Chandler walked into apartment twenty, struggling to carry three gallons of paint while holding a burlap shopping bag strapped over his shoulder. He grunted and strained as he made his way towards the kitchen and roughly deposited the cans and the bag down on top of the table. He let out a loud, relieved exhale, as if he were alleviated from a great burden. He started to flex his fingers in an attempt to regain the feeling in them, now only experiencing pins and needles as a result of lugging the heavy canisters up five flights of stairs.
He looked around the apartment and saw the furniture moved away from the walls and covered in drop cloths. The pictures had all been removed from their usual spots and neatly stacked on the coffee table. The floor was covered with fat pieces of tape and a tarp to protect it from any errant drops of paint that might threaten to stain a rug or splatter about which would cause extra clean up after the job of repainting the apartment was done.
He wasn't sure how he was convinced to spend a Saturday painting this apartment. Or how Monica got him to get out of bed before eight and pick up supplies from her list at the hardware store. Yet, here he was, ready to get to work, despite his grumbling and complaining all week as he tried to figure out an excuse to get out of it.
He waited for an answer from the bedroom or bathroom, figuring she was still getting ready, but the only answer he received was silence. He looked at the silver and grey walls that Monica was determined to repaint. She had been living in this apartment for over a year without her grandmother, yet, when she looked at the décor, she told him that she still felt like a guest in someone else's home. She needed to make a change. She needed this apartment to feel like it was hers.
She had already done some redecorating in an attempt to update the apartment from its 1970s style her Nana had indulged. She bought some items more to the taste of a twenty-three-year-old woman and replaced some of her grandmother's more mature décor that no doubt were relics from decades past. Now, it seemed, all that was left was a quick paint job and the transformation would be complete.
Chandler looked down at the brochure she had made him bring to the hardware store when he picked up the paint and shook his head. Purple. Who would want their walls purple? It was a bold choice; one he was mildly surprised that the more conventional Monica Geller would choose. She had always seemed very practical, and rarely stepped out of her comfort zone, which is probably why they spent more than a few Friday nights watching movies on her television rather than out at the bar.
He walked around the apartment and poked his head into the spare room. Empty. He looked across to the other side and saw the bathroom door open and the light off. He then knocked on her bedroom door, but there was no answer. He took one more look around the apartment on his way back to the kitchen, but reluctantly came to a stark realization. She was not home.
"I hope she doesn't think I'm doing this all by myself!"
He pulled out a chair, and before he sat down, he noticed a yellow piece of paper with her handwriting on it, partially obscured by one of the paint cans. He lifted the can and pulled out the note to read it.
No, I do not think you are going to do this all by yourself. I stepped out to the frame store when they called to tell me my poster was ready. On the way back I will pick us up some lunch. I set up some coffee on a timer that should probably finish brewing right about now."
Chandler's head tilted up when he heard the three distinctive beeps from her coffee machine, signaling it was done and fresh coffee was ready.
Chandler shook his head in disbelief. "That woman is a witch!" He then returned his attention to the note.
"I'm not a witch, I just knew how long it would take for you to get here from the hardware store and how long it would take you to find this note. There's milk in the fridge. Have a cup and if I am not back by then you can get started on the far wall. DO NOT MAKE A MESS! I should be back in an hour.
Chandler walked over to the counter and groused. "Who does she think she is, telling me what to do." He grabbed a mug and filled it, then reached into the refrigerator to put some milk in. He sat down and fiddled with the note. "She's not the boss of me." He paused as he went to sip his coffee and his eyes narrowed when he caught something written down on the back of the note.
"I am the boss of you as long as we are painting my apartment. Now finish your coffee."
He shoved the note away and pushed his seat back as his eyes went wide and he recoiled at her apparent clairvoyance. He then darted his eyes around the room.
"Can she see me?"
Chandler grabbed Monica's CD player and turned it on, deciding to listen to some music while he worked. As it began to play, he smiled as he bopped his head up and down.
