“This is literally…the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to me.”
So there was Ron Swanson, sitting in his home with a few cigars and a porterhouse steak. Enjoying time by the fire and listening to smooth mountain music. And then like always, a fated call from Leslie Knope drove him to the outskirts of Pawnee to a living room broken into large splinters of wood and shards of glass.
And a very sheepish looking Chris Traeger in his ill fitting spandex workout clothing, a sweatband above his brow, and a dumbbell halfway into the large black box that was his television’s sound receiver.
“You see, son, I would try to ask you how you managed to destroy your living room, but I’m afraid I’m just going to lose more faith in your manhood,” Ron said.
“Well you see, while trying out this new airy fabric in this tank top―”
“I don’t think you understood what I didn’t want to hear.”
“Right, right.” Chris apologetically waved his hands but Ron rolled his eyes and let him continue. “While testing the erm…durability of this fabric, I wanted to do some pectoral flyers. But because I hadn’t broken it in, my arms were a little, stiffer than usual. I ended up falling backwards, onto my Valskögg.”
“My, coffee table. It’s the Valskögg from Ikea.”
Ron sighed. “Chris, that is what we in America call, a coffee table. Not the last name of an Olympic swimmer.”
“Ah, yes, but,” Chris continued, “I had no idea I’d make such a big mistake with my own strength.”
“In the Swanson family,” Ron said, “we don’t use barbells or stretched fabric to test our strength. Ever since the 1700s Swanson women would abandon their sons in the woods with only a hatchet, a piece of rope, and a small slice of stale bread. If they made it back, they never needed to prove their strength again.” He took a long stare at Chris. “My mother didn’t even give me the rope.”
Chris blinked. “That might be, literally, the most terrifying childhood one could have.” Ron couldn’t tell if Chris was being sarcastic or very stupidly sincere. He gave up about ten minutes after meeting him. “But, Leslie called you knowing you’d be the best at putting my living room back together, so hopefully your walkabout paid off.”
Ron bent down to inspect what was left of the coffee table and the accoutrements that were on top of it. He scoffed at the table’s remnants. Purely plywood. Those crafty Swedes, he thought, selling cardboard furniture to people who didn’t know anything about structural integrity. If he was dragged out of his warm home by Leslie’s good intentions, he was going to do a lot more than just staple and paste the old table back together. He was also a bit saddened that at this hour he wouldn’t be able to get the wood for the table himself, like a Swanson Arbor Day, but he could get over that (unlike the tradition of planting trees on Arbor Day, the Swanson version involved cutting them down and making as many birdhouses and knife holders as possible with them.)
“Where is the nearest hardware store, Chris?” Ron asked.
“I, really have no idea, but I can check my smartphone. What would we need there?”
“We’re going to buy you a new table.”
“But as far as I know hardware stores like that only sell, patio furniture. I appreciate you trying to find a quick solution, but―”
“It’s about time you are educated on the real craftsmanship of furniture, Chris. We’re going to pick up some wood for your table, something a little more than this cheap nonsense, and we’re going to build it with our own hands.”
Happily, Chris said “That’s, incredibly nice of you.”
“Don’t thank me, thank my years of woodworking. Now they might not have anything as fancy or nicely colored as a boxwood, or the American Elm, but that won’t matter for the sake of a more sturdy coffee table.”
“You really seem to know your wood, Ron Swanson!”
Ron decided not to question Chris’ compliment, and fished his car keys out of his jacket pocket, knowing this would go badly.
There’s a lot to be said about a guy who doesn’t know that paint stirrers aren’t actually large spatulas, but aren’t even offset enough to flip a burger. The same guy who used the nut and bolt aisle as a large scale Tinker Toy set, and commented that the power saws would be great for cutting through sandwiches (and not real sandwiches piled with roast beef and five different condiments, but whole wheat pita bread and whatever…seitan was? The only way a word with that pronunciation should be involved with a sandwich should be if there’s a hot sauce so potent on it, it reeks of the Dark Overlord himself.)
A painful hour later Ron and Chris arrived back at Chris’ overly feng shui apartment. Luckily all the tools they needed were a hammer and nails (Ron, rather forcefully, cut the wood at the large chain hardware store himself, and before being escorted out by security, taught every single employee at the store how to safely change out the blades of the cutter.) Chris of course, didn’t have these himself, and Ron had to set him up with a starter toolbox, much like the gift he gave to Ann during the nightmarish Halloween party April and Andrew threw.
Ron was pretty amazed after the whole ordeal, Chris only ended with three bandages on each hand. And one under his eye, which was still really baffling to him. But the table, she was beautiful. Evenly measured with sturdy legs, a dark finish, and sanded edges (it’s another Swanson family secret that under the cuffs of a long sleeve shirt are small patches of sandpaper,) it wasn’t his best, but he could tell Chris felt his injuries were validated by the new table in his living room.
“Now, we should celebrate! Considering you’ve done so much for me, Ron Swanson. Beer and TV!” He bounced into the kitchen with the look of accomplishment all over his face, and came back with a few beers (nothing low in calorie as Ron feared, but with an odd “natural” flavor like raspberry wheat. Natural, his ass.) But, all in all, Ron imagined this was what having a son was like. Crushing his beliefs on how easy the world was while teaching values of hard work and well-cut wood, filling his heart with confidence before his hypothetical Mrs. Swanson prepared him for his woodland survival test.
“Since the receiver is still broken, we’ll just have to watch Desperate Housewives without sound.”
Ron then realized how it felt to have a son, and how it would feel to kick him out of the family after he registered as a member of the Green Party.
“It’s literally, the most compelling show I’ve ever watched.”
Well, kicking your son out of the family after learning he’s been a closet vegetarian for a few years.