10 Years, Actually: Billy & Joe, Juliet & Mark
by Bobby Finger
This is part of a week-long series celebrating the tenth anniversary of Love Actually.
Billy and Joe’s friendship was better than ever post-”Christmas Is All Around.” They both smiled more. They laughed more. They hugged more. Sure, they spent time apart — they hadn’t lost their sex drives yet — but, for the most part, their lives were lived as one, and their careers were all the better for it.
Billy’s 2005 single “May December” (about a woman named May December) was called the song of the summer in the UK. His holiday follow-up “December May” (about a woman named December May) was the Christmas number one single. Life was perfect, actually. It was actually perfect.
The next summer, Joe picked Billy up at his flat early one particularly hot and muggy morning. He was to be photographed for GQ at a studio just outside of London. “I don’t understand why I do these things,” he said to Joe as the pair zoomed down the highway. “Oh wait, the money.” As they shared a laugh, the radio began to play something uncharacteristically cheery. “Christmas Is All Around.” On a summer day. At 6:00 in the morning.
“Sounds like someone fell asleep at the board,” Joe said.
“I think it’s lovely,” said Billy before singing along, and Joe wasn’t far behind. Within seconds, they were both belting out the worst Christmas song ever recorded.
“You know I love Christmas, I always will.”
“My mind’s made up, the way that I feel.”
“There’s no beginning, there’ll be no end.”
“‘Cause on Christmas, you can depend.”
They didn’t even see the car that hit them.
Juliet and Peter’s baby was born before the next year’s first snow fell. Peter insisted they name him Mark, but Juliet protested: “What about Jamie?”
“I hate the name Jamie,” Peter said.
“What about Colin?”
“Now Colin I like.”
By the time Colin was walking, Mark had started coming by less and less and his poster boards were a distant memory. In Peter and Colin, Juliet had more love than she could ever know what to do with.
Over the next few years, Mark threw himself into his work. He was happy there, and with every new project, the pedestal on which Julia stood chipped away. Before long, it had all but disappeared. He did, however, continue sending birthday cards and letters and emails, but the visitations were few. Once a year, but never at Christmas. He spent that holiday by himself, usually at the Chinese restaurant down his block.
One Christmas, while enjoying a particularly delicious plate of beef with broccoli, someone tapped on his shoulder.
“Do you mind if I borrow your soy sauce?”
Even after she moved to his table, he couldn’t figure out why he recognized her. They talked like old friends and laughed like older ones. “You know,” she said. “Today’s actually my birthday.”
“Oh, well, happy birthday and merry Christmas. I don’t believe I caught your name.”
Bobby Finger hopes you know how excited he was to learn that Dido was born on December 25th.