David Nelson And Ricky Nelson
“Hey, Dave, I’m here!” Rick Nelson called out when he found the living room empty. Then hearing the sound of the shower from the back of the house he realized his brother couldn’t possibly have heard him over the rush of the water. He walked out through the sliding glass doors to the back porch of Dave’s cliff-hung bachelor house and sat down on a canvas chair.
It was Saturday, the end of another exciting but hectic week of work on the family TV show and on his own private singing career. He had two whole days tree and it felt good just sitting there, quietly, while below him the valley sprawled endlessly in all directions and a steady stream of cars inched along the Hollywood freeway. He looked fondly at his own bronze sedan parked in front.
It’s so easy to talk to Dave, Rick thought to himself, as he sat on the porch lapping up the last rays of the rapidly setting sun. When they were growing up, the three-and-a-half-year difference in their ages had often been a barrier. Rick could remember the days when he was nine and Dave thirteen; when he was still in grammar school and just a kid in the eyes of an older brother who was part of the high-school set. They always had their work in common and the closeness of a solid family unit, but other than that they’d lived in two separate worlds.
But now, it was different. They were both adults, he had his singing and Dave had his movie career. They double-dated frequently, talked together often about things that mattered a lot as well as about little insignificant things that were only momentary problems. It was a satisfying feeling; each had the other one to talk to openly, honestly, without shyness, embarrassment or strain. Rick was so relaxed just sitting and thinking that he didn’t even hear Dave’s footsteps until his brother was out on the porch beside him.
“Hi, Rick,” Dave said. “I didn’t hear you come in. I thought you said you wouldn’t be over till six.”
“I did. I was going for a gallop on Tink this afternoon but the trails were so crowded I thought I might as well come over early. Hey, Dave, I know you invited me up for dinner, but I’m hungry now. Let’s eat early.”
“That’s right, I did mention dinner,” Dave said. It all came back to him now, including the fact that he’d forgotten to stop and get some food. “Gee, Rick,” he continued, trying to get out of the immediate problem, “I can’t get over you, you’re always hungry these days. Used to be Mom had to tell you stories to get you to eat anything at all. I might have known you’d wait until I had a place of my own before you suddenly developed an appetite like a vulture!”
“If I concede that I eat a lot, can we skip the chatter and raid the icebox?” asked Rick, getting up from the porch and heading for the kitchen.
Rick opened the icebox in anticipation; it was bare except for a can of tomato juice, two apples and a nearly empty quart of milk. Avoiding his brother’s surprised expression, Dave busily occupied himself, taking two big dinner plates from the cupboard and setting them out on the low dining-room table. Then he went back into the kitchen, reached up on to the grocery shelves and found a can of beans. Going to the icebox, he took the milk, juice and apples and spread them out on the center of the table. Then with a flourish, as if he were serving pheasant under glass, he said. “Okay, Rick, dig in. You can have your choice of beverages and we’ll split the beans.”
“Quit the kidding, Dave. Take a few steaks out of the freezer.”
I’d love to oblige, but the fact is I forgot to buy any food last night and Mom isn’t due to arrive with her weekly shopping bag full of goodies until tomorrow. If you’re so hungry stop complaining and eat. It’ll do you good to restrain yourself,” Dave said, “you know we both should be in training.”
“For what, starvation?” Rick retorted and then, grinning, he sat down on a cushion on the floor, since Dave’s dining room offers no chairs but only the conventional Oriental manner of dinner a la rug.
“You know, Dave, I kind of like this sitting on the floor and eating routine; sort of like Marlon Brando in ‘Sayonara.’ But frankly this menu is ridiculous,” he mumbled, swallowing a spoonful of beans.
“How about some background music with dinner?” Dave suggested He got up and put a stack of records on the hi-fi, knowing Rick would soon forget about the lack of food and get lost in the mood of the music. The strategy worked.
A half of can of beans and a glass of milk later. Rick had forgotten about his appetite. “Dave, I heard a new album over at Music City yesterday. I’ve just got to have it. It’s got a great guitar background and some real good tunes.”
