THE FIFTH COLUMN
I joined a new DVD store. They’re called VideoRite, they claim to be“your link to the stars” and they only rent out DVDs.
The main guy at the store is older than the main guy at my previous DVD store and his domain much larger. Our relationship got off to a good enough start (as luck would have it, I’d signed up to the shop years before and kept a clean sheet), but an iciness has set in I can’t put my finger on.
It’s got to the point where I feel I can’t ask him whether he thinks the movie I want to rent is any good. (It was a great service provided by the main guy at the previous store, who vetted at will.) He’s a locked vault, I feel, which, to my mind, indicates a movie genius with knowledge that stretches far and runs deep.
Every time I hand him a title, he gently hits a couple of buttons on his keyboard, dusts off the DVD, boxes it and hands it to me, saying I have x number of DVDs left on my contract. And that’s it.
My window to ask whether the movie is any good passes and I exit the stage, bottom left, with a film I don’t know the first thing about.
I’ve started renting series, hoping to find some common ground that will help us reconnect. The thinking is, if I show up at the counter with, say, the second season of Veepand he’s into it, we could reminisce on the first season and he might, as a sort of a gateway vet, tell me the third season is a bit of a dud.
It hasn’t worked so far. He doesn’t appear to be into Veep or Dexter or even Game of Thrones. The man is an enigma, lording over his minions as they scurry back and forth, while he keeps his film opinions to himself.
On Sunday past, I walked in to find him behind the counter wearing a tiara made of flowers. He didn’t seem the type to celebrate significant days with an ornate display of head flora, which made it all the more funny.
He was all business. In normal circumstances, I would comment in an instant on something like a flower tiara. The interaction would be affable, we’d both have a laugh about the silliness of it, there’d be mention of the weather (it was Spring Day the day before) and I’d walk away feeling like I knew the person a little better; like we’re on an equal footing. None of that happened on that Sunday morning.
He wore it like a crown, that tiara — a pink, yellow and blue symbol of power earned through thousands of hours watching movies, with his neck craned. No one else in the store wore a tiara. He was the only one: the king of his castle deciding who walks out with movies worth watching, and who doesn’t. He seemed a DVD Nazi more than ever, standing there in his tiara, so I just slid the disc I brought back over the counter, tapped it lightly so as to confirm it was on time, turned around and left.