Domestic Harmony, a series
Chapter 2: Jamie meets Anna
By Steve Graham
Jamie had taken up yoga when Elizabeth first went off to university. She really enjoyed the fitness aspect and the mental and physical discipline required. Lisa, the studio owner, recognized Jamie’s aptitude and suggested she work at her certificate so she could teach. Jamie had just started to teach beginner’s yoga and had been putting aside some of her earnings for Paul’s anniversary present.
Stuart’s Stereo had been a fixture in the neighbourhood for years, but was just one of those places that didn’t make it onto Jamie’s radar. A week or so after the Anna Ortofon discussion with Paul, she was walking home from the Yoga studio late on a Wednesday morning, and noticed the Ortofon sticker on the door of Stuart’s Stereo. What the heck, she thought, might as well ask. She walked in and up to the counter where a pleasant looking young man in his mid to late twenties was putting a gold something on a shelf.
“Hi, I’m Stuart” he said brightly, “Anything I can help you with?”
“Hasn’t this store been here a long time, you look too young to be Stuart?” Jamie asked.
“Actually I’m Stuart Junior, my Dad started the store but he’s mostly retired now since my Mom’s health deteriorated.”
“That’s too bad,” said Jamie. “Is she doing OK?”
Stuart replied, “Not so bad. My Dad comes in to help out on Saturdays when we’re busiest, my sister or one of her kids stay with Mom. It’s not that Mom needs constant care but she just finds it reassuring to have another person in the house.”
“Well it’s nice to see you are carrying on the family business, did you always want to do this?”
“Hifi was never really my thing. I graduated from university with a degree in business studies and got a good job, but there was little contact with people and I missed that. Mom needed help, and by that time I wanted a change, so this was a good fit. To tell you the truth it’s a bit like an episode of Big Bang Theory in here at times, but the customers are mostly nice and I’ve reconnected with a few old friends from high school who are audiophiles.”
“That’s nice.” said Jamie.
“Yes, but it’s just guys from high school, you’re the first woman we’ve had in here in a week,” replied Stuart with slight sigh.
“I’m married with three kids,” said Jamie flatly.
Stuart blushed, “I wasn’t trying anything. You’re just easy to talk to and it makes a change from nerdy audio stuff. You’re my first customer in here today, Wednesdays are especially quiet.”
“I’m just teasing,” Jamie replied with a smile. “I’m just on my way home from yoga and thought I’d stop in. I’m looking for an anniversary present for my husband.”
“Is that Lisa’s Yoga up the Street?” inquired Stuart. “The wife of one of my high school friends goes there. Maybe you know her, Kayla?”
“Yes Kayla,” said Jamie. “She has some of the greatest yoga wear.”
“That’s because she works at the Victoria’s Secret store at the mall. I asked her if she had any sisters, but no luck, just a brother.”
“Yes Stuart, I can see why you asked about a sister, Kayla’s not hard to look at.”
“There’s that,” Stuart said cautiously. “But she’s a fine girl too, Kayla and her hubby Kevin, my high school friend, have two great kids and she’s been Kevin’s rock. He went through a rough patch recently, family stuff with his brother.”
Jamie looked at Stuart and wondered what direction the conversation would take next.
“I phoned up Kevin the other night to tell him his new USB DAC had arrived, (Jamie heard: something something). He’s lost two iPhones in the past 6 months, so I couldn’t text him. Kayla answered and I asked to speak to Kevin. She sounded a bit put out when she said he was in his audio dungeon, so I asked her what was wrong. She said Kev spends most of his spare time down there. I said look Kay, you know Kev thinks the world of you especially with all the family stuff you’ve been through recently. He needs a diversion and it’s a harmless pursuit. Your glass is half full you know. All guys are going to want some toy or other to play with, you know that if he’s not at work, helping with the kids or in his dungeon he’s here at the store with me. He’s not out on the town with someone else doing who knows what. Kay agreed, said I was right, she’d had a few boy friends like that. I asked if she was holding out on me and didn’t have a sister she wasn’t telling me about. She just laughed and called Kev to the phone.”
“My husband picked up a classic turntable and wants a new cartridge for it,” said Jamie bringing the conversation back to her reason for entering the store. “I see you sell Ortofons, I thought I’d get him the Anna.” Jamie noticed Stuarts eyes get a bit bigger but didn’t think much of it. “Do you have one?”
“Sorry.” said Stuart. “We got a bit side tracked. Your husband is a lucky man.”
“So I keep telling him.”
“It’s in the back, the insurance company makes us keep it locked up. Just give me 10 seconds.”
Odd, thought Jamie, is this some sort of parallel universe I’ve wandered into?
Stuart returned with a wooden box. He was carrying it like there was some sort of religious ritual he was preparing for. I’ll bet the box cost more to make than the something something inside thought Jamie.
“I didn’t want to have one in stock but Dad has a soft spot for analogue,” said Stuart in a hushed tone. “I didn’t want to say no even though we might have it for a while.”
Stuart placed the box on the counter facing Jamie and opened it slowly. Is that all there is, thought Jamie?
“Tell me a bit about it,” she said.
“It’s named after the Russian soprano Anna Netrebko. The curved body is made from titanium. It has a boron cantilever and a nude Replicant stylus.”
“Does your mother know you talk to women like that?” said Jamie giving Stuart a disapproving look.
Stuarts mouth dropped open, but then he started to laugh; he’d figured out by now that Jamie was a bit of a comedienne. “No, but I’ll tell her what you said when I stop by on my way home tonight. She’s heard all the audio mumbo jumbo over the years; it’ll give her a laugh.”
“Great,” said Jamie smiling.
“It’s eighty-nine, ninety-five,” said Stuart.
“Fine I’ll take it, is it alright if I pick it up this time tomorrow after Yoga?”
“Fine with me,” said Stuart happy to have made a sale. “I’ll just lock it up.”
In the next installment, Paul goes to the mall to get an anniversary present for Jamie