Fan Fiction - Written by Doug Fowler - Television Universe

Tanner Family Style Dinner
Written by: Doug Fowler

I found a humor column from college where I discuss a funny vacation dinner w/my cousins, and decided there was enough funny stuff to make a cool FH story. I changed a little, since there was no 8YO boy to almost get left behind chasing frogs near the motel, etc., added the "dropping" bit from a dinner at our grandparents', put some of Kimmy's weirdness and Danny's feelings in, had Kimmy reacting to my stalling joke by adding to what was answered by my then 5YO cousin (who said an elephant was bigger) and D.J.'s (Book Universe) interactions w/Michelle, and this was the result.

Danny Tanner was happy. The Bay Area had had its first World Series in fourteen years. And, while the Athletics had lost to the Dodgers, the former sportscaster and present host of a morning show called "Wake Up, San Francisco" had had some very fun things to cover in his stories on the Bay Area's reaction. There had been an incredible pair of pitching performances, and most importantly, a home run made for Hollywood. The Dodgers' injured slugger, Kirk Gibson, had limped off the bench as a pinch- hitter with the score 4-3 and two out in the ninth, and clobbered a game winning home run to win 5-4.

"Hey, Michelle," Danny said sweetly as he bent down. He stepped into the living room, lovingly scooped up his two-year-old daughter as she ran toward him, and cuddled her. "I'm sorry I haven't been able to be home as much the last week. That Series was my last sports assignment, I promise. It was frustrating for fans, but it's like I told my audience this morning, they should take after you. You don't even care that the Athletics lost in five games." She gave him a look that seemed to say "Are you talking to me?" though she wasn't quite verbal enough to say that yet.

"Hey, that's right, Danny. Those Dodgers may have been a Cinderella story, but I think this little munchkin's a lot more like a princess than any of those players," Jesse joked. Jesse was Danny's brother-in-law.

"Although, their manager, Tommy Lasorda probably makes less of a mess when he eats pasta," Danny's best college buddy Joey noted. Jesse and Joey had lived there and helped to raise Danny's three girls, Michelle, Stephanie, six and a half, and D.J., eleven, since the girls' mom, Pam, died a year and a half ago.

"Well, speaking of eating, guess what. I'm taking you all out for a special family dinner." Danny called for everyone to come with him, then stepped back outside the door as Jesse, Joey, and two more figures raced out to the Tanner van parked in front of the house.

Danny looked lovingly at Michelle. "Hey, you've got a dry diaper. One of the guys must have just changed it, huh? Well, that's great. Although by the end of dinner, you'll probably have just as messy a face as you will the other end." He kissed her on the cheek as he began to walk down the sidewalk. "Daddy knows you go crazy over some foods."

"D.J.," Michelle called out.

"No, you don't have to go with D.J., Daddy's done with work this week, I promise," Danny said. "I know D.J.'s done a lot of mothering, too. She's like your mom used to be, she always wants to be the best. But now, Daddy has time to spend..."

"Hey, where are we going?" D.J. asked as she stepped out the door and re-locked it.

Danny did a double-take. Hadn't he counted four other people going past him?

"Your dad's taking us all out for a family fun night," Kimmy Gibbler told D.J.. Kimmy was their sometimes annoying next door neighbor, and D.J.'s best friend. Sometimes, it seemed she was over there as much as she was at her own home. "I guess it's one of those times he feels all mushy about having a family." Kimmy's family was rather odd themselves, and she liked to spend time over at the Tanners.

"Sorry I was late, Dad. I was still doing my hair," D.J. said as she automatically moved to take Michelle from Danny and put her in her carseat.

"Deej, no, let me..." He sighed as he tried to put Michelle in her carseat. She kept insisting that D.J. do it. "Okay, Deej, I guess you know how she likes to be buckled in. Be sure you do it just right." He watched, and sure enough, she had fastened Michelle in perfectly.

"We made sure she did it just right the last few times she buckled her in," Jesse assured him.

Joey concurred. "She likes doing a lot of the stuff mothers do."

Danny smiled wistfully. "I'm really proud of you, Deej. You don't have to do all this, though. That's what Uncle Jesse and Joey are here for."

