By Valentine’s Day a week later, Pam had nearly forgotten how worried she had been about Michael. Especially since he was back to his usual ways making inappropriate comments about her and Jim and annoying her with his time-wasting antics.
Still she was enjoying her first Valentine’s Day engaged to Jim. He, unlike her previous fiancé, did not consider sex a present, in fact he said it was a gift for him to be able to bring her to a state of elevated rapture every time they made love. His ability to arouse her tenderly yet passionately and make her body feel things she never before knew possible had long since surpassed Roy’s best sex of her life, the only thing she got from him the final year they were engaged. And the way he made her feel desired in a way Roy never did, was the ribbon on top of the whole package of what she had with Jim.
Flowers were waiting for her on her desk that morning — she still wasn’t sure how he accomplished that since they traveled together to and from the office and she couldn’t imagine who in the office would go out of their way to do that favor for Jim. She imagined he owed someone big.
But Michael who had not forgotten his heartache, was making it increasingly difficult for them to enjoy the day. After moving her flowers to the floor more than once, and complaining to Jim about their sexy looks at each other, they decided to accept Phyllis’s invitation to lunch and escape the doom and gloom atmosphere Michael was manufacturing.
Lunch with the Vance’s began pleasant enough but they soon ran out of things to talk about, mostly because of their discomfort when they discovered the couple had disappeared to the bathroom for a little afternoon delight. The image of Bob and Phyllis getting it on inside the very public restroom made them lose both their appetites and their conversation skills. However, as uncomfortable as they now were, the alternative was to return to the office where they were sure the atmosphere would be just as insufferable, if not more so, so they found a way to remove the mental picture from their minds and made small talk again.
“Hey Phyllis, did you ever tell Bob how Michael wanted to throw himself a Bar Mitzvah after you guys went to that one a few years back.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.” Bob responded, obviously never having heard about Michael’s plans. “If that man isn’t the most idiotic, disrespectful, narcissistic jackass ever to manage an office.”
“I told you this dear,” Phyllis remarked. That made more sense to Pam, there was no way Phyllis would pass up an opportunity to poke fun of our boss to her husband.
“Remember, I asked you to find out where Adam got the skullcaps for the service and then I told you we’d get to do the hora again soon.” She directed her attention to Pam. “I loved doing that dance at the party. I even enjoyed it when Michael had us doing it in the conference room for practice.”
“Yes, Phyllis it is fun. I remember when I went to some of my friend’s bar and bat mitzvahs back when I was around that age, I really enjoyed that part of the party. Dancing around in that big circle, watching them lift all the family members up on the chairs.” Pam turned to Jim. “Wasn’t that a blast at the ones you went to?”
“I preferred the Snowball dance myself. Remember I was a dorky kid and didn’t have the courage to ask a lot of girls to dance. The beauty of the Snowball was pretty much everyone wound up on the dance floor by the end.”
“That’s right, I forgot you two might have gone to them when you were that age. When Michael and I were in middle school, they weren’t quite the big deal they’ve become. I may have gone to one or two but they were small luncheons not these big parties.”
Phyllis suddenly got that saucy look in her eye she often did when she shared a bit of girl talk or was let in on a juicy secret.
“Hey, do you think you ever were at the same one?”
“We’ve talked about this before,” Jim replied for the both of them. “We really don’t know. There always seemed to be a bunch of kids from other schools and camps and stuff but we really can’t remember.”
“Imagine if you were though, wouldn’t that be so serendipitous. Bobby, don’t you think so?”
“Yeah, sure dear. Now tell me more about the idiotic plan the jackass had to throw himself a Bar Mitzvah. That sounds like the real hoot.”
They stayed at lunch another hour or so. When they did finally leave, Phyllis convinced them that there was no need to go back to the office. Michael would never say a word as long as he thought they were all together with Bob, plus back at the office, Michael was holding court at the Valentine’s pity party and they weren’t welcome at it.
