Domestic Harmony: Part 5 of the ‘Jamie and Paul’ series
By Steve Graham
The Truth about Anna
Jamie eased her way through the door of Stuart’s Stereo. Stuart was standing behind the counter looking a bit anxious, but Jamie just thought he was expecting more teasing.
“I thought you’d chickened-out when you met Pat and then disappeared,” Stuart remarked.
“Pat and I just went next door for a coffee,” countered Jamie. “He used to live up the street from us and we wanted to catch up a bit on family news.”
“Right, I’ll just get Anna from the back,” Stuart said, with a big smile. He returned a moment later with the fancy box Jamie remembered. He opened it like the last time to show Jamie the ‘something’, then closed it up again. “How would you like to pay?” he asked.
“Cash,” replied Jamie. She didn’t notice the funny look Stuart gave her as she was looking at one of the gold ‘somethings’ in the display case, wondering if Paul would like one for Christmas.
During warmer weather, Jamie would often leave for the yoga studio with just her health card and a house key tucked into the small pocket in the waist band of her yoga pants. Today she’d managed to cram in a hundred dollar bill and a five as well.
Stuart watched as Jamie pulled out the money. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I think there’s been a misunderstanding. The Ortofon Anna is eight thousand, nine hundred and ninety-five dollars.”
Jamie looked at Stuart and her mouth dropped. When she regained her composure a moment later she said, “I’m so sorry Stuart, you thought you’d made a big sale and I’ve just ruined your day. I knew some of this hi-fi gear could get expensive but really, over ten grand with the tax?”
“I’m sorry,” said Stuart apologetically. “That really is the price, I thought you knew.”
“Does Anna have a younger sister?” asked Jamie. “One that sings off key and sells for a lot less?”
“What turntable does your husband have?” inquired Stuart.
“Paul bought Pat Brown’s dad’s turntable at their yard sale a few weeks ago, I think it’s a Technics.”
“I’ve met your Paul,’ said Stuart. “I know that turntable, it’s an oldie but a goodie, we’ve maintained it for Doctor Brown over the years, it’s in excellent condition. The least expensive Ortofon I have is the 2M Red, it will work well with the Technics. It’s ninety-nine, ninety-five, or to avoid confusion one hundred dollars plus tax.”
“Oh, I feel a bit of a fool wasting your time Stuart, I didn’t even bring enough to cover that.”
“Please don’t feel bad,” he said. “The prices can get crazy, I feel bad for assuming you understood the real price, I forget that ‘civilians’ often think us audiophiles are way out in cloud cuckoo land. But listen, I think we can work something out.”
Oh yeah, thought Jamie, I wonder where this is heading.
“Do you have a few minutes?” asked Stuart. “I’d like to make a call and I’d like to text Pat Brown and let him know that the Anna is available if he’d like to pick it up today.”
Jamie thought; how can I say no when I’ve just messed up his whole day. “Sure,” she replied, “I don’t have to be home for a while yet,” even as her stomach was rumbling for some lunch.
“Great,” said Stuart, recovering some of his poise. “Why don’t you pick an album from the rack and I’ll play it for you in our best demo room while you wait?”
“Just about every non-audiophile says that, but I think you might surprise yourself,” he remarked. “This way, please.”
Stuart led Jamie into a dimly lit room. There was a component with glowing tubes, a turntable, two large but beautifully finished wood speakers, some cloth covered panels on the walls and ceiling, and two chairs.
“Please take a seat, I’ll cue up the record and leave the remote for the volume with you.”
Stuart placed the record on the turntable, lowered the stylus into the groove, handed Jamie the remote and closed the door as he was leaving.
Jamie wondered if this was some sort of high pressure sales tactic, but as the music played she began to relax. The next thing she knew, the side had come to the end and Stuart was opening the door.
“That was amazing,” Jamie exclaimed. “The music just drew me right in and I lost track of time. I didn’t feel as though I was listening to a machine. After the first few notes the music just seemed to wash over me. I don’t dare ask what this system costs, after my confusion with Anna.”
“This wasn’t about selling you some equipment. I just wanted to show you what some of the fuss is about with this hobby. Oh, and I’ve brought an old friend to see you,” he said smiling, as he left the room.
Pat Brown stepped through the doorway with a big grin on his face and the Ortofon Anna box in his hand. “You’ve been having an interesting time, I hear.”
“Boy, there are no secrets around Stuart, are there? And I see you got what you came for,” replied Jamie.
“Stuart texted me just as I was getting gas, so I came back right away.”
Jamie shook her head, “The sound I just heard was amazing. Actually to call it sound would be a disservice, it was music.” Jamie’s look hardened. “You’re here to sell me a second mortgage so I can buy Paul a system like this.”
Pat laughed. “Always so suspicious. A musically satisfying system can be had on almost any budget, you just need a good guy like Stuart to guide you, and no, before you accuse, Stuart didn’t put me up to saying this. I really must dash, the girls are expecting me at ballet class today, I’ll see you and Paul soon.”
“That would be lovely, see you soon Pat.”
Jamie followed Pat back out to the front of the store and said a final goodbye. She then turned to Stuart. “My, but what an eventful day I’ve had, and it’s only just lunch time.”
“I have some good news,” said Stuart brightly. “I sold a turntable to a fellow last week. He upgraded the cartridge right away and wants to sell the one that was supplied with the turntable. The one he’s selling is the next model up from the Ortofon Red. You can have it for 100 dollars taxes in. He’ll drop it off later in the week, I’ll check it over and give you a call. Is that OK?”
“That would be great, Stuart. Again, I’m sorry for the confusion.”
“Hey, no problem. We sorted it out in the end, and I’m glad you got to hear our best system. I’ve made two customers happy today, life is good.”
“I’ll wait for your call. But I want to hear the other side of the Miles Davis record when I come back, OK?”
“Anytime, it’s always special when you come in. Bring your favourite recording with you, CD, LP or even your iPod, they’ll all sound better than you could imagine on our big system. The demo room is sitting empty most of the time, and Wednesdays are quiet as you know. Drop in after yoga if you like,” Stuart said with a smile.
“After the Miles Davis I just heard, I don’t doubt you,” Jamie replied.
Jamie left the store smiling. “Hmm, she thought, Stuart is such a sweet guy, maybe I should introduce him to Lizzie.”
Next time: In the concluding instalment, Paul and Jamie get away for their weekend.