Document 199834

Weekly PoeID,
Short Story, and
HoW' to Read Literature
Like a Professor
Week Four:
November 18th - November 20 th
Weekly Poem, Short Story,
and How to Read Literature like a Professor Homework Schedule:
.:. Monday, November 18t h:
o Read "Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampirism" from How to Read Literature like a
Professor. making annotations as you read the chapter. Type your answer(s) to the
question(s) for the chapter. Be prepared to discuss this chapter and your responses
on Tuesday.
•:. Wednesday, November 20th :
o Read the "Sound and Sense" making annotations as you read the poem. Type your
answers to the questions for the poem. Be prepared to discuss the poem on
Thursday .
•:. Thursday, November 21st :
o Read" A & P" and make annotations to the story as you read. Type your answers to
the uucstions for the story. Be prepared to discuss the story on Friday.
"Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampirism" from
How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster Response Questions:
1. What are tlu: essentials of the Vampire story? Apply this to a literary work you have read or
"Sound and Sense" by Alexander Pope Analysis Questions:
1. Using allusions to classical mythology that he would have expected his readers to know, Pope makes his point in "Sound and
Sense" by exemplifying the effects or defects he wants to direct attention to in bad or good poetry. For example, he uses
alliteration -the gentle SOli nd of s-when he describes Zephyr, the gentle west wind. Find other examples in the excerpt of
alliteration and onomatopoeia, How do the sounds of the words illustrate the examples and provide lessons on "true ease in
2. Examine the rhyme scheme. Pope was famous for writing couplets (two rhyming lines). How do the series of couplets in this
poem help Pope COnVI) II is message about the relationship between sound and sense?
3. Pope manipulates the <ouud of this poem by controlling the poem's rhythm. Find examples of the way he varies stress (or
accent), mixes mono-and polysyllabic words, ends words in consonants that do not easily blend, or slows a line down with
commas. Besure to read the poem aloud to hear the effects of the poem's"sound."
4. "Sound and Sense" is u tii, lactic poem, meaning it was written for the purpose of instructing its readers. However, it does
contain lyrical langua.:c : .at expresses emotion. How does Pope use that lyrical language to achieve his didactic purpose in
this poem?
5. What conclusions can VOII draw about Pope's view of the artist and his or her art? What expectations do you think he had
about the artist's place ill society?
"A & P" by John Updike Analysis Questions:
1. This story pivots on the, ','l" 'i Oil Sammy made; was it the right one? Do you agreeor disagree with his belief that "onceyou begina gesture
it's fatal not to go throu, ' II
.h it"?
Does Updike want us to see Sammy as actingfoolishly or courageously?
2. Sammy is both the main ch.rrncrer and the narratorof this story. Howdoes this first-person point of viewaffect your attitude toward him?
Do you like him? Is he I,,'" and engaging? disrespectful? smug? Cite specific passages-including slangand colloquial expressions-that
influence your response,
3. Whatdoes Sammy's dc,,"i: ;"11 of the three girls reveal about his character? Consider the details he notes and the language he uses,
especially figurative lan
" Why is it significant that the girls are from the "summer colony out on the Point" ratherthan being
permanent residents?
What does Sammy's de"
grocery store? Discuss I""
i"ll ofthe other A & P customers and A & P employees suggestabout his attitude toward his workat the
.unmy is simultaneously critical of the small-town world where he lives and a part of it. Is he being
5. The final two paragrapll'" ,,' storyhave a relatively sombertone and end with Sammy's comment, "my stomach kind of fell as I felt how
hard the world was g O i l l c 10 me hereafter." Whydoes Sammy believe that the world is going to be hard on him? What is Updike's
purpose in keeping the cllclillg devoidof the humoror lighthearted toucheswe saw earlier in the story?
6. Howmuch timeseems I, I" ",' elapsed from wheneventsoccurred and when the accountwas told? Cite evidence from the storyto support
your position. How migl, i I: -; proximity or distance influence Sammy's senseof the significance of what has happened?
a comparison between the town'sresidents and the summer vacationers, he makes dear the contrastin
"'k. How are the two groups representative of different cultures? In what ways is Sammy tryingto cross
7. Although Updike docs 11
socioeconomic status ;11
8. This story was written i, :'
which details seem dare
hiltcontinues to be one of Updike's mostpopularstories. Why? What aboutthe story seemstimeless, and
Nice to Eat You:
Acts of Vampires
"with" out of "Nice to eat with you," it begins to mean some­
thing quite different. Less wholesome. More creepy. It just
goes to show that not all eating that happens in literature is
friendly. Not only that, it doesn't even always look like eating.
