The Jane Austen Driving School

If Jane Austen were alive today, she would add a few more universal truths to the observation she’s known for – you know, the one about a wealthy man being in dire need of a wife.

Jane Austen's world: one of color, life, vivacity, and contemplation. Contemplation by Steve Henderson

A driving Jane Austen – not an Empress-style power suit clad maiden, but a Jane Austen in the car – would observe the universal truth that, if you are the only vehicle for miles and just in front of you, on the right, hesitating about entering the highway, is one of those broad butt SUVs, the deer-in-the-headlights driver, just before it’s too late, will swing the vehicle’s mass, slowly, in your path.

(Wasn’t that last paragraph, which was one complete sentence, Jane-like?)

Jane brakes, articulates a 75-word discourse on the distressing inefficacy of the human condition and the state of mind of the human ahead in particular, and with a gentlewoman’s sigh, awaits acceleration because, naturally, the SUV turned just as the passing lane ended and the double yellow line began.

But the SUV doesn’t recognizably accelerate. Ponderously, to the point that Jane hears its joints creaking, the vehicle increases speed in one mile per hour increments until it settles, exhaling, to five miles per hour below the speed limit.

And there it stays.

And there Jane, or you, stays, logically recognizing that while this cretin hasn’t committed a felonious misdeed, you tremble with the desire to do something drastic, like gently shake your index finger in their direction and tightly purse your lips.

So calm, so controlled and gracious, Jane Austen continues to speak to us today. Emerald Dreams by Steve Henderson

Only when a passing lane opens up does the vehicle accelerate, exceeding the speed limit by 20 percent, maintaining this velocity until the lane ends.

If we still traveled about in phaetons and stagecoaches, one could amuse onself by unleashing the Mastiff slavering in the back, and simpering as the beast nipped the heels of the horses ahead. At the very least, since we’re all out in the open air (or at least the driver is), we could vociferously convey our views to the individual ahead of us, something we do all the time in the car, or at least I do.

I am on child number three out of four in the “teaching how to drive” stage, and one of the first lessons learned, after “You do everything I say, INSTANTLY, without question or argument,” is this truism:

“Ninety-five percent of the other drivers are idiots.”

I know that this doesn’t offend you, gentle reader, because I left a generous five percent to represent us, and I certainly won’t offend the tomfool twitty simpletons, because they don’t know where they are or what they’re doing, much less how they come across.

She wrote about life and tea and ordinary things in such an extraordinary way. Tropical Medley by Steve Henderson

Jane did such an exemplary job of articulating her observations: so delightfully, discreetly, agreeably waspish – how I wish that she were alive today, engaging us with her opinions on the upcoming election, say, or the Occupy movement, or even the furious mêlée on whether or not the potato is good for us.

Such sense the woman had. And sensibility.

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About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
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4 Responses to The Jane Austen Driving School

  1. Jana says:

    Oh yes, I know that guy! It is almost a given that if someone pulls out in front, forcing me to kick off the cruise control, that someone will go slow and take the next turn. And it is almost a given that the poke-alongs around the lake will pedal-to-the-metal as soon as one of the three passing lanes is reached. And you can count on the same someone to slow back to poke-along speed as soon as the passing lane ends.

    Me? I drive perfectly! I have to, because my business name is on my license plate!!

  2. I have thought of putting our business name on the car — brave indeed. Not that I’m worried about setting a bad example or anything with my driving. Of course not.

  3. Jana says:

    Further, I’m dying to know what Jane would said about Occupy Wall Street. Can you channel her or something? While you are at it, can we hear from Mark Twain too?

  4. Mark Twain on Occupy Wall Street — think it would burn all of our ears.

    Amusingly, My Little Hometown has an Occupy movement — the paper showed one scruffy college student with a bullhorn.

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