Oh Lestat, you deserved everything that’s ever happened to you. You better not die. You might actually go to hell.
- Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat
When I first heard the reports that Michael Douglas was claiming his throat cancer was the result of performing oral sex, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. Sure, I felt sorry for his wife, Catherine Zeta Jones. Would you want your spouse going public about their sexual practices? Especially when they likely involve you? I don’t know about you, but while I’m not ashamed of my sexuality, neither do I care to advertise.
On one hand, it’s just another “TMI” moment, an example of our culture of oversharing being taken to predictably ridiculous lengths. Then again, it’s also an illustration of something that’s left me rather dismayed. Over the years, it seems that more and more of the things we love are conspiring to kill us. It started with the advent of the AIDS epidemic in the mid-80s. Prior to that, sex had seemed to be such a (relatively) carefree recreational choice. Yes, there were the occasional STDs- gonorrhea, syphilis, etc.- but that sort of ugliness was pretty rare. In college, I was generally safe in the knowledge that I could sleep with whomever I chose…if only they’d chosen me. A few short years later, we were getting the “no glove, no love” lecture from Sister Mary Buzzkill. The things I used to be able to do suddenly involved an indeterminate element of risk, which frankly sucked. Now that I’m in a committed, monogamous relationship, that part of my dissolute past is (thankfully) behind me, but I still find myself mourning the time when sex was never considered anything but fun.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve been saddened to learn that yet more of the things I loved were working (seemingly in concert) to do me in. The first to go was alcohol. Then came ice cream and later the one that hurt the most- pizza. I grew into adulthood thinking there wasn’t a problem in the world that couldn’t be cured with copious applications of cheese, tomato sauce, onions, and pepperoni. At the same time, I developed a serious ice cream habit- basically a pint a day. Yeah, know wonder I was overweight, eh?
I’ve gone vegan for my health, and I’ve been very pleasantly happy with the results. Even so, I do miss the days when I could wallow in denial and hedonism without having to consider the consequences. F’rinstance, every now and then I really miss bacon. And pizza. And…well, you get the idea. In trying to be healthy, I’ve foregone some of the things I loved for years…even if they didn’t always love me back. Don’t even get me started on dairy products….
With any luck, I’ll lead a long and healthy life, but there are times when I’m buffeted by the temptation to be unhealthy, if only for awhile. Then I consider the price, and the moment passes- ‘cuz evidently there’s a growing list of things trying to kill me.