Fan Fiction - Written by Doug Fowler - Alternative Season 9

10. Hippos Are Man's Best Friend
Written by: Doug Fowler

Sequel to "Passing the Torch. This would be right before the finale, "Tanner All-Stars." Cousin Steve's team plays the Giants in late April, with the next game a week later, so they can things ready and the ad can be out by the last scene. So, in a calendar timeline, other episodes may take place between the start and end of this one. Cousin Steve, the one with the baseball scholarship, is seen more in "Flight of the Knuckleball." Michelle is here; the Olsens would be available for more, so they'd be in more than D.J., Kimmy, or Jesse, though still busier, and so out of a few, as I've posted.

Samantha, from RKORadio's Sam series, wouldn't necessarily be in an episode, but I did want to show what happened to her in the TVU. Karen is from the episode "Lust in the Dust." Also, if you wondered, yes, the song at the start is a real song.

Hippos Are Man's Best Friend

(Teaser - Poor Santa - Joey's voice, Michelle, Kelli, Nicky, Alex)

Joey Gladstone's voice came over the radio. Michelle Tanner, nine, and her good friend and soccer teammate Kelli, ran over to it. Michelle's cousins, four-year-old Nicky and Alex, wee playing there, too.

"That was 'I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas,'" Joey said. "And those ugly looks being made at me are from your co-host, Jesse Katsopolis. I'm Joey Gladstone, we're your Rush Hour Renegades, and so Jesse doesn't start to chase me around - especially since it's early April, not Christmas - here's a more normal rock and roll song." It started playing, and Michelle turned off the radio.

Both men had moved in to care for her and her older sisters, Stephanie - 14 - and D.J. - 19 - when their mom died. Jesse was now married to their dad, Danny's, cohost; Jesse and Becky were Nicky and Alex's parents.

"Joey's songs are so funny," Kelli said. Joey was a professional comedian, while Jesse had been in a rock and roll band for years.

Michelle nodded. "You're right. Sometimes I forget how much fun it is to be silly."

"Poor Santa," Nicky lamented, shaking his head. "He'd break his back lifting one."

"Don't worry. His sleigh couldn't get off the ground with a hippo," Kelli said.

Alex asked, "What would he use? A truck?"

"Yeah, Santa would use a mistle-tow truck," Michelle joked. All laughed.

Danny walked into Stephanie and Michelle's bedroom. The girls were talking with Stephanie's best friend, Gia. "Girls, I just got off the phone with your cousin Steve. He's been promoted to the majors!"

"That's awesome," Michelle spouted.

"I hope it's for more than that cup of coffee last September," Stephanie remarked.

Gia shook her head. "He takes a long time to drink his coffee."

"Gia, that's just a saying; it means a short stay," Stephanie explained.

"He's likely to stay this time. They've had enough injuries, he might be a starting pitcher when they come," Danny said.

"Cool; I wonder if he could get tickets," Stephanie said.

"I don't see why not. D.J. might even be able to make it, around her classes," Danny said. "Which means Steve could, too, if he doesn't have to work. And, now I better stop, before I add too many; he's still making major league minimum."

"Oh, speaking of people who need money," Michelle began.

"I just raised your allowance," Danny quipped.

Michelle explained. "This is for Steve. He needs a good commercial."

Stephanie added, "Uncle Jesse's helping his parents move down to Palm Springs for good, but maybe we could put something together, with Joey's help."

"That's a great idea. Steve will save on advertising, then. Remember Jeff's 'I Just Can't Spell Katsoplis,' Michelle?" Danny asked. "You could use that. That song about spelling hippopotamus is such a cute song."

"Dad, please, my friends won't want to work with a song you call 'cute,'" Michelle said.

Michelle, her fifteen classmates, and three kids around her age were in the Tanner living room. The others were Jeff - a boy who liked her and who was in another class -Kelli - who was in a different elementary school - and Elizabeth - a friend a year older whom she'd met riding horses last year. "Okay," Joey said, "this is Steve Hale, and we have permission to do this as an out of class project for extra credit, and for your journals."

"How about this slogan. 'Bam! Pow! Wham!'" Aaron shouted.

"Exterminators don't use their fists," Elizabeth said, giving him a look.

