Something's off this morning.
Jim heads for the coffee pot, removes his trusty "JIM" mug as usual, takes a sugar packet and shakes it.
And shakes it.
And shakes it. Bad enough that Jim took a sugar packet, but the fact that he shakes it like his life depends on it takes the cake. Murphy and Frank exchange puzzled glances before cautiously standing and approaching their pal.
"Jim?" Murphy asks. "Are you feeling all right?"
He continues to shake the packet, staring off into the distance as if he doesn't hear anything at all.
"It's Doris," he blurts out. But that's all he says, and Frank and Murphy trade nervous looks again.
"Uh... what happened with Doris, Jim?" Frank asks him.
"Nothing," Jim replies. His face begins to flush an interesting shade of red.
"Jim, you're standing here shaking a packet of sugar like it's a maraca," Murphy says. "Tell us what's happening."
Jim finally makes eye contact with them and slowly sets the sugar aside. After another moment of silence, he says, "She's... she didn't... she hasn't..." He makes a vague, handwavey gesture.
"She didn't... sit with you by the fire last night?" Frank offers.
"She hasn't made your favorite dinner in three weeks?" Murphy asks.
"No, no!" Jim turns around and snatches up the sugar packet again. "She... Murphy, you know those days where you come into the office and you... well, you just don't look well?"
Murphy raises an eyebrow and nods slowly at first, but the nodding quickly turns into head-shaking. "I have no idea what the hell you're talking about," she says.
"Those days where you stare off into space and say that you haven't had... well, you know, that."
Murphy's expression turns from concern to a flat-out glare in a second. "This is going nowhere good, and it's going nowhere good very very fast."
"SHE THINKS SHE MIGHT BE...!"
Frank looks down and scratches his head, but Murphy's eyes widen. "Jim..." she says. "Is Doris late?"
Jim's face goes white.
"Aw, Jim. But you two always use..."
The trio stands there in incredibly awkward silence. Frank hesitates for a moment before putting a hand on Jim's shoulder. "We're here for you," he whispers. Murphy nods emphatically.
Jim swallows hard and shuts his eyes.
"Frank! Hey, listen, you've gotta hear this." Murphy holds the phone out toward the couch and grins slyly.
Aside from the occasional boingy sound effects, Frank hears a voice that's not Murphy's. "Oh... darn you!" it says. "Let me through, you evil little..."
Murphy puts the receiver back to her ear just in time for Frank to ask, "Is that... is Jim playing a video game?"
"Yes!" Murphy gleefully whipsers. "He's been at it for two hours and he can't even get past the first boss!"
Frank opens his mouth to express his astonishment, but he's interrupted by yelling.
"MURPHY! Murphy, there's lava everywhere! The ground, it's- it's rocking back and forth! How in the world is anyone supposed to get past- OH, HE'S GOING TO FALL IN! HELP ME, SLUGGER, HELP ME!"
"It's the 'B' button to jump, Jim! THE 'B' BUTTON!"
Murphy tosses down the phone, leaving Frank as the audience to an incredibly humiliating defeat at the hands of Iggy Koopa.
He's a rebel for one shining moment as he manages to lift Doris over his head during the wildest dance at their wedding reception.
It's not the craziest thing he does with his hands that night.
FYI versus 60 Minutes, 1985. Bottom of the 9th and the bases are loaded. Suddenly, in the dugout, Jim Dial throws down with Morley Safer. The dramatic tale lives on in exaggerated glory, with Murphy and Frank tacking on a few new fantasy land details every year.
But this doesn't change the fact that somebody's face got shoved in the dirt during that game. And that somebody's name did not begin with J.
"It was fantastic! I've never seen anything like it! They had it so we could see the baby! Did you know they could do that?!"
"That's generally how ultrasounds work, Jim."
"Well, it was incredible. There he was, his little heart fluttering away and- WE SAW THE HEART, DORIS."
"Oh, Jim, it sounds like it was lovely."
"We could do that, you know!"
"We could- well, you could- obviously I can't-"
"Are you suggesting that we...?"
Jim nods emphatically. He's still grinning. Doris throws her head back with laughter and takes his face into her hands.
"Now I know you've gone insane," she says.
His eyes suddenly widen and the grin disappears from his face. The image of a packet of sugar emerges from a dark and scary corner of his mind. "Dear Lord," he tells her, "you're right. I don't know what came over me."