Recently, in an attempt to inundate even further into “Small Town, Lake Life,” I found a new dentist in Harrodsburg. Upon entering the office, trepidation slapped me in the face. FoxNews was playing on every TV—waiting area, receptionist station, each exam room.
“Do people ever complain about you showing FoxNews?” I asked, hoping I wasn’t going to be the first.
“Oh yeah, all the time,” the dentist admitted.
“Good, that makes me feel better about moving here.”
“Would you like the remote to change it?”
“Absolutely.” Crisis averted.
As a new patient, I was asked to fill out an extensive information form asking everything to when I lost my first tooth to my illicit drug use to my past surgeries to whether or not I had ever been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease. On this question, I paused.
So why did the dentist need to know about STD’s ? I know that often HIV rears its ugly head in the form of thrush (an opportunistic oral candidiasis infection), but that was not the three-lettered goblin I am dealing with. What I have is HPV—the Human Papillomavirus. HPV is spread through contact and linked to cervical cancer. Recently, it was also declared as a contributor to throat cancer in both men and women. According to the National Cancer Institute, “More than half of sexually active people are infected with one or more HPV types at some point in their lives.” I have been carrying it since my early twenties.
Last year, it had morphed into atypical squamous cells. I had to have a loop electrosurgical excision procedure to remove the potential cancer-causing culprits. The doctor explained, gesturing to his nose, “We’re going to have to remove the tip.” I was completely mortified. No way you’re removing my nose! Then, I realized that the cervix is essentially the same size and shape. He was using his nose as an example. Sigh of relief. After the procedure, he clarified, “We actually had to remove this much,” and made a hacking motion from the beginning of the bridge to where the nostrils meet the face. He continued, “If the cells return, you’re looking at a full hysterectomy.” (Read Put that Apple Down, Bitch! for more)
Because of this experience, despite it having nothing to do with the day’s dental care, I opted to put a big, bold check in the box declaring that I indeed have an STD. Why? Because HPV is now entirely preventable through a simple vaccination. And, if through telling people that I have the disease and the repercussions from it, I can open the dialogue and convince one mother, sister or daughter to protect their loved ones or themselves, it is worth the slight bit of discomfort.
The main argument against the HPV vaccination seems to be that it will somehow give girls a false sense of security and promote sexual activity. And, I know that there are those who will argue, “You’re not a mother, you have no right telling me to vaccinate my daughter.”
No, I am not a mother, but I am a woman who understands what living with HPV is like and I wouldn’t wish it on any other female, especially when it can be easily prevented.
So when the argument continues with, “She could become promiscuous. She could get pregnant…or worse.”
My reply is simply, “Or she could become cancerous. She could NEVER be able to become pregnant…or worse.”
In honor of National Redhead Appreciation Day, today's guest is the unsinkable and liable to do the unthinkable Tanzi Merritt. Tanzi is life-long Lexington resident and lover of all things local. Her day job is working as the "Happiness Engineer" with CirrusMio, a tech startup who's primary product is CivChoice, an online fundraising platform that streamlines corporate workplace giving and donor relations. She spends a lot of time volunteering with various organizations, from the Junior League to the March Madness Marching Band. Unlike most of the other Tête-à-Tête Thursday guests, she is not a writer, but she does like to tell stories.
The Bourbonista: Tell me about yourself in 50 words or less. At least one word must begin with the letter “X” and none can begin with the letter “S.”
Tanzi: I’m a Kentuckian through-and-through, a reformed librarian who has jumped head-first into the fascinating world of tech entrepreneurship and philanthropy, an overzealous volunteer, a lover of the curious (including the xiphopagus), an advocate of all things local, and a connector of people. I love to help everyone realize their dreams.
The Bourbonista: Were you one of those "librarian by day with the bun and glasses, and then vixen by night with the leather and stilettos" types? They can't be trusted, or so I've heard. If you were a circus performer, what would you be and why?
Tanzi: If I were really in the circus it would be one of those dark Victorian carnival affairs, and I would be the curator of the Cabinet of Curiosities, caring for the taxidermied creatures posed in human tableaus, shrunken heads, and Fiji mermaids of the world. Not only am I fascinated by eccentricities and oddities, I tend to collect them. And I don’t mean just odd possessions, but unusual people, unusual interests, and unusual and useless information.
The Bourbonista: I once dated a Lobster Boy. I made him wear mittens in the bedroom, and when he pissed me off I put rubber bands on his claws. So, what would you do if you won the lottery?
Tanzi: If I won the lottery I would probably do a bunch of practical stuff that would also be good for Lexington, like rehabbing some property on the north side and investing in both my company and other local start-ups, plus things like paying off debts and buying a nice little house and an efficient little car. But I would nurse a secret wish to own and operate a giraffe farm. Either way, giraffes or no giraffes, I would get a helper monkey. And I would take care of all of my people. Every one of my friends would get the thing that they really want but would never buy for themselves because it’s too indulgent.