"He said someone already used my first idea. 'Kills bugs dead,'" Aaron complained. "Besides, all you know about is horses."

"Elizabeth's a champion. And, her mom's learned not to brag or put so much pressure on her," Michelle said. "Besides, jumping horses is tougher than jumping over bugs."

"That's right, Aaron," Joey said. "'Kills bugs dead' is copyrighted."

Derek, a classmate of Michelle's with a huge vocabulary, stated, "Actually, ad slogans are trademarked."

"If you didn't know that, no wonder your ad business failed," Aaron proclaimed.

"Aaron, please, you're not helping Steve's confidence," Michelle pointed out.

To Steve, Jeff asked, "What about my song?"

"Well, it's a clever idea," Steve began, "but it doesn't say anything about the company, except that's it's hard to spell."

Joey elaborated. "You need to tell people why they should choose you. That should be information, but, it can include something funny that people will remember."

"How about, "Because bugs can't stand Katsopolis!'" Teddy sang.

"That's perfect," Joey said, pointing at him. "Do you all get why that's better?"

"Yeah; people will want to call you 'cause the bugs can't stand you," Denise noted.

Lisa added. "You get rid of all the bugs, and they don't come back."

"Exactly." The kids wrote as Joey spoke. "Most lines are shorter, but there is room for longer stuff. Something like, 'Still the company you trust, for your pest killing needs,'" he sang, as the third verse. "'Katsopolis exterminates...' and then a few more words."

Elizabeth asked, "Are you telling people it's the same company because you bought it?"

"Right. We might mention my name, but we kept Katsopolis because of the good will it built up," Steve said.

Teddy pointed out, "Good will must matter more than a name you can spell."

As Becky, Stephanie, and Gia came downstairs, Jeff quipped, "There's one exception. I don't know if a girl would want to marry a guy if she couldn't spell his name."

"Maybe she'd just keep her own name," Denise said adamantly.

Lisa turned to Becky. "Is that why you go by Donaldson, because you couldn't spell your husband's name?" she asked incredulously.

"No, I'd just built up my own name recognition," Becky explained.

"But, Steph said your dad's not named Donald. Doesn't that confuse people?" Gia asked.

"Only you!" Aaron cracked.

"We're off to the mall," Becky said to defuse things. "Nicky and Alex are visiting Kathy Santoni and her boy, with D.J. and Kimmy," she explained.

"By the way, Michelle, Stephanie tells me your All-Star soccer team has a home game just before the game your dad mentioned," Gia noted. "Maybe since your cousin Steve's getting you tickets anyway, Kelli and the rest of the team could go, too."

"Gia, now is not the time to ask," Stephanie began.

"What? I didn't ask in front of the team," Gia returned.

Michelle noted that, "There won't be that many tickets to go around."

"Yeah there will. The Giants stink this year," Lisa said.

"Can you please check into it?" Teddy asked.

"All right, since you said please," Michelle said, "but I can't promise anything."

Stephanie shook her head. "Dad's going to flip when he gets back," Stephanie said.

"I was just trying to help. At least one kid said 'please,'" Gia said.

All the kids, in unison, shouted, "Please!"

Becky smiled. "Well, it could happen."

"Maybe," Stephanie agreed. "But, just in case, Gia, don't tell anyone at our school. Five hundred tickets would be a bit much."

A while later, Joey said, "Okay, before we take another break and have lunch, are there any other questions?"

One student asked, "What about a phone number?"

"That goes in later. We'll fit the song and a few spoken lines into a minute. For a half minute ad, we get part of one verse, spoken lines, and at the end, you kids sing, 'Because bugs can't stand Katsopolis,'" Joey explained.

"Hey, everyone," Danny said as he came in the door. "I came home to get a few extra cleaning supplies. How's it going?"

"Fine, Dad. Although, after what Gia said, you'll have to call Cousin Steve for more tickets," Michelle said.

Danny grinned, pressing buttons on a large cell phone he'd gotten early last year. "That's fine. Since everything was going so well, I told your Cousin Steve I might ask him to treat my princess's entire class to a game."

"Gia was right," Derek said. "Politeness is important."

"So is knowing Mr. Tanner loves to give his kids cool stuff," Denise said.

