"Nope, actually this year, ah, no group tab. We're going to be doing separate checks," stammers Michael. Everybody's horrified, but none so much as Roy. And Stanley, who practically hisses, "You said we could bring our families!" Michael asks why he didn't, then. The camera pans back to reveal Stanley sitting with an age-appropriate, and very sweet, cute white lady, and your whole stomach kind of reverses the timespace continuum on itself, because in the space between "oh no you di'nt" and "oh Christ he did" there's a whole galaxy of horrible. And for this galaxy Michael Scott will be your tourguide. "I did," says Stanley, in an even (and ever-so-slightly "I dare a motherfucker" tone), "...My wife's name is Terri." Michael, around the crepe sole of his Cole Haan-clad foot, expresses his excitement about meeting Terri, should she appear. Which provokes the inevitable -- and admit it, bitch, you wanted it as bad or worse than Stanley did -- "It's this person whose hand I'm holding, Michael." Silence, barfy white guilt...and Dwight hitting the Yello/Ferris Bueller "Oohhhh, Yeahhhh" button in the silence.
Chik! Chikachickaaa! Great Scott!
Michael hisses at Dwight to "Shut it," which doesn't exactly make sense but okay, we get it, and anything to keep this shit moving now, and moves into his next joke, Dwight as his straight man. "Speaking of relationships, of all ways, shapes and forms..." he says, and I would love to have cut from Stanley to Oscar here, "Um, I was out on a very, very hot date with a girl from HR, Dwight." Dwight protests that there are no girls in HR, and Michael shows his seams a bit -- "No, that...for the sake of the story," he spits, irritatedly -- "...And things were getting hot and heavy...and I was about to take her bra off..." (Dwight, adorably: "Yeah!" As though Angela's undergarments aren't probably weirder than those of the entire cast of Big Love put together) "...When she made me fill out six hours of paperwork." And Dwight -- again, adorably, in one of the best lines of the episode, if not the season: "...Like an AIDS test?" (And no less beautiful is Michael's quiet, mind-blown response: "No. ...God.") Meredith shakes her head, the dear.
Michael smoothes on, clearing his throat: "Alright! So let's get this party staaaarrrrted!" Pam sits between fiancÃ© Roy and warehouse coworker Darryl, as they agree to fuck off and hit Poor Richard's (Is there a single other bar in Scranton? It wouldn't surprise me, it just seems hyper-egalitarian that they all always go there. But of course, I live in Austin, where Jets/Sharks battles occur nightly between identical bars across the street from each other based entirely on two- vs. three-button and flat-front vs. motherfucking pleated and how many Polos at once; such are the issues at play in our vibrantly diverse little town.) Pam is (angry, remember) not so willing to cut and run, and Michael jumps on this. Don't think it's by accident: "Um, guys? Where are you going? Pam! Show's just getting started!" She grabs her jacket and apologizes; the camera pans, inevitably, to Jim. Who's watching Pam. And pretending he's there with Ryan: "...Gotta eat somewhere, right?" Can't leave, doesn't wanna stay. I love you, Jim Halpert, but Jeeeeeeesus. It's hard to believe in the Love That Forever when you both act like such fucking pansies all the time. I've got a hard-ass rep to protect. (Shut up, you in the back.)