Every summer my family and I go to our house in the cape just north of Boston. One hot summer morning, I was leaving the house to meet my family at the beach, suddenly I remembered my mother asked me to pick up a jar of Kingfish Herring for her and her friend to snack on at the beach.
I started to walk across the street to my friend Laceys house. Lacey lives just outside Detroit, but like my family, her family comes to the cape for the summer. Our families have been friends for about 10 years, but we normally dont see or talk to each other during the year, only summertime seems to bring us together. Traditionally Lacey and I leave for the beach together, even at age 7 we walked with our mothers, so I knew I had to tell her about this errand before I left for town.
Arriving at Laceys house I walk to the backdoor letting myself into the house. Lacey was putting on tanning lotion in the kitchen, Lacey, I called to her, my mom wants me to pick up snacks for the beach, do you want to go into town with me?, Sure, she replied, do you mind if my cousin comes with us?, Of course I dont mind, I answered, but we have to get moving, my dad only left me the car to use til noon.
While driving, Lacey and I laughed while reminiscing, over old stories of love and trouble that we seemed to get into over the past decade at the cape, Laceys cousin Mary was quite, she seemed shy.
We arrived at the A&P and I realized that the store was almost devoid of any human life, but it was mid Tuesday morning most towns people were either working, or at the beach.
Two men were working the front end, the cashier at register 3 was helping an older looking woman with a sun hat, Capri pants ,and far too much make up on, the other cashier was leaning on the bag rack behind him, enjoying a break in a slow day . Both of the clerks looked as if they were in their early twenties, definently townies, the townies hated summer vacationers. Townies never said a word to vacationers, and you could tell in their attitude; they all longed for Labor Day to roll around so everyone would go home, bringing peace to their little town again. My observations of the store and town politics were a monetary distraction, snapping out of thought I noticed my friends walking ahead of me into the first aisle, looking for the fish that my mother requested.
The herring wasnt to be found in the first aisle; it seemed to be dedicated primarily to breads and other baked goods. I moved onto the next aisle where my friends were already. Catching up to my friends who were scouring the racks and shelves for cookies and crackers find nothing that suited their fancy. Did you find the fish? I asked the girls, Mary shook her no signaling they didnt find the fish.
While walking to the next aisle I caught a glimpse of the clerks watching me and my friends, they must not get many people in here dressed in just bathing suits. Lacey saw this too, huddling around me with Mary, Lacey whispered, Maybe we should hurry up, I dont think they appreciate us in the store in just bathing suits. I didnt see a problem with our attire this is a beach community, but to make her feel better I quickly searched the shelves for the fish.
As I scan through the shelves I see pet food, pastas, rice, drinks, cookies, and crackers but no herring. I catch sight of a man at the meat counter, and thought to myself maybe he can be of some help in finding the herring. Excuse me, I read a nametag that reads S. McMahon Mr. McMahon do you know where the Kingfish Fancy Herring Snacks are located? to which he points to the aisle and responds Two aisles over that way, past the Diet Delight Peaches.
My friends and I proceeded to the aisle, and found a grey jar labeled Kingfish Fancy Herring Snacks in Pure Sour Cream, I picked it up, finding what I came into town for, and walked to the front of the store and proceeded to the registers. I looked for a line to get onto; two registers were open I thought to myself Id get on the shorter line. As I arrived at the first register, there was an old man in baggy pants who was buying 4 cans of pineapple juice, he was having a conversation with the clerk, and holding up the line, so I moved to the next register, handing the clerk the jar of herring in order for him to ring up my purchase.
While the clerk handled the jar checking for the price, I reached into a small pocket in the front of my swimsuit to retrieve my money, the clerk seemed almost mesmerized by this, as an innocent act became some acute act of eroticism. All of a sudden a middle-aged man who was pushing a hand truck full of cabbage just a minute ago approached me. Girls, this isnt the beach. the man told me with a stern look on his face. Blushing from embarrassment I exclaim, My mother asked me to pick up a jar of herring snacks. I now notice a tag on the mans button up shirt that read Hello my name is Lengel and under that tag was another tag that read Manager with some decorative stars. Thats all right, but this isnt the beach. said the Lengel the manager, many thoughts ran through my mind at this point especial how this man reminded me of the nuns at my reform school, how those penguins always seemed so stern, always emphasizing properness of a lady, but being rebellious as I was, authority never sat well with me. In an act of defiance I snapped back, We werent doing any shopping. We just came in for one thing. forsaking the poise that was to be expected of a lady. At that moment both Lengel and I caught a glimpse of the smirk on the clerks face caused by the bantering between the two of us, as fast as Lengel snapped his head toward the clerk giving enough time to flash a scowl, he spun his head back toward me and resumed his business. That makes no difference, we want you decently dressed when you come in here. this man was entirely strict and conservative, as much was to be expected of a man around these part, he was most likely an avid church goer, Sunday school teacher, Boy Scout troop leader name your clich. I started again We are decent, and before I could continue Lengel interrupted me, Girls, I dont want to argue with you. After this come in here with your shoulders covered. Its our policy. and then he walked toward the clerk with a disappointed look and asks Sammy, have you rung up this purchase? with an astonished expression caused by the event that just occurred before his eyes, Sammy simply replies No and rings me up with a great deal of haste, as to get my friends and I out of this self-righteous store before we disgrace it any further. He hands me the change then we hurry out of the store rushing to the car.
Driving out of the parking lot the car was silent, until Lacey started doing a bad imitation of the manager, After this come in here with your shoulders covered. Its our policy. laughing and returning to her normal voice Even at 17 you still get us into trouble, will you ever change?