“Well, why didn’t you get it?”
“I didn’t have any money. But they keep open until late on Saturdays, maybe we could drop by and pick up a copy later on our way out. That is, if you’ll loan me $4.98, plus tax.”
“What did you do with the ten dollars I saw Pop give you the other day? I suppose you’ve been splurging again!”
Ever since Dave had become financially independent, on his twenty-first birthday, the plight of Rick’s financial status had become a running joke in the family.
“You know me, Dave, I’m a real big spender, I splurged on gasoline and getting a haircut and luxuries like that,” Rick said.
Dave, playing along with the gag, said in mock seriousness, “Hmm, gas and a haircut, that shouldn’t have used up the whole ten. But then I suppose the rest went for hamburgers and malts and that candy and soda pop you’re always spending our hard-earned money on.”
There was much truth in what Dave said. Whenever Rick couldn’t be found on the soundstage, nine chances out of ten he was over at the snack shack on the lot at General Service Studios where their show is filmed, buying an assortment of chocolate bars, cough drops and soft drinks. However, no matter how much Rick got from his father or borrowed from Dave, his pockets were usually empty. Gone were the days when they’d received a regular weekly allowance; long gone. Since they both had been earning a healthy salary every week for years, the time had finally come when their folks had just said that whenever they needed money they could ask for it. Money never had been any problem to them, except lately when Rick found it hard not to spend everything he had, down to the last penny. Of course, for the past year, since Dave had come of age and was able to
touch the money that had been kept in trust for him. as well as being able to get his hands on the weekly paycheck, he’d become an additional source of loot for his brother. But being on the conservative side, Dave had left all of his money invested as it was and kept himself on a strict weekly budget, banking the rest.
Digging into his jeans, Dave came up with a rumpled ten dollar bill and two singles. “I’m sort of short on cash myself this weekend, Rick. But to show you the generosity of my nature. I’ll give you half. You can have six whole dollars to spend on whatever your heart desires.”
Thanks, Dave. After I buy the album and get some gas I’ll be broke again. Just think, only two years and three months more and I’ll be solvent on my own. It’s not that I’m complaining about the situation. I’ve got to admit it, you and Pop are pretty loose with the folding money, but two years sure seems like an awful long time.”
“Well if six dollars isn’t enough, before you pick up your date tonight stop home and put the bite on Pop. You have to go home to change clothes anyway.”
“Say, that’s right. Wait a minute . . . what date’ Gosh, Dave, you just reminded me, I forgot to get a date. I did ask a girl out for tonight but she was going out of town with her folks. I forgot all about it until just now. By the way, where are you going tonight? Wherever it is, while you’re out having a good time think of me alone, lonely, unwanted,” he said, putting his hand to his heart to emphasize the drama of it all.
“Very funny. According to the magazines you’re the idol of millions of girls from here to Timbuctoo; don’t tell me you’re slipping?”
“I told you I forgot to call anyone. Don’t change the subject, where are you going tonight?”
“Well, as a matter of fact, I asked a girl out but she’s gone away for the weekend too.”
“You’re kidding, you mean neither one of us has a date tonight? Look, Dave, you’re the smooth one, let’s call up a couple of girls and ask them to a show or something.”
“You just can’t call girls at the last minute Rick. Even if she’s sitting home dying for the phone to ring, no girl’s going to accept a date at six o’clock on a Saturday night.”
I guess you’re right, Dave. You know, sometimes I just don’t understand women at all. They ask you to call and when you do they say they’re busy when they’re not. It’s no crimp to have a free Saturday evening. Gosh, Dave, I like girls who are satisfied to do things on the spur of the moment. But I guess you’re right, it wouldn’t be very nice to call anyone so late.”
“Hold on a minute, maybe there’s a solution,” said Dave, who’d left his floor cushion to begin chinning himself on the wooden cross-beam over the kitchen. “Come on, let’s get in our daily dozen, we can think about the situation and keep ourselves in trim at the same time.”
Rick hoisted himself up on the wooden beam and they spent the next half-hour doing calisthenics while they discussed the female, or rather the lack of female companionship both were faced with that evening.
