Like most nerds, I keep a lot of my school notes – ok, just about all of them. However, recently I read Lessons from Madame Chic and was inspired to de-clutter my life. As I threw out and organized my extensive collection of High School notes, dittos, and papers, I made my way to the English IV AP collection. These I cherished.
Every high school graduate hopefully looks back and thinks of that teacher they will never forget – who impacted their life so greatly, that anyone who knows you pretty well has heard a story about them (good stories). Mrs. Ross was one of those. She was also yearbook sponsor and I was on yearbook staff, so we became close my Senior year.
As I was looking through my extensive collection of English IV AP papers I had kept, I came across a paper where the pen didn’t bleed. I’m pretty sure it was graded for completion points, but still, points are points and it’s exciting to get back a paper like that. However, that paper had been kept for a reason more than that-–-it was inspired by Ally Carter, Gallagher Girls, Nancy Drew, and my friends. It was actually a retelling of A&P, a short story by John Updike. Our retelling had to be from the girls’ point of view. Of course, I made them spies.
3 January 2010
I stare at the store front of A&P grocery like I imagine a prospective backpacker stares at Mount Everest for the first time. Laura, a seventeen year old female version of Einstein, stands behind me. Beside Laura is Bess, who is the athletic queen of our trio. Unlike Bess and Laura who were chosen, I was born into this business. Last summer my father sat me down and told me the true story behind his “important government work”. He told me how the Austin family has been part of the CIA for centuries. “Tiffany, darling, its the chance of a lifetime.” He then goes on explaining how I can begin to train for the CIA myself. Laura holds up the piece of evopaper with the words “Mission 1: Kingfish Fancy Herring Snacks” typed across it in Courier New font. “Why do the want the herring snacks?” She asks. “I don’t know, but this must be some type of test of our espionage skills, so let’s give this our best shot. Remember we are normal girls sent on an errand by our parents” Bess glances down at her green two-piece, “Why do we have to wear swim-suits again?” “It is part of cover,” Laura quotes as she recalls one of her note cards, “The false identity a spy takes on.” I step forward, “Well girls, let’s go!”
The linoleum floor is cold under my feet. I hold my head up high and parade like I imagine Caroline Bingley does in Pride and Prejudice. I ignore the swim straps that refuse to stay on my thin shoulders. We wander our way down the aisle of miscellaneous nonsense. I notice two younger cashiers giving us quizzical glances. Bess performs a counter-surveillance maneuver and picks up a bag of cookies leaving few fingerprints behind. Still no sign of herring, I wander my way down a few more aisle taking mental notes of where the KGB might enjoy planting bugs. Laura points to Butcher at the meat counter and I flash my cheesiest smile, “Hello sir, do you know where I might find some herring for my mother?” I observe him so I can Include him in my cover operations report. His eyebrows furrow clouding his blue eyes. he lays down the knife he is holding with his left hand and I notice a crass tattooed on his right thumb. “Herring?” the Butcher replies in a gruff voice, “That should be by the tuna.” Bess gives him a thankful nod as I head down the aisle he indicated. Laura spots the can first tossing it in my direction. What could they possibly want with herring? I wonder as I reach up to catch the can.
We make our way to the cash registers. The younger cashier is staring at us, I begin to worry he knows our secret. “Lets go to the other line, ” Laura whispers under her breath; however, some old lady with several cans of pineapple juice forces us to go in the line with the guy who has a staring problem. Sammy was stitched across his apron. Sammy? Is he undercover too? I pull the money out of the top of my swimsuit, come across as a ‘honeypot’ I’m sure. (Bess could quote the text book definition of honeypot, but in short it is a female spy who uses romance to get what she wants.) About that time I hear a door slam behind me. I swirl around as I envision men in black rushing toward me. I sigh in relief when all I see is an older man. “Girl, this isn’t the beach,” he yells. How would Caroline Bingley handle this? I straighten up and say in my most snobbish voice, “My mother asked me to pick up a jar of herring snacks.” Laura looks like she is ready to throw him through the wall and perform some illegal judo she recently learned. I glance back at the can of herring in Sammy’s hand. He stares at us saying something about it not being the beach again. Bess pipes up and instead of explaining where the beach is really located she says, “We aren’t doing any shopping. We just came in for the one thing.” “That makes no difference. We want you decently dressed when you come in her here.” He replies. Out of exasperation to get our can of herring and skedaddle, I retort by saying “We are decent.” I have seen many other more indecent swimsuits besides the ones we had. Grumpy replies, “Girls, I don’t want to argue with you. After this, come in here with your shoulders covered. It’s our policy. Sammy, have you rung up this purchase?” “No” Sammy answers. I turn around to face Sammy with a forced smile across his face. I grab the can of herring and hurry out the door. As soon as I am outside I make a mad dash down the road with Laura passing me up. We turn down a side street where we find the old Fed-Ex van. The back roles up as a CIA agent reaches to help us in. “Mission Complete,” Bess exclaims as she tries to catch her breath. “Good Job girls, the White House chef will thank you for the herring. He forgot to pick some up for the President’s dinner tonight.”