"Hey, Steve...yeah, it's Uncle Danny," Danny said into the phone. "I'm sure you have to leave for a game...oh, you're already in the locker room. That explains the raucous cheers in the background. Say, remember what I said about getting twenty extra tickets?"

Kelli shouted, "Don't forget the soccer team; I called some kids during our last break."

"Oh, boy. Uh, could you make that about forty more?" Danny asked.

"Tell him we're helping D.J.'s boyfriend with his business," Lisa suggested.

"I wonder if Steve could give away stuff at the game," Teddy offered.

Danny tried to talk as the kids started making more noise.

"Yeah, like hippos for the ad," Aaron shouted toward the phone.

"He can't give free hippos; this Steve would pay," Michelle said, pointing at Steve Hale.

Aaron stomped up to Steve Hale, shouting, "We want free hippos!"

"Guys, please, this Steve can't afford it," Michelle declared.

"I doubt even Steve Tanner could afford one for everyone at a game," Steve Hale said.

"He's right, it would be an economic hardship," Derek began. He turned to Michelle. "They're not listening."

"That's 'cause nobody can understand you," Aaron shouted.

Danny had whistled once, to no avail. He tried to press a few buttons. Finally, he whistled again, and the class quieted down. "Uh, I think we lost the signal."

"Did he understand I can't pay for hippos for everyone at the game?" Steve Hale asked.

"I don't know. He sounded like he'd talk to the people in marketing for the Giants about a promotion," Danny said. Steve sighed heavily as he slumped into a chair.

(Commercial break)

Becky, Stephanie, and Gia came in the front door as Michelle, Kelli, Jeff, Teddy, Derek, Lisa, and Denise were playing video games. "Hey, how'd it go?" Stephanie asked.

"Sorry if my big mouth caused problems," Gia said.

"Don't worry; Aaron topped you big time." Michelle explained that, "He got Cousin Steve thinking Steve would give everyone hippos."

"Wow. Did you call Jesse for ideas?" Becky inquired.

"Yeah. He still can't believe Joey played a Christmas song in April," Kelli explained.

Joey said, "Hey, it's a funny song. Besides, I told Jesse, we are Rush Hour Renegades. I'm just doing my part. Just like when I played 'Rubber Ducky' once."

"I think the idea is to be wild, not weird," Teddy pointed out.

"Yeah, if they want weird, they could hire me," Jeff said. "How about a rock song in Pig Latin?" He turned to Michelle. "Abybay etlay emay ebay..."

"Jeff, please. We have enough problems without hearing Michelle's old bedtime song in Pig Latin," Stephanie told him.

Putting a hand up to his armpit, Aaron said, "Put me on the show. I can play music on my armpits."

"Please, don't," Lisa commanded, quickly grabbing the arm he'd put under the other...

"Jesse would say you're getting a taste of your own medicine," Derek said. Joey nodded.

Teddy suggested that, "Maybe you could just give little bath toys to the first 10,000 kids. Those can't cost more than a dollar."

"No way," Denise said, shaking her head. "Remember how upset we were when we got those puny Rigbys, Michelle?"

"I sure do. I'm glad Joey helped us stand up for our rights," Michelle said.

"You said Rigby owed you a lot of thanks for helping him," Kelli said. "Maybe he'd give a bunch of animals, and let Steve advertise on them."

"Rigby's a rhino, not a hippo," Teddy declared.

Becky interjected, "Besides, Rigby repaid us by giving Michelle and Denise big, plush rhinos. I think giving thousands is a bit much."

"Although if he did, you could change the song," Gia suggested. "Does anyone know a song about rhinos?"

"We just worked for hours on that hippo song," Lisa complained.

Steve interjected, "You actually worked for about an hour and played about four hours."

"Yeah, and you ate for about four hours," Jeff quipped.

"Okay, look, the important part is, we got some good stuff done with the ad, and the hippo song," Joey said.

"I thought we wanted a song about rhinos now," Lisa said.

"Guys, you're not listening, Aunt Becky just said I don't think we can get them to give out rhinos at the game," Stephanie said.

Aaron stood, with his hands on his hips. "We don't get hippos or rhinos? What a rip off!"

"In case you haven't noticed," Michelle shot back, "our song doesn't have either."

