Sunday, April 23, 2006

Blowing Off Steam

I was long overdue for an HIV check. And yeah, my visit to give blood last December doesn't really count. Incidentally I got called recently to schedule another appointment to give blood. To lie or not to lie about that question again...hmmm.

Hemingway I wound up going to Steamworks, yes Steamworks, in order to get tested. I went Thursday night after wrapping up my bowling season.

Being as it was my first time going there, I had no idea what would be in store. I entered their facility and walked into a secured checkpoint. I quickly learned that it wouldn't be a quick visit like I hoped.

The hispanic dude behind the counter told me that in order to get in, I would need to buy a membership. I was besides myself and told dude that he had to be kidding me. He kindly informed me that he wasn't.

I was half tempted to walk out. But I was half curious to see what was inside. For strictly educational purposes, of course. *LOL*.

So once he explained the pricing, I wound up getting a six month membership for $6. Patrons are also required to pay for either a room or locker. The locker rental was $10. Or that might've been the membership that was $10 and the locker was $6. Whatever it was, I paid $16 for the privilege of entering the bathhouse. I was given a white towel and a locker key with the number 465.

I entered the dungeon, carrying my towel and key. Of course I had no intention of stripping.

To my right, I saw a booth and some preppy dude sitting behind it. As I reached closer, I saw the sign for Howard Brown (the sponsors for the HIV and STD testing) and baskets of condom goodies. I asked dude about testing. He mentioned that the administrator was in the room with another tester and that the person was their last case.

I wanted to go off but I asked instead about the other services Howard Brown offers. According to their website, besides offering HIV/STD testing services they also provide counseling services for those affected by domestic violence and organize numerous community outreach events. It all sounded interesting.

But I was pissed because I wasted $16 to get inside and I wasn't even going to be tested. But hope appeared to be on my side. Another dude, I assume the one administering the tests, came to the booth. He mentioned that a rep from Be-Hiv would be coming at 11PM and would be able to give me a test. Not only that, they also offered the OraQuick rapid HIV test. With these tests, you know in twenty minutes whether you have it or not.

The upshot. I would have to stay inside Steamworks for another hour at least. The Steamworks environment was so sleazy. I could see men (mostly older, out of shape white dudes) in towels only walking around the facility. The place wasn't really inviting to me. The HB dudes mentioned that the facility had a movie room and upstairs was free internet access.

I figured the internet access thing would be cool. So I thanked them and reluctantly headed upstairs. I walked in on an open area where men in white were walking back and forth like they were part of some drone society. They appeared to be swaying to the house music that was playing. I walked towards an area and realized that all paths led into narrow, dark hallways where the men in white walked in and out of. A map of this place would be as Martha Stewart would say, a good thing.

Truth is, it creeped me out a bit. I sat down in a bench in the center of a narrow alcove, pretending to be waiting for someone else. It was creepy how the men would come out and walk from one narrow hallway and head inside another. I was like, how the hell do they know where they're going. A couple guys would stand near me as if they were checking me out. When I didn't respond, they would eventually leave.

I was cursing to myself for being there but at the same time kept thinking how funny it would be to share this with Eugene & my blog. I kept thinking I should do something that would be interesting enough to blog about but I wasn't feeling it. After 35 minutes of sitting there, I finally got up and headed back downstairs. I found the movie room and endured Jim Carrey for the next thirty minutes. I think it was Ace Ventura: Pet Detective that was on TBS. The man annoys me but in some odd way I could see his appeal to the masses.

As I sat in the corner of the room, I saw a dreadlocked do-ragged black dude walk in with a rolling suitcase. He knocked on a door that was adjacent to me. One of the preppy dudes came out and they were talking about something I couldn't really hear.

When I saw his suitcase, I was like, either he's getting a room at Steamworks and bought all his essentials or he was with Be-Hiv. It wound up being the latter. Thank goodness. Of course, he needed about fifteen minutes to set up. During that time, I walked up towards him and while he was setting up, he gave me this form to fill out.

I thought it would be Anonymous HIV testing but apparently it would be Confidential testing, which meant I would have to give my address among other things. The differences between each are explained in nice detail on this link.

So I filled out the form and endured some questioning. I told Dreaded about my silly drunken night of unprotected sex back in September. Dreaded wanted to know if I had any risky sexual behaviors in the last ninety days, to which I responded no. Actually I haven't had intercourse since early January so all was good there.

After over two hours of waiting, the moment of truth finally came. He was ready to administer the test on me. I wasn't sure what the Oraquick test involved but he explained that he would have to take some blood from my finger. I hate getting pricked but bucked up because well I had to "do what I gotta do"...*LOL*.

He took a sample of my blood and told me to come back in twenty minutes. So I left the room and waited in the movie room, while the next dude walked in to get grilled about his sexual history.

I received my verdict a little over twenty minutes later.

"E, you're...."

(Till next time.)

Just kidding, I came back HIV negative.


Blogger Duane Westhoff said...

Hey E, I enjoyed reading your blog. It was very timely for me to read as I was just at the local bath house in St. Louis doing exactly what the men at Howard Brown and Be-HIV are doing in Chicago. It was good for me to hear a story on your end as a client of testing services. My blog from Saturday includes the perspective from my end. I'm glad that you got tested. I'm sure you could also have called and arranged a free HIV test at Howard Brown, one of their centers is in Boystown, just up the street from Steamworks in fact. At least it would have saved you the membership fees, but maybe not as adventurous a story. Take care and continue being safe!

6:53 PM, April 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my first time reading ur blog and I was like "How dare he?!!" it made me feel like I reading an episode of

8:01 PM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger Rose said...

Don't be playing with us like that! Glad that you are okay.

8:51 PM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger K Kaos said...

Interesting..I Have never been in or to a bath house before..I thought it would be more filled with men havin orgies and wearing leather bondage (im sheltered lol), but I'm glad to hear everything went smoothly.

11:42 PM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger feels good b n FREE said...

i'm glad ur kool too!

11:47 PM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger Holiday N said...

how dare you...that was mean. I am sooo glad all is well,i'm glad you checked to make sure that all is well,I'm glad that you wrote about being checked and finding out all is well...

11:33 AM, April 24, 2006  
Blogger ProfessorGQ said...

I'm glad for your test results...I'm still puzzled that you went to Steamworks of all places to get tested...honestly, I bet you was there to get your freak on...LOL

12:13 PM, April 24, 2006  
Blogger Cash S. said...

I'm just as puzzled as the professor. Why steamworks?

12:39 PM, April 24, 2006  
Blogger Georgiapeach said...

That's wonderful :).

1:55 PM, April 24, 2006  
Blogger Sangindiva said...

Glad you are cool-
and didn't leave me hangin' with a clifhanger!

7:59 PM, April 24, 2006  
Blogger Karamale said...

i'm with profe. you ain't all THAT innocent. ;-)

5:19 PM, April 25, 2006  
Blogger GermanChocolateGirl said...

wow, what an interesting story! Beautiful ending.

9:35 PM, April 25, 2006  
Blogger Mr. Maurice said...

WHEW! You had me scared for a minute there.

10:19 PM, April 26, 2006  
Blogger Bklyn Diva said...

boy.. I done told you bout my heart!!!! u can't be doing dat!!! :)

glad you are fine though.. but errr.. A LIL MORE BOUT DIS STEAMWORKS!!!! bathhouse huh???


7:07 AM, April 27, 2006  

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