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454

Menudo

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Carver, R. (2000). Menudo. In Carver, R. Where I'm Calling From: New and Selected Stories. Vintage Contemporaries, pp. 454-471

462

A little clock radio.

She hinted around at first. She said, "I'd sure like to have a radio. But I can't afford one. I guess I'll have to wait for my birthday. That little radio I had, it fell and broke. I miss a radio." [...]

Finally - what'd I say? I said to her over the phone that I couldn't afford any radios. I said it in a letter too, so she'd be sure and understand. I can't afford any radios, is what I wrote. I can't do any more, I said, than I'm doing. Those were my very words.

But it wasn't true! I could have done more. I just said I couldn't. I could have afforded to buy a radio for her. What would it have cost me? Thirty-five dollars? [...]

I could have handled it in any case. Forty dollars - are you kidding? But I didn't. I wouldn't part with it. It seemed there was a principle involved. That's what I told myself anyway - there's a principle involved here.

Ha.

Then what happened? She died. She died. She was walking home from the grocery store, back to her apartment, carrying her sack of groceries, and she fell into somebody's bushes and died.

[...] what she had from the grocery store was a jar of Metamucil, two grapefruits, a carton of cottage cheese, a quart of buttermilk, some potatoes and onions, and a package of ground meat that was beginning to change color.

Boy! I cried when I saw those things. I couldn't stop. I didn't think I'd ever quit crying. [...]

to think about: what is a principle? what are the assumptions that go into its validity? how much do they hold up in the face of death

it really hurts to think from the perspective of the mother, trying to live frugally without bothering her son too much, quietly withstanding the indignity of poverty without any real way out or even anyone to commiserate with

—p.462 by Raymond Carver 4 years, 5 months ago

A little clock radio.

She hinted around at first. She said, "I'd sure like to have a radio. But I can't afford one. I guess I'll have to wait for my birthday. That little radio I had, it fell and broke. I miss a radio." [...]

Finally - what'd I say? I said to her over the phone that I couldn't afford any radios. I said it in a letter too, so she'd be sure and understand. I can't afford any radios, is what I wrote. I can't do any more, I said, than I'm doing. Those were my very words.

But it wasn't true! I could have done more. I just said I couldn't. I could have afforded to buy a radio for her. What would it have cost me? Thirty-five dollars? [...]

I could have handled it in any case. Forty dollars - are you kidding? But I didn't. I wouldn't part with it. It seemed there was a principle involved. That's what I told myself anyway - there's a principle involved here.

Ha.

Then what happened? She died. She died. She was walking home from the grocery store, back to her apartment, carrying her sack of groceries, and she fell into somebody's bushes and died.

[...] what she had from the grocery store was a jar of Metamucil, two grapefruits, a carton of cottage cheese, a quart of buttermilk, some potatoes and onions, and a package of ground meat that was beginning to change color.

Boy! I cried when I saw those things. I couldn't stop. I didn't think I'd ever quit crying. [...]

to think about: what is a principle? what are the assumptions that go into its validity? how much do they hold up in the face of death

it really hurts to think from the perspective of the mother, trying to live frugally without bothering her son too much, quietly withstanding the indignity of poverty without any real way out or even anyone to commiserate with

—p.462 by Raymond Carver 4 years, 5 months ago