Wednesday, January 9, 2013
HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, ELVIS
I remember the day he died like it was hours ago. I was just home from the hospital and still had a cover over my eye from a baseball injury and a neighbor came over to ask if we heard. Of course I didn't believe it as he was still not OLD old.... It was probably the first time in my young life that I realized death has a finality that I never considered. It had me talking to myself at night, asking anyone who was listening to bring Elvis back. Take me instead... Nothing happened. Tuesday rolled into Wednesday. Wednesday became Thursday. The world started to forget already....
I liked Elvis, not for his being famous, but the wonderful, almost mythical story.... I'm sure you know it.
Coming up from poverty, no formal training, no grand expectations, he just played his music made millions happy. He acted in movies that may not have been nominated for Oscars (although 2 were nominated for Golden Globes with “Elvis on Tour” winning), but he had 33 of them and they ALL made money. Some may be better than others, but I can only imagine how successful he could have been as an actor if only his manager cared about the man more than the money. The accolades, the recognition, the respect of your peers. Earning the name “KING”.
How can you explain the REAL reason his popularity was so explosive? Good songs? A pretty face? A wiggle? No, I think a large part was that he overcame all the obstacles thrown in his way. He wasn't supposed to sing and move the way he did. But he did. He wasn't supposed to have all the gold records he had, but he did. He wasn't supposed to be popular in the movies but he was. He wasn't supposed to return from the army bigger than ever, but he did. He wasn't supposed to return to performing live in concert after he was through making movies, but he did and was wildly successful. Even death has not stopped his name from being known and his legacy is intact.
Years ago, on a whim, I hopped on my motorcycle and rode to Memphis for the sole purpose of seeing Graceland. The ride was memorable only for it's being cold, rainy, and so far away I had to stop before I arrived. The following day, I ended up catching the last tour of the evening and saw the house in all it's glory. I couldn't believe I was actually there. I highly recommend it, not for the ideas of decorating your home, but to get a deeper understanding of the man. He must have been fun to be around, and not just for the peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches!
I also got my first taste of the “adult” kind of fun folks have when they visited Memphis. My first strip club, my first time I fell in lust with a dancer, the first time I went broke having her keep me company. I think I had $1.82 left over when I finally got home. Now that's GREAT budgeting!
(Sigh).... good memories, terrible fiscal decisions!
Elvis died 6 years younger than I am tonight. 42 seems almost youthful, compared to when I was 13. I don't idolize anyone as I sit here at 48, but I admire certain folks and Elvis is one. I wish I could have a conversation. What would I ask?
What was he most proud of? What kind of father does he think he was? What does he think of his image and does it matter? What was in his bucket list of things yet to do? If he could do it all over again, what would he change?
It's funny but these are the same questions I would ask anyone. You don't need to be famous to have done things you are proud of. You don't have to have millions of dollars to be a good father. You don't have to live to 99 to do most everything you ever dreamed of.
I have more questions. For you. If you didn't wake up tomorrow, what would YOU have left undone? Things unsaid? Sights unseen? Love unfilled? How does that make you feel?
What are you waiting for?