Hot July night in Pennsylvania.
The temperature has been up to 36°C (96ºF) today. If it were not because it was Friday, Pam would not have even considered being at Chili’s and would already be in bed after a long working day.
“It’s getting frustrating, you know?” Jim says looking at her in a charming way, grinning with his messy blonde glossy hair. It is the first time in a while she gazes at his appearance. He is wearing his usual light-blue shirt with his sleeves up since he has been complaining about the weather all day.
She occasionally does not know if he is attempting to flirt but in her mind, she sort of wants him to. Or at last, she likes to fantasise about it. Maybe she should just go for it. Perhaps she should grab him and smooch him for once and all.
“There is no way I haven’t had a serious relationship in who knows how long”.
“Tell me about it…” after a few seconds of quietness Pam breaks the silence laughing between her teeth, because she gets edgy articulating about personal issues with him. “But I do know, bro,” says sarcastically, sipping her beer. She attempts to convince herself he is just being nice like he has always been.
“Well… At least you were engaged. That was a big step into adulthood. I’ve been dating since I was fifteen years old. What am I even doing wrong?”
“Umm, sometimes I feel like my three-years-engagement to a man who would not even walk three steps for me didn’t count”.
But it is him.
Jim has been her most inseparable friend for the past four years. She forgets every now and then that she starts articulating about certain things whilst being tipsy, those things that she should tell her therapist.
“His loss, dude! You passed the honeymoon phase… unlike me. That is a lot” Jim makes an excessive gesture with his hands and arms and Pam giggles.
People from other tables would stare at them whilst they were speaking indeed noisy because they appear as if they had spent the entire afternoon having alcoholic drinks and eating salty food.
“Roy was my high school boyfriend. I haven’t even dated anyone else except him. That’s frankly pretty embarrassing” Pam chuckles again, but this time sounds timid, whilst she swallows more beer to dismiss her uncomfortableness. “And I don’t think you’ve done anything wrong. I like to think you still haven’t found the one”.
“Hold on…” Jim says laughing. “Please, don’t say you believe in that stuff about finding the right person, in the right place, at the right time, the happily ever after, and yaddah yaddah yaddah”.
Pam’s face bears cold as if somebody would have dropped a glass of water full of ice on her back.
“No. I don’t…” sounds disappointed.
“Oh. Come on…” Jim pins up his eyes longingly.
“Okay… I do” Pam giggles. “I’m a hopeless romantic. I was raised by Disney movies and Jane Austen books”
“And you also love listening to Taylor Swift”
“That I do… that I do. I am proud of her, okay? She is really cool!”
Jim is laughing at her pace.
Pam glances around Chili’s, then asks “Who would you ask out on this bar?”
The place is full of people, but it is not entirely crowded. There is a tanned blonde lady in a red strapless dress beside Pam. Jim poses his eyes on her for a few seconds, so almost automatically Pam turns around to take a quick glance at her.
“Huh… that’s not… bad” her jaw drops but Jim does not say a word back. “Do you want me to tell her if she would give you her number?“
“No way! Also, she is undoubtedly not single”
“It will only take a minute” Pam insists.
“Just wait for a little, that chick is not alone” he sounds kind of upset after teasing her, so she starts focusing her sight on the rest of the tables trying to find a person for herself to fool about, but Jim is distracted.
After about five minutes to be looking at different people from different tables, a man with two drinks in his hands sits next to the blonde girl facing Jim.
“Oh… see? Look!”
Pam turns around her back and notices them, so unexpectedly Jim’s face goes serious.
“You okay?” she asks, concerned.
“Hey…” Jim ignores her.
“What if we…?”
“What?” Pam giggles, discomfiting.
“What if we go on a date?”
“What?” Pam glances at him confused.
“Can you stop saying what?”
“Oops, sorry” both laugh. “But what do you mean?”
“Like… we could go on a fake date,” Jim says shyly.
“And what would we do and for what?”
“We could… fake we are two people meeting for the first time, but as we actually know each other we notice what the other do inappropriate so we tell what we shouldn’t do when we date. Does that make sense?”
It does sense, she feels inside. She wanted to do it.
“Oh… I don’t know if that’s a good idea”.
“Come on, Beesly. Don’t be such a grandma. It’s just for fun”.
“What would I have on return?”
“I’ll make you tea every day and I will do my taxes by myself, all week”
“Deal” Pam extends her arm and grabs Jim’s hand shaking it. “When are we going out, Halpert?”
“Oh, no… I kinda wanna go home already”
“Nah. What else do you have to do on a Friday night? It’s only 9:30 pm, the night is young and so are we”
A few minutes later after establishing some “rules” such as sharing the bills from the restaurant, acting like they don’t know each other in reality and swearing they would act as if they are on a real date… both go to the toilet at Chili’s to put themselves together a bit.
Jim brushes his hair with his fingers, removes his tie to look informal, has a cold mint and applies some deodorant he had in his hand-pack.
Pam, from the other side of the wall, decides to take off her shirt to wear a white tank-top she had put behind it, applies dark red lipstick, and sprays perfume on her wrists, elbows and behind her ear lobes to let her curly hair fall down. She feels rather impressed by the way she looks because she never attempts to impress anyone on a regular basis. Suddenly, it is like she is eighteen, finally feeling carefree.
As Pam leaves the ladies’ room, she detects Jim is not inside Chili’s anymore, so she moves into the main entrance to locate him in his grey Peugeot.
“I will see you at the restaurant in ten!” Jim shouts from the window, leaving. He appears to be excited, just like her.
“Okay!!!” yells back as she gets in the car.
A bit later, she takes a deep breath and smiles when she reaches the parking lot and sees Jim standing next to his car, looking fresh and handsome. The big moon reflecting on him during this summer night fits him perfectly. She can tell he is pleased to see her, because he starts walking fast to Pam’s door, unlocks it and grabs her hand right after he offers it.
“Do you really do this on a date?” Pam jokes.
“Not really” both chuckle. “I usually just wait on a table”.
“So, why don’t you go do that?”
“Okay, ma’am” Jim is still holding Pam’s hand on his, so he kisses the palm and exits almost running like a child. She turns red because it has been a while since someone was romantic to her. Then returning back to reality, she reminds herself: this is just for fun.