Summary: The Giggly Sisters investigate the male nature of Bonanza, and the lack of somethings that drive the women wild.
Word Count: 2300
Joe clattered down the stairs, full of boyish enthusiasm. Even his curls seemed to bounce with eager anticipation. As ever, he was slightly late for breakfast. This gave the cameraman plenty of time to focus on delicious scenes of Joe in bed and you could almost hear the collective pulse of America beat a little quicker in response. His shirt was unbuttoned, showing the smooth, muscular glory of his impressively muscled chest and…
“Excuse me!” Adam interjected. He was a college graduate, so merely interrupting was beneath his dignity. “I’m the one with a chest ladies swoon over! They don’t call seasons One to Six The GLORY YEARS for nothing!” He gave Joe a sharp jab with his elbow and it was only due to Joe’s undoubted athleticism that a nasty accident was averted.
“Is that what they call them?” The redhead’s languid tones floated up to greet the brothers. “I always thought it was The GORY YEARS!”
Adam ignored her. He was getting rather good at that. The blonde smiled lovingly at Joe and shovelled another spoon of porridge down Paw’s eager maw. “Tuck your shirt in, poppet!” she advised lovingly. “After all, we haven’t sent out the normal warning.”
Mr Dortort nodded in agreement. This was a little precaution he’d been forced to implement, in association with the American Medical Association. Too many ladies were keeling over with joy when Joe appeared without his normal quotient of clothing, so unless an explicit warning was posted at the beginning of each show, the boys had to remain fully clothed.
“That’s why I wore that rather suspect leather waistcoat in The Savage,” Adam informed his family. He carefully avoided sitting next to Paw. It was bad enough that Joe was wantonly flaunting convention with the Giggly Sisters, but foisting a furry nephew upon him was taking things rather too far. “I wanted to go bare-chested, but the director told me that was a bridge too far. I don’t quite know what he meant… After all, ladies love a furry chest, don’t they?”
Hoss boggled away in disbelief. “How comes I only get to be bare-chested if’n I’m wrestling?” he asked. “The Duke and San Francisco– I get to show off my body there, but apart from that…”
Ben patted him lovingly on the hand. “You can get too much of a good thing!” he advised.
Joe gave him a hard look. “My pants have belt loops in San Francisco!” he announced. “But never before or since! Why is that?”
The wardrobe mistress made a strategic withdrawal. She was normally too busy ensuring the fit was just perfect around the butt to have much time left for incidentals such as belt loops.
“Perhaps it was to avoid little accidents – no extra fripperies for you to deal with?” Adam insinuated. Really, this graduate level vocabulary got a bit wearing at times.
“Boys!” Ben bellowed and was secretly impressed with his effortless alliteration. “Fasten your shirts – at once!” The glass front of the grandfather clock shattered and the barometer burst into a thousand shards. However, although these props were a mainstay of the show, they were very rarely used, so it was doubtful if anyone would actually notice.
“Throw down the Indian rug!” the blonde instructed. “I don’t want Paw getting glass in his wee pads.”
“It’s a blanket,” Ben hissed in an audible aside.
The redhead gave him a searching look. “Blankets are soft and cuddly. That is a stiff, hardwearing rug and I don’t quite understand why it’s draped over the banisters in the first place.”
Joe smiled tenderly at her. “It brightens up the place. And it gives fanfic writers something to refer to when they want to add a little ‘local colour’ to their stories!”
“How come Paw doesn’t go bare-chested?” Hoss asked. The little bear looked confused, glancing down at his soft, downy chest. How much more ‘bear’ did Hoss want him to go? He hadn’t put on his Fair Isle cardi yet, but he would before he went out to play. It was winter after all.
“Well,” Ben began, and Paw realised that once more he had been caught out by Hoss’ appalling diction. “I do seem to remember having my shirt open in one episode, but I can’t quite recall which one it was. Besides, a man of my age has his dignity to think about.”
“Ah,” Hoss agreed, wondering which bit of his body was his dignity. “How come Joe don’t have a furry chest like Adam and me.”
