There?s a new freak in town: the automobile ?Lastun? (martin). Designed and produced by the Polytechnic Industries in Timisoara, the car was a perfect blend of the monstrous and the ridiculous. With its 500-cube centimeter-engine and elements taken over from ?Dacia?, but a handicraftsman?s finishing, it was promoted as a cheap, low-consumption car, which could not measure up, though, to the performances of the more likeable ?Trabant?. The name suggested size, but nothing reminded even remotely of the suppleness and speed of the bird. There were, certainly, advantages, too: the relatively small price (half the cost of a ?Dacia?) and high availability, since few were actually interested.
Its lilliputian size was, of course, the occasion of a number of jokes. Here is one: ?Could it be that we made it to the Grand Chinese Wall? No, dear, it?s the curbstone.? And another: ?Why does the Lastun have a flat backside? So that you can stand it on its back in the parking lot like you would a flat iron.? (129)
I suppose the school libraries were richer or poorer, function of the neighborhood or the prestige. What I know for sure is that you couldn?t borrow books that were not mentioned in the school bibliography. One of my boys was in the second grade and went to the school library to ask for a certain novel by Jules Verne. The librarian advised him to read ?Little Red Riding Hood?. Since my boy had read it already, she recommended Ispirescu?s fairy tales, but he had read those too, so he was directed to ?Memories From Childhood? by Creanga, which he had read, although, he admitted, he couldn?t make much sense of it. As the boy insisted for Jules Verne, the librarian took him to the director where they threatened to punish him for audacity. I myself received a note that summoned me to school, where they admonished me for not educating my children in the spirit of love for the values of the country and for its beloved leaders. (125)