So, I got it into my head that I was going to write a fluff and somehow I ended up writing this. Um... yeah. About 90 fluff-less, but it is fairly weak, so... not a total failure.
Michael v. All Men Everywhere
Michael, shooting for "deep" again: I was over at my mom's house this weekend and... I found this old comic book I had when I was a kid.
He shakes his head.
Michael: It was a great issue, but there was this one part where the hero gets possessed and he puts his girlfriend on trial and I just thought "this is really what men have been doing for years now..."
Jim loomed over the reception desk. "So..." he said, grinning wildly down at Pam, "how does it make you feel to know that Michael is now basing his gender relations policy around a back issue of Howard the Duck from before you were born?"
Pam sighed, knowing that five minutes into outlining his newfound views on gender equality, Michael would doubtless make some comment about her breasts.
Toby: Corporate has volumes about how to handle gender relations in the workplace. That's why we have sexual harassment seminars, disclosure of relationships to HR...
Toby shrugs, indicating this is actually a fairly large chunk of his job.
Toby: Of course, that's for the workplace... Michael's focusing on personal lives, which Corporate stays out of for some reason...
Michael had gathered his employees in the conference room once again. He was in rare form, somewhere between Dr. Phil and Vince Lombardi as he tries harangues his staff into a more enlightened viewpoint.
"Look at what Howard's doing," Michael was using his most didactic tone as he gestured to the enlarged panel projected behind him, "he's making her answer for their whole relationship."
"I think I like Darkwing better," Jim quipped to Pam.
Michael was incensed. "No. This is not something you joke about," he was strangely stern. "This is going to teach you how to treat a woman, Jim," Michael accused.
Jim recoiled in mock hurt, Pam snickered.
"I just don't see..." Oscar began.
"The point is... all us us are Howard!" Michael screamed. "All of us are putting putting women on trial."
Toby half-opened his mouth to say something, but thought better of it.
Michael kept going. He would have anyway. "How many of the men here have some little test they give a girl without her realizing it?"
Oscar: I can honestly say that I don't.
Kevin: She has to say "yes."
Jim: Yeah, I've got a test.
Jim: There's this band I first heard when I was nineteen... They're English and they never got that big here, so... if you even know them, you're a huge music snob.
He gestures to himself.
Jim: Anyway... any time I really like a girl, I let her borrow this record and... I wait to see if she loves it as much as me. And...
Pam wanders into Jim's "head" space.
Pam: Ooh, what record?
Jim, laughing: Pam, do you mind?
Pam walks back out of shot, Jim shakes his head, clearly amused.
Jim, to himself: Supposed to be a confessional...
Jim remembers his circumstances and turns his attention back to the camera.
Jim: Anyway... So far, no one has.
He looks up at the camera.
Jim: Accept one.
"Is that fair?" Michael railed. "Is it right to do that to someone you love?
Dwight stood up, his face set in cold determination. "When a woman allies herself with Dwight Schrute, she must be willing to submit herself to a never-ending series of tests, trials, and challenges to prove her worth and character."
Though most of her coworkers recoiled in frank disgust, Angela couldn't help but smile.
Angela, somberly: I have no tolerance for any kind of weakness, either in myself or anyone else. My mate must feel the same way.
Angela: And be willing to punish any errors in my conduct.
"I just..." Changing the attitudes of the men of the office was harder than Michael expected. Clearly he was dealing with a bunch of cavemen. "It makes me sick to think of all that you guys" (clearly not himself) "put women through without even thinking about it."
"You don't think women do the same thing?" Oscar broke in.
Michael pursed his lips like he'd just taken a fistful of Lemonheads when he was expecting Sweet Tarts. "Nnnn... no."
Most of his employees tried restrain their laughter and Michael couldn't conceal his suddenly crippling terror.
Phyllis, proudly: I don't see the need to test a man. All I ask is that he love and care for me as much as I care for him.
Phyllis: Of course, if he brings his cell phone to the bathroom with him, it's over.
Kelly, sprightly: I've got a checklist in my head.
Kelly, somehow even more enthusiastically: And Ryan get every point!
Phyllis turned to Pam. "Do you have anything like that?" She asked with a kind of quiet curiosity.
After a pause, Pam admitted "I'd really like to find a guy who says 'bless you' when I cough..." her tone clearly indicated that this was something she was ashamed to confess, "... just in case."
Phyllis smiled. "That's sweet," she said, trying to sound as reassuring as possible while still keeping her voice low. "Does Roy do that?"
Pam shook her head sadly. "He doesn't even say 'bless you' when I sneeze."
Phyllis lowered her head, feeling bad about bringing the subject up at all.
Michael retreated to his office shortly after, visibly shaken by the idea that the women he had been involved with had been in any way quantifying his behavior. Once he felt up to speaking again, he would have to make a few calls.
The employees of Dunder-Mifflin Scranton hesitated to get back to work, opting instead to enjoy the Cheez-Its and Hi-C Michael had set up for the conference. Jim had to wonder about the appropriateness of serving grade school refreshments at what was essentially a New Age gender relations seminar, but he had to admit this wasn't all that strange given Michael's previous attempts at logic. Jim grabbed a red plastic cup of Echo Cooler and looked across the room. Pam was on the phone back at her desk, so he'd have to find someone else to discuss the insanity of the day with. Ryan was watching Kelly from across the room, frozen stock-still in undisguised horror. Jim walked up to him casually, but hadn't even been able to a "what's up, dude" in before Ryan broke down and asked "why do I stay with her?"
Jim shrugged, honestly wondering that himself. He had always had a theory, but had never been willing to say it aloud. Oscar, however, had no such qualms. "We all just assumed the sex was really good."
Ryan did not move and let a few seconds pause before speaking again. "She hurts me."
Jim and Oscar reacted as expected. "She... hurts you?"
"Yeah," Ryan admitted flatly.
"You should probably get out of that," Jim offered.
Ryan gave a barely perceptible nod. Then, after another pause admitted, with the staggering terror of the sole survivor of a shipwreck or zombie feeding-frenzy "I think she might be The One."
Jim and Oscar turned to heads down, as if in mourning. "Wow." Jim shook his head. "Sorry, man."
Ryan didn't even blink. "Yeah."
Jim was staring blankly at his screensaver when he heard a small sound coming from the direction of Pam's desk. "Bless you," he said loud enough for her to hear.
"It was a cough," Pam replied automatically.
Jim shrugged. "Yeah, I know, but... I always thought we should have something to say when somebody coughs, too." He looked at her for confirmation that this idea wasn't completely pathetic. "You know?"
Pam smiled sweetly and said yes, she knew exactly what he meant.
Jenna Fischer will be back in "White Snake Schrute."