John Updike's A&P


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I walked into the A&P Market to “pick up a jar of herring snacks for my mother” (A&P 116). I walked in the store with my two girlfriends, whom I’m always with. I was wearing my “beige bathing suit” (A&P 114) because it was such a nice day outside. As I walked in I noticed a young man who seemed to be staring at me, but I didn’t pay much attention too. I walked tall through the A&P that day, just like I always do. I felt the straps on my bathing suit had “slipped down and where off my shoulders” (A&P 114) which I liked. I felt kind of embarrassed though, because of my “white shoulders” (A&P 114).
“I felt in the corner of my eye” (A&P 114) that the two of the workers had taken an interest to me, but I just maintained my cool and didn’t “tip them off” (A&P 114). I started looking in the racks for my “jar of herring snacks”
(A&P 116), but I couldn’t see them just yet. Aisle after aisle I kept looking for this almost impossible to find herring snacks. I looked over and seen the two workers close to each other, muttering something which I assumed was about me or my friends. But I must pay no attention to them and keep to the journey, which my “mother had sent me on” (A&P 116).
     This favor for my mom was now starting to feel like an impossible adventure of finding some hidden treasure. I was obviously going to have to find some help, because my friends were not any help at all. Being the brains and best looking this three-girl ring had its ups and downs. Now whoever could help me? Of course none other then the man working at the meat counter. So I went up to this man, “Mr. McMahon was his name” (A&P 115), and asked him to point me towards the “jar of herring snacks” (A&P 116). It was obvious that this man was looking us up and down, but I just tried not to pay attention to this rude person. Nevertheless he pointed us in the right direction, and I finally found the concealed “jar of herring snacks” (A&P 116).
     After finding them I preceded to the checkout stand with my two friends following close behind. I told myself, so hard to find this “little gray jar”

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(A&P 115). So I approached the youngest looking worker, the one that had been checking me out from my entrance. So I go to my admirer, who seems nice, and I hand him the “herring snacks” (A&P 115). Pay time came quick, so I “took my money out of my bathing suit top” (A&P 116) and handed it to this young man.
     Just as I was about to leave from paying an older man approaches my friends and me. Obviously this was no box boy or meat cutter, but of course the manager. I wondered to myself if he was here to stare at us too, but the look on his face gave me a different response. The words that came from his mouth were “Girls, this isn’t the beach” (A&P 116), it wasn’t a long statement but it kept playing in my head over and over again like a broken record. I was so embarrassed at that moment, and didn’t know what to say to this man. So I only could think of one thing and tell him in my “startled voice” (A&P 116), “My mother asked me to pick up a jar of herring snacks” (A&P 116). The man after repeating once more “But this isn’t the beach” (A&P 116) said, “that’s alright” (A&P 116). Which makes me even more embarrassed.
     This guy was going out of his way to embarrass me, and it was working. So I explained that “I came in just to get one thing and I wasn’t even shopping” (A&P 116). This made no difference to this manager who still was chewing me out for this none sense thing. One last remark to the manager was “we are decent” (A&P 116), which I felt might help him understand that we weren’t beach bums, but nice decent girls. This made no difference to him and he decided to tell us that we must have our “shoulders covered before coming in the store because of there policy” (A&P 116).
     So I had nothing else to say to this rude man, and just wanted to leave. I just turned away from them all and my friends and I walked out. One thing I didn’t understand was, if those young workers there liked looking at us so much, why didn’t any of them stand up for us? Especially the one that was ringing me up, he could have at least said something.


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