"Yeah, we just said...well, the tune should remind people.... Why are we talking about hippos again?" Steve asked.

"Look, I'm sure Danny can call Cousin Steve after the game, and straighten things out. He has to call the ticket department to get a bunch of tickets, he might not have time to call the promotions department," Becky noted.

Steve agreed. "That's true. Still, I hate to let everyone down. I mean, I can't promise a free car wash. People don't exactly line up to want the services of an exterminator."

At that moment, Nicky and Alex ran in from the kitchen. "We're home," they said.

As they ran up to Becky, and they hugged, Stephanie said, "Let's go show D.J. what we got." She and Gia took their bags into the kitchen.

"If he gives plush hippos to ten thousand kids," Derek pointed out, "that would be over one hundred thousand dollars. That might be his budget for the year."

Joey sighed. "Try his advertising budget for ten years. That's why Jesse and I never got off the ground running our own business. Advertising was too expensive, and word of mouth didn't bring in enough."

"That's why I was really thankful you could do this ad for me," Steve said. He plopped into a chair. "I wonder if people will make the connection without the hippos, though."

"Well, Steve, no advertising is guaranteed success. But, part of being an entrepreneur is having the guts to take calculated risks. And, fun jingles and kids are always big sellers in advertising," Joey encouraged him.

"I guess you're right." Steve sat up, and looked at Michelle and her friends, as he said, "I know you kids are frustrated I can't sponsor Hippo Night at Candlestick Park, or Rhino Night, or whatever it wound up being. Tell you what, instead of giving each kid about ten bucks for doing this ad, how about I buy each of you a stuffed hippo." He thought for a second. "Actually, I don't know of anyplace that sells toy hippos."

"The zoo," Nicky said.

"Do you need one?" Alex asked.

"Actually, I'd like about ten thousand," Steve said.

Nicky shook his head. "That's too many."

"They'd never fit on your bed," Alex remarked.

"You'd need the world's biggest toy box for that," Jeff joked.

"Well, what I mean is...wait a minute. The zoo always sponsors a few nights, right?" Joey and Becky nodded. "What if I asked if they could give out about a thousand toy hippos the first weekend in May? I could probably supply t-shirts for a thousand that say 'Katsopolis Exterminating.'"

Joey agreed. "Sure. Make them of some light material, just plain white without a fancy script, you'd only be talking a few thousand bucks."

"I'll talk to Jesse. I'd sure he'd loan you that. Nick might even be willing to give you the money," Becky remarked. "It was his business, for a long time."

"Thanks, guys. Now, if the Giants call me about what Steve Tanner suggested, I'll be able to tell them I can do something." He let out a "whoosh." "Running your own business really is something, huh?"

"All that hard work really is rewarding, though," Joey said with a smile.

A few weeks later, Steve came into the Tanner household with Danny, Stephanie, Michelle, Kelli, Elizabeth, Joey, Becky, Nicky, and Alex.

"That was a great game," Michelle said.

Elizabeth agreed. "Thanks for the hippos," the ten-year-old said as she nodded. "It's a nice consolation for finishing second to Michelle in the horse jumping last Saturday."

Joey remarked kindly, "I imagine it was a little hard to concentrate, thinking about last year with Michelle's accident. But, you win all the other ones around here. This'll just help you learn to focus so you can make that Olympic team someday."

"Yeah. And if I don't, my mom figures I can go into medicine. Just because I beat Jesse to that shed with the ambulance that day," Elizabeth remarked.

"I'm just glad your mom's so much nicer and more sportsmanlike now," Becky said. "Too bad Jesse had to miss this game, visiting his parents; at least he saw Steve Tanner."

Nicky pointed out, "Steve can give him one of his hippos."

"I think he'd rather sleep with Mommy. I don't know why," Alex said.

"You'll understand someday. Hopefully, when you're a lot, lot older," Danny said.

"I'm glad you appreciate the hippos," Steve said, "but they weren't really mine. Just the t-shirrs were," he explained. "And, I have you boys to thank for that."

Nicky had a question. "Were we supposed to root for the other team again?"

"That was just when Steve Tanner pitched," Michelle said.

Alex announced, "That's too bad. Our team isn't very good."

