There's nothing more relaxing than this. Sitting here, on a weekday afternoon. One comfy sofa, a good game on the tv that Jim had taped last week, and an icy cool drink in my hand. It's the life, I'll tell you.
Yet, as is always my luck, peaceful tranquility never lasts long for me. Just as a touchdown for the wrong team is scored, the phone starts to ring. I contemplate letting the answering machine get it, like usual. But Jim always ends up yelling at me, because I never call anyone back. Like Mom. Or...anyone, really. And then he answers the phone to one of them and gets the hell.
So I, being a good roommate, grab the phone and push the On button. "Yeah?"
"Mark! Great, I was really hoping you'd be home."
Speaking of the man himself.
"What's up, Jim?"
There was a slight silence on the other end for a moment. "Uh...some things just happened..."
"What things? Are you still coming home tomorrow?" I look around the room at the empty cans and pizza boxes laying around. Jim liked things to look at least semi-clean. Though I couldn't care less either way, I do keep up my part. After all, Jim's had a hard year. So I make at least his home life a little more simplier.
"Well...no. I'll be home in about...two hours? I have to stop off at the office."
"The office? You're supposed to be in New York!" Though I admit that Jim hadn't been as thrilled as I thought he should be to go for that Corporate interview with his girlfriend, there was no reason in my mind why he should already be coming home. Especially since he should still be in that interview.
"Yeah well, about that...it looks like I won't be moving out so soon after all." Jim's voice was hesitant. As if he was still getting used to the idea himself.
"Well that's great, buddy. It's always good to have you around." Especially around rent time, which just so happens to be coming up again next week. "So why did you call?"
For a moment, I thought Jim's cell had given out, the other end was completely silent. "I broke up with Karen. Just...minutes ago. I told her it was completely off."
It takes me a second to take this in. The news, Jim's cold, factual voice. "Why'd you do that?" Did I have to ask? Of course I already knew. I just wanted him to tell me. For once.
Okay, maybe that's not fair. Jim did tell me once, all about his real feelings for Pam. But it didn't really count.
Jim vitually never gets drunk. But one night, he had. So much so, that he started babbling on about how he had found the love of his life, and that was Pam. But she had turned him down. And even though he was dating Karen, he knew in his heart that she was only the rebound girl.
He had tried to fall in love with Karen, he really had. But his heart had been stolen already. There really wasn't much hope for the poor guy.
But we had never talked about it again. When he had woken the next afternoon, he couldn't remember anything that had happened the night before, including his little soul searching chat with me.
I always expected him to do something about it sooner or later, but it came as a surprise to me now. "So where's Karen now? And why would you want to go to the office on your day off?"
"Karen's still in New York with a few of her friends. I don't really know what's going to happen with her. She was really upset, though. I mean....wow. Maybe I should have taken more time. You know, like actually think of what I'd say before blurting out about how she's known for a long time that I was still in love with Pam and I can't keep denying it? I mean really, it's not fair to her or Pam. I have to make a final decision about what I'm going to do. So I did. But Karen looked in pretty bad shape, though not all that shocked."
"Okay...now what? What are you going to do?" Sometimes, Jim needs a little push to keep talking.
"I'm going to go to the office, tell Pam what's really going on and...I don't know. I guess I'll try asking her out on a date. If she'll still have me...I'm not really sure where I stand."
I had heard about Beach Day. Not from Jim, but overhearing Karen when we all went on a double date a few nights ago. Talking about how rude Pam was. And how she must not have any pride. How everyone was going to be teasing her from now on about what she said, and Karen herself wouldn't mind hearing it. "How could you possibly not know where you stand? Pam laid it all out for you in very clear meaning. If everyone else in your workplace knows what's going on, then you really should too, Jim."
"But everyone else is just teasing. What if we all misunderstood?"
"Did she ever once rebuke the teasings? Say that they misunderstood?"
Another small silence. "No."
"Then there you go, Jim. She wouldn't be going through so much hell for nothing, now would she? She's not rebuking it because she wants to make sure you really get it. So give her a bit of peace and catch on."
I could almost picture Jim's face as he took this all in. Nodding. Very serious looking. His hands tight on the wheel, his foot pressing down the gas pedal a little harder. "Mark, I thought I understood her before. Last year. I never told you about that, but-"
"I already know Jim. And I know how much that killed you. She wasn't ready then. But you know that even you, who knew this woman for years now, wasn't sure that the woman confessing all those things was really Pam. She's grown. She needed her time and space. She's telling you that she's had enough and now she's ready. Instead of you putting yourself on the line first, she did. Remember that, Jim."
Sometimes I think Jim really needs to get out more and get new friends. I mean really, he's asking me for dating advice. Me, who changes jobs every year or two and can't keep a girlfriend for more than two weeks. This is who he asks advice for - on how to date this 'love of his life'. It was almost pathetic, but oh so Jim like as well.
"Just stop doubting Jim. If she's really worth it, you'll ask. Hell, if tv has anything to say for it, you'll even know just the right words to say to her when you see her."
"This isn't tv, Mark."
"You're being documented for tv. So it kinda is. You never know. Stop doubting yourself. Go get Pam and tell her, again, how much you love her. Remind her. Show her. Date her. You've been pretty miserable all year now. This is your chance to actually be happy again. So take it, man. What do you really have to lose now? You already gave it all up. That should be a pretty clear signal to you that your..." Dare I be so cheesy? Can a guy really say these things? Maybe Jim needs Pam more than I first thought. "...your heart is already sure about the decision. You just got to convince that thick head of yours."
The phone started to crackle. Either Jim's minutes were nearly out, or he was going through a bad area. "Yeah, thanks about that..." More crackling. "...gonna ask her at the..." Perhaps he was going under a bridge now. "...ner tonight....bye Mark."
I turn off the phone and place it back in the cradle, just where Jim likes it to be. Now that I'm done giving good councel for someone's else's love life, I turn the sound on the tv again and continue watching the game. Only now it's ruined for me. I'm forced to wonder how this will come out. Will Jim finally get his girl? It would be a nice break, for all, including me, concerned.