Andy: Barney, why are you wearing an Army gas mask? You look ridiculous.
Barney: (muffled, unintelligible words)
Andy: I don’t understand a word you’re saying. Take that thing off; you’re gonna scare the children.
(Barney pulls the mask off, smooths his hair back down.)
Andy: Where did you get a gas mask, for heaven’s sake?
Barney: At the Army Navy surplus store in Mount Pilot.
Andy: Barney, I told you that Aunt Bea and the Ladies Auxiliary are making masks for us to wear.
Barney: I tell you what Aunt Bea could make that would probably just kill off the coronavirus.
Andy: Her homemade kerosene pickles?
Barney: Andy, I’ve seen flowers wilt when she opens a jar.
Andy: Well, there’s still about 30 quarts of ‘em left over from last summer. I hid them in the garage. They’d be pretty potent by now.
Barney: I bet the CDC could make a vaccine from the juice.
Andy: Shhhh, here she comes.
Barney: Hi Aunt Bea, that sure is a pretty mask you’re wearing.
Aunt Bea: Well, I’m glad you like it because I made two just like it for you boys.
Andy: (makes a face that Aunt Bea can’t see) Barn, would you looka there—two matching cotton floral print masks for you and me.
Barney: (stares blankly) Yea, how ‘bout that.
Aunt Bea: Well, I gotta run. I’ll be in the garden if you need me. I’m planting cucumbers again. I know how much you boys love my summer pickles.
(Aunt Bea walks down the sidewalk humming happily.)
Barney: Andy, I’m not wearing a mask with pink flowers and purple butterflies on it.
Andy: Well, this here wouldn’t be my first choice either, but we have to wear a mask in public. We’re safety officers and we need to set an example.
(Gomer walks up)
Andy: Hi Gomer.
Gomer: Hi Andy, Hi Barney. Goober says Hey.
Andy: Hey to Goober.
Gomer: Barney, why aren’t you wearing a mask?
Barney: Well, I ain’t wearing THIS, I tell you that.
Gomer: Then you’re breaking the law. CITIZEN’S ARREST! CITIZEN’S ARREST!
Barney: Oh, shut up, Gomer.
Andy: Where you headin’, Gomer?
Gomer: I thought I’d check to see if Floyd was open yet. Goober offered to cut my hair; but have you seen him since he cut his hair hisself? It’s not a pretty sight.
Andy: Gomer, Floyd’s barbershop is still closed. Emmett’s Fix-It shop is still closed. And the diner is only doing take-out.
Barney: Did you catch Rev. Tucker’s sermon streaming online on Sunday? He’s talking about holding services at the drive-in theatre in Mount Pilot. And I’m thinking about buying a car. Mrs. Lesh is a sweet little old lady who’s selling a 1954 Ford sedan with low mileage. She only drove it to church on Sundays. And it’s only $300.
Andy: But that’s all the money you have in savings, ain’t it?
Barney: Yes, but I feel good about this.
Gomer: Barney, I think you should let Gomer take a good look at that car before you buy it. Just don’t say nuthin about his haircut.
(Opie walks up)
Opie: Hey, Pa.
Andy: Hi Ope. Wait, aren’t you supposed to be at home on a Zoom call with your teacher about your math homework?
Opie: Miss Crump gave us the day off. Turns out that she and Thelma Lou were up all night binge watching the first 3 seasons of The Crown on Netflix. If you ask me, I think they both have hangovers too.
Barney: So, that’s why Thelma Lou didn’t respond to my texts last night.
Andy: Well, son, get on home and get your chores done.
Opie: Pa, after I’m done cleaning up my room, can I play a few hours of Call of Duty Black Ops before I get on Instagram?
Andy: I reckon.
Opie: Oh, I almost forgot. Aunt Bea said she’s tired of cooking and wanted you to get take-out from Olive Garden. And she said she’s completely out of her stash of good wine so she’s wonderin’ if you could stop by Otis’ Wine & Spirits on the way home and pick up a few bottles of merlot.
Andy: You wanna join us for supper, Barn?
Barney: I’d love to Andy, but I told Thelma Lou I’d take her through the drive-thru at Chick-fil-A. Show off my new car.
Andy: You’re the last of true romantics, Barney. Thelma Lou’s a lucky girl.
(Ernest T. Bass jumps out from behind a bush where he’d been hiding and eavesdropping on the conversations.)
Ernest T: I don’t have any supper plans, sheriff. And I’ve been workin’ on my table manners. Listen to this… “No coffee, tea, or punch, thank YOU.”
Andy: Ernest T, do you like pickles?
Ernest T: Oh, I looooooove pickles!
(Andy and Barney make eye contact and smile.)
Andy: Do you think you can eat a LOT of pickles?
Ernest T: I sure can, sheriff. You just watch me!
Andy: In that case, dinner’s at 6:30. You’re in for a rare treat.
Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin, TN, and the author of several books. He has been a weekly newspaper columnist in the Nashville area for over a decade.