No man is getting in my bed unless he shows me the details. I mean gives me the sheet of paper from the clinic and lets me see the plus and minus signs on his test results. I might sound crazy, but I’m serious.
Want to know why? Meet my friend Sharee*.
It all began in college. One of my best girlfriends, Sharee, attended a prominent historically black university with me on the east coast and when we were there we had the time of our lives. We were both marketing and public relations majors that could talk for days, envied the Deltas and AKAs on our yard, and wished we could pop our booties as fast as the majorettes in the marching band. Most importantly there were tons of men to meet and mingle with. Beautiful big brothas, smart brothas, funny brothas, nerd brothas, jock brothas, classy brothas, shoot even white brothas. They were all over.
The glories of the HBCU.
Sharee was the type of girl who loved to have a good time. Her course load never seemed to be heavy or daunting and you could always find her out from Thursday to Saturday night religiously. Heck, she’d probably party every day of the week if she could and if alcohol sales were allowed on Sundays. Sharee was always with some guy. She literally went through loads of them like a playing card deck. Freshman year she had been with 25 guys. Yes, I said 25. Now just imagine what her count is now, two years out of college. It wasn’t that all the guys wanted her, but she threw herself at them. Now she was my homegirl and in comparision to her, I was a bit more reserved and “wild” on occasion. But she did not care, oh-no. As long as you were male, had a penis, and would give her any ounce of attention, you could bet that she would make it back to a guy’s place in less than zero point two seconds. She was sippin’ on Barcardi one night, rollin’ up Mary Jane the next, probably snorting something the night before church, and always came home in another guy’s clothes. She had a funky habit too – she always kept tally of the guys that she slept with.
On her bed post. Where they could see it. Said it was “hot” or something.
Yes, people, it was that bad.
So bad, that I attempted to have an intervention with Sharee the summer after sophomore year. Some things from freshmen year are excusable. I mean, everyone gets a do-over right? A “return to start” after they’ve gone through that shaky first year of celebrating independence and overcoming the fear of being on your own. But I had realized that what Sharee was doing was not only dangerous in regards to her reputation but to mine too. People began to associate me as “that hoe’s friend” and her “accomplice”. People actually thought that I was her wing-chick, the one that helped pull or lure in half the dudes that she slept with. The fact that she was corroding my image by just being around me made me both angry and sad for her. Sharee had a good personality—she was bubbly and friendly and always willing to bend over backwards for people (especially for the boys). But it was her consistent quest for that slanted high school popularity that had her stuck in a college rut among females and brought her down “hoe lane” in college. And because I was the only friend who was bold enough to talk to her about what she was doing to herself, I took a bold leap of faith to try to help her.
By junior year, Sharee had slept with over 56 men. At least that’s what she told me. Whether that number was lower or higher, I wasn’t exactly sure, but I knew I couldn’t take it to be an exaggeration. She would literally go out each night and sleep with three different guys each weekend. I remember coming at Sharee hardbody that summer, telling her how she was coming off as a hoe and how much guys disrespected her behind her back. Her response?
“Oh, you callin’ me a hoe now? You one of those hatin’ ass chicks, right?”
Wrong, Sharee. I was the only caring ass chick that you had in your life at the point, before you brought yourself down to utter destruction. I tried to talk to Sharee, tried to explain to her the importance of at least slowing down when it comes to men and how much many of them don’t truly have your best interest at heart.
But she refused to listen. She thought I was simply “stepping on her game” and if I had a problem with it it was probably because I needed to get laid. “So step aside,” I remember her saying.
“I will.” Those were the last words I ever uttered to her to this day.
I found out that Sharee was HIV positive close to the end of my senior year. She had infected one of my good guy friends with a real nasty STD and when I heard the news my whole body shuttered. The worst thing was that she didn’t even know she had it or that she had probably infected other people. My guy friend told me that he hadn’t gotten HIV from her, but that the next guy that she was with was fooling around with other girls and had passed it on to her. I remember passing her in the hallway as the date of graduation slowly approached. She looked so forlorn and sad when she approached me.
“I should have listened to you. You told me so,” she said before she busted into tears and began crying onto the sleeve of my cashmere sweater.
We didn’t speak in that moment. I simply patted her on the back and nodded and then walked away. I didn’t know what to say in that instance. It was so sad and so hard for me to watch a young black woman be so self-destructive for the insatiable power of lust. News spread around school that Sharee had HIV and it was pretty much a wrap for her since. But I always had constantly wondered – how many people did she hurt in the process? Not just with her sick genital warts or itchy coochie, but with the actual virus?
I’ve been a germ-a-phobe when it comes to sex ever since. And a stringent border patrol for my own body. Sharee proved to me that I couldn’t take chances on ruthless and careless people. When those guys are really feeling it and then whisper “can I take it off?” I immediately leap out of bed and run for the door. Not because I don’t like them. But I just can’t take the risk of being infected by anyone lightly.
Sharee taught me that the road to my body cannot be an expressway. There are tolls that need to be paid, a proof of safe driving that needs to be shown.
Because I refuse to be another statistic. Even within my own pride, it’s still sad for me to say that Sharee is. It kills me because I tried to help her. But now I can only hope to help others, by sharing this story.
*Name changed for anonymity.