Among the many weird and off-the-wall things that cross my mind, I often play a mental game when I drive. It goes something like this:
I pretend Jane Austen is riding shotgun with me, and I get to explain to her the workings of the automobile, traffic, commuting, and we discuss the improvements in modes of transportation from her day to ours.
Jane: “The seats are more comfortable than even Lady Catherine’s barouche box!”
Me: “Oh yeah, we have this stuff called foam now that they put in the seats. It’s a synthetic material.”
Jane: “And this carriage is warm, or cool, as you choose. A vast deal pleasanter when one travels in the winter.”
Me: “Yup. All those knobs and dials pull heat off the engine when you want to warm up the car, or use the cooling system when it’s hot.” Air conditioning takes more time to explain, what with freon and it’s replacement options, and then we have to talk about the ozone and climate change and pollution, which all makes our century sound really bad. But then I get to discuss the advances in medicine and infant mortality rates, and so on.
How would you even begin to explain everything that’s changed between then and now?
And bicycles! I think she would have loved bicycles and the freedom they gave women. Even if originally women were expected to wear seven pounds worth of undergarments (by the 1850s, fourteen pounds of underwear was the norm. Talk about ‘crazypants’).
I bet Lizzie Bennet would have been on one of those in a New York minute if she’d had the chance.
Here Jane’s getting her first driving lesson in the 21st century equivalent of the barouche.
She really liked it; bit of a speed demon that girl. Yeah, I don’t actually own the car either.
So, who’s riding with you?