In a modest little city, on a modest little street, in a modest little home, was a modest little family. Husband, wife, two kids, various toys in the yard, a couple cars in the driveway and all that’s missing is the white picket fence to complete the perfect picture of domestic tranquility. Yeah, I know, it annoys me too. Oh, my apologies, where are my manners? It’s not that often I get to formally introduce myself, though I’m reasonably confident you’ve heard of me. The name’s Murphy. Murphy S Law to give my full name. I know what you’re thinking, trust me I’ve heard it more times than I care to count. Isn't it Murphy’s Law, you know something like that? I admit, it gets confusing from time to time. But hey, when you’ve been around as long as I have, you learn to live with a few things. Like people the world over getting my name wrong. Now, I’m not really one to brag, but I am fairly proud of the fact that my best-known quote has, as the youngsters say, gone viral. I’m sure you know it. “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Yup, that’s mine. Trust me it’s a lot better than some of the other stuff I came up with back during the Dark Ages. They didn’t call it the Black Death for nothing you know. But I digress. Back to where we were. Outside the Halpert residence in Scranton Pennsylvania, specifically with one Jim Halpert.
Now, you may be wondering why I’m giving some special attention to Jim. If you’ve seen the documentary that came out a few months ago, you’d think that he’d be one of my favorite people in the world! All those wonderful pranks and chaos causing mischief he created. And you’d be right. For years I was right there with him, laughing along with every stapler in jello, every phone in the ceiling, and every length of wire ran up a phone pole. Great fun. Thing is, he’s kind of mellowed out since the documentary has gone to air. Not as many pranks, actually putting dirty clothes in the laundry hamper, suggesting companywide yoga in the parking lot on nice days. It’s enough to make a poltergeist puke. So that brings us too today. You see today is always a special day on Jim’s calendar. It’s his wife’s birthday and he decided the best present was to give Pam a day away at the spa with her friend Izzy and her sister. Well, this leaves him outnumbered what with the kids and all. Come on, I’ll show you what it really means to be a mischief maker.
“Cece! Phil! Come on down! It’s time to make mommy’s cake!” Jim called up the stairs to where he heard his children playing in their rooms.
“Yay!!” Cece burst out of her room and ran for the stairs. In her excitement she didn’t see where she was going and ran straight into her brother causing him to topple over into the wall.
“Waaah! Daddy!” Phil screamed and clutched at his knee.
In an instant Jim rushed up the stairs and dropped to his knees at his son’s side. “Hey buddy, what happened?”
“I got a owie,” Phil sniffed.
Jim wrapped his arms around his son and looked at Cece. “What happened.”
“I ran into Phil,” Cece mumbled while looking down at the floor. “It was a accident.”
“Ok, Cece,” Jim said kindly. “As long as you didn’t do it on purpose.”
Cece shook her head vigorously causing her hair to bounce around in front of her face. “No daddy.”
“Ok, say you’re sorry to Phil though and give him a hug please.”
“I’m sorry Phil.” Cece leaned forward to briefly wrap her arms around her brother.
By now Phil had calmed down and was running his hands across his face to wipe away the last tears. “’S ok Cece.”
“Alright,” Jim got back to his feet. “Carefully now, let’s head down to the kitchen. Time to start making the cake for mommy when she gets back home.”
The trio made their way downstairs to the kitchen without further incident. Jim helped Cece and Phil into identical chef’s costumes and pulled two chairs from the kitchen table close to the counter so they could help. He pulled up a yellow cake recipe from the internet on his laptop and set it to one side.
“Okay, how hot do we need the oven?” he asked his assistants.
“A billion degrees!” Cece shouted.
“A hundred twenty,” said Phil.
Jim chuckled at his kids. “How about three fifty? Sound good?”
“Yeah!” both children cheered in turn. Jim resisted the urge to call jinx and turned away from them to set the oven temperature. A high-pitched giggle met his ears when he turned back to where he’d set out ingredients on the kitchen counter.
