“I can’t believe you let me get a Double-Double,” Mindy says while holding her lower stomach right above the waistband on his stolen sweatpants. She follows it with a moan when he doesn’t seem to be taking her plight seriously by running to where she’s sprawled on his bed.
He yells, “Yeah, because I let you do that,” from the bathroom doorway where he’s still rubbing a towel over his hair.
“I’m going to die.” She drags out the last word, rolling onto her side, but still hearing him turn off the light and walk into the room.
“You’re not going to die,” he tells her, pushing her hair back and kissing her forehead. His lips are cool and she loves that eucalyptus shampoo she bought for him. It smells amazing.
He flops down next to her on the bed, the motion rolling her insides at what feels like exactly the same frequency. “Promise me we’ll never eat there again.”
The clarification of, “This week?” escapes his mouth, the one with the smirk spread across it, and she hates when he’s right.
“Oh, shut up.”
She knows there’s going to be a bag from In-N-Out left on her desk, probably tomorrow, and that he’s going to tell her to brush her teeth soon because she smells like onions, but she loves him so much. He flicks on the television and pushes her hand out of the way without even looking, rubs her belly in the same wide circles her mother used to when Mindy was a kid and overdosed on candy.
He asks her if she wants to watch Colbert or one of the, wow, apparently nine episodes of Gossip Girl that are on the DVR, and the fact that he offers makes her wish that she could tell people, “Oh, my husband is so sweet, he lets me watch that garbage if my stomach hurts.”
But BJ’s only her husband in this house or hers and to that justice of the peace in Boston who signed off on their marriage certificate and wished them luck.
BJ would tell people, if they were telling people, that this happened because of a series of escalating dares. But Mindy knows that this is really just about her being drunk and sad on the phone with him one night, and the way that he said he’d fly home with her so she didn’t have to go alone, and something that was a joke in Los Angeles became a legal document in Massachusetts.
There’s a three day waiting period within Boston proper for a marriage license. She knows that because he looked it up online, probably from his couch with the game on mute in the background, while she cried to him about how no matter how much good stuff happens to her, she’s still waiting for a husband to make it all matter. Well, that, and because they landed in Logan on a Friday and both called in claiming cancelled flight on Monday while they were actually agreeing that they were of age and not related.
It wasn’t a plan, it wasn’t anything, it was just her calling him to vomit up all the sad, gross, single lady stuff that would hit every time someone updated their relationship status or had a baby or told her that there was someone out there for her. The kind of stuff that she should have called Brenda about, or her mom, or frankly any one but BJ, because there is nothing more repulsive than telling a guy how tragic you are.
And yet somehow it turned into him saying that he would marry her, what the hell is she worried about, and all the stuff about the laws, and yes, it sounded crazy even when she was teary and way too far into a bottle of wine, she has no idea how him coming with her to the airport, turned into him being on her flight, turned into him saying they could buy a ring, come on, and it was all just like improv, just keep saying, “yes, and...”.
But maybe it wasn’t just all spur of the moment impulse chasing because she packed a white dress. Already had it hanging up in the bathroom to get out the wrinkles when he’d called from his own hotel room down the hall and said, “I’m bored, you want to go downtown and pretend we’re lawyers?”
“I don’t have a blazer,” she tells him, and so there’s a quick detour to a Macy’s and maybe she pretends not to notice that all the ones he pulls off the rack are navy blue.
Boston City Hall is the ugliest building she’s ever seen, but she only says it one time before he’s suggesting maybe they go inside and walk around instead. Check out the view from the second floor instead of any higher since she’s wearing heels but has resolved to only take the stairs since she read about it on a bottle of water. And when he pulls out the five 10 dollar bills and asks her if she can believe this is the only thing they need to get marriage license today, there’s the tiniest piece of her that wished the universe would have requested they present their passports so she could go back to her life in which BJ was her friend and her co-worker and her ex and not some guy who apparently wants to be her husband just to make her happy.
Mindy knows they could have stopped this at any point, even post picking up the license and hearing all the congratulations, but they didn’t. They went out for dinners and saw their parents, but they don’t talk about it until he’s knocking on her door Monday morning, shrugging his shoulders and asking if she’s just going to get it framed and hang it up in Kelly’s cubicle so props doesn’t have to make up a fake one for her and Ryan.
