Oscar doesn’t want to be at Andy’s bachelor party. He’s pretty sure this will come as a surprise to absolutely no one who a) is sane, and b) has met him.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of b without a where this particular crowd is concerned.
It is, of course, at the office, after hours. Michael had insisted, and Andy’s inherent compulsion to suck up whenever possible had led him to agree. Oscar’s not the only sane(ish) one who got dragged into attending. Jim’s here, but he’s texting Pam every two seconds, so it’s not like he’s exactly an option in terms of Let’s Commiserate About Being Trapped Here solidarity. Kevin is having the time of his life explaining the fall of Scrantonicity and subsequent rise of Scrantonicity II to Spare Rib, who seems totally into it. Creed is having an intense, hushed discussion with either Carl 1 or Carl 2. (Oscar refuses, on principle, to devote enough attention to either of them to bother to tell them apart.) Stanley had escaped, of course. Stanley always escapes.
The stripper (of course there’s a stripper) is the same stripper that dressed up like a nurse to graciously accept Dunder Mifflin Scranton’s generous big check donation to Science. According to Kevin, she’s also the one that Jim and Dwight got for Bob Vance’s bachelor party down in the warehouse. This explains the fact that she doesn’t seem quite flummoxed by her surroundings. Instead, there’s this flicker of grim resignation that Oscar knows very well via catching glimpses of himself in the bathroom mirror on workdays. Seeing that look on somebody else’s face is always a little bit like finding a twin soul. He chooses to ignore the fact that his brain actually thought the phrase ‘twin soul.’
Dwight’s not here. He’d left at five with a completely unapologetic “Sorry, can’t, business to tend to” and one of those wicked, Grinchy smirks at the camera. Oscar’s been paying attention over the past few weeks. He’s pretty sure that ‘business’ means Angela.
Angela had taken off too, after coming over and ordering Andy, lips-pursed-eyebrows-arched perfect portrait of frigid bitchery, to “behave.” Andy gave her a brief, thankful kiss on the forehead before she stormed on out. First base, Oscar had thought despite himself, and the whole thing seemed sort of tragic.
Behaving had commenced for like half an hour, until Here Comes Treble, Class of ’96 had shown up toting the entire contents of the nearest liquor store and – just in case more proof was needed to ascertain that they’ve all got some condition, some actual psychological condition that ensures they will be trapped in their freshman year of college ‘til the day they die – two kegs. Two.
It’s the kind of thing that shouldn’t even be real, but here it is, and Oscar, he’s stuck here. It gets progressively more horrifying as time wears on, too. Jim even sets his phone down and watches in open-mouthed horror as Here Comes Treble declines to let Elizabeth the Stripper dance to the tape she’d brought, instead insisting that they provide her background music. Which is a jaunty three-part harmony rendition of Rock You Like A Hurricane. There Andy is, wearing this massively scary-huge grin and chiming in for the occasional line as he sits in his desk chair and gets straddled by poor, twin-souly Elizabeth. The camera guys swoop around with this sudden, fierce intensity, like they’re filming some scene of disturbing carnage for some wildlife documentary. A gazelle getting torn to shreds by a lion, or sharks mating, or something. Here I am, rock (a-rock-a-rock-a-ROCK!) you like a hurricane! (Ooo, ooo!)
“Why,” Jim mutters, deigning to dePamify his attention and lean over to Oscar, “are we here?”
“Such a good question,” Oscar mutters back, feeling a surge of relief. He’s not exactly Jim’s biggest fan, but considering the present circumstances, he’ll happily settle. “I could be— you’re taking pictures?”
“Pam’s not gonna believe it otherwise,” Jim replies, snapping a few candids with his cellphone.
“Right,” Oscar mutters.
It all culminates in the song winding down and Here Comes Treble starting a rousing, really inspirational chant of, “BON-ER-CHAMP! BON-ER-CHAMP!” Andy beams like it’s Christmas morning. It’s one of those ‘Wow, I can’t believe I enjoyed a genuine sense of camaraderie with this person once’ moments. Maybe it’s Canada’s fault.
In any case, it’s time to escape.
The thing is, Oscar can’t actually leave – Andy had recruited him as designated driver that afternoon and, whatever, consider it part of the wedding gift. Although really, at this point, being horribly mangled in a drunken carwreck seems like a far more merciful fate than marrying Angela. Perishing in a drunken carwreck seems like a far more merciful fate than marrying Angela.
