This summer, I got a new goomah. It started out simple, a brief flirtation. I found my dad’s unopened box set of Season 1 of “The Sopranos” in the closet. After an episode or two, I started to like this little show. Hell, I started to like it a lot. Things got very serious very quickly.
I raced through Season 1, rooting for Christopher in his acting class, sweating nervously with Big Pussy, chuckling along with the guys at Paulie’s wisecracks outside Satriale’s, getting fat and gawking at strippers. Pretty soon though, the sweet high of our romance began to sputter; Season 1 ended, and I was out of DVDs.
When Amazon showed the season box set to be out of my price range (“Look at dis fuckin’ guy!”), I went to the honest man’s black market: eBay. Just my luck! A gentleman from Arizona had posted a **BRAND NEW SHRINKWRAPPED UNOPENED** series box set for roughly a quarter of the normal price. Well then, “Buy Now,” please!
A week later, my mother brought a white, oddly shaped package to my room, with the return address illegibly scribbled in black sharpie. My mother proceeded to ask me what the hell I had bought. Textbooks, I responded.
I quickly became suspicious that this box set was what Tony Soprano would call “an illegal bootleg from China.” “That gentleman from Arizona may have ripped me off!” I thought. I opened the slightly shoddy replication of the beautiful original box set, tried to watch some of the DVDs, and, strangely, everything worked. Sure, some of the discs looked like they’d been labeled by Windows Label Maker from, like, Windows 98, but this sham was a success. Was I a criminal? Kinda. Maybe. No, definitely not. Even so, I felt bad. But being bad felt so good.
Things got hot and heavy. I had been initiated into a criminal underworld by this Chinese box set; I had become one of the fellas. Effectively. Hell, at the rate I was going, by the end of the series, I might even be a capo, or if not, then at least a made guy. The episodes began to bleed together: our love was passionate to the point of being destructive and, like that of Adriana and Christopher, fueled largely by heroin. By the time this article is published, I will have finished the entire series, and with it, my innocence. So when people ask me, “Hey, Will! What did you do this summer?” “Waste management,” I’ll say. “On DVD. Yeah, waste management.”