Mr. Clean

My bucket list is a closely guarded secret.

If someone asks about it, they’ll probably be saddled with exactly the kind of Lonely Planet platitudes they’d expect: swim with dolphins, climb Kilimanjaro, watch some stale sunrise from some saccharine shoreline.

My actual bucket list is more eclectic. Most of it I’d never admit to in polite conversation. Some of it’s embarrassingly nerdy (foil mugging while in fancy dress, shake Nathan Fillion’s hand). A lot of it is expensively violent (smash BMW to pieces with baseball bat, fire bazooka at… anything really, I’m not fussed).

Most of it is filthy naughty. So that’s dinner party conversation right out. When your girlfriend’s dad says that his main aim is to ‘play golf at St. Andrew’s,’ you can’t follow it with, “Hmm, I guess I’d really regret never having taken part in an orgy.”

I selected ‘orgy’ as a specific example (most of my list is worse) because it’s actually something I’ve had to retire from my bucket list.

The reason? Well, it’s a little unrealistic. And mostly unfeasible, since I have a committed and understanding-but-not-that-understanding-sorry-darling-I-was-just-checking girlfriend. But the main reason I’ve had to scribble it out instead of ticking it off is that it’s completely incompatible with another item on my bucket list.

I’d like to go my entire life without catching a sexual transmitted infection. So far so good.

For one thing, STIs are icky. This might be the point where I conscientiously link you some ghastly pictures of warts and pustules and swellings, but who needs to see that? Everyone knows what I’m on about. No one wants a problem with their junk.

Beyond that, it’s a matter of pride. It’s not something one can trumpet in polite society, but perhaps that’s part of the problem. I’m proud that I can be responsible enough with my willy to not catch anything nasty, and I’d be mortified at the thought of giving something nasty to anyone else. I think being healthy in your private life is something to be public about.

Not everyone feels the same way, apparently. The STI statistics in this country make for depressing reading. Of particular note is Chlamydia, a disease that is on the meteoric rise despite being both easily treatable and preventable.

I find the cavalier attitudes of some of my peers bizarre, and fascinating in a grubby sort of way. A girl I know got Chlamydia from the same dude twice. Twice. If someone had given me Chlamydia, they’d need a signed affidavit from their doctor, their best mate and their local MP before I’d let them within two feet of my twig’n’giggleberries again.

So the orgy is off the list. I wouldn’t be able to get into it. Even with protection, I’d still be running the numbers in my head. “X many people here. X percentage of people are likely to have an STI. So X people here probably have something. I bet it’s that guy. He looks riddled.”

It’d be hard to really get into it, y’know? Obviously I’d be keen to show off my superlative sexual talents – form a line, ladies – but it might be hard to keep the mood alive while I fastidiously unfold multiple dental dams.

It just ain’t gonna happen, unless everyone who attends brings a signed affidavit of their own. Frankly, there are too many people widdling in the sex pool. I’d be taking my life in my hand, as well as my wang.

I’m writing this firstly to share how monstrously unfair it is that I might not get to do something I want to do. Honestly. It’s terrible.

But this is mostly a plea. A call to arms against the insidious forces of venereal disease. If we all sort ourselves out a bit, we could significantly lower the risk of catching an STI. It’s not completely unrealistic to say that we could, within a generation, remove the threat of Chlamydia. It could be our polio. Be good to yourselves, people.

If I might be serious for a moment.

The only way to challenge the STI trend is to change attitudes related to it. And simply promoting health isn’t enough. You can show horrendous pictures to schoolkids until you’re blue in the face, but they’re unlikely to pay attention because having a clean bill of sexual health is not a reward in itself. It’s something you want to preserve, sure, but as long as you never catch anything then everything is fine. And so you can keep taking risks, and if your luck holds then you don’t need to think further on it.

This set of circumstances obviously isn’t sufficient, if the increase of STIs is to be believed.

What I think we need? To make being healthy sexy. And to do that we need to be a bit more open about the whole affair. Being responsible should be equivalent to keeping your pubes trimmed or wearing deodorant.  It should be part of your routine, rather than something you try not to dwell on.

We might need to discuss it a bit more, which will be weird. But if people took their sexual health as seriously as they take their pulling outfit, we’d have fewer STIs and fewer worries.

And then I could have my orgy, if I felt like it. Hell, you could to. Maybe I’ll see you there. Just don’t tell my girlfriend. Or her dad.

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