1: “Boys Night Out”
“A pleasant, easy-going afternoon at the Nelsons,
It’s fall, and Ozzie wants to read the sports pages,
But Harriet reminds him to fix the table.
“Oh, yeah,” he says. He gets under it and takes a look,
But the boys come crowding under with him.
Cute as they are, Ricky and David, eight and ten,
Sometimes get on Ozzie’s nerves.
Feeling the need of a break from parenting,
Ozzie persuades the kids to spend the night
With Thorny at his log cabin, at
He paints a picture of a fireplace and popcorn.
After they leave, Ozzie and Harriet enjoy the quiet
For a while. “It’ll be pleasant to have the house
To ourselves for a change, won’t it?” Ozzie muses.
“It’ll be a little like when we were first married.
Just the two of us,” he adds romantically.
Because they ate it so often early in their marriage,
Before success and the kids came along,
Harriet decides she’ll make a Mulligan Stew.
Taking advantage of the romantic interlude,
She puts on a strapless gown, he dons a tuxedo,
But the pants don’t fit. Opening the champagne is a project,
And most of it spills on the floor. “Darn,” Ozzie says.
“Would you mind very much if I switched to milk?”
He puts on a schmaltzy 78 rpm and quotes Byron,
(According to the script) from memory.
A graduate of
He co-wrote and directed every episode of the show:
“She walks in beauty, like the night
There’s a lull and he asks her to turn off the music.
“Too many violins,” he explains. He misses the kids already.
A storm breaks, and Ozzie panics about the boys.
Harriet teases him. “Who’s worried?” he defends himself,
But not for long. “Let’s take a ride up there, Harriet.
You always like to take a drive in the rain,
And Ricky’s forgotten his teddy bear.
You know he can’t sleep without his teddy bear.”
The squeak of windshield wipers and the sound of thunder.
Ozzie, as though in a race with death, says,
“We’ve got to get there before the bridge washes out.”
The cabin is about ten miles away, and the interlude is filled
With a commercial for Roger’s Brothers International Sterling.
“The solid silver with a beauty that lives forever,”
The announcer proclaims, echoing Keats's ode.
When they arrive at
The moon is shining. They realize how foolish they’ve been,
Worrying about floods and Ricky’s teddy bear.
“Harriet, if you don’t tell anyone we came, I won’t either.”
“I won’t,” she promises. “Let’s go home,” he says.
But he trips over a trash can on the way to the car.
Thorny comes out, rifle in hand, loaded for bear.
“It’s me, Thorny!” Ozzie shouts. “Don’t shoot!”
“We just brought Ricky his teddy bear,” Harriet explains.
Thorny puts them up in a spare bedroom.
It’s late, they’re in bed, but Ozzie remembers
He still hasn’t given Ricky his teddy bear.
So he tiptoes into the room where the boys are sleeping.
“Ricky? Ricky? Wake up!” “What is it, pop?”
David says sleepily. “Oh, I thought you were Ricky.”
“He’s over there, pop.” Ozzie wakes Ricky.
When Ozzie puts the bear in Rickey's face,
He thinks he’s having a nightmare.
“I’m being attacked by a bear,” Rickey howls.
Thorny bursts in with his rifle,
Shooting the teddy bear between the eyes.
“Look what you’ve done,” Ozzie groans.
“It’s all right, pop,” Ricky says. “I hated that teddy bear.”
2: Ode on a
The cuddly kid turned into
A clean-cut rock and roller: Elvis Lite.
He got trapped in a marriage made in hell.
He and his wife moved into Errol Flynn’s old mansion
Where they lived happily never after.
No Mulligan Stew, no schmaltzy 78 rpms,
Nothing but drugs, sex, and rock and roll.
Ricky came to hate her like the teddy bear
Thorny shot between the eyes.
The aging idol swam against the shifting tide
Of popular music, the crow’s feet, the expanding waist.
He began to look like Elvis at his worst
Or Roy Orbison at his best.
Always shy, the baby of the family,
He withdrew behind the Cocaine Curtain,
No longer the cute kid girls screamed over.
Having lived through the square 1950s,
He was surprised when he remembered them fondly.
He learned what the cutest kid in every class learns –
That it’s all down hill after the ninth grade.
Free-basing, he was on the road to nowhere.
And in the end it came to this:
Of his pre-owned DC-3 deep in the heart of
On his way to do a New Year’s show in
The home of the Cowboys,
Where American dreams come to rust,
Where school kids cheered when they heard
President Kennedy had been shot,
Like the teddy bear Ricky had always hated.