Julia Sugarbaker, my hero

This blog is a bit long, but please stick with me to the end. I have some things to say!

Sometimes the things for which I am thankful aren’t awwww-inducing musings about kids, friends or my Life’s constant blessing bath.

Let’s be clear – I am endlessly thankful for those things.

But sometimes I am thankful for things which other people might think are a curse. One of the main things for which I am thankful, which is the topic of today’s blog, is my God-given ability to Sugarbake.

Yes, I use Julia Sugarbaker’s name as a verb.

She wasn’t a real person, but she is a character with one timeless trait – her unapologetic ability to verbally assassinate someone while maintaining an air of elegance and charm. There are so many great Julia quotes from the Designing Women days that I wasn’t sure what to include, but here is one I found this morning. If you aren’t familiar with Julia Sugarbaker, this will give you a little insight about what I mean:

I do not think everyone in America is ignorant! Far from it! But we are today, probably, the most uneducated, under-read and illiterate nation in the Western hemisphere. Which makes it all the more puzzling to me why the biggest question on your small mind is whether or not little Johnny is gonna recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning! I’ll tell you something else, Mr. Brickett. I have had it up to here with you and your phony issues and your Yankee Doodle yakking! If you like reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every day, then I think you should do it! In the car! In the shower! Wherever the mood strikes you! But don’t try to tell me when or where I have to say or do or salute anything, because I am an American, too, and that is what being an American is all about! And another thing, I am sick and tired of being made to feel that if I am not a member of a little family with 2.4 children who goes just to Jerry Fallwell’s church and puts their hands over their hearts every morning that I am unreligious, unpatriotic and un-American. Because I’ve got news for you, Mr. Brickett. All liberals are not kooks, anymore than all conservatives are fascists. And the last time I checked, God was neither a Democrat nor a Republican! And just for your information, yes I am a liberal, but I am also a Christian. And I get down on my knees and pray every day on my own turf, on my own time. One of the things that I pray for, Mr. Brickett, is that people with power will get good sense and that people with good sense will get power and that the rest of us will be blessed with the patience and the strength to survive the people like you in the meantime!

Seriously. What’s not to love about this woman?

She just summed me up, and that was said when I was a kid, which was years before there was enough of me to sum up to anything. Her quote is a monument to whom this character will always be in the minds of countless people who loved that show.

So that’s a long introduction to the idea that I have always had the ability to Sugarbake. In my younger years, it almost got me in trouble a few times when I let my mouth take control before my brain had a chance to make sensible choices. For example, there was a substitute teacher who ran from the room in tears and never came back after I stood up in class and told her what she could do with her insults and irrationality. However, as I’ve aged, I have mostly taken my Sugarbaking to blogs, emails and status updates where I have time to think before my candidness lands my foot squarely in my mouth.

Just to prove this, I’ll use my Facebook status from the other day as an example. What I wanted to say was, “Get your head out of your rear, moron,” but what I actually posted was, “Cranium removal should be a proctology sub-specialty.” Clearly the moron in question wouldn’t have the wherewithal to dissect a shred of meaning from that statement, so I aired my thoughts without looking equally moronic.

(For the record, I did not apologize to that teacher, nor did I get detention for my insubordination. I did, however, get a sly grin from the principal and a reminder that I should not talk to my other teachers that way.)

So here we are at today’s blog, and I’m feeling like doing a little baking with some Southern sugar slathered on top.

(I promise they aren’t all as politically charged as the first one).

1. May 1, 2003 – Then-president George W. Bush stood in front of a banner printed with the words “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.” Really, George? I’m pretty sure most of the casualties and insurgencies in Iraq have taken place since you made that speech. In fact, wasn’t it President Obama who increased the deployment of unmanned drones in Pakistan to a record number in 2010 and 2011 and isn’t that where bin Laden was ultimately killed? While you wasted time, resources and lives finishing off your Daddy’s long-ago-cold plate of Saddam Hussein-flavored crow, bin Laden kept on filling a free man’s lungs and spewing a radical’s hate.

Now the lemmings have come out on Facebook and Twitter groaning about Obama this and George W. that.

Get over it.

