“When did I become a “Sugah” and a “Sweetheart”?


Dear Reader:

I reckon I just have to recognize the fact that suddenly I am old. It is making me a little sad, like my drooping confederate rose (above) but also mad!

Yesterday I told stories to seven different time slots of students in a trailer at Oakbrook Elementary…once I only had one class in there but most of the time there were two classes and on one occasion four classes of third, fourth, fifth, and (yes one) first grade class. (I loved every minute of it!)

Devil_with_a_Blue_Dress_On_singleNot only was I storytelling but also dancing the twist, the jerk, the swim, and the charleston for the final finale to “Devil with the Blue Dress On.” (Seven times, remember)

When the classes all twisted and went down to see “how low can you go” I went way down….I hung in there with the best of the students. Seven times!









So I was in a very happy/satisfied place when I left to go home….I was thinking to myself…“I’ve still got it girl…I can still hang with the students.”

The closer I got to home the hungrier I got…I was in the mood for some seafood…fried shrimp. (Had another appointment so wanted to go through a fast lane in a hurry) I ended up in the car line going around Captain D’s. When I gave my order I asked for the fried shrimp plate…but then reminded the voice on the other end that I didn’t want the bigger butterfly shrimp but the small ones.

The voice from inside replied back to me….“Do you mean sweetheart, the “popcorn” shrimp?Exactly right,” I replied happily, “the name just popped right out of my mind for a moment.” (a little twist on words…witty I thought)

“There was no laughter, however, instead there was a shushing sound and then the voice replied, “Don’t worry “sugah” it happens to everyone sooner or later.”  There was something in that response that made me feel a little strange but I reassured myself I was over-reacting because I was tired and starving.

As I got to the window I saw the 40-something face that accompanied the voice. Now she said,  “Oh good! There you are sweetheart.” (I thought to myself…where do you think I was… getting lost going around the building?) Again…I reassured myself I was just overreacting.

I handed her the money but was still a little wary about the ever- so-subtle condescending attitude I was feeling. And then came the coup de’ gras. As she went to return my change…some dollars and coins ….she, literally, “cupped” my hand together and placed hers over it, while she slowly dropped the bills and coins in it…..like she wasn’t sure I was strong enough to hold onto it by myself….I swear she held on to my cupped hand until I had almost pulled my hand back in the car window…I thought she was going to fall out the vendor window.

I could feel my face turning beet red….I wanted to shout, “How old and fragile do you think I am? I just finished seven classes of storytelling plus dancing the jerk, swim, twist, and charleston….and you think I can’t hold some money alone? “

Challenge: (What I really wanted to say was): “Why don’t you go and do what I just did and I will help other customers cup their hands so they won’t spill their change ….how about that sweetheart!!!!!” (But of course I didn’t)

To be fair…I can “Sugah, Sweetheart, Sweetie, and Bless your heart” with the best of them….BUT I do it for everyone regardless of age…I say it to  the grandchildren, children, peers…..actually any and everyone I come into contact with….but believe me this “sugah and sweetheart” was age bias!!!!  You can feel it, down to your bones, when it crosses the line from a fun remark to a supercilious attitude.

I know I am being just a ‘tad’ vindictive….but I hope the next time this woman goes into a department store and wanders too far over in the “Junior” section some clerk comes up to her and says, “Are you lost sugah…I think the clothes over here will be more age appropriate for your style now… sweetheart.”  (I can only hope)

Okay I have vented enough today….I am over it….thanks for listening…please feel free to share any similar experiences….”Misery loves company.” The incident just took the giddy-up out of my step.

Before I finish the blog I want to print Dianne’s and Sue Anne’s response to the messages of flowers blog yesterday that came in after the blog went to press yesterday morning.

Curiosier and Curiosier…Sue Anne and I could not make a technology connection…. first of all our phones don’t like each other and won’t accept each others’ calls. Then the responses on my Iphone (letting me know someone had contacted me on FB ) never appeared when I pulled FB. In exasperation I gave up.

While I was at Oakbrook (yesterday) poor Sue Anne actually got in the car and drove over with a piece of paper where she had written up the significance of the blue hydrangea arrangement she brought me and left it taped on my door.(Lesson learned…in the end, physical communication is the best of all….unless, of course, the other person isn’t home.)

Most annoying experience for both of us….so, now, let me share these two family connections and their family’s love of flowers….here are some excerpts. (I was in the “ballpark” with Sue Anne’s story, but had left out some of the best parts. She is such a wonderful storyteller and writer I would rather her tell this touching story.)

