Columbus Day Wamapoke Day
Leslie cleared her throat extravagantly. "Friends, we gather here today to celebrate the slaughter of countless indigenous people – "
"Maybe 'celebrate' isn't the word you want to use," Ann pointed out.
"Right, right," Leslie made a note on a flashcard. "Commemorate, memorialize, hm, none of those sound quite right either."
"How about just 'remember'?"
"That's a good one." Leslie gave her a thumbs up.
Leslie Knope, standing in front of a display booth full of woven blankets: In light of Pawnee's checked past with the native Wamapoke tribe, we have decided this October to celebrate "Wamapoke Day," instead of Columbus Day. Things got…a little ugly last year. Some insensitive comments, some arguments, a burning effigy or two.
[she waves her hands dismissively]
But that's all behind us. I've been working closely with Ken Hotate and we've put on a great festival complete with art displays, traditional Wamapoke songs, costumes for the kids, and reenactments of Wamapoke ceremonies. It's all very educational. Though we did have to make a few changes for the kids.
[she gestures to the next booth, where there is a painting of Wamapoke tribesmen and Pawnee settlers in a tense standoff. Their weapons have been sloppily changed into flowers, fishing poles, and in one case, a lightsaber.]
That one might not be the most historically accurate, but come on, it's so cool.
Ann asked, gently, "Do you think maybe you're overthinking this whole thing too much?"
"Maybe, I don't know." Leslie started rearranging her flashcards. "I just want to make sure I strike the right balance and not make anyone angry."
"Spoken like a government employee."
"Aww, thanks, Ann."
"Leslie." Ron poked his head into the room. "They're ready for a speech now, and damned if I'm going to make it."
"That's my cue." Leslie squeezed Ann's hand for support.
Ann squeezed back. "You'll do great."
Leslie darted out.
"Let's go," Ann told Ron. "I want to hear how it goes."
"Haven't you heard that speech enough times yet?"
"I think I have it memorized," Ann said. "Your point being?"
Ron shrugged and gestured with an arm. "After you."
They walked through the rec center, passing booth after booth displaying some aspect of Wamapoke culture or history. The crowd wasn't too thick; people didn't tend to turn out in droves for educational events. Ann thought that was shame. Leslie and Ken Hotate had done a great job getting the event ready.
Ann made an idle comment of that effect to Ron, who nodded and said, "That they did."
"You think so?" Ann asked.
"It's good work."
"Well, of course it is," Ann said. "And I think it is. I just figured you'd have something snide to say."
"I have great respect for the Wamapoke tribe. They're some of the best craftsmen in the state. They can whittle a tree down to a toothpick in less than a minute."
Ann stopped to think that one through. "I think that's piranhas, and cows."
Ron didn't argue one way or the other. "You should check out the wood carvings display. They're almost up to Swanson standards."
"You know what I like about you, Ron, you're so generous with your praise."
Ron didn't have a comeback to that, just looked at the empty stage. "I wonder what's keeping Leslie."
"I didn't know you were so anxious to hear her speech."
"I'm not," he replied. "They aren't putting out the snacks until this official nonsense is settled."
Tom's voice came from just behind her. "If you're waiting for a show, wait no more, the Tommy train just pulled into the station."
"Tom, you're mixing your metaphors again," Ann said, before turning around and actually seeing Tom.
"Ann, are you struck speechless by my handsomeness?" Tom asked. "Cause I gotta say, girl, you looking pretty fine yourself."
Ann was to distracted to object to the lascivious look on Tom's face. "What are you wearing."
"You like this?" Tom pointed to the gigantic feather headdress he was wearing in addition to his usual Brooks Brothers Boys suit. It was almost as tall as he was. "Just a little something I save for special occasions."
"Do you think that's appropriate?" Ann asked.
"What would be inappropriate about celebrating the culture of my fine Wamapoke brothers and sisters?" Tom asked.
"Do the Wamapoke even wear headdresses?"
"How should I know, Ann?"
"Maybe because you're celebrating their culture?"
"Doesn't make me Wikipedia." Tom threw his hands up in the air. "I don't know why I try sometimes. You have no taste."
"Yes, I have no taste." Ann sniffed loudly. "What is that smell you're oozing?"
"Dennis Fienstein's Pole Dance does not ooze!"
Ann shuddered. "I want to erase every word of that sentence out of my brain."
Tom rolled his eyes. "It's a little thing called class. Not that I would expect you to understand." And he left it at that, determined to have the last word, even if the last word was 'flounce.'
"Think about it this way," Ron told her. "Someone might mistake him for a game bird and shoot him."
"I think the only bird he could pass as with that thing would be an ostrich. Aren't they endangered?"
Ron twitched his mustache. "They're not good eating, anyway."
Ann looked back at the stage just in time to see Leslie walking on stage. Her face bore the usual impassive, professional expression that Leslie adopted in public speaking situations, but Ann could tell from the skip in Leslie's step that she was worried about something.
