Now that I have your attention…this is a book review. Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven is a memoir written by Susan Jane Gilman. A New York Times best-selling author of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress.
Right out of an ivy league college, she and a friend decided to backpack around the world starting in the People’s Republic of China. In 1986, before Tiananmen Square. Two fresh-faced girls with no life experience. One a leggy blond, pampered from birth, the author sporting 36 double Ds. Both pining for boyfriends left behind.
They arrive in Hong Kong and proceed to have a meltdown. Culture shock, strange foods, soul stealing heat and a language barrier ended up being the least of their problems. From the comfort of my recliner it’s easy to say “oh my God woman, you need to learn the words of that old song. You gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em. Know when to walk away, know when to run.” Not so easy when you are smack in the middle of the situation and it’s all so crazy to begin with, that it is extremely difficult to sort out what it just too crazy. The only spoiler I’m going to give away is that they lived, of course. The book is not a posthumous memoir.
It got me thinking. You never really know someone and how much intestinal fortitude, pardon my pun, they have or do not have until you travel with them. I tested Mr. Husband on this point by going along with him on a decision to stay at a hotel on South Padre Island when a tropical storm was rolling in, instead of evacuating. Duh!
I have been through hurricanes and typhoons so I take full and complete blame for the stupidity of this particular adventure. During the night the tropical storm turned into category 3 Hurricane Dolly that slammed into the Texas gulf coast a few years back. We lived and are still married so he passed the test. It was an epic intelligence fail for me because I knew full well what we might be in for and did it anyway. As we were using the garbage can from the room to scoop water out of a puddle behind the building to flush the toilet, it began to dawn on him too.
There have been times during travel that I have looked at my companion and thought “I don’t know you, I don’t want to know you, and if I ever see your face again it will be too soon!” But I usually back down later on when the situation is better and I’m sipping a cold beer. Such is the nature of adventure.