As long-time readers are aware, Lena, like the French in general, loves Little House on the Prairie.

While it may at one point in history have been considered a “good” show, it has not aged well. But rather than looking at it as a moral failing on Lena’s part, we have pivoted and turned it into one of the most time-honored traditions of any successful marriage, we mercilessly make fun of it while we watch, and it never disappoints us with material to work with.

Enter season eight, episode six, Gambini the Great.

Enter Gambini the Great and his non-canon pooch,
Little Gambini the Not Appearing in This Episode.

Gambini is a death-defying high wire acrobat and escape artist. He is also probably pushing seventy and is quite round. In his white spandex suit you find yourself wishing he was wearing a sports bra. He also a-has a a-terrible Italian a-accent.

The show opens with Gambini wrapped in chains in front of a breathless nighttime audience, laying down in a flimsy wooden coffin which is covered in an entire bale of hay and set fire to. The old man passes out and spends the next three weeks in the hospital for smoke inhalation.


The slowest-moving soap opera in history; Prairie Hospital.

One of his two sons bails on the whole “setting himself on fire” gig and peaces out before his dad retires and make the kid the next Gambini the Great. This might seem like a major plot point, but it has absolutely no effect on the story at all. Everything could have proceeded exactly as it did without this, or if the character never existed at all.

Anyway, Mommy, Daddy, and Younger Son Gambini arrive in Walnut Grove where the show takes place, and hijinks ensue. The town kids all want to be circus performers, the parents are angsty, people (well, mannequins) get shot out of cannons and nearly drowned in the creek…

And Gambini decides to do his burning coffin trick again.

Mama Gambini isn’t happy with the decision and tells the ball-shaped goat he’s too goddamn old for that shit. He gets a-pissed a-off and immediately does it anyway with a-predictable a-consequences.

Hey! A-no one ever a-told me fire was this a-hot!

The missing son returns for the funeral, the townsfolk all learn a lesson about how maybe it isn’t really cool to get all excited about watching people commit suicide, and the remaining Gambini family leaves walnut grove to go be furniture salesmen or some shit.

Which is when something occurred to me.

“Hey Lena,” I said, “It seems to me that if you wanted to convince a man not to do a thing, the last thing you ought to say to them is that you’re too old to…”

“You’re too old to vacuum the living room!” Lena shouted, interrupting me and clearly misunderstanding the concept.

So I bought a motorcycle.

This is a 100% accurate depiction of me on my new motorcycle.

As an aside, Gambini the Great’s coffin trick was a terrible gimmick. If he had been able to free himself from the chains and opened the lid of the coffin, he would have been faced with about six feet of flaming hay. In spandex.

And no sports bra.

This is how, historically speaking, all trapeze artists meet their end.





Sign up for the Orven Newsletter

Get your monthly dose of humor and book updates in your inbox.
Unsubscribe any time. We will never share or sell your email. Because, that's just rude.