It was an assigned read for one of my early creative writing courses, taught by famed Texas writer, Ron Rozelle. He had a knack for these kinds of tales, even though they were a little much for most high schoolers.
Basically, it accounts one of those not-so-epic life experiences that are still so bitterly disillusioning. Sammy, a store clerk at the nostalgic grocery store chain, A & P, heroically resigns his job after three gorgeous, tanned, bikini-clad girls are reprimanded by the store owner for being inappropriately dressed.
I remember most that he described--in detail--the glowing half moon of white just under the girls' butt cheeks (yes, I said butt cheeks) where the sun failed to do a thorough job. Yeah, a not-so-subtle allusion to raging teen hormones.
Sammy's big gesture, however, leaves him empty-handed. When he ventures into the parking lot sans A & P official apron, the girls are gone. He is jobless with no damsel in distress to comfort him. His standing up to injustice got him nothing, not even a smile.
Yeah, it's a little bittersweet. A keen observer of the every day, Updike was. I'd say it was one of the first stories of its kind that I encountered. Previously, I'd been a fan of more dramatic literature. After a dose of Updike, I appreciated the pain, heroics, and greatness of those little poignant moments in everyday life. And I enjoyed reading about them when written as well as he wrote them.
So thanks, Mr. Updike, for making me--and many others, to be sure--a better reader, writer, and thinker.
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