Award-winning writer: Jackie Papandrew

Airing My Dirty Laundry!

Aunt Bea

I saw Aunt Bea go a little bonkers. And it was all Opie’s fault.

OK, so it wasn’t the real Aunt Bea or the real Opie. As everyone over a certain age knows, the real Aunt Bea and Opie were, well, fictional TV characters on that beloved old sitcom The Andy Griffith Show. Watching that program as a kid was about as good as eating warm-out-of-the-oven cookies washed down with cold milk – it gave you a nice feeling all over. The world was a sweet, simple place in Mayberry USA .

And there was no person sweeter in Mayberry than Aunt Bea. On the show, Aunt Bea was Sheriff Andy Taylor’s aunt. She was warm, comforting and pillowy soft, and she could cook up a storm. When I watched the show as a child, I always wanted to climb up in her lap.

The make-believe Mayberry was based on Griffith ’s real-life hometown of Mount Airy , NC , a community that proudly promotes its favorite son. Along Main Street in Mount Airy , you can visit Snappy Lunch and eat the same famous pork chop sandwich that Andy ate as a boy. Next door, you can get a trim and shave (assuming you are a man or a very hairy woman) in the real Floyd’s Barber Shop, where the real Andy got his hair cut before he moved to Hollywood and had to pay a lot more for it.

Right beside Floyd’s is Opie’s Candy Store, a relative newcomer to the street. Opie’s Candy Store is a walk down memory lane that offers old-time goodies some of you more seasoned citizens loved when you were kids – things like Mary Janes, Squirrel Nut Zippers and Big Hunk candy bars. (Interestingly, Squirrel Nut Zippers is also the name of a jazz band, a fact known only by hip young whippersnappers such as myself.) Opie’s also has many different kinds of chocolate. This is a good thing for children, and it’s an even better thing for women.

Chocolate is to women what beer is to men. Chocolate is nature’s Midol. While money talks, chocolate sings. Chocolate single-handedly sustains the vital control-top panty industry. Chocolate is life. And often, a particular form of chocolate is wrapped up in our minds with a special memory.

As you might have guessed, I am quite fond of the cocoa bean. I have many of my own special memories bound up in chocolate. So I completely understood when an Aunt Bea look-alike walked into Opie’s Candy Store while I was there recently and, when denied her nostalgic nourishment, had a chocolate-triggered meltdown.

She really did look like Andy’s aunt – upswept hair, warm smile and pillowy soft frame. For a moment, I had a childlike urge to climb into her lap. Fortunately, I came to my senses before I ended up in the Mayberry jail guarded by Barney.

Aunt Bea’s clone looked around the store several times, then approached the clerk and asked where to find the chocolate-covered caramels.

“I had them years ago when I was here with my children” she told him, beaming. “I’ve never forgotten how good they tasted.”

The clerk, a young man apparently unaware of the dangers of depriving a woman of her desired form of chocolate, kindly informed her the store was temporarily out of that item.

Aunt Bea began to tremble and, shockingly, to sweat profusely. Her face took on a crazed, distinctly non-Aunt Beaish look. The other customers clutched their candy closer.

“I came specifically from Florida for Opie’s chocolate-covered caramels!” she said loudly. Then she said it again. And again. She ordered the clerk to check in the back for more caramels. When he returned, empty-handed, she said it yet again, her voice forlorn.

“I came specifically from Florida for them!” she told everyone in the room. Then she added the kicker. “And I’m in menopause!”

The clerk looked bewildered, but the rest of us – all female – gently guided our suffering sister out the door, giving her an understanding pat on the arm. The real Aunt Bea would have done no less.

~ Jackie Papandrew ~
© 2008, All Rights Reserved

Jackie Papandrew is an award-winning writer, syndicated humor columnist, coffee addict and mom to a motley crew of children and pets who provide a steady stream of column ideas and dirt. She's also wife to a very patient man who had no idea, years ago when he still had time to escape, what he was getting himself into. Visit her website at:  JackiePapandrew.com

[ by Jackie Papandrew Copyright © 2008, (me@jackiepapandrew.com) -- submitted by: Jackie Papandrew ]

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