It feels wasteful to do that, not the 50 bucks he shelled out for the thing, not that, but how the tossing up of this opportunity will make their whole lives a waste. And maybe it’s the chill of autumn or that tomorrow she’s just going to be another day older, a Mindy who has lived on this earth for 24 more hours and apparently not learned a thing, but she tells him she doesn’t want this to be another funny story. Another punchline to their relationship.
“Then I better buy you a ring that isn’t a joke,” and it’s romantic, it really is, and when he puts it on her, she can’t help but think it’s a real shame that no one is going to get to see it.
She keeps wearing it, at least until they have to actually go back to the airport, their transportation to the real world. She stares at it, catching the fluorescent lighting as he drinks his coffee and wonders why he had to be earnest for the first time in their whole lives about this. Why she just got married with no one there to see it, and no changed outcome once they get back home. Like all she wanted was the ability to say I did that, see, I have a document and everything, but when that was really the least of everything. How she wants a person who is going to be hers. Selfishly, that’s what she wants.
So, long story short, she spent part of her wedding day hysterically crying in a Dunkin Donuts bathroom until BJ came and knocked on the door and eventually convinced her that she wasn’t unraveling at the seams. How, she doesn’t know, because she definitely was.
But she puts the ring in the change purse portion of her wallet and slips the marriage license into the lining of her suitcase, through a little tear some pair of heels made last year, and it was something crazy that one time, when they were young, because she knows whatever age she is when she looks back on this, she’ll feel like she was just a baby. Like there was no possible way she could have known any better.
At the cab line, she expects him to hail her one and then leave on his own, the start of putting things back to normal, but he picks up both their suitcases to put into the trunk. “When you said you didn’t want it to be a funny story, did you just mean the funny part?” he asks her, and she kisses him in the back of this too clean LA cab, and within two hours of being home, the possibility of annulment is off the table. Marriage consummated, twice, just to be on the safe side.
Weeks pass, and some nights she goes home with BJ and some nights he comes home with her, and sometimes she sits by herself on her couch and watches Real Housewives until she can’t help but wonder what drives all these women to lose their minds.
They don’t hold hands at work and they don’t do anything more often than they’ve ever done anything before, but Mindy’s always thinking about that suitcase at the back of her closet. How maybe if she was more of an adult, she’d put her legal documents in a safe deposit box, or at least, you know, talk about them with another human being. But every day it seems a little harder, a little more dishonest.
She delivers her explanation to the bathroom mirror while the shower warms up, “I just love him so much, and so, yes, BJ’s my husband. He’s my husband and he has been for awhile now.” And then she practices saying that they’re just really good friends because she’s a much better writer than she is an actress.
She wants him to come to New York with her for the book release, but there’s no way to arrange that without saying something. And there’s a moment where they’re both talking about it while getting ready for bed, when it seems like they’re both saying, please, let’s say it out loud, let’s pick up the phone and call everyone we love, and then we can both go to New York together, but neither of them does it, and she spits in the sink while he flosses over her head, and she flies out to JFK alone.
BJ showing up at the signing at the Grove was not what she expected. She wanted him to, certainly, but she never expected for him to be there, hovering at the back of the room, smirking at her while she answers questions about their show. And then he comes up and is sitting next to her, and he’s proud, she can tell that he is, and it’s getting a little hard to sign her own name.
It feels long, the line, but she’s happy it’s long, that there’s so many people taking time out of their lives to stand in a Barnes & Noble to see her for a second. Finally, he walks out to her car with her, as her agent is talking to her about numbers and stock, and she’s nodding like she’s the business savvy lady this outfit indicates. “Where’d you park?” she asks him, during a pause while her Crown Archetype representative is on a phone call.
“I took a cab.”
She feels hotter than she did a moment ago.
They wave goodbye to the store manager, and Mindy assures she’ll call tomorrow to get the details on sales, and finally, they’re alone, or as alone as two people can be in a garage in Los Angeles.
“I missed you,” he says, pressing her up against the car, and it’s exactly how she would have written the scene if she was still in high school. He puts his hand along her cheek and through her hair. Behind her ear.
“It was only a few days.”
“I still missed you.”
She pulls him in by the ridiculous windbreaker/jacket thing he’s wearing, and he tastes so good, and she missed him too. She really, really did.
And she keeps missing him, because their lives are still mostly like they’re two separate people. Like they’re not even dating one another, which they’re not. They’re married, but they’re friends, and there’s no manual for this. No greeting cards for all the things that feel like they need to be apologized for. Sorry I went to a party without you. My apologies for getting mad you went to dinner with another girl. Please forgive me for crying the other night, I have no idea what we’re doing and it scares me a little more every day.
