The last time I slept in my booty call’s bed, I was alone. It was not the routine of our arrangement- satisfying an itch when they felt the urge to flirt with me. I did mind it. It was the bare minimum I could emotionally afford when ad after thoughtful ad went unanswered because I was too verbose or to what I was in high school- protective of my bed and body. I often admit that my booty call was the best my city will offer me- someone that would get tested for STDs with me and ensure I came at least once in bed when invited.

What was more important than leaving a place one goes to rest and acquire a level of pleasure, particularly in the LGBTQIA community, STD-free? Driving. Too often a possible partner would gaze on me in astonishment only to lose interest upon learning of my lack of a learner’s permit. I would polish my labeled, ‘wifey’ routines, and get admiring glances but my need to use a bus pass stank more than my obese BMI. My mindset on driving cemented the summer my best friend called upon me weekly to fill her tank while my bus pass cost $64 for the month. Their efforts to keep their car totaled six times that much when one factors in the time spent looking for other hacks, short-term jobs, and the eventual maintenance bills that took it off the street.

As a kid from the 80s where programs like DARE and the AIDs epidemic were a part of our background noise paired with being a participating member of the LGBTQIA community, one’s STD status should be the base for a community that is ostracized for its sexual proclivities. There is a level of safety in certain subsets like the lesbian dynamic. STDs are passed with a higher frequency within the gay and bi-sexual sectors. By that admission, wanting to have a bill of clean health to contribute to this statistic, members of my lesbian community wanted to rest on the herd immunity of it. If I squint, I can kind of understand an aversion to needles stalling one from getting tested. Backed by the need of the 80s, asks in this space were often met with belligerence. I recall being asked if I trusted them as my request suggested otherwise. To not want to know one’s status is a does not compute mindset for me- we just met. Why would I weave our relationship on grounds we can test?

My relationships prior to my booty call slowly ensured I would rather do my laundry than seek another romantic encounter. Both individuals were in industries that granted them access to STD tests. Both were employed advocates in the STD awareness space. Yet, my second-tier test of six months needed to be employed or engage in sexual risk to keep what was supposed to be a relationship. My booty call would be flummoxed that this was the hindrance of my dating engagements and the simple truth that their willingness to talk about this kept me renewing my season pass to their ‘easy ass’. Paying for access took its toll when my tears of exhaustion were met with disregard to the point of callousness.

It was $1000 in bus trips to get the odd weekend of sexual release. We have spent more time on the phone with each other than these weekends capture. Without those weekends of relief, our calls are hours of warm air- pleasant to be in but not the only reason you go to the beach. Thinking about our conversations, the fights stand out more than the minutia of the shared days. Were these fights about establishing ourselves as sexual relief buddies? No. It was the lack of admission to their fandom of Black history obtained in the Black South; their status as a prostitute in our sexual engagement and my constant struggle to pay to see her in her state. Neither conversation changed anything. I can award our conversations one prize- their conversations of white noise are not physical checkups.

my mother’s conversations hold that honor.

Taking my words out to ‘lunch’.