Cousin Rufus’s last letter to Cletus generated several comments. Some of those came via my personal email, so the public didn’t get to see them. In answer to popular request, however, here is another letter from the Ozark back porch philosopher.
Dear Cousin Cletus,
Them folks outside the holler sure is strange. Did I tell ya about mah trip to the big city last week?
Here’s how it happened. Mah nephew Jeb came to visit and wanted to drive me to the doctor. This ol’ arthritis has me crippled up so I cain’t hardly walk no more. So off we went.
When we got to the big city I noticed people wuz wearin’ somethin’ over they faces. At first I thought mebbe they wuz practicin’ fer Halloween—but it was early fer thet. Then I ‘membered watching The Lone Ranger on yore daddy’s TV and thought that wuz funny, they’s wearin masks in the wrong place on they faces and anyhow, they don’t have no eyeholes in 'em.
So I up ‘n asks Jeb. He said somethin’ ‘bout a virus.
“So they’s a virus goin’ round?” I asked.
“Yep, an’ it’s contagious!” he said.
“Well, if it’s so contagious, why is them folks running around spreadin’ it?” I wanted to know.And Cletus, you know whut he said? “Oh, they’s keepin’ other folks from getting it by coverin’ they nose and mouth.”
“Well, where is the sick folks?” I asked.
“Prob’ly in the hospitals,” he tole me. And the well folks has been tole to quarantine at home.”
You coulda knocked me over with a pin feather, Cletus. I guess some news don’t reach far back in the holler where I live.
“Wait a minute, Jeb,” I said. “You tellin’ me they’s makin well folks stay in they houses and they’s lettin’ possible sick folks run around? That don’t make no sense!”
“That’s not all,” he said. “They closed down a lot o’ businesses but kept the liquor stores open. Called ‘em ‘essential businesses.’’ I ‘bout dropped mah teeth when he sed thet.
‘Well, whut about churches? They letting people still go ta church, ain’t they?”
“Well, Unc, they closed ‘em fer some time. Said they could only meet in groups o’ ten or less.”
“But them protesters wuz marchin in the streets without masks, warn’t they? I saw a pitcher in the newspaper down at Lem’s Gen’ral Store. And they wuz thicker than flies at Zeke Ledbedder's butcher shop."
“Some things ya just cain’t explain, Uncle Rufus,” Jeb said.
I guess he’s right. Mah pore ol’ daddy would turn over in his grave if he knew the topsy-turvy world we’s livin’ in. People’s calllin’ bad things good an’ good things troublesome. It just don’t make no sense.
And thet’s the way I found out ‘bout the new way o’ doin’ business in the big city. Them nurses at the doctor’s office gave me a mask to wear an’ I could hardly get mah breath in the thang. Whoever heerd o’ breathin’ in yore own stale air? Even us hillbillies knows that ain't healthy. . I think them eddycated folks got dropped on they heads when they wuz born, cause they’s actin like they got no sense. Wish I could bring a truck load of ‘em back to the holler so they could see how normal folks live.
The nurse said she didn’t want the mask back so I took it home and I’m usin’ it to hold blackberries when I go pickin’ outside mah back door. It holds ‘bout enough to go on a bowl o’ cereal fer mah breakfast. Now thet’s using mah head!
Y’all come see me sometime, Cletus, in the holler, where folks is normal like. We’ll go down to Lem’s Gen’ral Store and git us a orange sodee pop.