Going home for Thanksgiving was hard because she just wanted to spill her guts whenever her mother walked in the room and now she’s planning for Christmas, and she doesn’t know if she’s going to be able to go through it again.
When she had been washing the dishes with her mom, she’d asked, “How would you feel about it if I got married and you and Dad weren’t there?”
Her mother paused with her hands in the soapy water, like she was thinking of what to say to that
and Mindy’s wracking her own brain in case the conversation turns to why she’s thinking about this. “Well, I’d imagine you had a good reason for doing it that way. I wouldn’t like it, but it’s your life to live.”
There hadn’t been much to say after that, so it’d been quiet except for the sloshing of dishwater.
“Your father and I will always love you, no matter what,” and Mindy couldn’t help it that her lip quivered and she reached for her mother like she was a little girl who hadn’t owned up about something bad that happened at school that day.
They’d gotten into a fight about it once she got home.
And they keep having the same variation of that fight. “How long is this going to go on for, BJ? Huh? Am I going to be checking into my nursing home saying, ‘I know this form says I’m single, but please let this guy visit me whenever, he’s actually my husband?’”
“You were the one who wanted this to be quiet, right? If I remember, you’re the one who showed up at the airport without the ring on and who didn’t want to stop by our parents before we left.”
“Because what the fuck was I going to say, oh yeah, so, BJ and I just got married this weekend, you know, like Britney Spears and Jason Alexander, except I think the two of them were actually dating right before that happened. THE STORY OF OUR MARRIAGE IS MORE FUCKED UP THAN BRITNEY SPEARS AND JASON ALEXANDER’S!”
He’ll tweet, “No matter how close we are in real life I will always be in awe of @mindykaling” and she’ll wonder how it’s so easy for him to say that to millions of people, most of whom they don’t know, but how she can’t e-mail her mother. She doesn’t know why she’s not just laying the groundwork now even, saying they’re maybe dating again. That they’re feeling it out. What does she think about that? And so she feels frustrated and sad, and there’s slamming of doors and cabinets and crying, but it all just kind of goes around in a circle and doesn’t get resolved. One of them will leave, or they’ll have sex, and another day passes.
They repeated the cycle after dinner tonight, yelling and not getting anywhere, and right now he’s asleep next to her in bed while she’s watching the TV on low. She tweets out “Let’s name great couples to remember that romance is alive” because she really needs to believe that right now.
He leaves her a post-it on her monitor the next morning, “You + Me” and the thrill goes deeper than anything she’s felt in a long time.
They stop fighting for the holidays, and then they just don’t pick it up again, as if that was the part of their relationship that was the dirty little habit they needed to drop by the wayside.
And as spring gets closer, it’s like they both decide to get a little punchy. It becomes a game, how far they can push it. How long before people start asking what exactly is going on. They stop spending nights alone, they’re going to parties for St. Patrick’s day, and he’s holding her hair back as she gets sick. She’s putting pictures up of him singing karaoke, and calling him her Daniel Cleaver, and it’s kind of like the same high that got them to the altar in the first place.
They go to see the Lakers and he makes fun of her for getting so dressed up, and so she picks out higher heels. They’re watching the game, and then he’s elbowing her to look up, and there the two of them are on the kiss cam. It feels like getting caught, and like being set free and she leans over and wonders if he’ll put his tongue in her mouth in public.
He won’t, incidentally, but that makes it a little bit better.
Mindy wants to fuck him in the car before they even get home. “I bet you’re happy I wore the skirt after all,” she says into his ear, a hand climbing up his thigh, as he almost swerves into the other lane.
“Let’s get back alive and I’ll tell you how much I love looking at your legs, alright?”
The pet names start that night, in bed, when he calls her sweetheart and she laughs so loudly she actually clamps her own hand over her mouth. Sweetheart isn’t Min, or kid, it’s something else entirely.
“You think it’s so funny that someone could think you’re sweet?” He’s twisting her hair the same way Richard Gere does with Julia Roberts’ under the wig in Pretty Woman.
“No, I guess not. Especially when compared to you.”
“Oh?” He kisses her collarbone. “I think I’m mighty sweet.” Her sternum. “I think you might just want to eat me up.”
She knows exactly what she’s doing when she posts the three desserts Instagram. She assumes he does too when he calls her babe.
When the news breaks that he’s leaving The Office, it’s the first time she takes the marriage license out from its hiding place. Maybe this is really her year.