When he finds out that John's in — in auditions, talking with Greg, but he'll be in — his first verbal thought is "Son of a bitch." He doesn't mind, he thinks; he'd just really thought that was over by now.
L.A. gets pretty depressing to live in at times: when winter comes and people babble stupidly about "going to the snow" for a weekend, when nobody knows what an egg cream is at restaurants when he's trying to order, when he sees something funny in the paper and calling his dad to tell him about it seems really hard, basically any time that involves cars and freeways. The 405 especially tends to be unbelievable. He doesn't entirely trust the ocean, but when he has time, which almost never happens, B.J. often feels a compulsion to drive up the coast a ways to where Highway 1 — "the one," they call it occasionally — really earns the PCH name and runs parallel to ridiculous fake-looking beaches. Around Malibu, there's a west-facing stretch that's excitingly blinding to drive on at sunset. He's pretty happy these days, obviously, for the most part, but still gets an illicit kick out of the idea of driving straight off the road and onto one of those beaches, out into the surf and continuing onward, sunbathers beware. This is a fantasy of the type that he would never actually want to do, but it's a story he tells himself and an inviting one; up north the beaches develop dramatic cliffs and some days the only thing that keeps him from continuing his gas-wasting kamikaze dream trips and just stopping at Zuma Beach like always is how much shit he'd get from John, if John knew.
Sitting in the back of the set with Paul and Mindy is both gratifying and depressing. Some days they just head straight to the bunker, where Mindy remarks once, "I always feel like 'See ya, suckers!' when I'm coming to write instead of going to makeup for sitting around, until I get here and there are no windows and I'm sad," and Jennifer almost loses it laughing. Now that Ryan's been moved, that happens more frequently. But there are still the days when their names are on the call sheet for two minutes of reaction shot filming (resignation, bafflement and horror respectively), and they have to kill time somehow.
Paul had been pretending to take a nap, punctuating his breaths with exaggerated Disneyesque snoring, but now his cubicle is quiet enough that he's probably actually asleep. Mindy is updating her shopping blog — "B.J.! Look at this hottie of a pashmina. Fuck me dead!" "That's hideous. What are you doing with your life?" "I said, fuck me dead." — and B.J. is doing a brief interview from his desk phone.
"So you and John went to high school together in a Boston suburb. What's it like working with him now?"
"Well, who didn't love high school? I always envisioned my dream career as reliving my teenagehood."
"Haha, okay," says the interviewer, sounding nervous. "Hey, you two are like the new Matt and Ben!"
Mindy is peering around the cubicle at Paul's supine form. The time is 2:13 in the afternoon. He probably shouldn't hang up on Portland (Oregon, not Maine)'s free paper.
"Yes," says B.J., "I can't wait for my Reindeer Games."
Ken wants Ryan to be making photocopies in the background and looking terrified during the pivotal reception-area scene in which both Jim and Karen and Michael and Jan break up. B.J. wonders vaguely what Ryan needs copies of as he experiments with the contrast settings on his continuing work of photocopier art, a collage of every script all season.
"What is wrong with you, John?" Rashida-as-Karen hisses on the second take, eliciting concerned looks from everybody but Jenna, who snorts at the name-slip, prompting everybody else to break.
John grins widely at the camera. "A question all my girlfriends eventually ask." In answer is Rainn, trying to make out with him there against the wall; Melora falls off the desk she's been leaning on due to laughing, and Steve smiles and circles around the chaos and back into Michael's office to signal that he's ready for take three. "Stop fucking it up, woman," John directs to Rashida as they resume their places, and then there's about another minute of intermittent giggling before everybody's ready to try again. B.J. rearranges his paper on the Xerox glass. "Okay," says Ken. Long-suffering, Ryan checks the toner.
The cast is a weird mix of wunderkinds with disgusting luck, scarred dues-paying types, and middle-aged, hilarious people B.J. is still amazed have jobs on network TV. It occurs to him that he should probably feel guilty for being in the first category. Steve's third season penultimate episode script has a grammatical error in the stage direction, which he claims was pointed out to him by everybody in "this thrice-damned Ivy League conspiracy." That seems pretty accurate.
"What are you doing next weekend?" Greg asks him at craft services, not long before the season wraps.
"I don't know," B.J. replies. "I might just sit at home and watch some DVDs. Maybe go...do a thing. Get sunburned."
"Hmm." Greg is really into the cold cuts today. "When all else fails, doing things is the way to go."
"There's a lot to be said for not doing anything, though."
"It's much easier to schedule around than comedy blockbusters and publicity tours," Greg agrees, pausing to glare showily at Steve and John, who are chatting with Melora and Brian. "Anyway, I hope you have fun."
B.J. nods to his sandwich and eats it a few feet away from the main knot of castmembers, waiting for Angela's talking head to finish so that he can walk by. Melora is talking about the next play she's working on, and elbows John to indicate how much she wants him in this one, if he can take a break from exchanging styling tips with Patrick Dempsey; Steve has some slightly mean story about Anne Hathaway. B.J. hears the buzz of somebody's BlackBerry as he leaves the group and makes for the back office, remembering an idea he wanted to write down before it was lost completely, even though he doesn't know when he'll be able to use it. When he finally gets back to his desk he makes a note and checks his email: a college friend complains about his shallow MySpace and wishes he still used his Friendster. His mom wants him to know that she saw his third grade teacher at the store and that he should tell John that Mrs. Hutchins says hi. The interview in the free Oregonian paper is being published in two days. And he's received a last-minute offer for a stand-up gig next weekend in Arizona.
He can command a larger bid, and his agent says as much. In the cubicle over, Paul is playing a first-person shooter game and muttering "Die, motherfuckers." Mindy's nowhere to be seen, and Arizona is waiting.
He can get sunburned there, too; — "Motherfuckers!" — what the hell.