“The most thrilling …. Encounter I ever had was with Elvis Presley. The King was not even Crown Prince at the time. He was just taking the first steps on his path to becoming a legend. Barely out of high school himself, he had only two guys in his.”
The most thrilling friendly encounter I ever had was with Elvis Presley.
The King was not even Crown Prince at the time. He was just taking the first steps on his path to becoming a legend. Barely out of high school himself, he had only two guys in his band.
They played to a packed house at the high school auditorium on a Friday night during the spring of my junior year. My girlfriends and I stood cheering, sweating, and gyrating to the beat of “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Hound Dog.” Early Elvis.
His dress was early Elvis too. No sequined suits. His khaki pants were baggy, his short-sleeved cotton shirt not tucked in. I don’t recall what shoes graced those dancing feet. I was too captivated by those rolling hips. His hair looked slick and shiny, combed back into a high wave.
The music ground on in the airless auditorium. I felt slightly shocked by the earthiness of his style but compelled by the throb of the amplified bass—like my heart was responding to this electric personality. Elvis would whip up our excitement with “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” then calm us down, make us dreamy, swooning to a ballad. He had that look too, the kind that felt as if he were undressing you, along with all the other girls in the audience. And the lips. Not too full. But not thin. Kind of puffy. Pouty. Just right. “That’s All Right,” he sang. Yeah, Elvis, you’re all right with me.
The next morning, I was awakened by the telephone.
“Martha!” It was my girlfriend who waited tables at Nat’s Cafe. She sounded stressed but excited. “Get down here. Fast. Get down here immediately. Now.” Her voice lowered to a hiss. “Elvis. He’s here. Having breakfast. Oops, gotta go.” And she was gone.
So was I. I threw on a cotton skirt and blouse. Within ten minutes I was taking the bumps on the quickest way to town as fast as I dared in the Crosley.
There he was, with the other two from the band, sitting in the semicircular corner booth. For Elvis, sitting wasn’t the right word. Lounging against the red vinyl upholstery was more like it. Or lolling. As I approached their table, I smiled, in my Most Friendly Girl way, and he smiled back.
“That was a great concert,” I said, and before long, all three were making room for me at the round table. My friendliness was paying off.
I don’t recall much of our conversation. Elvis seemed rather sleepy. The waitress brought their eggs, sausage, biscuits, and gravy. It was too early for chicken-fried steak. I ordered black coffee.
Our talk was perfunctory—at best. Elvis was tired after his energetic performance the night before.
Without too much interest, he drawled, “What’s there to do in such a small place?”
“Stamford’s a football town. If you’d been here six months ago, nobody would have come to your concert. Everybody would have been at the football stadium, cheering the Bulldogs.”
He shrugged and went on eating his sausage.
I continued being friendly. “Oh, we find stuff to do here. We can go to the youth center—we call it the Dog House. You can dance there, or play pool.” I wondered if he would make the connection between the names of the team and the youth center. “Or we drive out to the river for picnics.”
The conversation was small talk, punctuated with long spells of silence when the fellows just ate and I just sipped. At some point, Elvis pitched one of his boys a coin to feed the jukebox.
I enjoyed this breakfast with Elvis much more afterward than while it was in progress. It made an excellent lead line at cocktail parties or in more intimate gatherings where people exchanged good stories. My breakfast with Elvis could trump most of the other tales.
Lots of opportunities came to a friendly girl in a small town, but I worked for things to happen too. Always driven to achieve, I went after valedictorian but missed out on that because of a C in typing. I had to be content with salutatorian but was pleased to be named Best All Around student from my graduating class.