Home > A Library of Quiet VOICES, A Parlour of Southern VOICES > Advice from Topeka – by Carol Novack

Advice from Topeka – by Carol Novack

Advice from Topeka

by Carol Novack

(initial version published in Yankee Potroast)


“Never trust nobody & you’ll live a long life.” — Alma Peatree Price


A woman slips a note into a copy of the latest “Reader’s Digest” on sale at a shop at Dallas airport. The note says:  “Hi. I’m Muffy.  I’m young and gorgeous but lonely.  Please write to me!”  miffedmuffy23@hotmail.com.”  Edna Appleby finds the note and responds, as follows:

Dear Miss Muffy:

My name is Edna Appleby, from Topeka, Kansas.  My granddaughter, Dotty, bless her heart, gave me that Reader’s Digest with your note in it because she knows how much I love Reader’s Digest, dear. She herself never reads it because she’s a fashion designer in Los Angeles.  I’m much older than you, I suspect, and I’m very very concerned you might be slipping this contact information in other magazines and it will fall into the hands of a ax murderer, one with brains enough to figure out where you live.  And I know all about ax murderers because Elmo, my uncle by marriage to my sister who never had any sense was one.  He done killed six women in a farm outside of Topeka in the space of they say three minutes, including my sister and her bingo friends, because he was a very big horribly strong man with a vial temper and no control at all and ugly as a dungbeetle to boot. And they fried him, thank the Lord, so he’s been getting his just deserts for years.

Your a very lucky young lady, Miss Muffy. I just got this Web TV thing in the mail from my grandson Bobby  and my naybor’s son Billy teached me how to use it and I’m having so much fun.  Just imagine yesterday I found one of my elementry school classmates what lives in Baton Rouge and she writes me all about little Joey Figs, what used to be class clown, so she tells me all about how he’s been indicated for securities fraud.  You never can tell about people I always say which is what you should always be baring in mind, dear, because the world is full of all sorts of terrible people and I don’t know why but the Lord has a reason for everything.  Amen.

Now my husband, Willy, who passed away five summers ago, bless his heart, was a good man and he worked hard while the babies came bursting out of me like little popovers.  We fed those babies and I took a job in the tire factory and they all growed up in good health except for two who was still born.  And except for Elmo and my nasty drunk daddy, I can’t really say I got too many complaints about my life because I was very very careful to never get mixed up with dangerous mean fruitcakes so now I’m ripe as an apple what’s already fallen from a tree, but a little bored but don’t you be telling anyone that.

Maybe you’d like to corespond make a lonely old lady like me happy because the kids and the grandkids don’t write or visit much because their very busy and to tell the truth they try not to speak to me probably because I lost most of my hearing and had to get a hysterectemy, and then decided to go for a sex change, you know life is a bitch when your a woman.   Anyways, I look forward to finding out where you live and what you do and whatever else you want to tell me.



  1. mcewen75
    May 20, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I wonder if Miffed Muffy wrote back. She is “gorgeous and lonely” and probably wishes Edna was a Dane. But this letter is far more exciting than what she probably was expecting. And if Mentioning Uncle Elmo doesn’t scare Muffy into some sense, then nothing can. I wonder if she’s still leaving little notes in magazines and instead of Reader’s Digest, probably GQ or Esquire.

  2. asharpclarinet
    May 22, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Thank you for your kind concerns, mcewen75. Muffy wrote back and cussed a lot. She called me a sick igorent busybody. Imagine that! Yes, mcewen75, the world is full of Elmos. If she knew what I know, but a green girl like her knows nothing about people. I’m afraid, she’ll come to no good, but she’s probly there all ready, thank the lord.

  3. May 28, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I wonder at green girls, like saplings or perhaps the grass stains on their knees. Lord and the Lord’s Prayer, I remember being young!, though I will not tell you how far back in the deep pecan tree shade, my own young was. Never that! I squirm at the very idea, If pressed, I would murmur some number I played on quick pick, a number won by religious attention to protecting my pale freckles from the sun,and hair paled even more by pressing lemons and plastering the squeezings on. Twins, yes I remember now, you are one of a pair. Like adorable warm skinned bookends. But do not let me keep you from your reveries dear! Carry on, carry on!

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