Before “Splash,” before “Apollo 13,” before “Happy Days,” an adorable, six-year-old Ronny Howard charmed Southerners (and Yankees alike) as Opie Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show.” He’s maybe the first and last non-Southerner to emulate the accent without causing native’s ears to bleed while screaming “The horror! The horror!” Or maybe that’s just me. Even now, I’m nostalgic for his “Awww Paaawww…” I have never actually heard a Southerner refer to their father as “Paw,” but who cares? Opie can do no wrong. (In case you are wondering, I believe fathers in the South are most frequently called “Daddy” pronounced “Dead-E.”)
For some reason, Southerners got into the habit of calling Andy Griffith “Andy Griffin.” (Hey, maybe that explains why I can never remember whether the infamous D-lister is called Kathy “Griffith” or Kathy “Griffin.”) I, for one, always wondered why the show was called “Andy Griffith” rather than “Andy Taylor.” Yes, I have since figured it out.
Growing up in the boondocks, I was always a little jealous of the town folks in Mayberry. Where was our bullet-less deputy? Our lovable drunk? Our chatty barber? Sure, as a teenager I wanted my MTV like a good Gen-Xer should. But when I was little, I wanted my Aunt Bee. (Although I must say my aunt Tommie was infinitely more fun. Especially when she switched the contents of her all-day giant sipping cup from Coke to wine coolers, due to the “New Coke” debacle.)
The most lasting lesson I learned from Andy Griffin was Barney’s motto: “Nip it! Nip it in the bud!” Of course it took more than a few non-nipped situations to make me realize the wisdom. But these days, I am quick to get out the scissors. There’s a reason one of my favorite things to say is “Goodbye.” (However, I should note that this is also one of my least favorite things to say.)
After a decade and a half living as a Southern ex-pat, you will not likely find me whistling “Dixie.” But I still do a mean rendition of the Andy Griffin theme song. It’s almost as good as this parrot’s.
Who’s your favorite Mayberrian?