Navy Seals were the ones who took out bin Laden. Obama ordered the hit, and he didn’t need your input or George W.’s for that matter. Maybe he timed it so he can ride the wave of vindication into next year’s election. Maybe this whole thing is simply a 2008 election promise finally kept or maybe it’s just a wag-the-dog show of epic proportions. Regardless of what it is or how it happened, it’s done.

To all those grumbling people, all I can do is quote my Daddy when I say, “you would gripe if you were hung with a new rope.” Osama bin Laden is dead. No matter how you look at it, it’s done, and your closed-minded, racist, uneducated remarks about President Obama are not going to change the fact that he is the one who authorized the kill. Your beloved George W. had nothing to do with it, and all your moaning about birth certificates is not going to bring him back to office.

May 1, 2011 – President Barack Obama stands in front of a simple podium and announces that Osama bin Laden is dead. This the day my president was truly born, no matter what his birth certificate says. He’s not perfect. He has some ideas with which I’m not 100% sure I agree. But he’s my president, and – God bless America! – he’s yours, too.

2. While we’re talking about bin Laden, let’s address something he would probably find particularly offensive – American Idol. Jacob Lusk should’ve gone home long ago. America, what were you thinking allowing him to stay this long? He sings better than I do, of course (nearly everyone does), but I’m not putting myself out there as a contestant and asking anyone to judge me. America has gotten it wrong before. Many times. But keeping him this long is ridiculousness defined. Let him sing gospel. Let him sing ballads. Let him sing the ABC’s for all I care. Just let him do it somewhere else. Thank you, God, for providing us with DVR and a fast forward button.

3. Along those same lines, let me address you directly, Mr. Tyler. We finally got rid of Paula Abdul’s cheerily blind adoration of every contestant. At least her seemingly drunken babbling entertained us in a train wreck sort of way. You, sir, despite your old-rocker-yummyliciousness , are just a wrinkled paperweight designed to provide just enough heaviness to keep that chair from flying up in the air. What other purpose you might possibly suit escapes me.

4. Green Sports, you are second only to Jacob Lusk’s Idol survival in the race to define ridiculousness. If you forgot our order, say so. It took five weeks for you to get our parents’ shirts to us, and then you tried to blame the storms for the delay. How in the world is that possible when you had already had our order for several weeks? Every person on our team who interacted with you in some way had to sit through your staff’s re-adding the totals and coming up with something new each time, demands for money we didn’t owe you, arbitrary changes in timelines and general slow-pokedness. And that was just the times we actually came into the store. I can’t count the number of times we did not get acceptable service over the phone or the staff simply chose not to return our calls after multiple promises that they would do so. Just know this – I’m sure your doorbell will chime many times through the years as people come and go looking for cleats, t-shirts or whatever overpriced athletic gear you are pushing at any given moment.  But it will be a cold day in You Know Where before you look up in response to that bell and see a me-shaped shadow in your doorway.

5. Once upon a time, a prince met a beautiful, stylish young lady and fell in love. His long-deceased mother had left behind a stunning engagement ring for her son to some day give to his true love, and when he gave the young lady his mother’s ring, she said, “yes.” The world rejoiced for a royal wedding was approaching, and a new princess would soon take her place in history.

It’s the modern day fairytale of a young lady named Kate whose prince won her heart. Kate got her glass slipper, so I suppose it’s natural that all the girls whose carriages have turned back into pumpkins (only to find that the prince never showed up later to whisk her away) are a wee bit jealous. But let’s get real, ladies. You no more have the right to judge her dress, her ring, her wedding or her life than you had to comment on how her would’ve-been mother-in-law led her life after her divorce. It’s her life and her choices. Keep your eyes on your own paper.

Nowhere along the wedding planning path did Kate Middleton stop to care what every Facebook user and fashion analyst in the world would think of each individual stitch on her dress. Similarly, she did not demand that particular ring and might’ve actually preferred to have something uniquely hers. The “her dress is so plain it’s ugly” and “she doesn’t deserve to wear Diana’s ring” remarks are nothing short of stupid. (Yes, Sarah, there are times when it’s okay to use the word “stupid.” This is one.)

