Summary: A REALLY Lost Episode
Word Count: 2000
Long Johns, Nightwear, Panty Hose On the Ponderosa:
A Christmas Tale
It was just before Christmas on the Ponderosa and the boys were having a hard time. It had been one of the worst years for the Cartwrights in many, man many years. Not since Australia were times so very bleak.
No less than three times that year, one of the Cartwrights had been wrongly accused of murder and almost lynched. Legal bills were huge. All of them were shot and beaten so many times that Pa owed Doc Martin tons of money. Joe lost a record amount playing poker and Bingo and Pokemon cards. Ben and Hoss and Adam all broke collar bones, kidneys and eyebrows and couldn’t round up the cattle. Since there were only 4 of them running the gazillion acre ranch, things were tough. Even Cochise had heat burn from drinking too much coffee in a hat.
The brothers stood in the cold waiting for Pa and wishing they had the moolah for a cup of Starbuck’s Cappuccino Peppermint Latte. Even if they only had one cup, they could share. As Hoss and Adam shivered in the cold, they watched Little Joe look surprisingly comfortable.
“You have to be wrong, Hoss,” Adam argued Adam-like. “Not Joe.”
“Dadburnit, Adam. Sure I am sure. He was wearing them sissy long johns!” Hoss argued with his older brother. Snowflakes were swirling around them as they stood on the nearly deserted street waiting for the stagecoach to arrive. Ben was returning from a trip to Stockton. He had wired that he was bringing home some good news and special treats for all of them.
Adam hoped he wasn’t bringing home one of them obnoxious Barkelys as houseguests…unless it was vapid Audra who liked to play “hide and seek take a peak” in the middle of the night.
The brothers hoped Pa would get home before the blizzard hit. It was getting close to Christmas and the boys were a bit worried. How could they spend Christmas without Pa?
After all, the last time Pa was late for Christmas, Hoss ate all the popcorn strings before they were hung and got an intestinal problem from the undigested threads. Adam tried to duplicate Ben’s famous punch and didn’t realize that prune juice was not a good substitute for lemonade. He gave them all the runs for a month. Joe insisted on hanging a real naked saloon girl on the top of the tree instead of an angel. Worst yet, the poor fallen dove almost died. Adam insisted on lighting all the candles on the tree and spinning his mini wind mill while his new Lionel steam train set chugged around the base of the tree. The boys were singing “Jingle Bells on the Range” when the tree went up in flames. Hop Sing saved the day by rushing in with basins of medicinal chicken broth and dousing the fire. Joe had to spend most of the day comforting the girl in his room and rubbing ointment on her singed body while the rest of them shoveled out the mess. Even the settee was stained for the first time in Ponderosa history.
“Come on Hoss! Little Joe? Our brother wearing something sissy?” Adam snickered.
“I know what I seen with my own two eyes, big brother! Joe was a gitting dressed this mornin’ and there they was!” Hoss said firmly. “He was hoisting up his pants and clear as day!”
“Come on now! Joe usually goes commando…” Adam said. “You know how Hop Sing complains about that on laundry day!”
They looked up and smiling Joe was striding down the sidewalk from the other side of the street. Joe had been stuck loading up supplies in the cold while his older brothers sat in the warm bank office finalizing a large pre-bushwhacking withdrawal of a massive quantity of cash…. Most of the cash the Cartwrights had that bleak winter.
Before they had left the Ponderosa, they had played the traditional “Poke a flaming stick in your eye” to decide who got to do the bad chores and who sat in the warm bank counting cash and rolling over Pa’s CDs. Adam and Hoss had tricked Joe by wearing those plastic droopy eyes-on-springs eyeglasses from the Virginia City Joke-oh-rama Trick shop. Joe took a flaming brand from the fireplace and jabbed it into his eye singing his lovely, long lush eyelashes. He was stuck loading the wagon in the cold. Hoss and Adam sat in the warm bank.
“What are you guys complaining about? I have been out in this bitter cold all afternoon tossing burlap bags filled with shredded newspaper into the back of the wagon while you two were toasting your lard butts in the bank!” Joe sighed. His cheeks were adorably rosy but he looked toasty warm as Adam and Hoss shivered as an icy northern blast.
“Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!” said Adam and Hoss, shivering shoulder to shoulder.
“Ha ha!” Joe grinned. “Not only did my singed eye rejuvenate, but I was cozy and toasty warm!”
“But you ain’t got any extra meat on your bones to keep you warm like me!” Husky Hoss said as he turned his fuzzy coat collar up.
“And you have a hairless chest, unlike me!” said Adam “Furchesthottie” Cartwright as he tied his black babushka under his manly chin. “How in the world did you stay so cozy, Little Joe?”
Joe whipped off his belt (it was easy as he had no belt loops) and dropped his tight tan cowboy trousers. “PANTY HOSE!!!”
“PANTY HOSE!!!” Adam and Hoss and all the gals from the Silver Dollar Saloon exclaimed.
“PANTY HOSE!” Joe grinned. “And the memory of the gal who gave them to me.”
“And how he won them!” sighed Julia Bulette. She winked at Joe…she never called him LITTLE Joe as he wasn’t.
