After a hard day of blog writing, I am relaxing, watching an episode of Tales Of Wells Fargo on The Westerns Channel, wondering what I will write tomorrow, no dazzling ideas, coming to mind.
Then, I notice something unusual, two essential elements of a prescribed three-part procedure: Noticing something, and realizing it’s unusual. The third part is just writing it down.
The following is the resulting “Element Number Three.”
The discovered anomaly was like checking your change and finding a rare, flawed coin, like – this is not off the top of my head; I looked it up – a Kansas State quarter engraved,
“In God We Rust.”
I have watched the show numerous times. This is the Tales of Wells Fargo version of “In God We Rust.” Less valuable, perhaps. But equally rare.
Tales of Wells Fargo (1957-1962) is a standard, “meat-and-potatoes” western, lacking the trademark playfulness of Maverick or the frontier grittiness of Lawman. It’s just a guy, riding a horse. But when I’m relaxing, that’s all that I need. Although Maverick and Lawman are better. As is Have Gun, Will Travel, with its “existential ennui.”
(All, of course, include gunplay. For the record, I am a steadfast supporter of “The right to bear unusable arms.” With “kidnapping and liquor store hold-up” exclusions, of course.)
Anyway, I am watching this show, right? Part of my brain searching for a post idea,
another part reminding me that’s not how it works.
You don’t look for ideas. Ideas just show up.
And if you are skeptical of that process, I say, “Oh, yeah?” Because right then and there,
Before my very eyes, and, more importantly, my incredulous ears.
Dale Robertson, playing Jim Hardie, a roving investigator for Wells Fargo, sits on his horse, updating a land-bound associate on the mystery disappearance of precious jewels under Wells Fargo protection.
“So what happened?” the associate inquires further.
To which Hardie replies – are you ready for this? Because I wasn’t.
Jim Hardie says, in response to “So what happened?”
“I’m not sure yet, but I’ll let you know when I do.”
Did you hear that?
I was stunned!
I know, “I don’t know yet, but I’ll let you know when I do.” And I know, “I’m not sure yet, but I’ll let you know when I am.”
“I’m not sure yet, but I’ll let you know when I do”?
That’s two sentences, train-crashing together.
I look at the actors. Not a wince. Not a blink. Not a “giveaway” snort. Apparently, their professional “acting technique” kicked in, and they just kept going, as if what Hardie had said was quite normal.
His horse “Jubilee” seemed sensibly surprised. Must have missed the class on “Barreling Straight Through.” And no way, he was letting it go. Watching closely, I sensed an eager, “Wait’ll I tell ‘em back at the barn!”
How did I react to “I’m not sure yet, but I’ll let you know when I do”? Imagine a batter, expecting a fastball, teetering awkwardly, receiving a surprise “curve.” It was like, “What!?!” I felt an unbalancing whiplash.
Shouldn’t somebody have yelled, “Cut”?
DALE ROBERTSON: “What’s wrong? ‘Jubilee’ miss his ‘mark’?”
DIRECTOR: “You said, ‘I’m not sure yet, but I’ll let you know when I do.”
DALE ROBERTSON: “I did? (RED-FACED) What a smuck!”
“Jubilee” stifling a laugh, both for the gaffe, and the Oklahoma-born Robertson mangling “Schmuck!”
You wonder, “How did it happen?”
Was it an unfocused “slip of the tongue”? Or a writer, racing to the set with a last-minute “Rewrite”, going,
“Instead of ‘I don’t know yet, but I’ll let you know when I do’, say, ‘I’m not sure yet, but I’ll let you know when I am.’ It’s better.”
DALE ROBERTSON: “Okay.”
And then proving in practice it wasn’t. The producer, forgiving the actor but excoriating the writer, screaming, “You do not confuse him!” before an uncomfortable cast and crew.
I think about these things. Poor Dale Robertson, having an embarrassing “Boo-boo” blighting the rerunning “Episode Cycle.” I imagine him sitting at home, going,
“Here it comes.”
(Until his death in 2013. When his “last words” may have been, “I’m not sure yet, but I’ll let you know when I am!”)
Sixty years later, he gave a hungry blogger something to write about.
And I’m not done yet.
I Wikipedia “Dale Robertson”, finding a standard “Publicity ‘Still’” accompanying the entry: Dale Robertson and his horse “Jubilee.”
Except that it’s not Dale Robertson. It is somebody else.
(Though it appears to be “Jubilee.”)
Dale Robertson deserves better from “Posterity.”
Instead, he gets a recurring blunder,