There’s this part of Oscar that firmly believes that Angela’s gonna call the whole thing off, sooner or later (well, later’s the only option by now), but he’s believed it since she first agreed to go out with Andy at all, and it still hasn’t happened yet. There’s been a handful of rare, rare moments sprinkled across the past several years where he’s liked Angela. Where she’s seemed a little bit like an actual human being. Maybe this is what keeps him believing that she won’t actually go through with it.
He wonders what she’s doing with Dwight right now, if she’s with Dwight. She’s probably with Dwight. He gets the feeling that Dwight’s probably allowed to do more than kiss her forehead. It’s disturbing for a whole bunch of reasons, some so horrifying that they shouldn’t even be contemplated, but the worst one is Andy, who is the only person alive who could possibly call Angela Martin ‘sweetie pie’ and mean it, and who probably hasn’t gotten laid in months. Years.
Oscar grabs his briefcase from under his desk. Inside is a copy of Suite Francaise and a package of those fancy dinner party crackers. He’ll find a spot in the hallway away from the madness.
Jim shoots him a panicked, ‘don’t leave me, man’ look. Oscar won’t lie – it feels good to ignore it.
He steps out into the hall and walks far enough that the sounds from inside the office become blurred and faded. Then he settles down on the floor, back against the wall, and pops his briefcase open. He flips open his book, sets his bookmark on the floor. He opens the crackers and enjoys the momentary relief from the faded sounds of Here Comes Treble launching into a rendition of Magic Man (really?) as the plastic crackles. The crackers are stale. They’re left over from when Gil still lived at the house; Oscar had found them in the back of the cupboard. Gil had always been very elitist about snack food selection. Carr’s were the crackers of choice. He’s not sure a box of Wheat Thins has ever come under the roof. God forbid Triscuits.
Things had just been tiring, towards the end, but he still hasn’t kicked the occasional tendency to miss Gil. Maybe not Gil so much as the presence of Gil. It’s weird to have the whole house to himself. He didn’t even get to keep the cat.
He shrugs the thought off and goes back to his book. His stale crackers. The sound of his own chewing is disquietingly loud in the empty hallway. It helps to drown out Here Comes Treble, though, so he’s not complaining.
Maybe a half hour goes by. He’s immersed enough in the book that he’s stopped hearing the party sounds and mentally complaining about what a (literal) pain in the ass it is to sit on the floor.
Then there are footsteps.
He looks up to see Andy coming toward him. He’s not drunk enough that walking’s become beyond him, but his movements are a little weird – simultaneously loose and too jerky.
“Oscar, man, sorry to break it to you, man, but your party’s lame,” Andy proclaims, stupidly grinning as he comes to a rather shaky stop in front of Oscar.
Oscar sighs. “What party, Andy.”
He can’t work up the motivation to make it a question.
“Your alone-in-the-hall party. In fact,” he continues, waving a really drunk hand in emphasis, “my totally cool bachelor party is kicking your lame party’s ass. Haaaard. Kapow!” He kicks the air to illustrate. Really helpful.
“Well, then, you should probably get back to it.” Oscar lifts his book again.
There isn’t the sound of more footsteps. The special, welcome kind of footsteps that come attached to Andy walking away.
Oscar lowers his book again. “Do you need something?”
“What? Pfft. Nooo. I just don’t want you to feel like a loser out here. All on your lonesome. On your one-some.” Which will, of course, lead to— “Oooone is the loooneliest number you’ll ever dooo—” Yep.
“I’m fine, Andy,” Oscar cuts in, before he can get to ‘two.’ “I actually planned on spending the evening out here. See, I brought a book and everything.” He holds it up as evidence.
And then, out of nowhere, the grin disappears, and it’s replaced by the saddest look of wide-eyed hurt that Oscar’s ever seen. Kicked puppies could take lessons from this look. “You mean you didn’t want to come to my party?”
“No offense, or anything,” Oscar hastens to add. “It’s just not really my kind of thing.”
“You mean ‘cause of the totally hot stripper that was all up on me just now?” Aaand the grin is back.
“Yeah,” Oscar says. “Sure. That’s why.”
“She’s not that hot,” Andy says with a dismissive snort. “I mean, the lady, she was rockin’ some lovely lady lumps – bashwiiiiing!! – but she doesn’t hold a candle to my lady fair.”
“No woman is like Angela,” Oscar agrees, trying not to sound grave and not really succeeding.
“You are correct, my friend,” Andy agrees, nodding over and over. “You are so … correct.”
He sinks down on the floor next to Oscar.
Oscar doesn’t really know what to do with that.
It’s quiet for a long time.
