As long as they kept their relationship fun, casual and kinky, Janet could pretend that she wasn't falling back into the pattern that led to her first marriage, divorce and heartbreak.
Then one day, without even meaning to, she accidentally used the 'L' word...
"I hate Mondays." To most people it was an innocuous statement, but somehow Janet was the only one he could admit hating anything to.
They had both been in pain once, for different reasons and at different points in their lives. They had simply dealt with it by following completely opposite paths.
Deep down, Janet was overjoyed there was at least one man who still found her attractive. (The rest, of course, were just shallow pigs who couldn't appreciate the allure of a mature, experienced woman.)
The first big milestone of their relationship was when Timothy asked her to dinner without worrying that she might slap him.
Somehow Janet was relieved when the "Nigerian prince" managed to make off with all of their vacation money. She would have been disappointed if Skinny had been cynical enough to see the scam coming.
"W-Well, Janet...that's a...very detailed plan there. And such...graphic illustrations."
"Mmm-hmm. But don't worry! It's not like you would ever actually cheat on me," she said, grinning like a shark.
What the hell was a "promise ring" anyway? Something men had come up with to get out of a real commitment, no doubt. Yet somehow the stuttering way Skinny offered it made her forgive him for breaking off their engagement.
Janet smirked, thinking back to her miserable, no-good ex-husband. "Well, it's nice to know somebody appreciates my cooking."
Timothy smiled and waited until she turned away before spitting his foot into his napkin.
It was kind of annoying to realize that he didn't annoy her anymore.
One of the strangest sights Diane Bennett ever saw was Timothy sobbing at the end of Old Yeller, with Janet patting his back and only looking a little exasperated.
Janet rolled her eyes as she carried her boyfriend to the car. "Fainting at the sight of blood...I swear, Skinny. What would you do if you had to bleed out your crotch for five days out of the month?"
"Would it be wrong to have sex on my ex-husband's grave?"
"Um...yes, I think it would."
"My life's half over and I'm alone yet again. Happy freakin' birthday to me."
Janet finished her beer and slammed the empty bottle on her kitchen counter. She grimaced. "I better turn in now. Don't want to be hung over for that stupid—paintball field trip tomorrow..."
"LIVE, YOU BASTARD!" Ms. Barch screamed, bending down to breathe into Mr. O'Neill's mouth again.
Jane turned to Daria, eyebrow raised. "Is CPR really necessary for an asthma attack?"
"Doesn't he mind the way she's always going on about how his whole gender is evil?"
"Mack, it's Mr. O'Neill. Do you really think he minds anything?"
Timothy's speech was interrupted when Janet suddenly grabbed his shirt and pulled him toward her. "You think too much," she said before pulling him into a kiss.
"Stupid men...probably out guzzling booze and ogling strippers right now..."
"I thought Timothy was just helping Anthony move into his new apartment?"
"Well Anthony should have asked if he wanted to borrow him for the night!"
Janet swore that one day she would force Skinny to stop sleeping with that forty-year-old stuffed rabbit.
Jeffy blinked. "But, wait—why do you want me to guard this hallway?"
"None of your business! Now come on, Skinny!" Ms. Barch said, dragging a startled Mr. O'Neill toward the broom closet.
Janet checked the copy of Spirituality for Womyn that Timothy had bought her for her last birthday. "Dear Female God, Who I guess is the Moon or something. Let's see, blah-blah, Earth-Mother, fertility...ugh, just help me get pregnant before my eggs dry up. And as always, please smite my ex-husband. Amen."
Andrea just stared as Ms. Barch practically skipped down the hall, singing "Sunshine,/You are my sunshine..."
"I wish I may, I wish I might—"
"Just come to bed, Skinny."
"...On the other hand, I can't really think of any reason Janet and I shouldn't get married."
"Really?" Anthony muttered, his tone uncharacteristically deadpan.
"At times like this, Janet...I feel like you're the Beatrice to my Dante."
Janet lifted the dead creature, threw it in the hole and hurriedly began to shovel the dirt back in.
Now she just had to get Skinny a new plant and he would never have to know.