Beyond here there be monsters.
Vampires in literature, you say. Big deal. I've read Dracula.
And Anne Rice.
Good for you. Everyone deserves a good scare. But actual
vampires aIC only the beginning; not only that, they're not
even necessarily the most alarming type. After all, you em at
least recognize them. Let's stan with Dracula himself,and we'll
eventually see why this is true. You know how in all those
Drac$ movies. or almost ~I, the count always has chis weird
artractiveness to him? Sometimes he's downright sexy. Always,
he's alluring, dangerous. mysterious, and he tends to focus on
beautiful, unmarried (which in the social vision of nineteenth­
century England meant virginal) women. And when he gets
them, he grows younger, more alive (if we can say this of the
undead), more virile even. Meanwhile, his victims become like
him and begin to seek out their own victims. Van Helsing, the
count's ultimate nemesis, and his lot, then, are really protecting
young people, and especially young women, from this menace
when they hunt him down. Most of this, in one form or
another, can be found in Brarn Stoker's novel (1897), although
it gets more: hysterical in the movie: versions. Now let's think
about this for a moment. A nasty old man, attractive but evil,
violates young women. leaves his mack on them, sreals their
innocence-and coincidentally their "usefulness" (if you think
"marriageability," you'll be about right) to young men-and
leaves them helpless followers in his sin. I think we'd be rea­
sonable to conclude that the whole Count Dracula saga has an
agenda to it beyond merely scaring us out of our wits,
although scaring readers out of their wits is a noble enterprise
and one that Stoker's novel accomplishes very nicely. In fact.
we might conclude it has something to do with sex.
Well, of course it has to do with sex. Evil has had to do with
sex since the serpent seduced Eve. What was the upshot there?
Body shame and unwholesome lust, seduction, temptation,
danger, among other ills.
So vampirnm is" 'I about vampires?
Oh, it is. It is. But it's also about things other than literal
vampirism: selfishness. exploitation, a refusal to respect the
autonomy of other people, just for starters. We'll return to this
list a bit later on.
This principle also applies to other scary favorites, such as
ghosts and doppelgangers (ghost doubles or evil twins). We can
10 EAI
You: Actsof ~{,mpirfS
take it almost as an act of faith that ghosts are about something
besides themselves. That may not be true in naive ghost stories.
but most literary ghosts-the kind that occur in stories of last­
mg interest-have to do with things beyond themselves. Think
of [he ghost of Hamlet's father when he takes to appearing on
[he castle ramparts at midnight. He's nor there simply to haunt
his son; he's there to point out something drastically wrong
in Denmark's royal household. Or consider Marley's ghost in
A Christmas Carol (1843), who is really a walking, clanking,
moaning lesson in ethics for Scrooge. In fact, Dickens's ghosts
are always up to something besides scaring the audience. Or
take Dr. Jekyll's other half. The hideous Edward Hyde exists to
demonstrate to readers that even a respectable nun has a dark
SIde; like many Victorians, Robert Louis Stevenson believed in
the dual nature of humans, and in more than one work he
finds ways of showing rh..t duality quite literally. In The SlriJn.~
Case of Dr. Jekyll arid Mr. Hyde (1886) he has Dr. ]. drink a
potion and become his evil half. while in his now largely
ignored short novel TIle Master of Ballan"ae (1889), he uses
twins locked in fml conflict to convey the same sense. You'll
notice, by the way, that many of these examples come from
Victorian writers: Stevenson, Dickens, Stoker, ]. S. Le Fanu,
Henry James. Why? Because there was so much the Victorians
couldn't write about directly, chiefly sex and sexuality, they
found ways of transforming those taboo subjects and issues
into other forms. The Victorians were masters of sublimation.
But even today, when there are no limits on subject matter or
treatment, writers still use ghosts, vampires, werewolves. and all
manner of scary things to symbolize various aspects of our
more common reality.
Try this for a dictum: ghosts and vampire5 are never
only about ghosts and vampires.