“No! Phil! Stop!” Jim reached out but it was already too late. Phil had taken the cover off the butter tray and grabbed for the stick resting within. His fingers were instantly coated in softened butter which he proceeded to smear on Cece’s face. Cece thought this was highly amusing and her laughter only encouraged Phil to keep up with his impromptu finger painting. Taking a deep breath, Jim soaked a dishrag in soap and water and cleaned up the mess. After wiping everything dry with a hand towel he looked back and forth between the two of them.
“We’re alright guys. We didn’t need butter anyway. But remember to only grab the ingredients daddy says to grab, Okay?”
“Okay Daddy,” Cece said in a singsong voiced with an ear-to-ear grin.
“’K Daddy,” Phil echoed.
In short order Jim had supervised the children to add flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. He reached into a cupboard for another larger mixing bowl. Beside him Phil smacked a hand onto some loose flour resting on the countertop. A small white cloud drifted up to tickle Cece’s nose.
A much larger cloud was sent into the air since Cece had sneezed directly into the bowl they had just filled with dry ingredients.
“Sorry daddy,” said Cece while rubbing her nose.
Jim took a deep breath before he replied. “Please remember to cover your nose when you sneeze from now on.”
Jim dumped out the contents of the bowl and wiped it clean. Once they had re-measured the dry portions, he set the bowl on the other side of the sink. Phil helped scoop shortening into the second bowl and then stood on his tip toes to watch as Jim pulled out a hand mixer and plugged it into the wall.
“Okay Cece, this is your job. Daddy is going to use the mixer and you pour in the sugar nice and slow.
Cece stuck her tongue out of her mouth while she concentrated on her task. Jim kept up encouragement. “That’s it. Good job!”
On his other side Phil was back up on his tip toes and had scooted forwards towards the edge of his chair. Not looking where he was going, one of his feet slipped off the side. The boy collided with Jim’s side. Paternal instinct kicked in and Jim reached for his son with a shout.
Jim had succeeded in preventing Phil from falling off his chair. Unfortunately, his other hand maintained its grip on the mixer which jerked forward at an odd angle to send a spray of shortening and sugar splattering across the cupboards.
Cece and Phil dissolved into another giggle fit at the look of horror that was written across Jim’s face. Setting Phil firmly back down on his chair, Jim set the mixer down and walked over to grab some paper towels. He had to take more calming breaths while wiping up the goop.
“Alright, let’s try that again.” He said once he regained his composure.
Once the mixture reached the right consistency, and Jim made sure there were as few distractions as possible, he crossed over to their fridge and pulled the last three eggs out of the carton.
“Yay! Egg time!” Cece chirped.
“Eggs!” Phil squeaked with a clap of his hands. “I do it!”
“There’s one for each of us,” Jim said and set the eggs down. Carefully he helped Cece crack her egg and used the mixer to add it to the batter. His own egg also went into the bowl with no issues. Jim was leaning down to help Phil when the boy picked up his egg and clapped it between his hands as hard as he could. Egg white, yolk, and shell dropped into the bowl and immediately got churned up in the still spinning beaters of the mixer.
“Egg in bowl!” Phil said proudly.
Jim could only let out a gasp of incredulity as, yet another batch of batter was ruined. He let his head drop and nodded it back and forth a few times. “Cece, Phil, hop on down. We need to go to the store.”
“Car ride!” Phil’s face lit up like a Christmas Tree and he clambered off his chair. Cece joined her brother by the door to the garage to pull on her shoes.
“It’ll only take fifteen minutes,” Jim said under his breath and helped Phil put on his own light up shoes.
An hour later they finally returned home.
“Did you like the ride on the horsey and the candy bar Cece?” Jim asked while pulling Phils shoes off.
“Yeah dad!” Cece grinned.
“And do we tell mommy that daddy had to talk to the nice policeman?”
“That’s right!” Bribery has its uses especially when I don’t want Pam to worry about anything on her birthday, let alone me telling her about a speeding ticket, Jim thought to himself.
“Right! Back to making the cake.”