"Uh-oh," Ann said. "Something shook up Leslie."
"Good," Ron replied. "Maybe she'll skip the speech and we can get straight to snacks."
"I can't believe your hoping for her to mess up."
"Not 'mess up'," Ron corrected. "Just not try in the first place."
"Friends," Leslie spoke into the microphone, then stopped.
"I think we have a code purple," Ann said to Ron. "That's purple for purple flashcards, which is what Leslie wrote her notes on."
"Did I do something that made you think I wanted clarification?"
Ann waved her arms to get Leslie's attention. She had to make her motions large to be seen near the back of the audience.
Leslie's eyes flickered toward her. She frowned for a second.
Ann took a deep breath and started miming. She brought her arms together in a big circle with broad sweeping gestures, then tapped her temple a few times with one finger. Next she faked a sword fight, which was difficult to do while ignoring the strange looks she was getting from the surrounding crowd.
A light bulb went off over Leslie's head. "Friends, we gather here today to remember..." Once she got her start, she was on a roll, and Ann gratefully dropped her arms with a sigh.
A kid next to her asked loudly, "What was that lady doing?"
His mom replied, "Some people have cultures that seem strange to us, but we shouldn't judge them for that." Contrary to her words, the mom gave Ann a strange look and gently steered her son to another part of the room.
"Are you finished now?" Ron grumbled.
"Yes, thank God," Ann said. "I don't know how much more of the speech I could have done. How do you mime out 'a bright future of cooperation and understanding,' anyway?"
New Year's Day
Ann dragged her feet to the front door, hating them with every step for being so heavy and clumsy and far away from the rest of her.
She reached the door after a good minute or two. It took her several tries to figure out the door knob.
Leslie smiled at her once she'd finally gotten the door open. "Hey, Ann, how do you feel about helping out in an urban beautification project today?"
Ann swung the door shut again.
Leslie kept knocking. "Ann, I'm joking. Let me in."
Ann opened the door a few inches and peered out, mistrustfully. It looked as though Leslie had been knocking on the door with her head, not her fist. "No working?" Ann croaked.
"No working," Leslie promised. "I'm a mess."
Ann realized, after studying Leslie for several moments, that her friend was wearing pajamas. Fire truck pajamas, a fishing vest, and one slipper.
Ann groaned as she opened the door. "Come on in, but just – don't talk too much, or breath, or anything." Ann walked back, leaning on the wall for support, to the bedroom. Along the way she had to avoid stepping in a kiddie pool half-filled with something she really hoped was water. "Did you walk here from your house?" Ann asked in amazement.
"Nooo," Leslie answered. "Do you remember setting up a tent in Lot 48 last night?"
"Neither do I," Leslie said, as they both flopped down on Ann's bed. "But I woke up there this morning with Ron, Jean-Ralphio, and Donna."
"That's a weird trio."
"Hence why I made my getaway. Even if I thought it was the last thing I was going to do."
Ann rolled onto her side to look at Leslie. "Sounds like we had a fun night last night."
"That's the general impression I have."
"Come on," Ann pulled up the blanket. "Let's greet the new year tomorrow."
"Sounds like a plan," Leslie said, and a minute later, Ann was asleep again.-
Ann Perkins, in front of a snowy, pre-dawn landscape: So, it's four o'clock in the morning. The big groundhog watch starts at dawn, so we're on the pre-groundhog watch watch, to make sure that the groundhog is in his hole, and isn't dead, or drunk...Apparently Pawnee has a really terrible track record with this. But I think this year might just take the cake.
Ann looked up at the sound of crunching gravel and hoped like hell that the approaching footsteps belonged to Ron Swanson. If anyone could handle this situation, it would be Ron.
Instead, Andy and April appeared, hiking through the trees with either great enthusiasm or complete antipathy, depending on which face you looked at.
Ann's shoulders drooped in disappointment, but she told herself to stand tall once more. Today called for steely determination, and sacrifice, and maybe she was starting to take this all a little too seriously, because after all it's just Groundhog Day.
"Hey Andy, April," she said.
"Hey," April added. "You look terrible."
"Thank you, for that sweet comment," Ann said. "I'm really tired, and I'm sure you guys are too, but Leslie really needs all hands on deck right now."
"Really? I figured there was a party going on out here," April said. "On account of the billion 'SOS' text messages I got at four o'clock this morning. In the AM. Which is a beautiful time to be woken up."
"Ah, come on, babe," Andy said. "It's kind of nice. We can watch the sunrise together."
"I hate sunrises," April answered. "They're disgusting, so bright and colorful and cheery. It's offensive."
"Isn't she cute in the mornings?" Andy asked Ann. When Ann just raised an eyebrow, Andy showed a modicum of self-awareness and cleared his throat. "So where is Leslie, anyway? I kinda figured she'd be leading the charge on this whole thing."
