Summary: A REALLY Lost Episode
Word Count: 3850
…And on the Seventh Day
Ben Cartwright felt very strongly about Sunday being a day of rest. On Sunday, he and his three sons would do only the required chores around the Ponderosa and attend their non-denominational, vaguely Protestant church in Virginia City or spend the day in quiet, peaceful activities at home like reading, writing letters of condolence to the families of former fiancées or playing horseshoes or recovering from hangovers. Sometimes friends came by or the Cartwrights took naps, or both (the Cartwrights napped with the visitors…wink, wink). At midday, they shared a huge Sunday dinner. Sunday supper was usually a light meal.
Each and every Sunday night, the refreshed and relaxed Cartwright family would gather in the living room. Each of the Cartwright would bring his favorite snack into the living room and the four men would enjoy the last hours of leisure together before the busy work week of breaking broncs, rounding up cattle and defeating evil doers started. As sure as spring followed around winter and summer followed spring, right after Ed Sullivan, Ben Cartwright, sitting on his favorite red leather chair would take the last sip of his not-yet-invented diet Pepsi and say “Change the channel.”
And just as sure as summer followed spring and autumn followed summer and every romance the Cartwright men pursued ended badly, none of his boys moved an inch.
“Someone change the channel,” Ben said to his boys a bit louder, a bit firmer. The three brothers glanced around at each other, hoping someone else would flinch and get up from his seat.
No one moved and silence filled the room.
Five minutes earlier, Little Joe had just come sauntering back from checking out his hair upstairs in his front-facing bedroom. (All the bedrooms in the house faced front.) As it was an early season episode, he had re-poofed his hair into a smooth pompadour to look more like Elvis. He would have re-poofed it to minimize the gray if it was a late season episode. Little Joe sat down on his assigned spot on the blood-proof, scotch guarded brocade settee next to Hoss. He was about to plop his feet on the low table when Ben cleared his throat (or perhaps a few stray crumbs from a Pepperidge Farm Tahoe Cookie, his favorite snack, caught in his gorgle.)
Either way, Little Joe Cartwright took it as a sure sign not to put his feet on the furniture. And his brothers’ sidelong glances and hungry eyes made him wary of getting up and leaving his snacks unprotected.
Hoss went on chomping on his favorite snack, Swedish lingonberry Mesquite Bean Dip with a side of rye wasabrod crackers. It was a recipe combo his mother Inger, My Love, Borgstrom Cartwright had concocted for a contest in “Better Homes and Ranches” magazine just after she married Ben. She was hoping to win the first prize of $100 or at least the “Better Homes and Ranches Cookbook”. Alas, she never found out if she had won as she died before the judges judged her entry.
Adam ignored Ben’s request as well. He sat in his beloved blue crushed velvet chair, and coolly continued chomping on his Boston brown bread dunked into baked beans. Then he took a long, slow swallow from his bottle of Samuel Adams Ale. He had half a Boston cream pie waiting for him in the kitchen but he wasn’t going to move toward it and lose the competition for laziness with his brothers or have one of them scoop up his brown bread and beans. His mouth watered for the pie that was sitting on the counter right next to the tickets and the bullet drilled poster for the ficfan convention.
Note from Prof. F. Sheets, world renowned Bonanza expert: Ficfan is the genre of literature that fictional characters write about their fans. All the Cartwrights loved to read and write ficfan stories.
The three Cartwright brothers were planning on taking Ben to the convention and to a swell dinner as a surprise present for his birthday on the 23rd of the month. They had found out about the convention two days earlier while they were rounding up strays. A stranger wearing eastern clothes was nailing up posters on a tree when they rode up on their horses.
“Who are you?” Adam demanded. He tried really hard to look threatening and sound menacing.
“My name is Andy and I’m from New York City… Forest Hills…” Andy said nervously. He hadn’t expected to come face to face with the famous, fantabulous Cartwrights that he had heard so much about his entire life and even before. His mother had watched Bonanza every week while she was pregnant with Andy.
“New York or Forest Hills?” Joe demanded. This Andy was one tricky hombre. “Which one, Andy? Which one? Forest Hills or New York? Hmmm…Are you trying to put one over on us? And Andy, is that really your real name?”
