The Man Who Hated Little Cars, Part One

Spring, 1960
Virgil scooped his Wheaties, half-noticing the crunching sensation ringing through his fingers as the milky metal edge of the spoon burrowed through the hearty, dampened flakes. He was trying to ignore the murmurs of his daughter’s friends, Kathy and Sharon, who had stayed over the night before and whom he knew called him “Vagisil Ex-Lax” behind his back.

What he was paying attention to was the May issue of Sports Car Illustrated, and its cover story on the new, “ultra-zippy” car model being imported from Britain, something called a Mini Cooper.

“Disgusting,” Virgil mumbled to himself. He poked his nose closer to the glossy photographs, scrutinizing each detail of the new design, each one more ridiculous than the last. “Look at that flat windshield, those tiny wheels, like a damned, silly, overgrown... lawnmower.” This last characterization struck him as especially clever, and he let out a soft chuckle through his mouthful of cereal.

Sharon took this as an invitation to chat. “Is there something funny in your car book, Mr. Exner? Can I read it?”

“Maybe later. I have to go now,” Virgil replied quickly, and, folding his magazine into his briefcase, gulped the last of his coffee before bursting out the door. The girls looked at one another and listened for the sound of his car’s motor firing up, then burst out giggling.

“Smooth move, Ex-Lax!” they jeered in unison - even his daughter, Beth, who usually kept fairly quiet.

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