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The Great Pyramids

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“Do not sign up if you are claustrophobic, are afraid of the dark, have back problems, have knee problems, have heart problems, have lung problems, have asthma, are pregnant, are out of shape, get migraines, are prone to fainting or currently have a weakened immune system from a cold or another ailment. Are sure you want to do this?”

I have a problem saying no.

My new husband and I were trekking around Egypt for our honeymoon and finally had gotten to the Great Pyramids of Giza. The bus driver informed us that one of the pyramids was open for tourists to walk into but that we should weigh the pros and cons. Once in, there was no turning back.

I looked at my newly declared life partner, the man who had just sworn before our friends and family that he would stand by my side through thick and thin, the man who had just stated a mere week prior that he loved me for my wild side and vowed to live out every adventure with me. He saw the eager questioning in my eyes, the silent plea for him to go down into the bowels of the pyramid with me, and said, “I’m not going down there.”

As it turned out, I was the only person on our bus not deterred by the driver’s warning. It’s not that I wasn’t nervous; I just have a condition when it comes to saying no. It’s why I’ve had so many close calls with death. It’s why my body is covered in scars. Believe me, I’m not saying I’m smart. It’s a condition, I tell ya. A condition!

The line to get into the pyramid was long. Clearly, the other tourists arrived via less fatalistic bus drivers. It was the dead of summer, and I was boiling by the time I reached the opening to the 3,000-year-old structure. But I did not yet know heat. The second I stepped into the pyramid, I was body-slammed by the immense heat and stifling humidity.

It was hard to breathe, and I immediately was soaked down to my underpants in sweat.

Within 10 steps, the tunnel becomes dramatically tighter. One shoulder glides against the damp pyramid wall as the other shoulder gets bashed every other second by the tourists who have made the loop and are on their way out. The ceiling is so low that you have to bend at the waist, virtually sticking your nose in the anus of the person in front of you.

I was cursing my condition, when the British tourist in front of me said to his buddy before him, “I don’t feel so good, mate.” His friend said, “Oh, man, I’m glad I’m not walking behind you.”

But I was!

Just as I was looking for a possible exit strategy, the British man let one rip, right on my face. There was no escaping it.

Suddenly, everything became very real to me. I was walking down a long tunnel in sweltering heat toward a grave, a Pharaoh’s empty tomb. Death lingered in this place. These tunnels were not meant for the living. I was breathing the same stagnant air that had been sitting, hovering, in the same location for millenniums. And now this jerk had just farted in this holy place, leaving his stench to linger in these stagnant tunnels for all time?!

The two Britons started laughing. And the man in front of me farted again.

I lost it. I screamed, “Dude! Stop farting in the Pyramids!”

Words I never imagined I’d scream. The Brits stopped laughing, and we trudged on. I saw the empty grave. It was just a slab of stone. Then I hunched back down and followed someone else, nose to anus, back out.

When I got outside, the 103-degree day felt like a cold shower. I breathed deeply. My husband asked me, “Was it worth it?”

I finally learned to say no. Something my brand-new husband was probably less than thrilled about.

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