From Pop's Place: Some Things Are Meant To Be
Rolling to a stop at the side of the general store, Pop turned off the engine and set the transmission in first gear. Being on flat land, he didn't bother pulling the parking brake lever. He hopped out of the car and, with a hollow bang, slammed the door behind him. Walking around to the front of the building, he pulled open the screen door and stepped inside.
Ceiling fans stirred the humid air, but offered little cooling as he made his way over to the bulletin board on the front wall. His shoe heels clomped noisily on the worn wooden floor planks. Index cards of all sizes were thumbtacked to the board - a major way of advertising in the area.
"Good morning, Mr. Harrison. How are you today, sir?" asked the very pretty young blonde with bright-blue eyes behind the front counter. Michaela was her name. Her long, curly golden hair fell midway down her back, shining in the sunlight that sneaked through the windows.
Jeez, he thought, they used to call me. Now they are calling me sir.
Pop's and Michaela's eyes met and stayed for just an awkward moment until Pop cleared his throat and broke his gaze.
"Doing well, Michaela. How are you, sweetie?"
"Sweetie" was a popular Southern word. Depending on the context, it could either be demeaning, affectionate, or just neutral. Sometimes, when nuanced, it could mean to sound neutral, but underneath be affectionate. Southern nuances could be complicated. Pop used it in a plain, neutral, unnuanced manner.
Pop had known Michaela since she was a little girl, but he just realized he hadn't been paying attention all these years as she grew up. Wow! Herb's daughter had matured into a beautiful, young woman right under his nose, and it had completely escaped him. Not only did she have a smile that could light up the room, but he noted that her physical attributes had grown up and filled out as well. Pop quickly analyzed the situation. If she was a bit older, and I was a bit younger, who knows? he thought. A slight stir was felt in the pit of his stomach. Dismissing the thought, Ah! she would never be interested in an old fart like me anyway. Besides, this is Herb's daughter. If he knew what I was thinking he'd skin me alive.