Kelly picks the Friday night after Darryl asks her out to watch Ryan's favorite movie for the first time. The trouble is, she doesn't know what his favorite movie is. She'd already picked out the wine (a cabernet sauvignon) and the food (she hasn't had any appetite for days, so she went with Pixy Stix from the Blockbuster in lieu of more substantial fare), but when she stood in front of the walls of DVDs she didn't even know where to begin. That was the problem with Ryan; he never said anything, really. He just let her talk. In the beginning that was good, because he was listening. But then she realized that he just wasn't talking, and that's not the same thing.
She curls into her sofa, nursing an overfilled glass. Wine's not her thing, really, never has been. She prefers mimosas and cosmos and piña coladas, the kinds of drinks you really enjoy, the kinds of drinks that you drink even if they're not exactly what you want because they're so good and you're already so used to them. She likes sweetness and sugar and fruit and she is tired of liking them alone, of being dizzy and in love when no one else is there to share the feelings with her.
These aren't her kind of nights, either, black too-silent nights when her apartment feels empty and the music is moping and sullen (she'd put on a CD she knows Ryan likes, or liked, or whatever, some indie band with moaning vocals and soft guitar and goddammit, why do people listen to this? Why do people like to be unhappy?
But she doesn't turn it off, because it kind of fits the mood, and the thought that this music fits her mood draws a little ironic chuckle out of her and she downs her glass the same way she used to down those tequila shots back in college – quick-then-it's-done, with a little gasp at the sting in her mouth.
She thinks that maybe the cheap wine wasn't such a good idea.
She didn't know what to tell Darryl when he asked. Later, she looked up the movie he asked her to see with him, another Ben Stiller one which had to be fantastic, right, because Meet the Parents is one of her favorite movies ever, and it looked like this one was going to be just as good, and she was smiling to herself a little bit as she played the trailer at work because this girl was fantastic and funny and was healing this guy's heart and singing along to Spice Girls and she was thinking, yeah; people can be happy sometimes. And then they got married and she started acting crazy and she remembered how Ryan always looked at her like she was crazy, and she realized in one long, horrifying moment that she would have been like that, maybe had been like that, and it was so unfair. It was just so unfair.
Now, hours later, she still hasn't given Darryl an answer, but he'd asked her out for tonight and it's eight o'clock and her cell phone's off and her other phone's off the hook and she thinks that probably tipped him off that this wasn't happening, even if he was protective and hot and interested. And so she's here on a Friday night, high on sugar and tipsy on wine, staring morosely at a blank TV screen because she doesn't know what movie her ex-boyfriend of God knows how long likes best and the worst part is, he probably doesn't know what hers is either even though she actually told him.
She would have listened, if he'd talked.
She's getting herself another glass when she hears a knock at her door. She groans to herself because what if Darryl came all the way here, and she's not even dressed for a date although she'll go if he did and then she smiles because wouldn't it be romantic and then she's opening the door to see – Pam. Her face falls, and Pam notices and does an awkward little sideways smile like she's trying to pretend she hasn't.
"Hey, Kelly," she says in an uneven voice, fidgeting with the strap of her bag. "You ready?"
Kelly wrinkles her nose at the scent of Pam's perfume – cucumber melon, a little blasé, probably from the Gap or something – and asks, "Ready for what?"
"For… um, girls' night, I thought you said. Earlier today. At lunch." For a moment Pam looks past her, like she's trying to find a camera to seek sympathy from. Kelly realizes she probably hasn't seen Pam without a camera in the area in years.
She bites her lip because now she does in fact remember asking Pam to come over. She and Jim had been eating lunch in the break room and they'd looked so happy and she'd suddenly found herself wanting to hear the details and maybe just wanting someone to spend time with because she hadn't really spent time with anyone, lately. But Pam had hemmed and hawed and given Jim this trapped look and then Darryl had asked her out and she'd forgotten all about it and besides, she hadn't really expected Pam to remember anyway.
"Oh, right!" she enthuses, recovering after a second or two. She opens the door a little wider. "Come on in. We can, um…"
She pauses and looks around in the low light of her apartment, watching Pam out of the corner of her eye even as she racks her brain for something to do. Even though she's clearly a little uneasy, Pam looks radiant. She's actually done something with her hair, for starters, and it looks like maybe she's weaned herself off that JCPenney catalog she seems to have been getting all her looks out of in the past few years. And she just looks different, like she's vibrating at a higher frequency or something, like her base mood is now a couple notches higher on the happy scale than it's been since they've known each other.
