Keith ordered Highlander for the third time this year on Netflix, but I take it from his mailbox and watch it anyway. It’s a shitty movie, but I’m bored and it’s too hot outside, too hot for the pool even. That assumes I like to swim anyway. You just have to see how pale I am to know I hate swimming. By this point, I don’t even steam the envelopes. I rip it open, watch it, and put it back in his mailbox.
Don’t call it stealing. Call it borrowing. I always give it back.
Keith told me he called Netflix and complained that his envelopes were open. They said talk to your mailman. They said they’d him a coupon. They said it wasn’t their problem. He threw the phone at the wall and now he’s grounded. Earlier that day I watched Caddyshack, courtesy of Keith, and it was very funny. You see, Netflix was right. It wasn’t their problem; it’s mine and Keith’s. He just doesn’t know that. Except for Highlander, he has good taste in movies. The situation is actually a compliment and he doesn’t know that either.
Don’t call it voyeurism. Call it curiosity. It’s like when you watch the movie playing in someone else’s van on the highway. Statistically, it’s most likely to be SpongeBob, but The Incredibles is a close second. Mom and Dad were too cheap to by a van with a DVD player.
Keith says he wants do a stakeout and see who comes by to pick up his DVD’s. All night, if he has to. I considered renting a separate PO Box at the post office and then having all his mail rerouted there instead of his house. That seemed too diabolical. Plus, his mom would die without all her Good Housekeeping magazines and what about bills and such? Instead, after I drop Highlander back in his mailbox, I offer to join him on his stakeout. Movies have stakeouts. I am excited.
Don’t call it envy. Call it appreciation. Mom and dad were just too cheap for Netflix, so I found a solution. Everybody wins.
A week later he calls me and says the mailman just dropped off the new disc. I come over. We wait. He can hardly contain himself, the anticipation of catching the thief in the act. My mom calls me and asks me if I’ll be home for dinner. When was the last time I ate with my parents? Isn’t it always chicken nuggets or frozen pizza? I tell her no and assure Keith I will stay dutifully by his side.
You can call it manipulation. I feel like Moriarty. I feel like Lex Luthor. I feel like the Riddler. I feel like Darth Vader and Voldemort and Benedict Arnold rolled into one. It true what they say. It’s more fun to play the villain.
Keith is dogged. We must drink gallons of Capri Sun as we wait; though I prefer Kool Aid as my summer-themed beverage, I don’t tell him this because I like Keith. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this if I didn’t. Am I mean?
Don’t call this bullying. Keith has plenty of self-esteem and I need to prank someone or I get bored. One time I called a Chinese restaurant and a pizza joint at the same time and I held the phones up to each other. That satisfied me for a week.
Eventually Keith says he has swim practice and trudges off. I promise him I will report any mysterious activity with the seriousness of an Army private reporting for duty, sir! He tells me I’m a good man. That night I watch The Usual Suspects, but I steam it open this time. Out of compassion.
Keith tells me that he cancelled his Netflix account. He’s just going to download illegally like every other kid.
For the best, I say.
For the best.