Ann nodded. "She's hunting."
"Hunting? Hunting what?"
"This conversation just got like fifty times more interesting," April said. "Do I get a gun?"
Ann sighed. "No." She turned to Andy. "Leslie's hunting people."
Leslie Knope, in the middle of the snow-covered forest, whispering: I've found a trail. I think it's a trail, I can't see too well. There's definitely a lot of footprints, and a distinct smell of hippie.
[she scowls manically, shakes her head; her pigtails bounce back and forth against her face]
When I catch those peace-loving animal rights activists, they're going to get it. I don't know what, exactly. But it'll teach them not to love nature, that's for sure.
Ann was trying to persuade Andy to take his sunglasses off, insisting that "Bert Macklin, FBI" didn't need to work on this case, when Ben arrived. He looked – well, like a government bureaucrat lost in the woods and hugely concerned about where he'd get enough caffeine to keep going.
Ann handed Ben one of the many thermoses of coffee Leslie had prepared and wondered why she didn't know more lumberjacks, or hikers, or even just guys who knew what trees looked like before they became paper.
"Thanks for coming out, Ben," Ann said. "We have a problem."
"Let me guess," Ben said. "One of the crazy fringe groups in Pawnee that seem to spring out of nowhere when its least convenient kidnapped the groundhog to make a statement about animal cruelty, so Leslie's trying to track them down and make them return the groundhog, meanwhile, if we can't find the groundhog in time, the ceremony's going to be ruined and Pawnee Today is going to blame it on the Parks and Rec department."
"Leslie told you already?"
"Yeah, she texted me the whole thing. It took like forty texts. Remind me to send her my cell phone bill for the month."
Ann adopted a tough persona. "Suck it up, Wyatt."
"Seriously," April said, helping herself to a thermos that was helpfully labeled 'Hot Cocoa' with three smiley faces. "Who doesn't have unlimited texting?" she added, and Ann suddenly knew, in a flash, that Ben Wyatt was going to get an unending stream of texts from April, typed and sent with no purpose other than messing with him.
She felt a little bad for the guy. But just a little. "Leslie's looking for our abducted groundhog," Ann said. "But if she can't find him, we have to find another one."
"You called us out here to dig for groundhogs?" Ben asked, uncertain.
Ben waved his hands, spilling precious coffee on the ground. "I don't even know what a groundhog looks like."
"It looks like a woodchuck," April said innocently.
"Okay," Ben prompted. "And what does a woodchuck look like?"
April smiled. "It looks like a groundhog."
"Great," Ann sighed.
"That's great," Ben echoed.
Andy missed the memo on the defeatist sarcasm. "Awesome. April, you're so smart."
April Ludgate, sitting on a log, while in the background, Andy Dwyer makes soft chirping noises and sneaks through the underbrush: If I were to make a list of the twenty dumbest things I've had to do in this job, this wouldn't even be on the list. Because there's so many other dumb things. But this is still ridiculous. What does it matter if we have a dumb groundhog? It's not like they can tell the future. Though I guess listening to a rodent is smarter than listening to a human.
Andy Dwyer, standing proudly in a thicket of trees: Most of what I know about rodents is about mice, and rats, and I don't know that much about them, except that they make for an awesome band name. But I do know, catching animals?
[points a finger to his head]
It's all about thinking smarter than them. And I am at least twice as smart as a groundhog. I have got this nailed. I'm a pro at catching animals. Well, I was pretty pro at it one time. And possums are like the same thing as groundhogs, right? Maybe we should be looking at the golf course.
Rodent Roadtrip would be a good name for a band.
Ann had just given up on Ron ever arriving when there he was, striding through the woods like he didn't want to be there, but since he was, the woods had better not get in is way.
"Hey," Ron said. "I got here as soon as I felt like. What's the emergency?"
"It's a disaster, Ron," Leslie said fervently as she burst out of the bushes nearby.
Ann tried not to have a heart attack. How did she even do that? Ron didn't look fazed in the slightest by his Deputy Director's propensity for appearing, suddenly and loudly, when least expected. Ann tried to mirror their calm, and found herself craving a reasonable, easy situation she could deal with, like cardiac arrest or anaphylactic shock.
"It's chaos," Leslie declared. "It's like the Titanic sinking, like maybe it was brought back up from the ocean bottom and then sunk again, and there are ghosts on it, and the ghosts drowned, Ron, the ghosts all drowned."
"Okay, Leslie, breathe," Ann insisted, rubbing a soothing hand up and down Leslie's back. "This is not the Titanic, there is no iceberg, and we are about 700 miles from the nearest ocean. Okay?"
"Don't you see though, Ann?" Leslie continued, much calmer now. "This isn't just some episode of Pawnee Today. This is about tradition. It's about the end of winter, Ann. Sunshine coming back into our lives. Don't you think that's important?"
