Sand in My Bra and Other Misadventures won thousands of fans with its outrageous tales of women’s travels. This new collection from the Mistress of Misadventure, award-winning editor Jennifer L. Leo, is loaded with more hilarious stories from women who have gone to the ends of the earth only to hear the sniggering of the cosmos. From an African village to the Great Wall of China, these stories that weren’t so funny when they happened will prove once again that travel, like laughter, is the best medicine.
- Discover the sex appeal of a big butt with Wendy Soref in Senegal
- Board “The Barf Boat” in Cape Verde with Karla Zimmerman
- Learn Lara Ephron’s secret for keeping perverts at bay on Japanese subways
- Escape to New York with Cynthia Barnes for the wax job of your life
- Make a hash of confessing sins with Deborah J. Smith in the Vatican
- Take a Montana cowboy to a Viennese ball with Jessica Maxwell
- Fail at relationships at 35,000 feet with Cindy Chupack
- Shop for underwear with Deanna Sukkar and half the population of India…and much more
by Jennifer L. Leo
Webster’s defines “misadventure” as “a mishap; misfortune.” But doesn’t that sound sterile? True misadventure is when someone who is taking herself too seriously gets schooled. Humbled. Sent to her room and told to “Think about it.”
Because of the “adventure” half of the word, people associate misadventures with travel. And right they are. However, there is a big difference between misadventurists and whiners. The latter always think they are having misadventures. The former, well, they are the masters of the pub, the center of the circle, the great storytellers at the well. They know how to add the cheese to the whine and spin their story in such a way that we wind up snorting, crying, and doubling over begging for mercy instead of apologizing for their bum trip.
We’ve all seen (or been) the kind of tourist who bragged about her upcoming vacation or “business trip,” fretted over packing and finding the best bump-me-up-to-first-class outfit, only to wind up on the flight from hell that lost her luggage. Folks, don’t mistake this for the official prissy definition of misadventure—no, this is travel. The darker, smellier, rotten side of travel, but still travel just the same. You know why? Because it happens to everybody. And yes, your feet are supposed to hurt. If they didn’t, you either didn’t play hard enough or you’re going home with the scoop on the best walking shoes on the market.
In both Sand in My Bra and Whose Panties Are These? we’ve tried to go beyond the ordinary been-there-done-that stories and bring you the outrageous. We’ve collected true women’s tales of trips that went south and have had the kind of makeover to take them from groans to gutbusters. Why? Because laughter is, and always will be, the best medicine.
The laughs in this book range from snappy one-liners to pulling for heroines like Susan Lyn McCombs who saves her friend from a preying Italian man in “Blind Faith,” or Lynn Santa Lucia who goes all out for a hunky fling in “Miami Spice.” Most of us can relate to a partner who pushes us over the edge, but how many have the killer come-backs that Felice Prager does in “Waiting for the Big ‘O'” when her new husband just doesn’t get it? We would not want to experience the beating that Bridget Kelso gets in “Open Up and Say Om” on a visit to a spiritual healer in Nepal, or share Liz Scott’s horror at finding a burrowing bug in her ear in “Entomology and Earplugs.” But they sure make good reading.
So, what’s with the underwear titles? Sand in My Bra represented the discomfort that trips gone awry can bring, that icky, let-me-throw-aside-all-grace-and-dig-down-into-my-bikini-top-to-get-the-itch-out feeling. But Whose Panties Are These? I thought of this title because it reminded me of my favorite joke that I played on someone else.
I was in Chicago for a book conference with Travelers’ Tales. We were staying at the Essex Hotel and were amused by the burned out “Es” on their sign. To prolong the humor I pulled out my sexiest purple lace string bikini and shoved it in my pocket. When editor Sean O’Reilly and I walked into his room, I slipped it into the sheets of his bed. He was checking out the bathroom. When he uncovered the pair, he started laughing. He just couldn’t believe what he had found. Sniff check showed that both the undies and the sheets were clean.
It’s been eight years. This will be the first time he finds out they were mine. Didn’t think my butt was that small, eh, Sean? You’d be surprised what a girl will wear to look good at the right time.
The Chicken Theory
by Christine Michaud
This is hard science. Really.
“Ali, how come all Lebanese girls have big breasts?” I whispered across the breakfast table. “Is it silicone?”