Jim’s head seemed to be on a swivel as he, Cece, and Phil once more combined the wet ingredients for the cake. Slowly they also blended in the dry ingredients as well. Feeling like it was too good to be true Jim kept a firm grip on the mixing bowl as they prepared to pour the batter into the cake pan. Just before the batter started to pour, Jim noticed something and called a halt.
“Wait! We forgot to make the pan all ready.”
Setting the mixing bowl back down, Jim reached for a can of PAM cooking spray.
“I wanna do it!”
Cece reached for the spray bottle just as Jim was pushing the button. Cece’s arm made Jim miss his target so rather than spraying the cake pan, he ended up shooting the cooking spray over his shirt. Once more Cece and Phil dissolved into a fit of giggles. There was nothing else Jim could do. He also found himself laughing along. Fortunately, he had a white undershirt on beneath the long sleeve Henley style shirt he was wearing. Tossing the soiled garment across the kitchen, Jim let Cece coat the baking pan with a second spray of PAM. Carefully they poured the cake batter into the pan and as fast as he safely could, Jim put it in the oven.
By now Phil was starting to fuss due to it being past lunch time and starting to overlap his naptime. An easy lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, string cheese, and Goldfish crackers was quicky consumed. Cece walked upstairs to her room to settle into her reading corner for some quiet time activities while Jim got Phil calmed down for his nap. Walking downstairs he collapsed into his armchair intending to close his eyes for a moment before taking care of the dishes.
It was the combination of a high-pitched alarm, Phil crying, and Cece tugging at his arm that woke him up.
“Daddy! Daddy! Wake up! There’s smoke!”
“Wha-” Jim’s grogginess only lasted a second until the sound of the smoke detectors going off registered. A light haze of smoke was coming from the oven. Rushing over to the appliance he saw two hours had elapsed on the clock. Opening the door sent a fresh wave of white smoke pouring out of the oven. Coughing, Jim grabbed an oven mitt and pulled the charred remains of the cake out of the oven and set it on the stove. He closed the oven with a foot to try and stem the tide of more smoke and brought the ruined cake outside. Rushing back inside he turned off the smoke detectors and made his way to Phil’s room to console the screaming toddler.
“What happened daddy?” Cece’s voice seemed small from Phil’s doorway.
Jim could only sigh. “Daddy fell asleep and let the cake burn. Could you do daddy a big favor and open some windows.”
Cece left to accomplish her task while Jim soothed Phil. Once Phil was calm and the house was clear of smoke Jim loaded them back up in the car to head back to the grocery store. One purchase of a pre-made and frosted cake, candles, and decorative edible letters later and they were back on their way home. Along with another ride on the one cent plastic horse ride at the front of the grocery store.
They had just finished spelling our ‘Happy Birthday Mom’ when the garage door opened, and Pam walked in from the driveway.
Cece beamed with delight. “Happy Birthday Mommy! We got you a cake because the one daddy made got burned!”
“Mommy!” Phil walked forward as fast as he could to splat himself against Pam’s legs in a giggling hug.
Pam’s eyebrows raised in shock as she took in the disaster that was the kitchen. Baking dishes were strewn about the counter. The stove exhaust fan was still running. The tangy odor of smoke was still in the air. Jim’s shirt was laying on the floor.
“Thank you, Cece. Thank you, Phil,” she said before looking over at Jim and smirking at her husband. “Run into difficulties?”
“I’ll tell you about it later,” Jim said softly. “Happy Birthday honey.”
“It looks great,” Pam said after extricating herself from Phil and crossing over to plant a kiss on Jim’s lips. “But what’s for dinner?”
Pam’s laughter echoed off the walls of the house as Jim’s face fell at the realization, he’d completely forgotten he’d also promised to cook her favorite dinner.
So, there you have it. Two kids, one adult and my own personal good-ish self adding to the fun. Now don’t worry I wouldn’t have let anything real bad happen to Jim and the kids. I told you I like them. Still, I’ve got to keep them on their toes every now and then. Just doing my job is all. Now if you’ll excuse me, rumor has it that there’s going to be a reunion of sorts for the one-year anniversary of the doc. Prime time to get some good laughs in for sure.