“Me and Jean-Ralphio have a bombin’ idea for a new liqueur that Jean-Ralphio and only Jean-Ralphio should release at the Snakehole Lounge, and I am absolutely not involved for any kind of material gain whatsoever,” Tom says. “Here’s the idea that isn’t even mine but I got it from that Jurassic Park lady in a really hot dream where she fed me chocolate-covered strawberries and named me the Tsar of British Columbia.”
“Yeah, she was totally like, a representation of the spirit of Enterprise,” Jean-Ralphio adds. “And on a personal note: what what, community college world history shawty! Girl, I got your number through an elaborate system of Facebook stalking and befriending every single one of your friends and we are all going to the Eagleton Mall soon, so check that.” He looks to Tom and beams. “Now about that new liqueur that you had nothing to do with.”
“Right, so this new liqueur is called Snake Charm and it’s --”
Leslie frantically raps at the glass of the conference room’s door before she tries to force the door open.
“Leslie, I’ve barricaded the door with Andy in a sugar coma, so you’re gonna have to get Sexy Dave to --”
“Tom!” Leslie screams. “I will dive through this door! I will push Jerry through this window! I will make a pact with the vending machine on the fourth floor to get you out of there! But you are not making me wake up under my desk again! I will fight you, Tom! I will make Jean-Ralphio weep.”
“No, don’t make me cry, T. Edgar Bro-ver.”
“That doesn’t rhyme,” Tom says. He touches Jean-Ralphio’s shoulder and asks, “Do you not get how rhymes work? J-R, we can work on this. They weren’t lying to us at school -- phonics can be fun.”
“Look, it didn’t work, forget it -- but don’t make her make me cry. I get all puffy and red’s not my color,” Jean-Ralphio pleads.
“Dude, all colors are your color,” Tom assures him. “Except pastels, but that was never a baller color palette.”
“You’re the best,” Jean-Ralphio says. “Go tell Carmen Sandiego we’re not making another liqueur.”
“You’re not. I had nothing to do with it, remember?”
“Right, I gotcha. What liqueur?”
“Guys, I can’t really hear you,” Leslie calls through the glass. “You’re talking really quietly! I assume you’re still plotting, so I’m going to get Jerry to break through the glass whether he wants to or not.”
“Oh no Leslie no stop,” Tom says under his breath, because who hasn’t wanted to throw Jerry through the conference room window?
In the end, Leslie has to choose between throwing Jerry through the window or the higher-end telescope for their new mini observatory, and while she maintains that throwing Jerry would be a physics lesson, she chooses the telescope.
Sexy Dave is the new fire chief in town.
Sexy Dave is unquestionably sexy.
Leslie finds him particularly sexy because one of his first acts as the new chief of the Pawnee Fire Department was to approach her for ways of getting the fire department more involved with civic events in hopes of boosting their volunteer fireman count.
Leslie tells him, “Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu sure! That sounds totally amazing, Se -- Dave! Mr. Dave! Mr. Dave the Fireman, Esquire, DDS, ex post facto, Speaker of the House, Vice President of Awesome! Yes, you are now all those things. Void where prohibited. Prohibited in Pawnee and, let’s face it, probably Eagleton because they hate happiness.” She looks down at her desk, quickly grabs a picture frame, and holds it up a little too close for Sexy Dave’s comfort. “This is Ben. He’s my lover, my live-in piece on the side who’s become so much more, he’s also my campaign manager, isn’t that crazy, I know right, we make an awesome team, everyone thinks so, and everyone will think you’re awesome, not that being with me makes you awesome although, let’s face it, it does. Ha. Ha ha.”
She takes back the frame and it calms the torrent a little, enough that she says, “So let me get your email address and your lieutenant’s email address and we’ll start brainstorming right away. I’ve already got like, fifty amazing ideas and they can only get better in a group email, am I right?”
“I’ve heard you’re the best, Leslie Knope,” Sexy Dave says, “So I trust you implicitly.”
“That is so wonderful to hear,” Leslie replies. “It’s also true. Vote Knope.”
