Flavor of the Week: Should Jordan Zakarin Use Heart Disease to Get Laid?

Written by NY Press on . Posted in Sex & Relationships.


In my younger and more vulnerable years, my cousin, gave me a piece of advice I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Dude, use your heart disease to get laid,” he told me; it’s what he would do, and he once had a threesome, so he was an expert in these things.

I was 15 years old and facing my second open-heart surgery, and the suggestion came counter to all that I had known and practiced. As a short, awkward teen, I was the emo kid in the WASP world of an old money high school where Darwinism was more than just a lesson in freshman bio class. It was survival of the fittest, and they didn’t need to know why I wasn’t taking gym class.

(By Jordan Zakarin)

And so until then I kept my aortic stenosis—a narrowed and damaged heart valve—secret, save for a few trustworthy friends. Now I was being told that it could lead me to the Holy Grail in the Forbidden City, seemingly real only in legend and fuzzy channels on cable (and the internet, if you could guess some passwords).

Still, even with that promise, I couldn’t risk total alienation, and so I never did carry out my cousin’s advice. Not that it was entirely my choosing, as it rarely is for the awkward 15-year-old.

So off I went to college, jagged and dislocated chest bone tucked safely under hoodie, diving into what promised to be a booze-soaked four years. Except that medication made me an involuntary straightedge, a dry vessel dropped into uncharted, rocky seas of watered-down beer and weekly wreckage.

My small consolation was the sense of superiority I had over drunk party-goers, offering deadpan conversation and tall, dramatic tales to justify the bottle of Diet Coke that was impossible to hide in the land of knock off Polish potato poison and Pabst. I was, you see, always “super drunk the night before,” and still hung-over 24 hours later. And as easy as it would be to engender sympathy from tipsy college girls, I still kept the ticker under wraps. On and on that went, sarcasm, self-hatred and secrecy, even through a third surgery at age 23, when Brooklyn bars replaced college house parties.

Chicks dig scars, I’ve been told, but I’m pretty sure they’d prefer the ones that are earned by bravery in battle, not being rolled on a gurney. Maybe, though, it’s not a zero sum game. Or so recent news has me hoping, anyway.

In a few weeks, I’m headed back for some more tune-up work (and at this point, that’s not a metaphor). It’s all rather inconvenient, a betrayal of a recent promise of decades of good health, and I’m frankly annoyed by this latest episode, even if it is relatively minor.

Some doctor is going to knock me out and then do some bizarre micro-surgery that I can only describe as something that the Spider-Man villain Doctor Octopus would have done if being a mad scientist wasn’t such a lucrative job in the comics world (now you understand my teenage years). There will be lots of tiny, coordinated moving parts that make me wonder if we aren’t all headed toward being cyborgs.

At this point, I understand that those promises of perfect health are the same sort of guarantees you see on TV, before the speed reader runs through the clauses and potential hazards for which they are not responsible and refunds will not be granted. And if it’s going to break, might as well use it first, right?

So that’s where I’m at: open to new things, new ideas, and, well, sympathy from the fairer gender. Time to get selfish, right? Really do something for me for once. I’ve been burdened with this pain for so long, it wouldn’t even be selfish—

No, I can’t do it. I’m too honorable to use a column to call attention to how brave and complicated a guy I am, that I have stared death in the eye and come out on top, again and again, persevering and even thriving and conquering physical malady. Nope. I’ll continue to face the world alone, like a stoic, square-jawed urban cowboy with a pen on the subway tracks, unafraid of what may come hurtling my way.

 

(You can reach me at Zakarinjordan@gmail.com)

 

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