When a 17-Year-Old Checkout Clerk in Small Town Michigan Hits on Me, I Think about the Girl I Loved at 17 by Krys Malcolm Belc, Brevity, Issue 57, Jan 2018

This micro nonfiction piece is packed full of metaphor and meaning. It starts with a brief (very brief) history of the PATH train that ran from New York to New Jersey, opened in 1908. It was a technological, engineering marvel. People were amazed that you could go from one state to another so easily, so quickly. That’s a metaphor–perhaps. The word state.

In the not so distant past, the writer is in a Walgreens and is hit on by the clerk. The clerk is a young girl, the writer assumes 17. I don’t know how he could know this for certain unless he asks. But he assumes 17, and because 17 he thinks back to when he was 17 and loved a girl. But at the time, he was also a girl–anatomically speaking. But now he is in transition. Also, an engineering marvel, going from one state of being (in the eyes of society) to another. But that’s not all. Even though he looks young he will be 30 soon–30 is, dare I say, still young. I hope so anyway. But this clerk at Walgreens believes him to be a similar age as herself. But transitioning, the author informs us, is like going back in time, in terms of physical appearance.

The PATH train is used again to show how Cornelius Vanderbilt stood, holding a strap, rather than sitting, due to how many people wanted to take the PATH train. When his friends made fun of him, he was not ashamed. He would, he said, rather ride standing there than to take a private car. The author connects this with the fact that everyone is trying to be someone other than themselves. An insightful piece about the change of society, but also social constructs. (C)