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An excerpt from my book, The Gay Road Less Traveled, which I hope to have published in early 2015.

My money is low, my spending habits out of control, my budgetary skills questionable. This past Monday my office was off work for Labor Day, so I took the initiative to go sell some plasma. Now, let me first say that I was tested for HIV & had a full workup at the end of October, I always practice safer sex (if and when the opportunity should arise, kind of being very picky? selective? virtuous..) since moving south. Apart from being a little out-of-shape I am glad to say I’m in good health. The plasma center makes you jump through some hoops to get in there, apart from the blood test and physical exam I was given a 53 question exam, which I took in a computer cubicle. Several of the questions specifically focused on sex, and I found myself giving a somewhat sketchy history. Here is one of the questions posed:

Since 1977, have you ever had sex with another man? This would include

A) Oral sex, either giving or receiving, mouth to genitals or anus oh!!!

B) Anal sex, either giving or receiving

With the quickness I checked No, and checked a few more No’s along the way. I would like to say I did it in protest of the prejudice and hypocrisy and double standard and whatnot…but my mind was on them ends, stacks, scrilla, duckets ya heard? I finish my homophobic exam and return to the lobby. My blood test comes back clean of course, so I am led to the donation room. People are laying on hospital beds with tubes in their arms, squeezing, pumping out blood that plasma is then extracted from, the blood then pumped back into the person. The center has a somewhat urban feel to it btw…

The worker (Shaquana)* who is charged with sticking me with a needle looks about 12, and is in fact telling everyone that it’s her birthday, she is turning 19. Since I am right-handed I request my left arm to be poked.

Shaquana: You ready?

Me: Nods

Shaquana: Pokes/stabs/impales

Shaquana: Uh-Oh

I look down at my arm, the skin has blown/bubbled up about the size of a golf ball.

Shaquana: This is what happened, I put it in the right way, see it went in the vein, just not far enough. It’s gonna bruise. Also we have to use the other arm now…

Shaquana (to her supervisor): Could you please come do this for me? He is really mad, I can tell.

The supervisor comes over, changes the prop pillow to my right arm, quickly and efficiently inserts the needle and starts the machine to pumping.

Shaquana: My bad

An hour later, my plasma bottle is full, another worker unhooks me as Shaquana has kept her distance, and I am free to go, with my $50, on a debit card.

I am forced to wear long sleeve shirts all week, it’s Saturday night and I have bruises like a heroin junkie on both arms, one small bruise…one big-ass Shaquana bruise. I might have to go back to workin’ the corner of W Las Olas & Broward again, thanks Shaquana you wildly unprofessional teenager who shouldn’t be in charge of needles!!!

* not her real name, similar though