Sunday, March 15, 2015

Nosey Business

Andy: Oh, I wouldn't worry about Barney, Floyd. He gets a little excited about things sometimes, you know.

Floyd (Howard McNear): I think his trouble is he's not married. Now, if he was married, these little things wouldn't bother him.

The episode of the Andy Griffith Show that first aired on this night in 1965 was a great lesson in friendship.

Andy (Andy Griffith) and Barney (Don Knotts) were going through some old office files when they came across a file concerning a 19–year–old assault case involving Floyd the barber (Howard McNear) and the grocer, Old Man Foley (Frank Ferguson). According to the report, Floyd had punched Foley in the nose in the barber shop.

The case had never been properly disposed of, and that set off Barney, who promptly stirred up a hornet's nest. It was really a classic example of Barney being Barney, obsessing about something to the point of driving everyone around him nuts.

Having taken the position that the case was never properly disposed of and that it was the responsibility of the sheriff's office to close the case if possible, Barney interrogated the two people who were involved — and, not surprisingly, he got two versions of what had happened.

So Barney wanted to re–enact the event, bring Foley and Goober (George Lindsey) in and see if they could arrive at the truth. Goober had been a little boy at the time of the incident, but he had been the only witness.

Barney said the first thing to do was put everyone where they had been 19 years earlier. He speculated that Goober had been sitting in one of the chairs lining the wall, waiting for his turn in the barber chair, and Goober agreed that was probably the case so Barney led him to a chair. Goober said he was probably reading a comic book because he always read a comic book while waiting his turn so Barney grabbed a comic book from the stack of magazines on a table.

Goober asked for another one. "I've read this one," he told Barney.

Barney said it didn't matter if he had read it before. It was really just a prop for the re–enactment.

"But I've read it twice," Goober protested.

So Barney gave him a different comic book.

Andy, who had been getting a haircut before Barney came in with Goober and Foley, had had enough. He leaped out of the chair, grabbed Barney and pulled him over to a doorway where he apparently hoped they could speak in private. He told Barney that he wanted him to drop the whole thing, that nobody cared about a 19–year–old assault case.

Barney said he cared and he hoped Andy would, too.

Andy said he didn't care, and the two began to argue, apparently unaware that another fight was breaking out back in the barber shop. Barney had stirred up some long–forgotten feelings, and Floyd punched Foley again.

Andy and Barney ran back into the barber shop, and Barney asked Goober — once again, the only witness — what had happened, but Goober had been reading the comic book, just as he probably was doing 19 years earlier.

Things really snowballed from there.

Mayberry, of course, was a small town, and it seemed that just about everyone was related to either Foley or Floyd. Before you knew it, the town was dividing into two camps, and people were getting hit on the nose at an astonishing rate. Some of the people who were getting into fights didn't even know each other.

In a last–ditch effort to bring peace back to Mayberry, Andy brought Foley and Floyd into the courthouse for a little discussion — and sent Barney out to get Goober. With Barney out of the way, he tried to reason with the two of them.

"You've been friends for 20 years," he told them. "More than friends, you've been neighbors. You must have seen one another through a lot of trouble in that time. Now, you're not kids, either one of you, and you both know the value of old friends. And the first law of friendship is to be ready to forgive. I know you're both sore about what happened yesterday, but I don't believe anything that's happened couldn't be made right by a warm, forgiving handshake. Do you?"

Floyd said that was what Sheriff Poindexter said to them 19 years earlier.

What happened then, Andy wanted to know.

They had shaken hands, Floyd said, and then he had invited Foley over for a free shave. Foley agreed; that is what had happened.

"Well, if it worked then," Andy said, "I don't see why it wouldn't work now."

So they shook hands, and it seemed everything was resolved — until Barney returned from the gas station with Goober and found that Foley and Floyd were no longer in the courthouse. Andy told him they had settled everything like friends, but that wasn't good enough for Barney. He found out that no official paper had been signed closing the case.

"Well, then, the case isn't closed," Barney said. "It's as open as it ever was!"