Ch 16- Eb in Charge

The senior Douglas' had reaffirmed their love for one another by having a divorce renewal. Eunice and Richard gathered friends, family and acquaintances for the divorce proceedings. Eunice brought Oliver, Lisa and the triplets. Meanwhile, Richard saw fit to bring a date, a contemptible young woman who was so flashy and slutty she made the glamorous Lisa, and in a sense even her stunning sister, look like stuffy prudes. The reception, was, of course, well attended by the cream of society…with the noticeable absence of Mr. and Mrs. Thurston Howell, III a couple who had been Richard and Eunice's best friends for decades but had disappeared at sea on a small touring vessel several years earlier.

At he end of the party, the entire Douglas family went their separate ways. Richard and his new girlfriend went to the Bahamas. Eunice went off to Paris and Monte Carlo with friends. And Oliver, Lisa and the triplets finally went home.

Before Oliver and Lisa knew it, months had flown by and the triplets were two. They were stunned at how much bigger, talkative and adventurous their children had suddenly become.

"Hi guys." Oliver said, coming into the house.

"Hi Daddy!" Nicky greeted.

It was late in the evening and dinner was just about to be served. The triplets looked down at their plates apprehensively. After almost three years on the farm, Lisa was still a deplorable cook and Oliver was concerned that the babies were not getting nearly enough to eat now that they were no longer eating baby food.

"Hey are you guys hungry?" Oliver asked. The triplets nodded quickly.

"Don't vorry dahlings! Dinner is vready! Shee (see) hotscakes classic!" Lisa smiled.

"Hotcakes classic?" Oliver questioned, raising an eyebrow as Lisa served him a plain old regular hotcake.

"Hotscake yucky!" Nicky smiled as he dropped it on the floor, he leaned over the side of his hi-chair and watched it fall to the ground with a loud thud.

"That's my boy!" Oliver praised.

The girls copied their brother and shoved their hotcakes onto the kitchen floor as well as they began to giggle. Oliver smiled and joined his daughters in their laughter. The whole thing would be pretty funny…if it weren't truly so terrifying.

"Oh, so I suppose you think you could do better, Mr. Vise Guy!" Lisa was outraged.

"Yes. I do." Oliver admitted.

"Vell I…"

"Mr. Douglas, Mr. Douglas!" Eb called.

"What is it?" He gave an exasperated sigh as Eb ran into the kitchen.

"Dad, look at the tomaters, they're all flat."

"Flat!" Oliver yelled. "Let me see that." He grabbed the tomato out of Eb's hand, accidently squeezing it too harshly. It oozed all over his hand with ease.

"Hey, Dad now you've got ketchup all over your hands."

"Eb, I!"

"Vell! If I vere the farmer, I vouldn't grow square ketchup, that's for sure!" Lisa teased.

"Okay. Okay. How about this Lisa? I have a proposal for you."

"Vhat carrot of diamond?" She teased, maintaining her serious tone and narrowing her eyes.

"Do you really think you could be better at farming than me?"

"Ofs course!" She burst.

"Well, I think I could feed these kids better than you. So how about this, lets switch places…see who does better." Oliver proposed.

"Oh no, I don't wanna be around for this, I'm going to my room!" Eb's eyes grew big and he turned to run out the back of the kitchen door.

"Oh no you don't Eb, if I'm going to be the farmah, it looks like ve'll be vorking togethah!" Lisa smiled, indicating that she was accepting her husband's rather unique challenge.

"Great Lisa, we'll start tomorrow morning!"

"Good morning Olivah!" Oliver was startled when his wife woke him up. She stood over him, clad head to toe in diamonds and denim.

"Lisa, it's five o'clock in the morning." He mumbled, rolling back over.

"Good farmahs get up before the crack of dawn."

"That's right."

"And so do farm vives! Get up Olivah!"

"Alright, alright Lisa." He laughed. He usually didn't get up before the rooster crowed and she certainly didn't. Her change in attitude intreaged him greatly.

Oliver put on one of his regular suits for his first day as a farm/house husband. He brought the triplets downstairs and began to make waffles, not hotcakes in the kitchen. The triplets sat on the floor, playing with pots and pans as they did every morning. They were excited about the idea of their father making the breakfast. They'd never seen him cook before and they hoped that maybe they'd get something decent to eat.

"Good luck Olivah." Lisa said, kissing his cheek from behind and wrapping one of her aprons around his waist.

"Lisa I don't need."

