Laura’s husband had bought countless DVD boxed sets to watch while he was in Iraq; which Laura was happy to sell to me for my own entrepreneurial purposes. She lived in a brand-new three-story house in a Londonderry subdivision within easy commuting distance of Manchester, Nashua, and all of northeastern Massachusetts; with an attached two-car garage, a shiny black lamppost, a newly paved driveway, and pale-green bushes set firmly on a bed of dry mulch.
Laura herself was engrossed in a large television when I arrived promptly at nine-thirty, and answered my knock wearing a t-shirt and baggy sweatpants with “U-Mass” written down one leg. She couldn’t have been over thirty. I introduced myself and she invited me in to show me the merchandise. The inside of the house reflected the careful yet banal neatness of the outside; and aside from a few tacky travel prints, the walls were covered with framed family photographs centering around a blonde three year-old boy. A nearby study doubled as a playroom filled with large multicolored plastic toys. All the furniture looked and smelled brand new.
She had stacked the DVDs on the kitchen table next to a pile of interior design and celebrity gossip magazines. Had I been a fan of Buffy long? Just getting into the series—my friend and I are going to watch them together. And Deadwood too, a great show; it’ll be good to start with season one instead of trolling through random reruns. How about The Shield? Oh, that one’s not for me—showed the ad to a friend from school who loves it. I always get stuck running the errands. Oh, and where did I go to school? Bennington—it’s in Vermont. Not surprised you haven’t heard of it, it’s a very small place. No cable on campus, so we get together to watch TV boxed sets all the time. Weird schedule, so I won’t go back until the beginning of March. Have a senior thesis to work on in the meantime. Back to business. Curb Your Enthusiasm; that show the Seinfeld guy did, right? My friend loves it, I’ll check with him. It has been hard missing TV during the writer’s strike, but I’m sure it’ll be over soon. Oh, and would you take twenty for the Police Academy set?
Laura kept me in that house for half an hour while she searched for that damn Police Academy boxed set (Amazon resale value $43.00). In the meantime, she showed me her hot-tub, her robotic Roomba vacuum cleaner, her compact DVD storage unit; and explained to me in excruciating detail how difficult it was to recolor the grout on her bathroom floor from brown to off-white. I wondered if she had a job of her own while her husband worked at the base, or if she ever read books. When I had seen enough, I paid her and waved goodbye, still trying to process that house and everything in it. So, I thought, this is what happens when all the popular girls grow up and settle down. I had a sudden urge to run to my car and drive off in whichever direction would get me away from there the fastest.