Sometimes she would think back to how she was when she and her first husband were dating and wonder: am I just fooling myself again?
Eight lustful hands froze, and after a brief silence the door of the janitor's closet flew open as Ms. Barch shoved Kevin and Brittany out. "Get your own hiding place!" she snapped.
He did miss his class and his students, but honestly, Timothy was starting to wonder if this "househusband" idea was really so bad.
Claire's eyes widened. "You slept with Timothy?!"
"No, I had sex with him. Now pay attention, this is where the story gets good!"
Having two lines was so convenient, until he got them mixed up and said some very...personal things to Anthony by mistake.
Lately Janet was spending her free time reading, ever since discovering several excellent (female) authors on Skinny's advice.
Timothy gulped nervously as Ms. Li circled around him like a vulture. "Well, um—I'm sure Mr. Ruttheimer and the other parents are very upset, but I don't know anything that...proves she's failing all her male students."
Timothy had recommended this particular book—some self-help, pop-psych dribble—to everyone he knew. Only Janet, however, had heard him whisper "You know...if I hadn't found this book when I did I might have wound up killing myself."
"Wait—so if I take this job, you'd...really leave Lawndale to come with me?"
"Well, to be frank, I feel like your policy on faculty fraternization is—ill-advised." His voice grew stronger. "And if you try to break us up, well—I'm not sure you'll be able to find another teacher willing to teach Drama Club and the Self-Esteem class without extra pay."
Ms. Li's eyes narrowed. "Is that a threat, Mr. O'Neill?"
"Well, I—don't know if I'd put it like that..."
It wasn't until he heard the burglar begging for mercy that Timothy realized Janet wasn't hiding under the bed with him.
"Why, what a surprise to run into you fine educators on a Saturday! And together? Do I sense some...extracurricular activities going on between you, hmm?"
"Can it, Upchuck!" Ms. Barch snapped, pushing past him and pulling Mr. O'Neill behind her.
Every time he thought about proposing, he just kept getting this mental image of his father, looking small and meek as his mother screamed at him...
"Alright," she conceded, "maybe I took things a little too far."
Timothy just sighed, forced a smile and paid for her bail.
"Well, I'll try anything once."
Somehow, Timothy didn't like the way she grinned when he said that.
Timothy was close to sobbing as he looked over his shoulder. "I'm going to fall! Help! Help!"
Janet just rolled her eyes and lifted him back onto the ledge with one hand.
"Yeah, well, the first marriage is just practice anyway."
"And what were they doing in the science lab? Like...you know...?" Quinn made a vague gesture.
"Ew, no! She was just setting things up for class. But Mr. O'Neill was like...asking her how all the science stuff worked."
Sandi threw her hair back. "So?"
"So when she answered, she was, like...giggling."
Something about that made the whole Fashion Club shudder in unison.
"Because, you know—men are pigs. Usually. Now, since the sun is mostly hydrogen, we know..."
Daria leaned over to Jodie. "I'm disappointed. Ever since she started seeing O'Neill, her rants have become so perfunctory."
"You wanna run away from home? Fine. You've got the police and half the town looking for you? No skin off my nose," Janet ranted, as Link sulked in the backseat of her car. "But you think Skinny's self-help crap is annoying for a couple of hours a day? You try listening to him crying. All night. So the next time you and Daddy get into a fight, you can either call Social Services or suck it up, buster, because I have better things to do than drive around town looking for some little brat!"
Janet might have been the only person to realize how miserable Timothy could get under his cheery façade.
"They're actually getting married? ...Jane, what's this weird feeling I have?"
"I think it's called pity."
"For which one?"
"Does it matter?"
Well, the minister had been flirting with one of Janet's teenage nieces, and there was something oddly beautiful about the sight of her in her wedding dress, gloved fist colliding with the side of his face...
050. Writers' Choice—Name
"If we're looking for another 'M' name, how about Milton?"
"Like John Milton," Timothy said, a bit defensively. "He's one of my favorite writers."
Janet considered for a moment, looking down at the ultrasound pictures in her hand. "Milton Anthony Barch. Marie Curie Barch. They sound sort of nice together."
Timothy smiled. Janet smiled right back.