“You know, Dave, I’m changing my attitude about girls. I used to go for the shy ones that stood on ceremony and played hard to get, but now sometimes I think it would be refreshing to have a girl act a little eager.”
“That’s because you don’t understand the psychology. Girls think they have to act very popular or else no other guy will be interested in them. I think they’re right in a way. Anyway, I still go for the reserved type. They’re much more of a challenge.”
“I guess you’re right,” Rick said, puffing a little as he completed his twenty-fifth attempt at chinning himself. “Twenty-six . . . twenty . . . seven . . . hey Dave, am I seeing things or is that thing hanging at an angle?” Rick asked, pointing to a Japanese silk screen on the wall behind the couch.
“From girls to angles . . . I see the connection! You’re right, Rick, it is crooked. Didn’t I tell you that when I moved in and started hanging up the pictures, I discovered the whole house tilts? It’s almost impossible to hang anything straight; if I do it keeps falling off the wall, usually when I’m standing or sitting right underneath it. Having a place of your own creates problems now and then. Living alone is the greatest but it does have it’s complications.”
“I know, Dave, but you’ve got it made. You’re only three minutes away from our house, close enough to home-cooked meals and convenient for raiding Pop’s wardrobe closet. What else could you want?”
“Not a thing. I’m very satisfied, only I’m just warning you so that you won’t think there isn’t any responsibility connected with this place.”
“She has a sister!”
“I see what you mean,” Rick laughed, “Responsibility, like having food in the house when people come over, especially when they’re invited for dinner. I understand, Dave; it’s not so easy.”
“Score one for you. Say how did we get away from girls so completely? Come on, Rick, let’s pool our ‘charm’ and figure out a way to get some dates tonight.”
“A good idea,” Rick agreed, stretching out on the floor with a bunch of pillows propped under him.
“Incidentally, you’d better stop telling reporters that your ideal girl is blonde and blue-eyed; you’re discouraging an awful lot of potential brunettes that way.”
“When did I say that? Oh, I remember . . you must have picked up an old magazine. That interview was months ago; a guy’s entitled to change his mind. The next time a writer asks me what my ideal type female is I’ll be prepared. As a matter of fact, I’ve been giving the subject quite a bit of thought.”
“Let’s hear the latest Rick Nelson philosophy on women,” said Dave, getting up off the floor to turn the records on the flip side.
“Well, first thing, I’ve wised up enough to realize it isn’t exactly diplomatic to give a detailed physical description of your ideal girl. Like you said, mentioning blondes sure leaves out a lot of brunettes and redheads, too. Besides, the real truth is I don’t think the color of a girl’s hair or eyes is so important. At least I’ve gotten to the point where I know pretty much what I don’t like about girls.”
“You mean there are a few things about the opposite sex that you don’t like?” Dave said in laughing disbelief.
“Seriously, Dave, I mean I just don’t like phoniness in anyone, but I can particularly spot it in girls. And I like a girl who knows how to listen as well as gab. I think a lot of girls feel they have to fill up every minute of time with conversation. They think I’ll think they’re dull if they don’t talk. But really there are some times when a few minutes of quiet can be a very effective thing. Another thing, Dave, like I said before, I don’t like girls who say one thing when they mean something completely opposite. And last but not least, I don’t like girls who are too eager; they should learn how to play the game of being independent but subtly enough so they don’t make a guy want to run in the opposite direction. I think a girl should be a little mysterious . . . oh, you know what I mean. But sometimes they play guessing games that make me lose all interest in waiting around until they finally decide it’s time to let you know they really like you.”
“You have been giving this a lot of thought. That’s the longest speech I’ve heard you make since the filibuster you pulled discussing the pros and cons of not having your hair cut, the last time Pop reminded you it would be better to switch from the guitar to a violin unless you visited the barber!”
“Yes, I remember . . . that was last Monday when I talked all the way to the barber chair . . . and wound up losing out on a close decision to Pop’s point of view.”
