Talking to Elvis
I used to have a friend named Butch who would stand next to my car in the parking lot of Starbuck’s every weekday morning around 8:00 telling me stories while I waited for my older daughter to get her morning mocha on the way to school.
Butch was in his 70s, and he had some unbelievable stories. In his life, he’s been a crop duster, a long-haul trucker, an air traffic controller, and a sheriff’s deputy. He also claimed to have been married to “the meanest woman in New Orleans,” a woman he said was a direct descendent of Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen.
He was also a slightly lecherous old guy with failing eyesight. I know because he never failed to tell me I had the prettiest legs he’d ever seen on a woman.
My daughter started driving herself to school, and I lost touch with Butch. But I’ll never forget one particular story he told me. One day after work at the air traffic tower in Memphis, he said, he and his buddy stopped by a little bar for a beer. A man dressed as a chauffeur came into the bar and ordered several hamburgers and a six-pack of beer.
Butch looked at the man and said, “Is Elvis in the car?”
The man laughed and said, “Yeah, he is. Go on out and talk to him. He’d probably enjoy your company.”
“So we went out and sat in the back of that limo and told Elvis stories while he ate his hamburgers,” Butch said, adding, “This was in his fat days, of course.”
They apparently shot the breeze with The King for a good long while because when he finally made it home that evening, his wife, the meanest woman he’d ever known, snarled, “Where have you been?”
Butch paused in telling the story to say to me, “Me and that woman was great at oral sex. Every day, she’d pass me in the hall and say, ‘F*@k you.’ And I’d say, ‘F*@ you’ right back.”
Then he looked me in the eye, grinned, and delivered this punch line: “I told her I’d been talking to Elvis.”
I love that story. And while I can’t claim to ever have talked to Elvis, I have been listening to him. I have satellite radio in my car, and I adore the Elvis channel. Not long ago, my son, who was stunned that there’s a channel that plays songs by only one man, asked, “How many songs did Elvis write?’
“As far as I know, none,” I answered. “He just sang everyone else’s songs better than they could.”
The past few days, I’ve been wishing I had a smidgen of Marie Laveau’s powers. Not the mean part, though. The magical voodoo part. You see, I’m flying to New York this week to deliver my daughter back to New York University for her sophomore year. Her little sister began her freshman year at Georgia State University this week. And my son has chosen to live with his father in Atlanta.
My recent health scare has made it obvious to me that I needed to change some things in my life. I need to be in Florida, where I feel better and where I am completely free to write a new story for my life. But I miss my kids, and I find myself wishing I could be in several places at once so that I can extend my story as their mother just a tiny bit longer.
And that was on my mind when Elvis sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in my car this morning. These particular words got to me:
Sail on Silver Girl, sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
If you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
“I was talking to Elvis.” That’s a good story.