“WWwwwWhat difference does it make?” Andy fearfully asked, mopping the nervous sweat off his forehead. He knew quite a bit about the legendary Cartwrights and was considered by some to be an expert on all things Cartwright as well as a raconteur and a guy who collected bottle caps from Yoo Hoo chocolate energy drink.
“And just what are you doing on the Ponderosa, Mister?” Hoss demanded with a sinister Evil Hoss growl to his voice. He had first employed that Evil Hoss tone when he was in disguise trying to fool Pa’s long lost friend Borelli, the trapeze swinging Joker. Then, remembering “The Magnificent Adah”, Hoss decided to have a little manly fun with the nervous fellow. “Ye know, we shoot trespassers!”
”Yeah! We shoot trespassers!” Adam grinned recalling the same episode. He pegged a few shots over Andy’s head into the poster that the poor fellow had just nailed to a tree.
“And then, after we shoot them, we hang them trespassers too!” Little Joe smirked, knowing this guy was quaking in his vintage Keds. Joe started to macramé a noose from the rope that was looped on Cochise’s saddle next to the thermos of coffee that Coochie insisted had to be brought along on any outing longer than one hour from the house. The pinto was so adamant about that, he/she had it written into his/her contract with the producer.
“Hey! Hey! Hey! I’m a lawyer! You can’t kill me! I’ll sue you if you do!” Andy stammered.
“But you will be dead! You won’t be able to collect if you win!” Adam pointed out. He was no country bumpkin who could be outwitted by a trespassing New York City lawyer.
“You can’t kill me if you can’t catch me!” Andy shouted. Then he twirled around and ran off, dropping four free passes to the ficfan convention as he tripped over one of the numerous graves of the numerous doomed Cartwright sweethearts. He sprinted as fast as a bunny, having grown up used to escaping bullies who wanted his milk money. Nothing like wearing Keds to make a fellow fleet of foot and bully proof.
“Hmmm!” said the three Cartwright brothers in unison as they spied the fluttering bits of paper, a metro card for the NYC subway, an autographed snap shot of Andy with Queen Victoria and a take out menu for “My Favorite Dessert”, a famous NYC restaurant where the cool folks rendezvoused, and the four free passes.
”Dibs on what the cute little feller dropped when he jumped over Emily Pennington’s grave!” Hoss shouted out from the back of Chub.
“Why should YOU get dibs on what that Andy fellow dropped?” Joe demanded. He started to undo the noose from the rope but then thought better of it. He could give Hop Sing the noose to use as a plant hanger for his famous scarlet, artificial geraniums porch. He coiled up his rope and looped it over his saddle horn to bring home. Hop Sing would be sure to give him double dessert tonight.
“Heck, Emily Pennington was my doomed girlfriend,” Hoss spat back. “And that was her grave! That should count for something!”
Adam nodded in agreement with Hoss. “Sounds logical and reasonable to me.”
”Who do you think you are, big brother? Mr. Spock?” Joe argued.
Adam ignored Joe’s obvious dig insinuating that Adam was a Star Trek loving geek. Adam was proud of his love for science fiction and theatrics, and Star Trek was one of his favorite shows. He also liked “Lost in Space”. “I sure do wish it had been Laura Dayton’s grave!” sighed Adam.
“Don’t we all!” agreed Joe and Hoss. The three brothers simultaneously removed their hats and said a brief, non-denominational silent prayer of thanks to honor Cousin Will Zorro Cartwright’s ultimate sacrifice and eventual disappearance on the Jupiter Two with Lassie’s mother.
“COFFEE BREAK!” shouted Cochise, breaking the silence. The caffeine-loving pinto reached his/her right hoof over his/her shoulder for the thermos which caused Joe to get tossed head first onto the ground.
“THUNK” said Joe’s skull as it hit a hollow paper Mache boulder that Adam had made over the snowy winter. He had placed the faux boulder in that location when spring sprung, along with a charming cluster of adorable lawn trolls who vaguely resembled Uncle Gunnar and Grandpa Stoddard, and pink plastic flamingos Hop Sing had purchased at Mr. Tar Jay’s Mercantile at the Virginia City mall.