"Yes you vill dahling." She reassured. "Now after breakfast, you'll need to go to Drucker's and the…"

"Lisa, Lisa, we've switched roles, honey I'll take care of everything in the house, you take care of everything on the farm."

"Alvight, but you…"

"Lisa." He warned.

"Dahling, you just need to know, it's the ladies every othah Vendsday Afternoon Discussion Club today…"

"Oh."

"And you have to be there by 11:30."

"What?"

"Yes…"

"Oh wait…today's the Hooterville Farmer's meeting too."

"Vell then you meet vith the ladies and I'll meet vith the farmahs!"

"Oh, Lisa, wait!" He said, grabbing her hand as she went out the back door and following her outside.

"Olivah, you did say ve vere going to svitch places. We might as vell just get it over vith."

"Your right darling." He said, kissing her softly and sending her out into the field to begin her first day as a farmer. "Oh no! The waffles are burning!" Oliver exclaimed, running back into the house where he saw the waffles on fire. He quickly extinguished the flames and threw them into the sink.

"You think that's funny, don't you?" Oliver asked. The triplets sat on the floor and giggled at their Dad.

"No burnt hotscakes!" Gizi squealed.

"No guys, no burnt hots..ah hotcakes."

Not knowing what else to do, and not wanting to admit defeat, Oliver took the triplets with him to the Shady Rest early to see if Mrs. Bradley would feed them. Sure enough, Kate was more than happy to help. Oliver was overwhelmed, quickly taking note that the triplets ate more than they could reasonably keep down and faster than they should that was for sure. He felt guilty, like he was a failed parent….okay, so he didn't know how to cook…but he was smart, he was a lawyer, if his wife couldn't learn…maybe he could.

"Oh Mr. Douglas, it'll be okay. How about you stay for a while after the meeting and spend some time cooking with me." Kate offered. He was relieved that she suggested, saving him the embarrassment. But he knew Kate Bradley had a way of reading people's mind.

"Alright, you know, Lisa wouldn't even have gotten to hotcakes without you." He reflected.

"That's right, isn't it?" She laughed.

But before the cooking lessons came the meeting. The ladies were shocked and almost offended to see that Mr. Douglas had come to the meeting in his wife's place. Oliver tried desperately to explain the situation, but his story was met with the disapproving and confused opinions of stuffy old country ladies. Oliver stayed after the meeting and cooked with Kate and Mrs. Ziffle, who stayed behind to help. He was dismayed when he devastated the Shady Rest's kitchen…filling the lobby with smoke and causing Joe Carson to go into panic mode. Kate was able to calm her Uncle down as he hurriedly tried to evacuate the entire hotel and called for Floyd and Charlie to bring water. Once the mess was cleared, and he'd been assured of Kate's forgiveness, he and the triplets went home in a worried daze.

Meanwhile, Lisa and Eb went to the Hooterville Farmer's Meeting. All the farmers in Hooterville turned and stared when they saw Mrs. Douglas walk into the room instead of her grouchy husband.

"What's she doin here? She's the most beautiful woman in all the valley!" They whispered amongst each other.

Everyone greeted Lisa kindly, but nervously. What would their wives think if she was at their meeting? Surely she'd be missed at the Ladies Every Other Afternoon Discussion Club! The only face that looked at her skeptically was: Amy. The valley's only female farmer who had "befriended" Oliver a year earlier. Amy snickered and rolled her eyes as Lisa and Eb went to sit down. Lisa did her best to ignore her and focused on the proceedings of the meeting.

"Oh uh, hi Mrs. Douglas." Mr. Kimball laughed. "Mr. Douglas sick or something?"

"Oh no Mr. Kimball, I'm the farmah in the family now!"

"That's right, because Mom says she won't grow square tomaters." Eb added.

"That's vright."

All the farmers, were silent for a minute and then they all, except Amy, burst into thunderous applause.

"That's great Mrs. Douglas." Mr. Ziffel began.

"We have great confidence in you." Arnold oinked.

"Vell thank you!"

"What do you know about farming?" Amy asked. "You know…other than fu."

"You mean, p-h!" Lisa chimed cheerily.

"Well, she does know something about soil acidity." Mr. Kimball remarked.

"Well. We still have to see if she passes."

"Passes vhat!" Lisa asked.

"Oh Mrs. Douglas, I forgot to tell you." Eb began, "You have to pass a test to see if you can farm in Hooterville."

"And Amy here is the administrator of the exam." Mr. Kimball informed. Amy smiled at Lisa mischievously and Lisa immediately knew that she was done for as a Hooterville farmer.