"Well, Steve Tanner's still learning how to pitch at the big league level," Joey responded. "He might have to throw all knuckleballs to be successful." He pointed out, "If you're not sure who to root for, though, you can just root for the pitchers, or the hitters. Depending on whether you want a 50-inning, 1-0 game or a game that ends up 200-150, and the scoreboard operator goes crazy by the end."

"Hopefully, Steve will get a win before that happens," Danny said.

A few days later, Stephanie's old dance teacher, Karen, was there with her husband and their adopted girl, Sam, watching the game with Danny, Joey, Steve, Stephanie, Michelle, and Elizabeth. "Ball game!" Joey said, pumping his fist and making a noise like a crowd cheering. Sam laughed.

"Steve's first big league win. It was in relief, and he doesn't pitch for the Giants. But, it's still great to share," Danny said.

"I agree. Thanks again for dinner," Karen said.

"Thank you," Sam parroted.

"Yeah, thanks, Mr. Tanner," Steve said. "I can't wait till I can afford to take your whole family out, Mr. Tanner. Of course, with its size, it might be ten years."

"You're welcome. I'm glad you're a bit tidier now, Karen," Danny joked. "Although, I guess with Sam, it's important not to focus on that too much."

Karen's husband said, "I'm glad D.J. introduced Sam to Michelle now that she's helping kids through a San Francisco State program. The more nice people we surround her with, the easier it is for Sam to cope. My wife knows caring for Sam is a full-time job."

"You're going to be the best dancer ever, Sam," Michelle said excitedly.

Karen urged her to say "thank you." "She needs continuous encouragement that people love and accept her. But, we're making big strides," she remarked.

"Maybe by next year, she'll be ready to go to dance school," Stephanie offered.

"That's what we're hoping. I can chaperone, even if we go to a New York one. And, we might," Karen said with a smile. She and her family left as the others spoke.

"It's great to be able to help people like that," Michelle said.

Stephanie nodded. "Too bad she's always been in another school district; I wish we could have helped her more before. But, I always knew Karen was really nice. She became a foster mom for Sam, a little before she and her husband married about three years ago"

"It sounds like hse's getting along well, at least. Speaking of memorable, I've heard a couple people humming that jingle," Elizabeth remarked.

Steve smiled broadly. "I have, too. It just came out, but it's catchy. I can see why Suzie and her family love you so much, Joey. It's amazing, you have the talent for that, and to know what a baseball is thinking as it's being thrown."

"And, that's a rare talent," Danny joked.

"Sure, you're becoming a successful businessman, too. That ad has started to get you some business, right?" Joey asked.

Steve nodded. "Yeah. You know, it's amazing. I never thought about my future; I just took a bunch of courses at a local community college. Some people just seem to have such talent; you with comedy, even Elizabeth with her horse jumping."

"The horses do a lot of the work," Elizabeth said modestly.

"I guess that's true." Steve thought for a second. "I heard about last year. How come you're so down to earth when your mom used to be pretty arrogant?"

"She goes to the same private school D.J.'s friend Nelson went to," Michelle said. "One teacher in particular really helps kids learn to treat others as equals."

Steve got a look of understanding. "That makes sense. Of course, I wouldn't mind if your parents had to hire me, and paid me like a rich person, Elizabeth."

"We have your card, I'm sure," Elizabeth acknowledged.

"Thanks. It seems weird to have people hire me sometimes yet," Steve revealed.

"Don't' worry. Uncle Jesse says you're running things just like Grandpa Nick would want," Stephanie assured him.

"Thanks." Steve picked up one of the stuffed hippos. "It's great to know I have such wonderful friends here to help me. You and all your classmates, Michelle. Your family. And, even some hippos."

Joey smiled. "It's a fun reminder. But, the most important part is, you're doing something you love. Just like I do with comedy. Some of that's scars from growing up - I stood straight as a statue just hearing my dad's voice for the first time in 20 years when I played Vegas that time. Part of me wants to stay a kid, and be silly all the time, and not be nice to everyone and not have any confrontation or responsibilities. But, we've made it, just like we encourage Karen Sam will do well, despite the neglect she faced. I mostly just love having fun. And, with things like that commercial we did, I have the talent to use fun to make good things happen."

"You sure are good at that. I'm so glad you've helped all these years," Danny remarked.