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True Stories: Taking Off Our Costumes
A tale of sex, chronic illness, and a giant dog suit.
By Litsa Dremousis
I ran my fingers through his brown, shaggy fur and his whiskers tickled my lips as we kissed. Then we burst out laughing. “Let’s get out of here,” Keith said, brushing aside one of his floppy ears. “We look ridiculous.”
Keith and I had blithely flirted since college and now, many years later, we were both single and making out in the kitchen at our friend’s Halloween party, not far from the Seattle campus where we’d first met. For reasons unclear, Keith was dressed as his roommate’s dog, complete with slippers resembling paws. Knowing my dislike of Little House on the Prairie, my friend had dared me to dress as Laura Ingalls Wilder. “You don’t have the guts to be Half Pint.” She goaded until I found myself in braids and an ankle-length skirt. My Doc Martens doubled as the boots one might wear to stitch gingham and bake squirrel pie.
Keith had downed a few beers — at one point he performed a “pet trick” by scratching his head with a paw-like foot — but I was sober. I have CFIDS, an illness like MS in many ways, and rarely drink because booze intensifies the symptoms. So we agreed I should drive and were soon at my place, which was closer and lacked roommates (or pets). Once in my room, we tore at each other’s costumes. Sure, our attraction had combusted but, also, the prospect of a giant hound taking Michael Landon’s little girl did nothing for either of us. A reassuring thing to discover in a new sexual partner.
Keith was jovial by nature and we enjoyed a playful compatibility. As we had sex for the fourth time, he yelled, “I think I’m having a seizure!” I cracked up, assuming he was teasing. When he began violently jerking up and down, I realized this wasn't mere flattery. I suppressed an urge to lose it, rolled him onto his back, and called 911.
"911, Police and Fire. What's your emergency?" the dispatcher asked.
"My friend's having a seizure," I said as I shoved pillow between Keith's head and the wall.
"Do you know what might have prompted it? Does he have a history of seizures? Were any drugs or alcohol involved?"
"He had a few beers hours ago," I answered. "But we've been having a lot of sex." I thought I heard her snicker.
"What's your address? We're sending an ambulance."
I told her and lodged another pillow underneath Keith's head, attempting to prevent a concussion. His eyes looked faraway and glassy, and when I said his name, he was unresponsive. Blood and saliva dribbled from his mouth. If I believed in demonic possession, I would have sworn he was now Satan’s hand puppet. (But if I believed in demonic possession and such, I wouldn’t have been having unwed Halloween sex with a semi-drunk college pal in the first place.) Keeping an eye on Keith, I managed to pull on jeans and a sweater.
When the paramedics arrived, they expressed immediate concern that Keith had seized so long. I don’t recall how they stabilized him, but I know they administered oxygen shortly thereafter. Then one of them asked me, "Where are his clothes? We need to take him to the hospital."
"He doesn't live here," I replied. "All he has is his dog costume."
The paramedic contorted his mouth. He seemed to be stifling a grin, which made his partner smirk. Like teens giggling at a great-aunt’s funeral, they knew their behavior was inappropriate and this only made it harder not to laugh. One, then the other, began chuckling and couldn't stop. I was horrified. — until I started laughing, too. Rarely has a date’s semi-consciousness been a good thing, but fortunately, Keith remained propped on my bed, oxygen mask secure, oblivious to our impropriety.
As we wiped our eyes, one of them asked, "Do you know which hospital his insurance covers? Where should we take him?"