Country Innocence with A Child-Like Exuberance
and the Strumming of a Worn Ol' Guitar
Recent divorcee Carlene Frazier Dobber is everything her older sister Charlene Stillfield is -- tenfold! Originally in Atlanta to start over after her divorce, she takes over the office work at Sugarbakers when Charlene's husband Bill transfers the family to England, acquiring the position as "baby" of the firm.
Though she is so much like her sister, naive and trusting does not begin to describe Carlene. She looks with wonder on Sugarbakers as well as everything else in Atlanta, having never really been outside her hometown of Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Unfortunately this also means that she does not have the grace and style that Charlene has acquired over the years. Carlene is basically still a backwoods hick. The idea that her classless ex-husband oozes charm in the way that she feels he does turns the stomach of her co-workers, but her sweet innocence and genuine nature warms their hearts.
Tenderhearted Carlene married Dwayne Dobber shortly out of high school, though she did at one point date a guy named Lyle --- that everyone called "Booger." Lyle kept his game in a meat locker and would let Carlene go down there and pick out her dinner. She said that this always made her feel like a princess.
Her ex-husband Dwayne is self-admittedly the number one import car salesman in all of Southeast Missouri. Because of this, he actually feels that he is more sophisticated and worldly than Carlene. On the other hand, this is the same man who had his wife serve drinks to his friends wearing hot pants, would come to the dinner table with no shirt on, and loved to play "pull my finger" and belch --- if you were lucky. The couple lived very close to her parents in Poplar Bluff, making it very easy for Carlene's mother to come over and whup on Dwayne if he got out of line. When Carlene finally left Dwayne, she very courteously cooked and froze him 30 meals to keep him from going hungry. For some reason, Carlene continues to be drawn to him, but knows better than to become involved again.
One of Carlene's dreams is to become a song writer, and she is often picking away at her guitar. Unfortunately, most of her songs leave much to be desired. A perfect example would be her little ditty "Remember the Good Old Days. They were good. They were old. They were days." However, her contest entry for the official theme song for Atlanta does make the finals.
Mary Jo Shively takes her best friend's sister under her wing, helping her adjust to the big bad world and shielding her from Julia and Allison's tempers. In return, Carlene gives her all the respect she gives to an older sister. Allison thinks of Carlene as nothing but a dumb hick, but also as her personal charity, helping her through college with what she dubs the "Allison Sugarbaker Scholarship." Julia and Anthony try their best to be there for her too but are too busy contending with Allison and their own personal crises to help much. Like her sister, Carlene always has some bizarre, twisted take on every situation. Eventually Carlene starts to conform to the ways of the outside world, but a part of her is always a country girl, relating everything to a backwoods experience.
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