“Hello, can you tell me if Beth will be working tonight.”
While Pam showered, Jim was on kid duty, responsible for making sure they didn’t get into too much mischief, which was not an easy task with a 2-year old and a nearly 4-year old.
“Cece, give your brother back his toy,” he called out to his daughter as he spied her pulling the toy cell phone out of Phillip’s grip.
“Sorry, not you. I was talking to my daughter.” Jim directed his attention back to the conversation on his phone while still keeping an eye on the powder keg that was brewing on the floor in front of him.
He knew why she wanted the phone. Cece was a little parrot, she wanted to do anything Jim was doing and right now he was making a call on his cell phone so naturally Cece would want to do the same.
Phillip wasn’t really playing with the phone. He had it in his hand but his focus was really on the little drum he was banging on with the mallet in his other hand. And if not for physics and what was known in their house as Cece’s third law, he would likely drop both of the items in his hand and move on to something else. He was known to pick up toys, play with them for a minute and move on to the next one rather quickly, which was why their house always looked like a nursery school with toys strewn all over. Actually, a nursery school was probably a lot neater than their place because Jim was sure the teachers were a lot better at getting preschoolers in their charge to put away their toys than Pam and Jim were.
Right now, at least 4 other toys were spread around the area where Phillip was playing. At any other time he could be contented with any one of them, the Tonka truck, the Elmo doll, the Duplo train set. Phillip wasn’t that picky when it came to toys, except when Cece seemed to be interested in one of them.
Jim knew the minute Cece grabbed the phone in his hands, it would suddenly become the most popular toy in the Halpert home. They’d suddenly be in science class learning Cece’s law again – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Phillip would scream and a fight would ensue between the two and they’d both be in tears just at the time Pam would emerge from the bathroom.
He quickly finished his conversation so he could intervene before the situation got any worse.
“Oh, she is, good, can I make a reservation for two at 5:30 and please can we be seated in Beth’s section. Put it under Jim Halpert. Thanks.”
He pressed end and made a show putting the phone down which Cece did too back into the reach of her brother.
He scooped up Cece and began to dance her around in his arms.
“Who’s Daddy’s special girl?”
“Cece,” she chortled back.
He knew he should have been reprimanding her for stealing Phillip’s toy but right now he was just relieved he was able to quell the scrape before any real trouble began. He was also proud that his skills at multitasking-parent-style were finally coming along and he was able to do three things at once, get himself dressed, partially at least, amuse his children and complete his call, setting his plans for the evening.
Plus, he was a little flattered that her parroting had finally moved on to him. For a while all she wanted to do was be like mommy and while the rational side of Jim knew it was a phase and she loved them both, the vulnerable side was a little jealous of her attachment to Pam. He couldn’t help but feel it was residual effects of the time he’d been away so often about a year back when he’d been involved in the sports marketing company he started with some college friends. Pam assured him it wasn’t, that children that age just tended to be as fickle with their affection as they were with their toys but Jim was still happy she was now in a bit of a daddy phase.
“And who’s going to be 4 soon?”
“Me,” she beamed.
Jim swirled her around as she clasped her arms around him and released a full body giggle that she had inherited from her mother. By now Phillip had forgotten all his toys and teetered over to where Jim was swaying with his sister. Jim scooped up Phillip too and continued waltzing with a kid on each hip.
“You are supposed to be getting them dressed.”
Pam appeared in the room wrapped in a towel. She wanted to be annoyed but it was hard to when she saw how much fun the three of them seemed to be having.
“Oh mommy, dancing’s more fun,” Jim said as he pulled her in to join them and the whole Halpert family tangoed around the bedroom before making their way back to the kitchen for some Cheerios and juice.
After helping serve the kids, it was Jim’s turn to finish up in the bathroom. The little dance party cut into their morning routine and put them behind schedule to get ready, get the kids to Grandma’s and still get to work on time. Still, it was worth it. Things were finally back to normal again with Pam, and these little moments with his happy family were more important than clocking in promptly at 9:00. However, it wouldn’t look good to get in late and then leave early. He never knew which Dwight would be running the office today, the friend who would overlook anything Jim did, or the tyrant who from time to time showed up to keep the office on their toes and things running efficiently.
Overdue for a visit from the Dwight who was a stickler for rules and promptness, he tried to speed things up to make up for the time they’d lost soft shoeing around their make-shift ballroom. No matter which manager showed up today, he would be leaving before the bell, (Dwight ran the office like a learning institute with school bells and report cards and recess, the latter picked up from Michael). And he’d be taking his wife with him when he did. He had a very special date at Christopher’s to get to tonight.
It was more than 7 years since he had brought Pam to the quaint farmhouse restaurant for their first date. The first date that almost wasn’t because he had been a stubborn fool for too long.
But when he finally came to his senses during the interview in New York, thanks to the gold medal yogurt lid she snuck into his papers, he took no time deciding to head back to Scranton and ask her to dinner.
He knew the perfect place to bring her even before he knew her answer would be yes.
Of course, he was pretty sure it would be. She’d made it clear at the beach how she felt about him, still. He, despite pretending to be over her for months, despite trying to make his true feelings go away, first by running to Stamford and then by dating someone else, had never succeeded at convincing himself there was anyone for him other than Pam. But it wasn’t until he was sitting in David’s office that he finally opened his eyes, the glint of the yogurt lid revealing the golden future he had ahead if he would just stop making believe he wasn’t still in love with her.
Jim being Jim, had vaulted away so many of the little remarks he’d overheard her make over the years, so when it came time to make a reservation, the place to bring her came to him as quickly as “That’s What She Said” came to Michael when a co-worker remarked how hard a task was.
Christopher’s was the place he’d heard her mention to Phyllis, the place she used to go with her dad but had always wanted to go to on a romantic date. It was the perfect spot for the date they had the night he returned back to Scranton after being away for one day that felt more like a year.
And today like back then, he’d called ahead to secure a reservation, only this time it wasn’t just to reserve a table but to make sure Beth would be there too, just as she had been all those years ago. Just as she had been the many times they’d been back since. She’d become something more than a server at the most romantic restaurant in town. She’d become a friend; one they saw for many a special occasion in their lives. Sure, they’d been there a few times when they had to sit in someone else’s section or when she wasn’t even there but this date would not feel right with any other server. She had to be there for this one just as she had been there for the first.