"Leslie, we do have sunshine in our lives. Some silly animal doesn't change that."
Ron watched the whole process closely, finally growling, "You called me out here because of an animal?"
A trifle sheepishly, Ann answered, "The groundhog's gone missing."
Ron stared at her. A Ron stare was not something to be taken lightly. But Ann had a stare or two left on her, and she'd been out here doing work for his department for the last hour. She had righteous fury on her side.
Eventually, Ron repeated, "A groundhog has gone missing."
"The groundhog, yes."
"A small, furry creature isn't where you left him."
"In what way is this a situation requiring my attention?"
"Because we need the damn animal, okay?" Ann said, aware Andy making 'oh snap' noises somewhere in the background. She ignored him. "So would you use some of that – Daniel Boone thing you have going on and find us a replacement groundhog?"
Ron was as-yet unswayed. "What happened to the original groundhog?"
"Hippies got him," Leslie said, showing Ron the poorly-spelled note they had left. "He was kidnapped by hippies."
Ron went suddenly, impossibly still. It wasn't a physical change, exactly; it was more that the feeling of the clearing changed, like there'd just been a flash of lightning and they were all waiting, anxiously, for the sound of thunder to roll over.
"You want me to get you a replacement groundhog," Ron said. "I'll do you one better. I'll get you back the original."
"There's no time for that," Ann said. "Pawnee Today is going to have its camera crew out here in thirty minutes."
"I'm not going to let any hippie interfere with my department," Ron said, cracking his knuckles, which was a long, tortuous process, and wow, he should really do some yoga or something. Joints should not make those kinds of noises.
Before any of them could comment on the matter any further, Ron ran off into the forest.
"He's not actually going to kill anyone, is he?" Ann asked.
"Ron wouldn't hurt a fly," Leslie answered.
Ann made a face. "Yes, because he wouldn't think it was sporting."
"Oh, hippies don't put up much of a fight," Leslie waved this small matter of vigilante violence away. "Right now we need to come up with a back up plan."
"You mean you don't have one already?"
"Ann, I have failed you." Leslie put a hand on each of Ann's shoulders and stared into her eyes. "I thought I had planned for every contingency. What if the cameras lose power. What if it snows, or hails. What if the President arrives unannounced – "
Ann couldn't help it, she had to ask. "Is that likely to happen?"
"I figure that contingency into all of my plans," Leslie said, as though it were obvious, and okay, it probably should have been. "But I didn't plan for this Ann. I failed."
"Leslie, you didn't fail. You're here, making sure the day goes great. And so what if there's no dumb groundhog. We don't need some silly superstition. We'll make our own traditions."
"Ann," Leslie whispered, with that 'I have an idea' look on her face. "Ann, that was brilliant."
Ann was touched. "Thanks."
"Not the part about making up new traditions, that's a lot of bohemian nonsense. But we don't need a groundhog to have groundhog day."
"Oh, yeah," April enthused, somewhere in the background. "Because what we really need is a meta-holiday."
Leslie Knope, holding a muddy shovel: This is going to be fantastic. I can't wait for Joanne Callamezzo to get out here, hoping to find disaster and finding the best groundhog she's ever seen. Maybe not the best. But in the top eight. Okay, so this idea isn't the best idea of my career, but I think it's pretty good under the circumstances.
[zoom out to reveal Andy Dwyer, curled up in a freshly dug pit, with a puppet on one hand]
Ann Perkins, holding another shovel and standing by a pile of dirt: I don't know what's creepier, that Leslie drives around with two shovels in her car, or with a box full of woodland-creature puppet-making supplies. Look at these.
[she holds up a pair of googly eyes]
It's like they're watching her, everywhere she drives.
[Ann stares at the eyes in horror and loses her train of thought]
"You sure I'll be able to breathe?" Andy asked, which was a lot more practical of a question than Ann had expected from a guy who volunteered to be an underground puppeteer.
"We have to leave a hole for you to stick your arm out," Leslie explained. "So you should be okay on air."
"Can I just say, for the record, that this is a really, terrible idea?" Ben said. "Burying city employees alive is probably against some kind of regulation, unless Chris has really loosened up."
"We're not burying him, exactly." Leslie loaded up her shovel with a giant heap of dirt. "Just covering him with dirt."
Ann took the smallest possible shovel of dirt she could and closed in on the pit that held Andy. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather use this as an opportunity?" she asked Leslie. "If anyone could put a spin on it, its you. Make some speech about staying united during the dark days of winter, or throwing off the shackles of superstition? Or maybe just go on an anti-hippie crusade?"
Leslie hesitated, for a moment, shovel dangling over the precipice.
History – and Ann – may never know what Leslie would have done after that moment if fate hadn't intervened.
Fate, or a hundred pounds of human being tumbling through the air.
