Yep, that’s me, all dressed up like Elvis. Yes, the black bell-bottomed corduroy jump suit I’m wearing is the very same one I wrote about in The Closet of my Discontent. And yes, when this picture was taken, it still fit.
As long as I didn’t sit down…
The dashing black mane I’m sporting was store-bought, since my own hair was thinning by then. And that glorious sash? Yet another leftover from my 70’s wardrobe. (It was part of a costume from the musical group I was in at college.)
So why in the world would I squeeze into a tight jumpsuit, don a cheap wig and pretend to be Elvis? Well, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for that.
You see, the department where I worked in the ’90s used to have a Halloween party every year. So we’d all dress up in costumes, decorate the place up, and do the whole Halloween bit. The building we worked in was a former funeral home, so it lent some extra creepiness to the festivities. Our supervisors let us have that day for pure fun and just dealt with the reality that no work would ever be accomplished on October 31.
So one year I was Elvis. And because I do a pretty fair impression of The King (if I do say so myself), I brought along my guitar to showcase my formidable talents as an Elvis impersonator.
I had no idea what I was in for.
The second I began crooning something like “Love Me Tender”, a crowd would immediately gather around me and join in with the shtick. The women would all coo and sigh and pretend to swoon as I serenaded them with rendition after rendition of those iconic ballads and hip swivelers (although my swivel was somewhat limited by that jump suit).
I was a hit…
I was a rock star…
I was The King…
I was exhausted.
So okay. I had always wondered what it would be like to be Elvis. To put on the clothes, the accent, the attitude. Now I know. I’ll have to admit, it was kind of fun. But after one day it wore me out. By the end of the day, I was ready to ditch the jump suit and put on some regular street clothes.
So I could get back to normal.
So I could sit down.
So I could use the bathroom without stripping down to my skivvies.
Honestly, I don’t know how this guy Elvis Presley put up with it all. Because the truth is, he wasn’t really Elvis either. “Elvis” was a stage persona. In reality, Elvis Presley was a shy man with a quiet southern drawl as thick as the Mississippi mud he was raised in. But once he hit the stage, he became that swiveling, sensual hunka-hunka burnin’ bravado that sent teeny-boppers into hysterics.
Yes, “Elvis” was a phenomenon. Thousands of adoring fans attended his concerts. Still each night, it was inevitable. The applause would die away. The curtains would draw to a close. The klieg lights would fade to black. Finally, a deep, disembodied voice would announce, “Elvis has left the building”.
So where did Elvis go after he left the building?
Well, it depends on which one you’re talking about. “Elvis” the rock star was left behind in the dressing room, along with his bejeweled jumpsuit and sweaty scarves. But the real Elvis Presley? Well, often He could be found sitting at a piano, surrounded by his closest friends, singing the beloved hymns of his childhood into the wee hours of the morning. Why? Perhaps he needed to ground himself, to reconnect with who he really was. After being the King of Rock ‘n Roll all day, maybe he found it comforting to settle down and just be a child of God.
But I think I like being me, after all.