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Written by Timothy Sexton
The poem is a first person narrative by an adult man looking back to the first time he ever walked through town with a girl. He was twelve at the time and in addition to being unnamed—though it is natural to assume that he shares the same name as the poet, of course—his physical appearance is also a mystery. Which is okay, because what is important about this little boy at this stage in his life is his character and his emotional tenor as he takes a huge step in the maturation process. As for his character, it is essentially unblemished. He arrives already loaded with an orange for him and an orange for her with plans for her to also enjoy some candy at his expense thanks to the nickel also occupies his pocket. That his character is already mature is made even more manifest when he makes no effort to dissuade her from choosing a different piece of chocolate than the one costing a dime that she desires. There is something very winning about this 12-year-old, so much so that when places the orange on the counter alongside the nickel he is capable of silently convincing the woman behind the counter to accept this offer as recompense for the five cents deficit between the change he has the price of the candy.
What can be known or inferred about the twelve year old girl the narrator walks with is only known or inferred through the subjective information the boy provides. In fact, he provides precious little hard facts about her, but one very important inference can be made with confidence: any girl with whom a 12 year old of such fine character so smitten must be pretty special in her own right. The objective facts that can be gained are these: she wears a daub of makeup on her cheeks, she’s not one of those girls who makes boys wait for her when they arrive on a date, she’s got a sweet tooth and prefers chocolate her smile commences as the corners of her mouth and ends by lighting up her eyes.
The Drugstore Saleslady
Even less is revealed by the lady who runs the cash register at the drugstore. That she is a conscientious worker can be gleaned from the promptness with which she makes her way toward the front of the store immediately upon hearing the little bell that announces new customers have entered. More importantly is the later insight into her character that is provided. She’s not the kind of petty person so desperate to assert any authority they can that she takes advantage of the opportunity to humiliate and embarrass the boy for not having enough money to pay for the chocolate. That would almost be enough to stimulate some admiration for her even if she did refuse his offer of the orange in lieu of the five cent deficit. What really lifts this woman to the height of deserving admiration is that she not only accepts the orange and she not only accepts it without drawing positive attention that could prove embarrassing, she accepts the deal he is offering with immediately and complete understanding and without a single word passing between them.
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