The Near Enough

by Michael C. Keith

And she had resolved to live a fool
the rest of her dull life.

–– Francis Beaumont

Susan has a Tootles Baby Doll with beautiful long lashes, and she blinks when you move her. She has a little sailor dress with red stripes. My doll isn’t as pretty, but I love her. She has an apron with pockets to put things in. She’s not new like Susan’s doll, but she’s nice enough. I sometimes take her to Susan’s house . . . but not always. Susan lets me play with her doll when I ask.


My house is not as nice as the other houses on our street. They have pretty green lawns and flowers on them. My house has a plastic flamingo in front. My friends make fun of it, but I think they’re just jealous because they don’t have one at their house. There’s an old apple tree in our backyard. It’s fun to climb. I guess my house is nice enough. The one across the street has just been painted, and it sparkles when the sun shines on it. I like that.


I wish my hair was curly and blond like Julie Carson’s. The boys really like her. She has real smooth skin, no blemishes, and big green eyes. I have two pimples on my right cheek. Julie is very popular. If my eyes were less squinty and my hair wasn’t so straight, I bet boys would like me better. I’d be more popular then. My mom says I’m cute, so that’s enough, I guess.


Brian Ashby is the school’s valedictorian. He’s a great student, so smart. A real whiz in math and science. He got accepted at MIT. I graduated third in my class. Could have gone to Boston College. They accepted me, but we don’t have the money. State university is fine. A lot of other kids are going there. It’s good enough, I think. Everybody congratulated Brian. He was a big deal.


Maybe if I’d gone to a well-known private college I would have gotten a better job, not that my job isn’t decent enough. I’m okay with what I do. There’s opportunity for advancement. Besides, there are a lot of people who don’t even have a job. I hear Susan got an executive position right out of Duke. She’s making a lot more money. Good for her.


Sid is fine as a husband. He’s not real ambitious, and he could spend more time with our kids, I suppose. Janet is fortunate though. Her spouse, Ben, does it all. He has his own business and manages Little League. All the kids love him. Not hard on the eyes either. That’s okay. It’s enough that Sid doesn’t drink like my parents did. He watches television with the kids on the weekend. They like that a great deal.


Billy and Connie are good kids. I’m blessed, I suppose. I wish they were better students, but they excel in sports, not that Sid cares. Billy can’t get up for his paper route, so I deliver his papers most of the time. Connie never seems to come out of her room, but she’s just going through what girls her age go through. She really doesn’t mean what she says. We’re all together, and that’s enough. So many families break up. I could never do that.


I’m so happy for Marlene. She just won $10,000 on one of those scratch tickets. Cora got a $1,000 scratcher just last year. Some people are real lucky. Me, too, I guess. I won an Easter basket at a church raffle three years ago. It was lovely. It wasn’t any $10,000, but it was enough. We enjoyed it. Sid loved the macadamia nuts. They’re very expensive when you buy them separately at the store.


My hubby makes a pretty good salary, but I wish he made enough for us to get a better house, like Susan has. It’s incredible. All bright and shiny appliances and granite tops. If we just had a deck and another bedroom, it would make a big difference. At least ours is nearly paid off, and it has good bones, as they say. Maybe I should go back to work, but I feel so out of it. It’s been so long. The extra money would help though.


Fifteen fewer pounds would make a noticeable change, I think. Of course, not everyone can look like Susan or Marlene. They both go to the gym and have trainers there. Marlene only has one kid and Susan doesn’t have any. That makes a heck of a difference. Having two kids does something to your body. At least it did to mine. I look okay though. I hold my own in the looks department. It’s enough. Still, a few pounds off the hips wouldn’t hurt. Losing weight is so hard.


Retiring to Florida would be really nice. Everyone seems to be down there now. Almost no friends left up here. But Sid’s arthritis isn’t that bad, and the house is well insulated against the cold. Have to admit that the ice is scary though. Almost fell down the other day. The twisting made my hip hurt more. I don’t want a replacement, but I suppose it’s inevitable. We feel fine otherwise, and we’ll be able to survive all right as we get older. It’s enough . . . really. Not everybody gets to retire to Florida.


Well, Sid’s gone . . . died last year. The kids have their own lives, and their children are grown up. I worry about them, but what can I do? Guess I’m near the end of my days on this earth. I can feel it. It’s a creeping sort of thing that starts to move faster all of a sudden. I think about my life now and wonder if it’s been a good one. As they say, ‘A life well-lived.’ Have I been happy? Have I been fulfilled? Has it been enough? Nearly . . . I guess.


Michael is the author of over 20 books on electronic media, as well as a memoir and three books of fiction. In 2009, he coedited a found manuscript by legendary writer/director Norman Corwin. What he refers to as his “fringe” group series consists of a monograph that examines the use of broadcast media by Native Americans—Signals in the Air (Praeger, 1995), a book that explores the nature and role of counterculture radio in the sixties—Voices in the Purple Haze (Praeger, 1997), a book that probes the extreme right-wing’s exploitation of the airwaves—Waves of Rancor (M.E. Sharpe, 1999, with Robert Hilliard), a book that examines the role of gays and lesbians in broadcasting—Queer Airwaves (M.E. Sharpe, 2001, with Phylis Johnson), a book about broadcasting and the First Amendment—Dirty Discourse (Blackwell, 2003, with Robert Hilliard), and a volume that evaluates the loss of localism in American radio—The Quieted Voice (Southern Illinois University Press, 2005, with Robert Hilliard).

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