Too Square to Corner!
Hot Rods and Racing Cars #33
Albert Clermond Stobbs drove sedately down the right hand lane, keeping alert for oncoming cars, creeping closer to the shoulder when cars overtook his from the rear. His passenger, Marge Weston, was disgusted.
"Do you always drive like this, Albert?" she asked. Albert risked a look in her direction and the front wheels swerved. Marge was redheaded, green-eyed, and she made him nervous.
"My aunt says cars cause more harm than guns," he quoted, slowing down for a curve.
"Let me drive, Albert," Marge said as they rounded a turn. There was a drive-in ahead where he could park off the road. "I know the road. It will be much safer, won't it?" She added the last out of pure inspiration.
Albert thought it over and agreed. "There sure are a lot of turns and hills in the road. Maybe you'd better take the wheel!"
They arrived at the dance on time. Albert danced the same way he drove, old-fashioned and unhappily. Marge tried to be loyal to her date but it was hard work. Especially with Squeal Temple watching, wise-cracking about Albert, his clothes, and his lagging feet. Finally, Marge could take no more. She dragged Albert out to the refreshment counter.
"Albert, you're square! I'm not exactly a rock an' roll addict or a zoot-suit fan, but you're the least I ever saw! What gives with you, anyhow?"
Albert laughed and suddenly he looked different. He made sure no one was listening as he took her outside to his car. "My mother worried a lot when she sent me here to my aunt for a visit! I had to promise I'd act like a perfect gentleman and that means in every way! I bought this suit especially for this visit. I drive the way I think my aunt would want me to drive. And dance the way I did so she won't think I'm a juvenile delinquent who enjoys dancing!"
The music could be heard from the ball room. Marge's eyes twinkled and she grabbed him by the hand. Albert grinned, his flying feet matched hers in a creative series of steps, then he quit. She laughed heartily.
"Albert, you're groovy, all the way! This is a good joke — let's keep it up!"
His aunt cornered him the next morning. Marge was there.
"Albert, what do the boys really call you at home? Not Albert, surely!"
He blushed and threw an accusing glance at Marge. "No, Aunt Mary. They call me," he gulped, then went on, "Speed! It's just a nickname, aunt Mary!"
His aunt Mary curled a lip. "Just a nickname, indeed! I'll wager you're a whizz when you get going, Speed! Why are you acting like a square?"
Marge laughed. "She doesn't like squares either, Speed! She told me she's too old to change now but she's sorry she's one! And she says if you want to make certain adjustments to her car, to go ahead! Isn't that right, Mary?"
Aunt Mary nodded and Speed leaped with joy. "This is great! I won't change the looks too much, Aunt Mary, but I'll sure change what's under the hood!"
Speed didn't have too much to buy. He got twin ignition, headers for the ohv V8, and stroked and bored it himself. It wasn't too hard to channel the trim sedan. He didn't want to chop it at all because Aunt Mary wouldn't feel right behind the wheel. Still, when he was through, it looked good. And it had plenty of horses under the hood. Marge had the best idea of all.
"Let's all go downtown for a soda, Aunt Mary! If the gang is here, they'll rib him! And, when we leave, they'll follow us! We can take the airport road and Speed can show them up!"
Aunt Mart agreed, Speed wore his conservative suit and he and his aunt Mary looked like the Gay Nineties as they sipped their sodas. Marge laughed as they left. The gang was clambering into various rods nearby.
Albert cruised slowly out of town. First, in his hopped-up Merc, came Squeall. Squeal cut them off, laughing. Then dragger came along in his Chrysler 300. He was the most, he thought. They all made a pass before Speed opened up.
He used second gear and burned rubber as he overtook them, almost scraping paint as he passed. Squeal almost went up a tree getting out of his way. Dragger went for the ditch, thinking Speed had gone berserk.
Speed swung in at the airport where he'd been heading with Marge directing. The others followed him in. Squeal led the gang up for the mass apology.
"We made chumps of ourselves, Albert! I guess we should've known anyone who's okay with Marge must be all right! Want to try some drag races?"
Speed Stobbs looked at Aunt Mary who nodded quickly. "Sure, why not? I wouldn't want my aunt to think I was a square too!"
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