Okay, listen. This little historical anecdote isn’t about sex. But it’s really cool. And it involves a historical figure who did have scandalous sex, and lots of it. And also, go back and read the title of this post.
And please note that this is a real thing that happened. There’s even a Wiki article about it, so BOOM, verifiable.
So once upon a time in 1901, these two English lady academics, Charlotte Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, took a little jaunt to Versailles. They were colleagues, roomies, best frans, all that jazz, and they were living in Paris and tutoring youths. Bear in mind also that they were serious, scholarly, smart, British ladies. They didn’t stand for dumb shit.
[Ed. note: a paragraph got deleted here, so this is my lazyass version of what I wrote initially to bridge the gap]. Charlie and Ellie stroll through the fucking majestic and wonderful and architecturally-consequential-across-cultures-for-years-and-years-and-years halls of Versailles with their littler touristy headsets on, and they’re into it, or whatever. But as they exited through the gift shop, they both decided that the physical manifestation of the absolute authority of one of the most prominent and storied monarchies in history, is just, you know, sort of “Enhhh.”
So in order to salvage what was likely a charming and totally emotionally and ideologically transformative (but still “Enhhh”) first world experience, they decided to take a little stroll through the gardens to the Petit Trianon, which is a “cottage” that Louis XV had built for his #1 slampiece, the Madame de Pompadour. Later, Marie Antoinette hung out there a lot to relax, and if I am to believe Sofia Coppola, play with baby lambs and catch butterflies. Anyway, it’s a cute little place. But Charlotte and Eleanor got a little lost on the way. SO LOST THAT THEY WENT BACK IN TIME.
YES. YOU HEARD ME. BACK IN TIME. PAY ATTENTION:
As they’re walking past some little chateau (because remember, they’re lost), Charlotte sees a woman waving a white cloth out one of the windows, and Eleanor notices an old farmhouse and plough off to the side. THEN THE WORLD FUCKING TURNS BLACK. Not exactly, though. From their description it sort of sounds like what happens when dementors show up, just less cold.
They continue down this path and see some palace gardeners, “dressed in long greyish-green coats with small three-cornered hats,” who creepily (I imagine) tell them to keep on walking. CLUE #1. They come upon a cottage, where a woman is handing a young girl a jug, but everything looks and feels weird, like a “tableau vivant,” according to Eleanor, which is probably French for “acid trip.” Charlotte said “Everything suddenly looked unnatural, therefore unpleasant; even the trees seemed to become flat and lifeless, like wood worked in tapestry. There were no effects of light and shade, and no wind stirred the trees.” FUCK. Also, CLUE #2, NANCY DREW.
Then they make it to the edge of the woods, where they meet a dude with a scarred face, a cloak, and a big shady hat. Charlotte later said his “expression was evil and yet unseeing, and though I did not feel that he was looking particularly at us, I felt a repugnance to going past him.” CLUE #3, also, he points them toward the Petit Trianon.
- En route (that’s French, don’t worry about it), Eleanor notices a very pretty, very blonde, very fancy woman sketching in the garden of the PT. Oh yeah, she’s dressed like it’s the 1790s. OH YEAH, WHATEVER, SHE’S PROBABLY MARIE ANTOINETTE. Who is the aforementioned scandalous figure.
Then the world gets dementor-y again, and they head back toward the palace and toward THE PRESENT TIME, where they meet up with their tour group. They kept going back to Versailles and the PT afterwards to try to retrace their steps, but no dice. No farmhouse, no little chateau, no characters from Les Miserables.
They eventually published their story under pseudonyms and it caused all kinds of sensations, namely because HOLY FUCK THESE ACADEMIC LADIES MIGHT HAVE GONE BACK IN TIME. Some naysayers offered explanations, but “scientists” couldn’t really nail down a solid one. So, you know what this means, right? Back to the Future is possible. Bill and Ted is possible. ANYTHING is possible!
I know it’s not scandalous, per se, but it blew my mind. Also, Woody Allen, we’re on to you.