“Incidentally, here you are talking about girls not acting too eager and a half hour ago you couldn’t understand why I thought it was pretty impossible to call and get some dates for tonight,”
“You’re right, Dave. Which leads me to another conclusion: No matter how old you get a guy just doesn’t have a chance when it comes to girls. You can’t lay down any rules or specific standards because, well, like tonight, I’d be more than happy to oblige a girl who was honest enough to accept a date if she didn’t have one. But I suppose the best thing to do is just take things as they come. It’s really rough on a guy knowing what to do and how to handle the female situation. Girls are just too darn unpredictable.”
“When you stop and think about it, Rick, girls still have it rougher than we do. At least we have the choice of whether or not to ask a girl out. They have to sit and wait to be asked and that’s not easy.”
“Sometimes I wonder how people ever do get together. I used to think the answer was to go steady all the time.”
“I remember, you set the record in the seventh grade . . . going steady three times with three different girls within the space of a month, wasn’t it?”
“You’re exaggerating, Dave. It was three girls in six weeks, not four!”
“Pardon me,” Dave grinned, “how could I have ever imagined you’d be fickle enough to manage three steadies in only four weeks!”
“Take tonight, Dave, if we were going steady we wouldn’t be sitting here talking about girls; we’d be getting dressed and thinking about where to take them, instead of wondering what we’re going to do tonight.”
“You’ve got a point there. But going steady isn’t always the solution either. I’ve decided that when you get married it’s time enough to spend your life with one woman. Until then, it’s too confining. The only way I’d go steady is the way I did it the last time.”
When was the last time, Dave?”
“That’s all past history, Rick. The point I was getting at is that the last time I went steady we made an agreement that we were free to date someone else if we felt like it. That way, knowing I could see a new girl I liked and ask her out without worrying about hurting my ‘steady,’ I really didn’t even have the inclination to look elsewhere, I guess what it boils down to is that if you feel you have your freedom, it isn’t so vital to take advantage of it”
“Hey, it’s six-thirty, we’ll never get a date for tonight if we don’t think up something quick.”
“I’ve got it,” shouted Dave, getting up off the floor again and walking into the bedroom to find his “little black book.”
“Gee, why didn’t I think of her before?”
“Remember that cute blonde girl who worked on the show a week or so ago. You did a dance routine with her.”
“Oh, yes . . . say, she was real cute. But what makes you think she’s so eager to go out with you?”
“Not me, Rick, you. I guess it slipped my mind, but we had a cup of coffee together while you were shooting a scene and she told me she thought you were a great dancer. We got to talking and she admitted she’d love to go out with you. I said I’d fix it up but I guess I forgot to mention to you.”
“Swell! Say, wait a minute, isn’t she the girl that was wearing that fuzzy pink sweater that got all over my blue jacket?”
“Yes, that’s the one but don’t hold her angora sweater against her.”
“Don’t worry—I won’t, but she’s the girl who told me she had an older sister who was dying to meet you!”
“You’re kidding? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I don’t know. Anyway we’re even. You have her phone number . . . go on, call her . . . you ask for the older sister and then when you’re all set I’ll take over with the younger one.”
“Well . . . I don’t know. It’s almost seven o’clock.”
“Look, Dave, since she’s an actress maybe she’ll realize we’ve been so busy working all week we haven’t had a chance to make dates in advance. Sure . . . don’t be afraid. She’s probably worked all week herself and maybe, just maybe she didn’t make any plans either.”
“Well, I don’t agree and I’m doing this against my better judgment, but okay. Get the phone, will you, it’s in the bedroom. In the meantime I’ll find her number.”
Rick, suddenly coming to life, sprang up off the floor and returned with the telephone. “Here, Dave,” he said, setting the phone down on the kitchen counter, “it’s all yours.”
Dave dialed the number, still trying to think of what he could possibly say so that the girl would know he really wanted to take her out and that he was sorry he hadn’t called sooner.
“Well, say something,” Rick coached from the sidelines.
“Quiet, Rick, I can’t talk until someone answers the phone!”
Rick, grinning sheepishly and surprised by his own eagerness, simmered down and stood by while Dave let the phone ring.
