This was the strangest budget meeting Ben had ever been in. And he'd been in literally (god, how much did he loathe that word these days) hundreds of them over the last few years.
It wasn't the first time he'd sat across from somebody who twitched every time he spoke about slashing spending and cutting budgets.
It was, however, the first time he'd sat across somebody who twitched with *delight* every time he spoke about slashing spending and cutting budgets. It was ... it was surreal. It was almost unnerving, the way Ron kept staring at him, bright blue bulbous eyes lasered on him and muffled chortles sneaking out from under his moustache.
And as for that moustache ... it was a great moustache. Great. Ben had always wanted to grow one but his last attempt - at 17, he'd thought it'd make him look older for the campaign - had proved something to him. Some men just aren't born to be moustached men.
Ron Swanson, on the other hand, was born to be a moustached god.
They were in City Hall, which meant Ben was absolutely not going to be staring at it - but he couldn't stop thinking about it. A thousand questions were swimming through his mind. How did Ron chose the shape? Did he wax? Did he have a special comb? Did he dye it? He didn't seem like a guy that would dye his moustache but then, nothing about Ron really made sense. If nothing else, Ron's the first person whose ever been pleased to see him.
So, after the meeting's over - and this Leslie Knope character had whisked herself through the door in a blur of enraged, exhausting energy - Ben finds himself hanging around, mutually avoiding the gaze of the suddenly very busy people at their desks. Hangs around until Ron pops out of his office and then asks Ron something he never, ever asks when he visits a new town, because the answers invariably led him to the crappiest spot the locals can think of.
"Is there any place here I can get a good steak dinner?" Ben was really, really tired of the places that served only mushrooms and tofu - the only kinds of places Chris would ask about and thus the only kinds of places Ben had eaten in months. It wasn't that he had anything against them ... but sometimes, a guy - a non-Chris-guy - just wanted meat.
Ron's eyes lit up like a jedi lightsaber. "Son. For what you're doing here today, I'm not just going to recommend a place to you. I am going to treat you to the best goddamn steak dinner in Pawnee. Tomorrow night. Tonight, you’re going to the Snakehole Lounge"
He’d been in Pawnee for less than 24 hours and Ben Wyatt had discovered several facts.
Fact the first: Ron Swanson had an amazing moustache. Fact the second: Pawnee was in really, really bad financial shape. Fact the third: Ron Swanson did not take no for an answer. Fact the fourth: despite the name, The Snakehole Lounge was not actually a gay bar. A fifth, barely acknowledged fact, was that Ben found himself slightly disappointed. A sixth fact was that Leslie Knope was very, very loud when she was drunk.
The yelling, however, was pretty much par for the course - nobody wants you here, you’re a jerk, blah blah blah. Pretty much the same thing Ben had heard at every town before. Just … usually he didn’t hear it in tones quite so loud and usually it was from people who were sober. It was actually quite refreshing to have it from someone who was drunk. Well, fifty percent refreshing, fifty percent depressing and Ben figures now’s a good a time as any to head back to the hotel.
He turned to go, figuring he can slip out, maybe get a head start on tomorrow’s excel spreadsheets, when a heavy arm falls across his shoulders. “Hey. Don’t forget. Tomorrow - me, you, the best steak dinner in Pawnee.”
Ben didn't consider himself a particularly sheltered guy - he'd been around. But this was clearly the biggest he'd ever seen. It was huge. It was - it was a little overwhelming, to be honest, and he wasn't even sure where to begin.
Ron was looking at him, his eyes bright with excitement. "Well?"
"I have to admit, I'm impressed. You said the biggest steak in town - this could be the biggest steak in the world."
Ron was busy tucking a napkin into his shirt collar, but he stopped a second to smirk at Ben. "Well, it doesn't compare to Mulligans ..." Ben watched, fascinated as Ron's eyes glazed over for a second.
Then Ron shook his head and blew out air with a snort. It made the moustache quiver. "But it's a damn good steak, son. Dig in. Don't waste your time on those ... green things. Now tell me. What's the biggest budget you've ever slashed to the bone?"