"Chill out, Mr. T.. It's not like she can skip it and go chase frogs like a boy would," Kimmy responded.

Stephanie sneered, all ready for a wisecrack - she couldn't stand Kimmy. Not only did Kimmy's presence take time away D.J. could spend playing with her, but Kimmy was an "air head," in Stephanie's words. And, Stephanie was bright enough - she could read at age four - she felt she was already smarter than Kimmy. And, she knew Kimmy should be a lot brighter, being over five years older.

"Maybe you should go chasing frogs, Kimmy. Kissing a frog and hoping he becomes a prince is the only way you'll find a boy," Stephanie chided.

"Oh, sure. Like I would want a boy with warts all over him?" Kimmy's response left D.J. searching her brain for a starting point when it came to explaining that fairy tale and frogs and warts in general.

"All right, everyone, let's get buckled up and go." The family and Kimmy talked for several minutes before arriving at the restaurant.

Once seated, they studied the menu for a moment. "Steph, do you know what you're getting," Danny asked Stephanie, seated on his right at the round table.

"I'm having the chicken fingers," Stephanie said with certainty.

Danny leaned to his left next and asked Michelle if she wanted him to help with her large bib. It was more like a smallish napkin, but given Danny's protectiveness, it wasn't unexpected that he'd have the toddler wear a bib.

However, she kept pushing his hands away. Finally, D.J. walked up behind them. "Here, Dad, she'll let me." She spoke excitedly about how Mr. Bib wanted to give her a big hug and keep her clean. Michelle agreed after a moment.

"Deej...Jesse or Joey could have done that."

Jesse snickered. "Yeah, like I'm gonna talk about Mr. Bib. Now, Joey might do that."

"Come on," Kimmy spouted, "just last week you were singing 'Uncle Jesse's Gonna Buy You a Mockingbird' to her."

"Kimmy, don't mention that in a restaurant, huh?" Jesse lightly scolded her, insisting on maintaining his macho image.

"What's wrong? You don't want people to know that starting with 'Jesse's gonna buy you a diamond from the King,' everything in your version was related to Elvis?"

Jesse was left speechless, which allowed Joey to interject something. "It's all right, Deej. I bet she hardly remembers you scolding her for eating dirt today."

D.J. looked apologetically at Danny. "Sorry, Dad. I guess I get a little carried away with making sure she knows I'm not going to stay mad."

"It's okay, Deej." He lovingly placed a hand on his shoulder. "You're just following Mom's footsteps. Don't try too hard to be the best, though; you don't have to be to be a good helper. And, by the way, I think you were absolutely right to raise your voice for that." Danny was a neat freak. He couldn't stand the thought of raising his voice or punishing his little princess. But, he was glad, in a way, D.J. was starting to set such limits. "I man, if she were to put dirt in her mouth, who knows what she'd do next."

Once that little scene was over, Danny sat down again. He felt just as he'd felt a year ago, when Michelle had said "Dada" the first time, but she called Uncle Jesse "Daddy." It was hard on him to hear her saying it to everyone but him. And, so was this.

Still, he supposed he could live with it; he'd be helping to cut her food and other things tonight. And, he would try to spend a lot of time Saturday playing with her. Absent-mindedly, he turned to Stephanie and asked what she was ordering.

"Fish," Stephanie declared. She changed several other times before the waitress arrived to take orders.

In the meantime, the waitress had brought some sides out for the family. "What dat?" Michelle asked, pointing to one big dish.

"Hush puppies," Danny said as he placed several on her dish.

"What? Someone brought a puppy in here?"

Stephanie rolled her eyes. "Kimmy, that's what that food's called. Besides, if there were a puppy in here, I'd be over to see it in no time. Oooo, they brought some rolls, too," she said her eyes brightening quickly.

Joey knew the rolls would take a moment to get to her, so he tried to stall. "Steph, first, before you get any rolls, I want to make sure, do you know the difference between an elephant and a roll?"

"I think elephants are generally a lot bigger," Kimmy interjected.