“Hello . . . is this Mary? No, don’t go . . . wait a minute. If you’re her sister you’re the one I want … I mean, well . . . my name is Dave Nelson and Mary’s told me a lot about you and . . . Say, I’m sorry to call so late . . . I’m not disturbing your dinner, am I? Oh . . . well, let’s get together sometime soon. I’ll call you the first part of the week. Swell . . .”
“Dave,” Rick whispered, “don’t hang up, ask for Mary . . .”
“Oh, pardon me but is your sister in, my brother would like to talk to her. Good, I’ll put Rick on.” Handing the receiver to Rick, Dave looked on eagerly as his brother picked up the phone.
“Hi, Mary, how are you? . . . Rick . . . Rick Nelson . . . Oh, I’m fine. You know I’ve been meaning to call you, Mary, but gee, I don’t know where the week went to . . . Pardon me . . . oh, no I don’t mind . . . sure I understand . . . well, have a good time and maybe we can get together next week. There’s a swell double bill playing at the Warners in Hollywood. Great . . . I’ll call you Monday. Goodbye . . . and . . . and have fun tonight. By the way, whose party are you going to? Oh, sounds like fun . . no, I don’t think I know her. I just asked because Dave and I might go to a party tonight, too. I thought by coincidence it might be the same one . . . well, bye now . . . see you next week.”
“What did you say we were going to a party for?” Dave asked as soon as Rick had hung up.
“I just said we might, and it’s possible. Besides, we didn’t want them to think we were calling them at the last minute did we? This way it seemed like we just called to say hello and break the ice for next week . . . at least I think it sounded that way, didn’t it?”
“What a diplomat! . . . It’s funny, when I asked Mary’s sister if I was disturbing her dinner she said no, that she had a dinner date and she was busy getting dressed but that she loved hearing from me. All I could think of to say was that I’d call next week.”
“Well, there’s no harm done. At least we have dates for next week and I’m sure they’re not mad that we called them tonight.”
“I guess you’re right Rick. Well, we tried. Any suggestions?”
“Sure . . . let’s forget about going out tonight . . . there’s a real good old movie on TV . . . I can’t think of the name of it . . . you know, the one about those guys who take a trip to the moon.”
“Oh I’ve seen that one three times . . . besides, I have news for you, my set’s on the blink. The only picture you can see tonight is a test pattern.”
“Gee, Dave, I thought you fixed the set. Didn’t I hear you tell Pop that you got scratched up falling off the roof fixing your antenna?”
“You heard me . . . I did fix my antenna and I did fall off the roof . . . about fifty feet as I remember. You know I really was very lucky, too. When I picked myself up I discovered I fell in the only soft mud bank that stood between me and the valley . . . there’s just sheer rocks all around except for that one spot.”
“You were very lucky, Dave; but what I don’t understand is why doesn’t the set work?”
“Just because I fell oft the roof doesn’t automatically mean I did the right thing when I was still on the roof. I fixed the antenna but evidently not good enough. I called a repairman but he couldn’t come out until Monday. You have to get a special man who knows all about roofs that slant and all about the interference of the hills.”
“Well, that eliminates the moon picture,” Rick said dejectedly.
“You can always step outside and look up if you re that anxious to see the moon!” Dave said.
“I know,” said Rick, after a brief pause to laugh at his brother’s last comment. Brightening up and reaching over for the Samurai sword that Dave had mounted on the kitchen wall for decorative purposes, he said, “I’ll take this and you can put on one of those masks you have hanging in the living room. What do you call them again?”
“You mean the Kabuki masks the Japanese wear when they do that ceremonial dance?”
“Right. Now, I’ve got it . . . I’ll be a Samurai warrior and you can be a ham actor and I’ve come backstage to ask you to commit hara-kiri before I’m forced to use my trusty Samurai . . . then . . .”
“Next suggestion,” said Dave, showing his lack of enthusiasm for his brother’s comic brainstorm.
“Well how does this sound? Let’s drive down to town in my car so you can lend me money to get gas.”