The meeting quickly and excitedly disbanded when they realized they had a test to administer. Everyone, accepting Amy, hoped they could admit a new farmer to their society…especially one as pretty and nice as Mrs. Douglas. Lisa and Eb went over to Amy's farm for the arduous test, which consisted of a seed planting game and a written portion. Lisa would've failed no matter how badly she did, given Amy's dislike of her but she honestly did very poorly on her own merit.

"What are you doing Mrs. Douglas…that's not how you plant seeds!" Amy asked. Lisa was walking/dancing through the field and was singing something that sounded very…foreign to Amy's Midwestern American ears. Lisa casually tossed each little seed over her shoulder, as if she didn't care where or how it fell. Eb watched his "mother" as she did this and wondered what the story was, he knew there would be a story and a reasoning for why she was planting this way.

"It's the vay the Gypsies plant the seeds! Ve're blessing them by singing and dancing." Lisa exclaimed.

"Sorry. No dancing in Hooterville." Amy wrote a big zero on her clipboard for Lisa's score.

"Yeah. And I'm sorry Mrs. Douglas." Said Mr. Kimball who was also in attendance. "You need a license for field dancing in Hooterville, I'm going to have to fine you!"

Lisa gave an exhasperated sigh and moved on to the written test as instructed.

"Time's up!" Amy announced twenty minutes later. "What's this?" She asked of the strange writing.

"I only know how to vrite in Hungarian." Lisa explained.

"Sorry Mrs. Douglas…that's a zero. You fail!"

"Fail! Vhy…that's not fair. My husband passed and look he's the vorld's vorst farmah!"

"Not only did he pass." Eb laughed. "He received the highest score in Hooterville history."

Lisa was aghast and allowed her mouth to drop open, that was further proof that she should have passed.

"Shee (see) it's an inaccurate test!"

"Sorry Mrs. Douglas. You failed." Amy smirked.

Oliver had tried to make spaghetti that night and had failed miserably, when it was supposed to be done it was all burnt, black and clumped together. He was frustrated and sat down at the table, nearly in tears.

"I miss Mommy." Nicky said.

"Mama!" Zsizsi began to cry.

"Where's Mommy?" Gizi asked as she too began to cry.

"Oh guys, Daddy'll figure it out, it's going to be alright.

The triplets continued crying, they were not used to spending this much time without her. Just then, Lisa came in crying too.

"Honey, what's the matter?" Oliver asked, concerned immediately. He took Lisa in his arms and held her tightly.

"Oh Olivah, I've failed as a farmah!"

"What?"

"Dad, Mom failed the Hooterville farmer's test!" Eb announced.

"Oh…I'm sorry Lisa." He said, sweetly drying her tears. He'd forgotten all about that test, it had been so simple.

"How did you do with the cooking? Vhat are ve having for dinner?" She asked, quickly changing the subject. Lisa was starving. She had no idea that failing at farming would make her quite so hungry or tired.

"Oh well uh…" He didn't really want to admit to her that he'd failed at his task as well. "Honey I…"

"Daddy bad cook." Gizi announced for him.

Oliver lowered his head in shame, resting it gently at the top of Lisa's forehead. Lisa began to laugh, and grabbed Oliver's cheeks pulling his face down so his blue eyes could meet her gaze.

"Oh dahling it's alvight, ve tried something new. I think I better go back to being the Mommy and you go back to being the farmah."

"But Lisa, they're starving. They…"

"Alright." Eb gave an exasperated sigh and grabbed the apron out of Oliver's hand.

"What?" Oliver questioned as he watched his farmhand/adopted son begin to put on the apron Lisa'd handed him that morning. Eb adjusted his cap.

"Your new chef at your service sir!" He announced, showing his country-boy grin.

"What!" Oliver yelled now.

"That's vright! Eb's a great cook!" Lisa recalled.

"Yeah, and you would know that if you two wouldn'tve discovered you weren't married and everybody had ate that Thanksgiving dinner I made."

"Alright Eb, you can be the new cook." Oliver sighed.

"Great. I'll be just like Hazel!" Eb exclaimed.

Oliver rolled his eyes and sighed.

"Come on Lisa, let's change before dinner's ready, alright." He suggested, taking his wife's arm.

"I'm sure you'll make a great cook dahling." Lisa commended as she and Oliver left the room and headed up the stairs.

"Brother good cook!" Nicky clapped after his parents were out of earshot.

"I sure am. And as usual. I've got to do everything around here!" Eb told the triplets. He rolled his eyes, laughed and began making dinner.