“Good thang this weren’t a real boulder and was only one of older brother’s nifty faux boulders!” Hoss stepped purposefully over Joe’s semi- conscious body and scooped up the loose papers before they blew into Lake Tahoe and choked a trout.
“Yup! “ Joe agreed as he scrambled to his feet, did a somersault and shot off a few shots aimed over Andy’s head.
Hoss examined the abandoned tickets. “Looky here, Adam! Joe! A ficfan convention. It’s on the twenty third of the month and that’s Pa’s birthday!”
“I sure like writing ficfan. Here’s one I wrote last night,” said Adam. “I love my fans so much. I enjoy how they debate if I was traumatized by Kane and the loss of my mother and which gal I kissed with the most passion and which one kissed me with the most passion….”
”We all know it sure ain’t Laura Dayton! “ Hoss snickered.
Adam smiled in agreement and continued reading “I love when my fans vote on the outfit that most flattered me and put me in lives of excitement and drama in far-off lands. Most of all I love my fans!” Adam had a flare for words.
Joe and Hoss applauded politely and Adam bowed appreciatively.
”Looks like we have a great gift for Pa! We can take him to the ficfan convention in Tahoe and then out for dinner at the Olive Garden!” suggested Hoss.
“Not Olive Garden,” Little Joe said firmly as Cochise poured him a refreshing cup coffee from the thermos.
“Careful, Joe. It’s steaming hot!” warned Coochie, who loved and protected his/her owner much as Lassie loved and protected her boy, Timmy.
“Steaming hot, like me!” Adam declared modestly as he took a cup from Coochie.
“Where should we eat if it ain’t the Olive Garden?” Hoss asked. He particularly loved the bottomless salad bowl and the garlic bread and the manicotti fromagio. He shook his head, refusing the coffee Coochie offered. “Cain’t sleep if I have coffee this late in the day. Next time bring some de-caf.”
Coochie rolled his/her horsie eyes “What do you think I am? A pack horse? Next thing you will be asking for a espresso machine!”
”And a pretty barista?” Adam said. Everyone knew he had been courting the lovely assistant manager, Sanka Folger, in the Virginia City Starbucks across from Roy Coffee’s office. Sadly, she would die a few months later in a freak accident when the latte machine exploded and she was hit by a chunk of shrapnel.
“Skip Olive Garden,” Joe suggested. “I vote for a birthday dinner at Hooters. Pa likes the chicken wings there and…
”… we all like the waitresses!” said his brothers in unison. For some reason, ever since the Cartwright brothers had started courting Hooter’s waitresses, there was a sharp increase in staff turnovers there. A couple of the girls had left town on the evening stage, a half dozen married former suitors who had been on the wrong path but showed up repentant, three had died choking on chicken bones on their lunch break and one had slipped on a spilled grilled chicken Caesar salad with the dressing on the side. She was still in a coma but Adam visited faithfully each Sunday after church and read her some of his original poetry and sang to her each time.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, on the particular Sunday night where we started this rambling tale, Little Joe dug into his tater tots, pork rinds and Creole bean dip with a garnish. This was his mother Marie, My Love, DeMarigny Cartwright’s favorite midnight snack after watching the Mardi Gras parade.
Editor’s note: Those Cartwright boys just loved beans in all varieties and forms. Perhaps that was one of the reasons so many of their lady friends died premature and unexpected deaths as well as numerous mine cave-ins in and around Virginia City?
“Joseph. Go change the channel!” Ben ordered firmly in a voice that rumbled like the Thunder Mountain Ride at not yet invented Disney World. “Now!”
“Why do I have to do everything!?” Joe pouted perfectly. He had years of practice and had brought the pout to an art form.
“Because you are the youngest,” Hoss snickered, recalling how when he was the youngest, he had to change the stations on the Not-Yet-Invented radio as the Not-Yet-Invented TV hadn’t been Not Yet Invented.
“When I was a boy, I would never dare to talk back to my father when I was supposed to do a chore.” With the toe of his boot, Ben nudged his youngest son’s adorable derriere. “Joseph, channel 4. NOW!”