"Phil Collins! I love this guy."
He started to hum along as he popped off the top of the first can and poured some paint in the tray before dipping the roller in it. He loaded it up with paint and began to use uneven strokes as he rolled it up and down the wall.
"Hey, this isn't that hard. I bet I'll be done before she gets here with our lunch."
He applied a full coat to the first wall and stood back, smiling at his work. He looked around to make sure he did not mark up the ceiling or floor and felt confident that Monica would approve. He stepped over to the next part of the wall and dragged the pan with him while he started to rock his hips back-and-forth as he sang out loud.
"Oh my god! What are you doing!"
Chandler's body convulsed in shock when he heard the loud, stern voice that called to him from across the room. He almost dropped the roller, and juggled it from hand to hand until he was able to secure it and place it back in the tray.
"My god woman! Don't do that! You could have given me a heart attack!"
Monica stood in the entranceway to her apartment with her eyes open wide in shock and horror. "Why are you painting my apartment purple!"
Chandler looked down at the paint can and arched his eyebrow. "Because this is the paint that you had me buy."
Monica dragged a large frame wrapped in brown paper into the apartment and leaned it against the door. She then tossed a brown grocery bag onto the table.
"No. I didn't. I wanted cobalt blue! Blue! This is not blue! This is purple!"
Chandler tried to return Monica's agitated tone back to her, but with nothing substantial to say, he offered up a frank confession of ignorance.
"I don't know what cobalt blue is."
Monica stepped towards the wall and gestured at it incredulously with her hand.
"It's the color I spent three weeks picking out. It is not this color!"
"That's not what was marked off in the book you gave me."
"Yes it was!"
Monica stormed back into the kitchen and took the brochure from the table. She walked back towards him as she opened it and let out one hearty triumphant "Ha!" as she shoved the exonerating page in Chandler's face. She started to jab her finger at the small blue square. "Look, See this little star? That's the color I picked."
Chandler shook his head. "No, you picked purple." He took the booklet from her and flipped it a few pages. He mocked her victorious "Ha!" as he pointed at a purple square with an X through it.
Monica looked up at him and flattened her lips. "That's not what I picked."
"Then why do you have an X through it? Everybody knows that X marks the spot."
"What am I? A pirate. An X through something means no. Do not want. Strike it from the page. I put X's through about twenty different colors! Did you think I wanted all of them?"
Chandler turned the book over and looked at it, he started to flip through the pages, finding X's on almost each one. "Oh yeah. I guess you didn't want purple."
Monica covered her eyes with her hands and took a deep breath. "Please tell me you at least got the right color for the bathroom."
Chandler offered her a defensive half-smile. "Was the right color purple?"
Monica let out a frustrated howl. "What am I supposed to do with a purple apartment! It is going to look like I murdered Grimace in here."
"You know, the dinosaur. Ross probably knows what I am talking about."
Monica narrowed her eyes and jabbed her hand at him with her fingers pinched close together. "Very thin ice mister." She looked at the wall again with slumped shoulders and dismayed eyes. "This is a disaster. Do you know how hard this will be to cover up and fix?"
Chandler brought his hand to his mouth to cover his frown. He felt terrible. He was about to offer to pay for the new paint, when he suddenly lifted his eyes and positioned himself between Monica and the wall.
"Well, uh, why cover it up?"
"Because it looks weird!"
"No. It looks unique." Chandler let his hands flourish, as if he were presenting the color to her.
"Think about it, purple apartment? That's got to be rare. As a matter of fact, you just might be the only person in Manhattan who has one. Think about that. Monica Geller. The only woman in New York with a purple apartment. You'll be a legend."
Monica eyed him suspiciously. "What kind of legend?"