Here's where it gets a little tricky, though: the ghosts and
vampires don't always have to appear in visible forms. Some­
times the really scary bloodsuckers arc entirely human. Let's
look at another Victorian with experience in ghost and nOI1­
ghost genres, Henry james, James is known, of course, as a mas­
ter, perhaps the master, of psychological realism; if you want
massive novels with sentences as long and convoluted as the
Missouri River,j<lmes is your man. At the same time, though,
he hJS some shorter works that feature ghosts and demonic
possession, and those are fun in their own way,as well as a good
deal more accessible. His novella TIlt: li,rn ~/lhe Screw (1898) is
about J governess who tries, without success, to protect the
two children in her care from a particularly nasty ghost who
seeks to take possession of them. Either that or it's about an
insane governess who fantasizes that a ghost is taking over the
children in her care, and in her delusion literally smothers
them with protecriveness. Or just possibly ir's about an insane
governess who is dealing with a particularly nasty ghost who
tries to take possession of her wards. Or possibly ... well, let's
just say that the plot calculus is tricky and that much depends
on the perspective of the reader. So we have a story in which
a ghost features prominently even if we're never sure whether
he's really there or not, in which the psychological state of the
governess matters gready, and in which the lite of a child, a lit­
tle boy, is consumed. Between the two of them, the governess
and the "specter" destroy him. One might say that the story is
about fatherly neglect (the stand-in for the father simply aban­
dons the children to the governess's care) and smothering
maternal concern. Those two thematic elements are encoded
into the plot of the novella. The particulars of the encoding
are carried by the details of the ghost story. It just so happens
that James has another famous story, "Daisy Miller" (1878). in
which there are no ghosts. no demonic possession, and noth­
ing more mysterious than a midnight trip to the Colosseum in
Rome. Daisy is a young Americall woman who does as she
pleases, thus upsetting the rigid social customs of the European
society she desperately wants to approve of her. Winterbourne,
the man whose attention she desires, while both attracted to
and repulsed by her, ultimately proves tOO fearful of the disap­
proval of his established expatriate American community to
pursue her further. After numerous misadventures, Daisy dies,
ostensibly by contracting malaria on her midnight jaunt. But
you know what n:,l1ly kills her' Vampires.
No, really. Vampires. I know I told you there weren't any
supernatural forces at work here. But you don't need fangs and
a C.ipe to be a vampire. The essentials of the vampire story. as
we discussed earlier: an older figure representing corrupt, out­
worn values: a young. preferably virginal female; a stripping
away of her youth, energy. virtue; a continuance of the life
force of the old male; the death or destruction of the young
woman. o by, let's see now. 1¥i",CTbourne and Daisy carry
associanons of winter-e-dearh, cold-and spnng-e-Iife. flowers,
renewal-e-rhat ulrimaeely come into conflict (wc'll talk about
seasonal implications in a later chapter), with winter's frost
destroying the delicate young flower. He IS considerably older
than she, closely associated with the stifling Euro-Anglo­
American society. She IS fresh and innocent-and here is
James's brilliaoce-e-so innocent as to appear to be a wanton.
He and his aunt and her circle watch Daisy and disapprove, but
because of a hunger to disapprove of someone, they never cut
her loose entirely. They play with her yearning to become one
of them, taxing her energies until she begins to wane. Wimcr­
bourne mixes voyeurism, vicarious thrills, and sriff-nccked dis­
approval, all of which culminate when he finds her with a
(male) friend at the Colosseum and chooses to ignore her.
Daisy says of his behavior, "He cuts me dead!" That should be
dear enough for anyone. His, and his clique's, consuming of
Daisy is complete; having used up everything that is fresh and
viral in her, he leaves her to waste away. Even then she asks
after him. But having destroyed and consumed her. he moves
<~J,. ,-~.:-~~,,-;,_i;~1iA
on, not sufficiemJy touched, it seems to me, by the pathetic
spectacle he has caused.
So how don all this tie in with vampires? IsJames a believer
In ghnm and spooks? Does "Daisy Miller" mean he thrnks
we're all vampires? Probably nor. I believe what happens here
and in orher stories and novels ('111e Saa,'rI Fount [19011 cernes
to mind) is that he deems the figure of die consuming spirit or
vampiric personality a useful narrative vehicle. We tind this
figure appearing in different guises. even under nearly oppumc
circumstances, from one story to another. On the one hand, in
71,c 'liml ,1 the Screw, he uses the literal vampire or the poss<.'Ss­
ing spook co examine a certain sort of psychosocial imbalance.