”Times have changed, Pa. Get with it! “ Joe said rebelliously with an Elvis-like tone in his voice. Too bad Ed Sullivan wasn’t allowed to show Elvis’ below the shoulders or Joe could have wiggled his hips like Elvis too. Perhaps Joe could have wiggled better. “Besides, you didn’t have a not-yet-invented TV in the olden days.”
“Someday, someone will invent an electronic device to change channels and you won’t have to move from your chair,” Adam proposed.
“An electric chair?” Hoss said. sort of missing Adam’s point as he eyed the distance from where he sat to Joe’s tater tots.
“No! A device to change the channels on the not-yet-invented television, not an execution device!” Adam explained.
Ben looked exasperated “Sure, Adam, that and windmills and Jetson’s cars. Sometimes your education gets in the way of your thinking, son.”
“Judy Jetson is pretty hot,” Joe sighed. He always favored pert blondes and would love to take her for a drive in her car.
“You have a one track mind, baby brother!” Exasperated Adam shook his head.
“Who needs that sort of channel changing gizmo, Adam, while we got Little Joe!” Hoss laughed. He had his eye on Little Joe’s snacks. As soon as Joe got up from the settee, Hoss would swoop in like a vulture and inhale those goodies.
“Just do it. Joseph,” Ben urged. “Each of you boys had a turn at this chore. Now it is your turn.”
“Come on, Joe. You don’t know how rough I had it when I was a kid,” Adam said, taking a bite of his Boston crème pie followed by a sip from espresso.
“Blab la bla…snow up to your neck…up hill all the way, even going into valleys… Indians…poison snakes… venomous pigeons… blab la bla… no momma…. Coming west in a wagon with a geriatric baby nurse and Pa running out of not-yet-invented Pampers some where east of Cincinnati bla bla bla. Whoa to woe, older brother! I have heard your tale of woe more times than I can count,” Joe argued. “Boo hoo!”
“Perhaps if you could count, you could have gone to Back East U, like I did, “ Adam countered. He had earned a perfect 800 on the Math SAT.
“That’s right, Joe. When Adam was a lad, we couldn’t even change the stations on a not-yet-invented radio as we were far too poor to afford a not-yet-invented radio,”
Then, realizing this was a perfectly perfect moment to reminisce a bit with a captive audience, Ben explained didactically how, while they were traveling west, little Adam had to make do with stories around the campfire or Ben reading the newspaper aloud to his young son when they could scrounge one up. After Ben read the newspaper aloud to the child, they recycled the paper for their out house or paper mache tchatkes, like the faux bronze bucking horse that was on the table behind the settee and the real looking bull horns that hung over the fire place, or piñatas for fiestas. Adam was renowned through out the Comstock as a child prodigy of papier mache’. The Cartwrights were supporters of ecology and other GREENE behaviors long before Lorne Greene was born or even a twinkle in his mother’s eye.
Everyone west of the Mississippi also knew about Adam’s remarkable poems; east of the Mississippi, too. The boy wrote haikus influenced by nature and
morbid sonnets based on tales Adam heard from other pioneers or blank verse from the recycled newspapers. He was pretty good at drabbles and limericks too.
Editor’s Note: This was one of morbid, blank verse young Adam wrote. He always had a literary bent as well as a dark side that later manifested itself in his somber, mono chromatic beatnick-like Wardrobe.
An Extremely Sad Poem
By Adam Cartwright, age 4
Bad news. It snowed
It snowed alot
The snow didn’t stop
The got stuck in the endless snow & eternal blizzard
The Donner Party
They ate each other
The Donner party dinner party.
Check the weather forecast,
And be sure to bring ketchup, preferably Heinz.
Adam had neatly copied the poem over and over until it was perfectly neat, and for years, Ben had affixed the page to the not-yet-invented refrigerator with the precious magnets that said “I Heart the BoSox” and “CHEERS: Where everyone knows your name” that had once belonged to Adam’s dead mommy, Elizabeth, My Love, Stoddard Cartwright. That morbid poem stayed on the fridge for years next to Hoss’ 3rd place ribbon from the Virginia City Pack 590 Cub Pinewood Derby, Joe’s certificate for collecting the most cash for the Amy Bishop/Laura White/ Julia Bullette Memorial Scholarship Fund, and Hop Sing’s recipe for not-yet-invented crock pot roast pork lo mein, using Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup.