“Don’t tell Angela about the stripper, okay?” Andy says then. “I don’t think she would be so okay with it.”
“I need her to be okay with me tomorrow. If at all possible.”
“And besides, it didn’t mean anything. It was just … touching. All over. A lot. Her body. On my body.”
“The last time I tried to hug Angela,” Andy says, a note to his voice that makes Oscar really uncomfortable, a note that promises Bad Awkward Confessions to come, “she stepped on my foot. She said it was by accident, but it kinda seemed like it wasn’t. There was a definite … decisive … stomp-type motion. And she was wearing heels, and I wasn’t wearing shoes.”
“That’s not good,” Oscar says lamely.
“My toenail turned purple and fell off,” Andy finishes, sounding almost nostalgic. It’s like he’s forgotten Oscar’s even there. He reaches down to his left foot. “On this toe,” he says, resting a finger around the area of his pinky toe, “I have no toenail. For her. I did it all for her.”
“That’s … a real sacrifice,” Oscar says, thinking, Bitch. Crazy, crazy, crazy bitch. It’s not like Andy’s not a crazy, crazy, crazy tool, but at least the guy is trying. Oscar’s never seen anyone try this hard for any woman. Let alone Angela, the last person to deserve this kind of attention on the face of the planet. It’s just … sad. So very, very sad. Because he feels like Andy expects something else, he adds, “She should be very grateful.”
“Yeah,” Andy agrees, sounding heartened. “Yeah, totally. And that is whyyy we are getting married tomorrow. So she can show me her gratitude by making me the luckiest man in the world.”
His voice wavers a little on the last word.
“She’s a catch,” Oscar says, sounding robotic and hating himself a little. He wants to be like, ‘Actually, she’s cheating on you, with Dwight, yeah, that’s right, Dwight,’ but he can’t do that to Andy. For the safety of the world, mostly. The first day he was ever even around this guy, he watched him punch a hole in the wall. It’s just not worth it. And besides, it just seems … cruel. “Congratulations, man.”
Andy makes a little noise in his throat, but he doesn’t actually say a word back.
Quiet sinks over them. Oscar starts wondering if Andy will get the point and leave if he picks up his book and starts reading again. He’s just about to do it, when—
“I don’t think she likes me.”
“You don’t.” It’s all he can think of to say. It’s helplessly inadequate, but fortunately, Andy’s not the kind of person who has a lot of experience with adequacy.
“I know that sounds crazy,” Andy continues. There’s so much desperation in his voice. “Because why would you marry someone if you didn’t like them, right? But I just … I don’t know, the toenail thing, it wasn’t the only thing. And she hasn’t smiled at me in six days. I counted.”
“And she’s only kissed me twice. Ever. Twice. We’ve been together like a year.”
“She lets me kiss her not-on-the-mouth sometimes. In certain places that she points out beforehand.”
Oh, this is so not something that Oscar wants to hear.
“But nowhere that’s not PG-rated,” Andy continues on mournfully. “I’ve never seen her shoulders before. Or her knees. That’s weird, right? What if she has hideous knees? What if I go into this, not knowing, and we pass on hideous knee disease to our children? Not that she’d have ugly knees, because she, she is perfect. But— and I was thinking, it’s fine to wait. It’s cool, it’s rockin’. If the JoBros do it, then so can I, you know?”
“I know.” He doesn’t know.
“And besides, with Angela, things are never as they seem,” Andy finishes. “So it doesn’t really matter that it seems like … I’m getting married tomorrow in a beet field to a woman that hates me.”
There’s another silence. About the most terrible silence Oscar has experienced in recent memory, and when you work where he works, that’s a very significant statement.
He doesn’t know what to say. Maybe he should tell him the truth about Angela, but that means dealing with the repercussions. That also means caring, which is something that Oscar tries really, really hard not to do where Dunder Mifflin is concerned.
But then, thank God, Andy changes the subject. He sounds kind of sheepish. “So. Whatcha readin’?”
“Oh. That’s pretty suh-weet. Ha. See what I did there?”
“Yeah, I see.”
“Bet you’re kicking yourself for not letting me in the Finer Things Club now.” He knocks his foot against Oscar’s. Oscar doesn’t really get why. As if, he guesses, to say, ‘This is what kicking is.’ He really doesn’t know what to do with this guy.
“Oh, yeah,” he deadpans back, “definitely.”
“You think you could—”
“There is no Finer Things Club anymore, Andy. It got disbanded.”
“But if you ever wanted to get ‘er up and goin’ again, maybe you could—”
“Sure,” Oscar cuts in. “Sure. You can be a member.”