“Wait, I’m not through. Then we can ride over to Music City and I can use the change from our ten dollars to get that album I want. Then we can come back here and play records . . . and we’ll have some change left from the ten after I get the gas and the record . . .”
“I suppose you have plans for that, too?” Dave said, not really caring what they did at that point.
“Why naturally . . . you know I’m very clever when it comes to spending money. We can stop off at the drive-in and get some food. We have enough for a couple of cheeseburgers and malts. You haven’t forgotten vou did invite me to dinner!”
“Okay, Rick, let’s go. By the way, are Mom and Pop home tonight?”
“No, they went to some charity banquet.”
“That’s right. Well, then if you’re really eager to see that moon picture we can stop home after we get your gas, and record and the food and use the folks’ TV set.”
“I’d just as soon come back up here and talk, Dave . . . besides, I just remembered I already saw that movie last month when I was on that singing tour. There were all those girls out front and, you know, I thought it would be great to meet one of them and go to a show or something. But I tell you, Dave, it’s rough being up on that stage with all those cute girls way out there . . . they ask for my autograph but then they shy away because I guess they figure I’m not looking for a date. If they only knew how I spend my nights when I’m on the road—watching old movies on TV! Honestly, Dave, like that girl in Atlantic City I told you about. The one with the ponytail who sat in the front row; the one I sang a song to, hoping she’d get the message. I waited back-stage for a while afterwards, thinking maybe she’d come back but she didn’t.”
“Maybe she tried, Rick. I heard they had twenty policemen at the stage door keeping the crowd in order.”
“That’s right, they did. I suppose it’s the best thing; for them, I mean. You know how it is. I think they’re afraid someone will get hurt if they let a big crowd just stand around. But sometimes I think it would be swell if I got to really meet people when I went around the country. I think it would be fun going out with a lot of girls from places outside of Hollywood. Well, maybe next summer when I go out on tour again, I’ll think of some way to meet a few of the girls in the audience. That girl in Atlantic City sure was cute, Dave. I wonder if she did try and come backstage. Gee, it wouldn’t really be difficult to date a girl from out of town. I could go to her home and meet her folks and they’d see I was lonely and away from home and anxious to know a nice girl to take to a show.”
“I guess that is a problem. It’s funny, toe because every time you go out on the road all the guys think how great it is, you with all those thousands of girls around. I never thought about it too much, Rick, but I can see how it could be hard on you. Maybe next summer I’ll go along for a week or so . . . between the two of us I’m sure we could manage to find some dates. I could arrange things while you were up there on stage earning money.”
“You’ve got yourself a deal, Dave.”
The Nelson boys drove into Hollywood, dateless. By the time they got through talking and listening to records and devouring their cheeseburgers and malts, the hours had flown by. At quarter to one, Rick said goodnight to Dave and started off down the hill home. Just before he left he said, “You know, Dave, it was fun, tonight, even without dates. Besides now I’ll get in early enough to get some sleep.”
Dave just looked at his brother and answered in two words, “You’re kidding?” unable to believe that his brother Rick would be content with such a placid evening.
“Of course, I’m kidding,” Rick smiled, “but it’s always polite to let your host think you’ve had fun!” And with those parting words he managed to get out of the doorway before the cushion his brother tossed at him could connect with the top of his head!
When Dave was alone he went around the room shutting off the lights. The last thing he did before he got into bed was to write himself a note in red pencil: “Call Mary’s sister, Monday, for sure.” A few miles away, back in his own room, Rick Nelson got out his little black book. Just before he shut his light off, he transferred Mary’s number into the book from the piece of paper he’d used at Dave’s to copy it down. Then, reminding himself to call her on Monday, he got into bed. He and Dave had had a nice evening, he thought to himself. Stag nights are great, but not too often!
RICK IS IN WARNERS’ “RIO BRAVO” AND DAVE CAN BE SEEN IN 20th’s “THE REMARKABLE MR. PENNYPACKER” AND U.A.’S “DAY OF THE OUTLAW.” THEY’RE BOTH IN “THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET,” SEEN OVER ABC-TV, WEDNESDAY, AT 8:30 P.M., EST.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE MARCH 1959