It isn't that hard to figure out why, and suddenly, standing in the living room of a messy apartment in sweatpants and a worn-out tank, Kelly doesn't want the details anymore.
"We can watch a movie or something," she says, still with fake-perky in her voice. She darts over to her DVD rack, flipping through the titles on the shelf. "What kind of movies do you like?"
"Oh, um, I like romantic comedies," Pam offers, like she doesn't expect Kelly to have anything else. Kelly thinks about taking offense, but the truth is that she really doesn't have much else. That's not because she's shallow or whatever – just because at the end of a long day, she wants to come home and watch something that makes her happy, something that makes her feel hopeful.
But tonight she's not in the mood for hope, and that's why there's indie pop on her iPod speakers and that's why there's wine in her glass and that's why she doesn't want to hear about Pam's happy little life and that's why they're going to watch something where the heroine doesn't get her fairytale because she's sick of being the only princess without a prince.
This limits her collection considerably, and it only takes her a moment to make a selection. "Have you ever seen Mona Lisa Smile?"
Pam brightens up a little bit. "Yeah, I kind of like it." Kelly remembers that she's into painting and drawing and Julia Roberts is into art, and she compliments herself on the good choice as she pops it into the player.
"Want anything to drink?"
"What do you have?" Pam edges toward the kitchen, still fidgeting with her bag, clearly kicking herself a little bit for being here, obviously a little embarrassed that she showed up for something Kelly had forgotten about. Kelly feels her mood soften a little bit.
"Wine, mostly. And vodka, but I'm out of stuff to mix it with, and I'm not doing shots on girls' night, Pam." She giggles, and Pam smiles along with her.
"That's perfect, because I brought some appletini mix, so, that works out pretty well, right?" Pam seems pleasantly surprised as she pulls out a green bottle out of the folds of the bag (proving that those gigantic purses are good for something, even if the little ones are cuter). Kelly squeals and claps her hands and pounces on the bottle like a cougar.
Pam ends up mixing the drinks while Kelly starts the movie, flipping through the previews automatically because Ryan hates them, and they sit awkwardly at either side of the couch. At first they don't say anything at all, but then Pam starts commenting on some of the paintings and Kelly starts commenting on the men and suddenly there's some kind of conversation forming, fairly comfortable – although that might be a side effect of the wine and appletinis.
"He's so hot," Kelly says of Topher Grace, elbowing Pam a little bit.
Pam chuckles and agrees, a far-off smile settling onto her face as she takes another sip of her drink. Kelly can't help rolling her eyes. Of course Pam would like Topher – the tall, lanky type who looks like he'd never know what to do with his hands.
"So what's it like?" Kelly asks, even though she still doesn't really know if she wants to hear about their little love story.
Pam glances at her and for a moment it looks like she's going to play dumb, but then she smiles. "It's great. I'm really happy, these days."
"Good, because you looked so unhappy after Jim left, and I'm just glad that you're happy now." It comes out a little more forcefully than she meant it, but she keeps going. "I'm glad that he saw how great you were. You deserve to have him see that, you know?" She zones a little bit, looking at the screen.
"Kelly." Pam looks at her; she has kind eyes. "You deserve it, too."
The pause is a little too sincere, so Kelly barks out a laugh – completely unflattering. She doesn't have a good laugh. It's too loud. "I don't want Jim, Pam."
Pam smiles, nods. "Good. But you know what I mean."
Kelly shrugs, but she smiles back anyway. She raises her appletinis. "To being happy."
Pam leans forward and clinks the rim of her glass against hers. "To being happy."
They finish their drinks.
When the movie's over she finds that she's crying a little bit, and before she can think to stand up and leave before she dissolves into a pitiful mess again in front of the receptionist again over Ryan again, Pam puts her arm around her and Kelly weeps into her shoulder, not the all-out sobs she's been waiting for all day but something different, surrendered, accepting. Pam shhs at her and tells her it will be okay and at last she wipes her eyes and believes her.
On Monday, she finds a drawing of a martini glass on her desk, and even though it's just a simple sketch and probably didn't even take her that long, she chokes up a little as she tapes it up on her cabinet.
She decides to be happy.
That night she calls Darryl and suggests a different movie. He agrees.