It’s like—last period on Fridays in junior high, I’m sitting in social-studies class, and I’m trying not think about it. The bell is going to ring in 10 minutes, the weekend is ahead of me, and that’s good, but during the weekend, I won’t see her for two whole days, and if I don’t try and do something now, I’ll spend all my time off feeling like a coward. The teacher is explaining about checks and balances, and every part of me is squeezing in this crooked, miserable way, like I’m getting ready to vomit organs, muscles, bones. Not good, thinking about vomit right now, really not helping. Five minutes. I can’t breathe so great anymore, and I can actually taste my tongue in my mouth like some rotting toad. She’s wearing jeans today. She’s smiling at something, and later on, when I remember this, I’ll try and pretend she was smiling at me. The bell rings, my feet forget my shoes aren’t glued to the floor, but finally I make it out of my chair, through the door, there are the lockers. Be, y’know, casual. Say something cool. Say something a real person would say. My locker is on the right, I don’t forget the combination, the hallway is the last chance because then it’s the busses and the ride home and the jocks who kick the seat behind me and the shame of chickening out one more time. But I go up to her, and she’s saying something to a friend, and I wait, I actually manage to stand there and not die. Finally, she looks at me. I had dialogue planned. There was a script. I manage, “Hiwouldyouliketogooutsometime?” Not good. Not good.
And she gets that… look. If a door had an expression when you shut it, that’s the look she’s wearing. The handful of seconds between her features shifting 30 degrees politer and her opening her mouth aren’t long, exactly. They just never stop happening. Simple as that.
Zach Handlen, “Better Late Than Never: The Office,” The A.V. Club
Handlen goes on to explain “That’s how I feel when I try to watch Freaks And Geeks. That’s how I feel when I try to watch Seinfeld. Or Three’s Company. Or Meet The Parents. Or Curb Your Enthusiasm. Or, naturally, The Office.” Which is on some hardenthefuckup shit, but whatever, it’s still a cool story, even though the only shame one should feel in response to Meet the Parents should pertain to its presence in one’s DVD player.