Friday, October 22, 2010

If Nothing Comes to Mind ...

About McDonald’s  We were sitting in that icon of Americana, Mickey D's, drinking huge tumblers of sweet tea.  The sun was shining, but it was not too hot to enjoy the sights, which is what we had come to do.  Look around.  Soak it up.  Take it all in - here in Mt. Airy, N.C., the actual town upon which the fictional Mayberry of Andy Griffith fame was based.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Andy Griffith Show, and the little town was taking full advantage of the public relations boon.

You cannot get there all that easily, in that it requires a jaunt off the main I-85 interstate, going east about 10 to 12 miles.  But they are bucolic miles and even though the speed limit is seldom above 45 MPH one simply does not mind.  Rolling hills, stately old trees, and over every other crest something that you seldom see anymore - at least not here in Northern California where I live - a lovely little white church with a tall steeple and sitting next to this is almost always a small, very old cemetery.  From time to time we stopped and snapped a picture of one too quaint to pass up.

We milled around the three blocks of "downtown Mayberry" (Mt. Airy) and it was easy to confuse fact with fiction because many of the stores are named something which includes the word Mayberry.  Pictures of Andy Griffith and his pal Don Knotts (that is Andy and Barney for those of you either too young to remember or who did not follow the show) abound on nearly every store front.  We passed the Snappy Lunch Diner, and Floyd's Barber Shop. 

But we didn't linger too long as we were really looking for the main historic attraction, the recently placed bronze, life size, statue of Andy and Opie which stands in front of the Andy Griffith museum.  However, this site was not on the main square, which we circled twice while looking for it. (Tried to import a picture of it, but apparently the picture is copyrighted and it is not allowed to be copied here.)

Having found the object of our desire, we were ready for a break when we got an unexpected treat.  Coming around a corner, just as we were driving by, was the same squad car that Barney used to tool around in, so proudly and innocently.  It is now being used to ferry tourists around this minute metropolis.

I love to sit and listen to the conversations flowing around me, whenever I am in a public place.  In Italy, several years ago, I enjoyed letting the Italian language flow over and around me, as much as I appreciated seeing the great historic sites.  Here the language was the same as mine, but sounded very differently, coming as it did with a pronounced southern accent.  It made me smile just to hear it.

This is when I heard what stuck me as one of the truest, and funniest, exchanges I had run across in years.  A husband and wife at an adjacent table were talking about some family member (it was unclear what the exact nature of the relationship might be) who had recently started a new business and had a new baby at, apparently, nearly the same time. The logistics alone boggle the mind.

The wife was just astonished at, and strongly disapproving of, the temerity of this female relative.  What could she be thinking, starting a business at the same time she delivered a new child?  Good grief, had the woman no common sense?  Did she not realize the the potential for either bankruptcy for the business, as family duties interfered; or equally possible - according to Mrs. Know-It-All - irreparable harm done to this tiny addition to the family, while mom was tending the business?  It was - according to her - an outrage, and somebody ought to tell her so.

She then peppered her spouse with questions such as, "Don't you just think this whole situation is ridiculous? I mean, what can she be thinking?  Don't you think someone ought to talk some sense into her? "  And on and on it went.

It was abundantly clear that she was anticipating some appropriately disparaging response from her husband, who had thus far replied with nothing more than the occasional, "Uh huh.  Humm.  Well... ."  Strictly noncommittal.

Mrs. K-I-A finally exploded with an exasperated, "Well, say something."

I should mention that the object of this verbal onslaught was a very tall, very large, middle aged man who appeared to have large dose of the patience of Job.  It was equally clear that he had listened to all of this before, and not just once.  He was unmoved.

As she continued to pelt him with insistence that he make some verbal comment upon this whole "ridiculous situation", he finally opened his mouth.

Without so much as a raised eyebrow, much less a raised voice or an irritated tone, he said, "Well, Momma, if nothin' comes to mind ", (pronounced m-a-a-h-h-n-d - as if mind rhymed with pond or wand) "what am I supposed to say?"

Indeed!  Oh, if only more of us had the sense to say nothing, when nothing comes to mind as either necessary or appropriate.  If only we could learn to keep our opinions to ourselves and our judgments in check.

I got tickled.  My sister, returning from refilling the buckets of sweet tea we were consuming, looked puzzled when she saw that "look" that means "Marsha is about to blow."  We hurried out to the parking lot, where I shared with her the exchange I had just overheard. 

We laughed, we chortled, we ha-ha-ha-ha'd until there was a danger of leaking brake fluid.  We quickly agreed that this was a classic and would immediately enter the lexicon of family lore.  For the next few days, anytime we were confused about whether to turn left or right, one of us would look at the other and start "Well, Momma, if nothin' comes to mahnd"... at which point we would crack up all over again.

Silly?  Sure.  But it was a classic moment, and I still believe that the Apostle James knew what he was talking about when he admonished us to "Let your yes be yes, and your no, no ... ."  (James 5:12)

If nothing comes to mind, that is helpful, or positive, or encouraging, then surely, it is better to say nothing.  It is not easy to do, but it is worth the effort.  Have a great day. ....Marsha Y.


  1. It sounds like you and your sister enjoy spending time togheter. And how fun to get to visit this part of the country. I used to love to watch the Andy Griffith show.

    Blessings and love,

  2. Debbie -
    Good to hear from you. Actually my sister and I have a long and complicated history (don't most sisters) and this was a "healing trip."
    Yes, I also loved the Andy Griffith show.

    God bless you - Marsha Y.