"What the – "
"Oh my God."
"Egh." The underwhelmed reaction was, naturally, April's.
The skinny man in question – who, from the frightened looks behind him, had to be one of the people responsible for the missing groundhog – scrambled to his feet and fled into the woods, making incoherent noises of fear.
Ron stepped out of the woods a moment later, dusting his hands off.
"Dude, that was sick," Andy said. He pulled himself out of the hole and held his hand up for a high five. He didn't seem to notice that it was the hand with the groundhog puppet.
"Thank you, Andy, but it was nothing a little judicious effort couldn't produce."
"So did you get the animal?" April asked, clearly hoping for a negative answer.
Ron pulled a knapsack off his shoulders and opened the flap, allowing a small creature to dash out of it. It made a line straight for its burrow, and Ann had to wonder if it would even poke its head out before next winter.
April shrugged. "It probably gave you rabies."
Ben held up his hands like a little league coach calling a time-out. "Ron, did you assault that guy?"
"I didn't do anything to him," Ron said, then after a meaningful pause: "He got in my way."
"Oh...kay, this is the most sinister Groundhog Day of my life," Ann said. "And it's going to get worse in about, oh, seven minutes when Pawnee Today rolls only the scene and finds us mid-hoax."
"Ann's right," Leslie declared. "We have to hide all signs of our wrong-doings. I didn't mean that to come out that way. I meant, we have to bury the evidence. The evidence of how much fun this morning was. While we were not engaging in any kind of illegal or unethical activity whatsoever."
Ron Swanson, on the edge of the clearing: I really didn't touch the guy. He took one look at me and ran off. Tripped on an exposed root. I'll give him credit, he did at least know how to break his own fall.
[jump cut to a moment later]
I don't need to tell everyone everything that happens. It's good to strike terror into the hearts of your friends and colleagues as often as possible.
[he smiles fondly]
You should see what I've got planned for them all for Christmas.
April Ludgate, in her living room, holding the groundhog puppet, which is now muddy, bedraggled, and missing an eye: So this whole thing was really stupid, but, you know, the puppet's kind of cool. In a really creepy way.
[she stares at it, until a hint of a smile creeps onto her face]
I think I'll leave it on Jerry's desk sometime to scare him.-
Ann Perkins, in front of the Parks Department: I can't even reliably remember what month Arbor Day is in. Apparently it's in April. Next week, in case you didn't know, which, let's face it, you probably didn't. Who ever remembers Arbor Day? Who even cares about it?
[She sighs, deeply]
You can probably see where I'm going with this. I mean, once you ask the question "who cares," it doesn't matter what the rest of the sentence is, you know the answer.
Leslie Knope, at her desk: Arbor Day is only the best day of the year! I know everyone's super excited to know what I've been planning.
[She pulls out a heavy binder and drops it on her desk with a thud]
Oh, don't worry, that's just my notes on the opening ceremonies.
"I just don't see the point," Ann said, for what felt like the thousandth time but was in fact only – she checked the stealthily drawn tally marks on her planner – the twenty-third.
Leslie's excitement was undiminished. If anything, she seemed to glow a little brighter with every protest she shot down. "Come on, Ann! What would a park be without trees?"
"A lawn?" Ann guessed. "I mean, I can see why Parks and Rec has to get involved here, but...the health department?"
"What's better for people's health than a breath of fresh air?" Leslie asked, then paused. "Hm, parks, trees, breath of fresh air, there's a new slogan in there somewhere." She jotted this down on the nearest piece of paper, not letting it derail her. "And beautiful, shady walkways are great encouragement for people to step outside of their houses and exercise more. That could be a new campaign for the health department! Preventing Obesity Through Healthy Encouragement of Arboreal Delight...hmm, it's a little long."
Ann thought that one through for a minute. "Yes, the length is the problem there."
Before either of them could get back to the topic at hand – ie, the relative merit of Arbor Day as a focal point for massive amounts of time and energy – Andy bust into the office, arms full of a colorful mishmash of posters and cardboard. April trailed after him, like a shadow ninja.
"Guys, you have to stop doing everything you're doing and come look at this," he said in excitement.
Leslie beamed at him. "Are those the decorations? Let me see!"
"You are going to love them," Andy promised, dropping the bulk of them on the table, displacing some project of Jerry's without taking note of his weak objection, and holding up an example piece of work. "I have been working on these for days," Andy continued. "This is going to be the best Harbor Day ever!"
The decoration in his hand turned out to be a large pirate ship, made out of cardboard and complete with Jolly Roger flag and – Ann peered closer – bloody pirate bodies falling over the side of the ship.
No one seemed sure what to say for a moment.
Ann made eye contact with April. The expression on April's face seemed, uncharacteristically, to be pleading.
Andy did seem awfully proud of that pirate ship.
