Opie and the Carnival

Opie and the Carnival

I was sitting at the bar on a Thursday afternoon. There weren’t many of us in there. It was a Thursday afternoon and we were in the middle of a pandemic so there wasn’t much sports on the TV. So instead of sports, The Andy Griffith Show was on the middle TV.

It was a sleepy afternoon. The window to the bar was open. The traffic outside stopped at the light and then moved on. It felt great observing but not being a part of it for a while. I saw and heard the cars and trucks and vans, but I didn’t hate them. As an outsider, I was able to accept it for what it was. It felt like a rare moment of peace on earth -blissfully away from the job and most everybody else. For a while, most of my frustrations and anxieties seemed to have slipped away.

On the TV, Opie had gone to the carnival. Some carnival shysters had given him the good BB gun to show Opie and everybody gathered around that even kids could win at the carnival game. Opie won and got excited and decided to go back the next day and use all his money to win his father the nicest gift they had for Andy’s birthday.

Well, the next day – unbeknownst to Opie – those shysters slipped him the gun with the bad sights and ended up taking all his money. Opie was sad. He couldn’t figure out what went wrong. His plan got fucked. But his father found out about everything, including the scheme, and set everything straight.

At the end of the episode, I smiled. I took a deep breath and a deep drink. Things felt even better. The fella beside me said, “Good show, huh?”

I hate nostalgia but I had to admit the show felt good.

“They don’t make ’em like they used to,” he said.

I shrugged.

“Today it’s all crap,” he said. “All crap.”

I sighed, realizing he could have spoken about what made the episode so good. But he chose instead to highlight why things are shit.

I finished my beer, realizing what’s crap to him now will be his grandkid’s Andy Griffith in 40 or 50 years. And then it’ll be the same goddamned thing for their grandkids, with everybody bitching about how things used to be better.

The bartender asked if I wanted another beer.

“Don’t think so,” I said

“C’mon. I’ll buy you another. Another episode will be on in a few minutes,” the guy said.

“Thanks. But I gotta get home,” I lied, not wanting to hang around for that guy to fuck up anymore of an otherwise sublime few minutes of my Thursday with his dull and rote thoughts about things.

Yeah. Things used to be better. And things today are crap. Except that 30 minutes of Andy Griffith on a Thursday afternoon during a pandemic. That was pretty goddamned good. And maybe another 30 minutes would have been just as good if that loudmouth could have left a good thing alone.

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