It was ten o’clock on a Monday morning in a trendy restaurant of central Beirut. Ali followed my gaze and glanced at the group of young women settling in at the table next to us. All wore low-cut stretch tops that could barely hold their disproportionately large bosoms.
Turning his big black eyes back to me, Ali just clicked his tongue and jerked his chin up at me in that off-putting Arab way of saying no. Then, between two sips of mint tea, he said gravely:
“Too much chicken.”
“What chicken? You mean chicken as in dijaaj?”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
Ali explained that, for the last few years, Lebanon’s farmers had been feeding shameless amounts of hormones to their chicken to fatten them faster, practically cutting in half the time required for a chick to reach maturity. Lebanese, and for this I can testify, eat tremendous amounts of chicken. Unfortunately—or fortunately—the local stock was now so full of hormones that, according to Ali’s theory, it had altered the female population’s body proportions.
“When you go to the Middle East, remember that everything you know is wrong,” an Arab friend of mine had advised before I left my Montreal home. With this in mind, I gave Ali a fake smile and stared into my cup of tea, working hard on opening my foreign mind to the notion that a steady diet of chicken made Lebanese women grow enormous breasts. As far as I was concerned, I had been eating chicken shawarma sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a week by then and it looked to me like my pants were filling up much faster than my bra!
That very afternoon, however, empirical evidence from what I considered a significantly more reliable source was provided to me to back up Ali’s claim. I got stranded in the Chouf Mountains and hitched a ride with a friendly local who insisted I visit his German wife. She would, he claimed, be most delighted to entertain foreign company. I had no set plans so I spent the afternoon in a fabulous mountaintop villa with the elegant and well-traveled Karine talking about religion, politics, and…chicken.
“You know, it’s not as crazy as it sounds,” sensible Karine said of Ali’s theory. “I would actually believe chicken could be what’s behind it,” she added, leaving me choking on my peppermint tea.
“I’m serious!” she insisted. “I used to feed my female German shepherd scraps of chicken and I had to stop because the hormones were affecting her period.”
I left Karine’s villa that day with as many doubts in my mind as there were tea stains on my shirt. Could it really be the chicken?
Hopelessly intrigued, I traveled all over the land of the great cedar trees shaking my incredulous head at the multitude of slender—yet extraordinarily shapely—Lebanese girls I encountered. From Tripoli to Tyre, throughout Beirut, Byblos, Sidon, Bcharré, and Baalbek, those chicken hormones seemed to have spared no one with an XX chromosome.
And what about the guys? I couldn’t help but wonder. What could be the most likely effect of growth hormones on the male anatomy? Encouraged by my own speculations, I spent endless afternoons hiding in restaurant corners, riding crowded buses, or walking aimlessly along the corniche to spy on Lebanese men and steal inquisitive glances at their crotches. Could this little land breed men of larger-than-life manliness?
Alas, unable to verify so enticing a hypothesis, I gave in to my skepticism and discarded the chicken theory as pure fancy. Chicken? Oh, please! What a far-fetched idea.
Yet reason seldom defeats wishful thinking. I still ate chicken shawarma three times a day, continued—in vain—to monitor my bra’s fit every morning, and smiled at Lebanese men a lot.
I did not speak of chicken again until the night before I left Lebanon. I was just about to fall asleep in my hard little Beirut bed when Rachelle, my Aussie dorm mate, broke our late night silence:
“Is it me or do Lebanese girls all have big boobs?” Rachelle blurted out from her corner of our pitch black room.
Grinning like a Cheshire cat in the darkness, I said gravely:
“Too much chicken.”
Jennifer L. Leo
is a Chinese-American born with a gift for gab and a hunger for an everlasting craps game. Editor of the best-selling San in My Bra and Other Misadventures: Funny Women Write from the Road
and co-editor of A Woman’s Path,
her writing has also appeared in Hyenas Laughed at Me and Now I Know Why, Wild Writing Women: Stories of World Travel, A Woman’s Passion for Travel, The Adventure of Food,
Lonely Planet World Food Guides Hong Kong
and other books in the Travelers’ Tales series. When not working on a career in print and online travel publishing, Jen fantasizes about her dream job of being a jewelry thief and stay-at-home mom. For practice she lifts brown mustard from burger joints and borrows children from friends. Her nomadic bloodline can be traced back five generations to Canton, China. Between wanderings, Jen encourages others to follow their travel writing passions on her web site,WrittenRoad.com.
Keep up with her adventures on www.JenLeo.com.