Meanwhile back at the ranch:
“It’s a minute to nine,” Ben interjected in an attempt to shove the conversation in the direction he desired before it got hijacked again by one of his boys. What he desired was that someone should change the channel before he missed the beginning of his favorite not-yet-invented television show.
“Just go change the channel, Little Joe!” Adam urged. He also wanted someone to change the channel on the not-yet-invented television before he missed the beginning of his favorite show.
“Just do it and be done with it, instead of getting your bloomers in a knot,” Hoss urged using one of his quaint phrases that he got from his “Quaint Country Phrase of the Day Desk Calendar” that Pa had bought him for Christmas.
“Bloomers?” Joe asked trying to sound innocent though he wasn’t… “What are bloomers”
“Underthings,” Hoss said. He knew that from the “Expand your Vocabulary Word of the Day Desk Calendar” that Adam had bought him for Christmas.
“Underthings?” Joe raised his eye brows innocently. “What are underthings?”
“Underwear, brother.” Adam rolled his eyes at Joe’s foolish comment.
Clearly the boy was just stalling for time so Hoss or Ben or Adam would finally get so annoyed they would go change the channel themselves rather than miss the beginning of their favorite show.
“Underwear?” Joe tilted his head quizzically.
Hoss himself knew lots about underwear from the “Victoria’s Secret Lingerie Calendar” Joe had given him for Christmas. Hoss leaned over and whispered in Adam’s ear, “Adam, Joe really don’t know from underwear. “
“Sure he does! When he was a kid, I used to help him get dressed every morning. He had loads of underthings in his dresser drawers. Red flannel Underoos with trap doors, Sponge Bob boxers, Fruit of the Loom tighty whities…. That cute set that had the days of the week embroidered on them….”
Little Joe smiled remembering the little girl he had won those from in a kindergarten “Go Fish” card game. Joe had drawn to a straight flush and won the entire set from Harriet Hanes (or was it Betty Veronica Dimplemyer, know to her friends as BVD?). Instead of her books, Teeny Little Joe carried Harriet home from school that day so a breeze wouldn’t lift her skirts. No one could ever accuse Harriet Hanes (or BVD) of being a sore looser or Joe Cartwright of being a sore winner. He even was invited to stay for milk and cookies and didn’t make it home until almost midnight that night.
“Ummm,” Hoss stammered, not knowing how to explain all this to Adam. “He ain’t worn none since you went to college back east…”
Adam raised his eyebrows in amazement and disbelief “Joe doesn’t wear underwear?!!!” he gasped.
Joe grinned and winked and confessed, “I go commando.”
Ben turned pale and seventeen more hairs turned silver.
“Come on, Joe, change the channel,” Hoss urged. He also wanted someone to change the channel on the not-yet-invented television before he missed the beginning of his favorite show.
Their father had finally lost his patience. “JOSEPH! CHANGE THE CHANNEL! NOW!” Ben roared. “RIGHT NOW!”
“Right now?” Joe sighed and handed his snack to his father “OK …but watch this grub, Pa. Don’t let Adam or Hoss eat any of my tater tots.”
Joe did hand springs across the room, then a back flip and three somersaults, all without putting his feet on one piece of furniture. He sprang to his feet next to the not-yet-invented television, bowed and changed the channel of the not-yet-invented television just in the nick of time.
Ben, Adam and Hoss applauded and cheered.
“Thank you, son,” Ben smiled proudly. Once again, he proved himself the alpha dog in the pack. “Now go sit down and enjoy the show with us.”
The theme music filled the air.
‘Dum did a dum dida DAH DAH!’ sang the theme music. A huge map of the Ponderosa caught fire. Four cowboys road out and faced the camera and smiled their special smiles as their names were superimposed on the bottom of the screen.
Bonanza had started.