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Hey, Faggot:

I have a sad concern that, if it doesn't engage your sympathy, will at least drag your little home in the classifieds to a new low. I am a smelly guy. It goes beyond bad BO: I suffer from badly timed and barely controlled bouts of flatulence. Embarrassing, you may think, but surely tolerable. No sir. The whole honking and hissing affair is compounded by the shocking stench of these evil, rotten, lingering farts. Amorous encounters with women are often interrupted by a leap from the bed and a race to the nearest unoccupied room. The whole thing has made me miserable, and as you can imagine it isn't charming the hell out of the chicks.

My question is this: Other than finding an understanding girlfriend who'll love me gas and all (which won't do a damn thing for me when I'm shifting from foot to foot about to blow in the supermarket checkout line), what can be done about my BO, the frequency of my wind, and its odious character? This is not a joke, but feel free to laugh at my unfortunate condition. --That Wasn't Me

Hey, TWM:

Laugh? You have all my sympathy, Mariah. I take your problem very seriously, and my first thought upon reading your letter was that the root of your problem must be your diet: What you put in your mouth largely determines the odor of what comes out your pooter, pores, and pits. Actually, that was my second thought. My first was relief that your letter was postmarked from a distant state, making it unlikely that I will ever find myself trapped behind you in line at the supermarket.

But back to your troubles. On your behalf, I called a diet doc. "That guy has got a nutritional problem, all right," said John Hoeber, MS, RD, a registered dietitian in San Francisco, confirming my diagnosis. "Probably too much cabbage and sausage washed down with skunky beer. I'd say he needs a good colonic and a cleansing fast." The colonic and fast will get the gunk out of your guts. (A colonic, by the way, is an enema.) "Obviously he's eating something that's not agreeing with his system. Most likely he's got a food allergy or intolerance. 'Evil, rotten, lingering farts' are well-known symptoms of food allergies.

"When foods are not digested properly in the gut," Doc Hoeber elaborated, "the normal flora of the intestines [gut bacteria] snack on the partially digested matter, creating gas. Normally this isn't overly odoriferous, but perhaps his normal flora has gotten a bit abnormal from abuse. The obnoxious body odor can also be a symptom of food allergy, as the body attempts to metabolize food particles that have entered the bloodstream through a damaged intestinal wall."

So, Mariah, what should you do? Get yourself a good-paying job and a gold-plated HMO, cuz you're gonna be shelling out some dough. "He should see a gastroenterologist, allergist, registered dietitian--and while he's at it, a little aromatherapy couldn't hurt. I believe this is a very serious problem, and he should not hesitate to get a definitive diagnosis. If it's food allergies, he should probably do an elimination/challenge diet, where the most commonly offending foods are avoided for a few weeks, then one by one added back in. He should be able to find out which foods to avoid and how to get proper nutrition from the ones that are left." To find a registered dietitian, call the cheapskate American Dietetic Association, whose hotline--1-312-899-0040--isn't an 800 number. Tell 'em Doc Hoeber sent ya.

Hey, Faggot:

My husband is 20 years older than me (he's 50). He is a superb lover, except he has some trouble sometimes finishing up. He resorts to fantasies out loud to speed things up. His favorite is to talk about us having group sex. He is very specific. Sometimes it is about another woman with him, and sometimes me with another man and him watching. Whenever he starts talking like this I feel bad, and I don't feel close to him after. None of that snuggly thing. I just want to get up and do something else--and not with him--because it hurts my feelings. When I've talked to him about this he says it's just a fantasy, and I don't want to take that away from him. Can I do something to not feel so bad? --Dawn

Hey, D:

You could stick your fingers in your ears and hum something, or wear headphones and listen to books on tape. Or you could insist that, if he must indulge himself in fantasies you do not share while he's fucking you, he do so quietly and to himself. They may be just fantasies, but they're not fantasies you share, and as such he should indulge these fantasies in his own head and not out loud.

Hey, Faggot:

I'm dating this beautiful woman who has had a lot of partners and who hasn't been practicing safe sex. Save me the lectures about condoms; I'm all for them. I use them and like the peace of mind they give me. We can both get tested (if I can talk her into that), but if she was infected recently it could be months before her tests turn up positive. Here's what I want to know: Condoms are cool for fucking, but what about oral sex? Everything I've read says that an infected woman's vaginal secretions have lots of that nasty virus. Can I go down on her safely?

--Cautious and Frustrated

Hey, C&F:

It's interesting that you don't name the sexually transmitted disease you're so concerned about contracting. In fact, your letter is written as if there were only one sexually transmitted disease going around. There are lots of 'em, and frankly, you should be more concerned about, say, herpes or genital warts than dumb old HIV.

If you're using condoms with this woman for vaginal intercourse, your risk of contracting HIV is vanishingly low. But you can still catch warts and herpes even if you are using condoms, though condoms do significantly lower your risk of contracting either of those bugs. As far as risk during oral sex, even assuming she does have HIV your risk of contracting it is not all that great provided you have no cuts in your mouth. If she has herpes, however, you can contract that bug cuts or no cuts. If this woman, sexually active as she may have been, was not sleeping with IV drug users and gay or bisexual men, odds are good that if she does have an STD, it's not HIV. You, like most straight people, need to worry a bit less about HIV and a bit more about other, less glamorous STDs, diseases that you are at greater risk of contracting. And hey, if you're taking steps to protect yourself from the STDs you are actually at risk of contracting, you will have pretty effectively protected yourself from HIV as well.

Oh, I should mention that in Bizarro World--where everything that happens is the exact opposite of what happens on Earth--men and women worried about contracting HIV and other STDs from eating pussy use these things called dental dams.

Send questions to Savage Love, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

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