“I don’t know,” Ben sighed, for he truly didn’t. Not that he minded; it was nice to have a variety of furriness amongst his sons. It was just another way to tell them apart. Especially in the dark.
“I know!” Joe chirped, cheerfully. He didn’t mind in the least that he had a smooth golden-toned, muscular chest, because that was what the girls liked best. “Because you’ve got my chest hair on your shoulders and back!”
The redhead choked and the blonde became very busy wiping the porridge off Paw’s face as Hoss twisted his neck at an impossible angle to see. “No I ain’t!” he denied hotly. “Its all mine, ain’t it, Paw?”
“Of course it is, son,” Ben soothed. “Joe was just teasing.” He glanced down as Silverado, the sisters’ watch-wolf, came padding in. He was very young, and inclined to trip over his own paws when not paying enough attention, but he was very sweet.
“Even the wolf has more hair on its chest than you have,” Adam taunted, but Joe was sublimely indifferent to this.
“I should hope so,” Joe replied. “Wolves are supposed to have hairy chests.”
“So you don’t all three go bare-chested in the same episode because of the effects it has on the ladies?” asked the redhead. They nodded in unison. “Well, what about the mud-wrestling in Springtime? Your shirts were plastered to you then, and there wasn’t a warning there, was there?”
“I don’t think they quite realised what the effect would be,” Ben replied. He had personally found it hilarious when Hoss had almost pulled off Adam’s rug, and been very grateful that he wasn’t expected to play in the mud along with his sons. Hop Sing had been more than annoyed enough at the boys’ dirty clothes.
“Nobody seemed to mind in Queen High when both Joe and Candy went around without their shirts a lot,” the blonde mentioned. Her eyes lingered on Joe’s chest. She did so love the way he left the top buttons of his shirt undone…
“That’s because Candy, well-beloved though he is, isn’t actually a Cartwright,” Ben explained in patient tones. He was very good at these expositions. “But it simply isn’t feasible for more than one of you boys to go bare-chested at one time. It’s one of the facts of the show that you have to accept.”
“Like the Curse of the Cartwrights?” Adam asked. He sometimes yearned for a stable relationship that lasted for more than 40 minutes. Perhaps he might have to even considering leaving the Ponderosa one day, if he were ever to find his true love?
“I sometimes fear the curse started with me,” Ben confessed. “First of all, my childhood sweetheart, Elizabeth…”
There was a faint but unmistakeable chorus of “My Love!”, but Ben ignored this.
“She gave me the gift of a son, but alas! It was too much for her. Poor Adam was left without a mother and I decided to set out for pastures (or even prairies) new. And then we met Inger.”
The chorus was louder this time, but Ben carried on regardless. He’d had plenty of practice after all. “I felt she was made of sturdier stuff, but even she could not survive an Indian arrow.” He looked pensive. “Still, they were dreadfully apologetic about it and gave me that lovely rug as partial compensation.”
Hoss looked slightly offended at what seemed a rather inequitable trade, but decided not to say anything. He consoled himself with another large helping of ham, eggs, steak, sausages and fried potatoes.
“I knew that any future marriage might be fraught with danger, so for some time I continued alone, with my two little boys.” Ben smiled fondly at his oldest sons. “I soldiered on bravely, but then she burst into my life, like a burst of verdant spring – Marie: My Love!” He said the latter very quickly, effectively forestalling any further chorus. The last love of his life, dear Marie had lasted longer than Elizabeth and Inger put together, but had suffered a cruel death, when she was squished right outside the front door.
“Marie sure had staying power!” Adam said, just managing to keep a straight face. “But I still don’t see why two of us can’t go bare-chested at once. Joe and I for example: it would make a nice study in contrasts.”
“Something for everyone,” agreed the blonde, running her fingertips admiringly over Joe’s magnificent pectoral muscles and marvelling at their definition.
“Just think how effective the bath-house scene in The Crucible would have been if I had been shaving bare-chested!” Adam stated, fixing the director with a steely glare.
