So, 34 years ago today, Elvis died. He was 42, I think. My sister, though, probably knows exactly how old he was, like to the minute and second, as she is a huge Elvis fan. Me, not as much, although I do have to admit I have a few of his songs on my iPod.
Living in Arkansas, I’ve been to Graceland a few times since he died. Once, I was about 8 or so, once again when I was a bit older, and then more recently, about two years ago for work, of all things. When I was 8, the furnishings looked pretty mod and cool. Again, not so much in more recent times, since everything was preserved the exact way it was when he died. I don’t know that I could ever do carpet on the ceiling.
When I was 8, my Mom and her friend and I took my little sisters and a friend of mine to Graceland. Apparently, a year or so prior, we also took a trip with just my Mom, my grandmother, and my mom’s friend, but we didn’t go to Graceland. Instead, we went to the original Elvis grave site “somewhere in Memphis”, as my mom recalls. This trip I have absolutely no recollection of whatsoever. This was, apparently, the evening that my mom and her friend, also an Elvis fanatic, decided to go to the graveyard just as they were closing to get an up-close look at the grave of The King, so that they would have memories to last a lifetime. I think I must have stayed in the car with my grandmother, who was probably rolling her eyes at the mere thought of crawling up a hillside and over a stone fence to see some dead guy that she wasn’t goo-goo for anyway.
Apparently, my mom and her friend were, as she puts it today, “Among the last people to ever see Elvis’ original grave site”, as they moved him to Graceland later that same evening. Since the cemetery closed at 5, and we were apparently there at 5, we qualified as the “last people” to see him there. This, of course, excludes the hoards of onlookers around midnight when they dug up the coffin.
On my 8-year-old trip, though, I vividly recall my mother and her friend crying, upset that he was still dead after a year or so. We were walking through the grave site area, me still shell-shocked that we were even there and looking at a grave of all things, carrying my little purse on my shoulder. Mom looks over at me and says, “Look over there. There is a piece of tile broken off. Grab it and put it in your purse.” Me, mortified that my Catholic schoolgirl mother would even remotely promote thievery, said, “No! I’m not going to jail!” I could just picture myself in shackles and chains, pleading before the Hanging Judge, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know it was wrong to steal things from a dead guy’s grave. It’s not like he was going to use the tile, Your Honor.” She kept on and finally made me put it in my purse.
While relaying this story to her this evening, upon the 34th anniversary of his death (“Not his birthday, Ms. Bachman, how dare you”, the Elvis faithful cry out), she told me a little tidbit of which I also had zero recollection:
During this same trip, my sister CRAWLED UNDER THE VELVET ROPE in Elvis’ house and JUMPED ON ELVIS’ COUCH.
This was not shocking to me in the least, because this is the same Elvis-crazed sister, now 31, who confessed to peeling back the plastic covering on the Lisa Marie airplane so that she could sit on the seats, about 5 years ago. This, of course, was committed surreptitiously while the guards weren’t looking. This is also the same sister who I tricked into thinking that I got a personal tour of Graceland’s off-limits upstairs sanctuary two years ago on a business trip. She even asked me what color the bedding was for verification, as if she knew. I said, “Black,”, guessing, since black satin fit with every other bo-hunk decor item in the place.
I was, of course, correct. She fell for it. It was the funniest trick I’ve ever pulled on her.
RIP Elvis. I do hope, sincerely, that you are partying it up in the Jungle Room tonight.