Author’s note: Ok, so this takes place sometime in the time warp that is Season 3. How long does Season 3 last? Well, there’s a late summer and a late fall and then after that there are no mentions of weather/seasons/holidays at all. I assume that Lil’ Sebastian’s funeral occurs in early spring as folks are wearing light jackets outside. Everything after Camping Trip appears to have happened in a time without winter. In Indiana. For the purpose of this story, Leslie’s birthday occurs between Soulmates and Jerry’s Painting. Enjoy!
One Week Before Leslie’s Birthday
Ben met Leslie seven months ago. Ben became Leslie’s friend/work colleague four months ago. Ben decided that his feelings for Leslie were very non-platonic two months ago. Ben is very very aware that Leslie’s birthday is in one week, having recently been added to the “Leslie Birthday Bash” Parks department (and Ann) email chain. Ben is totally screwed.
He can’t imagine not acknowledging her birthday, but he can’t imagine what he could possibly give her that would adequately communicate his feelings. It seems unlikely that there would be a card for such an occasion, a card that says “I think you’re super amazing and inspiring and being with you makes me forget that I was ever unhappy and I never want to leave your side as long as you will allow my presence but things are a little awkward because our boss told us we couldn’t date coworkers also I’m not sure you like me in a way other than as co-workers.”
He knows that Leslie would be happy with whatever he purchased, because she is naturally inclined to think the best of everyone. Yet he didn’t want her to just like his gift. He wants his gift to express how he feels, while still giving her a chance to interpret it as a gift from a friend.
He spent his nights in his room, hunched over his laptop, desperately searching the internet for that elusive perfect gift. He found a waffle painting on Amazon that inexplicably cost a thousand dollars. He found a Waffle House version of Monopoly that (also inexplicably) cost almost two hundred dollars. He scrolled through pages and pages of waffle-themed items, but the further he scrolled, the more he despaired. Each night ended the same; he would slam his laptop shut and resolve to brainstorm more in the morning.
Four Days Before Leslie’s Birthday
Ben knew that if he were to purchase anything from the internet he would have to do it this evening to ensure a timely arrival. He resolved that he would not go to bed that evening until he bought SOMETHING for Leslie. He decided to make a list of the items he found so far:
Ben always thought of himself as a very mild mannered, even keeled man in his life before Pawnee. These days he seriously wondered if he was slowly going insane.
The Night Before Leslie’s Birthday
He carefully placed three items in the box, hastily scrawled a message on the card and threw it in on top. He firmly resolved to think no further about it and placed the box on top of his work bag, to be dropped off at the Parks Department first thing in the morning.