I’m going to tell you something gross about me. Actually — though my happy trail, yellow stankpits, prescription-grade flatulence, and unnecessary candor about my own repulsiveness come in at a close second, third, fourth, and fifth — what I’m about to tell you is absolutely my most disgusting feature.
I get cold sores.
Or rather, I’m plagued by cold sores.
Before I get into it, though, let me make one thing clear: I’ve had cold sores my entire life. So unless you think I was slutting it up in preschool, then please accept that my cold sores are the generic simplex virus kind, not the STD kind. And if you do think that I was slutting it up in preschool, then know that I didn’t even go to preschool. Jokes on you, bitches!
Anyway, for those of you don’t know, cold sores are blisters’ older brother and shingles’ rebellious daughter (they’re also hermaphrodites). They start with a tingle, grow to a blister, erupt in pus, scab over, crack, bleed, and then finally heal. They usually only sprout up on lips, though I have had quite a few in my nose, too. One time in high school I even got one on my chin! (I told everyone that I fell down and scraped my face; I did not).
For me, almost anything can induce a cold sore. Colds, of course, do it. Then there’s sunburns, wind burns, chapped lips, excitement, nervousness, unripe apples, smacks to the mouth… even hearing the words “cold” and “sore” can set me off. And when my cold sore ticker is tripped, I always do my best to thwart the oncoming blisters. Then, when the Valtrex/Denavir/Abreva/crushed salt/ice/tears inevitably fail me, I spend the next two weeks hiding in shame. I’ve always assumed this was the normal cycle for cold sore sufferers. Apparently it is not.
Let me introduce you to Looura.
I met Looura (probably spelled Laura, but she pronounced it as a Spaniard would) when I was volunteering at an after school program in Barcelona. The first thing I noticed about her was that she had a seriously gruesome cold sore pulsating on her top lip.
The next few things I noticed about her was that she was a tubby little goon with crisscrossed eyes and yellow buckteeth; and that her speech was close to unintelligible, even to other Spanish speakers; and that the top part of her hair – a bowl cut – appeared to have been gnawed by a rat, and the bottom half – dreadlocks – resembled dirty poop logs.
Okay… I know that sounds harsh, but 1) it’s accurate, and 2) I ain’t sugarcoating nothing when she went around fingering her massive, festering wound and cross-contaminating with her grimy ape hands.
I’m mystified she didn’t know the proper protocol, but let me clarify: rubbing equals spreading. Not just to herself, but to anyone who’s touched something she’s previously touched (especially those who are especially sensitive to outbreaks. Like me).
Throughout the evening, Looura continually molested her giant, throbbing cold sore. And even though the sight of it physically sickened me, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I convinced myself that she was innocently oblivious to conventional cold sore care. So, when her lip started bleeding and she smeared blood all over her face, I stifled a gag and pretended not to notice. When she disappeared and came back with a piece of toilet paper to blot her blood, I swallowed some throw up and kept on tutoring.
But when, 20 minutes later, I went to the bathroom and saw that my own chin had a drop of dried blood on it, I no longer empathized with the cretin.
Since I searched myself and found no possible source of blood, I knew, without a doubt, that Looura was to blame. The blood had clearly sailed across the air while she was spewing garbled goontalk and landed on my face.
So, I guess that’s yet another gross thing about me. Someone once spit cold sore blood inches away from my mouth.