"It looks great, Andy," Ann said. It sounded a little hollow to her ears, but Andy smiled even brighter.
"I am so glad you like it," Andy said. "It took me a lot of tries to get it right. Wasted a lot of cardboard on it, but I thought, hey, that stuff grows on trees, it's not like we're running out. Here," he handed the ship off to Ann, "you guys stay put, I'll go grab the rest of them from outside."
There would have been, in any other place in the world, with any other person, a moment of awkward silence. Instead, Leslie clapped her hands in a way that meant business and said brightly, "There's not quite what we expected, but I think we can work with it."
And against all reason, except perhaps that of past experience, Ann believed her.
Ann Perkins, in a close-up: Item I can now cross off my bucket list, if I had a bucket list, or had thought to put this item on there, which I probably wouldn't have.
[she clears her throat]
Point is: ta-da! We invented a holiday.
[zoom out to reveal Ann Perkins in a pirate costume, complete with three-corner hat and fake pistol]
Welcome to Pawnee's first annual Yarrr-bor Day.
You know, I can do that better. Yarrrrr-bor. Yarrrr- I think I need some water.
"So?" Leslie bounced up to Ron. Ann, following a few steps behind, wondered how she managed to move so much without disturbing either of the two fake parrots perched on her shoulders. "What do you think?"
Ron kept his vision focused on the crowd gathered in the park, jumping from one call of 'Arr, matey' to the next. "I think this so-called grog is an insult to a fine maritime tradition."
Ann pursed her lips and gave Ron a stern look, the effects of which she could not determine, as he didn't actually look at her, but if he had, it would have had him quaking in his eerily-period-appropriate boots. She was sure.
"The government is not in the business of giving alcohol away at official functions," Ann reminded him.
"Another failing on the part of the bloated, shambling mess that is our government," Ron said, but it seemed more of an automatic response than a calculated one, lacking any sort of vitriol.
"Right," Ann said drily. "Because teenagers would be so much less obnoxious if we gave them unrestricted access to free alcohol."
Ron quirked his mustache in a way that meant he was conceding to her, but wasn't going to admit it out loud. At least, that's what Ann thought it meant. She gave herself the benefit of the doubt; if Ron was going to be silent when she was trying to converse with him, than it only seemed fair that she could make up whatever imagined responses she wanted.
"So where exactly do the trees come in to all this?" Ann asked Leslie, looking around. "I mean, don't get me wrong, the pirate costumes are great, but this is still about planting trees, right? Making the parks beautiful?"
"Oh, totally," Leslie gushed. "Don't worry, Ann, there's going to be plenty of planting. Hm, that doesn't sound right. You'll be up to your knees in trees!"
"So they're really short trees?"
"Work with me, Ann. Work with me."
"I am trying to." Ann smile. "So where are these moderately-sized trees that we're supposed to be planting?"
"I'm not sure," Leslie admitted. "Jerry was supposed to be here half-an-hour ago."
At Jerry's name, there was a collective groan. Ann noticed that random bystanders in the area joined in as well.
"I have a lot of faith in your ability to be flexible," Ann told Leslie. "But how can you have an Arbor Day without trees?"
"We just need to stall. Jerry will get here eventually." Then Leslie muttered under her breath something that sounded rather like, "Or he'll regret it." It sounded weirdly menacing, but a moment later, her demeanor brightened.
"After all," Leslie continued, unstoppable. "We have trees. The park is full of trees! We just need to shift the focus onto the trees we have currently before worrying about the trees that have wandered off like Ents on a rampage. Now, what could we do with trees...Oh, I've got it. I've got it."
Leslie climbed on top of the nearest picnic table, almost kicking over the bowl of grog.
"Excuse me, can I have your attention," Leslie called. "In a few minutes, we'll have our first annual Arbor Day tree-climbing competition!"
"I'm not too sure about this," Ann said, mostly to herself, though Ron overheard.
"I think it's a great idea," he said. "Tree climbing is a good, hearty activity. And a survival skill for people who can't wrestle wild bears into submission."
"And what about survival skills for people who can't climb trees?"
Ron watched the motley crew of competitors assembling. "They'll just have to learn."
Ann Perkins, in scrubs, standing in a hospital corridor: Let's see, we had three broken arms, seven sprained ankles, and a concussion. That last one was Jerry, who has become the only man in town to be assaulted by a tree.
[she shakes her head]
All in all? I'd say it was a success. I mean, obviously the injuries are a bad thing, but when Jerry finally showed up, we planted the trees, and they looked nice. Oh! And Ron showed me how to make real grog, which, was actually a terrible idea. But kind of fun while it lasted.-
Cinco de Mayo
"Ugh, this looks like crap," April said, surveying her handiwork. Ann had to admit, the assessment was honest. "And I'm getting paint all over myself. Why do I have to make these signs?"
"You're the only one who speaks Spanish," Ann said.
