Poxy Monkeys.

It’s been the slow burn, underground sensation of the summer, if you’d care to look at it that way. People have been going bananas about it. Or going ape, if you’ll indulge me. It’s never quite been top flight headline news but it’s always been there, flitting about along the perimeter, poking its head up every few weeks, just to make sure we haven’t forgotten it hasn’t gone away. To think, before 2022 hardly anyone had heard of Monkeypox, and now it’s almost all the rage. Those poxy monkeys, with their monkey pox, pumping their naughty pox into the unsuspecting human population. Cheeky little buggers. Whatever next?

Like all semi-respectable tropical infections there are some sure fire ways to get Monkeypox, all listed by the NHS, in case you were interested in having it but didn’t know where to start. It’s the usual stuff: kissing, touching, sharing towels, sneezing, cuddling, holding hands or having lots of frantic sex with strangers without asking them if they have Monkeypox first. Those sorts of things. It’s even worse if you live in parts of central and west Africa where you can catch it by being bitten by rats, mice and squirrels (and, presumably, monkeys) or if you’re the kind of person that would find it difficult to resist licking their bodily fluids or eating their meat (in the culinary sense, of course). In Africa Monkeypox has been around for ages, just another pretty grim hot disease that gets spread around without a lot of resistance; kind of God’s way of telling us we shouldn’t really be picking blisters off a squirrel’s arse, as if that wasn’t already pretty obvious.

Apparently, the important thing to remember is that although a lot of people assume Monkeypox is spread predominantly in the gay community it can in fact be picked up by anyone, thereby making it a truly all-inclusive kind of an infection, which is great because that way no-one can get offended by it or make ridiculous, sweeping homophobic statements with absolutely no grounding in scientific truth (though this hasn’t stopped anyone). Indeed, scientists are so keen to de-stigmatize it that they even want to change the name, because it gives monkeys a bad one (name, that is). And they have a point. To say that monkeys are solely responsible for Monkeypox is like personally blaming the sun for getting skin cancer. And yet there it is: a poxy pox spread by poxed up monkeys who don’t even know they’ve got the pox in the first place. We really should change the name though, to make all the difference, before we all fly over to parts of central and west Africa and started clubbing every primate in sight.

That said, despite the all-inclusivity, it turns out you are most likely to get Monkeypox if you’re a gay or bisexual man, though the NHS very tactfully and diplomatically insist the highest at risk are those who like to share towels and bedding with people who have Monkeypox or anyone who has recently been to central or western Africa and been licked by a mouse. You’ll know you have it if you get the kind of symptoms that are synonymous with almost anything you could ever catch (temperature, headaches, the urge to fling faeces at a passer by and then pick fleas off their back) but the real tell-tale sign is a load of blisters, which can appear anywhere, provided anywhere is your mouth, anus and genitalia; some of the most comfortable places to be littered with blisters, for are we all not made in God’s image? If you wanted to avoid it I suppose you could just refrain from enjoying yourself in a promiscuous manner, but where would be the fun in that? Instead just make more effort not to use someone else’s damp towel, avoid milking rats in Cameroon and always ask someone if they have Monkeypox just before they cough on you. Oh, and needless to say, in case you were tempted, don’t fuck a monkey unless you absolutely have to, at least until they stop calling it Monkeypox.

G B Hewitt. 17.08.2022

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