Sexy Dave comes back to meet with Leslie and the new budget hatchetman from Indianapolis, who approves their idea for another Night Under the Stars event promoting the new observatory and outdoor safety tips. It still needs a lot of work, but the new budget guy agrees to fund it way too easily when Leslie and Sexy Dave actually meet with him face-to-face. Leslie's glad to get her way, but wonders at what a pushover the new guy is (compared to Ben, her lovable jerk).
Then again, Sexy Dave is like, Eagleton gorgeous. He may have to be filed away as a secret sex weapon of sex appeal. One look at his gently stubbled and finely chiseled jaw, and those icy blue eyes, would quiet any town hall meeting. Leslie would have women’s history on the elementary school subject roster in 18-24 months with Sexy Dave’s strong hands gesticulating at the school board with her.
They leave the meeting and head back to Leslie's office to talk about the event a little more (this time with Tom's fiscally irresponsible suggestions). When Sexy Dave gets up to leave, he stops and points out Leslie’s window at the rest of the office -- at Jean-Ralphio, specifically.
"I'm the new guy in town, so I hope you don't mind me asking about him," Sexy Dave explains.
"Oh, that's Jean-Ralphio," Tom says. "He's my bro-friend -- like a boyfriend, but not gay or anything."
"Tom!" Leslie hisses.
"What?" Tom asks. "It's a fact. There's nothing gay between us." He looks at Leslie and then at Sexy Dave. "It's not that Leslie has a problem with --"
"I AM A GAY HERO," Leslie yells. "I MARRIED THOSE GAY PENGUINS AND SMUGGLED THEM TO IOWA."
"I was just asking," Sexy Dave adds.
"You're totally Jean-Ralphio's type, D," Tom says.
"What?" Leslie asks no one/everyone.
"You think so?" Sexy Dave asks Tom with the most charming smile he's released on Pawnee yet. "Thanks for your help, guys."
Sexy Dave leaves and stops outside to talk to April and Jean-Ralphio.
"Why didn't you tell him Jean-Ralphio is straight?" Leslie asks Tom.
"Because Jean-Ralphio’s not," Tom replies as he continues scrolling through some music-and-flash heavy designer’s website, barely paying attention to Leslie. "Not that it matters, but he prefers the ladies. He's open-minded."
"I had no idea."
"When you're men of the world, Leslie, like we are? As fly as us and not in a Pawnee state of mind? Gotta think outside the box."
Leslie looks at Tom as if for the first time, and stares long enough for Tom to notice she hasn't said anything in a record-breaking number of seconds. "Come on, Leslie. It's okay. I said he prefers women, so you still have a shot."
"That is not -- what do you -- I love Ben, it is ON THE RECORD, TOM."
"Mmm," Tom hums to himself.
Leslie tries to make "Tom" the new office-safe swear word (it's currently "Jerry"), but it's not taking.
"Do you have a bro-friend?" Leslie asks Ben over dinner one night. "Like a boyfriend but not gay not that there's anything wrong with that? Like a Jean-Ralphio to your Tom?"
She pauses and then corrects herself: "I mean a Tom to your Jean-Ralphio."
"You think I'm not as cool as Tom?" Ben asks.
"Well, you're my kind of cool," she says with a big smile. "So do you?"
"Uh... I guess Chris is my Tom. We're pretty close, even if he's incredibly irritating. I mean, you travel and practically live with a guy in cars and hotels for more than five years..."
"Oh wow," Leslie says. She nods quickly and says, "You should tell me more about those nights in cars and hotels with Chris. I'm totally not texting Ann under the table by the way. Just. You know. I'm not."
Ben smirks and Leslie asks, "Also, if you could use the word burnished at some point? And glistening? That would be great."
"So this one time, we decided to wrestle in front of a burning fireplace..."
"No, Chris and I never wrestled naked in front of a burning fireplace," Ben says. "But we are still close, even after the whole resigning-in-disgrace thing. It's not surprising to me, but it is to Leslie, I guess. You can't spend that much time with Chris and not realize he's actually a really good person and pretty fun."