The Bourbonista: Well, then I want a massage monkey to rub my feet at night. Now, seriously, If you were on death row…don’t act like you don’t know who you killed to get there…what would be your last supper?
Tanzi: I thought about this one for a long time and finally decided to go with my friend Mike’s answer: dodo a l’orange. I would die of starvation while waiting for it, but that might still be better than visiting Old Sparky.
The Bourbonista: Nice. You could also ask for a pterodactyl egg omelet accompanied by a Tasmanian Tiger steak just to be safe. Now, if you were to write a short “Thank You” letter to your future self for all the cool shit you’ve done twenty years from now.
First, congratulations on still being here to read this. Second, thank you for being religious with the sunscreen. Even though you’re almost 60, I’m betting you still look about 10 years younger than you really are.
Now, if you haven’t already done so, it’s about time to forgive yourself for the mistakes you made in your 20s and early 30s. Some of it really sucked, but I bet you’re doing just fine now. I guarantee that you’re happier than you would have been if you’d walked the straight and narrow.
Thanks for getting above your raisin’ and getting a good education. Thanks for ignoring the “shoulds” and “have tos” from childhood and doing things that stretched you, like joining the kick-ass punk rock March Madness Marching Band, or things that just might not have made your parents happy, like being a part of the Lexington Tattoo Project. Thanks for throwing your lot in with that bunch of young geniuses, because you’re certainly all billionaires now, right? (Right?) Even if you’re not, I bet you still love going to work every day. Thanks for speaking up for others when you see something wrong, no matter how uncomfortable it is to do so, and thanks for speaking up for yourself. Thanks for being a great friend to so many people, and finally figuring out that love is far better than success.
Thanks for going to the gym all the time and loving it, saving those millions of dollars for your retirement, and for having the foresight to realize that marrying George Clooney would be a great idea, even when people said he had a fear of commitment. Nice job.
(OK, so that last part is me practicing “The Secret” in a public venue. I mean, if you tell the universe what you want, it’ll send it to you, right?)
The Bourbonista: Saying to hell with the "shoulds" and "have tos" is the first step to perpetual peace and impenetrable joy. That, and embracing a FWPT attitude (for explanation CLICK HERE). Lastly, if you were a booze, which booze would you be and who would you want to drink you?
Tanzi: I would be champagne, preferably peach. Bubbly and
effervescent and kind of sweet, but with a bit of a kick.
“A Christmas Carol” is one of my favorite films. I am partial to the Patrick Stewart version, but I’ll settle for any of them. Every Christmas, I plan it out so the first ghost appears on the screen at exactly midnight to make the experience more realistic. Recently, I’ve realized I do this because deep inside I long for a Ebeneezeresque transformation. I want to wake up and be cured of my rampant pessimism, distrust for nearly all humans, and anger issues. But, I’d be willing to just have one ghost show up and rid me of my severe temper, which has been flaring up even more than usual of late.
It’s like my “Fight or Flight” response has been reduced to just fight. In the last two months, I have gone into a fit of cursing so loud that a mother covered her child’s ears and ran the other way, leapt from the shadows and threw a bourbon in person’s face earning me the moniker Psycho Ninja Bitch, vowed to call PETA and kick someone’s ass over a bird incident, and thrown my Derby hat in the water because my horse didn’t win.
Then, the other day I was walking my dogs past a house where the owner often threatens to kill any animal that comes into his yard and makes contacts with his beloved Yorkies. He has taken several people to court because their disgusting hounds have found their way onto his pristine property. As, we walked by, his yippy mutts ran back and forth barking. Doc and Rufus didn’t make a peep. The owner turned and looked at me…and I lost it… “Don’t you even think about it, you fat fuck! I am not afraid of you. If you ever even glance at my dogs again, I will fucking kill you. I am not the bitch you want to mess with.” And, it was all captured on the elaborate video camera system he has set up to film intruders.
After this, Frank begged, “Honey, please, get yourself in check. You're like a loaded gun. People are afraid of you. Hell, I’m afraid of you.”
So, it has become my mission to put out the flame of fury and find another way to deal with conflict. I don’t want to be mean Scrooge. I want to be Scrooge after the visitations who modeled himself on Fezziwig—the kindly boss from his youth who was patient and generous and kind and adored by friends and family and strangers alike, and he threw a fabulous party. No fight, no flight...Fezziwig!
I am not certain how I will accomplish this. Attempt yoga. Maybe meditation. Take ten breaths when I feel like exploding. Perhaps, I’ll get the Serenity Prayer tattooed on the back of my eyelids:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
Or maybe I’ll just try Hormone Replacement Therapy.
Sharing All I KNOW about the fine art of voluptuating. here's to living the lush life.