***I just recognized the funniest God Wink in Sue Anne’s first line….God does have a sense of humor. (Et tu, God…I really am old.)  Tears are pouring down my face I am laughing so hard.

FullSizeRenderSue Anne: “Daddy was never in the hospital, “sweetheart.” We kept him at home and when he had to go to bed his nurses and therapists would come to the house to see him.

Mama planted a huge flower garden outside of his bedroom window so he could enjoy the flowers. His therapist brought him a blue hydrangea bush, followed by other nurses and friends doing the same.

When he died from (ALS) mama continued to care for the flowers as if they were her babies. Following her death, before I sold her house, Caleb (her son) moved the hydrangeas to my yard- they are planted in front of my porch so I can see them everyday. I call them “Daddy’s flowers of faith” because he had such an incredible and beautiful faith- just like his flowers. Anyway my dear, that is the flower story.”

See the difference in this beautiful story….that is why I was trying so hard to make contact with Sue Anne so she could re-tell the story for me, as only she can tell it.

Sue Anne is the female counterpart to Andy Griffith. To those of you who had to leave before the end Monday evening you missed laughing your head off with the comedy team of Gin-g and Sue Anne!

*Plus with so much going on, I would catch a snatch of this story and a snatch of that story and I was afraid I was mixing them up. Thank you Sue Anne…I will never look at blue hydrangeas again…without remembering them as “flowers of faith.” Love that expression and I love you, sugah! (I couldn’t resist) Just “funning!”

IMG_1562Dianne: Excerpt: I asked Dianne how she got interested in getting her Master Gardener certificate and she said her mother was the one who encouraged her to sign up for the course through the Clemson Extension. It would be a great way to meet new people (since she was moving to Summerville.) Dianne said it really was a fun way to learn more about flowers with similarly interested people. Today she volunteers at Magnolia Gardens and works with specific seasonal flowers. Her real love and interest is arranging and she does it so beautifully!

Thank you for the pleasure of viewing your lovely whimsical yard. You remind me a lot of how I like to garden. Eclectic, feel good and of course fun! What would we do without our angels?
Happy gardening!
Smiles, hugs and many blessings,
So until tomorrow let me remind myself that if ‘getting old’ means being able to start a garden, tell stories, have fun adventures on week days, watch my grandchildren grow….then Let’s hear it for the oldies… Sweetheart!”
“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh
* Julie, you thought you were safe and going to get out of being in the picture from Anne’s Art Exhibition last Saturday, didn’t you? (by taking the picture yourself ) but someone else got you and Jenny….great picture.









About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to “When did I become a “Sugah” and a “Sweetheart”?

  1. Jo Dufford says:

    You always know how to start my day with a laugh. I remember when I used to take Mother out to lunch with me, and the waitress would give her that “sugah” bit, but being the gentle soul she was, she never mentioned it. It bothered me some, but then, came the day when it was my turn for “sugah”, and like you, it really got to me, especially when there were 4 of us at the table, and the waitress would ask each for her order, and then look at me and say, “And what will you have, sugah?” I’m just guessing I didn’t inherit my mother’s ever-so- gentle spirit. I was only 55 when the lady at the theater said, “Senior citizen, discount?” Funny, how I forget so many things, but that day stands out so clearly. You are still young, so maybe it will help when I say concerning the upset feeling, “This too will pass.” Although you may always feel just a twinge of “Really, did she have to say that?”


    • Becky Dingle says:

      Always good advice from my Jo! It is funny how the little things, like second-handed compliments stick around a lot longer than they should. I will count my blessings I can still eat popcorn shrimp and dance to Devil with the Blue Dress on.


  2. Gin-g Edwards says:


    FIrst of all Fred and I had a similar experience. We were at a Hardees on Hwy 61 and we rode up and placed our order. When we asked for strawberry jelly, the woman was so “nasty” that Fred just said, “Never mind” and we just drove off. We figured she had her fill on senior citizens that day.

    Also, I felt so badly not being able to help more. First of all I didn’t check my email until late in the day and when I did I was fixing dinner for company. Well, I called Sue Ann, sent her a message on Messanger on FB…to which she sent a text and called me to say that she had emailed you , tried to call, and then went on FB. Then, when you emailed back and said that you had not rec’d any of the messages, I started to get in my car ….but I didn’t know who to go to first…it was kinda like a revised episode of “Who’s on First”….

    Sue Ann said that she thought it was her phone and I told her that our phones would not work together…it is like there is a “hex” on them.

    So glad that you had a good time at OES…I know that they loved you.



    • Becky Dingle says:

      People in the service business should know that they have the power to either make or break someone’s day….we teachers were taught that…it is an awesome responsibility and some folks just plain blow it.


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