Just like me. I finished On The Banks Of Plum Creek and thought, “Man, we are so alike.” Really, truly, I thought me and Laura Ingalls Wilder would have been BFFs. For sure. I always wanted to live like a little hobbit in a mound of dirt house and she did. And when she survived The Long Winter, I was right with her. Man, I hate it when you can’t walk outside to the store and get your frozen pizza fix on because of the minor problem of a blizzard. Or when the electricity goes off because of high winds. You can’t watch Step By Step on TGIF, WTF!!! She just got me. Reading on my bed, eating my Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies, I tore through historical novels and always came up with the same conclusion: We would have gotten along. The Secret Garden, no prob. Mary was me, just back then. Heidi, yeah, samesies. Anne of Green Gables, wasn’t that my biography?
I got along well with my posse of literary girlfriends. And I was pretty sure they felt the same way. My plot line of middle class girl living in small town America was pretty unique. I had a diary filled with mystical thoughts and deep observations, and my top ten boys’ list was pure poetry.
So I imagined days with my friends shopping at the Dollar General for sugar sticks that you dip in flavored sugar. Riding bicycles to the pool in the summer and ending the afternoon with shaved ice at the Tropical Sno. Besties for ever, Laura and I.
It wasn’t until I watched Back To The Future III that I realized we weren’t exactly, uh, on the same page. I had romanticized the idea of living in more primitive times that I forgot their water was pretty gross. Lady Speed Stick wasn’t in high demand. And that whole leg shaving thing, what gives? There was a good year when I just imagined switching lives with these characters and being completely grossed out. Weekly baths. The whole women’s reproductive cycle problems thingy (I always just compiled that into one word: Yuck.) Teeth. That was a big part of my squeamishness. We had a pioneer day in fourth grade. It was fun eating out of a pail for one day. It was enjoyable trying a dandelion on a cracker for one day. Bonnets worked, again, for one day. (ONE DAY is the key here.) But then I wanted to go back into my house with no cracks or bugs crawling about and curl up with a game of Mario Paint on the Super NES. I sucked at cross-stitching, I’d be no good during that time period. I’d stick out sorely, watching people, judging them. It just wouldn’t work.
My dreams of meeting my different century friends were squashed. Thanks Michael J. Fox for jump starting that reality. Now, anytime I read Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte, I get lost for a moment and then jolt back to shuddering thoughts of bloodletting and major B.O. Yeah, I don’t even seem to care about the lack of women’s rights at that time, much more concerned with the lack of clothes changing.
Still, I always try to bring a character to my realm, very Lost In Austen. Elizabeth Bennett would love a good bargain at Century 21. Laura Ingalls Wilder would just love the lipstick options at Sephora. Never mind vaccinations or central air or the right to vote, but I just know Little Women‘s Jo would have enjoyed Tampax tampons. She just would.