The rich variety of opinions in this world and the countless avenues for expression are part of what makes this Earth beautiful. But going on for a solid week about the stitching on someone’s dress or the travesty of her ring’s once belonging to her still-revered mother-in-law are just too much. Get a life. Get out of Kate’s. She was beautiful. She did things her way as much as she could. The only person who could possibly wear that ring other than Kate and give proper respect to Diana is Elton, and despite the constant whimpering of all the princess wannabes, they will all live happily ever after. The end.   

6. If your kid is disrespectful to others, perhaps you should look in the mirror when you go looking for someone to blame. Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the most shortsighted parent of all? Model the behavior you want to see in your children. They are not born knowing right from wrong, just like they are not born being disrespectful, no matter how much you tell yourself that. They learn it. From you. If you aren’t respectful, don’t get mad when they aren’t. And if you let them get away with it once, you have just announced that it’s okay every other time they choose to show their mouthy little tails. If you permit it, you promote it. Look a little closer to home the next time you go looking for a scapegoat to blame for your child’s behavior.

And, while we’re on the topic, let me just say that you are not living in a cone of silence when you gripe about your boss, your significant other, your parents, your neighbors or anyone else. No matter how intent your kids are on playing, those curious little ears are sponges soaking it all up. So don’t get embarrassed when your children take your negativity and wring it out on everyone around them. Don’t get mad when they can’t get along with other kids at school or spend more time in the principal’s office than in the classroom. And don’t get mad when they hit, bite or kick their supposed friends. Considering the thousand times a day that you yell or threaten them with bodily harm, all I can say sounds more like something my four-year-old would say – you started it.  

So there are my ever-so-slightly sugarcoated thoughts. I would like to be much more forceful and much more “me” about the things I want to say, but out of respect for my family and friends, I will maintain my composure and not 100% channel my beloved Julia or my good ole Southern, take-no-prisoners mouth littered with unnecessarily four-letter words.

Clearly, I will never live up to the Sugarbaker tradition of verbal excellence. The bar is simply too high. If you’ve never watched that show, go back and look up clips on YouTube when you have a few minutes to enjoy Southern superiority and grace at their best. Oh, Julia, how I miss you. Your defense of Suzanne’s weight gain will always stand in my mind as one of the show’s most awesomely, take-that, in-your-face, who-do-you-think-you-are-you-bitter-little-biddy moments.

Yes, and I gather from your comments there are a couple of other things you don’t know, Marjorie. For example, you probably didn’t know that Suzanne was the only contestant in Georgia pageant history to sweep every category except congeniality, and that is not something the women in my family aspire to anyway. Or that when she walked down the runway in her swimsuit, five contestants quit on the spot. Or that when she emerged from the isolation booth to answer the question, “What would you do to prevent war,” she spoke so eloquently of patriotism, battlefields and diamond tiaras, grown men wept. And you probably didn’t know, Marjorie, that Suzanne was not just any Miss Georgia, she was the Miss Georgia. She didn’t twirl just a baton. That baton was on fire. And when she threw that baton into the air, it flew higher, further, faster than any baton has ever flown before, hitting a transformer and showering the darkened arena with sparks! And when it finally did come down, Marjorie, my sister caught that baton, and 12,000 people jumped to their feet for 16 and one-half minutes of uninterrupted thunderous ovation as flames illuminated her tear-stained face! And that, Marjorie – just so you will know and your children will someday know – is the night the lights went out in Georgia!


About Rebecca Mixon

If you attend my funeral, please wear red. Make sure my loved ones do not bury me in shoes, and make sure they don't let the undertaker make me look ridiculous. I want beautiful music and lots of storytelling. All that will be great once I'm gone from this Earth. But, while I'm here, give me my flowers while I live. It has come to my attention lately that we don't "give people their flowers" until it's too late for them to enjoy the beauty, the colors, the sentiment. I'm changing that. The people in my life will know how they are appreciated and loved, and they will smell the aroma of their flowers as often as I get the chance to tell them. This blog is about the blessings in my life. Mainly, it's about the people who keep my world spinning on a good axis and help me realize that work, bills and stress mean nothing. Family counts. The rest is just gravy.
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1 Response to Julia Sugarbaker, my hero

  1. melissa says:

    And this is why I not only heart your face, but your mind and heart as well. The “night the lights went out in Georgia” Sugarbake was and is my all time favorite.

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