"Kimmy, don't you get it?! You're not supposed to know the answer," came Stephanie's exasperated reply.

"Well, that's dumb. Why would you ask someone a question if they're not supposed to know the answer? At least in school they like us to guess," Kimmy responded. D.J. was too nice to tell her friend that's sometimes all she ever did.

"Kimmy, it's a joke. I'm supposed to say I don't know, and Joey distracts me by saying 'Well, I'm never going to send you to the store for rolls.'" She picked one out of the basket that was being passed around. "But, he doesn't have to; they're right here. Thanks."

She glanced around, mightily confused. "Wait a minute, what am I supposed to put butter on with? Hmmm, I think Joey took my knife by mistake, so I took Daddy's knife, since he'd also taken Michelle's away from her. Now, I don't know where that one went."

Kimmy politely handed her her knife. "Here you go, squirt. Wow, what a headline. 'Knives disappearing from local restaurants. Can Freddy Krueger be far behind?"

D.J. nudged Kimmy slightly, and gave a look that told her not to talk about such movies around Stephanie. When Stephanie kept insisting on asking who the man was, D.J. simply said, "You don't want to know."

Danny smiled sweetly. "Honey, it's the type of movie that would give you nightmares. Now, the waitress is almost to your spot, have you decided what you want?"

Hamburger," Stephanie joked. Danny was as surprised as she expected him to be, considering that that was never a choice during the half dozen other times she'd said what she wanted that night.

"Hey, give the waitress a break, Steph, she's already got so many squiggles and lines on her notepad it looks like some secret code book from World War Two," Jesse told her.

Joey dropped his second roll of the evening. "Fumble," he cried quietly, as if he were a football announcer. He scooped it up without falling on the floor to recover it, though.

Stephanie, however, had reached over to try to get it herself - and fallen off her chair. While getting up, she found that her knife had somehow gotten under one of her legs. Whereas she had none before, suddenly - with Joey giving her hers back - she had three. She placed a couple in the center of the table.

Then, when Danny dropped his napkin on the floor, Joey joked, "Your turn, Michelle."

"Huh? What are we doing?"

Joey realized that type of joke was likely a touch advanced for Stephanie yet; she was just now used to the ones with punch lines. "That was a joke. We're all dropping things, and we went around the table doing it. I dropped my roll. Then you dropped yourself, in a way, when you fell. Then, your dad dropped his napkin." Stephanie's eyes brightened, and she nodded slowly.

Salads came out for everyone while Michelle ate hush puppies like there was no tomorrow. Stephanie barely looked up from another roll - she was eating rolls as if there was a tomorrow, but there might not be a next week. "Uncle Jesse, will you please take my croutons?" Stephanie asked once she swallowed.

"Sure, kid. I need to use the restroom. Did you want my cucumbers, D.J.?"

"Yeah, thanks, Uncle Jesse," she said as she swapped them for her croutons. "I'll trade you," he heard as he left.

Danny took Michelle's salad. "Here, I'm sure you don't want those," he said, beginning to pluck out an olive.

"Oh, no, Dad, she loves olives. We gave her one last night at home, and she must have eaten half a dozen then," D.J. said.

"Oh." Danny looked taken aback for a second. His little princess was growing up so fast. He was glad she was a good eater, and learning to like to new things. But, he remarked as he plucked out the croutons, "At least tell me still doesn't like croutons yet." Michelle shook her head and said "no." "Good. I guess I'm getting lonesome for your salad, Michelle."

"You can have my onions, Daddy. But not the carrots - I want to make sure I never need glasses."

"Thanks, honey. Although, just because you eat carrots..." Danny stopped himself - he realized that he was glad Stephanie ate carrots, for whatever reason she ate them. "Well, it might work."

Jesse came back to see that not only had D.J., Kimmy, and Stephanie piled a bunch of croutons on top of his salad, someone else was scooping all of his croutons onto his salad as well. He glared hard at Joey.

"What? So I don't like the crust!" Joey exclaimed.

"Yeah, but look at this thing." He fingered the croutons around. "Do I even have a salad under all this?"

"Maybe you should give some of it to Daddy. He's lonesome for salad."

