are.) Soon they were backing away, shaking their heads and muttering about “assholes in Oldsmobiles.” The good thing was, they let me stay.
I just had to promise to keep my head down as I snarfed my sush.