He thinks for a second and adds, "You also develop a reluctant fondness for trail mix. I mean, it really fills you up and keeps you going during those mid-afternoon slumps."
Leslie comes back from lunch one afternoon and finds Jean-Ralphio modeling bow ties for Tom in her (/their) office. There’s also a new guy perched on Tom’s desk, who has his legs crossed and stares critically at Jean-Ralphio’s outfit like the answer to an unsolvable math problem is somewhere in his bow ties’ patterns.
“Hi there,” Leslie says tentatively. “Who’s your friend, Tom? I don’t think we’ve met, I’m Leslie Knope.”
“Oh, yeah, this is Erich,” Tom says. “Erich would say hi but he’s kind of in the zone right now. He’s said no to thirty bow ties already, and we’re just getting started.”
“There are thirty bow ties in Pawnee?” Leslie laughs.
“Bow ties are a serious matter, Ms. Knope, and I say that as a student of fashion and a lover of the human form,” Erich says airily, as if from another dimension -- a dimension where there’s more than thirty bow tie patterns to choose from in one mall, never mind one special folded case that Leslie has never imagined. “The right bow tie can make an empire, and the wrong bow tie can break one. It’s never just a bow tie, Ms. Knope. A bow tie can be the queen on your chessboard while the pattern delivers the killing stroke.”
“His dad owns Pete’s Tie Emporium,” Jean-Ralphio adds.
“How crass, bringing up money at a time like this,” Erich notes. “Not that one. It brings out the lines in your neck and the shade is too reminiscent of a pumpkin patch.”
Leslie sits at her desk and realizes, suddenly: “Aw, Jean-Ralphio! Did you say yes to Sexy Dave? Is this for your date with Sexy Dave? Is this your first date with a gentleman?”
“LesKnope,” Jean-Ralphio says as he ties another bow tie. Erich clears his throat disdainfully somewhere in the middle of the process and Jean-Ralphio sighs before he undoes the half-knot and grabs another one from the extensive collection on display. As he does up that one, he stands in front of Leslie’s desk and asks, “Yo, you ever get nervous before a date? I mean, before the whole sneaking around with J-Shot and resigning-in-disgrace thing, ‘cause I can see how that’d be crazy stress monkeys, you know?”
She smiles at him and wants to say: Yes, of course, and the cute guy you know as “Jello Shot” still makes me nervous and jittery, all the time, and I want to try on sixty bow ties, too, just to have something to do with my hands before he’s around.
Jean-Ralphio grins at her and nods as he looks down and closes one eye to adjust the bow tie a little. “Sexy Dave is sexy nice, and maybe I won’t say the wrong thing -- or if I do, this bow tie will be so killer he won’t even notice.”
“That’s the one,” Erich declares. “I knew ordering a customized Pantone bow tie in PMS 336 would be its own reward at one point. Friend, it is yours. Go forth and love. First, let me take a photo and share it to our Facebook page.”
“Tommy, get in this. We’re the styleguys for casu-fancy right here, right, Erich?”
Leslie could get up and talk to everyone outside about any number of things that she needs done, but she sits at her desk, answers a couple of emails, and shoots the little group livening up a corner of her and Tom’s office furtive glances while they just love up all over each other’s company.
“Aw jeez,” Jerry says. “A -- same sex experience? Did Paul tell you?” Jerry sighs uncomfortably and drops his voice low. “It was an all boys’ school, all right, and we were both in the drama club, and all those times meant nothing. We’re still good friends and his job as city manager doesn’t affect mine in Parks and Rec, and -- oh. This -- isn’t part of Chris’s ethics -- oh.”
Jerry clears his throat and says, “Well, that’s fine. Gail knows. We have Paul and his wife over sometimes.” He frowns a little and adds, “Don’t look at me like that. It’s perfectly -- we’re all adults. Our daughters were on the same rugby team and they’re close, too, so --”
He’s quiet for a few more seconds and then says, “Sorry, I think that’s April glaring at me and I better see what she wants. She’s kind of a pushy assistant, but that’s the way it goes, I guess.”
