About Karla Telega

I'm a middle aged maven, winner of a Reader Views Award for my humorous mystery, Box of Rocks, and a five year survivor of Southern living. Seriously, you should see the size of some of these spiders!

They don’t whistle anymore

I have to admit it; I kind of miss the vulgar, unwanted attention of construction workers, sailors, priests, etc. Once when I was a newlywed, I had a whole shipload of seamen lining the fantail to hoot and holler at me as I waited on the dock. I dove into my car and hunkered down, embarrassed by the attention. If I only knew then what I know now.

Gone are the days of the wolf whistles, double takes, and suggestive comments. More recently, I had a guy stop me in the parking lot to tell me that he liked me because I was “thick.” I’m obviously not counting that in the “win” column.

Anymore, the general rule of thumb is that I will only attract male attention in a dark movie theater, on a moonlit night, or at the assisted living center on Pine Street. Maybe if I still shopped in the Junior Section, buying jeans that barely covered my Cesarean scar, or if I had my pre-menopausal figure back, I could attract the young studs. Probably not. It seems rather pointless to get my belly button pierced, when it is totally obscured by the high rise, matronly jeans from the ladies department. Trust me, you do not want to see my skin bubbling out through the crack between a skimpy shirt and low-cut jeans.

I know that true beauty comes from within, but the only things I have within at the moment are heartburn and hemorrhoids. That does not lend itself well to projecting an aura of sultry sexiness.

I have a friend who wears make-up and does her hair every day. She walks out of the house looking really good. When we went to a luncheon recently, I decided to wear make-up. I had to rummage through cosmetics leftover from the Pleistocene era, and did my best to remember whether to use concealer before or after my foundation. My eyelids ended up near my cheekbones, as the loose skin dragged along behind the eyeliner pencil, and I poked myself in the eye repeatedly with the mascara brush. I stepped into the parking lot to meet my friend, who took one look at me and simply said, “no.”

I like to think of the movie “Calendar Girls” when I start to believe that old age and beauty are mutually exclusive. If you haven’t seen it, the show is about a group of elderly ladies who decide to pose for a nude calendar as a fundraiser. In the end, the pictures turned out breathtakingly beautiful, and the calendars couldn’t be printed fast enough for the demand.

I’d like to think that with the right lighting, camera filters, and moderate air brushing, I could look good for a naked photo. That’s assuming that I don’t have heartburn and hemorrhoids that day.

Daddy long legs

Spiders! I hate spiders. I wasn’t born with a natural fear and disgust, but experience has taught me that you don’t want to get within hopping distance of one. Don’t try to tell me that spiders don’t hop. With a magnifying glass you would be able to see the anticipation in all the lenses of their compound eyes, and the gnashing of their venom-filled fangs each time a person gets within range.

Last weekend I took on the challenge of cleaning the screened porch. This involved sweeping away cobwebs along the roofline while standing directly underneath them. Tiny strands and egg sacks were flying every direction and I was at ground zero. I struggled to be strong and not beg for rescue each time I had to gish a live one. I couldn’t wait to strip out of my shorts and t-shirt so I could take hot shower.

The night after my ordeal when I went to bed, I felt some discomfort in my yoo-hoo area. I was itching and scratching in a most unlady-like manner. Fortunately, as we all know, scratching is acceptable as long as you are under the covers with the lights out. Finally, I turned on the light to investigate and found a spider bite right where the panties meet the inner thigh. Let me be perfectly clear: there had been a spider IN MY PANTS! Thank God for those extra pounds that kept my panty elastic stretched tighter than shrink wrap, forming an impenetrable barrier between my lady parts and any 8 legged creatures.

I should be used to it by now. I live in South Carolina where they grow spiders as big as saucers. A walk through the woods involves a lookout man with a baseball bat, and a revolver. On one such walk, my son stopped to do what guys normally do when confronted by alligators, snakes and giant spiders: he poked one of these monsters with a stick. I swear I am telling the truth. The spider grabbed the stick and took it away from him. Then he shook the stick menacingly at my son. Even the armed and dangerous lookout man wasted no time getting back to the car.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from visiting our beautiful state, but you might want to stay out of the woods and off of my back porch when you come.

Send in the rodeo clowns

A funny thing happened to me on the way to menopause; I became a fan of professional bull riding. As if that weren’t enough, I bought a musty smelling, second-hand snakeskin and suede western jacket – WITH FRINGE. Did I mention that it is dyed forest green and has long dangling laces at the cuffs with heavy miniature musket balls attached to the ends? Each time I reach up to brush the hair out of my eyes, these decorative yo-yos from hell swing away from my body, gathering speed before arcing back to bludgeon me in the face. Not everyone can pull off that look.

I’m pretty sure that hormones are involved, because the same time that I began listening to Tim McGraw, I lost all desire for chocolate. I wish I’d known that one of the side affects of menopause is a desire to visit Dollywood. They don’t mention that in the brochures at the doctor’s office.

I decided to run with it and paid top dollar for the best seats when the PBR (Professional Bull Riding) tour came to town. As the cowboys were introduced, I cheered and clapped, smacking myself repeatedly with my jacket laces. We were in the front row, right next to the gates. From this distance I could see every acne scar on the faces of the kids who were riding thousands of pounds of angry pot roast. The cowboys didn’t look old enough to shave, and the lineup included one Amish lad on his Rumspringa. Can you imagine? After living a simple life for sixteen years, you’re given a year to go nuts and you choose serial trampling over Jäger?

