Richie befriends a beatnik girl named Deidra he meets in a movie theatre. She says she was leaving town after breaking up with her boyfriend but her car broke down. Richie asks Fonzie to fix Deidra’s car. Fonzie says the car will need to be in the workshop for several days.
Richie invites Deidra to his house for dinner. She arrives sprouting hippie sayings – “I’d like to wash the world’s impurity and insincerity from my hands” (translation: Can I use the bathroom?) and professes its against her principles to eat murdered animals.
Howard is not a fan. “I don’t want any of that beatnik stuff during dinner” he confides to Marion. After dinner, Richie shows Deidra some poetry he has written. Unexpectedly she faints. Later it is revealed she is pregnant.
Listen at the 2 minute – 13 second mark when Ralph says “I read ON THE ROAD“.
Richie goes looking for Deidra’s boyfriend at a Beatnik joint called THE PURPLE EGO to tell him the news. He locates ‘Lawrence’ and then brings him back to the Cunningham house to reunite with Deidra. This sparks an argument with Howard who tells Richie, “When are you going to learn you can’t bring home every stray you meet.”
Deidra and Lawrence try to convince Richie to come with them and go “on the road” in search of adventure and self-discovery. Richie says he’ll think it over. The next morning, still reeling from the clash with his Father, Richie leaves a note saying he is leaving to “find himself”.
He arrives at Fonzie’s garage the next morning with a packed suitcase. There are assorted other beatniks gathered around helping to pack a yellow bus. Lawrence and Deidra however inform Richie the trip is off because they are getting married.
In this episode, Ralph mentions that he has read ON THE ROAD. This was a 1957 novel by American writer JACK KEROUAC (1922 – 1969) based on his travels across the United States. It is considered a defining work of the post-WW2 Beat generation.
The novel was chosen by TIME MAGAZINE as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. THE NEW YORK TIMES hailed the book’s appearance as “the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as ‘beat,’ and whose principal avatar he is.”
The book was made into a movie 10 years ago, starring Amy Adams, Kristen Stewart, Kristen Dunst, and one of my favorite actors, Viggo Mortensen.