“Or if I hadn’t been wearing my long-johns in the bath!” Joe mourned. The wardrobe mistress looked apologetic.
“Poppet, if the world isn’t ready for two Cartwrights going bare-chested in the same ep, it certainly isn’t ready to see your bare butt in all its gloriousness,” the redhead assured him. “Not that we would have objected to seeing it.” The perfection of that Joe-in-the-bath scene would only have been enhanced if he hadn’t had to wear his long-johns. Or if the set-dresser had produced some clean bath-water, rather than forcing him to use Adam’s rather murky left-overs.
“We couldn’t have that!” Ben protested. Really, these girls had some strange ideas. Fancy thinking the world would want to see Joe’s butt – although even he had to admit that it was taut and pert… “Ladies would have fainted left and right and then they would have missed Adam’s wonderful acting.”
The redhead looked as though she wanted to make a comment about that, but Joe goosed her briskly, which effectively prevented the pithy comment she was going to make.
“It certainly is a quintessential episode,” Adam remarked. “And of course, that’s why I kept my shirt on – so they wouldn’t be distracted from my angst-ridden suffering, as I wrestled with my conscience.”
“I always go bare-chested when I wrestle,” Hoss remarked, rather missing the point.
Adam continued unabashed. “Of course, I wore my neckerchief as a headband to symbolise the fact that the world was turning awry. A visual indicator or leit-motif, if you like, for my suffering.”
“The fact it kept his rug in place was an added bonus!” the redhead remarked, almost managing to keep a straight face.
The blonde was mulling things over. “I suppose that’s why you never have any scenes where you’re all swimming in Lake Tahoe – the entire medical infrastructure of America would melt down with all the emergency calls? It does seem strange that you live beside such a huge lake, yet you never even seem to go paddling.” She stared long and hard at Joe’s delicious feet and gave a small sigh.
Ben caught the look. “You’ll have noticed that we endeavour to keep our feet properly shod at all times, young lady. Alright, there was that unfortunate scene in Springtime, where Joe’s bare feet are clearly visible, but apart from that, I insist my boys wear their boots at all times!”
The sisters thought carefully – he was right! Even when summoned downstairs in the middle of the night, as in Hoss and the Leprechauns or The Flapjack Contest, the Cartwright boys tended to accessorise their night attire with cowboy boots. The much-vaunted slippers of Cousin Clarissa were nowhere to be seen.
“That’s because I don’t like to button my pyjama jacket,” Adam explained kindly. “There’s no way the viewers could cope with a bare chest and bare feet in one scene!” The script girl nodded in agreement. She had enough trouble keeping up as it was!
“So you see,” Ben concluded, “we have to keep a measure of decorum, so that America can keep functioning. After all, if there was a shirtless warning sent out every week, nothing would get done. All the ladies would be neglecting their housework.”
The sisters exchanged a glance at this. Ben was somewhat tedious in his hints that their place at the ranch was doing the housework that Hop Sing tended to neglect. Now, the sisters were both very house-proud, but they certainly weren’t going to tackle that odd bit by the stairs without their trusty Dyson hoovers! Besides, their place was with Joe!
Hoss leaned over the table confidingly, and Paw climbed onto Joe’s lap, just in case he decided that Paw was his snack for elevenses. Silverado was already comfortably ensconced on the redhead’s knee.
“I knows where ya can git enough shirtless Cartwrights,” he explained, kindly.
“Where?” the blonde asked, eagerly. More shirtless Joe? Perhaps even shirtless, bare-foot Joe? It didn’t compare to the real thing of course, but it was handy to know as a back-up.
Winking broadly, Hoss whispered, “Them there fanfics! They’s got everythin’ a gal needs! Shirtless, bare-foot an’ maimed! I’ve even read them myself.” He turned a speculative gaze on Adam. “I didn’ know you done that, Adam,” he commented.
“Did what?” Adam asked, suddenly alarmed.
“I suspect that’s another story!” Ben declared.