"So now I have to work harder because of your guys' ignorance? That doesn't sound fair."
"That's life," Ann said drily, frowning down at the giant piñata she was attempting to construct. "The competent have to work twice as hard."
April smirked. "Well you look like you're taking it pretty easy right now, so what does that make you?"
"Frustrated." Ann stared at the instructions which, despite being supposedly in English, were completely incomprehensible to her. Her piñata had gaping holes in it, and more closely resembled a UFO than the burro it was supposed to be. "Do you get this at all?" she asked, handing April the instructions.
April looked at the paper for a moment. "You have that part upside down," she said, pointing vaguely in the direction of Ann-couldn't-tell-were, before picking up her paintbrush again and holding it like the knife in Psycho.
"Do you want to..." Anne was put off by the look on April's face, so instead of finishing her question, she gestured between the two of them.
"Do I want to what?" April asked. "Play charades? Become a mime? Make out with you? Because I'm married, and you'd be a home wrecker, and Andy would probably be mad that he didn't get to watch."
Ann wrinkled her nose. "No, I meant – do you want to switch, you make the piñata, I make the posters?"
April scuffed her foot on the ground. "I'd rather not do anything and just go play Angry Bird on my phone."
"Okay, if you want to get the teamwork and cooperation speech from Leslie," Ann shrugged. She's seen that speech work miracles. Sometimes she thought maybe Leslie had too much power for her own good.
"I didn't say I was going to." April dipped her paintbrush in red and started painting frowny faces on the poster. "I thought you were tragically monolingual, anyway."
"So you tell me what to write, and I write it."
April thought for a moment before grabbing a pen off the conference room table and writing something on a scrap of paper. "I guess that wouldn't be totally awful," she said. "Here."
Ann looked at the words carefully, and maybe she didn't know a whole lot of Spanish beyond what she'd seen on a menu, but she had a suspicion. "Now, if I were to google this, I wonder what it would translate as..."
"You know what," April said, snatching the paper back. "I might have spelled a word or two wrong."
Ann smirked. Maybe she didn't speak Spanish, but she was learning to speak April.
April Ludgate, arms crossed, standing in front of the conference room: It wasn't going to say anything too bad. Besides, no one would even be able to tell.
[to the camera]
Would I lie to you?
Ann Perkins, from inside the conference room, without looking up: Yes, she would.-
Ron Swanson, standing at a grill: There is no finer day than the Fourth of July. The government gives its employees a day off of interfering with their personal business in celebration of the day our great forefathers gave the King of England the middle finger. Everyone eats meat hot off the grill, drinks cold beers...and then, just in case anyone is thinking of taking away that sweet, precious freedom, America reminds them that we know how to blow shit up.
Damn it, I told myself I wouldn't cry.
Ann was having a blast. Ron was a genius at the grill, so dinner had been fantastic; Leslie had led a rousing chorus of patriotic songs that Ann could remember at least some of the lyrics to; and there had some fun, laid back games, which miraculously didn't cause any overheated rivalries or terrible injuries. She didn't have to be a nurse, or a city employee, or anything but a woman having fun with her friends.
Naturally, disaster struck.
It was getting dark, the temperatures dropping enough for Ann to put on her coat, when Tom asked, "So, what's the dillio, when are fireworks starting?"
Leslie waved the question off. "Oh, we're all having so much fun, why worry about schedules."
Everyone stopped what they were turning and stared at Leslie. "What?" she asked, defensive. "Something on my face? Something in my teeth? Because I didn't eat any salad, it can't be spinach."
"Leslie," Ann said. "You just told us all not to worry about schedules."
"So the only thing you love more than schedules is worrying about schedules."
"Maybe I took a day off worrying." To the continued disbelieving looks, she insisted. "It could happen. Possibly."
"Leslie." Ron's tone brooked no argument. "What time are the fireworks."
Leslie squirmed. Ann could see her physically trying to hold back the words, but she couldn't stand the scrutiny for long. "There aren't going to be any fireworks," she admitted. She raised her voice to be heard over the chorus of objections. "There were too many complaints about them from New Year's. I'm sorry, guys, but fireworks have been banned."
"How can they do that?" Tom demanded. "Fireworks are the best part of the whole day. They're like the Beyoncé of the sky."
Leslie threw up her hands. "I hate it too, but apparently a lot of people are anti-firework. People with young kids, people with dogs, environmentalists – "
"Pacifists and communists," Ron demanded. "And as usual, the government just rolled over and let a bunch of unpatriotic whiners have their way with it. Well, not on Ron Swanson's watch." He threw down his spatula in what totally should have been a silly looking gesture, but somehow managed to be defiant.
"Anyone who wants to remind this town what freedom is really about is welcome to come with me." He strode off purposefully into the night.
They watched him go.
"So, is anyone actually going with Ron?" April asked. "He's moving pretty fast. I don't think Tom could keep up with his stubby little legs."
