There is a type of individual—bless their little hearts—who seems to be in a constant state of concern and unease regarding my personal well-being. In fact they seem to be more worried about my affairs than I am myself. Personally, I don’t know how they find the time to focus on my life, but somehow they seem to be able to not only worry about me, but about a million other people simultaneously. I first recognized this individual when I was a small child playing on the playground. No matter what game I and my friends were engaged in, they always seemed to have a better idea or way of doing things. If we were playing kickball, this person thought it would be better if we played hopscotch. If we were playing dodge ball, they instead thought we would much better enjoy four square; as if we didn’t know our own mind. They usually wouldn’t leave well enough alone or take no for an answer and often times would run to the teacher and have her force us into playing what they wanted us to play. It didn’t take me long to figure out their game and in future activities I would always keep a wary eye out for the nosy nattering nitwit tattle tale, and if I ever saw her coming my way, I made sure to break up what we were doing and move our game to another location.
I recall an episode from the old Andy Griffith show featuring just such a person; Clara, the next door neighbor. Aunt Bee is going on a trip—probably up to Mount Pilot or some other such “big city”—and leaves Andy and Opie in charge of the house; which makes her hesitant to go because she is worried they can’t survive without her. During the time she is away, they behave much the same as most bachelors and the day Aunt Bee is scheduled to return home, Andy and Opie realize they’ve made the house into a pig sty and so they make an all out effort to clean it up. Satisfied that the house is spotless, the two boys recline on the couch, nearly exhausted, when Opie observes that Aunt Bee will surely be happy when she finds out they can get along fine without her. Andy senses this reality will break Aunt Bee’s heart, so he and Opie set about returning the house to its former messy state.
When they leave the house to go pick up Aunt Bee at the bus stop, Clara, the nosy neighbor, just happens to drop by to see how things are going. When she enters the house—doors weren’t locked in those simpler times—she is aghast at what she sees. She knows Aunt Bee is returning home so she rolls up her sleeves and begins to put the house back together. When the boys finally walk Aunt Bee through the front door, they are shocked at what they see. The house is spotless and the look on Aunt Bee’s face is evidence that Andy was right in his assumption; she is visibly disappointed. When Aunt Bee isn’t looking, Andy sends Opie upstairs to mess up his bedroom; at least Aunt Bee will be needed for one room in the house. The plan works and Aunt Bee is happy to see she’s needed after all and begins directing Opie on the finer art of cleaning his room. A happy ending is realized despite Clara’s good intentions. Left to her own devices, she would have broken a sweet old lady’s heart.
I thought cloning was illegal, but it seems that governments and organizations throughout the country are inundated with Clara’s; filled with good intentions and hell-bent on helping us live our lives as they know best. Sixty four ounces of soda isn’t good for you; so we’ll restrict it. Neither is fatty food and sugar; more restrictions. It isn’t safe for you to roll, ride, walk, or run without a helmet, so the law will ensure you do. You don’t have a clue what health insurance to choose for yourself, so the government chooses for you. Assuming we don’t know how to spend our hard-earned money properly, the government continues to confiscate more and more and spend it “responsibly”. And Sheryl Crow, a “Clara” through and through, would insist that we all use only one square of toilet paper per sitting. What? Add that to a teaspoon’s worth of water per flush and what do you get? If I could move my game somewhere else I would; but where? I will leave it to the ultimate lyricist Hank Williams to put into words just how I feel. Here are a few lines from his 1949 hit:
If I want a honky-tonk around ’til two or three
Now, brother that’s my headache, don’t you worry ’bout me
Just mind your own business, mind your own business
If you mind your business, then you won’t be mindin’ mine
Mindin’ other people’s business seems to be high-toned
I got all that I can do just to mind my own
Why don’t you mind your own business? Mind your own business
If you mind your own business, you’ll stay busy all the time
Hank, I couldn’t have said it better.