Whenever I am crusading for people to let their vaginas go free and ditch underwear forever I always mention that I've never had a yeast infection before.
That's not, I must confess, entirely true.
When I was 13 I got the worst yeast infection ever ... in my mouth and on my lips.
Yep, because nothing makes being the weird 13-year-old in your eighth grade class who always wears an X-Files t-shirt even BETTER than a yeast infection in her mouth.
I noticed it getting up one morning, my lips — and the area surrounding them — were red and inflamed. I slapped on some Chapstick and went about my merry way. To me, there was nothing that unusual about having painful red lips. I was (and am) and anxious person. I have a made habit of licking and chewing on my lips. As a pre-teen this led to an almost permanent case of what my mom called "red lip."
But throughout the day, things got worse. The redness around my lips vanished but the inside of my mouth felt dry and sticky and the corners of my mouth felt extremely painful, like I had been walking in the desert for years.
Because this was middle school and to admit to weakness was to open yourself to being consumed by those stronger than you, I ignored the symptoms and went about my day. I pretended to understand math, applied mascara poorly, and continued the business of just generally being 13.
At lunch that day, everything went downhill. Laughing (probably at a joke someone told that was not funny), I threw my head back with abandon, my mouth open for the world to see. A guy at our table noticed and made a face of disgust "dude, swallow first, gross." Everyone laughed, myself included, though what I really wanted was for a hole to open up and swallow me and my monster mouth up.
I showed my mom my mouth when I got home. At this point it was covered in white bumps and it was incredibly painful. "THRUSH," she pronounced, being the amateur doctor that every single mother of four children becomes over time.
"What's that?" I asked her. "It's like a yeast infection, but inside your mouth." I nodded, not understanding but taking her word for it.
A quick trip to the doctor confirmed her diagnosis and I returned home with an antifungal mouthwash to use three times a day until my symptoms cleared up. At school the next day, using my mouthwash, I casually mentioned to another girl in the bathroom that I had "a yeast infection, but like in my mouth." I had no idea that by second period the entire place would be thrumming with the news of my ailment.
See, 13-year-old kids hear "yeast infection in the mouth" and immediately make the leap to "genitals."
Because I was a girl, clearly I got this oral yeast infection in only one possible way: sucking dirty penises.
Yeah, the fact that I was more concerned about the rumor mill making sense than about staying out of it is one more reason I was on the outskirts of the eighth grade social scene.
The infection cleared up in a handful of days, but my reputation never did.
I only wish that I had been the sexually promiscuous teenage badass my school thought I was. The reality was that I spent most of my time watching reruns of Nash Bridges and probably got the oral yeast infection because of a bad reaction to my acne pills.
Pretty sexy, huh?