Thursday, August 16, 2007

August 16th, 1977

August 16th, 1977 was a warm, lovely evening for a road trip. My college roommate Steve and I were heading to his parents' place in rural Nokomis, IL a small berg about an hour and a half away. They were retired and lived on a large plot of land out in the country. No farm to speak of, I think there were some horses, mostly just land, a stream and a pond and such.

Steve was a character and for a long time a good friend. Tall, skinny and always full of energy, but also bearing a moody side and could go off easily. Rarely with me, however, mostly with people in authority. Most of the time he was basically a delight. Steve had a thing for older women, thus was involved in our dorm's biggest scandal when he was caught fucking the dorm manager. He found another girl, this time his age, but they broke up even after they announced their marriage. He finally married an older woman after he left college and moved away.

He was devoted to the ROTC and a military career; his biggest goal was to drop a nuclear bomb on the damn Commies, somewhere. His theme song was Tom Leher's "So Long Mom, I am off to Drop the Bomb". In fact, I have Steve to thank for introducing me to Lehrer.

Anyway, Steve had his beloved little early 60's VW Bug and we piled in it for a short get-out-of-town adventure. School had not started yet, but we were both living on campus, so we had time and nothing else to do. Steve's VW had little in comfort except for an AM radio. The radio waves, no matter what the station, were full of one thing that eve. Elvis Presley. Elvis, all of 42 but looking like 82, had been found dead of a drug overdose that day in Memphis. The whole world was in mourning. We got tired of it quickly and turned off the radio.

I never was an Elvis fan, so despite the tragedy of his unfortunate death at a young age, I was not devastated. I never felt what others felt or what others heard in his voice. But ever since his debut in the 50's and for generations after, the "King" has remained ever popular. The postage stamp in his honor was the biggest selling stamp in history. If a devoted fan was forced to choose between saving for little Suzie's lifesaving surgery and a new Elvis album, Susie usually lost. Every album and song recorded is still in the catalog, selling like lemonade at a state fair. I just never got it.

But the reference I read today about the 30th anniversary of Elvis' passing did remind me of an old friend not seen in years. The obituary rekindled memories of an evening when two 20 year olds, still exploring, still excited about the world got away from the pressure of college and life at the time and enjoyed each other's company on a pleasant summer eve.

Thanks Elvis.


Anonymous said...

What do you think of the Elvis impersonator phenomena?

People actually make good money doing it and are treated as if they were Elvis himself! At one such concert a friend went to, there were actually middle aged women, er, pleasuring themselves in the bathroom afterwards!!

A few years ago, the parachuting Elvii came to town. I thought it would be enormous fun to go laugh at the event. I assumed my friends felt the same way. You can imagine my shock when I found out my friends took the event seriously, and actually vied to get their pictures taken with the red velvet Elvis!

Don said...

The original did little for me, so the fake ones even less.

There was a big Parade of Elvises?? Elvii?? Evisesses?? whatever, in KC on Thursday. I of course didn't bother....