Danny smiled sweetly and stroked Stephanie's hair. "Aw, thanks sweetheart. I don't have to have any. It's just that...well, I guess seeing Michelle liking olives now reminds me that she's growing up so fast."

"Boy, Mr. T., you really get sentimental over some strange things," Kimmy spouted. "I can see it now. You're in a nursing home somewhere, in about fifty years, and saying, ''I sure do miss my little girls' vegetables.' But, don't worry. I'm sure D.J.'ll bring you some olives and onions once in a while. She's that kind of friend." She passed D.J. a very warms mile.

D.J. returned the smile. Kimmy had a strange way of looking at the world. But, she really cared about others, and was a wonderful friend to her. It's just that it showed in strange ways sometimes, partly because of Kimmy's odd family.

The group talked for a while as everyone's dinner came but D.J.'s. Suddenly, D.J. heard a "no, Michelle," followed by a sharper "no!" from Stephanie. As she looked a couple seats away, she realized that Michelle had been playing with a knife. Danny just taken it away and said it was dangerous, but Stephanie was scolding her.

Danny looked at D.J., wondering what she would do. Part of him wanted her to act - she was the team captain, and until he felt like disciplining his "little princess" she handled that part of things. But, part of him hoped D.J. would just let him talk to Michelle this time.

D.J. was up before anyone could blink. "Michelle, playing with a knife was very bad," she said, picking her up and glaring into her face.

"I sowwy," Michelle said weakly.

"You are going to timeout, Michelle, because you did that." D.J. carried her into the ladies' restroom, where it would be less embarrassing, talking with Michelle very briefly about why it was bad.

She looked around, and realized that there were no real seats where she could make Michelle sit. She didn't think about how odd she looked right then, she simply found a blank wall and made Michelle stand against it. "You will stand right there and look straight ahead, since there are no chairs." D.J. closed her eyes, breathed heavily while looking down, then looked at the ceiling for a second, saying a short prayer. Yes, she then told herself, I'm doing the right thing.

Even though Michelle was sniffling in front of her.

Suddenly, the room seemed to get smaller, and she felt stares that weren't there. She turned to an elderly woman at the sink. "She was playing with a knife. I hope this is the way Mom would have done it. It's so hard with her gone sometimes," she spouted without thinking.

"It looks like you're doing a fine job," the woman said. D.J. thanked her.

Once the timeout was ended, D.J. picked Michelle up and hugged her. "I love you. We'd talked about that, hadn't we?" She nodded. "Are you going to be good now?" When she agreed, D.J. gave her another hug, and put her down, walking back to the table with her.

D.J. looked oddly at her plate as she sat. "Wait, I didn't order french fries."

"I know. Someone else got your meal by mistake. So, they said they'd bring you something free while you waited for it. I told them to bring you french fries."

"But, Steph, I didn't want french fries."

"That's okay. I'll take them."

D.J. laughed. "Little sisters. Okay, I'll give you some fries. Come here, Michelle." Michelle had been playing with a lobster claw Danny had given her for a second, but she quickly went to D.J.. She picked her up, sat back down with Michelle on her lap, and let her have some of the fries. D.J. was glad Michelle had gone to her right away - she hated having to scold or punish her, and she was glad to see the bond was still there.

"You do such a good job with your sister," the waitress said as she brought out the meal and apologized for its delay.

"Thanks. It's funny, I hadn't even noticed my dinner being gone, I've been so busy thinking about Michelle, and helping her. Ever since our mom died, I've just been doing that so much."

"You seem like you do a great job." She bent down and whispered, "I think your dad looks a little lonesome for her."

D.J. looked at Danny once the waitress left. "I'm sorry, Dad; did you want to do the timeout. I guess I just wasn't thinking you'd be ready to do that now."

"No, it's not that, Deej. Besides, it was a lot easier for you to take her into the ladies' room."

"What is it?"

"Well..." He sighed. "It's just that you're doing so much. She wanted you to get her in her carseat. She wanted you to put the bib on her, you to feed her those fries when I had a nice lobster claw to play with..."