It was still daylight as they leisurely drove back through town to their home on Linden Avenue, the late afternoon sun casting a prismatic glow into the car and over Pam, painting her hair with shades of copper and gold that were the perfect complement to her green eyes. Jim reached out and tousled the sun-lit tendrils of her hair that escaped from her ponytail. He loved when she wore her hair down, all free and flowing and sexy but he also liked this look on her. The youthful style brought out the blush of her cheeks and twinkle of her eyes and brought to mind images of a slightly younger Pam, when he was first falling for her, years before.
With all the talk last week of Michael and his instant infatuation of Holly, memories of Jim and Pam’s first days together in the office seemed to randomly pop up in his thoughts. Mostly in his head were memories of how he himself had fallen rather fast for a girl he knew almost nothing about, including the fact that she was engaged to someone else. But for Jim, that knowledge didn't change what he had little control over. Every day he told himself not to fall for her and everyday there would be some little thing she did that would jolt his insides, prodding the parts of him that could override any rationalism occurring in his brain. Sometimes it was as simple as the mocking tone she took with Michael as he messed up the punchline of jokes that weren’t very funny to begin with. Sometimes it was the way she practically fell out of her chair laughing at the pranks he pulled on Dwight. Sometimes it was the way she yawned precisely at 4:15 each day but every day he would notice something new about her and it got harder and harder for Jim to keep himself from falling under her spell.
In retrospect, his inability to keep her from penetrating his every thought was just another confirmation to Jim, that no matter what they were always meant to be together; that a more powerful force was at work. It was not really in his nature to have such a strong conviction about a concept such as kismet, he didn’t usually believe in signs, or ghosts, or horoscopes. The supernatural was something to enjoy on television or the movies, it didn’t exist in real life. He never once avoided a crack for the sake of his mother or wasted more salt over his shoulder because he was clumsy enough to spill some in the first place. But of his destiny to be with Pam, of that he was sure of.
Pam brought him back to the present when she brought up their lunch with the Vances.
“I mean how do you do it in a public restroom?”
“Pam, please, I don’t want to ever think of that again.” Jim shuddered at the new thought Pam had placed in his head.
“She did get me thinking again about those Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. How much fun they were back then. I loved doing the hora too. Seeing the family hoisted on the chairs. Do you remember when Dwight did that for Michael on his birthday and they crashed his head into the ceiling panel?”
Of course, Jim remembered that, it was right before he and Pam snuck off to go shopping for Kevin. He remembered how much fun they had goofing around at the store. It was also the day he held her hand when they went ice skating. Just another of the hundreds of memories he had of falling in love with her.
“Yeah, they were a lot of fun but as evidenced by what Dwight and the guys did to Michael, they could be a little dangerous too.”
“Oh yeah, you know how we girls always would take off our shoes and wear the socks the DJ handed out. Well I inevitably would get my toes stepped on when it got rowdy, and always by some woman wearing spiked heels.”
Jim, of course knew about how the girls would take off their shoes, because he was usually in kahoots with his buddies to hold the shoes for ransom when it was time to go home. It was shoes in exchange for secrets or some of their haul from the candy bar or with certain girls, he joked about requiring a kiss but it was only a joke because he always got shot down. At 13 he still hadn’t kissed a girl, but he was certainly starting to want to.
The tradition with the socks, was also just another opportunity to be silly. He always took a pair to wear on his hands.
“There was one I was at where they almost dropped the mother out of her chair.”
This felt familiar to Jim, very familiar.
“Wait, did you tell me something about that when we talked about Bar and Bat Mitzvahs on our first date? I sort of feel like I heard about this.” He paused, “No I feel like I actually remember it happening. I think it happened at one I was at too.”
Pam’s eyes lit up with an even more radiant shine, but only for a brief moment before they dimmed back to their regular yet beautiful sparkle.
“Well it probably happened a lot.”
“That’s true. But now that I think about it this was pretty hysterical. The mom as she started to fall tried to rebalance herself and somehow in doing that, she kicked off her shoe and it flew across the room and knocked over one of the giant styrofoam centerpieces.”
The megawatt glimmer in her eyes returned.
“Wait Jim, was this at Robyn Fried’s?”
“Pam, I don’t know. It was some girl in a lot of my classes who I haven’t thought of in years. I don’t remember her name.”
A huge smile washed over Pam’s face.
“Jim, I’m pretty sure we were at one together.”