Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What Would Julia Sugarbaker Do? Or Maude?

This post was written by our incredibly dear and close friend C. We adore her, even though technically we've never met her. Isn't the interweb awesome? And don't get us started C's sister - we want her to move in with us.  Anyway, C sent us this rant and it invokes two of our favorite TV ladies so we had to post it.


As a tv-aholic, I have devoted considerable time and attention to female characters on television, from the early days of Lucy Ricardo and Edith Bunker to the present day of Meredith Grey and Olivia Benson. I really admire several characters, but two of my absolute favorite characters are Julia Sugarbaker from Designing Women and Maude, the title character in the show Maude. I like their wit and the way they used words to cut down shortsighted, narrow-minded bigots. I was thinking of them today as I encountered a fellow moviegoer when my autistic son was having meltdown in the theater.

I was leaving the theater for the final time after failed attempts to calm my son. Smurfs on the big screen freaked him out. I saw a woman with “The Look” on her face. I know The Look. It smacks of supreme frustration and fatigue. I wear it every day, especially now that we are trying to discover whether or not my son’s behavior medicine is causing a re-emergence of his severe reflux. I smiled at her and said sympathetically (and NICELY), “Are you having a tough day, too?” She said, “No, I’m not, but YOUR SON is RUINING THE MOVIE.” I was so stunned by her flat out rudeness that I just said, “I’m sorry, ma’am. C’mon, Buddy, let’s get out of here.”

As I prepared to circle the parking lot while waiting for my twelve year old and her friend (still inside the movie), I wondered what my heroes Julia and Maude would have said.

I think Julia would have said something like this:

"Lady, and I use that term as LOOSELY as possible, I do apologize that my son’s outbursts have disrupted your afternoon here at the cinema. I know how difficult it is to capture the nuanced dialogue and subtle humor of the Smurfs when a frightened child who has no functional language is screaming in distress and discomfort. I know how difficult it is because I deal with his screaming and his pain I know how difficult it is because I watch him longing to be like your little angels, who are kicking the seats of the children in front of them and loudly asking “When is this over? I hafta go to the bathroom.” He cannot even tell me that. I know how difficult it is because for the past eight and a half years of his life I have dealt with people like you who jump to conclusions about him and my parenting without any compassion or empathy whatsoever. I know how difficult it is because day and night I wrestle with the worry about the day that is coming- the day when I can no longer care for him in my home and have to turn him over to the kindness of strangers in a group home. If there’s one thing I appreciate, it’s difficulty. So, madam, you have my undying sympathy and my most profound apologies. Now go SMURF yourself!”

Maude, bless her, would have undoubtedly been more succinct. She would have squared up, GLARED at the stupid shrew and said, “God will get you for that, Lady!” Maybe someday I’ll have bracelets made up for moments like this”WWJSS?” “WWMD?” (What would Julia Sugarbaker Say? What would Maude do?”)

As I drove home, the skies opened and there was literally a tornado watch in our area. I thought to myself, “That lady better watch out for a flying house. Karma (and Maude) would have it heading straight toward her."

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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