Chandler started to pace as he tried to think quickly. "Oh, uh, like a trendsetter. People will talk about it for years." He walked over to her and put his arm around her shoulders as he waved his hand in front of the wall. "Long after you leave this place, people will always remember the purple apartment and the woman….no…the brave trailblazer who was bold enough to pick this color. People will talk of Monica Geller like they do Helen of Troy, or Joan of Arc, or some other lady of something." He then turned Monica to face him and smiled as he raised his voice, conveying excitement and enthusiasm. "If you paint this place purple, it will cease to be an apartment, it will be an icon. You. You will be an icon."
Monica let a slow smile start to form on her lips as her eyes went wide with wonder. "Icon? I like that! You really think it'll look okay?"
"Oh yeah. You step into this place after being in the drab hallway, and oh, what's that? Pop! Pop!" Chandler started to gesture with his hands in the air, imitating fireworks exploding every time he said "pop". He grabbed Monica once again and stared at her intently. "Now I'm in here, now I'm thinking, who is this amazing person who would be so bold as to paint their apartment purple?"
Monica clenched up her arms as she became giddy. "Me! I'm that amazing person!"
Okay, let's do it!" Monica picked up the other roller excitedly, dipped it in some paint, and began to work on the next blank wall. "Oh, when we are done, please remind me to make fun of you dancing to Phil Collins."
Chandler took a sip from his beer as the two of them sat down at the kitchen table and admired their work. Monica sighed as she stretched her arm out and placed it around his shoulders.
"I have to hand it to you Bing. It looks good."
"Yeah, it isn't as dark after it dries. I bet once you put stuff back on the walls, it'll look really natural."
Monica jumped up from her seat and walked over to the door. "Oh that reminds me. Can you help me hang this up over there?"
Monica started to rip the brown paper from the frame, revealing a vintage poster. Chandler stood up and walked over to take a look at it.
"What is it?"
"I found this poster in my Nana's room. I really liked it and thought I could get it framed and hang it over the TV. I think it's French, but I don't know what it means."
Chandler tilted his head as he read the words on the poster. "Well, Jouets means toys, and with the rocking horse, maybe it's an old ad or something."
Monica turned to look at Chandler, half-surprised and half-impressed. "You speak French?"
Chandler reached out and pinched his forefinger and thumb close together. "Un peu."
"What's that mean?"
"Not very well."
Monica stood up and chuckled. "Chandler Bing: Man of Many Hidden Talents."
"That's actually on my business card."
"So what do you think? Will you help me hang this?"
"Okay, I think I left my toolbox over on the other side of the livingroom. Can you get it?"
Chandler nodded as he turned to retrieve her tools. He stepped over and picked it up, swinging it across the end table, bumping the toolbox into a large yellow picture frame and knocking it over. He winced as he heard glass shatter and then closed his eyes tightly.
Monica clenched her fists up as she shuddered when she heard the glass break. "What was that?"
Chandler looked down at the frame and grimaced. "Well, I mean, it's nothing now." He bent over and picked it up. "I'm sorry, I think broke this frame."
Monica looked at the yellow frame, absent glass and backing and shook her head. "Oh, I really liked that. I found it in a thrift shop on Bleecker."
"Maybe I can bring it somewhere to get it fixed?"
"I guess." Monica looked at the frame and then turned around and looked at her door. "You know what? I have an idea." She snatched the frame from Chandler, walked over to the door, and held it up around the peephole.
"What do you think? I bet no one will have something like this in their apartment."
"What about a picture?"
Monica turned around to face him and fiddled with the frame in her hands. "I think I like the frame more. I mean, if I put a photo in it, It would just go in some corner of the room. If I put it here, I'll get to see it every day. Plus, a frame on a door, pretty iconic huh?"
Chandler smiled and nodded in agreement. "Yeah, it'll definitely make an impression."
"You think so?"
Chandler then shrugged his shoulders. "Sure, why not. You know, interior design is another one of my many hidden talents."
Monica laughed. "I've seen your apartment. You must keep it very hidden."