"I do not have stubby little legs. They're petite, and svelte, like the rest of me."
"I'm totally going," Andy said. "This sounds way too good to miss. I just gotta finish my burger first."
Ann Perkins, on a dark street: Of course I went. I mean, it sounded way more interesting than hanging out in a park, watching the absence of fireworks. But I'm starting to think that was the smarter option. Did you know you can make your own fireworks? Yup, horrific home explosions are not just for meth dealers any more.
Ron Swanson, in his workshop: There's absolutely no reason to worry. I make my fireworks the same way I do everything important: flawlessly. I haven't blown up a structure since I was seventeen years old.
[he chuckles, fondly]
Grandma's gazebo was falling apart anyway.
"I would like to be on record as saying I am against this, because it is against city mandate, and also way too spectacular and awesome and freaking sweet to be endorsed by the establishment," Leslie said solemnly.
"None of this is on record," Ann pointed out.
"Shows what you know," April said, pointing her phone at Ann. "I'm recording the whole thing for Youtube. If there's a bunch of blood I'll get like a million hits."
"There isn't going to be any blood," Ron said, setting up the first firework. "Just the tears of our enemies as they gaze upon the beauty and majesty of a true Fourth of July celebration." He stepped back and held up a matchbook. "Who would like to do the honors?"
"Ooh, me, pick me," Andy stuck his hand in the air like he was waiting for a teacher to call on him.
Ron handed over the matches and the rest of them backed up to a safe distance. "Safe distance" being about five feet because none of them wanted to miss anything.
"Here goes," Andy said, striking a match. He dropped it and had to fumble for a second one. "You can edit that part out, right?"
April rolls her eyes. "This is truth, Andy, this is real life. You can't just edit out the bad parts. I'm capturing human suffering here."
"I got it this time." Andy struck the match, lit the fuse, and then made a dramatic pose for the camera. "Looks like it's going to be lights out for this rocket."
"But there are going be lights on, in the sky," April pointed out.
"Right. Okay, let me think of another one."
"No time!" Leslie beckoned him over. "It's about to go."
"Get out of there, son," Ron said.
Andy looked down at the now very short fuse and scrambled to get away from it. In the process, he knocked the firework over.
"Holy – "
Ron Swanson, hair ruffled, with streaks of soot on his face: That particular firework is designed to shoot a hundred feet up in the air and then explode. This one got ten feet up, hit a telephone wire, and then plummeted back to the earth, where it exploded.
[shaking camera phone footage of the events described, ending with a very close close-up of Andy's face mouthing "that was so cool."]
No, this doesn't make me rethink my stance on firework safety. Why would it? We all survived. Though it was a close thing with Tom. If Ann hadn't pulled him away after he fainted, who knows.
They gathered around the smoking crater in the sidewalk, momentarily at a loss for words.
"We should probably clear out," April suggested. "Think the cops might come check this out."
"Yeah, maybe this wasn't such a smart idea," Ann said. "I mean, that could have been a disaster. We shouldn't push our luck."
There was another moment of silence.
"Or, we could relocate and try again," Leslie suggested.
"That's good, too," Ann agreed.
The quickly loaded up the fireworks and sped down the street just the sound of sirens closed in.
Ann Perkins, in the park: Maybe we were a little reckless, and broken some city regulation, and "endangered lives," blah blah blah. But come on. Those fireworks were sweet.
[footage of the fireworks in the night sky; tilt down to show the group fist bumping each other victoriously as Ron and Leslie happily set up the next rocket]-
National Lighthouse Day
"Leslie. We live in Pawnee. There are no lighthouses."
"Actually, in 1897 – "
Loud groans from all around the table. Tom actually threw a paper ball at Leslie, which she ducked as she shouted, "We can all wear our pirate costumes again!"
Ron Swanson, in a pirate costume, standing in front of a landlocked, 20-foot-tall papier-mâché lighthouse: What can I say.
There are some things a man just can't turn down.-
"Don't you have some plan for tomorrow?" Ann asked Leslie. "Something educational, but fun, honoring the labor movement, or some really tragic person in Pawnee history, or just another reason to wear costumes and throw a party at one of the parks?"
Leslie looked at her like she'd grown two heads. "Are you kidding? Labor Day is for taking the day off."
Ann almost found herself starting to argue with Leslie before she remembered that a day off was exactly what she had wanted in the first place. "Let's go grab a beer, then."
"Sure! Hey, we should invite the department out. Ooh, and we can throw around some ideas for the back-to-school park-a-thon. I was thinking pony rides..."
Ann cut in, gently. "I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
"Yeah, yeah, sure," Leslie waved and turned back to her desk.
Ann smiled. Leslie could make notes for now, but Ann would make sure she actually did take tomorrow off. That's what holidays were for, after all.
That, and pirates.