These days we'd give it a label, a dysfunctional something or
otl It: r, but James probably only saw it as a problem in our
approach to child rearing or :a psychic neediness in young
women whom society disregards and discards. On the other
hand, in "Daisy Millet." he employs the figure of the vampire
as ;111 emblem of the way sociery-e-policc. ostensibly normal
sociery-r-barrcns on and consumes its victims.
Nor isJames the only one. The nineteenth century was filled
with writers showing the min line between the ordinary and
the monstrous. Edgar Allan Poe. J. S. Le Fanu, whose ghost StO­
ries made him the Stephen King of his day. Thomas Hardy,
whose poor heroine in "less of the V'Urbmrill".s (1891) provides
cable fare for the disparate hungers of the men 10 her lite. Or
virtually any novel of the naturalistic movement of the lace:
nineteenth century, where the law of the jungle and survival of
the fittest reign. Of course, the twentieth century also provided
plenty of instances of social vampirism and cannibalism. Franz
Kafka, a latter-day Poe. uses the dynamic in stories like: "The
Metamorphosis" (1915) and "A Hunger Artist" (1924). where,
in a nifry reversal of the traditional vampire narrative. crowds
of onlookers watch as the artist's fasting consumes him. Gabriel
Garda Marquez's heroine Innocent Erendira, in the tile bear-
Eat YPU; Am <!( HlIIIpir~s
ing her name (I (72). is exploited and put out to prostitution by
her heartless grandmother. D. H. Lawrence gave us any nurn­
ber of short sror ics where characters devour and destroy one
another in lite-and-death contests of will. novellas like "The:
Fox" (1923) and even novels like W"'",Crl j" Love (19211), in
which Gudrun Brangwen and Gerald erich. although osrcnsi­
bly in love: with one another, each realize that only one of
them can survive and so engage in mutually destructive behav­
ior. Iris Murdoch-pick a novel, dlly novel. Not for nothing
did she call one of her books if Sel't'rt'd HetJd (1961), although
771/~ Unicorn (1')(13) would work splendidly here, with its
wealth of phony gothic creepiness. There are works. of course,
where tilt.' ghost or vampire is merely 01 gothic cheap thrill
without allY particular thematic or symbolic significance, but
such works tend to be short-term commodities without mnch
staying power in readers' minds or the public arena. We're
haunted only while we're reading. In those works that con­
tinue to haunt lIS, however, the figure of the cannibal, me vam­
pire, the succubus, the spook announces Itself again and again
where someone grows in strength by weakening someone else.
That's what this figure really comes down to, whether in
Elizabethan, Victorian. or more modern incarnations: exploita­
tion in irs many forms. Using other people to get what we
want. Denying someone else's right to live in the face of our
overwhelming demands. Placing our desires, particularly our
uglier ones, above the needs of another. That's pretry much
what the vampire does, after all. He wakes up in the morn­
ing-actually the evening, now that' think about ir-e-and says
something like, "In order to remain undead, I must steal the
life force of someone whose fate matters less to me than my
0\0\'TI." I've always supposed that Wall Street traders utter essen­
tially the same sentence. My guess is that as long as people act
toward their fellows in exploitative and selfish w-ays. the vam­
pire will be with us.
Weekly Poem:
Read the poem carefully ... once, twice, three times. Annotate the poems as thoroughly as possible. Note
any poetic devices that are used and the overall effect it creates, any connections to literary movements,
and any historical connections.
Sound and Sense
By Alexander Pope [1688-1744]
True ease in writing comes from art, not change,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
'Tis not enough no ha rshness gives offense,
The spound must seem an echo to the sense;
Soft is the strain whel\ Zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse rough
should like the torrent roar.
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labors, and the words move slow;
Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er the' unl-:» II\g corn, and skims along the main.
Hear how Timothcus' varied lays surprise,
And bid alterna tc 1',l':sions fall and rise!
While, at each clull','" the son of Libyan Jove
Now burns witl. >! ':.', and then melts with love;
Now his fierce eyl's with sparkling fury glow,
Now sighs steal
Persians and
.uid tears begin to flow:
'ike turns of nature found,
And the world's. i: \ ir stood subdued by sound!
The power of !11U'i,' ail our hearts allow,
And what Timot J:,
was, is DRYDEN now.
