Cucumber & Broccoli
One Man’s Personal Journey to Fix What is Broken
by Corey Saucier

My best friend’s wife says that I should eat more broccoli. She says that it’s a “super food” filled with antioxidants and fairy magic. She says that it will prevent aging, cancer, depression, and social anxiety. Supposedly it’s one of those green vegetable cure-alls. She mentions it at least once a week. She is not necessarily what I would call one of those hippie California housewives who believes that eating sawdust and organic probiotic worms can heal all our western ills, but I do think she does read too many articles about eastern medicine and the evils of the pharmaceutical companies. But it does keep her rather current on tik-tok tech and cancel culture. And though I don’t necessarily believe everything that she reads, she has raised three kids and they are all not dead. So I imagine she is doing something right. I once tried to raise a potted plant and it caught on fire and almost burned down my apartment. It took three very handsome firemen in those sexy firemen outfits to save me from being engulfed in the deadly flames of a smoldering yellow hibiscus plant. So I’ve started eating three or four bright green broccoli florets twice a day with my microwaved Trader Joe meals. I wouldn’t say it’s considered healthy, but it’s definitely better than what I was doing. In my forty-two years of life, I have learned that when your best friend’s wife tells you to do something, it’s probably in your best interest to do it. It may be a little heteronormative and partially problematic from a gendered place, but I tend to think that mothers are more insightful than the rest of us…. So here is to me being saved from diabetes, drug addiction, cancer, and dying of AIDS by the online articles that champion the power of beta-carotene.

I’ve also started stretching in the morning. At night I take ten or twelve little blue pills that have me bouncing like a toddler in a bouncy house on the ten or twelve largest adult toys I can find. But in the morning I do a fifteen-minute full body flexibility routine that’s meant to promote health, circulation, and mobility in my old age. I’m pretty sure it balances out… (I should probably replace my toys with organic cucumber and eggplant—they are healthier and good for heart disease.) I’ve read scientific journals, watched YouTube videos, and listened to Goop (Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness lifestyle podcast) where she whispers in our ear like a meditation, or some asthmatic pornstar. She is the new preeminent White lady preaching about living a Zen, “All Natural”, and antibiotic-free life! And I’m determined to make healthy choices that extend and enrich my life.

I’ve also started taking daily antibiotics! Mostly because I have only 150 T cells and I’m constantly having condomless sex. (Uninhibited, anonymous, safe, condomless sex.) With lots and lots of patners. But again I’m on all the antibiotics. I consider it harm reduction. I am a spiritually conscious, conscientious, slutty sexual being; and I wouldn’t want to catch anything. Well, anything else… “Don’t @ me.” (As the kids say) I’ve been through enough trauma. I just survived chemo and radiation. I need this! And this is not at all dangerous.

(Depending on your idea of danger and what you are willing to risk.) I am still undetectable. And that is still what the doctors care about. Undetectable is what my oncologist and infectious disease doctor go back to when calculating my risk. (Because I test regularly and often; like we are supposed to.) And besides, the deep hip lunges I do every morning are going to keep me from breaking bones and dislocating joints while bottoming. Because what really matters is that I become a sexy sixty-year-old Bottom someday!

They say that just fifteen minutes of stretching can extend your wellness for seven to ten years. And I’m old and premenopausal; I need all the help I can get.

I’m doing the work. This last year has hit me pretty hard. And as always it’s my responsibility to figure out what to do with that. Do I sit in my apartment alone and pout? Or do I fix it? Not everything can be fixed. But I’m lucky. This can be fixed. The medical word is “managed.” This little blip of HIV and cancer is (Thank God) manageable. So I’ve turned over a new (new) leaf. I am creating a healthy routine. Something to rebuild my muscles, my mental fortitude, and my immune system: Broccoli, morning stretches, regular writing practices, bible reading, church on Sundays, gym and dance classes, reconnecting with friends, therapy, antibiotics, cucumbers, and perhaps a chance at considering monogamy again. Don’t quote me on that.

But maybe….

Love and Light.


Corey Saucier is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction and Non-Fiction and is currently looking for a publisher for his first novel. His musings and wanderings on Love, Life, and Nonsense can be found at www.justwords.tumblr.com.