1. When Leslie is eleven she has her first crush on a boy named Mike Flynn. He runs for sixth grade class president at Wamapoke Middle School and gives a speech in Mr. Chapman’s social studies class that dazzles her so much that she mistakes it for love. To get his attention, she decides to run against him in the election, because guys love it when you can show them you're better than they are at something they love.
But Leslie discovers from this experience that she loves politics, too. Loves it. She’s wanted to be many things before that--astronaut, spelunker, dancer, ichthyologist (don’t ask)-–but nothing settles in her heart like politics, like civic duty. In the end, she forgets the boy and finds a dream instead.
2. Ben doesn’t see Star Wars until he’s fourteen years old. His family spends summer in a lakeside cabin just outside of Tomah, Wisconsin, and on a rainy day he’s trapped inside. TBS is the only channel coming in with any clarity and they’re playing a Star Wars Trilogy marathon. He settles on the couch with a book, but by the time Luke, Leia, and Han find themselves trapped in the trash compactor the book’s on the floor and his life will never be the same. Nor will be Christmas, as he will get a least one Star Wars novel each year until he's in his twenties (and really, only about a third of them are any good anyway).
3. Leslie has been terrified of bees ever since she saw My Girl and Macauley Culkin died after he got stung by all those bees. For similar reasons, she's been terrified of earthquakes ever since she saw Superman and Lois Lane died in that earthquake before Superman flew around the world backwards to reverse time and save her.
She's grateful Pawnee doesn't rest on any major fault lines. Yet another reason why Pawnee is potentially the most awesome city in America, maybe the world.
4. Ben learned to cook by watching his mom in the kitchen and he learned how to play baseball by watching the Twins on TV with his dad. What he doesn't get is this, though--why they never learned how to forgive him for being impeached, and how at moments they seemed to forget that he was their son and sometimes he made mistakes, too.
5. For a while, after becoming the first woman president, Leslie next biggest dream involves writing and publishing a book called, The Big Rule Book of Rules. Or something like that. That's just the working title. The point is, it would be awesome whatever it was called.
6. Ben hasn't been in a serious relationship in ten years, and he's fine with that until he meets Leslie Knope and spends the money he had squirreled away for a trip to London on a patchouli-stinking children's musician.
7. It's just a regular old Tuesday morning when it happens. Leslie's had waffles for breakfast (along with a second take out order for lunch) and is about to meet Ann for some gal time when Ben walks into the office and hands her container full of whipped cream.
"I ordered a coffee this morning and for some reason, a tub of this. You want it?" He offers it to her and he looks a little dazed, a little dreamy half-smile on his face like maybe he imagined her there with him at the Starbucks and didn't realize that it had only been a thought and not a reality until he walked into the doors of Pioneer Hall and found that she wasn't at his side.
When he leaves, her heart is racing and her face is flushed and she has a tub of whipped cream in her hand and she's thinking that maybe she kinda sorta like likes Ben Wyatt.
8. Cindy Eckert is the first girl to break Ben's heart. Leslie Knope is the last.
9. When Leslie is thirty-six years old she falls in love with Ben. That same year she runs for mayor and breaks both their hearts when she calls off their relationship for the sake of the campaign. But this isn't sixth grade and Ben isn't Mike Flynn and she finds that she can't forgot the boy or the dream. But she's old enough to know that it also doesn't mean she has to pick one or the other.
10. Leslie tells Ben that she loves him by quoting Eleanor Roosevelt.
"Do what you feel in your heart to be right--for you'll be criticized anyway," she says, finding him alone and leaning against the monkey bars at Ramsett Park where she's having a campaign fundraising picnic. She's three points up in the polls against Mayor Gunderson, but that's well within the margin of error, so they both know it means it's a dead heat with only five weeks left to go.
"What does that mean?" he asks, his voice quiet and his heart forever on his sleeve.
It's dusk and the sky is soft in blues and purples. Ben can hear the party going on in the distance, the sound of Andy crooning "Two Birds Holding Hands" as Burley launches into an unscheduled guitar solo.
"It means I love you," she says simply, tipping her head so that she's looking at him like he's the only thing that exists in the world.
"What about the election?" he asks, skeptical. "The scandal?"
"What about it?" she says defiantly, her eyes fierce and bright and wet as though she's holding back tears. "Ben, whatever happens with this race, there's always another election, and another after that. But there's only one you." Her fingers twitch like she wants to touch him, but still, she keeps her hands close to her side. "What's the point of having your dream when you don't have anyone to share it with?"
"Because you would make an amazing mayor and your dream would be Pawnee's dream, too," he says matter-of-factly. "You would share your dream with the city."
She beams at him, and Ben feels himself falling for her all over again despite himself. "Why me?" he asks, feeling oh so tired. "I know why I love you," he says, his voice faltering. "But why do you love me? Do you even know? Because I don't know."
Leslie laughs, "Because of what you just said. Because you look good when you wear plaid and when you don't." She blushes. "Because you make me want to break the rules," she says softly, and he's never seen her so shy, so vulnerable. "They say that we should govern by the spirit of the law, not the letter. I think that applies to life, too. You helped me understand that."
"You can have it all," he says thoughtfully, with no hint of bitterness in his voice.
"Only if you'll have me," she says nervously. "But I understand if you don't." She suddenly gets skittish and begins to walk away.
Ben grabs her by the wrist and gently guides her back toward him. "You can have it all," he says again, but this time as an affirmative, and she understands him.
He leans down and kisses her in the moonlight, and when the flash bulbs from the photographers from Pawnee Sun and the Pawnee Journal go off in their faces, Ben just thinks he's seeing stars, (because he is, in a way).
They break apart, smiling, and turn together when they hear Joan Calamezzo barreling toward them in her three-inch heels, Perd Hapley not far behind. Leslie grips Ben's hand tighter and he squeezes back.
"Did you get anything good?" Joan shouts at her cameraman.
But it's not the cameraman who answers. It's Ben. "Yeah," he says, turning back to Leslie and touching her face. "I got you."