While perusing the imperial museums containing the coaches of royalty, I always recall an encounter in Guadalajara when an American RV jockey inspected – and rejected – the fleet of gilded coaches belonging to Emperor Maximillian.
Straight from a 21st century King of the Road – Emperor Max and his ilk got taken for a very shabby ride. In short, the fine inlay on 6-foot wheels supported by legions of carved cherubs evoked absolutely no envy from those who wrangle a Winnebago from Minneapolis to the Sun Belt. After our museum guide had waxed enthusiastically about the fine points of a coronation coach, I noticed an American wearing a baseball cap who was casting a critical eye at the carriage’s leather springs.
“It’s the emperor’s buggy not mine,” he commented as the guide eyed him suspiciously. “But I’d sure put on air shocks instead.”
Checking his dictionary for “air shocks,” the guide snapped back.
“This was an emperor’s coach! It was used only on the most ceremonial of occasions.”
Undaunted, the American continued to redesign Max’s coach. “With a little welding and redesign here and there, Max could have hoisted up a camper rig and parked overnight, seen a lot of the countryside. Saved his subjects a bundle by camping.”
The guide was aghast. “He saw the countryside! He was an emperor! He had many subjects. He rode around and waved to them.” But the guide himself was becoming interested in the ways Max could have kept up with the snowbirds.
The RV guy continued: “Look, you can’t just wave all the time and expect to stay in office. Where’s the john?”
Recovering his cmposture the guide triumphantly pulled out a chamber pot – regal, hand-decorated but still a chamber pot.
“Whoooeee,” whooped the critic. “I bet that was fun on those cobblestone roads! And Max a full emperor too!”
Mr. RV by now had attracted quite a crowd: “No ice chest to keep the beer cold. No gaslights to read proclamations by. No foldout table for poker. With a buggy like this I could weld on a trailer hitch and haul a 15-foot outboard. Didn’t Max have a beach place to get away for the weekend? Like Mar a Lago?”