Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Charlie Sheen and fear

The news about Charlie Sheen being HIV-positive this morning was a bit of a shock. Not because of his disease status, when you think what he has been known for in recent years, it shouldn't have been a big surprise, and indeed in most ways it really wasn't.

Instead, it was disruptive news because HIV and AIDS seem to have receded so much as an existential threat, even as the behavior which gives rise to them -- people running around having unprotected sex -- has gotten so much worse as the omnipresence of internet pornography has rippled out through popular culture into the sexual behavior of teenagers, college students, and twenty somethings.

And it took me back to my own college and post-college years, when I was promiscuous as hell so that I could get ongoing ego validation from a range attractive women, and really wasn't as careful as I should have been. And I was afraid to get HIV tested because my fear was so great, so I didn't, for a long time. Which fed snowballing anxiety, and the underlying, somatic sense that everything would soon go off the rails, which I recently alluded to.

How happy I was, then, to get a negative test, and then to settle down into a life of married monogamy. Really. Likewise, how happy I am to have a daughter who does not appear to get inclined to get herself into situations where she could be in trouble.

But I think back to how quickly I flipped a switch from being a kid who didn't get in trouble to one who did, and it makes me really wish I would be home for dinner tonight.

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