I just read that John Updike passed on today at age 76. I’ll always be grateful to him for his short story “A & P,” in which the cash register makes a little song: “Hello (bing) there, you (gung) hap-py pee-pul (splat)!—the splat being the drawer flying out.” Soon after relating this fact, the narrator, a young kid named Sammy, quits his job as a cashier because his boss, Lengel, had embarrassed a small group of beautiful girls (in particular one whom Sammy calls Queenie), who’d stopped in to pick up a jar of Fancy Herring Snacks. As he leaves, Lengel tells Sammy, “You’ll feel this for the rest of your life,” and Sammy tells us he knows it’s true. Outside on the sidewalk, the girls nowhere in sight, Sammy assesses what he’s lost. “Looking back in the big windows, over the bags of peat moss and aluminum lawn furniture stacked on the pavement, I could see Lengel in my place in the second slot, checking the sheep through. His face was dark gray and his back stiff, as if he’d just had an injection of iron, and my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me from here on in.” I can’t remember reading a better nutshell presentation of the adolescent male mind. Wherever Updike went with his writing, that quixotic adolescence was never far away.