Just then, the stagecoach came into view.
“PA IS HOME!!!!” Adam, Hoss and Joe exclaimed, jumping up and down joyfully as Julia Bulette yanked Joe’s trousers up. No sense having her future father-in-law disturbed by her knowledge of his not so innocent son….just yet. After all… none of those boys realized what had kept Ben Cartwright warm on those cold winter nights either.
On the ride back to the ranch, Ben tried to explain the tight financial situation to his sons.
“Maybe we should have let Will stay…” Ben started.
All three of his sons shuddered at the suggestion. A fifth Cartwright? When they rode out at the beginning of the show, just before the burning map stuff, they would crash into each other. Better to have Hop Sing in a Chevy Impala or Roy Coffee in a rear engine Corvair.
“We don’t have much money for gifts this year. Maybe we should just get each other something practical. Next year will be better. We are negotiating new contracts with Dortort.”
“Yeah, Pa. And if one of us quits, maybe they kin split the salary 3 ways.” Hoss grinned eyeing his brothers. Hoss was usually not that quick thinking but sometimes, like Rainman figuring out calendar dates, Hoss came up with remarkable financial decisions.
“How about sleepwear and undies for Christmas gifts this year?” Ben suggested practically as they tied their horses in front of the house.
After the boys sulked for about 3 days, they agreed on the condition that Ben would get them all really nifty birthday gifts and not serve any of his so-called punch at any of their parties. “We really prefer Adam’s recipe,” Hoss the peacekeeper explained. They also insisted that the next time they had a party, Pa should get a decent band, not that fiddle group that was always off- camera.
“Pa, you really got to stop wearing that… that… robe.” Adam requested. “Folks are beginning to gossip.”
“Yeah Pa, Mark Twain wrote a humorous piece about it in the Enterprise and Adam and I had to beat his sorry butt,” Hoss added. “Not that I am complaining…it was sort of fun tossing him acrost the newspaper office.”
“His head made a nice resounding thud when he hit the wall and bounced into the printing press,” Adam said musically.
“And folks are saying that Julia Bulette and Lotta Crabtree have that same robe but I know that ain’t true,” said Joe, shifting his tan trousers.
“How Little Joe know what kind robe hoochie mamas have?” asked maternal Hop Sing. He knew from personal experience that those gals loved to wear the mandarin silks he had gotten them wholesale from his number eighteen cousin Motel, the tailor.
“Joe! It is the first of December. You should have your wooly long johns on already. Remember. December one no more sun. April ten, boxers again!” admonished Ben.
“Pa that is what made Ross Marquette go crazy…wool crotch itch!” Adam defended his little brother. Besides, he didn’t want to wear his woolies any more than either of his brothers.
Christmas morning, after a yummy breakfast of cocoa and marshmallows, potato Latkes, bagels, and French Toast (in honor of EXPLODED Marie) and hot Lucky Charms (in honor of the Leprechauns who were all working for Santa that year), the men all opened their gifts.
“Ponderosa map boxers!” Ben handed his boys matching boxes. “Got a pair for me too! Gals love ’em”
The boys elbowed each other and winked. There might be snow on the roof but there was fire in Ben’s boxers.
“Matching flannel night gowns!” Hop Sing gave each man. Joe got Medium, Ben and Adam got Large and Hoss got XXXXL. “I used half the material for Hoss and the other half for the other 3. Got it whole sale from number eighteen cousin, Motel the Tailor.”
“Fuzzy wuzzy boot slippers with sparkly spurs!” Hoss offered boxes. “And hot rollers for Doc Hop Sing.”
“And from me, summer night wear. It is in gals’ favorite color — clear.” Joe passed out 4 empty boxes. “Sleep neked boys!!! And mints for your pillows too!”
“GREAT!” His family smiled at Joe’s jolly joke and noticed the mints all came from the upstairs rooms of Julia Bullette’s private Dinner club.
Adam passed out red gortex long johns. “Two piecers… no more trap door woolies for us Cartwrights!” The other men cheered the chafeless soft garments.
“Hate them trap doors on those cold nights after drinkin’ beer at the Rusty Bucket. There privy ain’t none too clean,” smiled Hoss as he hugged Adam.
“Joe never got a Snoopy and Woodstock nightshirt for Christmas like I did!
Lucky me!” Smiling Hoss holding up his new gifts. “Santa brought this!”
“And for me, Santa brought a new robe… a manly blue plaid flannel on one side and terry on the other with the Ponderosa brand as the monogram. It came with a bottle of bay rum after shave in the pocket.”
“And I got those quick-put-on black pants and boots so I can sleep ‘Au natural’” Adam grinned. “Santa out did himself!”
“Maybe it was Mrs. Santa that picked out mine!” Joe had a set of satin sheets with a western motif of bucking broncos for a king size bed. Inside was a note saying, “Thinking of you, Joe. You were a very good boy on the 24th while I was ALONE.”
“Har har har!” All the Cartwright laughed and poured some eggnog and their new fave, Adam’s Prune Punch with Pulque.
“GOD BLESS US Everyone!” said Hop Sing as he gathered up the gift-wrap and tossed it into the blazing fire.