John Updike
In walks these three girls In nothing but bathing Iiults, I'm In the third check-out slot, with my
back to the door, sa I don't see them until they're over by the bread, The one that caught my eye
first was the one In the plaid green two-piece. She was a chunky kid, with a good tan and a sweet
broad soft-looktng can with those two crescents of white lust under It. where the sun never seems
to hit. at the top of the backs of her legs. I stood there with my hand on a box of HiHo crackers
trying to remember If I rang It up or not. I ring It up agaln and the customer starts giving me hen,
She's one of these cashTeglster'watehers, a witch about fifty with rouge on her cheekbones and no
eyebrows. and I knowlt made her day to trip me up. She'd been watching cash registers forty years
and probably never seen a mistake before.
By the time I got her featheTli smoothed and her goodies Into a bag" she gives me alittle snort In
passing. if she'd been born at the right time they would have burned her over In Salem .. by the
time I get her on her way the girls had circled around the bread and were coming back, without a
pushcart. back my way along the counters. In the aisle between the check-outs and the Special bins.
They didn't even have shoes on, There was this chunky one. with the two-ptece ., It was bright
green and the seams on the bra Were still sharp and her belly was stili pretty pale so 1 guessed she
Just got it (the SUit) - there was this one, with one of those chubby berry'faces, the lips all bunched
together under her nose. this one, and a tall one. with black hair that hadn't qUite frizzed right, and
one of these sunburns right across under the eyes, and a chin that was too long '. you know, the
klnd of girl other girls think 15 very 'strlklng' and 'attractive' but never quite makes It, as they very
well know. which Is why they like her 50 much" and then the thIrd one. that wasn't qulte 50 taiL
She was the queen, She kind of led them, the other two peeking around and making their
shoulders round, She didn't look around, not this queen, she lust walked straight on slowly, on
these long white prima donna legs, She came down a little hard on her heels, as If she didn't walk
in her bare feet that much, putting down her hub and then letting the weight move along to her
toes as if she was testing the /loor with every step, putting a little deliberate extra action into It.
You never know for sure how girls' minds work (do you really think It's a mind In there or Just a
little bun like a bee in a glassjar?) but you got the Idea she had talked the other two Into coming In
here with her, and now she was showtng them how to do It, walk slow and hold yourself stralght,
She had on a kind of dlrtyptnk .. beige maybe. I don't know - bathing sl1lt with a little nubble
all over It and, what got me. the Iitraps were down. They were off her shoulders looped loose
around the cool tops of her arms, and I guess as a result the suit had slipped a little on her, so all
around the top of the cloth there was this Iihlning rim. If It hadn't been there you wouldn't have
known there could have been anything whiter than those shoulders. With the straps pushed off,
there was nothing between the top of the suit and the top of her head e:Kcept just her, this clean
bare plane of the top of her chest down from the shoulder bones like a dented sheet of metal
tilted in the light, I mean. It was more than pretty.
She had sort of oaky hair that the sun and salt had bleached. done up In a bUD that was
unravelltng, and a kind of prim face, Walking Into the A &r P with your straps down, J suppose Its
the only kind of face you can have. She held her head 50 high her neck, coming up out 0 fthose
white shoulders. looked kind of stretched. but I didn't mind. The longer her neck was, the more of
her there was.
She must have felt In the corner of her eye me and over my shoulder Stokesle In the second slot
watching. but she didn't Up. Not this queen, She kept her eyes moving across the racks. and
stopped, and turned &0 slow It made my stomach rub the Inside of my apron. and buzaed to the
other two, who kind of huddled against her for rellef', and they all three of them went up the cat·
and-dog-food-breakfast'Cereal-macaronl-rl ceTaislnneasonlngs-spreadnpaghetti-soft drinks' rsckers­
and, cookies aisle. From the third slot I look straight up thIs able to the meat counter, and I
watched them all the way. The fat one with the tan sort of fumbled with the cookies. but on
second thought she put the packages back, The sheep pushing their carts down the aisle - the girls
were walking against the usual traffic (not that we have one-way signs or anything) - were pretty
hilarious. You could see them, when Qy.eenle's whlte shoulders dawned on them, kind of Jerk. or
hop. or hiccup. but their eyes snapped back to their own baskets and on they pushed. I bet you
could set off dynamite In an A & P and the people would by and large keep reaching and checking
oatmeal off their lists and muttering 'Let me see, there was a third thing. began with A. asparagus.
no. ah, yes, applessucef or whatever It Is they do mutter, But there was no doubt. this jiggled them,
A few house-slaves In pin curlers even looked around after pushing their carts past to make sure
what they had seen was correct,
You know. It's one thing to have a girl In a bathing suit down on the beach, where what with
the glare nobody can look at each other much anyway, and another thing In the cool of the A & P,
under the fluorescent lights, against all those stacked packages, with her feet paddling along naked
over our checkerboard green-and-cream rubber-tile floor.