Soon I found myself staring into the bloodshot eyes of a huge white Brahma bull, with only two feet and a flimsy rail separating us. It seemed to be fixated on my green jacket. It stood staring long enough to give me plenty of time to reconsider my recent fashion decisions. When he finally returned to the chutes I had made up my mind – I’ll cancel the line dancing lessons.

I don’t know where this mid-life affinity for all things country will take me. I only know that when I get there, I’ll smell like Grandma’s attic and have tiny pellet sized bruises on my face.

I didn’t know my pelvic would be a written exam

The doctor asked, “What happens to our vaginas as we get older?” I just stared at him stupidly. A) Only one of us had a vagina. B) Didn’t he go to medical school so he could tell me the answer? The doctor then explained the aging process to me with graphs, charts, and sweeping gestures. He came just short of breaking out the hand puppets.

It turns out that we get drier, the tissue gets thinner, and it gets more sensitive. I only got one answer right out of three, so I hope he’s grading on a curve. I like my OB/GYN, but he seems to take a perverse pleasure in pointing out my aging anatomy.

He ordered the bone density scan that told me I had osteoporosis. I scurried back to work after that doctor appointment and made a beeline for the ladies room. I proceeded to turn one way and the other looking for any telltale signs of a dowager’s hump in the mirror. I swear, if I’d had a pimple on my shoulder I would have freaked!

It’s really disconcerting when your years of hypochondria start to pay off. Most of my life, even when I thought I was dying, my blood tests and x-rays came out normal. Then, about a year ago a doctor ordered an EKG for a simple blood pressure issue.

“Ms. Telega, we found an abnormality on your EKG.” the doctor announced.

“Pull the other one!”

“No really, you have an extended QT wave.”

“Where’s the camera? Did my kids put you up to this?”

The abnormality turned out to be a side-affect of a new medication I was taking, and my heartbeat went back to normal as soon as I stopped the meds. Nevertheless, it earned me my first trip to a Cardiologist.

So far, plummeting estrogen levels are responsible for: lower tolerance for some medications; broken bones; vaginal dysfunction (the other VD); and a mustache. I shouldn’t be surprised since they call it “the change of life,” but I had only mentally prepared myself for the facial hair.

With so many Americans entering their 50’s, newly old people will be flocking to all kinds of specialists in the medical profession. I hope the doctors all have a good supply of hand puppets.

In Defense of the Pixie Cut

I own a rare model of Barbie dolls from the 60’s with a short bubble cut hairdo. Normally, the only short haired Barbies involved your little sister, a pair of safety scissors, and some generally bad decision making skills.

When I was young there were three haircuts for girls: long; pixie cut; and pixie cut grow-out. Mid-length hair was just the shameful recovery period for large-skulled girls who thought they could look like Twiggy if they cut their hair short.

Someone forgot to tell my mom that pixies are delicate little creatures, who are seldom referred to as “sturdy.” My mom decided that my sisters and I would look adorable in pixie cuts. She regretted her decision immediately. It took years to undo the damage of that day, and she can still get me to take out her garbage by threatening to cut my hair, and I’ve been living on my own for over 30 years.

I was going to rock long hair till the day I died, … then I hit menopause. It turns out that hot flashes trump vanity. I generally have to do my hat shopping in the melon-head section next to the extra large scarves, and the faux alligator skin handbags. Fortunately, hard hats are adjustable, so when I ordered the one size fits all, success! I’m preparing to find a large equipment rental place so I can take a picture of myself with a bulldozer, so I needed the hard hat for the photo. Yes, I’m going to go kick the tires on a couple tons of steel, pretending to be a serious shopper. I thought that short hair would be more convincing. Surely, by now my face has thinned out a bit with age, making my head look less lumpy.

Now that the deed is done, I’m surprised that it’s not awful looking. It’s actually kind of cute. Where fiction writers need to suspend disbelief, I just need to convince myself that there is such a thing as lumberjack pixies who drive bulldozers.

Twiggy has nothing to worry about.

A technological goober on the internet

Two hundred thirty-four years ago our forefathers founded a new nation, establishing my 1st Amendment rights to fumble around aimlessly on the internet. I’m currently trying to link my Facebook page with my web page, my Twitter address, and my Writer’s Digest community page. If you google my name, you’ll find several pages of listings, including one for Burton SC Booty Call, which is a total mystery to me.

These entries are a testament to my awkward attempts to join some groups, enter some contests, and get some pension administration credentials. The latter allows me to cite chapter and verse of the Internal Revenue Code until your eyes glaze over. §410(b) is one of my favorites.

Now all I need to do is learn to use a digital camera. Yes, I said it. I still use cameras with 35 mm film, exposures, f stops, etc. My assignment for this weekend is to successfully take a digital picture and upload it to my computer. I have a camera, an instruction book, and something called a USB cable. What could go wrong?

I could hold down the shutter button while trying to figure out why the flash is not working.

I could try out the zoom function on my freakishly bony ankles.

In all, I took four pictures, and got them all to my computer. My brand new batteries are showing that they need to be changed, and I haven’t even tried it in daylight.

Did I mention that this particular camera came out when the technology was in its infancy? I bought a package of batteries so I can take a couple pictures of the 4th of July festivities.

All in all, mission accomplished. The founding fathers would be proud, as long as they don’t find out about the Booty Call thing.