Ah, the romantic comedy (rom-com, if you will). You either love ‘em, or you have no soul. Yes, of course, you know that the main characters will end up together, getting their happy ending just in the nick of time before the credits roll: but that’s not the fun of watching a one. The delight is watching everything play out. From the meet-cute and the original disdain of each other to the witty banter showing off the chemistry to the final, usually public, kiss, a romantic comedy is sure to warm even the coldest viewer’s heart. All with a catchy soundtrack, too.
I love a good rom-com. My only complaint is that they end. I mean, I’ve just spent somewhere between 80 and 100 minutes rooting for the hero and heroine, genuinely investing myself in their happiness. That’s why, sometimes, it’s so hard for me to let go. In fact, I find myself wondering, where are they now? How are they doing? Has their love managed to withstand the test of time?
I decided to catch up with one of the most noteworthy couples of rom-com past, Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly, to find out.
Kathleen and Joe wed in a small ceremony shortly after our little “Shopgirl,” Kathleen, discovered the true identity of NY152 was none other than her foe turned friend, Joe Fox. Immediately after their nuptials, the couple created a joint email account, OutFoxedAndInLove@aol.com. They happily settled in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and they quickly fell into a regular routine; take Brinkley for a walk, grab a bagel, and bask in the glow of being in love in New York City. The couple had twin girls, Cecilia-Jane and Darcy in 2003. While she was on bedrest when pregnant with the twins, Kathleen began writing a children’s book based on her beloved Shop Around The Corner. It was an instant hit and was nominated for the Caldecott Medal. Everything was going well for the couple until shit hit the fan around 2009.
As The Recession loomed, Nelson Fox settled another divorce. While his bank account shrank yet again, the popularity of e-books began to rise. Fox Books took a major hit, having to declare bankruptcy within a year. With the decline of his business, in addition to having to put Brinkley to sleep, Joe became distant and bitter; he spent more and more time on the boat (before selling it). Joe’s resentment grew as AOL’s stock dropped – something which the couple had invested quite a lot of money. Kathleen struggled with how to express her emotions as well – wasn’t the ousting of Fox Books by e-readers what Joe had done to her? Was this poetic justice for past wrongs? She wasn’t able to comfort him without sounding, in Joe’s words, “condescending and superior,” so she found it was much easier to cope after a few drinks in her.
Kathleen’s new drinking habit impeded her ability to write a follow-up to her best-selling children’s book. As deadlines loomed, Kathleen’s drinking spiraled out of control – she was stuck in a hamster wheel of unhappiness as she drank because she had writer’s block and she only had writer’s block because of the drinking. Everything came to a head when Kathleen showed up at the twins’ parent-teacher conference bombed out of her mind. Joe had no choice but to stage an intervention, which included Christina, George and Aunt Birdie. Together the group was able to convince Kathleen to go to rehab in the Hudson Valley. With a few months of intense family therapy sessions, a lot of kleenex, cups of coffee, and a few bouquets of flowers later, Kathleen and Joe rediscovered their love for each other.
As the couple returned to Manhattan to begin again, their rekindling of their relationship seemed to mirror the “what-is-old-is-new-again” trend that slowly etched out of Brooklyn and into the other boroughs of New York. Indeed, a new era had begun as 2010 rang in and the hipster subculture spilled into the mainstream. The idea of a mega-chain bookstore wasn’t even missed as people demanded “real” and “vintage.” Joe, being ever the wise businessman, took what was left of the couple’s savings and took a risk – one that would pay off ten-fold. With Aunt Birdie’s blessing, The Shop Around The Corner was reopened again, now with a chai latte bar, to immediate success, and of course George and Christina are there.
Kathleen is currently working on a children’s book series about Brinkley, a Golden Retriever who has New York City adventures. The twins are off to college in the fall, but they won’t be far as they are both attending Columbia. Joe is enjoying teaching sailing lessons to the yuppie youth of the city. The couple has recently bought a second home in the Hudson Valley, which they have utilized as a Golden Retriever Rescue Farm. .