'Oh Daddy: Stokesle said beside me, 1 feci so faint.'
"Darling: I said, 'Hold me tight: Stokesles married, with two babies chalked up on his fuselage
already, but as far as I can tell that's the only difference. He's twenty'two. and 1 was nineteen this
15 It done! he asks, the responsible married man finding his voice. 1 forgot to say he thinks hes
going to be manager some sunny day. maybe In 1990 when It's called the Great Alexandrov and
Petrooshkl Tea Company or something,
What he meant was, our town 15 five miles from a beach, with a big summer colony out on the
PoInt, but we're right In the middle of town. and the women generally put on a shirt or shorts or
something before they get out of the car Into the street. And anyway these are usually women
with six children and varicose veins mapping their legs and nobody. Including them. could care
less. As I say. we're right In the middle of town, and If you stand at our front doors you can see
two banks and the Congregational church and the newspaper store and three real-estate offices and
about twenty-seven old free-loaders tearing up Central Street because the sewer broke again, It's not
as If we're on the Cape. we're north of Boston and there's people In this town haven't seen the
ocean for twenty years,
The girls had reached the meal counter and were asking McMahon something, He pointed. they
pointed. and they shuffled out of Sight behind a pyramid of Diet Delight peaches, All that was left
for us to see was old McMahon patting his mouth and looking after them sIzing up their joints.
Poor kids, I began to feel sorry for them, they couldn't hdp It.
Now here comes the sad part of the story, atJeast my family says It's sad but I don't think Its sad
myself, The stores pretty empty. It being Thursday afternoon, so there was nothing much to do
except lean on the register and walt for the girls to show up again. The whole store was like a
pinball machine and I dldn't know which tunnel they'd come out of. After a while they come
around out of the far atsle, around the light bulbs. records at discount of the Caribbean Six or
Tony Martin Sings or some such gunk you wonder they waste the wax on, dxpacks of candy ban.
and plastic toys done up In cellophane that fall apart when a kid looks at them anyway. Around
they come, Chieenle sull leading the way. and holding a little gray Jar In her hand. Slots Three
through Seven are unmanned and I could see her wondering between Stokes and me. but Stokesle
With his usual luck draws an old party in baggy gray pants who stumbles up with four giant cans
of pineapple juice (what do these bums do with all that pIneapple [utee'Tve often asked mysdf) so
the girls come to me. Chieenle puts down the lar and I take It into my Ongers Icy cold. K1ngOsh
Fancy Herring Snacks In Pure Sour Cream, 49" Now her hands are empty. not a ring or a bracelet.
bare a ~ God made them, and I wonder where the moneys coming from, Still with that prim look
she lifts a folded dollar bl1l out of the hollow at the center of her nubbled pink top. The Jar went
heavy In my hand. Really, J thought that was so cute,
Then everybody's luck begins to run out, Lengel comes In from haggling with a truck full of
cabb'gr.s on the lot and Is about to scuttle Into that door marked MANAGER behind which he
hides all day when the girls touch his eye, Lengel's pretty dreary, teaches Sunda.y school and the
rest, be;t he doesn't miss that much, He comes over and says. 'Girls. this isn't the beach:
Quecnle blushes. though maybe It's lust a brush of sunburn I was noticing for the first time.
now t.hat she was so close. "My mother asked me to pick up a Jar of herring snacks." Her voice kind
of st ar t led me. the way voices do when you see the people first. coming out so nat and dumb yet
kind ,-,f tony. too, the way it ticked over 'ptck up' and 'snacks: All of a sudden I sUd right down
her "ekc into her liVing room. Her father and the other men were standing around In Ice-cream
coats ,,,cl bow ties and the women were in sandals picking up herring snacks on toothpicks off a
bIg pl.l c and they were all holding drinks the color of water with olives and sprigs of mint In
them When my parents have somebody over they get lemonade and If It's a real racy affair Schlitz
In taL f'],s,es with Theyll Do It Every Time' cartoons stencilled on,
II. J I', a1I right: Lengel satd. "But this Isn't the beach: His repeating this struck me as funny. as If
it h.1; .\ occurred to him. and he had been thinking all these years the A & P was a great big dune
and l.e -vis the head Ufeguud. He didn't like my sml\lng .. 'as I say he doesn't miss much - but he
cone" i i r J tes on giVing the girls that sad Sunday' school 'Superintendent stare.