"Hey, don't worry, Danny, it's not going to waste," Joey said as he jokingly used it to pick up a pick of fish.

Danny chuckled at Joey's silliness. "Then there's the whole thing with you knowing she likes olives now. Sometimes I just feel too detached."

"'d be the same if Mom were here, though," D.J. remarked. "Wouldn't it?"

"I think that's part of what he's feelin' right now, Deej," Jesse told her.

"Uncle Jesse's right. I'm glad you do put her in timeout; I'm nowhere near ready for that. When you started a few weeks ago, it was great, because I felt comfortable with you doing it. It was like Mom was still here, in a way, through you, but yet you do things a little differently, you have your own style. But, tonight so much happened that seemed exactly like it would have if Mom were around. I mean, Steph, you'd always bug her to put your bib on. Especially after D.J. convinced you I'd reach over and clean every little spot off it between bites."

"Sometimes it was close to that, Danny," Joey reminded him.

Danny knew it hadn't been that bad, but ignored Joey's joke. "You always loved having Mom do stuff for you at that age, Deej. I remember when I got home from work once, too, and your mom was so excited because you learned to like green beans. You'd have thought she was Kirk Gibson hitting that game-winning home run."

"You know, you're right, Mr. T.," Kimmy replied. "I kidded about how much it impacted you when you learned about the olives. But, I remember Mrs. Tanner getting so excited over little stuff, too."

"And how you'd always cling to her even if she just raised her voice, because you were so excitable," Jesse told Stephanie.

"We had some great memories as a family. I guess part of me was just hoping that I'd be the one to savor those times when Michelle was a toddler, those times Mom got to savor with you two. Missing out on so much the last week sort of made me think of that again."

D.J. walked Michelle over to Danny's seat. "Come on Michelle. I think Daddy needs a hug," she told her. The older girls embraced him while standing; Michelle got in his lap and hugged him.

"Aw, thanks. You know, I'm the luckiest dad there is."

D.J. offered to let Danny get Michelle up the net morning. "She loves crawling in bed and snuggling and talking with me. But, if you can stand to get up by 6:30 when you don't work that day..."

"Well, Deej, if you sleep over at my house, she'll have to go to your dad. Unless she crawls into Stephanie's bed."

"Well, you don't need to get me up that early." Danny cuddled Michelle on his lap. "Just as long as I get plenty of time with her this weekend. And, yes, you can sleep over. Because I know if I say no, Kimmy will ask to come over to our house, anyway."

Stephanie suggested that they watch home movies together. "Movies and pictures always help me."

"That's a great idea, Steph. Once I get Michelle to bed, we'll pull out the videos."

"Yeah, and we can relive stuff like you asking for Steph to recreate that funny little Shirley Temple dance so you can have it on tape."

Joey explained what Jesse had said. "You don't remember it, Steph, but that's how you got those pretty curls. When you were two, D.J. was doing this cute dance with you singing, and she said if you just had curls you'd be just like a little Shirley Temple."

After they reminisced for a few more minutes while eating, Danny said, "You're right. I guess I've already had some great memories with Michelle. Just like I did with you girls. I won't miss everything. And, I missed just as much when your mom would handle things."

"Sure. Looks you've got a cute one right now."

Danny nodded at Jesse's statement. Michelle, sleepy from eating all those hush puppies and fries, was trying as hard as she could to keep her eyes open. Her head was in the rest of Danny's mashed potatoes. She would pick it up for a second when it hit, then - unable to hold it up - it would slowly sink into the potatoes once more.

"Guess we needed a bib for her face, huh?" Stephanie said as Danny placed a napkin over his shoulder, then laid Michelle's head on it. He gingerly wiped it off while humming a lullaby.

As Michelle drifted off to sleep, he looked up at D.J.. "Just like you would do, huh?"

"Yeah, and just like Mom."

Danny kissed the sleeping toddler on the forehead, and sighed contentedly. He had a wonderful family. And, they were right - he'd have many wonderful precious memories with Michelle. He might not have all the ones Pam would have had - they'd be spread around pretty evenly. But, he'd certainly have many wonderful things he could treasure. "Yeah. Just like Mom."