Tom’s iPhone wakes him up in the middle of the night. A Facetime call from Jean-Ralphio, which he takes with a loud yawn. “How’d it go?” Tom asks.
“T, this Dave is a class act. I mean, what a damn gentleman. He should quit that firefighting thing he kept talking about and open up like, a school for flyness. The Dave Ellis School for the Flyyyyyy-aiiiiiiiiiii. Wouldn’t you send all your kids there for some after school lessons in cool?”
“Yeah, you could tell that from the second he walked in. Smooth, nice, and he dresses like Ben but without all that 8th grade science teacher awkwardness.”
“For real, T, we gotta get Jello Shot up off the playground and into our stomping ground, know what I mean?”
“Yeah, totally. I gotta get back to sleep but come on: you like him? How was it?”
“Man,” Jean-Ralphio sighs heavily. Tom watches the screen as Jean-Ralphio undoes the perfect bow tie and falls back on his bed. It’s not a flattering angle, but they’re bro-friends catching up after something big so he barely notices and doesn’t care. “I wanted to, especially when he was so nice and funny and all that, but it wasn’t happening.”
“Baby, I feel you,” Tom replies. “Doesn’t click sometimes. Can’t do anything about it.”
“Yo, we’ll do the date run-down tomorrow: lunch at Fran’s before my inventory shift at Banana.”
“Yeah, I got a meeting around then, too. Don’t be late.”
“Go on, get back to Dreamsylvania, population: you, bro-friend,” Jean-Ralphio says. “Night. Talk soon.”
“Talk soon, bro-friend,” Tom says as he yawns again and ends the call.
He wakes up the next morning to the alarm blaring on his iPhone, which he’s still clutching in his hand just under his pillow.
“Have you ever had a threesome, Ron?” Leslie asks.
“I’m not answering that,” Ron replies.
Years ago, Ron agreed to their weekly Senior Staff Meeting AKA Leslie and Ron Eat Waffles at J.J.’s on Tuesdays at 8 AM on the one condition that they not say more than 30 words to each other over the course of one hour. (Ron thought two words per minute was a reasonable limit to impose on Leslie, and so far, it had worked.)
Ron counts eleven words in their exchange as he carefully chews the sausage he ordered with his waffles.
“I guess I didn’t really give it much thought until Sexy Dave asked out Jean-Ralphio and I didn’t know --”
Ron glares her into pausing as he sips his coffee. He hopes his mustache says, “That was nineteen words. Grand total: thirty. Please stop.”
“I think Ben and Ann would be into some experimenting,” Leslie muses aloud.
“Leslie, I’m neither Ben nor Ann, so I can’t answer that for you,” Ron replies.
“Good point,” Leslie says. She lights up suddenly and holds up a piece of waffle speared on her fork. “I’ll get them waffle drunk and we’ll see what happens. Waffle drunk isn’t real drunk.”
Leslie seems bent on discussing this, so for today: to hell with the word limit.
“Tammy 2 will tell you otherwise, but she’s a lying she-beast who would fornicate in this holy spot if given the opportunity -- she has, in fact, tried to seduce me here hundreds of times, but she’s never succeeded.” It still pains Ron to talk about it, but he has to make it clear to Leslie: “After Mulligan’s, this is the only place I -- well --”
“Shh, I know,” Leslie says. “I know. It’s okay.”
He files away another moment of Leslie’s understanding in with the millions of others and asks her after a moment, “Do we have actual department business to discuss today?”
“Nah,” she replies. “Wanna hear about the five-year plan Ben and I have developed? It’s personal and professional, which we hesitate calling a two-prong approach since they’re kind of intersecting already -- have been since day one, really.”
“I’d like to sit here quietly and listen to the calming muzak rendition of ‘Colors of the Wind’ that J.J. has served up for us this morning, Leslie,” Ron replies.
“Ooh, I love this album,” Leslie says. “The syrup makes it sound better, don’t you think?”
Ron nods and they continue eating their waffles in their usual contented silence.