C) '" file's blush Is no sunburn now. and the plump one In plaid. that
I liked better from the
back -, leally sweet can" pipes up. 'We weren't doing any shopping, We Just came In for the one
In h,
,,,ake.s no difference: Lengel tells her, and I could see from the way his eyes went that he
. ic ed she was wearing a twopiece before. We wa.nt you decently dressed when you come
We are decent: Qlleenle says suddenly. her lower lip pushing, getting sore now that she
remembers her place. a place from which the crowd that runs the A & P must look pretty
crummy, Fancy Herring Snacks flashed In her very blue eyes,
'Girls, I don't want to argue with you. After this come In here with your shoulders covered. Its
our poltcy," He turns his back. That's poUcy for you. Policy is what the kingpins want. What the
others want Is Juvenile delinquency.
All this while, the customers had been shOWing up with their carts but, you know. sheep. seelng
a sce ne, they had all bunched up On Stokes le, who shook open a paper bag as gently as peeling a
peach. not wanting to miss a word, I could feel In the silence everybody getting nervous. most of
all l.. "gel. who asks me. "Sammy, have you rung up this purchase?"
I thought and said "No' but It wasn't about that I was thinking, J go through the punches, 4. 9.
GRCX:, TOT - It's more complicated than you think. and after you do It often enough. It begins to
mak« , Ittle song. that you hear words to, In my case "Hello (bIng) there, you (gung) hap-py pee-pul
(spl.,, ;'the splat beIng the drawer flying out, I uncrease the bill. tenderly as you may lmaglne,lt Just
hay l., 1: come from between the two smoothest scoops of vanilla I had ever known were there, and
pass .; h.lf and a penny Into her narrow pink palm, and nestle the herrings In a bag and twist Its
necl.vr.d hand It over. all the time
he birls, and who'd blame them. are In a hurry to get out, so I say 1 qUit" to Lengel qUick
enou ·h for them to hear, hoping theyl! stop and watch me, their unsuspected hero. They keep
rigl.' ,11 ~oing, into the electric eyel the door Flies open and they nicker across the lot to their car,
Q,/I( and Plaid and Big Tall Goony-Goony (not that as raw material she was so bad), leaving me
wh... . ngel and a kink In his eyebrow.
'!- : you say something, Sammy?'
; I I quit.'
. dldnt have to embarrass them:
1......, they who were embarrassing us:
: ".J to say something that came out "Flddle'de'doo: Its a saying of my grand- mothers. and J
' ~., would have been pleased.
't think you know what you're saying: Lengel said.
'" '" you don't: I said. "But I do: I pun the bow at the back of my apron and start shrugging It
',houlders. A couple customers that had been heading for my slot begin to knock against
' ;" r. llke scared pigs in a chute.
L,· ..\ sighs and begins to look very patient and old and gny. He's been a friend of my puents
for y' \. 'Sammy. you don't want to do this to your Mom and Dad: he tells me, It's true, I don't
But .. .e erns to me that once you begin a gesture It's fatal not to go through with It. I fold the
aproll, '::unmy' stltched In red on the pocket, and put It on the counter. and drop the bow tie on
top \ : It, The bow tIe Is theirs. If you've ever wondered. ')'oull feel thIs for the rest of your life;
Len, . I )'S, and I know that's true, too. but remembering how he made that pretty girl blush
mak.e so scrunchy Inside I punch the No Sale tab and the machine whirs 'pee'pul' and the
plats out. One advantage to this scene taking place In summer. I can follow this up with a
't, there's no fumbling around getting your coot and galoshes. I Iwt saunter Into the
')'e in my white shirt thot my mother Ironed the night before, and the door heaves Itself
Ope". I outside the sunshtne Is skotlng around on the asphalt.
, around for my girls. but they're gone. of course. There wasn't anybody but some young
.creamlng with her children about some candy they didn't get by the door of a powder'
'on station wagon, looking back In the big windows. over the bags of peat moss and
alu':l [a..... n furniture stacked on the pavement. I could see Lengel In my place In the slot.
ch e
the sheep through, HIs face was dark. gray and his back stiff. as If he'd jUst had an
of iron. and my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me