Toby and Pam might kill him, but at the moment, it seems like an acceptable risk.
“Yessssss.” Andy gives the air a little punch. Then he smiles at Oscar – not that weird, be-careful-or-you’re-gonna-pop-a-tooth-out grin that he’s had pasted onto his face all night, but, like, a happy smile. “Thanks, buddy.”
“No problem,” Oscar replies, caught between the sense that he’s just done something really dumb and the sense that, well, Andy deserves something.
“So, um. What’s it about?” Andy drums his fingers against the cover of Suite Francaise. It sounds almost musical. There’s a precise, practiced rhythm to it, the result of spending your whole life driving people crazy humming in the breakroom and beatboxing your way through lunch. (Oscar gleaned enough from Kelly a few years back to know that American Idol was, somehow, to blame for that one. As it so often is.) “Break it down for me. Give me the infooo.”
“Actually, it’s got a really interesting story behind it,” Oscar replies, relieved. This right here, this is perfectly welcome ground. “This woman, Irene Nemirovsky, was a pretty major novelist in France in the 1930s, but when—”
And then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, Andy is crying. And he’s burying his head in Oscar’s shoulder.
“Oh,” Oscar says blankly. “Okay.”
Andy doesn’t say anything: just cries, in this awful, convulsing, silent-sobby way. He’s shaking really hard, and he keeps huddling closer. His breath is hot against Oscar’s neck.
“Hey,” Oscar says. It’s all he can think to say. “Hey.”
Andy keeps crying. After awhile, Oscar gingerly lifts his hand and starts rubbing Andy’s back, moving his fingers in light, soothing circles. It feels weird to do it. Experimental. Oscar, he’s not exactly an expert in comforting people.
It just goes on like this for a really long time – Andy sobbing silently, Oscar trying to seem like he’s the kind of person who can deal when people sob silently on him.
Inside, there’s the distant sound of Michael shouting. (“Wait a minute! Wait a minute! UNCOOL.”) At least I’m not in there, Oscar thinks, and then realizes that’s weird.
“If you’re not happy,” he says at last, trying to sound gentle and succeeding all right, “then you shouldn’t marry her.”
“What are you talking about?” Andy asks. His voice is muffled. Oscar can just barely feel Andy’s mouth move against his neck as he talks, which means that technically, Andy’s gone further with Oscar than he has with his own fiancee in the last few months. It’s a frightening thought. Just … really frightening. “Of course I’m happy.”
“Okay,” Oscar says softly.
Andy doesn’t stop crying right away, which sort of negates the happy claim. It does happen gradually, though. He goes from sobbing to plain crying to the occasional whimper. He gets a lot more still. Finally, he just kind of sighs.
“You smell really good,” he mumbles, the words falling into each other.
It’s the kind of thing that should be weird, but for a guy who’s spent time in anger management training, Andy just seems really harmless. So all Oscar does is reply, “You smell like someone dumped beer on you.”
“Lunchbox and Jingle Jangle.”
“What?” Oscar thinks at first that it’s code or something.
“They totally doused me,” Andy says, and Oscar realizes he means Here Comes Treble members. “Those a-holes.”
“Right,” Oscar says. He can’t help laughing at the absurdity of it.
Andy starts laughing too. Because he’s drunk, and when somebody laughs, you’re going to laugh with them, no matter what. No point in being choosy. “What?” he asks, his mouth kind of brushing Oscar’s neck again.
“Nothing,” Oscar says. He keeps laughing, though. Maybe because Andy’s laughing.
“What?” Andy repeats through his laughter. He sits up to look at him, like he’ll magically find the answer in Oscar’s face. “What’s funny?”
“Seriously,” Oscar insists, and somehow that just makes it funnier. “Nothing.”
They’re both cracking up like idiots. This time, Oscar doesn’t even have many a Long Island Iced Tea to blame. He consoles himself with the thought that maybe Andy’s drunk enough for the two of them.
“Maybe you should be my best man,” Andy declares buoyantly once he can actually manage to get words out, clapping Oscar on the shoulder. “Because youuuu are the best. Man.”
“No I shouldn’t,” Oscar replies. He thinks about saying thanks. He’s sort of smiling.
“Yeah,” Andy agrees after a moment’s laughing consideration, “But still. You know.”
“Sure,” Oscar says easily, because does it really matter if he knows or not? He remembers the package of crackers set down in his open briefcase on the other side of him. He reaches for them and holds them out to Andy.
“Don’t mind if I do,” Andy says, sounding like Andy, and beaming.