The Parkison family was well known in the town of Marthasville for their philanthropic activities, as well as, their volunteerism for community projects.
“Don, I’ve been thinking. Melanie Parkison mentioned that carpet has arrived for the youth center. Don’t you think that, with all your expertise in flooring, you should volunteer to help with the installation?”
“Now, Joan, I’ve got all I can do to keep you and the children clothed and fed with this season’s overtime without adding a pro-bono to the list. I’m sure they’ll do fine.”
Joan Gilbert thought about their short conversation throughout her busy day. Why couldn’t Don be more like Stan Parkison? He always made time to help with anything, in spite of his presidency at Oakland Motors. And, come to think of it, why couldn’t their own kids, Sean and Dephanie, learn from the Parkison teens and give up their self-centered world once in a while for someone else?
Across town, Holly Parkison fell asleep in the middle of a homework assignment, exhausted after her day at the Soup Kitchen. Although she enjoyed helping, her father’s insistence for “keeping up appearances” at any cost was grueling. That very morning they had a royal battle over her latest report card grades, almost as loud as Jacob and her mother’s argument the day before about his late night activities making them tardy to the peace rally at the civic center.
“Melanie, you’ve got to clamp down on the children. The Gilbert children get straight A’s every semester-- the poorest family on the block, for goodness sakes! Holly and Jacob should be ashamed of themselves!”
Then he rushed out the door so he could set the perfect example for his employees by arriving early to the Board meeting. Shoulders slumped, Melaine made her way to the maid’s quarters for their daily briefing.
“What a comfort it would be not to have Stan pressuring me and the kids. Why can’t he be more like Don Gilbert, who seemed to have a relaxed balance between work and play? Why, Joan is always talking about how Don sets aside time for each of their teens and how he even has a weekly date night with her.”
A couple of blocks away, Doug Carpenter was working on the latest repairs to his 13-yr.-old Ford Escort Station Wagon. With a frustrated sigh, he wiped the sweat from his forehead with a dirty rag,.
“Lord, why can’t I figure out the problem?”
“Probably because I can’t figure out anything lately,” he answered himself.
His marriage was going south at an alarming pace and he felt helpless to halt the downward spiral. Just a few hours ago, they had a major tug-of-war over finances; he wanted a decent car, and she wanted them to start tithing to the church, of all things!
Abruptly, his mind shifting gears more rapidly than the car in front of him, he watched from his driveway as neighbor, Jessica, gorgeously garbed in tight designer jeans and skimpy tailored low-cut blouse, leaving in her sleek latest model Mercedes. Waving to each other as she sped away, Doug whistled quietly.
“What a babe! She could wear a potato sack and look like the lottery . . . wonder what it would be like if . . .
That same evening, Jessica stood in her plush parlor, vodka in hand, staring through the bay window at the house across the street. Her eyes wandered over to the driveway at the dilapidated car, recalling Doug’s sexy flexing muscles.
“Hey, Jess, pour me ‘nother drink, I’m parched over here. Come and give your man a little candy.”
“What a lame come-on; what did I ever see in this pompous jerk? Oh, yeah, his money. Good thing we signed a pre-nup, ‘cause this is getting really old.”
She had moved in a few weeks before they decided to wed and taken on the challenge to win him over like she took on any obstacle standing in her path. The neighbor guy was getting more appealing by the moment. She knew he would be a willing target, his gaze lingering a little too long whenever they saw each other. Ed’s settlement money could support them in her accustomed lifestyle. She had also heard that his mealy-mouthed wife had turned into a religious fanatic . . .
How we always yearn for something better in our lives! The grass is always greener on the other side. Until we get there. WILL WE NEVER LEARN?
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